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Reprint from my article at Unscrewing the Inscrutable

Show me the 'proof', is what we defenders of science hear constantly from creationist shills, usually followed up with a smug assertion that there is no 'proof' for evolution. Which kind of makes the initial question puzzling ...

Now of course, science does not deal in proof, what they mean is evidence. And yes, there's plenty of evidence for common descent.

Much of the evidence for common descent revolves around one of six main lines:

  1. Biostratification of the fossil record
  2. Transitional Fossils
  3. Molecular analysis and comparison of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA
  4. Vestigial Structures
  5. Observed speciation
  6. Comparative homology/anatomy/physiology

Note that the theoretical mechanism[s] proposed by evolutionary theory, by which species change over time, could be dead wrong, and it would not affect that evidence for common descent. Let's look at item three, the genetic evidence, just a bit more closely this morning, so as to get a feel for how robust that evidence alone is.

Most of us vaguely understand how a virus works. The little bastards sneak inside our cells by a variety of ingenious methods. They fool the active transport system in the cell wall, or they slowly burrow through nice and unobtrusive, or some of them just drill right in loud and ugly like some kind of squid from The Matrix, and go about their grisly work. Once inside, they head for the nucleus (Or in some cases they're specialized to attack organelle genetic material such as that in our mitochondrial DNA), where all our nuclear DNA is located. The virus can't reproduce by itself, it has to hijack the replicative machinery inside our own cells. And in doing so, the virus stops the DNA in a cells nucleus from doing it's job keeping our cell alive and healthy. Our DNA receives new instructions from Mr. Virus; churning out more viruses. Once the nuclear DNA has been taken over, a virus can replicate itself in this manner on the order of about six copies per second, and theoretically it won't stop until it eats through all three billion base pairs in a normal human genome.

Then the cell dies, the cell wall dissolves, and away the baby viruses go to infect another cell. This chain reaction can get out of hand real fast, as anyone who's gone from feeling fine, to flat on their back with a new strain of flu in a few hours can attest to.

Viruses are nasty buggers, causing everything from colds, to AIDS. When a virus interrupts a healthy gene it can even cause uncontrolled mitosis; cancer. Some are master puppeteers, such as the rabies virus, which takes control of both the infected hosts brain functions and salivary glands, producing uncontrolled aggression, and uncontrolled salivation, just brimming with more rabies viruses.

So it's nice to be able to say something nice about viruses in the context of evolution ...
Animals have defenses against viruses that shut them down in their tracks, usually anyway. Sometimes, the little bastards will insert in the genome, successfully replicate a few hundred times, the copies reinserting back into the genome, and then the antibody Calvary comes riding to the rescue and shuts those little suckers down before they kill every cell in our body. Once they're neutralized, those little scraps of viral remnants remain in the genome, like a signpost saying "I, Mr. Virus, was here".  We can tell they're viral because they code for proteins not used in eukaryotic (Animal) cells such as viral enzymes. These preserved viral scraps are called Endogenous Retro-viruses or ERVs for short.

What's really interesting is occasionally, by chance, the cell thus partially infected with a virus will be a reproductive cell, which also happens to go on to produce progeny. And when that happens, every descendant of that individual will have that same dead viral base pair sequence, like a distinctive genetic 'scar', encoded in the same exact places in a genome that that one reproductive cell had. If you and I had the exact same, unique, viral fragments in the same hundreds of places in our genome, that would be proof-admissible in court-that you and I share a unique common ancestor.

Well, it so happens humans and chimpanzees, have seven, count'em, seven, of the exact same viral base pairs sequences, each roughly one-thousand or so pairs long, and each in several hundred respective locations in their respective genomes. We know how that can happen; chimps and humans shared a common ancestor. We can also estimate how long those viral fragments have been there because there are slight, random changes to the sequence over time. The molecular clock on the shared ERVs works out to about 5-8 million years. Which just happens, oddly enough, to be exactly what the fossil evidence would suggest for a split between the ancestors of chimps, and the ancestors of humans. What a flippin coinkidink, huh? Here's one such shown as a raw data schematic done by my friend, the sexy, hot, DR Lilith. (Lilith BTW, for you lonely science geeks, has a partial differential field equation tattooed on her back. [Hot heavy breathing])

There's more. In addition to ERVs, we also share broader genetic markers that have no function as far as we can tell called LINEs and SINEs. We share them with chimps, we share them with mice. But when a human-chimp ERV just happens to lie in the same region as a LINE or SINE we share with a mouse, why the mouse elements are overwritten by the human-chimp ERV! And that's exactly what you'd expect, if the ancestors of primates diverged from the ancestors of rodents before the chimps and humans split. And when you calculate those molecular clocks, why it works out to about 70-80 million years, which again just happens to line up with the fossil evidence for the primate-rodent split. Wow! Another coinkidink!

We can see how ERVs insert into genomes, we can see how those viral sequences get passed on to cells during mitosis. It's not controversial, we see it happening. We can make it happen on command in a lab. And the argument that it's 'common design' is going to be a particularly hard sale, given that these particular sequences aren't even native to the human and chimp genome, or any plant or animal, on earth. They're only used by viruses.

'Show me the proof' huh? Well, there it is. ERVs aren't just evidence folks, they're more than a smoking gun; ERVs are a high quality video surveillance tape of common descent pulling the trigger. The creationist response? Not much. Usually some vague assertion about 'common design', or that some ERV or other has been found to do something other than just lay there uselessly in the genome. Let's be clear about this; the critical fact here isn't that ERV's have no function, although as best we can tell the vast majority don't have any function at all. The critical fact is how they got to be in the same place on both the chimp and human genome in hundreds of places. Since the point of insertion is controlled by chance and local chemistry, the odds of seven distinct ERVs each inserting in the same exact respective places in both genomes, each genome being several billion base pairs long, and each of the seven inserting hundreds of times, is significantly greater than the chance of winning the lottery 25 consecutive times in a row ...

Creationists really don't have an answer for it, because the only plausible answer is common ancestry of humans and chimpanzees.

You could spend your entire scientific career studying human-chimp ERVs. And those ERVs are just one small piece of the genetic evidence for common descent between only two species, out of millions. And the genetic evidence in turn makes up only one small portion of the over all evidence for common descent. All of those lines of evidence converge on the same solution; we humans share ancestors with other creatures on earth, some more recently than others. This common ancestry interlocks consistently across all the lines of evidence; genetic, fossil, and comparative homology. And that kind of convergence is itself pretty damn powerful evidence.

Originally posted to DarkSyde on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 04:07 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks Again for Your Work (4.00)
    We do have to fight this battle.  The Creationists cannot answer the physical evidence plausibly, as you say.  I appreciate having the additional information.

    God and ego are not equivalent expressions of reality.

    by Othniel on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 04:32:48 AM PDT

    •  Uh, God created all that proof... (none)
      ... because he did. So there!

      "I don't do quagmires, and my boss doesn't do nuance."

      by SteinL on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 05:58:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah (none)
        The "scientific evidence is not dispositive of God putting all that stuff in place at the time of creation" drives me nuts.
        •  I've heard that one before (4.00)
          It's an insane argument. If God created the world with an illusion of age in order to fool us, then God is a deceiver.  If God is a deceiver, than we have no reason to trust anything at all.

          It looks like the creationists are willing to call God a liar in order to prop up creationism.

          •  Not really - it's just clear (4.00)
            That if God did this, then God must have wanted people to believe in evolution.  If people don't believe in evolution, they are thwarting the will of God!

            Try that, and watch their heads explode!

            America began begins with freedom from King George's empire.

            by bribri on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 08:32:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  This makes perfect sense. (none)
              Since evolution is so important to understanding the present and future, a kind Creator would of course fill the world with (deceptive but) highly educational examples of what evolution can do and how it works.

              The Book of Stone is very clear about what we should believe, and its massive sedimentary pages are guaranteed to be free of human editorial revisions.

              I support decentralist media: ePluribus. You can too.

              by technopolitical on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 02:07:27 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Pope John Paul II endorsed evolution (none)
                I don't why no one is bringing this up. From the NY Times obituary of Pope John Paul II:

                In 1996, the pope also acknowledged that the human body might not have been the immediate creation of God, but was the product of evolution, which he called "more than just a hypothesis." The church had never condemned Darwin, but had warned that his ideas played into the hands of materialists and atheists.

                I'd like somebody to throw Pope John Paul II's thoughts into the face of the creationist right wing, not that they have suddenly adopted the Pope as a true conservative.

        •  and he created (none)
          the whole endless cosmos just because he knew that someday the telescope would come along and if the universe was too small.....

          "It ain't that you dumb an' ignorant, you jes' stupid, tha's all -- but you got pretty brown eyes." - POGO

          by eunichorn on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 07:42:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, and my back aches (none)
          because God is a lousy designer. And God built a 'thumb' from a panda's wrist bone because ... um ...
      •  That is a creationist's perfect (none)
        refutation of any amount of scientific evidence.

        One would need to put a bug in the ears of littlest Christian boogers before they're cloistered and homeschooled.

        Heartsick about the war? Join the Women in Black

        by rhubarb on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 06:33:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Excuse me? (none)
          I homeschool my kids and we're atheist. Have a problem with that?

          I am so sick and tired of hearing so called progressives and liberals bad-mouthing homeschoolers without getting the fucking facts SCHOOLING IS NOT THE ONLY PATH TO EDUCATION.

          This rant got so long I am turning it into a diary. Enough of the homeschooling bashing already!

          Blogging the revolution @ culturekitchen

          by liza on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 03:56:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  My husband and I are also (4.00)
            homeschoolers.  Three boys between us.  We are agnostics.

            Where did I bash all homeschoolers?  

            I am merely bashing the fruitloop batshit flat-earthers who couldn't think for themselves if given a manual, much less give their children anything but a mockery of a decent education.

            Heartsick about the war? Join the Women in Black

            by rhubarb on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 04:33:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Homeschooling (none)
            Do you mind if I ask where you live, liza?

            I think homeschooling depends greatly on the surrounding culture.  It started out as a fundie thing as a reaction to the lack of Jesus in the classroom but I can definitely see where a liberal/atheist/agnostic living in the Bible belt might want to homeschool so they can actually teach their kids science.  Maybe that's not your aim at all, but if I lived in Alabama, I'd probably consider homeschooling.

            The public schools where I live, Lincoln, NE (a liberal college/government town in the middle of the great red wilderness), are great and are constantly under attack from the religious fundamentalist fringe.  Kansas is creeping up on us, but we're fighting.

      •  Hehe (4.00)
        It's Lastwendnesdayism.  God put us here last Wednesday with all the light coming from stars already in transit, and all our memories pre-fabricated.

        Kinda like Frisbeetarianism, where when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck.

      •  lol (none)
        You (unintentionally I hope) sound exactly like Duane Gish who insists God created the light from stars billions of light years away "in transit..."
    •  Avoid giving credibility (none)
      In Richard Dawkins' (a very noted evolutionist) book, The Devil's Chaplain, he included a letter that he was going to prepare with Steven Jay Gould (a scientific rival of Dawkins') about why he does not engage in arguments with creationists.  The reason he gave was that once a REAL scientist engaged in argument, you posit that creationism is in some sense a reasonable theory.

      Now, being that we are not all scientists, this is not so much of a problem for all of us.  However, when you get bogged down in debate with them, they eventually drag you down to "you can't prove that there is no 'Creator'".  Certainly this is true (right now).  However, we can prove the fossil record, etc.  You can only present facts.

      •  But Evolution doesn't... (none)
        need to prove the existence or non-existence of God -- that's not the point of the endeavor. No scientist is arguing that God does or does not exist, just that the story of creation as presented in the Bible is wrong.

        For your die-hard fundie this is of course a line of reasoning that isn't going to work, but for religious folks who are open-minded the argument that "I'm not disproving God, just a particular story from the Bible" is far better than "I'm right, you're wrong, retard."

        Once they accept or at least not reject out of hand the notion that the Biblical story is false, then the whole house of cards will eventually come tumbling down like the walls at Jericho.

        Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

        by Benito on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 11:41:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  dfdfdfdf (none)
        Certainly this is true (right now).

        The "right now" part — good luck trying to prove that there is no creator of the universe. I'll wait on the edge of my seat until someone comes up how everything in the universe just spontaneously appeared out of nothing. That "right now" part seems as tainted by ideology as creationists' arguments, doesn't it?

    •  Time to come up with a new theory for Jesus Saves! (3.50)
      If the religious fanatics are going to attack evolution, why don't scientists turn around and attack the foundation of Christianity, which is that you have to accept Jesus as your personal savior in order to go to Heaven. Think about the logistics involved in this. It took at least 1500 years for Christianity to spread around the globe, and much longer before EVERYONE could have been exposed to these teachings. So, we are suppose to believe that God sent all these uninformed people to hell? This is too stupid to be a theory - at most it is an unproven hypothesis. An intelligent design of the afterlife would allow people to use that time to become one with God. Scientists should put together an "Intelligent Afterlife Design" theory and start demanding that religious leaders talk about it as a possibility, just as religious wingnuts are demanding scientists talk about their ideas.
    •  Nice, but... (4.00)
      I like a good scientific refutation of creationism as much as the next guy (maybe more...I'm in the biological sciences), but the fact is that this hasn't been about the science of it in 100+ years.  This is science vs. non-science, not good science vs. bad science. It's sad that it's come to this, but it's a matter of convincing people that science itself is valid, not one of using science to prove or disprove a particular view.

      That's my major frustration with most conservatives these days.  I've got no problem with people having bad ideas.  I've probably got my share.  But if you want to impose those ideas on people, back them up with facts and let them fight it out with the other ideas in a logical fashion.  Don't just tell me that your idea is the best and become outraged and defensive when I ask you to defend it.

      •  Predictive power (none)
        When one compares the gifts yielded by science versus religion, it's no contest.  (Especially since science has had such a very short period of time in which to operate, thanks to the traditional christian terror of the explanatory and predictive power of science.)  They like to say there are no atheists in the trenches.  I like to say there are no creationists in the emergency ward.  They are there because countless mice/rats/monkeys died so that they might live, and they are banking their lives on that relationship between species.  

        To be consistent, they must either eschew medicine or abjure creationism.

        "Force always attracts those of low morality." -- Albert Einstein

        by eyeswideopen on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 12:58:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Man or a mouse? (none)
    Now, DarkSyde. This aint fair playing. Where's the other side of the story? :)

    Seriously: Very interesting and informative.

    Restore Democracy!

    by high5 on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 04:34:27 AM PDT

    •  OK (4.00)
      I'll be fair. Here's the other side ...

      [crickets chirping]


      •  LOL (none)
        and thank you for a very interesting start to my day.  
        Excellent diary, and recommended.
        •  Right ON (none)
          However, the fundies that I know, would say that fossile evidence and genetics were placed here by Lucifer (lol) to divert our attention from the truth.  It is really hard to convince someone that believes in magic, using scientific evidence, since magic seems to trump everything.  I always thought that if we could only find life on some other planet, it would be proof conclusive to the world and we could possibly stop having these religious wars.  I now realize that this is a hopeless cause since they would blame the other 'life' as a trick of satan etc.    
          Maybe we should have two Americas, let them revert to anti-science and we will continue on rationally and see where we both end up in 25 years.

          what goes around comes around

          by kharma on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 06:05:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Wait a minute... (4.00)
            does this mean they think the natural world was co-created by god and the devil?  What?  I thought the devil couldn't create anything, or so I was taught in Sunday school...

            Okay, so I know no logical thought may be involved at all, that most of this is the equivalent of sticking fingers in ears and humming, but I've never heard that one before, that the devil created fossils and geological phenomena?

            "Virginia Woolf's idea of a room of one's own has never been the place for middle- and working-class women. We work with interruptions." - Ananya Chatterjea

            by sarac on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 07:30:01 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yup (4.00)
              The Manichean heresy.  I'm not astonished that fundies are so ignorant of science.  What astonishes me is that fundies are so ignorant of religion.  
              •  No kidding... (none)
                I guess I've been made to blink and rip hair out by other such demonstrations of 'christian' religious ignorance before.  There seem to be a lot of people out there who just make stuff up and call it literal interpretation of the Bible.  

                Sadly, they get a lot more PR than the moderate religious who don't have any problem with Darwin.  

                (Even the late Pope didn't have any problem with Darwin!)

                "Virginia Woolf's idea of a room of one's own has never been the place for middle- and working-class women. We work with interruptions." - Ananya Chatterjea

                by sarac on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 12:34:58 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  I had always understood (4.00)
              ...that Satan created science itself.
              •  but that would be through influence... (none)
                on the minds of misguided humans.  Not through an act of creation.  We got that in non-fundie Lutheran sunday school.  

                (note, I haven't belonged to any church since I was 16)

                "Virginia Woolf's idea of a room of one's own has never been the place for middle- and working-class women. We work with interruptions." - Ananya Chatterjea

                by sarac on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 12:30:08 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  A fundie friend of mine... (4.00)
            sees all movie aliens as demons. He HATES E.T. I asked him "what about Star Wars?" Well, that mythology doesn't involve Earth, so it doesn't apply. I asked him "what about Superman?" (He really likes Superman.) This stumped him for a minute. He decided that only non-humanoid aliens are demons.

            "Ah, you come from one of those Americas. You have my sympathy." - Neil Gaiman

            by PatrioticallyIncorrect on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 07:38:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  but E.T. is a fictional work (none)
              If E.T. occured on another planet similar to Earth it would be OK then?

              Discrimination between fiction and non-fiction seems to be a serious struggle for fundies.

            •  Why don't you give him the (apocryphal) (none)
              Framgents of Basilides? "Sophia" is the personification of knowledge (perhaps "understanding"). Though it seems to have signified knowledge of magic, in the classic period.

              Or better yet Judas Evangelist an almost complete copy of which has been discovered, is in the process of translation at a closely-guarded location and will be published next year by the Macaenas Institute?

              When they made their announcement earlier this month they didn't wish to reveal much, except to say that it is very concrete, not esoteric, and knocks the blocks out of at least one of the fundemental tenets of Christianity.

          •  so there were two (none)
            intelligent designers?  And one was just messing with us?  Now THAT makes a lot more sense.
            •  Truth on Zoroastarism-more monotheistic than dual (4.00)
              Well, Zoroastarism has indeed got an active Satan in the theoscape, but it's not quite like our two party politics here where Satan can conceivably be elected ruler of the free world, or at least Speaker of the House. :)  And no, the mythical sword wielding hero figure Zoro does not factor at all in this religion.

              I located this nice summary for your consideration:


              Interesting points out of this:

              Zarathustra was believed to have founded this monotheistic faith perhaps as long ago as 4000 BCE, but UNESCO declared 2003 as Year of 3000th Anniversary of Zoroastrian culture. I don't really know if Zoroastrian conservatives have a bone to pick with the UN over that.

              Once a strong middle eastern religion that extended into India and flourished over 1500 years, there are perhaps 200,000 faithful left, with 70,000 in India and 60,000 in Iran.  Parsees are a Pakistani ethnic group closely associated with Zoroastrianism and they produced many leaders who help establish charitable hospitals, schools, colleges, orphanages and often work in advanced professional careers.

              Jewish theology appears to have been significantly influenced by Zorastrianism during the time Cyrus ruled Persia.  It's mix of spirituality, ethics and environmental concerns seems to have reflections in judaism.  

              The referenced article points out the common Biblical words "Satan", "Paradise", "Amen" all originate from Aveshtha, the Zoroastrian language.  It includes being judged for deeds after death, but also rather humanely holds that all will eventually be purified and even the occupants of hell released.  

              In 559BC Cyrus conqured and united Persia and established Zoroastrianism as state religion.  In 539 BC Cyrus freed the Jews from their Babylon enslavement which led to Jews hailing Cyrus as messiah.

              If you want to be a value-voting, right-living Zoroastrian, you'll need to put on the sacred cord, a Topee, attend to the sacred fire, sing hymns and read scriptures, and be about the "worship of God, understanding of the right path, the promotion of social justice, the individual choice between the good and evil and a universal vision of harmony. Zoroastrianism believes in gender equality, cleanliness, hard work and charity. Cruelty to the animals is not liked and all elements of nature like fire, sun, air, earth and water are to be respected."

              Dang, have I just become an evangelist for Zoroastrianim?  This is feeling a bit awkward but all I can say is, praise the Supreme Entity and Wise Lord Ahura Mazd!  (If I can figure out how to pronounce that.)

          •  faith vs. empericism (4.00)
            the fundamentalists i know don't even bother with the lucifer argument.  they just say i don't believe in evolution because i don't believe in evolution.  they don't care about the evidence either way.

            while i totally believe in trying to convince people of the truth of evolution, i worry that the whole excercise might be somewhat futile.  

            one of the biggest splits in our country today is the split between those who believe in empericism and inquiry as the source of knowledge and those who believe in faith and revelation.  its the battle for the legacy of the Enlightenment.  the fundies don't believe in the big E so i'm not sure how effective using the tools of the Enlightenment against them will be.  

            but we have to do something.  

            "Rick Santorum is Latin for Asshole."

            by tmendoza on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 08:29:24 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  When I think of magic (none)
            I think of things like


            minus the Radical Math, though.

            Insert witty and snide remarks here.

            by Stand Strong on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 08:32:40 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Boy you just summed it up didn't you (none)
            That says it all.  Faith (or "magic") trumps knowledge.  There's no way to talk to someone who uses those types of arguments without insulting their very core.

            My book Growing Up Red is now available at iUniverse.

            by ColdFusion04 on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 09:25:34 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Clearly (4.00)
        God put in the similar human-chimp ERVs to test your faith, just like how He buried fake fossils to test your faith in the Earth being 6000 years old.

        This is also why when He created the distant stars, He also created light already en route from them, so that we could see stars several million light-years away.

        Truly, He is a tricksy bastard.

        Nobody lends money to a man with a sense of humor -- Peter Tork, "Head"

        by Field Marshall Stack on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 06:02:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Hehe (none)
        Anyone who successfully incorporates the term "whup ass" into a diary title gets an automatic 4.

        With any luck, we should have the entire 20th century repealed by 2008

        by aschupanitz on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 06:21:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  At SMU (none)
        when I enrolled in 1979, there was an argument in the student newspaper about evolution. I couldn't believe it. Coming to Dallas from California and having been educated in Colorado, I thought that particular argument was long dead. Twenty six years later, I finally get a super retort and I am very grateful. Here's a 4 and a Rec.

        Pithecanthropus "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

        by johnmorris on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 06:30:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Brilliant work! (none)
        Thank you thank you thank you!!!!
      •  What an excellent read (none)
        DarkSyde, if you're not a biology professor, you should be!  This lecture was fun while it was informative; it spoke in lay terms while not hiding from proper biological terminology.

        I feel greatly edified.  Thank you!

      •  This diary kicks major begonias. (none)
        This is one of the best diaries I've ever seen on dKos.  I love seeing more science up front and in the recommended section.  

        "Force always attracts those of low morality." -- Albert Einstein

        by eyeswideopen on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 01:01:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  No Questions - just a comment (4.00)

        The real issue isn't about science and evidence. It is about the question of what constitutes Truth and how we find it.

        For modernists, Truth is found in evidence carefully collected, evaluated and rationally processed (as you so ably demonstrated, DarkSyde)

        For religious people, Truth is found in intuition, which is supported by myths and rituals. As Freud, Jung and others have so clearly stated, this is NOT a rational process.

        The problem with the Xtian fundamentalists is that they have accepted the idea that Truth is found in a rational, logical process. They are also very disturbed with the way modern society mocks their beliefs and way of life, so they have accepted that the way to Truth is to be rational and logical. But they can't accept the answers that modern society has taken from logic and rational Truth. This is a severe contradiction, so they become highly anxious. They have to resolve the contradiction to deal with their anxiety.

        So beginning a little over a century ago, some Xtians went looking for the basic or fundamental evidence for the religious Truths their intuition told them had to be there.

        What is the (fundamental) source of evidence that Christians have of their beliefs? The Bible, of course. But for modern rational procedures to use the Bible as a source of data, it must be inerrant. This is the leap of faith that makes Fundamentalism work. Without Biblical inerrancy, the Bible cannot be used to rationally support the beliefs that are the basis for their entire life-style.

        Before Darwin Biblical inerrancy was merely implied by the fact that the Bible was pretty much ubiquitous in the Western world. The theory of evolution became a direct attack on their entire way of life. So did "the Higher Criticism" in which the Bible was evaluated using modern historical and document evaluation techniques. So the Fundamentalists have to attack these with everything they have.

        Since the problem they are dealing with is severe anxiety brought on by the many new and uncontrollable threats to their mental and emotional existence (especially in the traditional roles of family members, values and ways of rearing children) their efforts approach the kind of extremes often seen in people with severe psychos.

        Presenting evidence that their defenses are incorrect to a person with severe anxiety does not get them to change. It increases their anxiety and makes them more obdurate in their (apparently irrational) defenses.

        This is my interpretation of what Karen Armstrong presents in her book "The Battle for God", and what Steve Bruce presents in his book "Fundamentalism." Armstrong is a religious historian and Bruce is a Sociologist. If you go to my blog "politics plus stuff" you will see that I refer to Barnes & Noble for those two books. Armstrong's book is absolutely worth reading if you want to know how religion is at the heart of the culture wars in Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

        What those Creationists are doing actually makes sense, but only on their own terms. The same is true for Osama bin Laden, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Jewish extremists in Israel. This worldview is what we children of the Enlightenment are combating both at home and abroad.

        These fundamentalists voted overwhelmingly for Bush because they consider him one of them. ~His flaws and irrationalities actually proves it to them!~ So does the fact that we mock him for his flaws, as the fundamentalists feel we do them for their beliefs. Kerry was a threat to them. So are we Kossacks. Bush lowers their anxiety, we increase it. Who are they going to vote for??

        We need to understand their worldview if we are going to deal with them. They will never understand ours, although their children will. That is both a fact, and their greatest fear.


        Karen Armstorng is a modernist, and her book presents a view of Christianity that even someone as secular as I am can find very attractive. Her book is worth it for no other reason that it takes the language of Christianity back from the Fundamentalists and Pentacostals and returns it to the rest of us. The fundamentalists simply do not understand religion.

        By the way, if anyone is going to be in New York April 29 and 30, there is going to be a conference on the Real Agenda of the Religious Right. The details are here.

        There are Lies, Damned Lies and then FOX News.' Politics Plus Stuff

        by Rick B on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 04:09:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Anxiety (none)
          I've also read, and liked, Karen Armstrong's book.  But as far as fielding a candidate who would soothe the creationists' anxiety -- how would this be possible?  We make them anxious because they see us as a threat to their worldview.  And they are correct.  We ARE a threat to their worldview.
          •  Good Question (none)
            I don't know that we can field candidates who don't threaten them. But we don't need to go out of our way to threaten them. That is counterproductive.

            My real point is that most of us look at the scientific facts, clearly see that Creationism isn't possible and Intelligent Design has no supporting evidence, then ask "What kind of loons are those idiots that they don't see what I see?" We can use this kind of logic to strip potential supporters away from them, but for the hard-core fundamentalists it simply feads into their problem and becomes counterproductive.

            If I were a candidate, I think I would stay away from statements that put the fundamentalists down and if they had to be verbally dealt with on scientific grounds I might get most of it done by surrogates and leave my own position a bit ambiguous. Not so much that I could be considered a supporter of Creationism in schools or somethng like that, but not so "In your face" that it appeared that I consdered those people loons who have escaped the funny farm.

            I have read several teachers who stated that when students present creationism in their biology classes, the teachers discuss science and take their positions seriously. Even if their belief is wrong, they should not be berated personally for holding it. [Which leaves me wondering if there are any materials for teachers that show how to deal with Intelligent Design and Creationism in science classes. If not there should be, and if there are, they should be expanded to the political arena.]

            I also think that the public generalizing of Islamic fundamentalist-based terrorism to all Muslims needs to be addressed. Bush did that to take us into Iraq, and it creates new enemies for us. Yet as Karen Armstrong points out, for a long time the Muslim nations were far ahead of the Western Christian nations. The shock of coming up against their more advanced civilization appears to have been one catalyzing event that led to our Enlightenment. After that the West had better resources to put it to use.

            The last century has shown a reversal of roles as the Muslim nations came up against a materially superior West, but Western Imperialism has clearly put us in a bad light from the Muslim point of view.

            In short, if we don't understand the source of the Fundamentalist fear and anger, we run the risk of demonizing them (and those associated with them) and pushing them further into a corner, from which they certainly will attack back.

            It really is a fight we don't need to have.

            There are Lies, Damned Lies and then FOX News.' Politics Plus Stuff

            by Rick B on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 04:06:18 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks! (4.00)
    Thank you so much, Darksyde.  Mea has been culpa of not having kept up to speed on all the good work being done.
          A minor note on the issue:  It strikes me that the fundamentalist obession with Darwin results in vastly overstating the significance of Evolution theory in modern science.  What is important is not so much the Darwinian hypotheses as all the data that undergirds them. Thus for a religious interpretation to rule, we would have to get rid of geology, the fossil record, paleoanthropology and on and on. All these bodies of evidence remain, Darwin or no. I've asked scientists in many fields whether their work depends on the Darwinian hypotheses, and they all say no.  In a sense, the assault on reason posed by creationists triggers an exagerrated loyalty on the part of scientists.
    •  My pleasure (4.00)
      I'm lucky to have folks interested enough to care or read my disjointed ramblings. Given that we've had such a fine week so far between memos, Martinez, Powerline getting their heads handed to them, DeLay, and Bush screwing up talking about the trust fund to the point that every single BushCo shill talking about social security for the next month will be asked about it, I'll follow up tomorrow with a peice on Flood Geology and the enormous problems with it thus medning my week on the best note since before election 2004.
    •  Hold on a second... (4.00)
      As a biochemist, I have to say that the vast majority of modern molecular biology is based upon the ideas of evolution and common origin.  Perhaps the scientists you talked to (or I) misunderstood your question.  The underpinning data are nice, but without the idea of evolution, we would be unable to make useful predictions based on these data.  
      •  Depends (4.00)
        I think the point the poster is trying to make is that if evolution (specifically, common descent) were to ever fall (or be replaced by something else), most or all of the related fields would not change because they stand on a huge body of their own data. For instance, if somebody falsified common descent by finding, say, a six-legged pegasus with chloroplasts, it wouldn't change the fact that the Earth is roughly 4.55 billion years old.

        While it's true that "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution", all the other science that contradicts a literal, fundamentalist interpretation of the bible isn't going to fall apart if evolution were to be replaced by some other theory.

        •  Your are quite correct (none)
          But if you disprove Creationism AND if the Creationists accept that falsification, then their total worldview falls apart.

          The evidence is already there, so their only solution is to reject both the evidence and the conclusions or give up their worldview and values.

          We can see the choice many of them make.

          The evidence will never convince the Creationists. They have to be approached at the level of their fear. If you get Creationists as adults, they can only have their minds chnaged by active deprogramming. They are already brainwashed. Unfortunatley, there is no form of mass deprogramming that works. Deprogramning is a very individual process.

          There are Lies, Damned Lies and then FOX News.' Politics Plus Stuff

          by Rick B on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 09:07:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Understanding Evolution = Thinking Scientifically (none)
        Evolution is an example of scientific thinking. Such thinking is how we, as human beings and without miraculous help, make sense of the world and make predictions of what will happen next.

        Creationism and Intelligent Design is a cop-out. They abdicate the role of the human being in understanding the Universe and hand it off to some "Intelligent Designer" who performs miracles or magic.

        That's the critical reason why Intelligent Design or Creationism cannot be allowed into science classes. We are trying to teach students to think scientifically, and if they are going to assume that God has the answers they won't be motivated to get them by themnselves.

        There are Lies, Damned Lies and then FOX News.' Politics Plus Stuff

        by Rick B on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 04:26:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Science vs. Philosophy (none)
          One thing I have always tried to get across to students when I am teaching evolution is that science generally does not try to approach the question of "why."  The closest we usually come is answering "how."  "Why" is left to the philosophers and theologians.  If students want to believe that evolution works because God made it work that way, I have no evidence to refute that (and frankly, I really don't care).  However, I have lots of evidence (much of which was summarized very nicely in this diary) that evolution and common origin is "how" biology works.  I've personally found that making this concession helps put the religious students on a more comfortable footing, and keeps them from being as defensive when you bring up the subject of evolution.  Just my personal experience.
    •  A few years ago (none)
      a scientist in Britain reasoned thus, using Darwin, that genetic illness having no upside should disappear in a relativly small number of generations. Casting about for an example he came upon duodenal ulcers. In a test group, Drs treated ulcers with broad spectrum anti biotics and, voila, relieved them, demonstrating that the condition was not, as previously thought, genetic but the result of a disease organism. Practical use of evolutionary theory. Subsequently found that some percentage of heart disease is, also, caused by an organism.  

      Pithecanthropus "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

      by johnmorris on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 06:37:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  and more on heliobacters (none)
        Scientific American had a story that explains a very complex relationship between having heliobacter infections and various sorts of cancer. Apparently the little devils can actually help regulate stomach acidity and acid reflux, thus cutting esophagal cancer. But people with over abundant heliobacter are more prone to stomach cancer.
      •  Only true for some (none)
        That's only true for genetic diseases that kill you off before you get a chance to reproduce (or somehow prevent you from reproducing, by making you infertile or something). Evolution doesn't select against genetic diseases of the old. In fact, under some circumstances, there might be selective pressure in favor of such diseases. If resources (e.g. food) are scarce and some genetic illness knocks you off after you've raised your offspring and have stopped reproducing, that means your kids might have more to eat or whatever, and be more likely to survive and reproduce.

        On the other hand, the greater role older members of a species have in raising their offspring, and their offspring's offspring, the more long lifespans might be favored. If your great-grandparents had a significant influence over your survival, genetic diseases that might kill them off would be unfavorable. That would seem odd for us, but it might actually be significant in something like a pride of lions. The old matriarchs would be some of the most experienced and successful hunters (until they became decrepit) and by making sure the pride stays well fed, would have a big influence over the survival of the cubs that might be several generations removed.

        •  I read (4.00)
          a short article, in Archeology Magazine I think, about a genetic "Grandmother" theory making exactly that argument. Elders provide the group with wisdom, experience and extra hands hence longevity. I make a basic argument to conservatives that goes like this: We don't have long teeth or sharp claws and we can't run very fast. We only have one survival skill, we pick up sticks and make a circle with the children on the inside. Now if you want to go off on your own go ahead and I hope that whatever eats you is quick about it.

          Pithecanthropus "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

          by johnmorris on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 09:47:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Also (none)
          Certain genetic diseases may have advantages at certain periods of the life span or under certain conditions.  Sickle cell trait developed as an advantage in preventing malaria.  In the US, of course, it makes no sense and having 2 sickle cells genes is the cause of sickle cell anemia.

          I also add that diseases like cystic fibrosis never resulted in was naturally controlled. New medical interventions have made it possible for these people to live to reproductive age. We can't really have any idea what effect that will have on future generations.

      •  Fundies may not believe in science (none)
        but they do love their medicine based on science. Especially if its going to make them more comfortable or save their life. When my fundie brother starts to try to discredit science, I just bring up medicine. It seems to be a area of science he can understand the importance of-and it shuts him up!
  •  Assumptions (none)
    This is great. But it's usefulness as an argument depends on the Creationist you're arguing with being informed enough to understand concepts like genomes, chromosomes and viral replication at a somewhat sophisticated level. I doubt that many of them are.
    •  Good point (none)
      You'll never of course convince a creationist. They're operating on the premise that facts don't matter. But you can embaress the shit out of them, and ridicule them, and shame them, along with the rest of the Neo-Christian wingnutsia. So they have uses.
    •  Arguing with Creationists (4.00)
      I like to ask Creationists if they get flu shots. Of course they all do. Then I tell them that flu shots are based on the idea that viruses in the lab will evolve the same way as viruses in the real world. They get the point.
      (I'm not a scientist, so correct me if I'm wrong.)
      •  If only... (4.00)
        ...we had a law saying that if you deny the evidence for evolutionary biology, you aren't allowed to have any of the products that result from our understanding of it, natural selection would take care of this problem. :-P
      •  This doesn't always work... (none)
        My experience w/ creationists is that you can't use an example of adaptation which involves human intervention.  To a creationist, that proves nothing because that adaptation was intelligently guided.


      •  I suppose it might go something like this? (2.66)
        LadyMacBeth: Do you get flu shots?
        Creationist:  Of course.
        LadyMacBeth: And you're aware that the vaccine changes every year: that last year's flu vaccine won't protect you from this year's virus as well as this year's vaccine will?  And they change the shots every year because the viruses change every year?
        Creationist:  Yeah, so?
        LadyMacBeth: So what do you call that process where viruses change from year to year?
        Creationist:  I don't know, but it's not evolution and we were talking about evolution.  You're just trying to change the subject.
        LadyMacBeth: Yes, it's evolution.
        Creationist:  No way, evolution takes millions of years to accumulate significant changes.  And the earth isn't even old enough for it to have happened, so it didn't.
        LadyMacBeth: Evolution takes multiple generations to accumulate significant changes.  For humans a generation is at least fifteen years, for a virus a generation is typically a few hours so a virus evolves much faster than humans and can accumulate significant changes from one year to the next.
        Creationist:  Yeah, right.  Well, it's still just a virus.  It didn't become something else.  Show me a virus evolving into a butterfly and I'll think about it.
        LadyMacBeth: Meanwhile you'll keep getting flu shots?
        Creationist:  Sure.
        LadyMacBeth: So you'll keep depending on a technology that relies on a theory you reject.
        Creationist:  Vaccines do not depend on the theory of evolution.  In fact they've been around longer.
        LadyMacBeth: That's true.  But the practice of developing a new flu vaccine each year is relatively recent.  And the practice of keeping some samples of last year's flu virus in a lab on the assumption that any mutations seen in the lab sample will also be seen in the real world virus is explicitly based on evolutionary theory.  It used to be that no one developed a vaccine for viral changes until someone had already gotten sick from the new virus.  Now they try to anticipate new viruses by assuming that if a mutation happens in a lab virus it's going to happen in the real world, so why wait?
        Creationist:  OK, I guess that makes sense.
        LadyMacBeth: So evolution isn't just a theory, like every good theory it has practical applications, in this case one that saves people's lives.  So the next time you get a flu shot thank the people who believe in evolution: those shots would not be nearly as effective as they are without them.  Think about it.
        Creationist:  OK, I'll think about it.

        If it QUACKs like a duck ...

        by Dale Read on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 07:47:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Confused (none)
          What mechanisms would account for that assumption to wind up correct, if it does? Why would the evolutionary pressures in the lab be the same as the pressures in the real world?

          Why are they so sick and ridiculous?--C. Mingus

          by Rojo on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 01:57:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  but wait (none)
    Didn't Gawd put them fossils in the ground to test our faith. Sing HALLELUIA!

    Seriously, thanks..good post.

    •  Good Point (none)
      6,000 years ago either:

      Life had been evolving for 3.5 billion years or God made the world and made it look like it had been evolving for 3.5 billion years.

      In either case we need to study evolution in our schools and discuss in our churches whether or not we are witnessing the brilliance of God over 3.5 billion or 6,000 years.

  •  Have any of you ever heard of MC Stephen Hawking (none)
    And im talking about the actual DJ. Not the award winning genius machine.

    He has a song called "fuck the creationists," and its funny, cause in the song he takes the point of view of the actual award winning genius stephen hawking. Its pretty hilarious.

    Thanks for the diary...reccommended!

  •  Overly Dark Post. (4.00)
    That's great...'cept there's one flaw, you're using logic.

    I don't mean to be overly negative, but my reaction to your posting is the same as to Norwood's post about wingers making stuff up: logic, reason, facts have no place in the true believers' world.

    I don't know if you've ever had the pleasure of dealing with God-fearing Bible thumpers, but, you can spout all the iron-clad proofs, point out the most obvious fallacies, reference as many "facts" as you want... not gonna change a thing.

    They know what they believe and the believe what they know. They'll argue only to a point (and, in their minds, they always win.) After some point, they'll shut down. Anything you say is the Devil trying to sow doubt.  And the greater the doubt, (the better the argument) the truer a believer they are for dismissing it.

    As for logic, keep in mind the basic tautology you'll get hit with on a Saturday morning if you answer your front door: "How do you know Jesus is the son of God? It says it right here in the Bible."

    •  True (4.00)
      But I think this is a very good effort to provide the scientific evidence for those who believe in evolution so that they can stand up to someone who says that there is no evidence for it.

      Of course the creationist crusaders are just going to say it's that way because that's the way God made it.

      This can be helpful with those who are somewhere in the middle, but it is never going to convince a fundamentalist.

      "A rising tide lifts all ships." Genesis 7:17

      by dissenter2004 on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 05:25:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  something tells me (none)
        that most creationists wouldn't look at evidence as proof either.  They'd still want "proof," and I don't think we'll ever have that unless we invent time machines and send them back in it to show them.
        •  empirical evidence (none)
          I personally know at least one person raised in the fundamentalist Seventh Day Adventist cult, and he came to see the reality of evolution and left. It can happen.
          •  Right. That is KEY. (none)
            Want to know why the fundamentalists spend so much time attacking evolution? It's because all it takes is a grain of doubt, a small wedge to separate a believer from his/her faith. Because faith is not grounded in empirical evidence, it can be removed by  seeds of doubt planted by science, evolution, other religious traditions, which grow over time.

            That's why they fight it so hard. They see science as anti-religious. And I have to agree with them. I think its more than coincidence that the acceptance of evolution is so high in the UK and many other developed countries and the percentage of fundamentalists is extremely low. I think these are cause and effect.

        •  What about Thomas...? (none)
          Didn't Christ criticize him for insisting too much on "proof" of his resurrection? Didn't he say something along the lines of "blessed are they who do not see yet believe?"

          I mean, I think Christ's point was if you can see the will of God working in the universe, go with it. Stop being obtuse. As a Christian I look at this scientific evidence and just figure that's the way God wanted it to happen. I don't try to dissect the "how" through religious belief cuz quite frankly that's not the point of religious belief.

          The point of religious belief as it pertains to science is to see the majesty of God's will as reflected in creation. That's it.

          And I think God is big enough to handle a great deal of scientific inquiry as to how all that happened.

          Maybe it's just me, but I don't understand how people can see Creationism as integral to their faith.

          "It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence." Martin Luther King, Jr.

          by grannyhelen on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 07:04:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes and no (none)
            Sure the story tells us that Jesus did comment about the weakness of Thomas's faith -- but it also tells us that He allowed Thomas to do the investigation that he wanted to do.
            •  But for folks who want to believe... (none)
              ...and don't want to investigate, and then keep crying "proof! proof!" I think this is a pretty good analogy to use on them.

              The way I see it, Christ's resurrection in this instance showed God's ability to take actions that the popular religious teachings of the day told Him he wouldn't - or shouldn't - do.

              Boy did he prove them wrong.

              I think this is more of a cautionary tale about religious people making assumptions about God than it is a criticism of scientific inquiry.

              "It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence." Martin Luther King, Jr.

              by grannyhelen on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 07:27:51 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  I believe (none)
            that it has something to do with ones particular brand of christianity.  An article of faith for evangelicals is that the Bible is factually accurate and is, literally, the words of an infallable god.
            If someone produces evidence that is contradictory to the Bible, then that person is obviously under the control of "The Debbil".

            "It ain't that you dumb an' ignorant, you jes' stupid, tha's all -- but you got pretty brown eyes." - POGO

            by eunichorn on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 07:57:56 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  But the Bible contradicts itself... (none)
     was written in several languages - some of them dead - over thousands of years.

              Of course it's going to contradict itself.

              So by this logic is the Bible itself under the control of "The Debbil"...or just the person pointing out the contradictions :-) ?

              "It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence." Martin Luther King, Jr.

              by grannyhelen on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 08:09:40 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  one of my dearest friends (none)
                has, sadly, fallen under the fundie bus.
                She once told me that people who translate and copy the bible are unable to make copy or edit mistakes because they are being guided by god and god won't let his words be adulterated. And if they were, well, that person who did it would burn in HELL forever and ever. So logically, since nobody wants to burn in hell, no mistakes will (or can) be made!  Simple logic.

                It's about then that I gave up and just gave her a hug.  Poor darling.  

                "It ain't that you dumb an' ignorant, you jes' stupid, tha's all -- but you got pretty brown eyes." - POGO

                by eunichorn on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 08:42:47 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Ouch! (none)
                  That just made my brain hurt. There is literally nothing to say at that point.

                  "It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence." Martin Luther King, Jr.

                  by grannyhelen on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 09:03:22 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Maybe a stupid question (none)
                  but being a secular (nominally Protestant) German I just can´t understand such a viewpoint.

                  If they believe the bible is literally true and correct, without any mistakes...

                  How are they dealing with
                  - Adam and Eve have children.
                    Who´s going to "produce" the grandchildren?
                    Wouldn´t that be incest?
                  - Almost the same after the flood.
                    Only Noah´s family surviving.
                  - And what was that story about King David?
                    IIRC he saw and lusted after a married woman.
                    Slept with her, impregnated her and sent her
                    soldier husband to certain death so that he
                    could marry her.
                    The resulting baby was Solomon IIRC.
                    Does that mean that God needs adultery for
                    certain goals?

                  And if the bible is without any mistakes and totally God´s word, doesn´t that mean that they should follow each "tradition"/rule of the Old Testament too?

                  For example:
                  - Is your friend married?
                    Does she accept that IIRC according to the
                    Old Testament her brother-in-law should
                    impregnate her if her husband dies and they
                    have no kids/no sons? to "carry" on the name.
                  - Oh, and she should then accept polygamy and
                    concubines too.
                    Common in the Old Testament.

                  I´m truly puzzled???

                  •  And don't forget (none)
                    Jesus is directly descended from a guy who slept with his daughter in law, who was posing as a prostitue.
                  •  Having grown up in the Southern Baptist Church, (none)
                    I'll give it a shot.

                    1.  Abel, one of the children of Adam and Eve's children, married a woman from "the Land of Nod."  Nothing else is said of this "Land of Nod," however.  One could postulate that Adam and Eve were miraculously created, while the people of Nod evolved in the normal way.

                    2.  (Noah's Ark)  There would have been cousins marrying, which I think that the Bible does not forbid.

                    3.  David was punished for the transgression.  After Solomon, very few of the kings are considered to have an inkling of decency in the Bible.  I don't think that you can say that God made David commit adultery and murder.  It was supposedly David's choice, and his house was punished.

                    4.  There are sections of the New Testament that directly counter the Old Testament.  Basically, there is a change.  The extent of the change is one of the big divisions amongst Christian denominations.
                    •  Thanks to all of you! (none)
                      But nanoboy,

                      "Abel, one of the children of Adam and Eve's children, married a woman from "the Land of Nod."  Nothing else is said of this "Land of Nod," however.  One could postulate that Adam and Eve were miraculously created, while the people of Nod evolved in the normal way."

                      Maybe I don´t remember that part from the bible.
                      I always thought Abel was the guy killed by Cain.
                      Maybe they named another son after him <shrug>.
                      And I probably forgot the "land of Nod" part.

                      But do you realize that this would create serious theological problems?
                      If these suddenly appearing people from the "land of Nod" weren´t "there" in paradise they wouldn´t be involved with the "original sin".
                      You know, the reason why God according to the bible cast Adam and Eve out of paradise?

                      Not to mention the fact that if there are people living in "the Land of Nod", you yourself might not be a descendant of Adam and Eve at all! :)

                      "(Noah's Ark)  There would have been cousins marrying, which I think that the Bible does not forbid."

                      Probably not.
                      You do realize though that at best this would be marriages between first cousins.
                      With probably some uncle/nieces marriages thrown in depending on the age of the children and their gender.
                      I shudder to think about the percentage of genetic defects, babies born dead or miscarriages.
                      Inevitable between closely related family members.
                      Scientifically it´s an awfully small gene pool. :)

                      "David was punished for the transgression.  After Solomon, very few of the kings are considered to have an inkling of decency in the Bible.  I don't think that you can say that God made David commit adultery and murder.  It was supposedly David's choice, and his house was punished."

                      Sorry if I didn´t make that clear.
                      (And may I admit that I anticipated that reasoning. :)  )
                      Yes, David was punished but still the offspring of that adultery and murder was Solomon.
                      Why didn´t God simply choose another woman to give birth to that particular baby to make his displeasure totally clear?
                      The future King and a favorite of God.
                      If God was that angry about adultery and murder then why did God still use that particular woman?
                      Logically, God either couldn´t use another woman to produce Solomon (serious theological problems) or - if God could - God somehow didn´t care that much about adultery and murder.
                      He still "blessed" that union with Solomon.

                      "There are sections of the New Testament that directly counter the Old Testament.  Basically, there is a change.  The extent of the change is one of the big divisions amongst Christian denominations."

                      Very true.
                      (Although I should admit here that I read the bible last - oh - ages ago. So right now I can´t recall what Jesus exactly said about polygamy, concubines and about "brotherly obligations".)

                      Maybe I should mention how my personal scepticism evolved. :)
                      Sometime in the fifth or sixth grade I started noticing that "we" should take some things in the bible literally while other things should be taken as allegories. Or - as you said - sections of the OT superseded by sections of the New Testament.
                      But I couldn´t get a good logical answer from my (religion) teacher on who decided on which basis which parts of the OT should be taken literally today and which not.

                      And allow me to say that I somehow got the impression that some American "Christians" seem to be awfully fond of the Old Testament.
                      You know, "smite the unbelievers" and "an eye for an eye" while somehow disregarding the New Testament saying "turn the other cheek"....

                      I just wonder how some of the American Christian  denominations supporting the death penalty and wars would react to a guy telling them if "any of them are totally without guilt, they should throw the first stone"?  

                      •  Re (none)
                        My mistake.  Cain was the one who married someone from the Land of Nod (Gen 4:16).  Anyway, I'm just letting you know about what's there.  I'm a Deist and don't much care.

                        Regarding who's allowed (in the Bible) to have sex with each other, Leviticus 18 lays it out.  Sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, and grandchildren are right out.  Cousins aren't mentioned.  Now, I don't think that it's a good idea to have sexual relations with first cousins, but Leviticus 18 does not exclude it.  Then again, I'm not Christian or Jewish.

                        Regarding David, I think that it is more of a morality tale.  You do bad, and your family will suffer for it.  That sort of thing.  Of course, you can do good (Job) and still suffer, but them's the straights.  I think that it is also historical, in that the writers were trying to rationalize historical events (David was a real guy) in the context of religion.  Modern Christians do not question God's judgment in the Old Testament, though, figuring that God did what's right, because he's God.  You can alway throw Socrates (~5c and on) into the mix, regarding what determines morality with respect to God(s).

                        Regarding polygamy, Jesus doesn't bring it up.  Paul ends up saying that polygamy is sort of acceptable but that one cannot be a deacon or leader in the Church, if he practices it.  But then, that's good ol' mysogenist Paul.

                        Ah, the death penalty...  Well, some people think that since it was endorsed in the Old Testament, and Jesus and Paul never talked about it, the death penalty is right.  Others think that it's wrong for similar reasons as most people.  Personally, I have little opinion on the matter.  While I disagree with the way that the death penalty is often used (i.e., racism,) fundamentally, I do not see anything wrong with it.  That said, I do not support it, in that I mostly don't care and would certainly not fight its demise.

                      •  Land of Nod problem (none)
                        Yes, it is there. Fundies gloss over.
                        But it's a basis of some pagans claiming themselves as descendants of not Adam and Eve, but, exactly "the others," those without original sin. Their resoning is, people unashamed of their naked bodies came from "the others," and those who are ashamed-- from Adam and Eve.
                        Also leads to an argument about the God of Genesis being a god, rather than the God. As is, the deity of the local where the Garden of Eden was.
                        On a separate note, original sin is a Christian construct. It does not exist in Judaism. Neither is the snake the devil in Jewish interpretation.
                        There are also two creation stories, Gen 1, and Gen 2-3. In the second version, the "punishment" of mortality is clearly given out for disobedience. But check this out: they used to be immortal, and didn't have sex. Now they are aware that they can have sex. Ok, but what happens when beings are immortal and sexual? Can we say "overpopulation?" So this is the tale of exchanging immortality for sexuality. Not bad this way, I think.

                        First cousing marriages are not stellar for gene pool, but not catastrophic. It's called "the founders effect." I would expect the miscarriage rate to go up, but not to the extent you describe. Not that this matters, but still.

                        David is tricky. The punishment for his transgression is clearly death, and his friendly neighborhood prophet clearly tells him so. David is very sorry. But here's the deal. Just cause he is David, he gets a one-time deal from God-- it's his family that suffers directly, not him. It's good to be the King, I guess.

                        And just one more. An eye for an eye is not used and was not to our knowledge used literaly in Jewish law. It applied as "the value of an eye for an eye." And to really see fundie heads explode, point out that that verse is the third part of a sentence that starts two verses up, and says that causing the death of a fetus is punishable only by the restitution price named by the father, whereas causing further damage to the woman is indeed worthy of the "eye...." Kinda says the life of a fetus is not worth as much as that of its mother, no?

                    •  Shorter nanoboy... (none)
                  •  I understand (none)
                    how you feel.  You see, logic doesn't enter into any religion.  You have to believe that the Lord God knows what he's doing.  Just because you don't understand, or because you don't see the logic, doesn't mean anything.  He's GOD and not to be understood by the likes of us mortals.
                    Personally I always got hung up on the omnipotent thing.  He knows what is, was, and shall ever be?  But he has no idea which souls are destined for heaven and which to hell?  He made me logical and analytical.  Would a loving god create me to send me to hell knowing that I am what he created me to be?  Bah!  It's all humbug.  
                    I don't understand them (evangelical fundies) because they are willfully blind and refuse to consider anything that would cast doubt on what they believe.  "The devil seeks test your faith. Doubters go to hell.  Those who trust in the truth of God get to go to heaven."  Faith, my friend, faith is the cornerstone of any religion.  Logic only confuses.  
                    But I still love my friend, and it makes her happy.  I just don't hang with her as much as I used to.

                    "It ain't that you dumb an' ignorant, you jes' stupid, tha's all -- but you got pretty brown eyes." - POGO

                    by eunichorn on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 11:49:37 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Yes I understand (none)
                      your reasoning.
                      And I like that you still love your friend! :)

                      I guess I just can´t understand her reasoning.
                      If you read the bible on your own the contradictions and inconsistancies (spelling?) are pretty obvious. If you read and think about it on your own it should be easy to see. Unless you depend on somehow telling you how to interpret and read the bible.

                      You might try and remind her of the first rule of Protestantism (founded by Martin Luther).
                      No Christian needs a priest, pastor or reverend to explain or interpret the bible to her.
                      Reading the bible, drawing her own conclusions and following one´s own conscience are the highest priority in "original" Protestantism.

                •  ha (none)
                  Your friend's obviously never heard of the Sinner's Bible:
                  around 1630 or so, a printer accidentally left out the
                  word "not" from the Seventh Commandment, and printed
                  up "Thou shalt covet thy neighbor's wife".

                  So much for Printer's Infallibility when it comes to the


                •  Mutant Bibles (none)
                  Let's see...

                  Modern translations differ in words and meaning.

                  History records efforts to select documents and versions of documents to include. Some were favored over others. The earliest differences and choices have long been forgotten

                  Scholars trace shared lines of decent for copied documents from their shared patterns of difference... Much like shared retroviral scars!

                  Looks like the Bible evolved.

                  I support decentralist media: ePluribus. You can too.

                  by technopolitical on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 04:16:23 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  From the pulpit... (4.00)
                I was taught that everything that comes from man is corrupt.  I've gotten several fundamentalists to confirm this is so.  When I ask them where they got their Bibles the sputtering and tooth-gnashing starts.

                I've lived and worshipped with a crowd that proudly says the Bible is the literal truth, and I've also lived and worshipped with a crowd that thinks the god Ram was literally born in Ayodaya, India. That literal belief has led to thousands of sectarian killings in India, and what scares me is how similarly wild-eyed our fundamentalists are.

                But you can save all the reasoning and logic.  A true believer might waver, but most can't remove one brick from their paradigmatic brick wall without the whole thing crumbling around their feet. If they question one of the tenets then they might have to question everything they've taken on faith. That's not an easy argument to win.  I'm afraid it's as hard as talking a retarded person out of being retarded.

                The menace of religion has always been with us. There's such a persecution complex here - does anyone not think things have been worse in that regard for almost all of recorded human history?  Yeah, some of the Christians are stirring up trouble... some of the Muslims are stirring up trouble... some of the Jews are stirring up trouble... man, there are even some militant BUDDHISTS out there!

                It's not the religion, it's the people.

                •  But the example of some of (none)
                  Christianity's best prophets, martyrs and saint's are the ones who questioned their faith, Jesus included.

                  If one literally believes the bible and one literally believes one should follow the example of Jesus, shouldn't one question one's faith?

                  See, I don't think this is a problem of religion per se, I think it's a problem of a lot of folks who don't have enough faith in their faith, or faith in themselves, and who therefore need to lash out externally instead of examining internally.

                  This dynamic doesn't need to be tied to religion, as history is repleat with examples of political groups and hate groups functioning in similar manners.

                  "It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence." Martin Luther King, Jr.

                  by grannyhelen on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 09:58:30 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  All Your Mind (none)
            Jesus also instructed that one should "Love the Lord your God with all your mind."  Ignorance was never the goal.

            God and ego are not equivalent expressions of reality.

            by Othniel on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 09:49:35 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  True - They aren't using logic (none)
      They are dealing with an anxiety-based psychosis, and facts that attack the way they are dealing with their anxiety will be ignored.

      To deal with them we have to deal with the causes of their anxiety, which is their fear of the changes brought about in the modern world.

      See my overly-lengthy post above.

      There are Lies, Damned Lies and then FOX News.' Politics Plus Stuff

      by Rick B on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 04:32:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  An Obvious Point on My Part (none)
        Agree. They aren't called "conservatives" for nothing.

        Maybe beyond the religious basis for attacking evolution, they just hate the idea of change. So, a unifying theory that states life is in constant change is just too fear inducing for them.

        Side note, not really important: Many of the Bible thumpers I know come from the middle of the country. Knowing I'm from California, they really, really want to talk about earthquakes. Earthquakes! I tell them, you mostly never feel them, but the idea that the earth moves, moves!, totally freaks them out.

        A personal need for things to be stable, immutable?

        •  Psychology of Xtian Fundamentalism (none)
          Doesn't matter if they "hate" change. They are afraid of it. Fear is the basis of hate.

          The reaction of a subset of Christians is to go back to fundamental facts (the Bible), declare it the inerrant Word of God, the try to logically prove that what they believe and base their values on must therefore be true.

          Darwin, Evolution and modern Bible Scholarship all attack the idea that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, true in all aspects of religion, history and science.

          If the fundamentalists accept Evolution, then their values and worldview have no basis. Since they are living in the modern world, they accept the modern idea that rational logic underlies all Truth, so they have to attack any threat to the basis of their beliefs.

          Stability? Sure. Their Xtianity is based on a stable, agricultural-based society that doesn't change. The dangers in such a world are all dangers their parents, grandparents and other forebears dealt with, and their God provides comfort for such traditional dangers.

          But today we not only face new dangers, we get the news overnight on earthquakes, tsunamis, and nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists. Also Depressions, unemployment, AIDS, and who knows what else.

          That's why they were driven back to the so-called logical fundamentals of their religion, because the older versions didn't cover the new world. But with Evolution, the new world is also attacking the very basis of their new religion and values.

          They don't know where the next attack on their lives and values is coming from. Of course they want stability. They will generalize that to demand stability in everything possible, and depend on prophecies from their touch-stone, the Bible, to tell them what is going to happen next.

          My earlier comment at provides a description of the mechanics of Fundamentalism.

          And, if you are wondering, (or even if you're not [grin]) I have been reading up on Fundamentalist religion and have recently had what Martin Gardner calls a real "Aha!!" moment. Gardner used to write the "mathematical recreations" in the Scientific American, retired and moved on to the journal of the skeptics society or some such.

          Fundamentalist religion explains why Bush became President. It also explains 9/11 and al Qaeda.

          There are Lies, Damned Lies and then FOX News.' Politics Plus Stuff

          by Rick B on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 05:51:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for the good work. (none)
    "Or in some cases they're specialized to attack organelle genetic material such as that in our mitochondrial DNA"

    Can you refer me to a virus that targets the mitochondria?  And I'd be even more interested in one that targets the chloroplast if you know of any.


    "A rising tide lifts all ships." Genesis 7:17

    by dissenter2004 on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 05:21:39 AM PDT

    •  I'll try (none)
      I got a few hits when I looked but it was all pretty techinical stuff and I must confess, I'm a mere lowly physicist and mathematician.

      I'll pass your question on to a buddy of mine who might have some more detailed info. You might try directing your question to one of the biologists on the Panda's Thumb. Perhaps Andrea Bottaro or Reed Cartright.

      I'll throw out a guess though: Organelles are thought to be domesticated bacteria under the Endosymbiotic Theory. Chloroplasts for example are thought to be photosynthetic bacteria which took up residence inside what became plant cells, and the same for purple bacteria and mitochondria and what became animal cells.

      There is a whole class of viruses which attack only bacteria called bacteriophages. I'm just guessing, but I wouldn't be surprised if specliazed virii which attack organelles are often along those lines.

      •  I'm guessing there are none known. (none)
        Sure, endosymbiosis and bacteriophages are exactly why I wonder if there are such viruses.

        As others point out, the organelles are very difficult targets at this point given a eukaryotic cell membrane, possibly a cell wall, and then the organelle membranes to get past.  But they remain a very rich target of nucleotides and polymerases if a virus could get inside and begin to replicate.  Such viruses probably existed when organelles were organisms and if they were not lethal to the cells they could still exist today.

        I have looked for information about viruses that can target the organelles and asked several virologists and so far found no evidence.  When I read your post it got me excited again.  Don't look too hard but if you come across any reference to such a virus I would be very interested in knowing about it.

        "A rising tide lifts all ships." Genesis 7:17

        by dissenter2004 on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 07:15:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  not the whole virus per se (none)
      Getting an intact virus through the cell membrane then through the mitochondrial membrane is far too complicated.  However, there are a number of viral proteins whose effect on the cell is via the mitochondria.  These include influenza virus, HIV, Hepatitus A, and many others I'm sure Im forgetting.

      Nice work, Dark Syde.  When I was in grad school I used endogenous proviral markers in mice to do genetic mapping (this was before whole-genome sequencing, back in the dark ages :-)) and a nearby lab did work on endogenous human retroviruses.  Nice to see science I understand for a change!

      Come see Velvet Elvis at Johnny D's in Somerville, MA 4/23. Meet some Kossacks, hear great music!

      by brillig on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 05:56:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks (none)
        I kind of got that idea when looking though research and resources for this. But I wanted to be sure and cover myself by mentioning the organelles and their semi-independence, as this is way, way, outside my field.
      •  And here's a link that contradicts yours. (none)
        This article is even older (1973) and appears to agree with DarkSyde.  Have fun.

        If it QUACKs like a duck ...

        by Dale Read on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 08:31:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually, this paper refutes a claim (none)
          in an earlier paper that suggested a role of mitochondria in the life cycle of viruses.  

          Those scientists!  Always changin' their story!  First they say it's one way, then they do their experimentn', and find out they were wrong.  Then what do they do?  They just make up a whole new story and do another exper'mnt.  

          You can't trust 'em!

          "A rising tide lifts all ships." Genesis 7:17

          by dissenter2004 on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 09:38:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  oops! you're right! (none)
            The results demonstrate that mitochondria play a relatively minor role, if any, in the reproduction of RNA-containing tumor viruses.
            I'll be more careful next time. [/red face]

            If it QUACKs like a duck ...

            by Dale Read on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 09:58:56 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  No problem, I do it all the time. (none)
              Try to find something real quick and pull up the exact opposite of what I'm looking for.

              "A rising tide lifts all ships." Genesis 7:17

              by dissenter2004 on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 10:07:23 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks for the reply. (none)
                The ecological niche inside of a mitochondrion is so
              remote from the outside of the cell and full of free radicals, it is practically impossible to imagine studing it in vitro.  In any case,  I am not aware of a human disease caused by a viral infection of the mitochondrion.  
    •  The virus discussion needs a bit of fixing (none)
      From "Once inside, they head for the nucleus" to "the cell wall dissolves" the discussion of how viruses work is a bit off track .

      Viruses typically hang out in the cytoplasm, geting their genetic material copied and using it to direct the cell's machinery to make the rest of the parts that make up new viruses. They don't typically go to the nucleus, or do anything to most of the base pairs in the genome, and there is no cell wall in animal cells (there is in bacteria, fungi, and plants; we've just got membranes). Only a few kinds are retroviruses, so most don't insert into the genome.

      None of this affects the argument, but compressing and cleaning up this part would make the diary more useful to cite. Jumping straight to retroviruses and what they do would strengthen it.

      I support decentralist media: ePluribus. You can too.

      by technopolitical on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 01:56:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, it's ok. (none)
        Depends on the virus.  Most DNA viruses except pox viruses replicate in the nucleus, and RNA viruses except orthomixoviridae and retroviruses replicate in the cytoplasm.

        There are a number of viruses that insert into the genome besides retroviruses.

        "A rising tide lifts all ships." Genesis 7:17

        by dissenter2004 on Mon Apr 11, 2005 at 03:33:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Curious (none)
    has a partial differential field equation tattooed on her back

    Which equation?

  •  Thanks for the diary (none)
    especially since I've been thinking of posting a diary on the Smithsonian article on 80-years after the Scopes' trial, but have been too lazy to do it.

    Not necessary with your informative posts.  But the article is an enlightening read, and appears in the April edition of the magazine.

    Justice DeLay-ed is Justice Denied

    by wry twinger on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 05:35:47 AM PDT

  •  An argument that worked for me... (4.00)
    ...with a buddy who has been a life-long turbo Christian, and has pontificated about Creationism since we were in high-school biology class together in the 1980s.

    One definition of a 'theory' is that you can use it to predict something. Without going into great detail, modern biology/ natural history/ evolution is a very good predictor.  If you dig somewhere, or if a new species of animal or fossil is found, most often what is found is exactly or very close to what professionals would predict using evolution and other natural science 'theories'.

    Creationism predicts .... nothing. None of the things one would predict to find thru "creationist theory" have shown up - no evidence of a universal, world-wide flood, no evidence of 'steady state' creation of the animals and plants currently living on Earth, etc.

    Plate techtonics predicts where we will have earthquakes and volcanoes. Pretty nice - oh, but it only works if the world is ~4.5 billion years old, instead of ~5,000 years old.

    Name me one thing "Creationist Theory" predicts .. ..... .... ... ...

    I don't know if I convinced him, but I did get him to shut up about Creationism.  

    Those who fail to learn from history...are invited to submit an application for a position in the Bush administration.

    by Timoteo on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 05:37:50 AM PDT

    •  Yes, but... (4.00)
      a creationist who was actually thinking might claim that creationist "theories" predict future supernatural events, afterlife experience, and maybe even helps humanity to understand the divine a bit.  It isn't their fault that you so-called "scientists" dont believe in the phases of existance where the experimental results are observable.</snark>

      I do think you are right on, but I don't think it makes any difference to a devout creationist - they explicitly believe that all evidence was planted by an infinitely powerful, infinitely capricious entity  who would rather have people totally ignore the reality of the created world than to have them question the absolute literal validity of an old book poorly translated from incomplete transciptions of oral traditions containing contradictory versions creation stories.

      Never wear your best trousers when you go out to fight for freedom and truth. -- Henrik Ibsen

      by mik on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 06:41:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Most refuse to bother with evidence (none)
        Science may not prove that something is true, but it can certainly prove that something is false and the evidence that it has gathered proves, far beyond any reasonable doubt, that there was no Noachian flood. Do YECs care about that evidence? No. They either ignore it or deny it or lie about it. They refuse to be confused by the facts.
        •  I always liked the drug-resistant bacteria example (none)
          because it's a fairly common knowledge example of evolution that most people accept withut realizing it's evolution.

          Shut up my freshman year roommate with that one.

        •  Nope (none)
          in these peoples' minds, science cannot prove, well, anything at all because:
          1. all evidence from which the scientific conclusions are drawn are false.  Even if the scientific reasoning is justifiable, it isn't logically valid because the assumptions are false.
          2. all happens/happened solely as a function of god's whim - just because a theory is 100% predictive doesn't mean that god won't change his mind next time.
          3. Occam's razor means something different to someone who believes in an active deity - to such a person, the simplest explanation for anything is "God did it."

          As a scientist, you may be able to justifiably say that a given theory is arbitrarily good at explaining the phenomena.  The problem is that deists believe that something exists outside the natural world that is capable of arbitrary manipulations of within the world.  Of course, many people reconcile religious and scientific beliefs by saying that science is the exploration of the mechanisms by which the deity operates.

          What gets me about the whole thing is how amazingly obvious the basic evolutionary mechansism are - what the heck do creationists think they are doing when they breed their roses, apples, dogs, whatever?!?

          Never wear your best trousers when you go out to fight for freedom and truth. -- Henrik Ibsen

          by mik on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 08:48:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Obeying God, of course! (none)
            what the heck do creationists think they are doing when they breed their roses, apples, dogs, whatever?!?

            Exercising their God-given right of dominion over all things, and helping with the being fruitful and multiplying? (especially w/the apples :-))

            Watching the mystery of God's infinite creativity, which is manifested by change over time, which therefore proves intelligent design?


            Come see Velvet Elvis at Johnny D's in Somerville, MA 4/23. Meet some Kossacks, hear great music!

            by brillig on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 09:57:44 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  "micro" vs "macro" (none)
            "what the heck do creationists think they are doing when they breed their roses, apples, dogs, whatever?!?"

            I once asked a creationist about this, and he responded that he had no problem with evolution within species, but that the development of new species from existing ones was impossible without divine intervention.

            There are many flavors of creationism out there, but I think this is a fairly widespread one.

      •  But This Demonstrates That Creationism (3.50)
        and Intelligent Design don't tell us about nature--they tell us about GOD.

        That's why they're not science, they're religion.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 07:42:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Absolutely... (none)
          but ID proponents are not content with sticking to religion - they are not so much seriously proposing ID as science (blatently silly) as diluting science for presuming to explain the mechanisms of traditionally regligious domains.

          It would be nice if they'd accept that science is "how" and religion/philosophy is "why"...

          Never wear your best trousers when you go out to fight for freedom and truth. -- Henrik Ibsen

          by mik on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 08:59:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Whaaa!!!!!!!! (none)
      Evolution may be a theory, but creationism is a fairly tale.

      When all else fails...panic

      by David in Burbank on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 07:43:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "Science and Creationism" (4.00)
    from the National Academy of Sciences is an excellent non-technical primer on the subject.

    You can download it  in .pdf for $7----the cheapest can of whupass I've seen in a while.

  •  Bible does not teach creationism (4.00)
    I hope one day I will finish my essay on why the bible does not teach creationism.
    It simply does not.

    It simply expresses the conviction that "our god" is stronger than any other god. it interprets the scientific knowledge of 500 BC and thirdly, the stories state the faith and prayer (some Psalm creation stories/songs are older than the Gen1.1 or even Gen2.3b), that we are not alone in the universe, but that there is meaning and not randomness that rules us.
    That's it. pretty powerful. but that is it.
    if a creationist starts an argument next time ask them for the difference between elohim and jhwh and why there is no consistancy in its usage. if they are at all interested in a discussion

    •  and ask about the elilim (none)
      the godlets. All through Genesis and Exodus there is a battle among gods. Moses was battling Egypt's gods. The story of Bilam (Baalam) and Baalak is also about a battle among gods.

      So if the bible tells us there are lots of gods, why don't we see the fundamentalists also accepting this reality? It's in the bible.

      •  The Bible says... (none)
        The purpose of the creation story is to explain Israel's place in the world vis-a-vis God.  That they are created beings and God is the creator and all that implies for the relationship.  For example, that the creator makes the rules, not the created beings.

        Since God is the creator, God is the only true God.  The Bible is NOT saying that there is a battle among gods.  The Bible is saying that there is One True God, and all the others are man-made or imagined gods, not real at all.  This is what is meant by, "In the beginning, God created ..."  The story is more an audio-visual illustration (before video) than anything else. Its literary form is like a poem with the verses having a similar pattern to aid memory and oral transmission.

        •  breshit barah '' (none)
          That is, in English, either "In the beginning, God created . . " or "At the start of God's creating . . ." or . . .

          Generally, my policy is to read the whole thing. I have read past the first couple chapters of Genesis, and if you do too you will see exactly what I am talking about. It also helps to read it in Hebrew. English translations are often inaccurate.

          You may also want to read some works, such as Richard Elliott Friedman's, Who Wrote the Bible. Very clear and very scholarly. He does not find what you claim is there.

          •  What particular claim do you think (none)
            he disputes?  The entire Old Testament tells the story of Israel's constant seesawing between the Lord and false gods.  

            I'm glad you can read the Bible in Hebrew. More power to you.  Most grand themes in any book do not hinge on one or two words.  By your reasoning, people who cannot read Russian shouldn't read or comment on "Crime and Punishment."  Likewise for the Japanese "The Story of Genji." Homer's Iliad, Beowulf, or the Koran, or any other work in a foreign language.  Pity.

            •  Nobody said (none)
              they couldn't comment.  But they want to base the workings of entire societies on their interpretation of the Bible.  Language matters and if the meanings of words change over time, would even a word-for-word translation convey proper meaning? Especially if the traslations, not of one or two words, but in one or two MEANINGS of words in relation to the times they were authored in changes.  The word "gay" for a modern example.  I'd be fine with fundies believing whatever pap they want to believe.  It only becomes a problem when they try to structure society in reflection to those beliefs.

              "It ain't that you dumb an' ignorant, you jes' stupid, tha's all -- but you got pretty brown eyes." - POGO

              by eunichorn on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 08:12:35 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I am very familiar with the complexity (none)
                of translation.  I have done translation between Japanese and English, both ways.  One reason books keep getting retranslated is precisely because languages change. Good translations try to be faithful and dependable. Good translators know that word-for-word is woefully inadequate.  The entire thought must be translated.

                It always drives me crazy when I interpret for someone when they pause mid-sentence and expect me to translate.  I usually have to ask them to finish the sentence because I have no idea where the disembodied phrase is going until they do.  This may be especially true of Japanese-English since Japanese grammar is very different from English or the Romance languages.

                •  then you see (none)
                  the misunderstandings that can arise when mis-translated texts are used as bricks-and-morter in the construction of a society.  
                  That was my point.  
                  If they mis-translated even a small portion of text, or if they mistook one word for a similar word and mistranslated that throughout the entire text then the whole premise of creation could be suspect.  And any social structure that rests on its veracity would also be suspect.

                  "It ain't that you dumb an' ignorant, you jes' stupid, tha's all -- but you got pretty brown eyes." - POGO

                  by eunichorn on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 08:56:16 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  The scholarly committees that work on Bible (none)
                    translations take their work very seriously and have protracted debates about what this or that word means. They often put alternate readings in the footnotes.  

                    You have a partial point when it come to people reading the King James today.  There are differences between today's English and the King James.  For example "suffer" today does not mean "allow" but these differences should not be an impediment except to the ignorant who say things like "if the King James was good enough for Paul, it's good enough for me." (I actually met someone who said that).  

                •  Sugoi (none)

                   Nan nen kan Nihongo o benkyo shite koto ga orimasu ka?  


                  . . . religion is not a syllogism, but a poem. H.L. Mencken

                  by BenGoshi on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 09:42:32 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Zenzen benkyo shitenai. (none)
                    jushichi nen kan nihon ni sunde imashita.  Yonnen kan kyoikusho de hatarakimashita.  Shikashi konaida no junenkan hanasu kikai amari nakkata, tango to bunpo wasurechu.  Anata wa?
                    •  Buko no hoo wa . . . (none)

                       . . . 1981 kara benkyo shite koto ga aru node, mada amari dekinai.  1984 Osaka de benkyo shite, America no horitsu gakkoo sotsugyo shite ato (1990), Nihon hi itte ichi nen kan sunde imashita.  Sono toki ni chugakko de hataraite imashita kara (J.E.T. de - surprise, surprise, or should I say, "bikkuri, bikkuri"?), jugyou de benkyo shinakatta.  Jistu wa 1992 to 1998 no aida, amari benkyo shinakata.  Kono goro wa ichi nen kan shobai no tame ikkai, nikai Nihon ni kaeru.

                       And, yes, I purposefully used "kaeru" and not "iku" naze nara kokoro no hambun ga mada (itsu mo) Nihon ni sunde imasu . . .

                       Nihon no doko ni sunde iru no?


                      . . . religion is not a syllogism, but a poem. H.L. Mencken

                      by BenGoshi on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 10:53:19 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Okinawa ni sunde imashita. (none)
                        Watashi wa 1982 no ichiban hajimee no JET.  Yonenkan tsutomu ato, Mombusho wa sonna nagai aida gaijin wa nihon no kyoiku no naka ni iru koto wa dame to kimemashita. Sono ato Department of Defense Dependent Schools de tsutometa.  Watashi mo kokoro wa imamade mo nihon...

                        America ni kaette kara, shigoto wa amari nakatta kara, seikatsu wa totemo kurushii desu.  Daigaku no shigoto wa arubaito dake, dakara tarinai. America wa, watashi mitai sonna takusan kekken ga aru sensei ga hoshikunai. Takasugikara. Komatte iru.

                        •  Naruhodo desu. (none)

                           Mada, Okinawa eh ita koto ga nain desu ga, itsu ka iku tsumori desu.  Azindy-san wa kondo Kyoto eh iku mae ni, zeihi renraku shite kudasai.  Renraku sureba iro iro dare mo amari shiranai tokoro ni tsuite oshiete sashi agemasu!

                           Take care and hope we can stay in touch.  The "renshu no 'chance'" is always good for me!

                           De wa, mata neh!


                          . . . religion is not a syllogism, but a poem. H.L. Mencken

                          by BenGoshi on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 11:29:39 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                •  The ancient Hebrew language (none)
                  is a dead language . Meaning the words written on scrolls that made up the Hebrew Bible, the Christian Old Testament, have the same meaning today as they had the day they were written . The interpreters or translators made quite a few mistakes when trying to translate to newer (living) languages .

                    Even pronunciation marks were not used in the Hebrew language of the OT and rarely used in the Koine Greek of the NT . Inserting and/or changing a pronunciation mark can radically change the intent and/or meaning of an entire Scripture .

                  Example:"And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43).

                  Since Jesus was buried that day there are many who think Jesus did not go to Paradise that day but rather to the grave(tomb). So , in your opinion, was Jesus stating He would be in Paradise that day or was Jesus simply making a statement ON that day in referrence to what would happen at a later date? Read those Scripture without the pronunciation , the way they would have originally been written . Good Luck .

                  •  Oh, absolutely, (none)
                    I was thinking about how English has changed.  You are absolutely right.  Although I speak Japanese, I have no hope of reading Genji Monogatari (considered to be the very first novel written in the world) because I don't speak that Japanese.  Even Japanese people read a "translation" of Genji Monogatari.
            •  Friedman (none)
              It's not what I think. It's what I know. Dick Friedman follows up on centuries of biblical scholarship on the sources of the J, P, E, R texts. Friedman's reading of them and the way they are chosen and woven together is that different strands were written by the priests in the line of Moses and the Aaronide priests. They were disputing who had the right to be the authority on religion.

              This is why you see doublet stories - e.g., the flood narrative as a good example, or the two creation stories. This is especially apparent in the Golden Calf event where Aaron is both blamed and absolved of blame for his part.

              Friedman also discusses who the redactor might be who wove these together. He finds hints in stories about the "discovery" of Deuteronomy in King Josiah's time. At that time, there was a big effort to centralize control and power in Jerusalem and in the priests there as opposed to elsewhere. Read his book. It's very interesting and very readable.

              Friedman also did a new translation of the Bible a year or so ago that has  different colors for the J,P, E, R segments.

              Like it or not, the English translation of the bible has a lot of critical mistranslations.

        •  More than 1 God. (none)
          I disagree. I think a fair interpretation of the Bible could lead to the belief in more than 1 supernatural God. In some translations (KJV) for example:

          "And God said, let us make man in our image."

          "And the Lord God said, Behold, then man is become as one of us , to know good and evil."

          "Let us go down, and there confound their language."

          "Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods ."

          "Thou shalt not revile the gods ."

          "Make no mention of the name of other gods , neither let it be heard out of thy mouth."

          "Upon their gods also the LORD executed judgments."

          Wilt not thou possess that which Chemosh thy god giveth thee to possess?

          "God standeth in the congregation of the mighty, he judgeth among the gods ."

          "The Lord will be terrible to them: for he will famish all the gods of the earth."

          •  It is well known that the creator-god (none)
            of the Bible is a plural word and requires a plural pronoun, thus "let us make man in our image." This is theologically seen to indicate a plurality of integrated persons in ONE god, and a possible reference to the Trinity.  As far as I can tell, Jewish law has never taken seriously the idea that there were other legitimate gods besides Jehovah.  The prophets were always critizing their brethren for going after the false, man-made gods of their neighbors.
            •  The Hebrew Myths (none)
              I'm sure most conservative Jewish scholars (and after all, this is their book) would disagree sharply that the use of Gods somehow implies a future Christian trinity. It is a simpler explanation (and by Occam's Razor a better one) to accept that the ancient Hebrews had not yet completely divorced themselves from the polytheistic traditions of the surrounding peoples when they were writing their own mythology.
              •  I agree that conservative Jewish scholars (none)
                would disagree that the plural form of god implies a future concept of Trinity. Since one member of the Trinity as Christians teach it is "God the son" whom they identify as Jesus.  Jews say the promised messiah is still to come.  I would also venture to say that conservative Jewish scholars would not posit anything less than a monotheistic Jehovah.  I hope one will weigh in.
            •  Spirit that hovered over earth 'Ruach' is feminine (none)
              The Elohim 'gods' indeed have a masculine plural Hebrew 'im' ending.  But Genesis also has a feminine side of divinity operating in a key role.

              In Genesis chapter one, the Spirit that hovered and brooded over the dark chaotic world, before the waters and dry land were seperated, is from the Hebrew word 'Ru-ach' -- which has a feminine ending and is very related to 'Breath', hence Breath of God in some translations.  This Ruach Spirit played a key role in getting the land and water ready to harbor and bring forth life.

              Ruach appears again in Genesis 3 as God breathes 'inspiring' life into creatures and man, who were formed from the ground which was hovered over, the ground which had become the raw material out of which living things could be formed.

              This Inspiring Ruach Spirit (IRS?) is one of the common elements woven between two somewhat divergent retellings of creation Genesis chapters 1-2.3 and 2.4 forward.  Note the woman is formed from man's rib/spine, rather than the holy ground, since the Adam man had complained he'd found no suitable cleavable companion amongst the animals.  Maybe Rick Santorum would have faired better, but Adam knew the critters didn't really respond like he wanted.  It could have been a rather facinating story had Adam decided he'd hang out with a bear, elephant, chimpanzee, dolphin or dog for a while.  But, no, he had to hold out for a specially created human woman.  Now, how God would have gotten around to coming up with more humans was probably an open question, at least until whipping up the woman Eve (Mother of the living) for Adam.  Anyway, Adam figured out the cleaving thing was bone and flesh good, and God called all that Good as well.  At least it was all good food and sex, until the Garden serpent showed up discussing how to get around the current ethics rules, proving where three or more are gathered we have politics and corruption.

      •  Fundies are not responding to the bible (none)
        The Bible is a book that while inspired by God, IMHO, is not infallible.  It was still written by men with very realy biasses and who based very strongly in their culture.  Because of that, many aspects of the bible are not meant to be taken literally.  The creation stories and the flood story were both attemps to explain otherwise unexplainable things to pre-science minds.  The more we learn about the universe, the more we learn about God.  At least that's what I believe.  I think you will find more than a few people who believe that God worked through whatever processes we are able to discover to make something magnificent.

        "I think war is a dangerous place." - George Bush

        by Nameless Soldier on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 11:09:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Galileo (none)
      I think Galileo (devout Catholic) said something along the lines of "if the Bible was intended as a science textbook, why did they leave out all the science?"
      •  hehe (none)
        but I don't think Galileo would be a good witness for them. for some reason...

        but it is right. the bible is a book of faith first of all and every other aspect is secondary to that - independent of the fact, if it tries to tell a story of history or betrayal or what ever.

        What I don't understand is why creationists think so small of their biblical god. For me all this bickering represents a hugh underestimation of gods power.

        and Bill Hicks: Creationists even divide my friend one say: They are idiot dumb fxxx and the others: oh no!! that is not right, the are evil silly buxxxs. and then I have to say: friends calm down, calm down, lets all agree on something here. they are evil, idiot, silly, dumb fxxx buxxxs.

        why is bill hicks still so topical? and how did I get from elohim to hicks in two sentences???

    •  They're Not Taking Suggestions (none)
      about religion. That applies to the leadership of well over a billion Christians.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 07:44:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  the real danger of creationism (3.80)
    It's more than what we see in school - it's more than warnings on textbooks. Creationism means not being able to teach huge chunks of science. A Seventh Day Adventist I knew explained once to me what all cannot be taught because it supports evolution. Think plate techtonics and a lot of geology. Think genetics. Think . . .

    If this area of off-limits knowledge and exploration were to spread, it would put us into a dark age.

    It's about more than just eliminating stem cell research.

    •  Yep (none)
      My adopted mother came to visit me when I was stationed in Maine.  I took her down to the coast and she commented on the shape of the rocks.  I told her the reason they were gouged from North to South was because of the glaciers that came through during the ice age.  I lost her there since the bible doesn't mention anything about that.

      what goes around comes around

      by kharma on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 06:35:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Bible (none)
        also doesn't mention penguins, China, or BLTs on toast, but I don't hear the fundies denying their existance.

        Do they really only expect the answer to every single question to be "because God made it like that?" - What is 2+2? God said it was 4.  Why do I have to clean my room?  God says you must.  Why do I write an A like this? that's how God invented it.  

        Bah!  if the answer is always the same, then it is completely meaningless, explaining nothing, predicting nothing, totally useless for all purposes.

        Why bother asking questions? (don't ask!) Why do anything? (God is pulling all the strings all the time and there isn't anything you can do about it!) Where's the meaning to life (there isn't any meaning to life!  God winds you up and tosses you aside when he's done playing)  What happens afterward (OOOhhh! if you've been a good cog, you get rewarded with infinite joy forever).  What a depressing worldview - I don't know how these people manage to muster the will to keep breathing.

        sorry - this didn't start out as a rant, really.  God made me do it.

        Never wear your best trousers when you go out to fight for freedom and truth. -- Henrik Ibsen

        by mik on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 01:47:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  You Really Can't Teach Science at All (none)
      Just about every scientific theory runs up against the 6,000 year limit.  (See star light post above).
      •  "Star Light?" (none)
        Are you referring to the post YOU wrote, which stated your idiotic beliefs as FACT, w/o ANY attribution, proof, evidence, etc?

        NO 'theory' and no 'scientist' says ANYTHING about any 6,000 year limit. Hubble has taken many pictures of galaxies well over 10 BILLION years old. The universe is about 13.5 billion years old, give or take a couple of billions years, FWIW.

        Oh, that's right, you don't believe in the Scientific method. It's a scam.

        Hey, NCJim, this THREAD is about the woefully ill-informed and/or those who refuse to listen to anything which contradicts their beliefs. IE: YOU.

        - cdn

        "It's not that I hate my country; it's that I love my country so much I can't stand to watch what it's doing to itself." --Walt Whitman

        by grndrush on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 11:25:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Star Light, Star Bright (none)
          SN1987A was a supernova observed in the Large Magellanic Cloud in 1987. (The progenator was a star blue white supergiant catalogued as SK-69 202). SN1987A has a primary gas ring that allows us to calculate it's distance using simple triangulation. That distance is 168,000 light years. Ergo: SK-69 202 blew up 168,000 years ago or about 160,000 years before you believe the universe was created if you're defending YEC. So we know the universe is older than 6,000 - 10,000 years years, because in 1987 we observed the light of a super nova which actually occurred in 166,000 BC. And SN1987A is the closest Super Nova seen in decades. There are thousands more catalogued that are millions or billions of light years away, thus supporting the contention that the universe is much older than your personal interpretation of Genesis allows. Given that your peraonal interp is thus falsified, it makes sense to reject you claims. ("Who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?")
          How We Know The Light Did Not Slow Down  
          We also know the light from 1987A has not slowed down during transit because if it had, among other enormous physical problems, events on 1987A would be in 'slow motion' and they're not, again direct observation. SN1987A  also gives us rock solid evidence that radiodecay processes operated at the same rate in the remote past as they do today. During the super nova explosion exotic isotopes were created with short half lives such as cobalt 56 and nickel 55. We can observe the decay sequence of those isotopes in the spectral emission of 1987A. They match exactly the empirically measured rates on earth which are also the theoretically predicted rates universally applicable in the entire universe. Thus SN1987A is a 'twofer' in falsifying YEC

          Are you defending Young Earth Creationism? If so, how do explain SN1987A?
          If your explanation is that God, or the Devil, created star light enroute to appear ancient, how would we test this, and couldn't the same be true of any evidence you don't like? So how would that have anything to do with science, or even common sense?

        •  picky, picky, picky (none)
          "Hubble has taken many pictures of galaxies well over 10 BILLION years old."

          Actually, what the Hubble telescope has taken pictures of,
          is light from galaxies that's 10 billion years old; the
          galaxies themselves were much younger at the time.

          (Just trying to be picky, honest. <grin>)


    •  People, We Have No Clue (4.00)
      It's not the clergy that's leading us into the new Dark Age, it's the economy.

      Technology has passed the tipping point where the economy can prosper indefinitely as education declines arbitrarily.

      Superstition and fundamentalism are stepping in to resume their historic role of supporting people who have a declining ability to understand and influence their world. But that's not due to a lack of education, it's due to our collossal failure over the past 3+ generations to advance our political system's support of the people as we advanced the economy to multiply the powers of its owners.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 07:51:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hammer, meet the nail's head (none)
        Spot-on, Gooserock.

        And (I'd add) over those same 3+ generations, we've been handed endless received wisdom to the effect that whatever "advances" the economy is almost by-definition a good thing (the converse is also presented as gospel). It's an awful lot easier to live with yourself, vote against your interests, etc. when you can substitute economic data (or somesuch bullshit--like today's DJIA number as reported on the evening news) for morality.

        Some will rob you with a six-gun / And some with a fountain pen. -- Woody Guthrie

        by abw on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 11:40:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Creationists demanding proof?! (none)
    My response to creationists demanding "proof" would be to cite everything you said here and THEN ask them to present their "proof". Of course they would say that they don't need proof because they have faith in what is said in the bible. Talk about a double standard.

    The greatest threat to personal freedom comes from ones own government.

    by Mark701 on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 06:08:24 AM PDT

  •  Religious virus infecting the text? (4.00)
    I think you meant to refer to the "antibody cavalry" rather than the "antibody Calvary."  But that's just a cavil.  Very nice piece.
  •  You're a great teacher-- (none)
    I have zero math and science capability, and I learned from this and am really grateful for this clear and compelling can of whup ass!  Thank you!
  •  Dr. Lilith (none)
    The link Dr. Lilith's hot schematic is broken...
  •  Thanks... (none)
    ...for the easy to understand explanation for those of limited knowledge in this area (such as myself!).    

    Be the creature. (But not a Republican.)

    by boran2 on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 06:18:29 AM PDT

  •  Ah, DarkSyde, but... (none)
    do you have proof that Human-chimp ERV's are actually talking points from GOP party leaders, or are they just a bunch of worthless IOU's?

    Shit, I'm sorry, I haven't had my coffee yet.

    Seriously, awesome post.

    US Dead in Iraq = 1530
    WMD Found = 0

    by Glenn in NYC on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 06:20:50 AM PDT

  •  I'm a scientist (none)
    so I understand this.  The problem is most people, esp. fundies, are not scientists nor do they understand science.  

    "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent."

    by ssundstoel on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 06:26:28 AM PDT

  •  I have no objection to Creationism... (3.50)
    being taught as a philosphic or theologic theory.

    In fact, I think it can serve a useful purpose in distinguishing between science and philosophy--what science is and is not.

    But it shouldn't be taught in a science class, other than as a notation--(See philosophy, theology).

  •  I believe in intelligent design (none)
    I believe in intelligent design in the sense that I believe there is a God who set up the rules for the universe, from quantum physics to behavioral psychology.  I believe that the Biblical account of creation is a parable, not a historical account.  I don't believe that God is from an alien race, but heck, they may have been involved in the grand scheme (I wonder if schools are going to teach that). In short, as I see it, intelligent design can be an enhancement to either evolution or creationism.

    All your points are, to me, quite convincing.  But creationists don't operate on logic, they rely on faith, not about God, but about what they have been taught about God.

    So, if God is all knowing and powerful, why are there so many examples in nature of extinctions,  evolutionary dead ends, and other examples of "cosmic oops?"  To test our faith?  I think that an all knowing and powerful being would be able to write a better quiz than that.

    I think if you want to engage a creationist, you have to listen first and not attack even if your points are so convincing.  **You** won't be able to dislodge a long held belief.  That's something that has to come from each individual.  What you can do is plant seeds that will get the individual thinking.  Facts won't work.  What might work is using one strongly held belief to purge a less-strongly held belief.

    •  question of faith (none)
      The question is: what is their faith in.

      and the problem is their faith is in the literacy of  the biblical text, or more precise of excerpts of the biblical text. That is the crux of the problem, as you all well know, but it cannot be repeated often enough.

      Literalists are unable to see the bible as a document expressing faith in the biblical god and human attempts to describe many, many relationship to his god. they are afrait of loosing a guidance, that they never rely on in their actual lifes, the guidance of literacy.

      It is so frustrating that we still cannot move on from this silly debate.

    •  So the God that Designed God (none)
      So the God that designed our God must have been really, really, really inteligent.

      Not to mention the God that designed the God that designed our God.

    •  Oy! (none)
      There is no point in engaging a creationist.  You have your dogma that denies the existence of the universe we live in for a primitive, tribal fantasy of existence.  

      Intelligent Design, itself, is disguised/sanatized Christian Fundamentalist propaganda.  It explains nothing.  It predicts nothing.  All its arguments tend to be circular denials of reality that boil down to: "I refuse to understand, therefore evolution is false; God is good."

    •  Just curious (none)
      You wrote:
      I believe in intelligent design in the sense that I believe there is a God who set up the rules for the universe, from quantum physics to behavioral psychology.

      So, if God is all knowing and powerful, why are there so many examples in nature of extinctions,  evolutionary dead ends, and other examples of "cosmic oops?"  To test our faith?  I think that an all knowing and powerful being would be able to write a better quiz than that.

      So is your concept of God that he set up the rules for the universe, but he is not all-knowing and powerful?


      •  No (none)
        "So is your concept of God that he set up the rules for the universe, but he is not all-knowing and powerful?"

        No, the two are not incompatible.  God set up the rules and watches the way things play out.

        I think you misunderstood my post.  I think it's possible to believe in the concept of God as an intelligent designer (albeit not as creationists portray ID) and also acknowledge the reality of the evidence presented in Dark Syde's post.

        What I'm saying is that that evidence, and any other scientific evidence that may be developed, isn't an effective counter to faith.  You can only counter a belief with a more strongly-held belief.  So, consider this argument that might be made to a creationist.

        God is all-knowing, all-powerful, etc.
        God created all things
        "Anomalies" in nature (e.g., extinctions etc.) were knowingly created by God.

        Now why would that be?
        Creationist answer: "To test our faith."

        But isn't that a poor way to test someone's faith?  Why would God purposely create dinosaurs and hundreds of other species, then kill them off just to test someone's faith?  If God wanted to test faith, there would be more instances of Christians being fed to lions in the Coliseum.  So, either God did not directly create these natural anomalies (i.e., they evolved according to some natural rules), or God is not all-knowing etc. (because natural anomalies exist AND because an all-loving etc. God would not test faith in so obtuse a manner).

        This might not be the best argument to make to a creationist, but the idea is to get them to think about their beliefs not learn biology.

  •  But (none)
    But... but... but...

    But Jebus said I ain't no monkey!

    Is you a monkey?

  •  Creationism is not science (none)
    But evolution has a few challenges of its own.  It has trouble keeping its definitions straight and speciation seems to have some real bugaboos.

    I try to avoid Wikipedia, especially for cutting edge research, preferring to rely on publications such as EntrezPubMed, Wolfram Publicon and others. One group of researchers say that certain ERV's entered the human genome 30 million years ago.  

    Because of biological barriers to transmission, the wonder may be that there are even seven cases.  Biologists argue whether viruses are "life," some argue against, others wanting a new kingdom or phylum for viruses.  Plasmids and other protein bits complicate the picture, leading to discussions of just what constitutes life.  Does a life form have to exhibit all the characteristics of life, some of them, just a few of them?   Insect endrogenous retroviruses are also fascinating.

    In my perusal I found the jury is still out on ERVs.  The crux of the matter is speciation.  If "common descent" and wildly divergent speciation cannot be tied together, perhaps another explanation will be needed to explain commonalities in genomes.  It is always possible that evolution is not the explanation, but any explanation that may replace evolution, if it is to be science, will NOT be creationism.

  •  Excellent evidence - irrefutable! (none)
    Thanks for posting this. At my university we were just trying to figure out the other day what would be a powerful, brief argument against de novo creation. This is a good one.

    I am still bothered by the question of coming up with a brief argument against the Intelligent Design crowd. I believe their idea of directed agency is buried deeply enough that it is not falsifiable by simple consideration of fossils, DNA homology, or physical mechanisms. There's no reason to believe their ideas, but what I hope for is a smoking gun like your ERV evidence.

  •  This is.... (none)
    your can of Whup-Ass?

    How about this....

    Kiss a frog and up pops a prince we call it a fairy tale, but.....add 100 billion years

    ....we call it science.

    The ERV's are the can of whup ass you want to put on creationist? This is just another long winded diatribe on an old subject. Proving nothing new and especially WEAK on providing any ammunition to counter a creationist point of view.

    •  This comment illustrates the problem... (none)
      ...mentioned by Dunkerque. If people don't know anything about logic or how to interpret scientific evidence, nothing prevents them from coming up with broadsides like this one. It's a problem.
      •  Now how would you know.... (none)
        what I know about logic based on a single post? Or how I interpet information logical or speculative?

        The comment I made does NOT illustrate the problem, the problem is TRYING to refute creationism. Religion has been around for a long time.....I hardly think ANYONE will cross the heavenly line to jump on the evolution band-wagon just because (you) correctly know how to interpet scientific evidence!

        Your comment about how to interpet science evidence is as demonizing as a preacher saying he accuratley knows how to interpet the bible.

        I have read several books from varying authors regarding both Evolution and Creation science. Scienctific tables, interpetations and timelines are moving targets as are the thoughts around  ERV's. This is not new science (ERV's) and certainly not a smoking gun.

        It just pisses me off that the post opens up as a can of WHUP-ASS!

        I was being simplistic with my frog statement because through all the LITANY above, it was just as simple and convincing!!!!!!!!

    •  Are you kidding? (none)
      If you think the ERVs are so dumb, let's see your version of Creationist whup-ass.
    •  asdf (none)
      Perfect example of the complete lack of rationality and immediate drop to idiocy from the ID/creationism people.  
    •  Hey, there was a time in my mother's womb (none)
      when I didn't look much different than a tadpole, let alone a frog.  And while I'm hardly a prince, I can dress up like one.
      However, I do live in a fairy tale.

      Voyager 1: proof that what goes up never comes down.

      by pat bunny on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 08:07:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Inheriting the Wind (none)
    Then for those more inclined to the lawyerly approach vs. the scientific one, there's always Clarence Darrow, since this thread offers a fun excuse to revisit the Scopes trial transcripts.

    The problem is, attacking the logic of the bible (vs. building a scientific case) probably doesn't win us many friends.  But boy did that case make for some great dialogue...  

    This was an awesome and enjoyable post.  Thanks.

  •  By opposing creationist directly... (none)
    you'll wind up stirring them up and making them stronger against your own beliefs. Their beliefs are based on faith, and faith has nothing to do with what you define as facts.

    You'd be better off trumpeting the strengthening of the teaching of science in our public schools, a round about way of attacking the growth of faith based beliefs that are now supplanting science, and common sense, for that matter.

  •  Perhaps - a fundamental difference (none)
    between those that understand science and those that don't is that those who don't think research is done to "prove" something and that, if an experiment doesn't produce the hypothesis the experiment is then "proven" null and void.

    In grad school, at a major university in a deep south, red state, I spent a great deal of time attempting to explain to my own research team, what our research was about.  To this day, I'm not sure some of them got it.

  •  Intelligent Design (none)
    But don't you know that the evolution of viruses just proves God's "intelligent design"?  It's his punishment for our sins.
  •  Again, FANTASTIC work. (none)
    Thanks. Your combination of wit, knowledge, and writing style makes these diaries really effective. I am bookmarking and printing like crazy.
  •  Proof (none)
    The evidence is overwhelming. Why not call it "proof"? After all, mathematics deals in proofs, and science deals in math. Science isn't just "evidence," it's the testing of hypotheses about the evidence. If the hypotheses prove out, they become accepted as theories. Theories, properly so-called, have been at least in some significant part proven. But like proofs in math, the proofs are only acceptable to those who also accept the premises. So there is no such thing as absolute proof, anywhere, of anything. Still, we pragmatically accept that if everyone who looks around the corner sees Jack standing there, that's proof that Jack's standing there, other things being equal. The "other things" include maybe there's an evil demon who has placed the zombie double of Jack there to fool us instead.

    So that's where accepting the proofs of evolution gets us: Either evolution has been proven, or else there is an evil demon who has faked all this evidence up just before creating the world, say, five minutes ago.

    "Proof" is a perfectly good word. To insist it only means something if there can be absolute proof is to deprive it of any meaning at all, since there can never be absolute proof. To the creationists: There is very good proof of evolution. If you aren't persuaded by it, that's your right, but we'd seriously suggest you get examined for brain damage, and tested for holes in your education. Because the proof of evolution is as good as the proof that rocks are hard and water wet. Plainly put: If you don't believe these proofs, you're clinically crazy or else an imbecile.

    •  As a scientist, (none)
      I have problems with using the word "proof" to describe a theory that has as grand a scale as evolution.  It is too complex a theory today to be considered prooved, really.  I think that the evidence is overwhelming, and I think that it cannot be considered anything but true beyond a reasonable doubt, but proof is a big word in the world of science.
  •  NOT True... (none)
    Guys... this is the sort of thing that kinda labels the Democratic party as HEY IM ANTI FAMILY AND ANTI GOD etc etc etc and send sa really powerful message (in a bad way) and turns off so many people.

    I'm a religious Democrat, I hate Dubya with a burning passion and thinik he is a evil spiteful man, however there are so many flaws in evolution and therios are replaced with more theories when flaws are found in them.

    THe fact alone that so many facts, like the earth was round, was written in a time WAY BEFORE science found stuff like this out. You guys are open minded... dont be so closed minded like this.

    •  But, Mikeybabe, that's the essence of science: (none)
      theories are replaced with more theories when flaws are found in them.

      Yes! Exactly! That's just called science, guy:  Testing hypotheses -- some of which fail and therefore require new hypotheses to replace them.  Hell, you don't even have to call it "science," it's how we all learn anything.  (Hypothesis: if I put my hand on the stove, it will feel good.  Fuck! OK, new hypothesis...")

      The important thing is, as DarkSyde pointed out -- the theories of how evolution works are constantly being tinkered with, and no doubt will be for a long time to come, as more data comes in.  But the fact of evolution is, as DarkSyde so eloquently demonstrates, really beyond serious dispute.

      US Dead in Iraq = 1544
      WMD Found = 0

      by Glenn in NYC on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 08:13:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Mikeybabe says (none)
        there are so many flaws in evolution

        Such as?  

        •  10 reasons.... (none)
          I'll give you a few reasons to chew on. Only know that its a personal thing and you have to find out personally. Democrats are so openminded so be open to this, not like the Reepubs pretending to love God.

          Lets start with a devination of science. Science. According to the Oxford Dictionary science is "A branch of study which is concerned either with a connected body of demonstrated truths or with observed facts systematically classified and more or less colligated by being brought under general laws, and which includes trustworthy methods for the discovery of new truth within its own domain."

          For a postulate to qualify as a scientific theory is must fulfill three basic criteria.

          1. The postulate must be observable.

          2. The postulate must be capable of repeatable experimental verification.

          3. The postulate must withstand a falsifiability test, or an experiment must be conceived the failure of which would disprove the postulate.

          either evolution nor creation can meet the above three criteria and thus are not theories but postulates. In fact neither are fully capable of becoming theories because of the limits of observing events that happened many years in the past

          THERE are so many... its like swiss cheese. Sooo many holes.. hehe sorry for hte horrible analogy

          •  Gravity? (none)
            Have you seen it?
            No one has. We see its EFFECTS. And we can measure things that fall in line with predictions. Evolution is very similar in that respect.
            Repeated experimental verification is also available. Look at two species that fossil records indicate diverged X million years ago. Then look at the sequence of their DNA where it encodes some essential genes (some favorites: 16S ribosomal subunit, glycolysis genes). Compare those, multiply by the rate of spontaneous mutation (chance of making a mistake when copying DNA to pass on to offspring). Guess what you see. Yup, about what the fossils said.
            Falsifiability test. Sure. The experiments above giving much shorter time period than fossils would surely falsify the common discent theory. If they did it consistently (in many organisms, rather than in a particular example where there may be other factors), the theory surelly would be in trouble.
            Is this all you got?
            •  Ontology and Epistemology (none)
              This definition is not accepted by philosophers of science:

              1. statements need to be testable. They must be stated in such a way that evidence could potentialy call them into question or discredit them. Theories are almost never directly "falsified" for many reasons and many propositions cannot be completely falsified;
              2. You do not need controlled experiments. You need to be able to test against data and evidence;
              3. Not all sciences are "law like" science. Science can deal in probablistic generalizations.
              •  Falsifiability (none)
                Models and theories make predictions. It's those predictions that can be tested and falsified. Should that happen, the model needs to be thrown out or adjusted.
                Experiments do need to be controlled. But there are a bunch of different ways to control the molecular clock experiments.
                All science is essentially probability. You can never proove that while you left your cells to grow overnight, aliens did not come down and mess with them. But by repeating controlled experiments and testing various predictions of our models, we come pretty close.
          •  False and False (none)
            I notice that you copied your erroneous claims, apparently from

            You need to learn to discriminate between sense and nonsense. The page you copied from is full of nonsense.

            The theory of evolution fits the scientific method just fine. Let's look at your particular claims. Evolution is observable and it has been observed. There have been repeated experimental verifications of evolution. You may not understand how this is so, but the literature is full of such tests. Evolution has withstood falsifiability experiments. So your claim that evolution does not qualify, even by the standards that you propose, is false.

            It is my experience that anti-evolution creationists either know they are telling lies, but tell them anyway (eg Gish, Hovind, DI, AIG), or are so ignorant of the science under discussion that they merely repeat lies that others told them. It appears that you fall into the latter category. Repeating lies about someone without regard for the truth is libel. You have just libelled science, is that Christian?

          •  Sorry (none)
            You haven't actually named a flaw in the theory of evolution, only repeated your original claim in a more long-winded fashion.  Why is that?  Is it because you can't actually name any?  

            If you can, please do so.  Be specific.  

    •  You say: (none)
      "[theories] are replaced with more theories when flaws are found in them" as if it were a bad thing.

      Is it better to simply stick with one theory, even when flaws are found in it? That's my story and I'm sticking to it?

      It's always seemed to me that the willingness to change and adapt it's views is the power of science, not a weakness.

      (As for the earth being round, Revelation 7:1 clearly states that there were angels standing at the four corners of the earth. Hardly possible if the world were really round.)

      "What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out, which is the exact opposite." - Bertrand Russell

      by Mad Dog Rackham on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 08:24:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  this thread may be confrontational.. (none)
      but don't forget that evolution is under attack from creationists.. not the other way around.  Evolution only presents a threat to religion in the fact that it is correct.

      There is a wealth of info on the web to help you understand evolution.  The talkOrigins site is a good place to start.

      That's what I'm on about. Did you see him repressing me?

      by sommervr on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 08:30:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  TalkOrigins is a bodacious site. (none)
        But it suffers from constantly morphing definitions and assumptions.  An essay may begin on one basis and subtlely shift its basis before the end.  Or essays sometimes conflict with one another in their basis, so that between-essay conclusions do not follow.  Careful reading will reveal such conflicts and inconsistencies.  But since most creationists are laymen anyway, they'll never notice.
  •  Evolution debate not about evolution (4.00)
    Sadly, I do not think that the debate about evolution is really about evolution and creationism.  I think that it would be great if it was, but after doing some thought about it, I believe that it is instead part of a greater effort to discredit science and reason.  If you can get people to stop using reason, you can get them to do anything and play follow-the-leader.

    Christian fundamentalists may see the theory of evolution as a threat to their ideology of the 6-day creation, but if you think about it, the 6-day creation has little to nothing to do with the important parts of Christianity.  I think that they are much more concerned about people using reason, as they think that reason is a greater threat to their beliefs.  That is why they use questions like, "Do you believe in evolution?"  You shouldn't "believe in evolution," of course, as it is a scientific theory and not a religious or philosophical dogma.  The evidence simply indicates that it is true.  But, if the fundies can get you to say that you "believe in evolution," they can show that you have a belief that is competing with their own, thereby showing their followers that you are not to be trusted.

    Great post, DarkSyde.

    •  Right (none)
      it's also exhibit A in how to feel like the world is against you when you're running the show - because feeling like the (heathen, secular) world is against you has been so very central in american fundie circles for decades now. Popular culture is antichristian, your friends are antichristian, the schools are antichristian, etc - this is all necessary to feed the energy of the community.

      Folks're finding themselves in a bit of a bind now that they've moved the party in charge of all branches of govt right on over to their sandbox.  That is where I think the rekindling of this debate comes from, even the sudden taking up of fairly radical positions in the Terri Schiavo case - it's about pushing farther for issues that WILL be dismissed by the mainstream.  

      So, does creationism explain anything or have any usefulness as an "alternate" scientfic theory? No, not even to those who believe it. But the debate is useful because it feeds the "Our Beliefs Are Under Attack!" meme.

      Great diary, I am loving all the science stuff lately.

    •  The Problem with Literalism (none)
      Is that if any part is incorrect (6 day creation), then it's all suspect.  Hense, they can't give an inch and they just look foolish.

      Everybody talks about John Edwards' energy, intellect and charisma -- Bill Clinton

      by philgoblue on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 08:19:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  ah great info (none)
    thanks for posting this, there have been times where i haven't been exactly sure what to say when a creationist challenged me to my ideas as someone who believes in evolution. Although i could always cite the fossil record, which of course can be put down as a result of Noah's flood or sinister scientests who planted "bones" as work for the devil(yes, ive heard this one), it's nice to have some extra ammunition for arguments such as the vestigial structures and even comparing DNA which is a line i haven't used yet.
  •  A person that believes man (none)
    was fashioned out of clay, and woman out of the man's rib, is unlikely to be swayed by scientific evidence. Since their story is the one based on fairy tale instead of reason, shouldn't it be incumbent upon them to prove the evolution theory wrong? (By some means other than the bible?)....

    This is fascinating and compelling for the portion of the population interested in finding out our true origin. Thanks for the time and energy you've put in!

    America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.--Oscar Wilde

    by rcvanoz on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 07:41:29 AM PDT

  •  unintelligent design... (none)
    I posted this yesterday in another story on creationism, but on reading a few defenses of intelligent design here, I'd like to refer again to Jim Holt's recent article, Unintelligent Design, which is the best refutation I've read.  The above is a link to my excerpt from the article, since the full text is in the paid archive at the NYTimes.  

    Of course, it's not written in fifth grade English, but it wouldn't be hard to translate the main points.

    "Virginia Woolf's idea of a room of one's own has never been the place for middle- and working-class women. We work with interruptions." - Ananya Chatterjea

    by sarac on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 07:45:28 AM PDT

    •  I agree (none)
      "Jim Holt's recent article, Unintelligent Design,"

      That's the point  was trying to make.  You can't argue successfully with a creationist using scientific facts.  Your arguments have to be based within their faith.

  •  I don't buy it (none)
    I mean, I don't buy that this line of argument would open up a can of WHUP ASS, etc.

    When dealing with people who aren't science wonks, you need an argument that is very concise.  Pointing to data doesn't help because it's just more techno-babble, and from their perspective there is techno-babble on both sides.

    The argument I use is this:  where is the competing alternate theory of scientific creationism?  Where is it written down?  What concrete predictions does it make?  What experiments can we run to test it?  Does it predict the redshift, or the precession of Mercury?  People want alternate theories mentioned in textbooks; but do they even exist?  Where?

    Now, it's really simple:  all scientists want, what they need, is the ability to make good predictions---that's what science is for, predicting---and they will use any theory that works.  If there ever was an alternate theory that worked better, they'd use it.  It's a marketplace of ideas, and nobody's going to accept your alternate theory unless it is actually competitive---if it really exists in the first place.

    Crackpots occasionally allege that there's some corrupt scientific establishment that sticks with inferior theories.  But let's use common sense:  if you can make slightly better predictions, that can be worth millions of dollars.  Imagine improving the capacity of wireless phones by 10%.  Wouldn't you like to be the one with the patent on that?  

    Meanwhile, kids in science class learn the laws of physics that scientists actually use.  This is like students in a drivers ed class learning how to drive cars rather than hovercraft or time machines.  I guess it would be interesting to learn how to drive a hovercraft, but it wouldn't be driver's ed.  It wouldn't prepare you for the reality of driving.  


  •  I wish I had something substantive... (none)
    to add to this discussion, but sadly all I can do is say "well done."  This is one of those issues that really gets my hackels up.  And that's hard to do, becuase my hackles are inherently lazy.  

    For the life of my I don't understand what the 'theo-con' problem is with Evolution.  I happen to believe that Evolution IS Intelligent Design,([GASP!] Heretic! My ears are bleeding!) and as such God's complexities never cease to amaze me.  

    Politics: It's all fun and games until somone dies.

    by advisorjim on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 07:53:58 AM PDT

  •  I really hope you meant to open your can on ... (none)
    ... those creationists who attempt to foist their beliefs on others through the law to the exclusion of the scientific consensus, and not all creationists in general.

    This is a great site, but the careless (I hope) title of this diary entry is a great example of why some find dailykos "hateful" sometimes.  There are a lot of people in the world who believe in God, and don't believe that scientists have it all figured out.  Why would anyone want to "open a can of whup ass" on them just because they have a different take on things?  Wouldn't you rather coexist peacefully with them, so long as your kids aren't force-fed their point of view to the exclusion of yours?

    I really don't understand why it should upset anyone to suggest that evolution be taught as "how scientists uniformly interpret the vast amount of available evidence," rather than "the only possible explanation."  The difference may seem semantic to some, but it's all the difference in the world vis-a-vis whether you treat people who maintain different points of view with respect or disdain.

    I don't mean to pick on this post as opposed to any number of others; it may just be me, but I've noticed an uptick of "screw 'em all" attitude recently in the Recommendeds, and it bugs me, because I think one of the beauties of blogs (and the diary system) is that they make it possible to discuss issues (and winn arguments) on the merits, respectfully, instead of engaging in the sort of overgeneralizations and carelessness that typify the "Crossfire"-style faux debates the media usually give us.

    •  I wish.... (none)
      I had said it this way....

      Your logical, calm approach to the "whup-ass" post is a lesson in civility.

      I, on the other hand vented!

    •  with due respect (none)
      people who believe in creationism don't have a different take.  They are rejecting the scientific explanation in favor of a myth which is not science.  To suggest that theirs is the other side of story, or that the creation story fills in or addresses the think that scientist haven't figured out.  There may be gaps in the science, but the creation story doesn't fill those gaps.  More science will fill those gaps.
    •  The issue is semantics and respect (none)
      as you say.  I have taught science in public, private and parochial schools.  Your approach
      I really don't understand why it should upset anyone to suggest that evolution be taught as "how scientists uniformly interpret the vast amount of available evidence," rather than "the only possible explanation."  
      allows the teacher to get on with the business of teaching science rather than engage in the pointless debate.  The fact is once you get past the debate, the science curriculum in a school of any philosophy is virtually the same.

      I get past the debate very quickly by pointing out that the first rule of science is that the only data or evidence to be considered is that which can be observed by the five senses.  Introducing other evidence, such as the Bible, may make for an interesting discussion, but it won't be science anymore; it is now philosophy or systems of belief or something else.  I have thus successfully educated students in a school where the student body was 100% creationists.  It is not necessary to "believe" or "disbelieve" evolution to study science.  A lot of the debate seems centered on defense against attack to a belief system.  Remove the threat and things go swimmingly.

    •  Reasonable point... (none)
      ...and if I understand you, it's just the title that offends. Unfortunately, I am guessing it was necessary to increase readership of this post. That's the way things have gotten around here since the fall, don't you think, Mr. or Ms. #1815? Disappointing to me, but I am still coming back to DailyKos, hoping this relative nastiness passes.

      Regarding the beliefs of others, I agree that it's essential to respect these. I think this post is directed more at the movement to take down evolution on "scientific" grounds. This kind of anti-intellectualism poses a real danger to a rational society.

      If one looks back at the history of science, there has always been tension between science and religion. It was thought that Galileo's finding that the earth moved was a threat to the religious order. The heliocentric system is now no longer regarded as a threat by most people of faith.

      This tension can be regarded as a boundary between reason (expressed most strongly in science) and faith (expressed most strongly in religion); where one fails, the other can step in. Over the last 400 years, that boundary has tended to move in the direction of explaining phenomena previously regarded as mysterious. But there's still lots left to wonder about.

      In a more enlightened world, it would be possible for most people to allow that movement to happen without getting angry or defensive about their faith. Conversely, the scientifically minded should be open to the idea of things that are not yet understood. However, I think that in current times we are sliding away from this ideal, not toward it. I think that's the concern of DarkSyde, and one that deserves attention.

    •  I understand how you feel (none)
      At any given time I have a number of e-mails going with creationists or sympathizers. They come in several varieties.
      One variety is the professional creationist, be they Intelligent Design Creationists or whatever. It's been my experience that these people are usually too deluded, or getting paid too much money, to care about the facts. That I can live with and work with.
      But more often than not, and this especially true of the ones who are getting paid too much to ccare, they also lie at the drop of a hat, call you a Nazi, and ridicule you, all of this openly in public. I can provide numerous examples. There really is no way to counter The Big liar other than calling him out for a public ass kicking. You're doing his potential vicitms a favor. These guys are like a cross between a con artist and a paid PR and Marketing Firm. They are impervious to reason. What you're doing when you engage them in the public sphere is trying to ward off more victim down the raod. It has nothing to do with their feelings or anything like that.
      In past years, it was merely a hobby for me. But lately it has become sympomatic of the Culture War between the Neo-Christian Right and everyone else. I don't see creationism as anywhere near the most imoprtant issue in that fight, but it's a great place to elarn science and learn the tactics of the Big Lie.
      And I've found that once you show a sincere Christian that nice, charming, men in suits really will stand up in front of them at Church or a retreat and LIE straight to thier faces, lie convincingly, lie with ease, and lie with a smile, they become much more skeptical of stuff that isn't a core value of their faith. I'll never shake them off their faith, nor do I care to try. But you can shake them off of creationism, and once you do that you have a shot at shaking them of Rethuglicanist use of their faith to manipulate them.  
  •  Ever heard of Charles Freeman? (none)
    Just got the most recent catalog from Daedalus Books, and there is one featured called "The Closing of the Western Mind, the Rise of Faith and the Flass of Reason."  Sounds like its talking about today, right?  But it's not.  Here's the publisher's blurb:

    When the Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in 368 AD, he changed the course of European history in ways that continue to have repercussions to the present day. Adopting those aspects of the religion that suited his purposes, he steered Rome away from the relatively open, tolerant, pluralistic civilization of the Hellenistic world and towards a culture based on the rule of fixed authority, whether that of the Bible, or the writings of Ptolemy in the realm of astronomy, or of Galen and Hippocrates in medicine. Only with the advent of the Renaissance and the emergence of modern science did Europe begin to free itself from the effects of Constantine's decision. And in many respects, the effects of his establishment of Christianity as a state religion remain with us to this day.

    This scares the shit out of me.  It says there is nothing durable about enlightenment.  It was snuffed out once before for a milleneum.  

    •  should be (none)
      The Rise of Faith and the Fall of Reason
    •  That's not all (none)
      Google 'arabic science' for an eye opener.
    •  You've hit it on the head... (none)
      but it has no brain. So, it pays no mind.

      This really is an all out attack on certain fundamental principals of the Enlightenment that made our own Constitution the wonderful Godless document that it is. Such as in:all governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Instead of God, and those chosen by God.
      But I digress.
      On the "Christian" creationist side of this attack, I don't undertsand the urgent need to promote the Old Testament.  
      What we're dealing with here are Old Testament, Anti-Enlightenment fanatics.  Where Christians fit in this...I don't get it.

      Voyager 1: proof that what goes up never comes down.

      by pat bunny on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 08:49:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yeah (none)
        I am thinking we are actually on a downward trajectory from the framers enlightenment-wise.  But I don't think you'll find the answer in religion.  IMO the growth and development of this movement has been political rather than religious.  
  •  They Will Not Stop Until (none)
    Gregor Mendel has been discredited. In fact, creationists won't stop until reason itself is discredited. The problem for them is, economics drives Wall Street and economists belief in science. Nobody with money is going to put it into a creationist pharmaceutical company or an intelligent-design engineering firm. In the end, money talks and creationism walks.

    We the undersigned urge you to support Federal funding for research using human pluripotent stem cells. -80 Nobel Laureates to Pres. Bush

    by easong on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 08:29:52 AM PDT

    •  Stockwell Day (none)
      Former leader of the Reform Party of Canada was outed a few years ago as a creationist and it destroyed him.

      Nobody would trust their money (or country) with a man that cannot reason.

      That's what I'm on about. Did you see him repressing me?

      by sommervr on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 08:35:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good Scientific Diary (4.00)
    A few people have said that your diary is too complex to batter the average creationist with though, whilst I tend to agree, from a scientific standpoint I thought it was a great read. However, when arguing against creationism I tend to go with a parsimonious definition of evolution and a little bit of cheating.

    First I suggest that evolution can be defined simply as "descent through modification". Then say that since parents have offspring, or we all have ancestors, that descent is definitely occurring. Finally - we are not the same as our parents, so modification is also occurring. Therefore the definition is satisfied and evolution is shown to happen.

    Of course, this isn't how evolution is traditionally considered because it takes such a long time to see significant, adaptive changes; but, considering the traditional view of evolution, it still adheres to the definition above.

    If all that fails I've got a backup quote by Stephen Roberts I found recently that really needs using against some die-hard fundies to see their reaction (assuming you're non-religious yourself):

    "I contend that we are both atheists, I just believe in one less god than you. When you understand why you dismiss all other gods you will understand why I dismiss yours."

    •  I love that quote. But I don't think I would use (none)
      it except under the most dire of circumstances.

      Your argument above is the difference between microevolution and macroevolution.  I have met people with Phds in genetics who believed in microevolution but not macroevolution.

      "A rising tide lifts all ships." Genesis 7:17

      by dissenter2004 on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 09:57:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  True, that quote is the "Nuclear Option" (none)
        I came close to using it over Easter when some religious family were visiting and one of the older ones was walking a fine line on bigotry, but the younger ones are not fundamentalists and they're really quite amicable, besides which it was quite a formal affair, so I held my tongue.

        As for micro vs. macroevolution, you are correct in your statement that is the difference in the two cases I suggest. Personally though, I can't really understand the acceptance of the former and rejection of the latter considered from a genetic perspective, the only distinction I could draw would be one of timescale, which is why I maintain the distinction in my mind. I still think it's all genetic change over time though.

        One other general point I wanted to add was that most of the time the anti-evolution lobby is really anti-Darwinism. They just need some harsh schooling on neo-Darwinism to put 'em straight.

        •  Agreed. (none)
          I'll keep that quote in the same deep dark pocket I keep this Disraeli quote.  

          "Sensible men are all of the same religion."

          When asked what religion that was, Disraeli replied:

          "Sensible men never tell."

          "A rising tide lifts all ships." Genesis 7:17

          by dissenter2004 on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 06:40:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Agreed (none)
      This subject matter works best with Christians who haven't committed and who have a modicum of scientific knowledge or at least respect for science.

      In public discussion with professional creationists, or private ones with halfway rational theists, I suggest using something like this if the opportunity presents itself.

  •  The only faith that has problems with Evolution is (4.00)
    ...Fundamentalist Protestant Christianity.

    Catholic Christianity, mainstream Judaism and mainstream Islam all believe that the process of Evolution could have been the process that their God used to create the Universe. Most have an idea, from one extent to another, that the human soul was a special creation of their God. However, this does not preclude the evolutionary process as applying to the creation of physical life on Earth.

    Of course, there are fanatics and literalists in all three of these religions. Some ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups tend to agree with Fundamentalist Protestant Christianity about Genesis requiring a literal reading. Also, the ultra-strict anti-Vatican II neo-Catholic sects, inclusive of the one Mel Gibson and his father belong to, take a similar view. Nobody's asked Osama bin Laden about his views on Evolution, but I would think that he or people with similar ultra-Puritan views on Islam might be more likely to say that the Quran should be read literally in regards to what it says about the origins of life.

    Mainstream Protestant denominations have pretty much made their peace with Evolution, in a similar process to mainstream Judaism, Catholicism and Islam. In the views of all of these mainstream religions, if their God created Life, The Universe and Everything in a single week or in a process taking billions of years, it's OK. Buddhism and Hinduism actually speaks of processes which could be interpreted as Evolutionary in their scripture, so they have no problems with it either.

    The main difference between Protestantism in the United States and Protestantism everywhere else in the world is that the Fundamentalist, Evangelical wing of Protestantism is dominant, particularly in the part of the US we like to refer to as "The Red States." This is why Creationism and Evolution continue to be a big issue here, where it's largely settled everywhere else.

    Interesting that we would be talking about this, because in Biology 3 we're now talking about Evolution. It's a pretty straight coverage, without a great deal of beating around the bush and equivocation like you tend to find in High School treatment of the subject even here in California.

    Welcome to Planet Baka. Enjoy your stay.

    by MamasGun on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 08:33:12 AM PDT

    •  Thanks (4.00)
      People often seem to forget that Christian doesn't equal Fundamentalist.  Just as the politicaly conservative have high-jacked terms like pro-life they have also hijacked the term "Christian."  I am a born-again evangelical.  What that means literaly is that I have had a spiritual experience and I'm willing to talk about it, it doesn't mean that I hate science, gays, or anyone else.  Except maybe fundamentalists who have hijacked the terms I used to use to describe my beliefs, they suck.

      "I think war is a dangerous place." - George Bush

      by Nameless Soldier on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 04:46:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  While I agree that (none)
    the evidence you cite is very good circumstantial evidence that humans either descended from primates similar to modern chimpanzees or share some common ancestor, there is still room for deniability.  For the record, I think you are probably right.  But there are two things that will work against you.  First, this is so far over the heads of most people that they will turn to someone they believe to be an authority instead of thinking for themselves.  Second, there are lots of PhDs out there (many of whom I know personally) in various related fields who will come up with various excuses for dismissing what you say (like supposed mathematical impossibilities or supposed failure of different species to be able to cross-breed, etc.).

    There is almost no way to win against creationists because they will almost always be able to find a supposedly authoritative voice to believe rather than think for themselves.  Any challenge to what they see as a matter of faith is automatically labeled as heresy and treated antagonistically.  Galileo was even jailed for saying that the earth revolves around the sun and is not the center of the universe.  That historical episode is sad and sobering but also provides hope that good evidence can eventually win over even the most stubborn reluctance to accept scientifically proven facts.

    The ...Bushies... don't make policies to deal with problems. ...It's all about how can we spin what's happening out there to do what we want to do. Krugman

    by mikepridmore on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 08:41:19 AM PDT

  •  Nice try (4.00)
    But the true believers dismiss out of hand any data that does not come from fundamentalist Christians.  

    I have as dear and long-time friends an elderly couple who are 7th Day Adventists.  They pray for me daily, which I appreciate--sinner that I am. They are good people and mean well, and they really are worried about the fate of my soul.

    They tell me that the problem with conventional science (as opposed to the kind of science done by Christians out to prove the Bible correct) is that it is not ethical.  It is objective.  That is wrong.  So the fundies reject the most fundamental principles of all scientific inquiry: an open mind and objective proof.

    These friends recently sent me a couple of DVDs and a book that explain why the scientific community is in and of itself a conspiracy based on "theory" instead of revealed truth.

    So until we can get the theory of evolution written on stone tablets that are given by the divine to a religious leader, good luck.  

    Come to think of it, the theory of evolution is, quite literally, written in stone.

    I actually don't think you can talk to any zealot using facts and proof.  He or she is inhabiting a separate reality composed of unassailable received knowledge.  Their cup is already full.

  •  The Question, "Why?" (4.00)
    I am a Christian. A Southern Baptist Christian, at that. I fully believe that the theory of evolution provides a congent and accurate scientific explanation of the origins and development of life on our planet. Obviously, as science progresses, and we learn more about our world, the theory of evolution will change - but that's how science works. In the end, I think that evolution will continue to be supported scientifically, which is pretty great, considering how much we are able to learn about ourselves and the world (and universe) around us from that.

    I am also a creationist. I believe that someone, something had to set this all in motion. In my case, I believe that God did it. I think that the Biblical creation story is a mythological description of the process of evolution, and considering what little humanity knew about science at the time it was written, it's not half bad: First darkness, then light. After light, then a planet. First sea, then land. First plants, then small animals. After that, people. I don't believe it's literal, I don't believe that a "day" to an omnipotent, eternal being like God is the same as one rotation of a dinky planet like ours.

    Do these views conflict? Not at all, to me. Science deals in matters of fact - things than can be proven (or more often, disproven, given the whole null hypothesis thing - but I digress). Science cannot and will not ever prove God's existence of lack thereof, and well it shouldn't.

    In the same way, the Bible will never clearly outline the process of photosynthesis or provide a helpful diagram about constants of downward acceleration. Instead it deals in matters of faith, justice and spirit. People of good will always have and always will disagree about these things.

    So, in the end, just know that there are many, many people like me, who love and respect science, and who also love and respect their faith.

    "Yes, Virginia, there ARE liberals in Tennessee."

    by TNliberal on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 08:59:09 AM PDT

    •  Very well put (none)
      When I think of how amazingly well nature is put together, I am in total awe.

      I am just curious about your situation, TNLiberal.  If you made your views known at your church, would the Southern Baptist Convention kick you out?  Or maybe you are in a church that is not part of the SBC?

      •  Real Baptists (none)
        Great questions. Forgive me if this is a bit long-winded.

        The SBC is a different organization than other denominational entities. It has no governing power over either the churches which affiliate with it, or the members of those churches. A perfect example: My church, First Baptist, Chattanooga, is a member of the SBC. We currently have two ordained women on our staff, one the associate pastor, and the other our minister for administration (day-to-day management). Clearly, this is not in line with what the fundamentalists currently running the SBC like. But, since the SBC has no actual power, we choose to ignore their stance against ordaining women.

        Another example: last night, my pastor preached on the toopic, "Thou shalt not kill." In his speech he espoused the following views: War is wrong, in almost every circumstance, and certainly in "voluntary situations." Paying substandard wages, which leads to hunger and illness is wrong. Capital punishment is wrong. Abortion is "too difficult an issue to force into a rigid decision." Many of these would be seen as heretical by the denomination, but they have no say in the matter.

        Traditionally (by this I mean pre-1979 fundamentalist takeover of the SBC), Baptists have taken very progressive views on issues such as poverty, capital punishment and war. Only in recent years has a politically-motivated leadership redirected the focus to sexual behavior.

        So, anyway - the short answer: no getting kicked out. The SBC has no power to kick out churches or individual members. And I think it's important to note that there are a lot of other Baptists, Southern and otherwise like those in my church. It's just that we get drowned out by the loud shouts of our fundamentalist people in charge.

        Some great Baptists, many still affiliated with the SBC, others who have left, can be found at - That is a more moderate group of Baptists.

        Thanks for giving me the opportunity to vent this, btw! :)

        "Yes, Virginia, there ARE liberals in Tennessee."

        by TNliberal on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 10:38:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  "Creationist" has been hijacked (none)
      While there is NOTHING in evolution or physics to contradict the idea of a subtle and patient Creator, fundamentalists have thoroughly hijacked the term "creationist."  Years ago one could make the distinction between "young earth creatonists" (6000-year old earth, no evolution) and "old earth creationists" (God can use the means that please him, after all, he's God) creationists.  But those days are long gone.

      The subtle-and-patient-Creator folks need a new name. pronto.

      Courtesy of a confirmed atheist and scientist.

  •  Mistake? (none)
    If God is all-powerful, can he make a mistake?  
  •  Haha (none)
    Every time I hear "Whup Ass" now, I think of pop;

    If th' meek ever do inherit th' earth some one'll git it away from 'em before they have it an hour

    by NorthStarDemocrat on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 09:11:10 AM PDT

  •  Another argument (none)
    Here's one to try:

    A great biologist once said that nothing in biology makes sense without evolution, and everything in biology makes sense with evolution. If you care to trace all the intellectual connections that lead to modern pharmacology, you'll find that much new pharmacology is in some way derived from ideas that can trace some roots to evolutionary theory. In other words, that pill that will save your life was probably, in some way, derived from evolutionary theory. Which leads to the challenge we can offer the creationists: if you believe that the pill will help you, then you are placing your trust in evolutionary theory. If, on the other hand, you reject evolutionary theory, then you must reject the belief that the pill will help you, and should therefore not take the pill. Put your health where you mouth is.

  •  Of course (none)
    It's still possible that God created everything in a way that makes it look like we evolved.  But when you get down to an assertion like that, it's not even pseudo-scientific.

    I have no problem with faith in the concept of creation as long as you understand that it is faith and not science.

  •  But is it Religion? (none)
    I'm not all that sure that creationism has all that much to do with religion.  After all, Darwin was deeply religious.  Fundamentalists just have a neurotic need for absolutes, and there was a well-established system in place -Scholasticism- to accommodate them.  With the Pope's passing, there was widespread discussion of the origin of his faith in the Twelfth Century, and this is another way of saying Thomas Aquinas.  I started rereading his "Summa Theologica", and there was that utterly dileniated world that the creationists require.  If religion -the breaucracy of faith-hadn't supplied it they would have gone somewhere else.
    •  I don't think it is (none)
      I've always failed to see why the process that brout us the world would influence how you believe and live.  God is no less good or loving if we evolved from monkies.  On the other hand, he is less good if he hates all homosexuals.

      "I think war is a dangerous place." - George Bush

      by Nameless Soldier on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 04:50:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I agree with many others here (none)
    that this won't change the minds of the fundamentalists, especially since I recently had an argument with one myself on this exact subject.  But it is detailed knowledge like this that at least makes them stop talking, if only because they realize you may know more about it than they do.  Then you attack their highly flawed concept of science, and they really don't know what to say.

    The less a politician amounts to, the more he loves the flag.

    by tryptamine on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 10:07:03 AM PDT

  •  What about the tattoo?! (none)
    Excellent diary.  Thanks.

    But what about a photo of that tattoo?  You brought it up - now us sciencey geeky types want to see! :)

    Republicans - Redefining the term Media Whore

    by yatdave on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 10:17:35 AM PDT

  •  The only concrete proof (none)
    of a Big Bang and a developing process of Evolution or of a Divine Creation would be an eye witness to the Beginning of the universe and life.
    Since the scientists can't demonstrate or duplicate the process of the Beginning of creation and the Fundies can't believe the six days of creation could have been six billion years, why not say God is a scientist ? God created the universe and all that is in it (including life) and He (or She or Both) did it all scientifically .
      The evidence is in the product of His works-the Universe itself . Or we could all accept the ancient Greek idea that the universe has always existed naturally . I myself like the idea of "Faith" in a scientific God who can create anything He wants . Even the Bible proves there were hominids living on this planet before Adam and Eve . Simply because Cain , one of only three people mentioned in the Bible after he killed Able, found a fourth person who became his wife .
      Maybe scientists (some of them) and christians (some of them) just do not understand one another . But God , it would have been nice if you had given both the christian and the scientists Your formula for the Creation . Then maybe not .
  •  Join This Argument Now . . . (none)
    . . .  on an Alabama discussion board:

    We need all the help we can get.  Some of these people are flat out crazy.

  •  First time I've heard this info... (none) old is this knowledge?  very very cool.  Thanks.

    You should be aware that even that kind of detail won't change minds.  In fact I am still a Christian (ok, a Diest) knowing that.  For me it is just a feeling of certainty (yes, maybe not even a rational one).  The reason for my faith doesn't care if I came from a monkey, which I've never understood why christians would fear.  I think most people just don't get it.  To the contrary of what the average Christian might think, I believe my acceptance of Science fact shows I have stronger faith.  We can still be spiritual.   There can be scientific explanations for everything.  In fact science, the truth, has always set us free.  Most people just don't get it.  
       My faith is truly based on things not seen.  Things that I cannot explain; events in my life, events in others, even my percieved enemies.  The fact that my faith seems to always show results.  The science alone doesn't do it alone without some kind of faith.  Call it childish or silly, but I sincerely believe that mankind benefits and does far better from a belief in something, and that alone to me is evidence enough.  (But just like our "fables" tell us there is a struggle between the right way and the wrong way, although I don't subscribe that there is pure evil.)  But I wish most people would realize the faith doesn't do it alone without some science.  
    Excellent post.

    Most people are idiots... But don't tell them. It'll spoil all the fun for those of us who aren't.

    by d3n4l1 on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 10:35:11 AM PDT

    •  Maybe 10-20 years (none)
      They weren't aware of tight genomic homologies until they sequenced the genomes. So it had to be after PCR amplification and related techniques were available I believe. My understanding is that although the chimp genome has been pretty much sequenced, it hasn't been sequenced with anywhere near the same degree of detail, something to do with what they call 1X vs 5X or more. So, there could yet be unknown ERVs and other repeaters between the two species.
  •  I use ridicule (none)
    I have refuted the lame scientific & theological objections to evolution so long that I think it is pointless.

    These people think they are intelligent, so I go for that jugular nowadays.

    I tell them that if they don't accept common descent despite the overwhelming evidence to support it, then they are simply not intelligent enough to engage in a conversation with me about it.

    Simply dismiss them out of hand as if they were children, because intellectually that is what they are.

  •  Ya know what? (none)
    I couldn't give a loose shit whether some fundie idiots feed themselves a bowl of shriveled dicks for breakfast daily.

    All I care about is that they stay the fuck out of political orifice and school boards. Let them homeschool their tender young and pray their Gaud gives those brainwashed some purpose in a society that will simply pass them by.

  •  Simple Question I ask the Intelligent Designers (none)
    Why do men have nipples?

    It usually shuts them up.

  •  Shoot (none)
    didya hafta say "virus"?


    (currently infected)

    "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." Albert Einstein

    by x on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 11:32:16 AM PDT

  •  Good Job. (none)
    The main problem here really boils down to the issue that we humans ain't animals.  We're special, see? Unique! One of a kind!

    As someone once said, people don't get into knockdown arguments about whether whales and hippos are related.  It's only when you start making moves to put humans in the same group as other primates that the trouble starts.

    And frankly, seeing some of the blowhards that make up the whole ID and creationist continuum, I'd rather have the apes in my family.

    At least that way when the Chimps and Bonobos revolt, they may keep some of us around as pets...

    "Every day, in every way, I think I'm going to vomit."

    by seronimous on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 12:29:42 PM PDT

  •  I'm still not convinced. (none)
    Oohh, oooh, aaah, aaah!

    Mmm, a banana would be good right about now. God, I'm itchy.

    There is a certain providence in the fall of a sparrow

    by mrblifil on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 12:32:51 PM PDT

  •  You can't falsify something that is unfalsifiable (none)
    Very interesting post, DarkSyde, about a topic I had never heard of.  Thanks for taking the time to explain ERVs.

    Unfortunately, no creationist would see it as a can of whup ass because they would just ignore it as unrealiable because they rely on only one non-falsifiable source:  the "unerrant" "word" of "God".  Theirs is a closed system that ignores any evidence that contradicts their world view.  No matter how much evidence you line up, they will just not see it.  Their loss.

  •  The standard response... (none)

    Of course, this assumes that the belief system of the hypothetical "Creationist" whom we're debating would be interested in, or could be swayed in any way by factual evidence.

    I think the standard bumper sticker response to this kind of evidence is something like: "The Bible said it, I believe it, that settles it"

    BTW, in paragraph five I think you mean "cavalry" (as in caballero), not "Cavalry" (that hill in Palestine).

  •  Evolution (none)
    It is going to be impossible to explain evolution to undereducated people. These are the same people who think the earthquake that knocked the earth off it's axis by an inch is CHANGING THE WEATHER. I kid you not.

    Also, how are you going to explain the new information about x and y chromozones? It appears the y is "eroding" and has been for 300,000,000 years. It is expected to become extinct within 100,000 years. The lesbians really are going to inherit the earth. Who knew? And the ones screaming the loudest against evolution are the men, mostly pastors. God has a ironic sense of humour, I'll give her that. And now that we can make sperm from stem cells, we won't miss the y at all.  

  •  Evolution (none)
    It is going to be impossible to explain evolution to undereducated people. These are the same people who think the earthquake that knocked the earth off it's axis by an inch is CHANGING THE WEATHER. I kid you not.

    Also, how are you going to explain the new information about x and y chromozones? It appears the y is "eroding" and has been for 300,000,000 years. It is expected to become extinct within 100,000 years. The lesbians really are going to inherit the earth. Who knew? And the ones screaming the loudest against evolution are the men, mostly pastors. God has a ironic sense of humour, I'll give her that. And now that we can make sperm from stem cells, we won't miss the y at all.  

    •  I understand yuor frustration (none)
      I think though, that this issue may have political use for us a lot of reasons. Enough to make it worth a shot anyway. More on those ideas tomorrow morning. I'm interested in thoughts from everyone, particuluarly help from theistic liberals and moderates.
  •  This is great... (none)
    ...and pointless. These are rational arguments, and rational people don't believe in creationism.  Evidence doesn't matter to people who believe that God put fossils into the ground to "tempt" people into erroneous questioning of his mythology.

    Creationists aren't people looking for the most plausible model for the nature of the world.  They're hanging by their fingernails on a preposterous series of assumptions and beliefs, because the world without them is too fuzzy, too scary, and leaves too much to their own responsibility.

    Personally, my answer to the diary topic is:  crank up the MC (Stephen) Hawking tune "Fuck the Creationists" and blast all within hearing.  It won't convince anyone but it's a lot more fun that discussing viral genetic sequences.

    The United States of America: The World's Clumsy Thug Since 1898!

    by Dracowyrm on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 01:47:49 PM PDT

  •  Ancestral DNA Testing (none)
    Here's something really interesting. Ran across these guys by accident in the Yellow Pages recently and called them. They've got a great website; here's the web page on ancestral testing.

    The lady I talked to told me that for women, the tests will tell you which of the 7 tribes of Eve you descended from. For men, it will tell you which of the 13 Y chromosome haplotypes you belong to. She said there are also chatrooms where people from each branch get together to chit-chat about their common ancestry.

    •  DNA Testing (none)
      I read about that and went to their website. They also have what they call "nutritutional DNA" testing on 19 key genes (I think) that tells you about your genetic health. In other words, if you are genetically predisposed to develop heart disease, they will tell you to start eating clean NOW.  It's less than $500. I think I may do it.
  •  The Dr. Lilith comments alone merit a recommend! (none)

    Apparently I have made the unbelievably naive error of overestimating the intelligence of the American people.

    by Citizen Clark on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 02:42:04 PM PDT

  •  Good ol' irrational close-mindedness (none)
    Sadly, the inability of people to accept something on some kind of twisted religious grounds is nothing new.  But I'd like to think there's hope for us yet.

    I think a quote by Huey Long in defense of Al Smith's 1928 presidential run (at the height of the black-hating, jew-hating, Catholic-hating KKK's power) pretty much says it all:

    "I have no patience with two-bit ministers who are trying to inject religion into politics.  Soon we are going to find out if this is a free country, and whether right or bigotry is the stronger."

    Well said, Huey.  Well said.

    All your vote are belong to us

    by Harkov311 on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 02:46:07 PM PDT

  •  How was the molecular clock set? (none)
    What data was used to determine how fast it mutates?

    If it's tied at all with the data you're using it to analyze (the estimated time of species branching), then it doesn't count.

    That would be the first thing I'd ask about that bit of info, if I were a Creationist.

    •  I don't know the specifics about molecular biology (none) based on a "molecular clock"... but I would think that like nuclear dating, you can determine decay (in in this case mutation/ change rates) and extrapolate it.


      Mitch Gore

      Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

      by Lestatdelc on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 05:09:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I usually go into the speciation line of attack... (none)
    but this is brilliant. Hope you continue 1,2, and 4-6 in similar in-depth fashion.

    However, the banging of the head against brick-wall factor is brought about because we are dealing with people who believe in talking snakes, people made from mud, women made from a Tony Roma's special, conflagrated talking shrubbery, and so on.


    Mitch Gore

    Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

    by Lestatdelc on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 05:06:55 PM PDT

  •  It's frightening, but some creationists are smart (none)
    I live in the "Bible Belt," and one of my clients is an engineering professor at a local college. Trained in the "hard sciences," he's one of the smartest people I know. He'a also a creationist of the "old earth" variety who rejects evolution because he says that it violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics! Of course this isn't true because the earth, receiving "free" energy from the sun, is not a closed system, and the progression from relative biological simplicity to complexity represented by evolution obviously generates a staggering amount of entropy. I'm a lawyer, and even I know that!

    He also claims that the Bible is literally true, but has been mistranslated, so it only seems  that the creation story in Genesis is inconsistent with what we know about the age of the earth, etc. Apparently, there is some swindler out there peddling this nonsense, which is eagerly seized on by believers troubled by the discoveries of science. This guy claims to have done an accurate translation, which shows that the Genesis story is completely consistent with the findings of science. My well educated friend's shockingly irrational arguments for creationism demonstrate to me that belief in the creationist myth has little to do with lack of education or intelligence. These people have a powerful psychological need to cling to this myth, and evidence is not likely to have any affect on them.

    "Men use thought only to justify their wrongdoing, and employ speech only to conceal their thoughts." Voltaire

    by chimpwatch on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 05:58:50 PM PDT

    •  Gibt mir ein break (none)
      A little German to help the post along.

      Thermodynamics has nothing to do with transmission and inheritance of genetic mutations.  It's (or "its," for the grammar police to have something to rant about) an example of the non sequitar Material Fallacy.  

      "...[one] must still have Chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star." Nietzsche

      by ATinNM on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 06:50:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I believe in creation (2.33)
    the number one reason I believe we are created of a higher power is through intricacy god shows his love

    but I dont believe in shoving my belief system down anyone else's throat

    the battle between the creationist and the evolutionist must not enter the public school system  

    we should not teach children on the government dollar because these theories, creation and evolution can not be proven with out any true evidence, because when the world was created either through evolution or creation none of us were there to see it

    •  read a book (none)
      or fifteen and get over being a superstitious 16th century person - didn't you read the initial post? - didn't you read anything? - don't reply - it's rhetorical - It's depressing in the extreme to find believers of creationism on kos - sad and pathetic
      •  Let it go. (none)
        Sometimes even books cannot help:

        "What anybody once learned to believe without reasons--who could overthrow that with reasons?"
        (Friedrich Nietzsche)

        For some people it's enough that it's called "The Theory of Evolution". The word "theory" is enough for some to throw away all the archaeological evidence found to date.

      •  But look closely at the post (none)
        I think real's post had an important point: "I dont believe in shoving my belief system down anyone else's throat."

        Isn't that position central to the politics this site's about? I personally am not a creationist but hey why exclude a poster from a "reform Democrat" blog because they are a creationist? (Especially since there are very many forms of creationism and some of them respect the boundary between science and faith.)

        Could you help me by laying out how this poster's believing in creation (without further qualification - e.g YEC) disqualifies them in your opinion?

        You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one...

        by imagine on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 11:13:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  creationism is not (none)
          a belief system - it is superstition - it only disqualifies him/her from rational discourse not from kos - no exclusion no troll rating - simply no interest in talking to a dolt who can't be bothered to read the evidence regards evolution -
          Only a fool would believe this superstitious blather -
          Mt dreams don't include suffering fools gladly - and I don't like political correctness either -
          •  Ok, I mistook your post as exclusionary. Sorry. (none)
            I do wonder: if you have "simply no interest in talking" why did you reply to real's post?

            You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one...

            by imagine on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 11:35:55 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  ok then lol your superstitous (none)
            i just dont believe the universe popped out of thin existence, without a higher power

            our founding fathers believed in a creator, maybe not the catholic creator, but a creator indeed

            belief in a god or a creator is renouned worldwide

            my point is we should never let our personal belief systems, endanger the over ridding belief system of the united status "out of many, one"

            as a creationist i believe in the environment, we should protect our environment because god expects us to, even al gore believes that

            believing that i have rights only given by god, those recognized in the declaration of independence, and codified in the constitution are the right not to be judged by your religion as it pertains to being elected to office,

            like when john ashcroft was grilled over his "holy roll'n" religion, i think thats wachy too but, they should have grilled him on his positions for being the number two law enforcement officer of the republic, never bring a mans religious motives to the table

            let us have a debate over the future of the republic, do we want to be a secular society, where i the creationist and you the evolutionist can abide in peace and the greater good take place, or do we go back to and enforcement of religion, whether it be of the state, or a church, or a combination of both?

            im a humanist also by the way, but that is a different diary

            •  well, you write well (none)
              and you sound reasonable but the whole god thing gives me the willies - Agnostic means not knowable - that's what I believe - that whatever came before the big bang is not knowable - we'll die and find out for ourselves -
              At the moment before the big bang all the matter and energy that make up the entire universe were compressed into a tiny ball with no mathematical dimensions - you and I were part of the universe then, we're a part of it now - after we pass on we'll still be a part of it - in what form? not knowable -
              God is a human construct - I doubt with every fibre of mt being the existence of a god like the one in the old or new testament - On the other hand I came away from my religious upbringing believing in the basic tenets of the New Testament - do unto others - turn the other cheek - love your neighbor like you love yourself and judge not lest ye be judged - the hocus pocus though leaves me coldand the way people invest of themselves in these beliefs scares the hell out of me -
              I like your egalitarian vision though - good luck with it and the whole god thing too - sincerely karl
    •  Why not teach evolution? (none)
      It's a very well substantiated theory. I think you're making a mistake to say that because we can't prove something (in the common sense of prove) then we shouldn't teach it (or at least, you're saying that when there's this much controversy about something that can't be proven, we shouldn't teach it).

      I'm not a professional scientist. I found the following text (written by scientists) helped me understand some of these issues:

      The scientific community has developed a vocabulary to describe the various aspects of the scientist's work. Although individual scientists are not always careful in their use of that vocabulary, a rigorous set of definitions can help to prevent confusion about what a scientific theory is.


      The grist for the mill of scientific inquiry is an ever increasing body of observations that give information about underlying "facts." Facts are the properties of natural phenomena. The scientific method involves the rigorous, methodical testing of principles that might present a naturalistic explanation for those facts. To be a legitimate scientific "hypothesis," an explanatory principle must be consistent with prior and present observations and must remain subject to continued testing against future observations. An explanatory principle that by its nature cannot be tested is outside the realm of science.

      The process of continuous testing leads scientists to accord a special dignity to those hypotheses that accumulate substantial observational or experimental support. Such hypotheses become known as scientific "theories." If a theory successfully explains a large and diverse body of facts, it is an especially "robust" theory. If it consistently predicts new phenomena that are subsequently observed, it is an especially "reliable" theory. Even the most robust and reliable theory, however, is tentative. A scientific theory is forever subject to reexamination and -- as in the case of Ptolemaic astronomy -- may ultimately be rejected after centuries of viability.

      Every scientific discipline embraces a body of facts and one or more theories to explain them. Significantly for this case, scientific facts and theories are not interchangeable: An explanatory principle is not to be confused with the data it seeks to explain. This relationship between scientific theory and fact permeates all scientific disciplines; it unifies the enterprise of all scientists, from astronomers to zoologists.

      A thorough scientific education should introduce these concepts about the hierarchy of scientific ideas. Such an introduction would permit the student to relate the substantive findings of science to the process of science. Just as children should understand and appreciate the scientific theories that offer the most robust and reliable naturalistic explanations of the universe, children should also understand and appreciate the essentially tentative nature of science. In an ideal world, every science course would include repeated reminders that each theory presented to explain our observations of the universe carries this qualification: "as far as we know now, from examining the evidence available to us today."

      This is from an amicus curiae brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Edwards v. Aguillard, 1986. It was signed by 72 Nobel laureates, 17 State Academies of Science, and 7 other scientific organizations. For me, it explains pretty clearly why scientific theories -- although not proofs in the common sense of the term -- are still just as valuable as something that is "proven." As they wrote: "If it consistently predicts new phenomena that are subsquently observed, it is an especially 'reliable' theory." That word 'reliable' is operatively equivalent to 'proven': we can for example develop vacines using this theory and expect better-than-random chances of success.

      I believe that the appropriate forum for religious education is in temples, synagoges, churches, mosques and other houses of worship. But if our public schools don't teach science -- and that's "all" evolution is -- then where will our children learn it?

      You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one...

      by imagine on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 11:09:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Clarification? (3.50)
    So is the reason you have to go for the virus sequences is that the ID's response to the good old 16S ribosomal DNA "common design?"
    If so, what would they have to say to a question about what kind of a drunk engineer designed glycolysis? I mean, seriously, 10 enzymatic steps for a measly 2 ATPs per molecule of glucose? AND you have to recycle the pyruvate? Incredibly wasteful, very inefficient. And present in every living being on this planet.
    Is there a better argument for evolution?
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