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If you have any nervous creationist types in the vicinity, you might want to make a scene so they see this on your computer screen.

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A major evolutionary innovation has unfurled right in front of researchers' eyes. It's the first time evolution has been caught in the act of making such a rare and complex new trait.

And because the species in question is a bacterium, scientists have been able to replay history to show how this evolutionary novelty grew from the accumulation of unpredictable, chance events.

More about this observation at the Michigan State University in East Lansing below the fold...

Before I begin with more of the article from NewScientist, I want to lay some ground-rules. A lot of people don't know what evolution is, and some are sure to misrepresent the whole shebang, so I'm going to do it here before we go any further.

A GENETIC MUTATION'S INITIAL SPARK = PURE BLIND CHANCE, FOR GOOD OR BAD. NOTHING MORE. BUT EVOLUTION IS WHEN THAT MUTATION GETS PASSED ON FOR GENERATIONS, EITHER BECAUSE OF THE MUTATION (OR EVEN IN SPITE OF IT).

Now to bust some of those myths.

Humans evolved from apes we see today, am I right? No. Humans evolved from a primate a few million years ago. And so did the apes we see today. We have a common ancestor.

Just a theory, right? In the same way that stress theory is what engineers use to build buildings, bridges, and keep the wings on airplanes ...yeah, just a theory. 'Theory' and 'law' in science don't have the layman meanings. If they did, you could break the law and then claim to be free of gravity too.

If nobody saw it, it didn't happen. Well, that's a beautiful one now that people HAVE seen it. And seeing as these bacteria didn't evolve to prove evangelical preachers wrong, it's always been a fact of life. That's what we call a weak argument.

There are no intermediate fossils. Ah, you haven't heard about the intermediate fossil remains from the ancestors of whales. Indocetus, Pakicetus and so on.

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That's what we call a weak lie!

But it's not testable. Is now. See the answer for "nobody saw it". Logical fallacy again.

Are you saying we're just animals? Yes. 100% yes. Gorillas and chimps have been taught to communicate using symbols and sign-language. Would you say a blind person isn't a person because they don't read letters? Or a deaf person isn't a person because they talk with their hands? We are mammals. Incredible tool-using ones, but we're animals all the same.

Back to the article.

Twenty years ago, evolutionary biologist Richard Lenski of Michigan State University in East Lansing, US, took a single Escherichia coli bacterium and used its descendants to found 12 laboratory populations.

The 12 have been growing ever since, gradually accumulating mutations and evolving for more than 44,000 generations, while Lenski watches what happens.

Twelve colonies, with around 44 THOUSAND generations. If a human generation is every 25 years, that would be comparable to just over one million years of human evolution.

Mostly, the patterns Lenski saw were similar in each separate population. All 12 evolved larger cells, for example, as well as faster growth rates on the glucose they were fed, and lower peak population densities.

But sometime around the 31,500th generation, something dramatic happened in just one of the populations – the bacteria suddenly acquired the ability to metabolise citrate, a second nutrient in their culture medium that E. coli normally cannot use.

Indeed, the inability to use citrate is one of the traits by which bacteriologists distinguish E. coli from other species. The citrate-using mutants increased in population size and diversity.

"It's the most profound change we have seen during the experiment. This was clearly something quite different for them, and it's outside what was normally considered the bounds of E. coli as a species, which makes it especially interesting," says Lenski.

It's just a random mutation. Evolution would mean they'd all have to change. Wrong again. Evolution isn't something that slowly turned us from ape-ancestor into mankind over 5 million years. There was nothing unusual for generations, just an increase in size (did you know the average height of an adult at the end of the Roman Empire was under 5'6"? Any change in size is not proof positive of evolution: it could be down to nutrition).

But then, suddenly, one bacterium emerged with a random mutation. It just so happened that this one E.coli could munch on something the others could not. By pure chance, this one E.coli did not have the food limits the other bacteria had. So it thrived in that environment.

But just to be sure, Lenski used the scientific method...

By this time, Lenski calculated, enough bacterial cells had lived and died that all simple mutations must already have occurred several times over.

That meant the "citrate-plus" trait must have been something special – either it was a single mutation of an unusually improbable sort, a rare chromosome inversion, say, or else gaining the ability to use citrate required the accumulation of several mutations in sequence.

To find out which, Lenski turned to his freezer, where he had saved samples of each population every 500 generations. These allowed him to replay history from any starting point he chose, by reviving the bacteria and letting evolution "replay" again.

Would the same population evolve Cit+ again, he wondered, or would any of the 12 be equally likely to hit the jackpot?

The replays showed that even when he looked at trillions of cells, only the original population re-evolved Cit+ – and only when he started the replay from generation 20,000 or greater. Something, he concluded, must have happened around generation 20,000 that laid the groundwork for Cit+ to later evolve.

Lenski and his colleagues are now working to identify just what that earlier change was, and how it made the Cit+ mutation possible more than 10,000 generations later.

It is said that you could have a million different Earths starting out with life, each with identical environments, and you would never repeat the same evolutionary results twice. This now appears to be the case. There may be millions of other random changes happening to countless forms of life all over the world, but it's almost impossible that a starling in York, England and a starling in New York will ever come into being with the same mutation, arising separately.

But it's all for some end result, right? No, there's no final thing being worked up to, so you can ignore that progression of evolution picture from years gone by. You know: chimp, caveman, us. Unless it's for comedy purpose, of course...

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...then it's funny.

Evolution is just a random switching of the chemicals that make up your DNA. Randomness in DNA does strange things, like make some lions in Africa whiter than usual (for example). White lions get ostracized from the pride, so being a pale lion isn't a good thing, unless a new Ice Age gives them the edge in camouflage. Lion DNA has no idea what it's doing, it just randomly changes and 'the good changes' stick purely because those 'good changes' mean the life-form in question is more likely to eat, grow, and reproduce. And the bad changes get you turfed out for spoiling the ambushes.

In the meantime, the experiment stands as proof that evolution does not always lead to the best possible outcome. Instead, a chance event can sometimes open evolutionary doors for one population that remain forever closed to other populations with different histories.

Lenski's experiment is also yet another poke in the eye for anti-evolutionists, notes Jerry Coyne, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago. "The thing I like most is it says you can get these complex traits evolving by a combination of unlikely events," he says. "That's just what creationists say can't happen."

Thus saving me having to argue the whole '747 built in a scrap-yard' argument, because that isn't how evolution works. It works exactly as Charles Darwin said...

As many more individuals of each species are born than can possibly survive; and as, consequently, there is a frequently recurring struggle for existence, it follows that any being, if it vary however slightly in any manner profitable to itself, under the complex and sometimes varying conditions of life, will have a better chance of surviving, and thus be naturally selected. From the strong principle of inheritance, any selected variety will tend to propagate its new and modified form.

And with that, because Mister Charles Darwin had the gall to ask, here's R.E.M with "Man On The Moon" to play us out...

Originally posted to ShawnGBR on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 12:06 PM PDT.

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    The nation can be made to produce a far higher standard of living for the masses of the people if only government is intelligent and energetic... (FDR, '37)

    by ShawnGBR on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 12:07:15 PM PDT

      •  monkey germs. (26+ / 0-)

        exactly.

        Damned scientificalists and their damned unproven theories. Always trying to confuse the innocents with their "FACTS" and "DATA" and "GRAPHS" and "STATICS" and their pagan, heathen, devil-worshiping and anti-bible ways. The good book has ALL THE ANSWERS! And EVERY TRANSLATION IS PERFECT, GOD'S WORK and INEFFABLE  INERRANT! Because the Book itself says so, and the Book cannot lie, being GOD'S LITRAL WORD!

        REPENT! REPENT!
        God KNEW there were scientificals going on in Cedar Rapids, and see what happened! ? !

        What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology and understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

        by agnostic on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:23:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  This diary is pointless. (18+ / 0-)

          People who deny evolution are clearly not persuaded by things like "facts" and "logic" and "observable evidence." The case for evolution is so fucking airtight without this particular experiment. One more piece of evidence is not really the issue for these people. They believe something because they think the people on their side are going to heaven and the people who aren't are going to hell.

          This diary is like presenting someone with a complex differential equation to try and persuade them that 2 + 2 = 4.

          •  now, now, don't be hasty (22+ / 0-)

            The next generation is always more susceptible to mind changes than the older - new dogs, new tricks and all. The more excitement this type of story can generate, the more chance that some of the kids of these knuckledraggers will see how backward they are. Not expecting to change any hard core biblical literalists. But every piece of hard new info like this is another brick in the edifice constantly being constructed and refined.

            It's brilliant work, undertaken to ask a really big question, with patience and fanatical attention to endless detail. This is the very best type of biological research, IMHO.

            Fear is the mind killer - Frank Herbert, Dune

            by p gorden lippy on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:01:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Next Generation (11+ / 0-)

              Can anyone point me to resources to teach Evolution to my 6 year old?

              Before you scoff ... I really find it annoying that his mother has been able to teach a fairly sophisticated creationism, while I've been struggling with how to get him to understand descent with modification and survival of the fittest.

              Any resources, anyone?

              "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you c**t!" - John McCain to Cindy McCain

              by Bronxist on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:25:53 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  This site is great. (12+ / 0-)

                http://members.cox.net/...

                You can teach them about geological time periods, look at cool Walking With Dinosaurs pics, and even explains taxonomy!

                Google "evolution for kids" and go with the .edu sites!

                The nation can be made to produce a far higher standard of living for the masses of the people if only government is intelligent and energetic... (FDR, '37)

                by ShawnGBR on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:30:35 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Yeah .... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  L0kI, p gorden lippy

                  and they used to be aimed at high schoolers.

                  I've been struggling to find the concepts of evolution animated in a way that a kid can understand.

                  "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you c**t!" - John McCain to Cindy McCain

                  by Bronxist on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:48:47 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Six might be too young. (5+ / 0-)

                    There's a reason they teach it in high school. It's a fairly sophisticated theory involving such advanced concepts as DNA. Might be better to start with an appreciation of science in general and explain how experiments work, etc.

                    •  doesn't require Mol Bio (11+ / 0-)

                      Darwin didn't know any molecular biology. He didn't even know Mendel's genetics.

                      Evolution was universally accepted by biologists back before molecular biology existed.

                      The basic ideas are apparent to anyone with some familiarity with geneology.

                      "Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve." -Benjamin Franklin

                      by AdamR on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:34:18 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  I think six is too young for evolution theory (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      miasmo, Bronxist, Amber6541

                      But it is not too young for an appreciation of what science is.  Make sure your son is exposed to science and especially the scientific method... hypothesis, testing, conclusion, etc.  Do not count on your son's school to fill in the gap.  If they are like a lot of schools, the primary teachers don't like teaching science and avoid it by scheduling it last in the day so they can skip it when reading runs overtime.  (seriously -  15 years ago I briefly worked for a hands-on children's museum presenting "engineering" for primary grades - I estimate about 80% of the teachers were actively avoiding science)

                      So what can a dad do?  Expose him to children's and science museums.   Make sure he has opportunity to work with his hands and experience physical cause and effect.  Buy toys that encourage exploration... building toys and science toys.

                      Build on his natural appreciation for space or dinosaurs or building blocks.  

                      And never stop talking to him about evolution and that 99.99% of scientists and people who know what they are talking about know that evolution is the way it all happened.  And emphasize when you are talking about religion and faith vs science.  They are two completely different things.  Lots of people believe in God and also in evolution.

                      Sorry this turned into a lecture!!! Good luck!

                    •  Why is six too young (5+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      miasmo, Bronxist, rsie, FuddGate, BYw

                      to think about evolution?   Why not give them the truth from the beginning?  Evolution, the Big Bang, etc have always been a part of my son's life.  Always.  I don't have to worry that as he gets older he'll be prisoner to some antiquated ideology about creationism.   Does he understand it all?  No, but he gets it well enough to roll his eyes (privately) when people talk in front of him about creation concepts.  Man how that kid loves to talk about the Big Bang theory.  Seriously, when he was three he would ask us to say it over and over, like a story.  Now he is seven and has his own complicated "theory" about what could have been before the Big Bang (something about black holes and multiple universes).  Now, I am not sharing this in an effort to tout my child as exceptional.  I think that all children have an immense capacity for understanding, if you just give them the information and let them run with it. They have amazing instincts and ideas.  It is not easy, however, to be a parent who doesn't give creation any time.  Last summer, in camp, another boy called my son the devil and told him that he was going to HELL, to which my son replied, "what's hell?"

                      "Mr. President, I don't like you. You don't know how to rock." -Electric Six

                      by gresley on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 08:20:44 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

              •  I always taught evolution to my daughter (9+ / 0-)

                by encouraging her to observe nature for herself. I guess I was lucky in that we are in a fairly rural area and she could play with horned toads, catch and hatch butterflies, ect.

                The insect world is a wealth of evolutionary teaching. See that walking stick? Look at those leaf hoppers, see how their wings look like leaves.

                I think people try to get to complicated and go from single cell to human. It's easier to show through the critters around us who have evolved so that you can walk right past a fawn in the dappled light, or the horned toad that looks just like that gravel and rocks.

                Edwards Democrat voting for Obama would like to remind you, "Concentration Moon, over the camp in the valley" Frank Zappa knew.

                by high uintas on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:48:34 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  How do you tell your kid....? (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  mattman, golconda2, p gorden lippy

                  How do you tell your kid that the horned toad evolved and was not created?

                  And do you attempt to tell your kid that his/her momma's momma's momma's ..... and the horned toad's momma's momma's momma's ... were the same?

                  "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you c**t!" - John McCain to Cindy McCain

                  by Bronxist on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:51:20 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  God was never an issue in our house (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    miasmo, agnostic, FuddGate, golconda2

                    Neither of us believe in God. To me the idea that the invisable hand of an imaginary power made the horned toad and everything else whole is harder to grasp than the idea that life started, evolved, changed.

                    For me the idea of a creator requires a mental leap that is too hard to follow. If you accept that the horned toad was created, not evolved, then who created the creator?

                    I have no problem sharing a branch of the family tree with a little old horny toad.

                    Edwards Democrat voting for Obama would like to remind you, "Concentration Moon, over the camp in the valley" Frank Zappa knew.

                    by high uintas on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:26:55 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  the flying spaghetti monster answers all (4+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      high uintas, FuddGate, BYw, p gorden lippy

                      especially the debate between marinara, garlic, or an aged or fresh romano.

                      What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology and understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

                      by agnostic on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:33:13 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  rAmen. (6+ / 0-)

                        When my first grandson entered school my now grown daughter and her husband decided that he should at least know the basics of the Christmas story so he wouldn't be clueless during the holidays.

                        He took it in, baby in the manger, check, three wise men, check, OK got it. Then he asked about Easter, what's up with the bunnies, eggs and crosses? He really didn't cope well with the fact that everybody was celebrating the killing of the baby in the manger.

                        We cleared that up and then his best friend saw a painting of Jesus and thought it was Obi Wan Kenobi. It ain't easy for us non-religious folk...

                        Edwards Democrat voting for Obama would like to remind you, "Concentration Moon, over the camp in the valley" Frank Zappa knew.

                        by high uintas on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 05:26:09 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  My T-shirt (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        high uintas

                        says: Pastafarian- below a shirt sticker version of the FSM!  Cool shirt from Northern Sun in Mnpls MN.

                        I am going to wear it to work tomorrow where I will encounter hundreds of people all grading Dubyuh's LNCB tests.  The sign says you have to have a BS to grade these tests.  I am now doing 10th grade math.  They are mostly progressive from the ones I have met.  This is Colorado after all. A red state?  Perish the thought.  

                        The view from east of Longmont CO is spectacular. It is just east of the Twin Peaks- Long's and Mt. Meeker.  They are 14,255' and 13,911'.  Certainly no evolution has ever happened here!  

                        "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stomping on a human face -- forever." G.Orwell

                        by FuddGate on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 09:05:05 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

              •  and don't be afraid to jump in (6+ / 0-)

                with your own ideas. I mean, every kid can understand that things get buried over time. If you dig down in some places, you can find an old rusted bicycle or an old foundation where there used to be a settlement, etc. If you dig deeper, you find older stuff. Sometimes when plants and animals die, they get buried and turn into rock after a long, long time. We find them all in layers, one after the other, with the same plants and animals in the same layers. That means that over the long haul, plants and animals have changed. There are never people and dinosaurs in the same layers. People came much, much later. Before dinosaurs (deeper layers), there were giant dragonflies 18" across, etc. Before that, there were only animals that lived in the ocean.

                'Course, you have to be ready to explain that the layers get pushed around, too, so there are some places where really interesting things are in layers that have been pushed and eroded so they're near the surface now, but never out of order of their appearance in the time scale.

                I think it will have at least as much meaning  and impact coming from you as a parent as it will from a website or someone else's book, although those are tremendous resources, of course.

                Fear is the mind killer - Frank Herbert, Dune

                by p gorden lippy on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:57:09 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  evo for kids (8+ / 0-)

                I'm pretty sure I've seen a resource somewhere, and I'll let you know if I find it.

                In the mean time, here's my advice:

                1. Expose them to geneology. Whether it is your own family, or dogs or pigeons. This was a major part of "the Origin of Species". This will ingrain the idea of "descent with modification".
                1. Expose them to the diversity of life in the natural world. Point out how some species are similar to others. You may even want to use terms like "cousins" to emphasize their common ancestry.
                1. Finally, map the diversity of life onto geography. This was the real clincher for Darwin's theory--he noticed that similar species were geographically close to each other, and that this wasn't just the result of similar climates. Note how some classes of species are either "old world" or "new world" -- this split is apparent in primates, and also in rabbits/hares. Marsupials are limited to Australia.
                1. Throw in fossils for bonus. They expand on the pattern noted above.

                Good luck, you're working against psychology. People are basically born with the tendency to categorize things, and it can take them a while to understand that categories are not "The Truth"--that things evolve.

                p.s. I've met Lenski a couple of times (as a colleague), so take me seriously!

                "Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve." -Benjamin Franklin

                by AdamR on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:43:32 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Marsupials (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  AdamR

                  There are also marsupials in South America. They never made the cut when trying to migrate to the north.

                  The Prince of Peace has been usurped by the God of War.

                  by Spoc42 on Thu Jun 12, 2008 at 05:58:30 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  opossums (0+ / 0-)

                    thanks for the correction.

                    A quick look at Wikipedia indicated that marsupials still exist even in North America, and they have historically been present in the Americas and east Asia....so the Australia-marsupial relationship may not be as simple as I had hoped.

                    "Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve." -Benjamin Franklin

                    by AdamR on Thu Jun 12, 2008 at 07:44:59 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Thanks a lot!! (0+ / 0-)

                  My kid understands the major concepts -- unicellular life, life emerging in water and then on land, multicellular creatures, animals, plants ....

                  I can't believe that there is no simple instantiation of something online ("Game of Life"??) to teach the fundamental concept of evolution as an online experimental game that kids can get into.

                  "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you c**t!" - John McCain to Cindy McCain

                  by Bronxist on Thu Jun 12, 2008 at 09:53:12 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  I read this book: (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Bronxist

                The Tree of Life to my 4 year old. I try to fill in the blanks with explanations of the things in it that are a little too advanced for him.

                "Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity." -George Carlin

                by NMDad on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 05:33:05 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  True this... Things might (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              miasmo, Cassandra Waites

              seem hopeless and full of despair in our time where popular acceptance of evolution is concerned.  However, if we have a little historical perspective we'll recall that the debates between defenders of evolution and deniers don't hold a candle to the ugliness that waged around Copernicus and the heliocentric hypothesis.  Galileo was even brutally tortured over this, forced to recant, and placed under house arrest.  Yet today everyone endorses the heliocentric hypothesis as an obvious truth about the world without even thinking about it.  Similarly, no one today debates the utility of performing autopsies, or having medical students dissect human bodies, despite raging religious debates around this practice.  Indeed, the first medical school (in Maryland, I believe) purposely built the school on the remote outskirts of town and built the dissection room on the second floor without windows so the townfolk wouldn't be able to peer in and so they would have some extra time to escape if they descended on the center with torches and pitchforks as they had done at the original location.

          •  Don't know about pointless, but you're right (10+ / 0-)

            Many of the more educated creationists say they already believe in microevolution, the kind that can be demonstrated in the lab.  They just don't believe in macroevolution, i.e. that humans evolved from such bacteria.  They think they're on safe ground there, because of course that can't be duplicated in the lab, so they're pretty confident they can't be proved wrong (by any standard they'd accept, anyway).

            This experiment won't change that.  But it's still a great experiment and a great, interesting result.

            •  "novelty" (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              miasmo, Cassandra Waites

              One of the arguments against "macroevolution" is that real novelty is supposedly impossible--they claim that "microevolution" is just selection among pre-existing variation, or perhaps a trivial bit of novelty such as deleting a gene or tweaking its expression level.

              This cit+ mutant may represent a rather profound gain of function that can't be dismissed so simply. I'm really looking forward to seeing what the mutation is, and how it impacts further evolution of that protein.

              "Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve." -Benjamin Franklin

              by AdamR on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:48:05 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  You're right. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Bronxist, kyril, BYw

            We shouldn't bother to publicize developments that support scientific fact, because if everyone who reads about them isn't immediately convinced, it's a waste of effort.  What can possibly be gained by providing as much exposure as possible for truth?

            Ask me about my sig line.

            by LeanneB on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:13:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You read my title too literally. (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mattman, RickD, ScrewySquirrel, tle, kyril

              I was just trying to make the point that there's already plenty of evidence. The people who deny evolution are not in denial because of lack of evidence. They're just in denial.

              It is a good diary, and I personally found it interesting, and I put some mojo in the tip jar.

              Peace.

              •  It's true that there's plenty of evidence. (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                miasmo, mattman, BYw

                I think the diarist was presenting this particular case as convincing proof because the conditions of the study  were such that it is much harder to fall back on the "no proof/just a theory" argument.

                But you were right in that the die-hards will find a way to resist, since logic isn't part of their arsenal anyway.

                Peace. :)

                Ask me about my sig line.

                by LeanneB on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:36:03 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  plenty of evidence... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                FuddGate

                the problem is that it is dispersed among a million different places, such that you have to be an expert to really have a grasp of it.

                This study can be helpful in that a rather intricate process occurred in a well-defined time and place.

                "Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve." -Benjamin Franklin

                by AdamR on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:50:37 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  I don't care (7+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            zzyzx, mattman, rockhound, agnostic, FuddGate, kyril, BYw

            I don't care if it rains or freezes

            'Long as I got my plastic Jesus
            Riding on the dashboard of my car
            Through my trials and tribulations
            And my travels through the nations
            With my plastic Jesus I'll go far

            I don't care if it rains or freezes
            As long as I've got my plastic Jesus
            Glued to the dashboard of my car
            You can buy Him phosphorescent
            Glows in the dark, He's pink and pleasant
            Take Him with you when you're travelling far

            I don't care if I'm broke or starvin'
            As long as I've got a fish named Darwin
            Glued to the trunk lid of my car
            God, I'm feeling so evolved
            Drivin' with my problems solved
            Proclaiming what I think of what we are

            The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same." Carlos Castaneda

            by FireCrow on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:19:11 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  The diary was great!! (6+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            PeterHug, L0kI, agnostic, ER Doc, kyril, Mara Jade

            I learned a lot. Fascinating.

            Who cares if someone else changes their mind?

            "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you c**t!" - John McCain to Cindy McCain

            by Bronxist on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:22:26 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, it was interesting. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mattman, Spoc42, FuddGate

              The only thing I take issue with is the implication that the creationists were just waiting for this one piece of undeniable evidence to admit they were wrong. Their denial really has nothing at all to do with evidence. You'd stand a better chance of convincing them by telling them that "the terrorists" (or gay people, or communists or [insert hellbound group of your choice here]) don't believe in evolution.

          •  Right on miasmo, (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            miasmo, Spoc42, BYw, gsenski

            the reasoning of evolution deniers is a bit like the old self-referential paradoxes you see scrawled in coffee house bathrooms and graduate student bars:

            The following sentence is true.
            The previous sentence is false.

            It's always a matter of circular reasoning with these folk:

            Creationist:  "Evolution is false because it contradicts the Bible."

            Me:  "How do you know the Bible is true?"

            Creationist:  "Because it's the revealed word of God."

            Me:  "How do you know the Bible is the revealed word of God?"

            Creationist:  "Because it is written in the Bible."

        •  another fascinating article (14+ / 0-)

          My favorite quote is "The human body, for example, contains nine bacterial cells for every cell of our own. There's no clear line separating our selves and our bacteria: We're walking ecosystems."
          http://www.wired.com/...

          •  Probably coevolving too. (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mattman, L0kI, HugoDog, BYw

            J Clin Invest. 2004 February 1; 113(3): 321–333.
            doi: 10.1172/JCI200420925.

            Full text can be found here...

            This one's about Helicobacter pylori -- this isn't my field, and I picked this one nearly at random.

            Do read the conclusions section -- I think they have a really interesting take on a possible effect of modern health care that I've never considered.

        •  Agnostic, mocking Christians is not likely to win (0+ / 0-)

          votes for Democrats from that quarter (actually people of faith would be much larger than a quarter of the U.S. population.  Like it or not, you represent the Democratic Party when you post here.  Why insult such a large part of the electorate?

          •  He's not mocking Christians. (16+ / 0-)

            He's mocking a certain segment of Christians who also happen to be idiots.

            •  with all malice aforethought (13+ / 0-)

              if they wish the right to repeatedly, destructively, and disgustingly, wash and rinse the brains of their spawn, with the idea that Pi = 3, the universe is only 7000 yrs old, or so, and then demand that we MUST accept and teach their fairy tales as possible fact, then, frankly we don't want them. It is like asking whether you prefer the PNAC or the Neocon version of the GOP, those being the only two options.

              If you want to change the Democratic party enough to make them feel welcome, that means you Must change our party beyond all recognition, removing all science, all rational thinking, and all logic from our party. Mind you, after hearing Harry Reid proclaim that he doesn't care what laws Bush broke, AND that Bush gets a 6 month get out of jail free card from the senate, I suggest that it is becoming an ever smaller step we need take to join the flat-earthers.

              they do not negotiate. They do not compromise. They do not accept our science. They won't stop until and unless we stop them. Like any cancer cells, radical surgery and massive chemo therapy might be enough to save our body politic, our party, and eventually, our nation.

              Once we recognize them as enemies to civilized society, our task becomes easier. No quarter. No negotiations. No giving in. No compromise. Not once, not ever.

              What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology and understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

              by agnostic on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:27:06 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Do peaople actually insist (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mrchumchum

                that pi=3? Why? Is there some sort of religious argument against the existence of irrational numbers? What categories of numbers are acceptable? I assume whole numbers are OK. Integer? Rational? Irrational non-transcendental? Imaginary?

                During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

                by kyril on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:37:00 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Ye Olde Testament. I have a whole collection of (4+ / 0-)

                  their science. Let's just say it is impossible to live like that. Oh, and every shareholder of ConAgra, Funk, Dekalb, Pioneer, and other seed and farming companies must be put to death.

                  What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology and understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

                  by agnostic on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:38:22 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Is that because those companies serve shellfish (5+ / 0-)

                    at shareholder meetings?  :)

                    ...and everyone knows that pi isn't 3.  It's 3.141592 (precisely).  I know it, because that's what my calculator says.

                    •  that, and they mix crops in the same field (4+ / 0-)

                      deadly sin, that.

                      What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology and understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

                      by agnostic on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:31:08 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  agnostic--there were reasons why this was... (0+ / 0-)

                        forbidden in that day, but then I don't think you are interested in hearing why.

                        •  I will venture to speak for myself, if not (5+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Blueiz, golconda2, BYw, gsenski, mrchumchum

                          for him (or her).

                          I agree completely with you that there were reasons, and valid ones, for creating that rule (and perhaps for some - NOT ALL! - of the other ones as well).

                          However, I would take serious and substantial exception to the concept that, because these rules were established (even conceding that they made sense at the time) several thousand years ago, that they have any ipso facto validity now other than as a historical curiosity.  Which is to say (forgive me) that reality changes with time, and evolving our behaviors to match is an adaptive behavior.  Granted, given that it's a social adaptation it's probably best described with Lamarckian dynamics, but still...

                          DISCLAIMER!:  In posting this, I'm NOT in any way suggesting or implying that you personally or your approach to this question, has remained locked in that sort of a dogmatic amber.

                        •  of COURSE there were reasons, (5+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          PeterHug, Philoguy, BYw, gsenski, mrchumchum

                          against blood transfusions, crop mixing, eating porkie de' pig, and shellfish.

                          but their SCIENTISTS created those rules, knowing that they were the cause of bad effects. instead of following up and figuring out what happened, the damned religious leaders made those rules "golden", and refused to even consider changing them. Even today, how many kids needlessly die without a blood transfusion based on religious crap? how many more die because their parents demand prayer over anti-biotics?

                          the scientists started off doing good, until the religious assholes took over for their own purposes. Once they take over, everything goes to hell. Just look at the White House, if you need more evidence.

                          What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology and understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

                          by agnostic on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 04:54:58 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  Wings, this is a very Spinozist (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          agnostic

                          thesis on your part.  You are claiming that there were rational reasons for the apparently irrational laws of Leviticus and Deuteronomy.  Spinoza, who revolutionized the study of Scripture by adopting a naturalistic, historical, sociological, and anthropological approach argued exactly the same thing.  Spinoza argued that the moral law arises from an ignorance of causal relationships.  What appears to us as a command is in fact a disguised claim about cause and effect relationships to the effect that if you eat that fruit you'll get really sick.  Of course, if we adopt Spinoza's hypothesis then we have no need of the divine at all, but should instead focus on the analysis of cause and effect relations and those that promote health and those that diminish health.  Morality becomes a branch of medical science.

                •  no- Hebrew numbers didn't have decimals (0+ / 0-)

                  There's plenty of debatable stuff in the Bible, but it's simply foolish to say that the Bible says pi=3.  Foolish, on both the part of "Christians" who try to insist pi really equals 3 (rare, but they exist) and for those who claim that these statements in the Bible are examples of "bad math" or "inaccuracies."  

                  The Hebrew number system didn't have decimals then, so 3 is the most reasonable approximation.  It most likely wasn't actually used, but when that kind of statement was read, it was interpreted as "hey, this means a  circle of this radius ... break out the string!"  You don't need to know the value of pi to any particular precision (or at all) to draw an accurate circle!

                  Now, there were some significant semi-religious beliefs about rational numbers by Pythagoras and his people.  The universe was supposed to only consist of numbers of perfect (clearly defined as integers or fractions) values, so when Hippasus proved the square root to be irrational, some histories say he got tossed off a boat and drowned.

                •  There was a raging debate about irrational (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Cassandra Waites, mrchumchum

                  numbers that occurred in both Greek thought and Christian theology.  Christian theology inherited this position via the Neo-Platonism of figures like Augustine.  The Pythagoreans-- who deeply influenced Plato --were deeply opposed to the hypothesis of irrational numbers because they violated their conception of order, harmony, and lawfulness in nature.  Thus there was an attempt to hide the truth of irrational numbers or explain them away.  After all, if creation is the product of a perfect being, how could such a being possibly have willed irrational numbers?  Often there are substantial metaphysical points and stakes behind seemingly absurd metaphysical issues like the question of how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.

              •  Agnostic, my husband has his Ph.D. in... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                fry guy, AdamR

                science.  Yet he remains unconvinced as to the descent of man from an apelike creature.  Because he is a scientist, he is unimpressed with those who are so "sure" of something that occurred, (by their own reckoning) millions of years ago.  Maybe you don't want Christians in the Democratic Party, but you would be running counter to what the main thrust of the Democratic Party has just announced.  I can assure you that we did not "wash and rinse the brains" of our children (or "spawn" as you so insultingly referred to them).  Why so belligerent?  I doubt that the Democratic Party has religious or anti-religious dogma as a primary concern when they work to compose a platform.  

                They do not compromise. They do not accept our science. They won't stop until and unless we stop them. Like any cancer cells, radical surgery and massive chemo therapy might be enough to save our body politic, our party, and eventually, our nation.

                This is divisive and destructive to having common cause with Christians.  Does the Democratic Party call us to be haters of those whose opinion we do not share on such a side issue?  What would you do with those you deem to be "idiots"?  Round them up and put them in concentration camps?  If I thought you represented the main bulk of the Democratic Party (which I do not) I would never vote Democratic.  I think you need to settle down and quit foaming at the mouth if you really care about the Dems winning in November.

                •  n.o.t. .a.l.l. .c.h.r.i.s.t.i.a.n.s. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  L0kI

                  just the flat earthers.

                  What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology and understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

                  by agnostic on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:50:00 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Read Richard Dawkins's book "The God Delusion" (9+ / 0-)

                  This has nothing to do with Republican vs. Democrat; science is ideology agnostic - facts are facts.  

                  The truth is that some people, myself included, are furious when politicians claim to be lead by "God" or who take cues from "God."  

                  Politicians should base decisions on facts and policy should be dictated, not by the lowest common denominator - which let's face it, religion often promotes - but by a reaching a logical conclusion based on reality.

                  There is nothing wrong with a backlash against religion or religiosity when so much idiocy in this country is propagated by those who make claims to represent "God."  I would like to see more people with moderate religious beliefs speaking out against biblical literalism and those who claim that the bible is the unadulterated word of "God."  

                  When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. ~H.G. Wells

                  by Adzam13 on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:15:44 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  A Ph D in Science? (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Clem Yeobright

                  What kind of science, may I ask?

                  Political Science?

                  They had fangs...they were drinking blood....They had this look in their eyes, totally animal. I think they were young Republicans. (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

                  by wrights on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:37:35 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  He actually has two Ph.D.'s--one in Chemistry... (0+ / 0-)

                    and one in Chemical Engineering.  He has published over 70 scientific papers in his field and they have been cited many times.  He has been given prestigious awards  as well which honor his achievement in his field.  Any more insults?  By the way, I have a Master's degree in Education-want to insult that?

                    •  It's not an insult (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Philoguy, BYw, gsenski
                      to say that a Ph.D. in Chemistry does not qualify you to make good judgements about biology.
                      •  Oh? And what would be your credentials... (0+ / 0-)

                        for making a "good judgment" about biology, pdrap?

                        •  Unimportant (0+ / 0-)

                          I am citing the consensus of Biologists. My own credentials are unimportant. I do understand all the evidence for evolution and the common descent of all animals including people. I also understand that the evidence against such common descent could not fill a knapsack on a gnat.

                          •  But, pdrap, how would you be able... (0+ / 0-)

                            to evaluate whether it was truth or just a giant mishmash of pseudoscience?  You are only taking their word on it.  I'll share a secret with you if you promise not to tell anyone I said so--biologists have an inferiority complex when it comes to comparing themselves to physical scientists.  I suspect the reason why is that life resists being categorized and being neatly experimented on.  

                            By the way, my husband spent a huge part of his career doing work in precisely the area that Lenski (the researcher cited in the article) did his research.  Not only was my husband unimpressed by the article when I showed it to him, but he said that it still does not demonstrate that any of the larger claims of evolutionary theory are supportable.

                          •  You're missing my point (0+ / 0-)

                            The point is that you are making some claims which you are not qualified to make, you have not supported them, and you are clearly wrong about just about everything you say.

                            I am quite QUITE able to judge claims for myself, but here in this argument, I am not relying on my own authority for anything I said. You on the other hand, are relying only on authority, and when I pointed it out, you didn't see it.

                            As I suspected, there's really nothing to what you're saying.

                          •  The only claim I made is that I remain... (0+ / 0-)

                            unconvinced about the credibility of evolution and the pile on occurred--some of it was quite abusive.  Your pronouncement is basically that I am not entitled to my opinion.  Your broad and sweeping, "...you are clearly wrong about just about everything you say." is unimpressive.  Contrary to what you have said, you are relying solely on your own authority and, I guess, that of your heros, although you didn't do anything other than to term anything you disagreed with as "nothing" and "crap".  I can see quite well, thank you.

                          •  You are lying about me, please stop (0+ / 0-)

                            Where did I say you aren't entitled to your opinion?

                            Quote it, or apologize.

                          •  Oh, and pdrap... (0+ / 0-)

                            I also understand that the evidence against such common descent could not fill a knapsack on a gnat.

                            You are again taking the word of people who have a vested interest in hiding the evidence against common descent.  I would refer you to this tasty little article on the history of the "science" that you and others find so compelling.  

                            Charles D. Walcott

                          •  Sorry, I meant to suggest you especially... (0+ / 0-)

                            pay attention to the tale of Charles D. Walcott in the linked article.

                          •  What a pile (0+ / 0-)

                            The linked article is utter crap. It might fool a creationist, but then so would anything.

                            The entire "intermediate forms" argument is dishonest at its highest.

                          •  My point is that evolutionists are just like... (0+ / 0-)

                            everyone else, subject to errors, ego and evasive behavior.  I don't see the article that I cited any better or worse than the article that the diarist cited.  Both would be far from acceptable in a peer-reviewed journal.  I just pulled it up as an example of the "unholy" past of Darwin and friends historically.  I have a lot on St. Charles.  I understand that evolutionary biology has gone on from Darwinism yet there are many who cling to Origin of the Species as a holy book.  

                            You make pronouncements that you are an quite capable of judging these things yet you won't furnish your credentials for saying so and attack the credentials of others--you are the one appealing to authority.

                          •  Ummmm (0+ / 0-)

                            How many words have I pronounced (written) here? And you think you've got a handle on me?

                            My credentials are unimportant, when I say that disagreeing with evolution and using articles such as the one you present is not a respectable position, it's the truth.

                            Go to the Talk Origins website and you can discover the flaws in your own reasoning.

                            Finally, if you disagree with me, then get the disagreement right. I didn't attack any credentials of anybody, and you really need to apologize to me for saying that. "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor."

                    •  Dawkins is rationality and no intuition (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Spoc42

                      If you read "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" by Thomas Kuhn, you'll get a very interesting view of science and it's "evolution". Because it is impossible for most people (scientists included) to think outside of their historical epoch, the going theories of the day are presumed to be the groundwork for all future information in a given field.

                      For example, just before the Quantum Revolution, many scientists thought that Newtonian physics was the end-all, be-all groundwork for science, and that all that was left to work on was the details of how Newtonian physics explained everything. Then BOOM, quantum physics explodes everything as we discover the particle world does not behave at all in a Newtonian framework.

                      As a chi kung student, I have seen and felt "energy" in action. I've seen amazing healings and shifts. And in my various adventures in the energy world, I've experienced things that cannot really be described in language.

                      Because science must use symbols, including language, to perpetuate itsel and its ideas, it is often blind to things that are outside of language and rational experience. Also, we are so steeped in rationality (religious fundies included) that our language doesn't readily accommodate new ideas outside the box.

                      Like when you hear a great band that is really different, and they can't get signed because the record companies don't have a category for them, other than to call it "alternative" . . . which says nothing.

                      Consciousness is an amazing "thing" . . . and many physicists are doing experiments that shed new light on the power and energy of consciousness that cannot be explained with old science.

                      Dawkins is very attached to his gene things . . . but read "The Body Electric" by Dr. Robert O. Becker. He discovered that DNA is not the ruler . . . it just follows a blueprint. And the blueprint is not coming from inside the body. Becker is the father of electromedical and cellular regeneration technology.

                      His study of how salamanders, vertebrates like us, regrow amputated body parts enabled him to get frogs to regrow limbs, which they don't do naturally. His book is a great read, full of his experiments.

                      What I'm saying here, is that new physics and new biology does not see DNA as the director. And Dawkins is like the Newton of biology compared to the new guys who are like Bohm.

                      For example, many healings are attributed to the "placebo effect", and disregarded. But what IS the placebo effect if not consciousness overcoming the physical?

                      It's time to end the Cartesian mind/body separation scam. When the rational mind tries to analyze everything, it turns off a hell of a lot of information coming in through other parts of the body, including the antennae of our cells, and our intuition.

                      The work being done on consciousness doesn't imply a god, but it does imply a non-physical energetic "intelligence" that cultures who have practiced energy work for thousands of years are aware of. And yes, because we deal in symbols, archetypes and such, much of that got represented in storybook style of gods and demons, etc. But this intelligence is not a giver of laws. It is not about "knowing". It is about "being". There is no need to "know" when you are fully awake (for lack of a better word).

                      I know the Dawkins lovers will leap on all this as pseudoscience etc. But the fields I speak of are growing daily, and when you look at the history of scientific paradigm shifts, you see that the early visionaries of the "new way" were always called quacks.

                      Because stodgy scientists do not really understand Consciousness and rule out-of-body intelligence out because it doesn't fit their paradigms, they keep trying to tie Consciousness solely to the brain, just like biologists try to tie everything in the body to DNA.

                      People, in the not too distant future, our current ideas about evolution, DNA, etc. will look as out-dated as the medicine of the Middle Ages looks to us now.

                      To me, the desire for God is the reaching for coherence, just as a coherent wave will entrain a weaker one.

                      Like Obama is the most coherent frequency in this race, and the excitement about him builds daily.

                      At any rate, spiritual experiences are guided by consciousness experiences that scientists like Dawkins cannot begin to apprehend due to their limited ideas about the nature of nature. I am not talking about organized religions and their fairy tales. I know someone is going to bring up Persinger, and go ahead. But this post is long enough already, so I won't do that here.

                      Ridicule is easier than investigation, but it can never be as profitable.

                      "If religion is the opiate of the masses, then fundamentalism is the amphetamine." Miz Vittitow

                      by MillieNeon on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 06:05:59 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Now this, I could agree with... (0+ / 0-)

                        Ridicule is easier than investigation, but it can never be as profitable.

                        I think there are many things in God's universe (and whether one calls Him God or not, that is what you have described in your talk of "Consciousness") that defy our understanding, at this point.  It makes those "stodgy" scientists like Dawkins, furious to think that there are those who follow a "God Delusion" but one has to wonder why he is so affected.

                    •  I'm sorry that I took that tone.. (0+ / 0-)
                      But to say you don't believe in evolution sounds idiotic, frankly.

                      They had fangs...they were drinking blood....They had this look in their eyes, totally animal. I think they were young Republicans. (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

                      by wrights on Thu Jun 12, 2008 at 03:58:25 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Well, wrights, define for me exactly... (0+ / 0-)

                        what you mean by "evolution."  And just what are YOUR credentials for judging the level of my intellect and that of other scientists of my acquaintance who also do not accept the whole of the theory of "evolution" as presented.  Even Michael Ruse, who calls himself a philosopher of science and is a defender of the theory, admits that it is being taught as dogma and not as science.  What would you say to him?

                        •  I'm not a scientist... (0+ / 0-)
                          But we've seen evolution in our lifetime.

                          Bacteria are now resistant.

                          Now to tell me that faith tells you something different strikes me as something to be proved.

                          What is your proof that it is not evolution.

                          Keep it simple, for us non scientists.

                          And when you start off with "faith", consider the argument ended.

                          They had fangs...they were drinking blood....They had this look in their eyes, totally animal. I think they were young Republicans. (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

                          by wrights on Thu Jun 12, 2008 at 11:49:27 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  It is likely certain that the Cit+ bacteria do... (0+ / 0-)

                            not possess a trait of which they weren't already inherently capable, no matter what the researcher or the author of the article says (I notice that there is an emotional loading to the article when the author states that this bit of research "pokes creationists in the eye".  If this is simply science--why the triumphalism?) The bias is quite clear.  Another problem with the article is that it is not one that would be accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal--important information is missing.

                            Some questions I would have are:  Did the researcher get to "know" each and every bacteria so that he was certain that none of them had this citrate eating ability innately?  Perhaps some of them had this ability and it was only triggered under certain environmental circumstances.  Was there an environmental stress introduced?  What I thought was interesting is that only the original culture was capable of producing the "citrate eaters".  The researcher suggests that something happened at the 20,000th generation.  If it was a "gene inversion" as he speculates, then it is clear that the bacteria already had this ability.  Even if it was the result of a "happy" mutation (and bear in mind that the vast majority of mutations are not beneficial to organisms) it really doesn't demonstrate anything but that there is a range of adaptation that accommodates "survival of the fittest".  An "Intelligent Designer" would likely want to do precisely that (and one could call Him "evolution" if one wishes--notice that the article states "...evolution has been caught in the act of making such a rare and complex new trait").   How can blind chance be "caught in the act" of doing anything?  On the other hand, an Intelligent Designer would perhaps want to build in some measure of genetic adaptability that environmental shift could trigger.  It was unclear, from what I read as to what actually occurred.  Did they observe that an actual mutation had occurred?  Is the entire genome of E. coli known to them?  The article did not state that.  Unfortunately, our ignorance still outweighs our knowledge of the complexity of even the simplest of organisms.  It is only man's hubris that makes him insist that he knows more than he does.  Often there seems to be a bit of "straw-clutching" going on in these "major pronouncements."

                            This range of adaptation undoubtedly has outer limits beyond which the organism simply becomes extinct--this is consistent with observation of the biosphere.  Notice that Lenski says, "...it's outside what was normally considered the bounds of E. coli as a species..."  But can they be certain that they have tested those bounds with all possible strains?  No, I think not.  It's not as if the bacteria in question had taught themselves to manufacture and ride teeny-tiny bicycles.  Now, that would have been impressive!  

                            All kidding aside, I think the wall we run into here is that the evolutionary biologists control the vocabulary and the definitions.  They are, in this way, able to put themselves in a place where it is difficult for those who disagree with their conclusions to challenge them.  They control what experiments will be pursued and they control what conclusions are reached.  An orthodoxy is developed that is extremely difficult to challenge if one wants to retain research grants, etc.  In the past, this was not so difficult.   And the physical sciences are more receptive to challenge because the experiments are, in some ways, easier to do.  The exception would be something like theoretical physics.  Who is going to do an experiment to test the "big bang" and how will it be done?  The complexities and inordinate challenges of testing the theory are daunting.  Interestingly, we see the same emotionalism brought to pet theories in this area too.  One of my husband's former colleagues (my husband is retired) is a professor at a world-famous university and tells an interesting tale.  It seems that there are two Nobel Prize winning theoretical physicists there (they are very famous--anyone who knows anything about physics would know their names) who absolutely refuse to speak to each other because of previous quarrels over pet theories.  Science and especially the life sciences are highly influenced by prejudices.  Anyone who denies this is either prevaricating or is engaging in wishful thinking.

                            The history of medicine, for example, is replete with these kinds of stories.  It often would take some time and cost many lives before old theories were discarded and new theories put in place which were, in turn, demonstrated to be accurate by experimentation.  I thank God that men like Joseph Lister were brave enough to challenge the prevailing medical "wisdom" of the miasma theory of wound infection.  Otherwise, I, like most surgery patients of his day, would have died after my emergency appendectomy at age 20.

                •  Let me guess... (0+ / 0-)

                  Your husband is a Christian, born into a sect that believes in the literal truth of Genesis...

                •  I am currently getting my (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Cassandra Waites

                  PhD in molecular biology, and I can attest to the fact that, among scientists in this field, evolution is an accepted fact (as well as the fact that humans and other primates share a common ancestor).

                  This isn't 100% irrefutable, since as you say science is never 100% certain.  But it's as certain as anything in biology.

                  I can understand why a Chemistry PhD of an older generation wouldn't be as tuned into this (absolutely no offense intended).  Genomics is a fairly recent field, and the most irrefutable proof really comes from comparing DNA and protein sequences.

                  If you'd like more information, I recommend the National Academy's publication on the matter:

                  http://www.nap.edu/...

                •  Wings, no one has a PhD in science... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Cassandra Waites

                  People have PhD's in a particular branch of physics, astronomy, biology, chemistry, etc.  Does your father have a background in the requisite branch of science that would make his judgment in these matters especially credible?  Einstein said humans only use %10 of their brains, but there's little reason to take him seriously in this claim as he wasn't an expert in neurology or cognitive psychology, but physics.

            •  Is that the purpose of this website? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              fry guy, L0kI

              To be disrespectful of Christians by "mocking a certain segment of Christians" and calling them idiots?  I remain unconvinced about the supposed descent of man from an apelike creature--are you going to call me an idiot?  What about Barack Obama--don't know if he believes in evolution or not, but what if he doesn't--would you call him an idiot too?  I'm sure that will bring lots of votes.  Are we so sure of winning that we can afford to offend a huge voting bloc?

              •  When they insist on changing (15+ / 0-)

                public policy to suit their narrow views, then yes, it's the purpose of this site. And no, I'm not going to call you an idiot because you're not thruting your views in my face at every opportunity or insisting that my children be taught your religious beliefs as science. You, and anybody else, are free to practice whatever belief system you wish. As am I. What neither of us are free to do is impose that system on everyone else.

                •  Indexer, that is a more reasonable posture to... (0+ / 0-)

                  take than Agnosic's clearly hostile attitude.  I agree that I have no right to impose my beliefs on your nor you on me.  The matter of origins is far from settled and it is a matter of belief on both sides.

                  •  Where you and I differ, though, is fundamental. (15+ / 0-)

                    Science is not a "belief system". Religion is. What one does with the fruits of science certainly does depend on one's belief system, but at the bottom of science are testable, verifiable or falsifiable facts. At the bottom of religion is faith.

                    This makes no judgment as to the importance of either in one's life and we are both free to make those judgments for ourselves whenever we wish. What we are not free to do is change the facts to suit our beliefs.

                    •  The "descent of man" is not... (0+ / 0-)

                      testable, verifiable nor falsifiable.  Oh, I know that those who believe this anti-religious dogma feel that they have "proof" but if you know anything about science at all, you will know that you would get summarily shot down if you wrote a scientific paper saying that any evidence "proves" any theory--all you would be permitted to say was that it "suggests" or "supports" a theory.

                      This makes no judgment as to the importance of either in one's life and we are both free to make those judgments for ourselves whenever we wish. What we are not free to do is change the facts to suit our beliefs.

                      You see--this is exactly what I am talking about--there is only evidence in relation to any scientific theory.

                    •  Perfectly said... (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      BYw, mrchumchum

                      and, as a biologist, I don't feel that was offensive.... it's the same thing I said to a friend the other day... science comes down to TESTABLE facts, faith comes down to faith - the very nature of which is untestable/unprovable.

                      Doesn't make faith any less valid or meaningful, in fact, I feel it can make faith stronger to include good, sound biology.

                      but hey... that's just me! :)

                      -9.13, -7.79 When you pray, move your feet. -African Proverb

                      by L0kI on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:59:39 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  (let there be no doubt) Place your faith (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Clem Yeobright, golconda2

                    on the fact that I am EXTREMELY passionate and hostile on this issue.

                    I recommend to you a nice little selection of books, writ large and long, by a hubby-wife team, much like you and yours. Wil and Ariel took on the task of writing about all known history. The Durants' product is a great place to start. However, many volumes, many issues, and I simply want to suggest one volume and one topic: the Dark Ages.

                    The death, destruction, murder, rape, torture, eradication, damage,  (grrrrrrrrr) caused in the name of some guy who most likely never even existed, set back this planet for 500 years. how many millions died? How many millions suffered? and considering that even possession of their holy book was a sin, (as was literacy) you suggest that something GOOD can be gleaned out of the most dangerous, bloody, murderous cults that mankind has ever seen?  And what of the mass extinctions they planned and created in central and south america, and to a lesser degree, north america?  this is your god's will? and you are willing to embrace this as something worthwhile and holy?

                    that's little different than a bunch of austrians saying Adolf had a great idea, just not enough time.

                    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology and understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

                    by agnostic on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:43:15 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Another strawman, agnostic... (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      khereva, entropiccanuck

                      The death, destruction, murder, rape, torture, eradication, damage,  (grrrrrrrrr) caused in the name of some guy who most likely never even existed, set back this planet for 500 years. how many millions died? How many millions suffered? and considering that even possession of their holy book was a sin, (as was literacy) you suggest that something GOOD can be gleaned out of the most dangerous, bloody, murderous cults that mankind has ever seen?  And what of the mass extinctions they planned and created in central and south america, and to a lesser degree, north america?  this is your god's will? and you are willing to embrace this as something worthwhile and holy?

                      It has nothing to do with whether or not evolution theory on origins is valid and has everything to do with why we should have a separation between church and state.  That is why I am a Democrat--because I passionately believe in the separation of church and state.  The Catholic church became wedded to the nations of Europe and until the Reformation and the Renaissance helped Europeans shake off the Christofascism of that day, it was a truly dark time.  Christian scholar and pastor, William Tyndale, went to the stake for the simple "crime" of translating the Bible into English so that the English people could read it for themselves.  Martin Luther almost did except for the protection of Frederick the Elector who wept as Luther gave him a copy of the Bible that Luther had translated into German.  What you cite was obviously not God's will but the will of evil men--that you cannot see the difference is where your problem lays.

                      •  but those two issues are tied together (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Clem Yeobright

                        welded, intertwined, and joined at the hip. we have no separation of church and state at the moment, AND there is a concerted, continuous attack on the educational systems across this country.

                        hardly a strawman, in the bigger scheme of things.

                        What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology and understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

                        by agnostic on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 04:17:10 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I do not agree that they are "welded, intertwined (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          khereva

                          etc."  I would agree that there is a danger of Christofascism rising again--especially with groups like The Family.  But the separation of church and state is a political concept--has nothing to do with the acceptance or rejection of a scientific theory.  Are we to believe that democracy in Great Britain was in danger when the miasma theory of wound infection was rejected?

              •  I suspect that some of the precursors (8+ / 0-)
                - the apelike critters you disparage, were more human, ethical, moral and full of integrity than many of the Southern Baptist church leaders who think that women should stay in the kitchen, that teaching evolution is a sin, and that science ruins them minds of yutes.

                No, the purpose of this site is to promote democratic and DEMOCRATIC ideals and ideas, not to mention their candidates. Any person who rejects science, math, etc. (please note, questioning science is the very basis of science . . . very different than rejecting it out of hand because of what a collection of fairy tales tells them) does not belong here.

                The scientists of a century ago were convinced that they had the ultimate questions and the ultimate answers pretty well wrapped up. Then special relativity, quantum mechanics, chromodynamics, multiple dimensions, black holes, general relativity and other concepts literally exploded our reality. If we did not question, that would not have happened.

                But having an irrational disbelieve, and instead, clinging to a two volume collection of ancient stories meant to scare babies and children into behaving, and part two, a often rewritten, politically altered, badly translated, poorly edited, and abused collection of politically acceptable writings, (which contradict each other, and are generally named hundreds of years after the illiterates they described were long dead) now, that I find offensive, especially  if our government promotes such crap.

                What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology and understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

                by agnostic on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:37:01 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  That is a strawman... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  entropiccanuck
                  - the apelike critters you disparage, were more human, ethical, moral and full of integrity than many of the Southern Baptist church leaders who think that women should stay in the kitchen, that teaching evolution is a sin, and that science ruins them minds of yutes.

                  There are a great number of educated and articulate Christians who have expressed doubt about the current scientific dogma on origins.  No Christian that I know would "reject science, math, etc."  Another strawman.     A "collection of fairy tales" is your opinion and you are welcome to it as far as I'm concerned, but to suggest that someone who disagrees with you on that point is not welcome here is a bit presumptive on your part.

                  The scientists of a century ago were convinced that they had the ultimate questions and the ultimate answers pretty well wrapped up. Then special relativity, quantum mechanics, chromodynamics, multiple dimensions, black holes, general relativity and other concepts literally exploded our reality. If we did not question, that would not have happened.

                  You have just posed an argument against your position.  You are the one who believes in a current dogma and believe no one should challenge it.

                  But having an irrational disbelieve, and instead, clinging to a two volume collection of ancient stories meant to scare babies and children into behaving, and part two, a often rewritten, politically altered, badly translated, poorly edited, and abused collection of politically acceptable writings, (which contradict each other, and are generally named hundreds of years after the illiterates they described were long dead) now, that I find offensive, especially  if our government promotes such crap.

                  You have misnamed yourself as "Agnostic" for your position is not agnostic at all--it is the position of a dogmatist.

                  •  You misunderstand "science" (6+ / 0-)

                    Scientists and religiously oriented thinkers differ in  one fundamental way...

                    Scientists are willing to change their perspective (opinion, understanding, etc.) when presented with new information that disproves older theories or ways of thinking.  

                    Religious "belief" in the creation remains steadfast in the face of overwhelming evidence that life evolves.  Additionally, the fundamental premise of religion, a belief that "God" is real is fundamentally untestable.  

                    I can never say that "God" doesn't exist, but I can say with a high degree of confidence (I am 99.999% sure) that there is no "God."

                    There is nothing dogmatic about science.  

                    When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. ~H.G. Wells

                    by Adzam13 on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:23:33 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  *shrug*--you can believe whatever floats... (0+ / 0-)

                      your boat Adzam13--but I can assure you that I well understand what science is.

                    •  There is nothing dogmatic about science, but... (0+ / 0-)

                      both faith and science seem to me to be monumentally ill-served, and ill-represented, by the dogmatic adherents of either.

                      So long as men die, Liberty will never perish. -- Charlie Chaplin, "The Great Dictator"

                      by khereva on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 04:54:55 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Dogmatic adherance to a principle is concerning, (0+ / 0-)

                        however, science is a method of approaching problems and understanding the world.  

                        There is absolutely nothing wrong with believing in a method of understanding that requires testing and evidence and encourages it's dogmatic followers to change their "beliefs" as new evidence emerges.  

                        It is the fundamental difference which is often missed in the science vs. religion debate.  Belief in a set of facts (e.g. that a man walked on water and the earth is 6000 years old) versus belief a method of knowledge building through the creation and testing of hypotheses through rigorous methods.  

                        When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. ~H.G. Wells

                        by Adzam13 on Thu Jun 12, 2008 at 05:24:54 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  my dog's no matist. he was "fixed" (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    BYw, mrchumchum

                    to the contrary, I support challenge, questioning, and curiosity, as being the healthiest, holiest, and most blessed activities that humans can take.

                    are you suggesting that the physicists of the late 1890's were NOT convinced that their TOE was within months or at most, a few years of findings and discovery? I can recommend several great books on that subject, if you disagree. And they put it far more clearly, with more cites than I can accomplish now, not having even a sip of scotch to fuel my posts.

                    ewe sed:

                    No Christian that I know would "reject science, math, etc."  Another strawman.  

                    I cannot express the glee and happiness that I feel, knowing that you have managed to avoid that kind of crap, whereas I have seen and experienced, first hand, those types all too often. Good for you! may you avoid those assholes forever.
                    Unfortunately, many of their reprehensitives sit in Congress, and even worse, the Senate of these untied states. When the majority of the GOP candidates admitted in public that they doubted evolution, and the audience applauded, we have a serious problem in this country.

                    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology and understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

                    by agnostic on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:50:28 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  My husband has often spoken (with amusement)... (0+ / 0-)

                      of what you cite here:

                      are you suggesting that the physicists of the late 1890's were NOT convinced that their TOE was within months or at most, a few years of findings and discovery?

                      However, it seems more of an argument for me than for you.

                      •  However (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Cassandra Waites, mrchumchum

                        Once the evidence was in, scientists started to change their minds and accept that the new description of reality was "truer" in that it made better predictions of results.

                        OTOH, as new evidence comes in, many fundamentalists reject the new facts, because they do not fit in with their world view.

                        Resistance is a human trait after all, but resistance in the face of facts that contradict your theories is not completely sane (and, according to the Borg, futile).

                        The Prince of Peace has been usurped by the God of War.

                        by Spoc42 on Thu Jun 12, 2008 at 07:19:02 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Like Charles D. Walcott, Spoc42?... (0+ / 0-)

                          Resistance is a human trait after all, but resistance in the face of facts that contradict your theories is not completely sane (and, according to the Borg, futile).

                          I would invite you to read about Charles D. Walcott as an illustration of this point of yours.  The link is in one of my posts here--you'll see it.  The part about Walcott is about midway down the linked page.  BTW, Walcott...well, I'll let you read it for yourself.

              •  Well... (9+ / 0-)

                I would never say it to a person's face, but at minimum I would privately consider a person to be uneducated if they are unconvinced about evolution.

                •  HoopJones--I guess then, that you will tell us... (0+ / 0-)

                  where you got your Ph.D.?  How much education does one have to have in order to question man's descent from apes?

                  •  He's just saying that's what he privatly believes (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Nowhere Man

                    beliefs are what you're defending here WLE... he's entitled to that belief.

                    -9.13, -7.79 When you pray, move your feet. -African Proverb

                    by L0kI on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 04:02:17 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  I can't stands no more! (5+ / 0-)

                    You repeat over and over again that you are merely "questioning" the theory of evolution, that you are challenging it or whatever.  What is the basis of your question or challenge?  Is it simply that you remain unconvinced?  What would it take to convince you?

                    The most fundamental flaw that can be made in thinking critically is to presume that any possible critique is thereby a valid critique.  For any scientific theory, there remains the possibility that it is wrong.  I presume you do not doubt the theory of gravity, or the notion that the world is round.  If you did, I would have to ask you why.  Doubt needs a reason as much as belief, at least scientific belief, does.  

                    If you have no reason other than that you remain unconvinced, that not all the gaps have been filled in, or that there remain to many other questions, you're not challenging or questioning anything, you're simply denying it.  If there is one thing that has no place in science, it's denial.

                    While the voices of dissent are many, reason has but one voice. -lizardbox

                    by Nellebracht on Thu Jun 12, 2008 at 02:21:51 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Good point, we have to find (7+ / 0-)

                a euphemism for "idiot" so we don't have to call people who believe in idiocy such a down-right pejorative term.

              •  Mmm, well. I'll step up to the plate here. (14+ / 0-)

                Since I'm not a Democrat, and not even an American, I get to say certain things without fear of the backlash damaging the cause of sanity in the US.

                No, I won't call you an idiot... but that's only because I'm a Canadian and therefore too polite to call people idiots to their faces. I will call you very badly misinformed. And flat-out wrong.

                "Remaining unconvinced" about evolution is not a valid position. Sorry, it isn't. It's not even slightly valid -- despite the fact that it is held by an American cult that, well, calls itself Christian, but bears no resemblance to the religion that pretty much everyone else in the world recognizes by the name.

                There isn't any doubt about evolution. It's not a matter for opinion or "belief". The only way to remain unconvinced is to block out the evidence.

                It's utterly appalling that there should be a "huge voting block" in the United States that privileges ignorance over knowledge, and justifies this in the name of a religion twisted for the purpose.

                Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is.

                by Canadian Reader on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:55:50 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  CR, please jump over to my diary yesterday (0+ / 0-)

                  the sermon mentions the Mother Jones article about how they inflated their numbers. they are much smaller than they like to admit. good for us.

                  What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology and understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

                  by agnostic on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:01:40 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Canadian Reader--I love Canada--used to live... (0+ / 0-)

                  there.  And I appreciate that you are attempting to be polite.  However, you are being overly confident here:

                  "Remaining unconvinced" about evolution is not a valid position. Sorry, it isn't. It's not even slightly valid -- despite the fact that it is held by an American cult that, well, calls itself Christian, but bears no resemblance to the religion that pretty much everyone else in the world recognizes by the name.

                  There isn't any doubt about evolution. It's not a matter for opinion or "belief". The only way to remain unconvinced is to block out the evidence.

                  I would not deny that species change over time if that is what you are referring to as "evolution"--but likely where you and I would part company is on the matter of origins.  The "evidence" that you cite likely pertains to the former, not the latter.  

                  •  You're confusing two things. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Spoc42

                    All life on Earth is related. That's undeniable -- everything points to that. Evolution is about understanding how it could have come to take on such a wide and wonderful variety of forms from its very humble common origin. Natural selection is an explanation of that, and it's the only one we have. Various attempts at finding another equally satisfactory explanation have all failed upon contact with the evidence.

                    How the first primitive life may have originated is certainly an interesting subject of study, but it is not part of evolution. The validity of evolution in no way depends finding an answer to that entirely separate question.

                    Right now, in fact, we don't know how life originated. That's OK; there are lots of things we don't know. Scientists love it that there are things we don't know -- that's what they do. (Fortunately it doesn't look like we're going to run out of unknowns any time soon. Every answer seems to lead to more, and more interesting, unanswered questions.) So if you want to believe it took a miracle to get life going, go right ahead. There's nothing in science to prevent you -- yet.

                    However, I would personally advise anyone who asked me, against gambling any important stakes -- such as a sense of self-worth, or a belief in God -- on the premise that such an answer is never going to be forthcoming.

                    Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is.

                    by Canadian Reader on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 10:13:58 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I would agree Canadian Reader that... (0+ / 0-)

                      "All life on Earth is related".  But that hardly proves common descent which I believe is a central part of what the evolution vs. Intelligent Design argument is about.  I would invite you to read the page that I have linked further (up or down?) in the thread entitled Charles D. Walcott.  The section on Walcott is about midway down the page.

                      •  Um, huh? When I say 'related' (0+ / 0-)

                        I mean exactly that. I mean we humans are related -- in the common or garden sense of sharing a common ancestry -- to every living thing on this beautiful planet.

                        Oh, and that "Evolution Tale" page is, to put it kindly, a load of dishonest rubbish. For starters, it entirely misrepresents Whittington's work with the Burgess Shale fossils. Walcott did indeed think that the fossils he found all belonged to modern phyla -- but he was wrong.

                        Charles Walcott interpreted all of his findings as belonging to modern phyla. A revival of the Burgess Shale studies by Harry Whittington and his research group starting in the 1970s have radically changed this view. These studies have shown that many of the organisms had strange and previously unknown morphologies and lack modern analogues. They represent a large number of higher taxa that are only known from the Cambrian fossil archives and probably became extinct before the end of the Cambrian - early experiments of nature that for unperceptible reasons failed to survive the tail of the Cambrian Explosion. The insight won from the Burgess Shale fauna was a major argument not only for a maximal initial proliferation of the metazoan animals (the so-called Cambrian Explosion) but also for their pronounced decimation after the outburst of so many anatomical designs.

                        Also, precambrian fossils are rare, but they have been found, for instance in the Biscay Bay-Cape Race area of Southeastern Newfoundland. (And they're rare because life forms were pretty much all soft-bodied at that early stage, and it takes very unusual circumstances for soft-bodied creatures to leave a fossil record; most of them, naturally, just decay into nothing.)

                        There isn't actually an argument between evolution and intelligent design. There's science, which is going about its business of discovering all sorts of cool stuff about how the world works -- and then there are evolution deniers like the author(s) of that page, who are mostly not worth arguing with because they are about as grounded in reality as holocaust deniers.

                        But sometimes -- you know how it is -- scientists do get sucked in to trying to debunk the deniers' claims.

                        Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is.

                        by Canadian Reader on Thu Jun 12, 2008 at 08:47:05 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Canadian Reader, my point wasn't whether... (0+ / 0-)

                          or not Walcott was right or wrong but merely that scientists are human beings and are subject to emotional prejudices that have nothing to do with science and have a lot to do with their own egos.

                          There are other scientists who are not so comfortable with dismissing the problem of the "Cambrian Explosion."  But I expect you already know that.

                          •  I'm not dismissing it. I'm pointing out (0+ / 0-)

                            that it's not a problem for evolution. It might look like a problem to people who think Darwin's book is being put forward as some kind of alternate holy scripture -- but there aren't any biological scientists who think anything so ridiculous. (And a non-biological scientist who thinks that is, um, not generalizing very well from what he/she knows about his/her own branch of science.)

                            1. The forms of life have been very, very different over time. Conditions change, new forms come into existence, old ones disappear, everything is interconnected.
                            1. Life existed long, long, long! before the Cambrian Explosion (which began roughly 540 million years ago). Multi-cellular creatures came into being perhaps 600 million years ago, but before that, 2.4 billion years ago, it was the evolution of photosynthesis by single-celled organisms that introduced oxygen into the atmosphere of the earth, thus killing off the previously-prevalent anaerobic forms and making possible all the rest of life as we know it, including us.

                            But I'm not going to convince you with a few comments in a moribund dKos diary. If you want to know more about what the idea of evolution really is (as opposed to what the professional deniers claim it to be), the information is out there and easily available.

                            For now, I would encourage you to click on the last link in my previous comment for a bit of a chuckle, and an amiable close to this conversation.

                            Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is.

                            by Canadian Reader on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 08:41:33 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Still friends... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Canadian Reader

                            it's not a problem for evolution. It might look like a problem to people who think Darwin's book is being put forward as some kind of alternate holy scripture

                            I think the Cambrian Explosion is a problem for Darwinism.  But in some circles, Origin of the Species is looked on as an "alternate holy scripture."  I should know, I have encountered more than my share of them on theological websites.  The reason why it is not a problem for the field of evolutionary biology per se, is that evolutionary theory is so plastic that it can mean anything today.  It is bent and twisted to accommodate any and all new data.  If you put ten evolutionists in a room, likely none of them would agree with the other.  The theory is like some kind of "ether" that flows around and engulfs all thinking as part of the theory even though some parts are plainly contradictory.  Dawkins says that you must have gradualism and Gould says that the fossil evidence does not support gradualism.

                            I appreciate you kind tone and attitude.  Thanks for the chuckle and the discussion.  Still love Canada!

                          •  "On theological web sites..." (0+ / 0-)

                            Well, that's the problem, right there. Wrong place to look. Asking theologians how science works is about as fruitful as asking theoretical physicists to translate the Dead Sea Scrolls. (i.e., there's a tiny chance you might stumble across some polymath who understands both, but it's surely not the way to bet!)

                            Here's one way to tell that someone spouting off about evolution is a crackpot: if they complain that evolutionary theory refuses to stand still, and that "evolutionists***" disagree about details... they don't know how scholarship advances knowledge in any field -- and they probably aren't even very good theologians.

                            *** another tip: When you go looking for more information and maybe ask questions online, don't use this word. All by itself, it's a dead giveaway of someone who's been confused by the wrong sort of theology sites.

                            Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is.

                            by Canadian Reader on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 01:25:52 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  No, I don't mean theologians when I say... (0+ / 0-)

                            that I have encountered evolutionists on theology websites.  They are typically high school biology teachers or some such and are attacking the Christian faith because of their own atheism or agnosticism.  As such, they are obviously not theologians.  Sometimes they are "philosophers" and/or theistic evolutionists but never true believers.

                            I know full well how science advances since I am married to a scientist.  It doesn't advance through blind adherence to a scientific doctrine--of that I am sure.  

                            *** another tip: When you go looking for more information and maybe ask questions online, don't use this word. All by itself, it's a dead giveaway of someone who's been confused by the wrong sort of theology sites.

                            What "word" are you speaking of?  What is a "wrong sort of theology site" to you?

                          •  The word I footnoted was "evolutionist". (0+ / 0-)

                            It implies a false assumption -- that people trying to explain how evolution works are simply blind adherents of a "doctrine". They're not. That's entirely not what they're about. And it is actually rather insulting.

                            If you're really trying to learn, using "evolutionist" is likely to shut down any conversation, or at least make it unnecessarily hostile -- because it classes you with those who do not inquire in good faith.

                            Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is.

                            by Canadian Reader on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 03:45:26 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  No more insulting than having people who... (0+ / 0-)

                            favor the theory of evolution as an explanation for the plethora of life forms (there, is that better?--a bit more cumbersome than simply "evolutionist"--although why you would consider that insulting, I do not know) say that ID people are "idiots."  

                            ID is NOT religion in another guise by the way.  There are some attached to the movement who are agnostics.  Take Francis Crick, for instance---I would consider him to be an ID advocate since he has hypothesized that "alien" intelligent agents came here to establish life.  He is certainly not a theist.  I know a microbiologist who is personally an ID advocate but she does not speak of it to her colleagues for fear of being ostracized (or worse--deprived of grant money).  She's in Canada, by the way.  

                          •  Well, at the risk of departing from politeness, (0+ / 0-)

                            I have to say that a microbiologist who actually subscribes to ID most certainly should be deprived of grant money -- on grounds of incompetence.

                            Possibly you have misunderstood her position, though. Evolution deniers try very hard to claim everyone who believes in God as an ID advocate, and of course that's nonsense.

                            Suggesting that the origin of life on this planet might have been caused by an intelligent agency -- whether alien or supernatural -- has nothing to do with evolution. "Origin of life" does not equal "evolution." Origin of life is an open question. We covered that, above. Hold any opinion you like on the origin of life -- as long as it takes into account the known facts about the very earliest forms of life being unicellular, and having a completely different metabolism that was poisoned by atmospheric oxygen.

                            But evolution really isn't an open question, no matter how much the ID advocates try to pretend it is.

                            Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is.

                            by Canadian Reader on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 07:16:55 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  She is actually quite gifted---recieved... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Canadian Reader

                            mega-bucks when she did her Ph.D.  I have not misunderstood her position.  She read Darwin's Black Box when she was still an undergraduate and agrees with Michael Behe.  Why would you label those who you disagree with as incompetent?  And you would want them deprived of grant money??!!  Because they don't adhere completely to the current
                            orthodoxy?  That is quite unscientific.  Might as well have a system of alchemy.

                            Saying that origins has nothing to do with evolution is really a bit disingenuous.  You know that origin of life is NOT an open question with many in the field.  When you say that evolution is not an open question, do YOU even know what you mean by it?  What are your credentials, btw, if you do not mind me asking?  

                          •  How is the origin of life *not* an open question? (0+ / 0-)

                            Have there been discoveries I'm not aware of? There are hypotheses, but none that have been tested and proven the way natural selection has. I do think it quite likely that sooner or later human beings will understand exactly the process by which the first life on Earth came into being, but so far as I know, we're not anywhere close to being there yet. I will be astonished (but thoroughly fascinated!) if it happens in my lifetime.

                            I take back what I said about your friend -- that was ill-natured, and I apologize. What she chooses to believe in the privacy of her own head is none of my business, and should not affect her grant money. But Behe's "irreducible complexity" is just plausible-sounding nonsense, and I'm surprised a gifted microbiologist would fall for it. I hope she's not letting it affect her research.

                            When I say evolution (that is, common descent) is not an open question, I mean that it is so over-confirmed by such great mountains of interlocking evidence in every field from geology to genetics, that it is simply not reasonable to doubt it.

                            Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is.

                            by Canadian Reader on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 09:38:14 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Many who favor evolution... (0+ / 0-)

                            seem quite certain that life on this planet was the result of chance occurrences even though there is no real evidence that is true.  

                            It might surprise you to know that Behe accepts the theory of common descent.  But he adamantly rejects evolutionist thought on the origins issue.  It seems that the matter of origins is the real point of contest between ID advocates and evolutionists.  

                          •  Ah, the confusion here is in the word 'origin'. (0+ / 0-)

                            When I say 'origin of life' I'm talking about an extremely simple, primitive phenomenon -- far, far less complex than any of the organisms we see today, which are all intricate products of more than two billion years worth of evolution. (Yes, cats and dogs and elephants, and sharks and jellyfish, and even the viruses and bacteria. All are the end results of the same enormous amount of time.)

                            Nobody knows, right now, how that initial just barely self-reproducing organism came to be. Even if the process is eventually duplicated in the lab, that still won't either prove or rule out some kind of external intervention back then. Lots of people have opinions, but (shrug) they're just opinions. Evolution denialists who make a big deal of this are fighting a strawman.

                            On the other hand, the notion that all life forms came into being pretty much as they are today, with only minor differences? That idea of the origin of life is not tenable.

                            Common descent of life means that all life on Earth is physically, historically, and genetically connected. Common descent of life means that life is one unbroken chain of ancestors and descendants. Common descent of life means that every organism inherited all its genes (with occasional slight modifications) from the previous generation.

                            Behe says he accepts common descent (in a couple of brief sentences), but then that's just about all he says about it. He never addresses the fact that common descent entirely undermines his argument.

                            Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is.

                            by Canadian Reader on Sat Jun 14, 2008 at 07:44:34 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Perhaps he has his own version of... (0+ / 0-)

                            what he thinks common descent is.  On the matter of origins, since none of us was here to observe, I think we are free to form our own opinions as to how life occurred here.  I suspect that some of the conflict is epistemological.  Since knowledge is the overlap of belief on one hand and truth on the other, we have a central disagreement on what is knowledge in this area.  Determining what is or is not epistemologically sound depends, of course on what one accepts as true from evidence and what one believes. Who is going to make the final determination as to what constitutes knowledge in the matter of origins?   Majority rule?  Most of life science is replete with inaccuracies that were believed by nearly everyone in the field until some brave soul came along to challenge the beliefs of the majority.  

                          •  BTW, I will be going away on vacation... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Canadian Reader

                            tomorrow, so if I don't get back to you...

              •  You "remain unconvinced"? Are you kidding?! (5+ / 0-)

                If the giant mountain of evidence that establishes our descent from a common ancestor with other primates doesn't convince you, then what other self-evident, undeniable things would you remain unconvinced about?!!!!  No offense, but I cannot believe I'm reading this.

                IRAQ was a war of choice, ask John McCain. NEVER FORGET.

                by mrchumchum on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:25:32 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I personally don't believe in gravity... (7+ / 0-)

                  I get the sense we're all being 'pushed down'... rather than pulled...

                  :)

                  /snark

                  -9.13, -7.79 When you pray, move your feet. -African Proverb

                  by L0kI on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 04:04:36 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Again, ridicule and sarcasm?? How becoming to... (0+ / 0-)

                    you and this website--not very good debating form.

                    •  what's wrong with a little levity... (4+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Yamara, FuddGate, BYw, mrchumchum

                      that also illustrates the point... people who say evolution is just a theory don't realize that gravity is also a theory... we've pretty much accepted it, but we can't accept evolution which has just as much evidence as gravity...

                      anyway, my intention was certainly not to offend, as I think most people's here isn't... this debate always gets so heated and never goes anywhere...

                      I apologize if I offended you with my snark...

                      -9.13, -7.79 When you pray, move your feet. -African Proverb

                      by L0kI on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 05:22:43 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  Um to jump in for a second (5+ / 0-)

                      Plenty of Christians all over the world accept the theory of evolution.  In fact the RCC officially embraces it (by far the largest Christian group).  To equate "questioning" of the idea with Christianity is disingenuous.  You are certainly not an idiot judging by your writing, and I doubt you or your spouse are uneducated, but the position you're defending is imbecilic and not worthy of being treated seriously outside of an episode of the 700 Club.  We are not, and should not be obligated to give credence to the "Genesis as literal" fairy tale any more than to "theories" of racial superiority, reptilian alien infiltrators, the Illuminati conspiracies, Hollow Earth, etc.  These crackpot ideas also are firmly held by a percentage of the population and are still worthy of ridicule.

                      Your political compass Economic Left/Right: -6.50 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.67

                      by bythesea on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 09:06:24 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  I believe that the universe was created (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Canadian Reader, otto, L0kI, agnostic

                    by a mad scientist named "God" who carefully constructed it over the span of 14 billion years using his mystical forces such as the magical power of electromagnetic radiation and the his nuttiest creation: the weak nuclear force.  Oh, also, he has a beard.  It's a really, really big beard.

                    IRAQ was a war of choice, ask John McCain. NEVER FORGET.

                    by mrchumchum on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 04:32:31 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  mrchumchum...there is real evidence... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  golconda2

                  and there is a certain number of "just so" stories.  Would you like to get down to specifics or are you just going to sit in your incredulity?  

                  •  I'd love some specifics. What did you have in (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    khereva

                    mind?  I'm open to be convinced.

                    IRAQ was a war of choice, ask John McCain. NEVER FORGET.

                    by mrchumchum on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 04:34:02 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Where would you like to start, mrchumchum? (0+ / 0-)
                      •  I've read your other posts. (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        agnostic

                        So let me get this straight.  You generally accept that living things evolve except humans?  Is that correct?  Do you believe that our species was created by God?  Is that the central argument here?

                        IRAQ was a war of choice, ask John McCain. NEVER FORGET.

                        by mrchumchum on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 04:58:25 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  No, mrchumchum, I accept that... (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          golconda2

                          changes occur through various mechanisms--survival of the fittest is one.  I accept that when conditions favor black moths over white moths (to cite a popular observation posed by some) that the black moths will survive to reproduce and that the white moths may become extinct.  However, what I do not accept is that one species evolves into another.  It is up to the person who believes that to pose the mechanism for how that occurs.  I would challenge anyone to show the steps in the process.  Gradualism or Punctuated Equilibrium do tend to contradict each other but I would encourage you to use either or both in outlining the steps.

                          •  Er...punctuated equilibrium and gradualism (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Cassandra Waites, BYw

                            are not necessarily contradictory - they are not mutually exclusive.  What's your explanation of "intermediary" forms in the fossil record that have surfaced in recent years?  In fact, what's your explanation of the fossil record itself if species do not evolve from one to another?  How about genetic similarities?  Close similarities in species within a genera and families of species?  Homologies?

                            I think you think you're arguing with Richard Dawkins.  I don't like his dogmatic approach, nor am I fan of ol' Hitchens either.

                            In fact, what are you arguing?  I'm not an evolutionary biologist and I have no interest in getting into an argument over the finer points of evolutionary biology.  I have this feeling that you're not coming clean with me.  I think you are trying to disprove something that's neither absolutely provable nor disprovable.  Science is about creating working models that closely match what we observe.  It is not about absolutes and it never will be.

                            Can you please cite some evolutionary biologists who make the claim that species do not evolve from one to another?  In fact, I can only assume (though you don't seem to want to say it) that your explanation for the appearance of any species is God.

                            IRAQ was a war of choice, ask John McCain. NEVER FORGET.

                            by mrchumchum on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 06:00:09 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Didn't say that they were.... (0+ / 0-)

                            punctuated equilibrium and gradualism

                            are not necessarily contradictory - they are not mutually exclusive.

                            mutually exclusive--just said that they TEND to be somewhat contradictory.  There are many explanations for "intermediary forms"--only one of which is that they are sequential.  Same for genetic similarities and similar homologies, etc.  We know that many, many species have become extinct which is consistent with a universe, solar system and earth that is decaying.  We also know that the near totality of mutations are not beneficial to organisms.  There are just so many anomalies that throw cold water on some parts of evolutionary theory.  One of my favorites is that there is a specific enzyme that is  only found in the nurse shark and in camels.  Think about it.  

                            What I am saying is that the same evidence that is used to support evolutionary theory can be used to support intelligent design--sometimes it is merely a matter of interpretation.  I have a friend who is a biologist and also a Christian who believes that the Bible is true.  She does not speak up about her faith because to do so would not be politic.    

                            Sorry, I don't have more time to get into this with you.  But there are a number of ID people who have some very interesting points on a number of issues.  Have you read Darwin's Black Box?  I will, in fact say that I believe an Intelligent Designer created life on this planet.  That, of course, does not mean that I would advocate anything other than a robust scientific quest to understand anything and everything in our universe.  Will try to post more if I get the chance.

                          •  Don't worry about getting back to me, I'm sure (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Cassandra Waites, BYw

                            many other Kossacks are making the argument better than me.  I will just say, if your argument is that nothing in science is absolutely provable, then I totally agree.  If you're arguing for ID, then seriously no offense, but I have absolutely no interest because it's complete, utter, total nonsense and is just another useless "theory" that will be thrown in the wastebin of history.  If you do want to argue further, I really need to know whether you, yourself, believe God created all species on Earth and whether you are trying to "prove" that.  I have heard enough ID arguments to know that the entire thing is a thin cover for Creationism and really quite disingenuous.  If you believe in God and choose not to believe observable evidence, that's totally cool by me - as long as you don't advocate for children to be taught it in school.  Teaching ID in public schools is directly contradictory to the separation of church and state and should never be dressed in the clothes of science.  It's dishonest and I "believe" that anyone who advocates for teaching it to children on some level knows that and should have the integrity and honesty to admit it.

                            IRAQ was a war of choice, ask John McCain. NEVER FORGET.

                            by mrchumchum on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 08:49:27 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  ID is a non-starter (4+ / 0-)

                            You can't devise an experiment to disprove the existence of the creator.  Hell, you don't even know the nature of the creator.  Intelligent design theories can be scientific only when there is valid, independent evidence for the creator.

                            And remember your history of science.  Intelligent design was the mainstream scientific theory that was accepted by the majority until evolution came along.  Darwin mentions it himself in Origin of Species.

                            This notion that you're safe by believing in so-called micro-evolution by remaining unconvinced of macro-evolution is disingenuous.  You presume there is already a well-defined notion of what a species is.  There is not.  The whole distinction between micro and macro-evolution depends on the existence of real, ontologically and biologically distinct species.  If there is no such thing, then there's no such thing as a difference between micro and macro-evolution.  Indeed, the ability to metabolize citrates one of the key features of E. coli that separates it from other species.  That a population of them acquired this trait shows that this population, which starts as one species (by human definition) can evolve into a new species (once again, by human definiton).  Once you've given away the fact that variation + selective pressure = change, you've given away the game.

                            While the voices of dissent are many, reason has but one voice. -lizardbox

                            by Nellebracht on Thu Jun 12, 2008 at 02:40:09 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  This is why I believe that biology is... (0+ / 0-)

                            You presume there is already a well-defined notion of what a species is.  There is not.  The whole distinction between micro and macro-evolution depends on the existence of real, ontologically and biologically distinct species.

                            ...an inexact science.  The life sciences have parts that are subject to experimentation and can yield satisfactory scientific data, of course.  But much of the whole of biology rests on what I would call "tradition."  There are traditional ways of viewing dogs and coyotes, for instance.  They have different genetic characteristics which can be recorded but they are inter-fertile.  So do we call them "dog-like things" which is, of course what the term canine indicates or do we separate them into separate categories that we call "species"?--which, in the case of dogs can be further separated into "varieties" like schnauzers, German Shepherds and so forth.  Further complicating things is the fact that a Husky looks much more like a wolf (another species, of course) than it does a miniature Schnauzer.  

                            The whole distinction between micro and macro-evolution depends on the existence of real, ontologically and biologically distinct species.  If there is no such thing, then there's no such thing as a difference between micro and macro-evolution.

                            I think that what you have identified is a problem with biology, not Intelligent Design.  Intelligent Design advocates are merely trying to speak to the subject in terms that are familiar to the field.  To then turn around and use that against Intelligent Design, is I think, to use your word, disingenuous.     As someone here has rightly pointed out, men in the past believed that there was an Intelligent Designer and that did not stop the march of science.  I really do not understand why evolutionists get their shorts in a knot over the idea that there could have been an Intelligent Designer who created life here.  Why does admitting that possibility take anything away from the study of science?  Great physicists like Stephen Hocking and even Einstein admit to the possibility even though they could not even likely be placed in the category of being deists.  Science does not speak to the subject of God--that is for philosophers and theologians to sort out.   But I do not feel that it is appropriate then for scientists like Richard Dawkins to presume to lecture people of faith about how foolish faith is.  Only those in the life sciences have such arrogance and one has to wonder why--is it because there is a bit of insecurity there?  I'm sure we could go on and on with this discussion and you would not convince me and I would not convince you but I would just issue one caution: things are not always what they would appear to be and to ignore that premise is to be found perhaps fighting on the wrong side of an issue.

                          •  No. No. No. The problem with ID is that it (0+ / 0-)

                            does not use the language familiar to those in the field.  Science is about observation.  As people have said like 10 times findings must be repeatable, testable and falsifiable.  If they are not, they ARE NOT SCIENCE.  GOD IS NOT SCIENCE.  It's bizarre that you keep repeating that ID is somehow any of these things.  No one is saying that science is necessarily contradictory to belief in God.  What they're saying is that it is contradictory when individuals deny observable, repeatable findings.  Believers in ID must adjust their beliefs to accord with what we observe in nature.  Scientist should never adjust their views to accept deceptions.  

                            You cited "Darwin's Black Box".  That book is a hack job.  All of Behe's major claims, the ones that are falsifiable, have been falsified.  Of course, he's careful to make many claims that are not falsifiable so that believers can continue to believe unchallenged.  If claims cannot be falsified, they are not science.

                            Behe's central claim is "irreducible complexity".  He uses examples such as the Eukaryote Cilium and the Archaeal Flagellum as examples that there could not have been a middle point between species that have such complex forms.  This is outright nonsense.  He asserts that that the middle form would be useless and therefore non-advantageous for survival.  What he ignores that all life is opportunistic and the function matches the needs and the needs change, as does the function.  The middle forms served different functions.  I beg you to at least look at the evidence.

                            I think the thing you don't realize when you say

                            I would just issue one caution: things are not always what they would appear to be and to ignore that premise is to be found perhaps fighting on the wrong side of an issue.

                            is that Behe and the ID folks are really just playing a game.  It's the game some Christians play.  They think if they can parrot something that sounds like science, they might convert some people to breaking down the barrier between church and state.  I don't know if you're playing it, but you should also heed your own words:  things (and people) are not always what they appear or claim to be.

                            Religious believers do not get to claim "offense" when people challenge what is demonstrably false.  I am unconcerned if I offend someone if they are making claims that have no basis in observable facts but say they do.  If you just told me that you are choosing to not believe the facts because you believe in God, I would not be bothered.  It's the duplicity of the claim that ID has any basis in sound science that is dishonest.  Can scientists and people who accept scientific findings be dogmatic?  Yes.  But that doesn't make ID right.  Nor does any of this prove the existence of non-existence of God.  It just proves that ID is false and the theory of natural selection has withstood the test of time and rigorous inquiry.

                            IRAQ was a war of choice, ask John McCain. NEVER FORGET.

                            by mrchumchum on Thu Jun 12, 2008 at 12:46:06 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Macroevvolution IS supported by evidence. (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Cassandra Waites, mrchumchum

                            However, what I do not accept is that one species evolves into another.

                            PLENTY of evidence supporting evolution from one species to another.

                            TalkOrigins can sum up, with citations, etc., WAY quicker than can be explained here.

                            And this page has a list of peer-reviewed studies supporting all the claims.

                          •  this link might help your understanding (0+ / 0-)
              •  Senator Obama stated he (3+ / 0-)

                believes in evolution at the CNN debate.

          •  Not all people of faith are creationists. (9+ / 0-)

            And as someone who has flat out been told multiple times in church that the beliefs I dared not state meant that I couldn't possibly believe any of my other beliefs because no one who believes A could possibly believe B, C, D, or E, I laughed.

            •  Can't argue with that. (5+ / 0-)

              hell, some of the best astronomers work at the vatican. And now they  actively promote the idea that aliens live. damn, If only I could get into the bowels of their library, and only if I spoke and read attic greek, sumarian, and many other languages.

              No, I keep my powder dry for the minority that so destroys our schools, our public policy and those who wish for global war for some demented religious belief. Of course, the powder needs constant replenishment these days. Hardly even has a chance to get damp.

              What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology and understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

              by agnostic on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:46:54 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  pls see my diary from yesterday. (0+ / 0-)

            or rather, my agnostic sermon. there's a great link to Mother Jones, and the lies being promoted about how powerful the evangelical movement was supposed to be. great stuff.

            What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology and understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

            by agnostic on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:48:56 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Also complicating the numbers mentioned there: (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              L0kI, agnostic, BYw, gsenski

              The issue of students planning on leaving who haven't left yet. When parents are your way to church and they aren't ever going to let you skip for anything lesser than the flu, you are going to church whether you still believe the same as the rest of the congregation or not. I knew a few of those.

              Since letters of membership only get removed most of the time with membership transfer or a request to pull membership, a lot of the kids who leave the Christian faith entirely from fundamentalist churches may still be listed as members unless they know how to get off the membership roll.

              •  Why use this as an occasion for an anti- (0+ / 0-)

                fundamentalist rant, Cassandra? Why not put up your own diary on the subject?  However, that is unlikely to reflect well on the Democratic Party for those Christians who might be thinking of voting Democratic.

                •  Since when is it a rant (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  BYw, gsenski

                  to comment in response to a link someone else posts?

                  The diary linked is a day old, and thusly I thought it unlikely that the response would be seen there and likely that it would be seen here. If the link had not been posted, I would not have made the comment. Since someone else opened the discussion, I felt free as a member of this community to join it.

                •  That was not an anti-fundamentalist rant. (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  agnostic, Cassandra Waites, BYw

                  But it was, on the other hand, a valid objection to the claim that Democrats must kowtow to fundamentalists because (the claim under dispute runs) they are so numerous that they will vote us into destruction if we don't.

                  How loving, faithful, or "christian" it would be to vote the nation into disaster out of revenge or pique for not being treated sufficiently nicely is another matter entirely.

                  So long as men die, Liberty will never perish. -- Charlie Chaplin, "The Great Dictator"

                  by khereva on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 05:01:11 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Well would you consider it "kowtowing" to... (0+ / 0-)

                    Hillary's supporters if you would stop dissing them in and spoke nicely to them in order to interest them in voting for Obama?

                  •  It wasn't even really that. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    BYw

                    Fact 1: Some young people are leaving fundamentalist churches.

                    Fact 2: People who are leaving fundamentalist churches do not all join other churches, fundamentalist or otherwise.

                    Fact 3: A person leaving a church without joining a new one does not need proof of membership or proof of baptism to be sent from the church elsewhere. This means an individual can leave without actively notifying the church in any way and with the only passive notification being absence.

                    Fact 4: Someone leaving for nowhere may not know to, think to, or feel safe (community or family influences) enough to remove the letter of membership from the church.

                    These together mean that some unknown percentage of the current membership rolls of fundamentalist churches is made of individuals who have left Christianity entirely. The number may be quite low, but it is a non-zero number.

                    That this is the case makes no judgment call on either the churches being left or on those leaving the churches.

                •  you mean that some christian, flat-earther, (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  FuddGate, gsenski

                  7000 yr old universe, close-minded idiots are willing to walk away from their brain-washing, vote in their own interest, and start fixing this country's problems? Will that include fixing education, global relations, the tax structure, energy problems, the horrific infiltration of church into the state, and their willingness to open their minds to biology, astro-physics, high energy physics, superstring theory, some TOEs, or even materials sciences?

                  IFF - and I mean that as the scientific notation, they will toss away their fairy tales, of course we will accept them. But, if they come here looking to transform us into a bible-beating, group of brain-dead sheeple, screw them.

                  What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology and understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

                  by agnostic on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 05:02:00 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Well, how kind and loving of you, agnostic... (0+ / 0-)

                    You are apparently an anti-Christian bigot.  I thank God that there are relatively few Democrats like you.

                    •  no worries. I am doing my damnedest to (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      BYw, gsenski

                      increase my flock. I see many omens and signs that my work is succeeding. And not so much "apparently  an anti-christian bigot,"
                      but rather,
                      a confirmed, flaming, radical, non-stop, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead, anti-christian bigot, thank you very much.  I've got one book done, another still rewriting on those issues.  

                      Let me know when your god gets back to you for your thanks. does it blog? have a face page? texting?

                      I have a couple of chapters on the power of prayer. I love that double blind study, since repeated, showing that prayer had either a negative or no effect on cardiac surgical patients, depending on their beliefs and whether they had knowledge ahead of time. Not one positive finding from the power of prayer.

                      And don't get me started on murderous faith healing.

                      I consider it a personal insult when someone suggests that they will pray for me or my  sole soul. I usually tell them not to waste their time.

                      What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology and understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

                      by agnostic on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 06:14:32 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

          •  How about because your premise is mistaken? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            L0kI, Cassandra Waites

            Assuming that all people of faith reject evolution is preposterous.

            •  now, you have mixed two issues. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Cassandra Waites, gsenski

              first, I don't suggest that all people of faith are irreparably brain dead due to their beliefs. Never did. Never will. To the contrary, the beauty of this country is that it permits any and all, AND, NO faiths to co-exist. I despite my deepest reservations, I would and do support everyone's right to believe what they choose, so long as they don't infringe on my right to do the same.

              second, I DO think that too many organized religions cause far more harm than good. When a Saudi woman is to be stoned simply for traveling to work with a man not a relative, or when a famous model in Sudan has a death sentence hanging over her because she said something about clitorectomies, or when a substantial minority of our own conrgresscritters support invading Iran so Rapture can happen for 144,000 idiots, then yes, I do think that people of faith are absolutely preposterous.

              What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology and understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

              by agnostic on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:59:03 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Wings, there are two distinct issues (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cassandra Waites, blzabub8

            at work in your remark.  On the one hand, there is the question of effective rhetorical strategies.  Clearly disparaging other people's beliefs is not a winning or persuasive rhetorical strategy.  But there is also the question of truth.  It seems to me that there must necessarily be a balance between truth and rhetorical efficacy.  We should not let our desire for rhetorical efficacy betray or undermine what is true.  Indeed, it seems to me that one of the central values of the democrat should be the pursuit of truth.  In this regard, I think we give up far too much if we cow our courage to speak what we believe truth to be for the sake of electoral success.

      •  We have a common link with bacteria. (8+ / 0-)

        All life on Earth seems to be related by common DNA sequences. So we have a common ancestor with apes from around 5 million years ago, but that common ancestor had to come from somewhere before that and before that. I think a lot of the creationists get stuck on the last transition, from Ape to Human, and don't step back and look at the big picture of what we're saying. All life on Earth has a common ancestor. We're not only related to apes, but also all the ocean and land life, all the animals, bugs, plants, fungus, bacteria, and even the Bush family.

        Investigate War Lies --> Evidence for Senate Conviction --> End the War. Got it?

        by bejammin075 on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:01:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  A good question (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        L0kI

        Above the molecular level, we're very different from bacteria, and changing a single enzyme is quite unlike changing the organization of a vertebrate. This news shouldn't be trumpeted to the world because it's terribly weak evidence for what it purports to demonstrate, and making a big deal about it weakens the (perceived) strength of the case for evolution.

        I'd rather see more use made of facts like this one: "Petroleum geologists are entirely practical, and they use the sequence of fossil species to identify sequential layers of rock". Note that this is factual, but, in a sense not about science and scientists. Instead, it's about useful patterns that practical people find in nature, and those patterns show new species replacing old, for age after geological age.

        "C'mon -- if THAT were true, you wouldn't be getting the news from some crazy email forwarded by your brother-in-law!"

        by technopolitical on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:51:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  An evolution misconception (51+ / 0-)

      I hate to say it, but your "ground rule" of evolution is wrong.  What've you written is actually frequently used as a creationist talking point.  I'm referring to this:

      "EVOLUTION = PURE BLIND CHANCE, FOR GOOD OR BAD. NOTHING MORE."

      Creationists will claim that and then say "How can evolution ever lead to anything different if it's all just random?"  The answer, of course, is that the randomness is just one part of a two-piece puzzle.

      Evolution has two main parts to it: mutation and natural selection.  Mutation is the random part.  It provides the building blocks for the second part, natural selection, to work off of.  Natural selection is decidedly non-random.  That's not to say that it has any destination in sight from the outset; far from it.  But it does mean that beneficial mutations are more likely to be spread in populations than harmful ones.  You know, it's the whole "survival of the fittest" (or more aptly, the survival of "those most well-adapted to their environment").

      For more information the Wikipedia article on evolution is actually quite good.

    •  Whaddya mean, Play us Out? (6+ / 0-)

      Fuck it. We'll do it Live!

      Welcome Back, Hillary & friends!

      by Krum on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:11:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If one accepts that God is omnipotent (4+ / 0-)

      Then, in theory, he'd have the ability to create false evidence and false occurrences as a "test" of faith, which is why--no matter the evidence--creationism will never die.

      More moderate Christians already do believe in Evolution (the Catholic Church has acknowledged it for instance). They believe that God could set a series of events which created the world in motion in seven days...Again, nothing really undoes the creationist view point.

      I wish people on both sides would be less passionate about this. Science too often reacts to religion by becoming a religion itself.  

      Obama/Casey, my personal dream ticket.

      by The Bagof Health and Politics on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:12:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think you'd find (18+ / 0-)

        those in science would be far less passionate about this debate if religious people didn't insist on coming into their classrooms and labs and spouting their religious beliefs. After all, scientists don't insist on going into churches and lecturing on evolution or string theory.

      •  That's true (8+ / 0-)

        Science too often reacts to religion by becoming a religion itself.  

        but I'm not sure how to avoid it.  Because if you don't compete for space in the public square, or in the scholastic frameworks, you'll get edged right out.  As we have amply observed.  

        Observable and reproducible results are "better" only if and when your criteria are observability and reproducability. Which they should be, if vaccines and airplanes and the like are what you have in mind. If you have other goals in mind, then other criteria might apply.  

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:20:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes but the danger for science is that good (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          myboo, agnostic, sam storm

          science depends upon people asking questions. When science starts to masquerade as a religion, good questions are fewer and further between...

          Obama/Casey, my personal dream ticket.

          by The Bagof Health and Politics on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:31:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'd dispute that, since one of the tenets (8+ / 0-)

            of said 'religion' of science would be, "thou shalt ask!".  And demonstrate.  

            "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

            by lgmcp on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:33:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Except somebody who says (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              lgmcp

              "Evolution is bunk" or "Global Warming is bunk," tends to be automatically dismissed by their colleagues as on-the-take. True scientists should withhold judgment and then rip inadequate research to shreds. But that's the problem, there's an accepted code.

              Obama/Casey, my personal dream ticket.

              by The Bagof Health and Politics on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:36:03 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The ideal of science doesn't overcome (7+ / 0-)

                the very human tendency to fail to live up to our ideals.  Such as giving unpopular or unfashionable ideas a fair hearing.  But at least the ideal is there.  We know it's there, because, among other reasons, sometimes an overly generous effort at fairness leads to giving hoaxes or just plain poor research a MORE than fair hearing, like "fusion in a jar".

                "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

                by lgmcp on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:40:02 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  How many times must (6+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                amRadioHed, lgmcp, ER Doc, kyril, BYw, LeanneB

                they withold judgment before they can legitimately be dismissive?

              •  Sigh (16+ / 0-)

                If the so-called "colleagues" came up with a testable hypothesis, tested it using reproducible methodology, and submitted their research for peer review like reputable scientists, they'd get their fair hearing.

                As long as the "ID" people persist in writing fancy jargon-filled screeds along the lines of "you can't explain this, so it must be God/intelligent designer/aliens" they're not going to be taken seriously. Nor should they. Testability and reproducibility are the criteria by which good science is judged. Unless you're a theoretical physicist, in which case you get to do thought experiments until someone funds your large hadron collider - but physics is a bit special, because it's already run out of things with immediate real-world earthly implications to test.

                Speaking of theoretical physics, perhaps the ID folks should turn their attention that direction and leave biology alone. Their God of the gaps is getting a bit too squeezed to fit in evolutionary theory; physics now has some extra dimensions It could inhabit harmlessly. Also, it would force them to spend their days talking to actual scientists and relieve the need for them to force their non-science down the throats of grade school students. Except that's the entire point of ID...avoiding real scientists' questions and doing just enough pretend-science to get politicians and uneducated voters to back them as they force non-science down the throats of grade school students.

                During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

                by kyril on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:00:15 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Also, re: warming deniers (7+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                agnostic, ER Doc, 0wn, Indexer, BYw, gsenski, LeanneB

                If they can provide evidence that the average global temperature is not rising, let them do so. (And no, those maps/charts on the denier websites showing North American temperatures staying stable do not count. Global = globe.) But there are no such data.

                If they will grant that the globe is in fact warming but dispute the theory of anthropogenic global warming, they're in the exponentially-shrinking minority but not at all shut out of the debate. If they can provide evidence of some other cause (and no, "It's the Earth's natural cycle" doesn't count - present a testable hypothesis about an actual mechanism!) they're free to do so, and if the evidence is at all convincing, the scientific community will be more than happy to listen, as the situation is looking rather dire at the moment.

                During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

                by kyril on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:18:03 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  I can speak (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Cassandra Waites, blzabub8

                to evolution, but not global warming in this case.

                The evidence supporting evolution is absolutely overwhelming.  That is why deniers are treated with extreme skepticism.  Evolution has been observed in model organisms countless times, and a simple observation of multiple (DNA and protein) sequence alignments from mammals makes it clear that humans and primates have a common ancestor.

                Honestly, to doubt evolution is absolutely on par with doubting gravity, without exaggeration.

                New evidence is always welcome, but it's not at all unreasonable to treat it with serious skepticism if it goes against the grain of such a body of evidence.  That's how science is done in every discipline -- new models that cause a paradigm shift require a lot of evidence.  We can't change paradigms on a dime.

        •  I don't agree. (11+ / 0-)

          How can science possibly become a religion? Some of its practitioners may act in a "religious" manner, whatever that means, but it can't be a religion by definition.

          •  Definitions can be subject to debate (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Indexer, Cassandra Waites, kyril, ancblu

            but certainly both science and religion can be described as belief systems.  The 'belief' aspect of science inheres not in whether we accept any particular fact or not, but in the basic emphasis that "facts" are what is important.

            "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

            by lgmcp on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:50:24 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The essential distinction (5+ / 0-)

              is that science seeks natural explanations for observed phenomena, whereas deism posits a supernatural first or persistent cause for such phenomena.  To the extent science can be described as a "belief system," it is only with respect to its established method -- empiricism -- something that faith is simply not dependent upon for validation -- whether reasoned or not.

              Rome is burning ... put down the fiddle.

              by ancblu on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:01:08 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  We agree. (5+ / 0-)

                I am merely pointing out that empiricism, is, for some people, irrelevant, and for others, central.  

                "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

                by lgmcp on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:03:45 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Exactly! (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  lgmcp

                  And people "of faith" are not the only people to dismiss the value of empiricism.

                  I (a scientist) once was challenged by my friend (a mathematician) on the usefulness of empiricism. Why should I expect the sun to rise in the east the next day even if I see that it has risen in the east every day of my life? How could scientific systems be satisfactory when it requires "constant"s (e.g. conductivity)? What is the use of studying this world (a "special case", in his words)?

                  I found myself unable to answer a single question of his. We scientists hold "empiricism" as an article of faith and we can't convince anyone else if they have found ways to dismiss "empiricism".

                  •  The problem is (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    ChemBob, lgmcp, Cassandra Waites

                    You can't simply dismiss empiricism.  You can complain about the relative lack of certainty inherent in empirical knowledge all you like, the simple fact is, there's a world out there, we have access to it whether we like it or not, and if we don't use that access to learn as much about it as we can, we tend to do things like stub our toes in the dark (or worse).  The simple question to ask anybody who disbelieves in empiricism or who thinks it lacks any inherent value is why they're talking to you about it in the first place.  After all, the only evidence they have that you're even there listening and saying things about it in the first place is entirely empirical.

                    While the voices of dissent are many, reason has but one voice. -lizardbox

                    by Nellebracht on Thu Jun 12, 2008 at 02:57:13 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  I don't agree that science is a "belief system" (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                kalmoth, agnostic, Mercuriousss

                of any sort.  It is common to giver particular definitions to science and then to make claims on the basis of the definition, but science is not so easily defined.

                In '92 I won a fellowship to study scientific methodology as claimed by philosophers of science, as written in textbooks and in the practice of particle physicists who helped to produce the Standard Model of Particle Physics.

                A short summary is that there was surprisingly little overlap among the three groups.  More particularly, in looking at over a dozen middle school science texts, I found no two that agreed on what constitutes the scientific method!

                Another finding was that philosophers of science have always been playing catch-up with the evolving practice of science.  

                The simplest thing (IMO) that can be said about science is that people get ideas that evolve from previous ideas, they refine and rephrase these ideas into testable sets, they devise tests that might be able to refute the sets of ideas and they carry out some of the tests.  The "they"s are not usually the same people from one step to the next.

                Every one of those steps may change in subtle and not so subtle ways over time.  It is a critical system that eventually weeds out ideas that work poorly, ideas that work moderately well and even some that work very well.

                The ideas (theories) that haven't been weeded out are accepted provisionally.  There was a time when scientists may have had reason to "believe" that they had found the truth, but in areas of fundamental aspects of nature, that belief has become difficult to defend.

                Of course I could be wrong about such things, and that's part of the point.  IMO, even the methodology of science need not be based on belief, and the history of science shows that scientific methodology is changeable and not eve the same in different disciplines at the same time.

                "Trust only those who doubt" Lu Xun

                by LookingUp on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:32:02 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  There is a fundamental tenet (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  agnostic

                  that science makes testable predictions of some form, and that such predictions are desirable, and that a more accurate prediction is more desirable than a less accurate prediction.

                  During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

                  by kyril on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:40:45 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  This is where it completely (6+ / 0-)

              breaks down for me. A fact is a fact. What one does with that fact; whether one chooses to ignore it, use it, abuse it, etc., is open to debate, but the fact itself is not. It's as if one said "It's not importnat that A shot B; what's important is how we feel about A. So let's string him up regardeless!"

              Or to take an example closer to our hearts: It was a fact that Iraq had no WMD. That fact is neither good not bad in and of itself. It is a point of information. What was done with that fact, however, does.

            •  Unfortunately, those who make the argument (8+ / 0-)

              that science is acting like a religion refuse to accept that definition of the belief system, preferring rather to challenge specific scientific theories and the facts underlying them on the premise that scientism is the belief in a predefined set of theories.

              I don't need to have an argument with someone who does not claim to believe that facts are important, nor do they usually feel the need to argue with me. We can live out our lives in absolute peace. It's the ones who claim to believe it and then selectively use some facts while dismissing others and inventing unproveable ones that cause conflict.

              During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

              by kyril on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:06:28 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  science ain't religion and can't be (9+ / 0-)

                This is a futile go-round. Science is falisifiable. This means that you test your ideas and see if you can find something that proves them wrong. And just which religion is THAT supposed to resemble, I humbly inquire?

                I grant that some science-oriented people may come off as dogmatic and that might put off some folks. The most difficult thing for non-scientists to understand about science is how HARD IT IS to add another grain of sand the mountain of our knowledge, just how hard-won it is, how many little experiments and observations, how much previous work done by generations of earlier researchers, how much background reading, how much second-guessing one's own results, self-doubt, discussion with knowledgeable colleagues, analysis, interpretation, and re-interpretation, how much dispute, etc., ad nauseum, goes into making scientific progress.

                I find this to be one of the hardest concepts to get across to non-scientists. It ain't like religion, no way. It's about HOW THINGS WORK, not why they are that way.

                Fear is the mind killer - Frank Herbert, Dune

                by p gorden lippy on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:19:38 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Falsifiable, empirical ... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Indexer, kyril

                  you are quite correct that the bodies of ideas commonly and usually known as "religion" never embrace these concepts.  However I'm sticking to my guns on this: the PRIMACY that we assign to falsifiability/empiricism is not assigned by all, and is, in and of itself, a kind of belief on our part.  Acting on that belief that has led to myriad life-saving and astounding technological outcomes.  

                  "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

                  by lgmcp on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:26:08 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  uh oh (5+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    wrights, lgmcp, kyril, BYw, LookingUp

                    now you're getting into philosophy, and Hume, and empiricism, etc. To most scientists, myself included, that is a dead-end, no-win discussion. Philosophers are  always saying that science has all these issues with their empiricism, and that it's an "unjustified belief." I prefer to turn that around, much as you have started to do in your comment. The problem philosophy has is to explain the incredible SUCCESS of science despite what they see as its shaky philosophical foundations. It's simply not a problem for science. Show me the philosophy that built a moon rocket, or a Brooklyn Bridge, or discovered penicillin, or vaccines, or LCD's, or understood how the sun works.

                    Scientists don't really care about this "problem," since they happily go about their business of testing their ideas to see what works and holds up. Not a problem.

                    Fear is the mind killer - Frank Herbert, Dune

                    by p gorden lippy on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:42:24 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Ah, but what profits a man (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      agnostic, kyril, p gorden lippy

                      to gain the whole world, if he lose his immortal soul?   (Or however that goes, exactly).  In other words, the things you and I reference as successes, are observable and material, whereas plenty of folks feel that's not the most important realm.  

                      As you (and also Kyril) suggest, we could all go on happily enough sticking to our chosen realms ... except that a goodly number of religious folks don't want us to.  

                       

                      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

                      by lgmcp on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:53:21 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  aye, there's the rub (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        lgmcp, Cassandra Waites, kyril

                        Galileo was persecuted, after all, exactly as creationists and fundies of every stripe would have it (and do have it) today. I've naught against folks who dwell in a more spiritual plane than I, nor do I lack a sense of wonder, joy, and - dare I say it? - spiritual fulfillment in nature and in the arts. Just don't tell me that millions of scientists are wrong because of some origin myth written down in the desert a few thousand years ago. Grrrrr.

                        Fear is the mind killer - Frank Herbert, Dune

                        by p gorden lippy on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:02:46 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Grrrrrr indeed! (3+ / 0-)

                          And that myth, unique to a particualr and relatively small tribe, later mutilated, serially mistranslated, and selectively preserved!  But, gotta kill, or at least subjugate, anyone with a DIFFERENT origin myth -- for their own good, of course!

                          "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

                          by lgmcp on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:07:25 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

              •  As my mother, the research scientist, taught me (8+ / 0-)

                "fall in love with your data, not your hypothesis" -- the essence of good science.

                Rome is burning ... put down the fiddle.

                by ancblu on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:20:31 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  No. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              BYw

              science and religion can be described as belief systems.

              Science is a system for organizing objective knowledge, not belief.

        •  The only problem is we can't define those (0+ / 0-)

          'other criteria'... I understand what you're getting at... and I believe in things beyond evolution, but all we know how to do is measure things against other things that we know (or, don't NOT know)....

          so nothing beyond that can be proven/disproven... which leaves us back where we started...

          -9.13, -7.79 When you pray, move your feet. -African Proverb

          by L0kI on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 04:14:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  The point is - (9+ / 0-)

        an omnipotent being could have created a 15-billion year old world 15 minutes ago, but any premise involving an omnipotent being is untestable. Moreover, as far as faith goes, you don't get mojo for believing in factually proven things: as bishop Tertullian famously said, certum est, quia impossibile. Creationists, being weak both in faith and in reason, purport their premises to be testable, and thus need to be discredited on grounds both scientific and theological.

      •  If God can lie (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nanobubble, chiefsjen, p gorden lippy

        He no longer fits the Christian definition of GOD. Their god is destroyed by their definition of their god.

        As if we could make things better without making them worse.

        by A Voice on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:32:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  There's also the Day/Age concept, which is... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ER Doc, Cassandra Waites, kyril, sam storm

        ...actually supported by scripture. For example, even the most Orthodox Jews have no trouble with an "old earth" because the TaNaCh (what Christians call the Old Testament) says "A thousand years is like a day to G_d." And the word normally translated as "a thousand years" to English from the original ancient Hebrew is actually more accurately rendered "an aeon."

        And furthermore, Orthodox Jews have no problem with other critters evolving, just so long as human beings were specific special creations of G_d.

        The Catholic Church's stance is pretty close to Orthodox Judaism. And Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism all see Bereshith (Genesis) as a metaphor for a divine overseeing of the evolutionary process. Also, most "mainline" Christian denominations also take a similar stance. It is only Christian denominations that believe in the Bible as a literal account of history which have a problem with Mister Charles Darwin.

    •  Go green! (0+ / 0-)

      Tell me what the apes signed?  I know they could talk about their feelings.  What emotions do animals have and can they process them?  Great diary, thanks.

      Republicans don't have 60 votes, and it doesn't seem to bother them one bit.

      by dkmich on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:23:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  But what about the banana?!? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AdamR, kyril, Mara Jade

      John McCain: Healthcare for kids? Not in the Bush-McCain America.

      by bosdcla14 on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:35:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Minor quibble (4+ / 0-)

      The shortness of the Romans wasn't likely to have been genetic; hunter-gatherers averaged 5'9, about the same as we do today. It was agriculture that shortened us, and improvements in agriculture that let us grow again.

      link

      During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

      by kyril on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:35:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for the diary (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      myboo, AdamR, Cassandra Waites, kyril, BYw, LeanneB

      More than ever we need a scientifically literate citizenry, so it's very important to get stories like this out there.

      Ironically, while this article is certainly cool, to those of us who work in the field it's certainly not ground-breaking.  Evolution is accepted as fact to the same degree that the statement "DNA is the genetic material" is accepted as fact.

    •  Yes, but Shawn, it's still just a... (0+ / 0-)

      strain of bacteria.  Were it to become an amoeba--then I would be impressed.  In any case, how does this pertain to Democratic politics?

      •  Since Creationists are determined to (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        agnostic, Indexer, kyril, BYw, gsenski, world dancer

        force religion into public education in the guise of being science, this diary seems to fit into DKos rather well.

        Ask me about my sig line.

        by LeanneB on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:29:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  LeanneB, would you like to explain how this... (0+ / 0-)

          is occurring?

          •  I'm not sure I understand the question. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cassandra Waites, BYw, gsenski

            Are you asking why I believe that Creationists are dressing up their religious convictions as having equal "theoretical" weight as evolution and using that angle to convince school boards that Creationism should be taught in public schools alongside (or even in place of) evolution?  If I'm understanding your question correctly, then here:

            this NYT article gives a decent summation of the anti-evolution movement to get the Christian creation story taught in public school science classes as it examines a battle in Texas to get the state education board to approve ostensibly innocuous language that subtly casts doubt on the validity of evolution as a scientific theory.

            Starting this summer, the state education board will determine the curriculum for the next decade and decide whether the "strengths and weaknesses" of evolution should be taught. The benign-sounding phrase, some argue, is a reasonable effort at balance. But critics say it is a new strategy taking shape across the nation to undermine the teaching of evolution, a way for students to hear religious objections under the heading of scientific discourse.

            Already, legislators in a half-dozen states — Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri and South Carolina — have tried to require that classrooms be open to "views about the scientific strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian theory," according to a petition from the Discovery Institute, the Seattle-based strategic center of the intelligent design movement.

            Sounds innocent enough, doesn't it?  Thing is,

            Evolution as a principle is not disputed in the scientific mainstream, where the term "theory" does not mean a hunch, but an explanation backed by abundant observation, and where gaps in knowledge are not seen as grounds for doubt but points for future understanding. Over time, research has strengthened the basic tenets of evolution, especially as advances in molecular genetics have allowed biologists to read the history recorded in the DNA of animals and plants.

            And yet,

            ...playing to the American sense of fairness, lawmakers across the country have tried to require that classrooms be open to all views. The Discovery Institute has provided a template for legislators to file "academic freedom" bills, and they have been popping up with increasing frequency in statehouses across the country. In Florida, the session ended last month before legislators could take action, while in Louisiana, an academic-freedom bill was sent to the House of Representatives after passing the House education committee and the State Senate.

            Also, have you heard about Ben Stein's recent "documentary" Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed ?

            Ask me about my sig line.

            by LeanneB on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 05:43:31 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  and it's only a matter of time until (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PeterHug, William S, BYw

      the Cylon bacteria wipe out most of the 12 bacteria Colonies in a sneak attack and the surviving bacteria set out to find the lost 13th Colony and a very tiny Earth.

      "No sense pretending you're what you're not, when you've got to shoulder every load." - M. Timmins

      by rockhound on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:56:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Good work (0+ / 0-)

      Great diary.

      /there are no rules except discovery /the only tradition is invention. -rachel pollack

      by joseph rainmound on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:15:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wow! Great finding (25+ / 0-)

    Thanks for diarying this story.  It will be even more interesting when the underlying molecular events are understood.

  •  Great diary! (11+ / 0-)

    Interesting, well written with enough background for anyone to understand.

    Thanks for this.

    "He who fears something gives it power over him."--Arab proverb

    by crazyshirley2100 on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 12:11:24 PM PDT

  •  First time MAJOR TRAIT has been observed (34+ / 0-)

    to evolve in the laboratory.  That's an important distinction.

    In fact, aspects of the theory of evolution have been experimentally observed and confirmed thousands of times.  That's why it's so strong a theory.

    Your diary makes it look as if this is the first time we've seen evolution in action.  That couldn't be further from the truth.

    We're pro-choice on everything! - Libertarian slogan

    by CA Libertarian on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 12:12:16 PM PDT

    •  Title changed to reflect this, with thanks. (13+ / 0-)

      You're right - sloppy on my part. But the animated GIF stays. Took me minutes to create that!

      The nation can be made to produce a far higher standard of living for the masses of the people if only government is intelligent and energetic... (FDR, '37)

      by ShawnGBR on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 12:20:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I remember back in college (6+ / 0-)

      (during the Pre-Cambrian period) we learned about a researcher who took a plant that shot its seeds into the air and planted the ones that went the highest, and eventually developed plants that shot their seeds higher.

      Of course to the wingnuts, none of this matters.  They don't know from traits.  They only know that men do not come from monkeys.

      And if you tried to explain species in bacteria to them (hell, even scientists are confused), well forget it.

      You can't reason someone out of something they weren't reasoned into. - Jonathan Swift

      by A Mad Mad World on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 12:25:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That classic observation for natural selection (6+ / 0-)

      is the pepper moths.  Refresher: sooty industrialized England favored darker moths over lighter ones, so the population changed.  That's easy to replicate in the Junior HS classroom.  

      A yard or so of a very busy printed fabric for each lab group.  A shape-cutter-outter, mothshaped if you're fancy, or maybe just trimmings from a 3-hole punch.  One kind blends the other more observable.  Award prizes to the team that can harvest the most moths with tweezers in one minute.  Count up the 'surviving' and 'harvested' moths and make graphs.  Voila, natural selection!

      But, how there came to BE moths in several colors, takes mutation.  Like these bacteria --  only with a more familiar and more superficial, and therefore less convincing-- trait.

      So this a great catch.  Very elegant demonstration.  

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:27:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  bah! they did not change color, they (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lgmcp, BYw, gsenski

        simply got dirty from all the soot, and no one bothered to give them a bath.

        (sorry!) :)

        What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology and understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

        by agnostic on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 06:00:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Agreed! (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chiefsjen, kyril, CA Libertarian, BYw

      The most simple, yet eloquent, definition of evolution is merely "a change in gene frequency within a population from one generation to the next".

      As such, I have taught my students for years that evolution is fact, and not just theory, since evolutionary changes have long been observed by biological anthropologists in, for example, observed generational changes in the frequencies of blood types within a given population.

      ¡Hasta la victoria siempre!

    •  thank you!!!! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril, Mercuriousss

      befcause this research shows evolution with the pressure of natual seletion by way of a parasitoid fly on the evolution of the cricket song
      http://evolution.berkeley.edu/...

      Quick evolution leads to quiet crickets
      December 2006, update added June 2008

      Attack of the flesh-eating parasitoid maggots!! Mutant mute crickets run rampant in tropical paradise!! The headlines may sound like a trailer for a cheap horror flick — but in fact, these sensationalist sound bites accurately describe the situation on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The "flesh-eating parasitoid maggots" are the offspring of the fly, Ormia ochracea, which invaded Hawaii from North America, and the mutant crickets are the flies' would-be victims. The flies follow the chirps of a calling cricket and then deposit a smattering of wriggling maggots onto the cricket's back. The maggots burrow into the cricket, and emerge, much fatter, a week later — killing the cricket in the process. But this fall, biologists Marlene Zuk, John Rotenberry, and Robin Tinghitella announced a breakdown in business-as-usual in this gruesome interaction: in just a few years, the crickets of Kauai have evolved a strategy to avoid becoming a maggot's lunch — but the strategy comes at a cost...

      please click on the link above to see the change in the cricket wings that force the cricket into being silent.

      Husband and I discovered the cricket/fly relationship and have worked on the cricket and the fly relationship for years....

      donate to a shelter box please http://www.shelterboxusa.org/

      by TexMex on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:51:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  To play us out? (9+ / 0-)

    What does that MEAN?  I don't know what that MEANS!

    Great diary, with a nice little funny punch at the end.

  •  this is interesting (7+ / 0-)

    but I don't think its aything new--see antibiotic resistent bacteria, though it is true that that change is not directly observed, its pretty obviousl

    Creationists tend to distinguish between micro-evolution (change within a species) and macro-evolution (change from one species to another) So i doubt this will change many minds on that score.

  •  Not so fast. (7+ / 0-)

    Someone very dear to me just got back from a lecture given by an actual physicist who claimed there was scientific evidence for creationism. Sorry, but I just don't buy all this "we came from monkeys" boloney.

    "Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity." -George Carlin

    by NMDad on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 12:15:59 PM PDT

  •  Because of my Christian school "education" (17+ / 0-)

    I know almost nothing about evolutionary theory. But the "never observed" thing is a big talking point for them.

    "Time to go home to my mansion and eat my lobster." --- Frank Grimes

    by droogie6655321 on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 12:17:37 PM PDT

  •  I think many people miss the point with the ID (0+ / 0-)

    folks.  Most don't argue that there is evolution.  We see it everyday.  Life evolves.  Their big argument is how life began in the first place.

    Personally, I'm agnostic.  But there is a lot of discrimination in general against people of faith.  They're mocked, made fun of and scorned as stupid and unsophisticated.  This is why most find a home in the Republican party.

    Age of maturity? When you're old enough to realize that your parents are actually smarter than you. Obama '08!

    by browneyes on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 12:20:33 PM PDT

    •  Sorry, or as Wiki says... (17+ / 0-)

      Creationism is a religious belief that humanity, life, the Earth, and the universe were created in their original form by a deity (often the Abrahamic God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam) or deities, whose existence is presupposed.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      Please don't give creationism a weasel way out. They defined their own beliefs in an unchanging tableau of life. Let them defend it or cast it aside!

      The nation can be made to produce a far higher standard of living for the masses of the people if only government is intelligent and energetic... (FDR, '37)

      by ShawnGBR on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 12:22:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not referring to the loud-mouthed (0+ / 0-)

        morons on t.v.  I'm referring to the average, ordinary church-goin' folk.

        Age of maturity? When you're old enough to realize that your parents are actually smarter than you. Obama '08!

        by browneyes on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 12:24:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  but (8+ / 0-)

      Their big argument is how life began in the first place.

      Theory of Evolution makes zero claims about this. So their big problem is that they in fact are ignorant. And when they refuse to correct their ignorance, they are indeed stupid.

      •  I don't disagree with you. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        debedb

        It's the rank and file average people who feel they're mocked for their beliefs.  I know a few of 'em.

        Age of maturity? When you're old enough to realize that your parents are actually smarter than you. Obama '08!

        by browneyes on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:32:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  re: mocked for beliefs (8+ / 0-)

          They're mocked, made fun of and scorned as stupid and unsophisticated.

          It's the rank and file average people who feel they're mocked for their beliefs.

          When such people demand that students in science class be taught that the Earth is flat they clearly demonstrate that they are in fact stupid and unsophisticated. The solution is for said people to educate themselves and thus avoid public scorn.
          I think what I'm trying to say is that the problem isn't that these people are being mocked and made fun of. The problem is that they believe in mythology that is demonstrably false yet they support using the power of government to force such idiocy on our future generations. People that believe stupid things like astrology, intelligent design (creationism) and magic will always be laughed at by some who know such things to  be utter silliness. I think it's just human nature.

          Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.

          by cybersaur on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:54:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  That's because the beliefs are easily mocked (7+ / 0-)

          I mean, come on. I learned a lot about evolution in bio class in High School....a Catholic High School. Run by the Xaverian Brothers. And they taught science as science. If the Catholics can do it...

          You bet your ass I'm bitter. And, yes, middle-america 'values' voters, you *have* been duped. Obama's right. And I'm bitter as hell.

          by ChurchofBruce on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:56:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not saying that ID should be taught in school (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ManhattanMan, debedb

            secular or even otherwise, but I think the rank and file ID folks are just having an overreaction to being made fun of in general by a lot of people.  I know a lot of regular, otherwise intelligent people whose heads nearly spin around and go bat-shit crazy over this because they are really sensitive.  I live in the south.

            Age of maturity? When you're old enough to realize that your parents are actually smarter than you. Obama '08!

            by browneyes on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:29:02 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  overreaction (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              khereva, kyril, BYw, gsenski, browneyes

              ID folks are just having an overreaction to being made fun of in general by a lot of people.

              I'd say that being ridiculed as such (Hitchens, Dawkins, et al) is itself an overreaction for having faith being undeservedly privileged in our public discourse. (Granted, it may be counterproductive, but it seems sometimes that earnest discussions have led us nowhere, because the loudest voices of faith continue to be disingenuous).

              •  I'm not arguing that point, I swear! :-) (0+ / 0-)

                I'm immersed in the Bible belt culture and just know how these folks think.  And vote.  This is one of those super-sensitive areas with some people who shy away from the Dem. party because they feel like they "don't fit in" here.

                Age of maturity? When you're old enough to realize that your parents are actually smarter than you. Obama '08!

                by browneyes on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:40:33 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Look, I would love to be sensitive (7+ / 0-)

              but the foundation of my entire philosophical and moral system (rationalism, humanism, scientific ethics, education, the pursuit of knowledge, etcetera) is under attack by ID. And my belief system itself and all its implications (atheism, secular humanism, medical and marital/sexual privacy, balanced cultural relativism, the Golden Rule, social justice, collectivism, animal rights, conservationism) are under constant attack by creationists and conservative Christians and have been since before I was even born.

              Forgive me if I cannot see the other side of the story. If they stop attacking me, I'll stop defending myself - but it takes all the willpower I have to force myself not to see the claim that I'm attacking them as itself an attack.

              During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

              by kyril on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:59:54 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I understand where you're coming from. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ManhattanMan, kyril

                As a biologist, I've had the misfortune of having circular arguments with more than one knucklehead.  I also do not defend in any way any attack on you or your beliefs.  I take any attack by these folks against homosexuals (for example) as a personal attack against very close friends of mine.  

                There are a few real assholes out there, but most don't mean any harm.  I know the results can certainly be harmful, but attacking these folks personally just seems to be counterproductive because they get defensive.  The assholes?  Attack away.

                Age of maturity? When you're old enough to realize that your parents are actually smarter than you. Obama '08!

                by browneyes on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:11:19 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  I believe the concensus in the sci community (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wayoutinthestix

        is that life began with self organizing/replicating molecules, leading to protiens, amino acids, etc, I'll admit that I only got about 2/3'rds of the way through the blind watchmaker, but i'm sure someone with a better brain can chime in and add some more meat to this comment

        "You don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows" - BD
        E: -5.62 S: -5.13

        by demotarian on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:23:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I have no problem with those who (8+ / 0-)

      believe in "directed chance" or "God made the blueprints". "Evolution is how creationism works" is a huge step forward from believing the earth is six thousand years old and humans coexisted with dinosaurs.

      That is not what the Intelligent Design movement is about, however. It is stealth creationism which seeks to undermine the very nature of science by demanding that ID "theory" (which meets no criteria of a scientific theory) be taught along with evolution in science classrooms.  See
      National Center for Science Education

      For me personally the argument over chance versus design is meaningless, since both "chance" and "design" are human constructs and neither one adequately explains "the sheer unspeakable strangeness of being here at all" (props to Robin Williamson).  Existence is still absurd no matter which way you look at it.

      Loudest the river, fewest the fish.

      by houyhnhnm on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:07:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I just can't believe we're here! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jay w

        Life doesn't make any sense.  :-)

        Age of maturity? When you're old enough to realize that your parents are actually smarter than you. Obama '08!

        by browneyes on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:31:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  re: here (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kyril, browneyes

          Of course, if we weren't "here" there would be no one to make such an observation. It's almost as if we have to exist...

          Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.

          by cybersaur on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:58:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  It doesn't have to make sense. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kyril, browneyes

          I would posit that life is ubiquitous in the universe.  The elements and conditions for life (as we know it)are available throughout the cosmos, if the current theories in cosmology are correct. Considering the quadrillions of stars in the universe and a span of billions of years, I can't imagine that we are the sole life in the cosmos.

          Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity. -8.25 / -5.64

          by carver on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:07:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Creationists do not seek... (0+ / 0-)

        "...to undermine the very nature of science..."

        They just want to stop science from undermining part of their religion.  Religion is important because many families have spent generations building their whole moral and social structure around it.  Now Evoloutionists want to knock the whole thing down.  

        And knock it down for what?  So that a small percentage of kids can learn the finer points of citrate metabolization by e. coli as 17-year high school Juniors instead of as 19-year old college Freshmen.

        We need to go slowly with this stuff, politically.  The possible gains are small and the backlash is huge.  It is not worth riling up a whole bunch of anti-Obama votes now.

        •  Then you don't understand what science is (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cassandra Waites

          It is a system for acquiring knowledge about the material world.

          Science does not deal with the supernatural.  It can neither prove nor disprove the existance of a creator.  To say that a "theory" which relies on a supernatural mechanism has equal merit with the theory of evolution and should be taught in science classrooms is to undermine the nature of science.

          There is much more at stake than the finer points of citrate metabolism.  Evolution a unifying theme of biology.  There is just about no branch of science which doesn't involve theories which conflict with a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis.

          The conflict is not between science and religion.  It is between science and fundamentalist religion.

          Barack Obama did a very good job of reconciling science and religion, IMO, when he related what he told his daughters -- that the days mentioned in Genesis may not mean the same as a day today.

          For those who are so rigidly fundamentalist that they cannot accept that explanation, well, that is their right.  They have the right to reject the scientific world view.  They don't have the right to force that rejection on the rest of society in a twenty-first century that is dependent on science.

          Ironically, the fundamentalists I know are enthusiatic consumers of information technology and medical technology. They are as fond of the golden eggs as anyone else, but they want to kill the goose that lays them.

          Loudest the river, fewest the fish.

          by houyhnhnm on Thu Jun 12, 2008 at 08:16:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Only the stupid and unsophisticated ones. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ssgbryan, Cali Techie

      This is why most find a home in the Republican party.

      "Everyone is tired of this man...you have to remember he is a member of a social class which has profited from wars." -Doris Lessing on Bush

      by perro amarillo on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:13:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  As if the Republican party doesn't mock and scorn (14+ / 0-)

      There was a poll not so long ago and "atheism" was the personal trait that led the way in candidates that others would NOT vote for.

      I'm sorry, but arguing that people of faith are discriminated against in this society is a bit hard to swallow as an atheist. There are so many venues where having faith is perfectly acceptable (in my office, for instance), whereas to profess atheism is akin to saying you murder babies with spoons.

      Where are our "evangelical mega-churches" where we can feel accepted on that level? Atheists are largely in the closet in modern American society and certainly in political discourse.

      Nov. 4, 2008. Let's get ready to rumble.

      by trmasonic on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:21:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree. No one should be scorned and mocked (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ManhattanMan, trmasonic, walka

        for their religious belief or lack thereof!

        Age of maturity? When you're old enough to realize that your parents are actually smarter than you. Obama '08!

        by browneyes on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:30:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I disagree (5+ / 0-)

          If one believes utterly ridiculous, stupid stuff then, naturally, one is going to be an easy target for many very funny jokes. How can you not laugh at people that view "The Flintstones" as a documentary?

          Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.

          by cybersaur on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:01:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That makes me think of Galaxy Quest! (0+ / 0-)

            Seriously, though.  Although I don't know if there's a God or not, I just don't feel comfortable telling people they're stupid for not wanting to feel all alone in this shitty world.

            Age of maturity? When you're old enough to realize that your parents are actually smarter than you. Obama '08!

            by browneyes on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:10:51 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I have a deal for ya (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              agnostic, BYw, gsenski

              I just don't feel comfortable telling people they're stupid for not wanting to feel all alone in this shitty world.

              I have no such qualms. You just point 'em out for me and I'll call 'em stupid.
              Besides, we're not "all alone"-- we have each other.
              The universe is pretty damn amazing without making shit up about gods and such.

              Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.

              by cybersaur on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:46:48 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Because fear is a powerful motivator to believe (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kyril

            all sorts of utterly ridiculous things. How do you think the Republicans have held the White House for the vast majority of the past half century?

            I can't blame people for wanting to explain the ineffable, I just don't engage in such shenanigans personally because it does make me feel very silly.

            It's hard and scary for people to admit that they just don't and can't know.

            Nov. 4, 2008. Let's get ready to rumble.

            by trmasonic on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:18:43 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Are we not supposed to use spoons anymore? (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jesus was a Liberal, Indexer, kyril, BYw

        I didn't get the memo...

        "No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government. Always hopeful yet discontent, he knows changes aren't permanent. But change is." -Neil Peart

        by Boisepoet on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:00:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Actually, (4+ / 0-)

      Natural selection is intelligent design.  If I were a supreme being designing living things, I would want to build into them a mechanism that would enable them to change in order to adjust to their environment.  It's pretty inefficient to create all this life on earth, but have a situation where the only way it can live through a flood is to rely on some poor schlub to go out and build a big boat that they can live on until the flood subsides.  Much better to have a mechanism that enables the animals to develop new characteristics that can be passed on to their offspring to enable them adapt to their environment over time.

      •  One of the problems (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tobendaro, Cassandra Waites, aigeanta

        The ID people have is that your view point indicates that G-d is like a clockmaker who has constructed the clock and left it to work. For some reason they find this distasteful. I don't claim to understand why, but I suspect that they can't stand the idea that such a view makes them unimportant--the deity is not hovering over them breathlessly every second and it makes them feel lost and at the mercy of a very large and uncaring universe. Which suggests to me that they have a rather difficult time finding meaning in their own experience. BTW, I do believe in G-d, just not their version--mine has no conflict with science which was invented with the dawn of consciousness as in "let there be light."

        Just my two cents.

        •  And also (5+ / 0-)

          Because of their general ignorance of science they fail to see and appreciate the awe-inspiring and incredible beauty and magnificence of what has been revealed of our universe by science at both the macro and micro levels and particularly with mathematics and physics.

        •  the idea of god also seems to require (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          aigeanta

          prostrating one's self before this imaginary critter, praying to it frequently, and admitting every bit of lack of faith.

          if this cod gritter god critter is all knowing, all seeing, all powerful, how the hell did it become so paranoid, egotistical, and demanding of worship? that seems to be a major character flaw, and hardly perfect.

          What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology and understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

          by agnostic on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 05:54:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It is simple courtesy. (0+ / 0-)

            I believe that God gave us a near-boundless Universe filled with infinite possibilities for growth, development, and fun.

            We humans have the ability to make the world as good as we want it to be.  And, even if we fail, there is the promise of eternal (this means forever) life afterward.

            This is a pretty good deal.  Saying "thank you" is simply being polite.

            •  giving thanks is one thing (0+ / 0-)

              praying 5 times a day to mecca, or going to church every sunday, avoiding medicines, keeping one's self ignorant because science conflicts with their good book - that's, in the words of Sir Python, something completely different. Besides, if you internally are gracious at the sight of a morning sunrise, the sound of song birds, or smile at the cloud covered moon dimly lighting the forest, why the hell do you need to pray on your knees? If that god critter is all knowing, it already got the message.

              My favorite example about the stupidity of prayer involves  christian college football teams both invoke the name of their god as the reason why they will beat the other team. or buying lottery tickets. or praying for a hurricane to avoid your home, instead of evacuating in advance of the storm.

              What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology and understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

              by agnostic on Thu Jun 12, 2008 at 04:59:55 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Two words: cdesign proponentsists. n/t (0+ / 0-)
    •  Faith and logic (0+ / 0-)

      Faith is based on opinion, and is degraded by logic.
      Logic is based on reason, and is degraded by faith.

      People who are faith based define reality by a source they find credible. Logic doesn't enter into it. One thing they do well is band together as a survival strategy. One long-lived mob... with free coffee and bibles!

      Free university and healthcare for all, now.

      by SoCalHobbit on Thu Jun 12, 2008 at 12:30:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Major trait / expected response (6+ / 0-)

    Very cool.  This flies against even the more sophisticated creationist theories.  But they'll try...

    Major creationists these days believe in what we would call evolution, but only in the sense that God gave His creatures a set of tunable parameters.  So creatures can evolve using natural selection, but only by adjusting those inborn parameters.  They have no problem explaining a moth going from white to black, for example.

    Assuming they don't just ignore this, they'll try to claim the digestion system of this bacteria is somehow tunable, as God intended, and can adjust the dietary conditions of the surrounding environment.

    •  You're right ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril

      It is hard to falsify in a manner that will win over every creationist, simply because they are workers in an ideological movement that rewards innovative arguments for reaching the same pre-determined conclusion.

      "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you c**t!" - John McCain to Cindy McCain

      by Bronxist on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:03:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  My inborn tunable parameters have changed too. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cathy H, kyril

      I can now subsist entirely on a diet of styrofoam packing chips.

      As God intended.

      --- "opendna is high and just makin' shit up outta nowhere." - greenskeeper

      by opendna on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:18:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  sure (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril

      The funny thing is we're seeing religion evolve to survive in the age of science. Any given species of religion that fails to adapt to the new environment will eventually go extinct and those species of religion that do change will most likely continue to flourish. Ironic, huh?
      Historically, where science and religion have clashed-- science wins. Every.single.time. You'd think that the religious folks would figure it out after a few hundred years...

      Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.

      by cybersaur on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:10:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  ShawnGBR, don't forget to mention autocatalysis! (9+ / 0-)

    The ability of groups of molecules to beget new groups that become self-producing at some point (the difference between a photocopier and a device that makes copies of itself) is important to explaining how evolution got it's start in ye olde primordial soup & sandwich.

    You're My Kind of Stupid.

    by SteamPunkX on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 12:24:26 PM PDT

  •  The response to the evolutionary theory (5+ / 0-)

    for many is simply, It is God who made the bacterium, otherwise where did it come from?

  •  wow! does this mean what it seems to mean? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    exiledfromTN, ShawnGBR, MichiganGirl

    OK scientists, does this mean we move from Theory of Evolution to Law of Evolution since it can be recreated in a laboratory environment?

    Wow, what a breakthrough

    "I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend." - Thomas Jefferson

    by Jeffersonian Democrat on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 12:28:40 PM PDT

  •  Humans are Apes (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ogre, kyril, BYw, smellybeast

    If they aren't, then apes aren't a biological clade and are merely a cultural construct.

  •  Great explanation! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marie, exiledfromTN

    But I just know some creationists would respond with "Why didn't the bacteria evolve into humans?"

    John McCain says women shouldn't have the right to choose.

    by Cowalker on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 12:38:11 PM PDT

    •  ....because humans must be the (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Marie, Stampy51, BYw

      end-all-be-all that every organism aspires to be.

    •  Oooh, I forgot to add that argument!! (4+ / 0-)

      Their answer is "because one can't come from the other. If man came from apes, why are there still apes?"

      This discovery shoots that down. There are still 11 colonies of E.coli in the same lab. One changed RANDOMLY.

      Besides: the question they ask is stupid. It would be like asking "a lot of American immigrants came from Europe, so why are there still Europeans?"!!

      The nation can be made to produce a far higher standard of living for the masses of the people if only government is intelligent and energetic... (FDR, '37)

      by ShawnGBR on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 12:55:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The answer to the question "If man came from (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Marie

        apes, why are there still apes?",

        is another question:
        "If God created man, why did he also create apes?"

        Americans now spend a higher percentage of their income on basics like food and energy than at any time since recordkeeping started in the 1960s.

        by Calouste on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:39:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Because we already did, and... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling, HugoDog, Cassandra Waites

      provide a salutory bad example.  Listen really closely to that petri dish and you can hear "Don't you do that, or you'll evolve into human beings....  I'm serious; just you wait until your father gets home."

      We need not think alike to love alike -- Ferenc Dávid

      by ogre on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:03:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Knowing the Mind of God (11+ / 0-)

    And God said:

    And there was light.

    There are those who talk about physical laws - evolution being one manifestation of them - as reflecting the Mind of God.

    Faith and science are not mutually exclusive, even as our scientific knowledge increases.  The more we learn, the more marvelous is the universe revealed before us.  And that knowledge is something to be savored, something which brings us closer to knowing the Mind of God.

    Now, it's not likely you'll see fundamentalists talking this way, as they derive their power through holding on to fixed dogma.  Getting followers to cling to irrational beliefs which are challenged by new information is one way to build a stronger cult.

    But I do suggest that when you are in discourse with Christians, to be mindful that there is a place in which faith and science can be fully reconciled.

    We're pro-choice on everything! - Libertarian slogan

    by CA Libertarian on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 12:41:24 PM PDT

  •  What Creationists rebel against (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    exiledfromTN, ShawnGBR, HugoDog

    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    Social Darwinism, a misinterpretation of Darwin, World War One German style.

    I'm not sure Creationists know their own history, but they carry on the movement.

    In the 19th Century, once Darwin's work was correctly understood....religious leaders accepted it. Even the Vatican supports it now.

    Best Diary of the Year? http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/2/23/03912/3990

    by LNK on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 12:43:37 PM PDT

  •  Are you saying we're just animals? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    exiledfromTN, ShawnGBR

    Yes. 100% yes.

    Truth hurts, doesn't it?

    Thou shalt not kill except for a long list of good reasons is like saying you should not covet your neighbor's wife unless she's hot.

    by FudgeFighter on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 12:44:10 PM PDT

  •  Um, hate to burst your bubble, but... (5+ / 0-)

    this information requires thinking, thus I will just continue to rely on what I know is true in my gut.

    Just kidding.  Great diary, great information!  Wow, whales that walked!  Ain't that just the damnedest.

    Rec'd!

  •  evolution does not (!!!) equal pure blind chance (11+ / 0-)

    The driving force of evolution, natural selection, is not random but proceeds in a rule-based fashion (e.g. how the genetic pool varies due to relative reproductive success).  Evolutionary theory has been used repeatedly to generate novel predictions which have been verified with research-- hardly something that would happen if it were random.   I'm not sure if even the "random mutation" part is truly random in the technical sense.  

    You are right to question the common assumption that evolution represents a sort of absolute progress, a movement towards perfection, but the trend towards environmental fit, which I do agree is neither inherently good nor bad, but that doesn't mean "blind chance" is a good way to describe the process.  

    It is true that the Earth's ecosystem is so complex that it is difficult to guess what evolutionary processes WILL bring, that system's complexity doesn't mean orderly and comprehensible processes aren't at play.

    •  that is also my understanding (0+ / 0-)

      as a non-biologist.  The mechanism is based on blind chance, but the underlying algorithm is not.

      •  The randomness of the mechanism (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cassandra Waites, BYw, Calouste

        I am a biologist.  So far as I gather, the mechanism is not as random as once thought.  There are internal parts of the genome that are dedicated to causing change over time.  It's still random, but there's more to it than rolling dice.

        •  ah I see (0+ / 0-)

          that's pretty cool.  So really, neither the input nor the underlying algorithm are purely random.

          •  Depends. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BYw

            There is always a very strong random component.  Sometimes, it's pretty much the only relevant component.  Other times, it's something intrinsic that is subject to change.  Example: microsatellites.

            Microsatellites are stretches of DNA in which the letters repeat.  You often see repeats of two bases, like AGAGAGAGAG.  They can be repeats of threes, fours, fives, etc.  These stretches are very mutable, relative to other stretches of DNA.  Repeats can be added and taken away each generation.  Most of the time, the number of repeats is inconsequential (not selected for.)  Other times, like when the sequence is in a gene, it is selective.  For example, there is a brain disease (name escapes me right now) in which the number of repeats determines whether or not someone will have it.  Normally, it's just considered hereditary, since mutations still aren't that common in microsatellites.  However, no one would be surprised to see a new case pop up, since the cause is a mutable stretch of DNA.

            •  yes, I remember these microsatellites (0+ / 0-)

              from reading Brian Sykes books, The Seven Daughters of Eve and another one whose name I can't remember now.  I think these were an important component in how he identified haplogroups using chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA.  I only read them a year or two ago and I've already forgotten so much about population genetics that I learned from them!  Thanks for reminding me, I'm going to re-read them now.

            •  Fragile X (FRAXA) (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              DavisDem, NeedCog

              Is the disorder you are looking for, I believe.

              Fragile X

              I am an evolutionary biologist, and I endorse what nanoboy has posted.

              Mutations are random.  Natural selection is directed and cumulative.  Think of the process of evolution as playing gin.  The cards arise in the deck in a random order.  So the card a player draws is random (sampling without replacement to be specific, but that is not important to the example).  This is akin to mutation.  The player chooses to keep the card to advance his hand, or not.  This is akin to natural selection.  If a player is dealt a good hand and nevertheless fails to "fill" it to get gin, you will hear him moan of his bad luck.  He was anxious to improve his hand (directed selection) but unluckily didn't get the cards (mutation).

              The dinousaurs were waiting for a King to show up when there were no more in the deck.

              IOW, you can't have organic evolution (descent with change) without both genetic variability (mutation) and adaptation (selection). Which is important to understand, because just because it would be a good thing for organisms to adapt to an abrupt climate change, if there is no genetic variation, they are not going to evolve, but simply become extinct.  Which is one reason why rapid global warming would be such a problem.

              As for the randomness of mutations:  they are random within a class of outcomes.  Some agents (radiation and some chemicals) cause random mutations anywhere in the genome.  Some chemicals change the DNA at certain TYPES of locations, but within the type, the location at which they occur is random.  There are also parasitic DNA structures called transposable elements that also show preferences for inserting at a set of specific locations in the DNA, but again, the specific location within the set is generally random.

              If you really want to understand the process of evolution and how it withstands Creationism criticism, Talk Origins is the absolute best site to visit.

              •  Huntingtons, actually. (0+ / 0-)

                I looked it up.  I was talking about Huntington's disease.

              •  I'll take issue with one little word, there... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                smokybarnable

                Natural selection is directed and cumulative.

                "Directed" seems to me to describe correctly the kind of selection that takes place when environmental conditions remain fairly consistent over a long time.  However, there is nothing inherent in evolution that it be "directed." The classic, heroic study of Galapagos finches by Peter and Rosemary Grant found evolution of beak depth, for example, clearly inherited, and clearly undergoing selection depending on the kinds of food available during drought, then during wet years. However, these selection pressures were in opposite directions at different times, so there was no consistent ... what... vector to the process, which I think the reader might hear (whether intended or not!) by the term "directed" in your sentence.

                From Science 296:707-711*, "Unpredictable Evolution in a 30-Year Study of Darwin's Finches" is the opening quote:

                Evolution can be predicted in the short term from a knowledge of selection and inheritance. However, in the long term evolution is unpredictable because environments, which determine the directions and magnitudes of selection coefficients, fluctuate unpredictably.

                *I hope that link is publicly available - can't be sure b/c my computer knows I'm a AAAS member. If not, just Google the Grants...

                •  Bad choice of words (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  pixxer

                  Now I know how Obama feels!

                  It was a bad choice for me to use "directed".  I recognize that this has become a code word for those who want to advance the idea of an Intelligent Designer.

                  I mean "directed" in the sense of "having a direction": that direction being an adaptive change arising from selection.  I do not mean it in the sense of proleptic....that is, having a final goal. Such a long term goal goes beyond the use of whatever genetic variability might be currently present as a basis for adapting to current environmental conditions. There is no way for any organic process to have such a goal, much less a roadmap as to how to get there.

                  But "directed" IS a loaded word.  However, to just use "nonrandom" doesn't do justice to the magnitude of the driving force of natural selection.  So let me change my phrase to "At any moment, natural selection has a specific direction and its effects are cumulative over time."

                  •  LOL! (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Cassandra Waites, BYw, smokybarnable

                    Now I know how Obama feels!

                    Yeah, but he asked for it :)

                    However!

                    I mean "directed" in the sense of "having a direction"

                    Evolution doesn't even "have a direction". I'm not getting at any goal-oriented idea of this word, I'm getting at the "consistency" feel of it. Evolution can result in "a direction" in a case where the environment is consistent over a long period. However, where the environment is not consistent, evolution may proceed from A-to-B one decade and from B-to-A the next (as the Grants have shown), and over time, result in stasis, or a phenotype that wanders back and forth and sideways, rather than apparent "direction". It's still evolution (as I realize you know).

                    •  It depends on what the meaning of delta-t is. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      pixxer

                      I would send this to you back-channel, if I knew how to do so here, rather than clutter up the thread with stuff that will bore most folks rigid.  But alas, I don't see how to send you a telegram.

                      I don't think we are disagreeing.  I recognize that my initial use of "directed", rather than "in a direction" was sloppy, in that it allowed for the possibility that some would infer I was implying a Director, when I had no such intention.

                      But beyond that, I'm going to stand my ground. ;)

                      In terms of whether selection pushes adaptation (evolution) in a "direction" or not, I think it is quite reasonable to assert that it does.  Granting your point that adaptation (evolution) can easily end up reversing its direction over extended time periods, this doesn't change the observation that at any instant in time, selection is pushing the population in a specific direction (as opposed to behaving randomly). It can't reverse direction later, unless it HAS a direction in the first place!

                      I think we are separated by a matter of difference in the time scale between our two approaches.  I am arguing that selection causes a direction to evolution at a specific point in time, just as the first derivative of a continuous function tells you the direction the process being graphed is headed at that instant. You are arguing that the function does not have to be monotonic in its increase or decrease.  I'll grant you that, but I  didn't mean to suggest that in the first place.

                      In fact any good population geneticist knows that over a longer period of time, if the direction of selection varies at different time points, and especially if the effect of selection is small in relative magnitude to the effects of population size, then it can appear as if changes in gene frequencies  are totally random, and selection is not acting at all in a net sense, even though it in fact is.

                      I'm looking at the slope of the line at a given instant, you seem to be looking at the overall shape of the function.  Both can be interpreted as to "direction" depending on the time scale used.

        •  According to Schrodinger's "What is Life?" (0+ / 0-)

          (yes, oh he of the cat) DNA is pretty much sized just small enough to get some mutations off of quantum-level stuff while being large enough to not be overly trashed by the same mechanism.

          Even in terms of being random, there are levels of effect. There need to be new genes to try out, but not so many that the bad mutations always keep the good mutations from surviving to spread.

        •  Genome (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nanoboy

          Sexual reproduction ensures change over time. If we all reproduced a-sexually then entire populations would be easily and frequently wiped out...

          Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.

          by cybersaur on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:25:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Not Necessarily (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Norm in Chicago

      Many characteristics of many species seem to exist purely because of chance, and have persisted without being beneficial to survival.  Moreover, even when natural selection does cause a trait to be passed down to future generations because it is conducive to survival, the trait arose in the first place purely by random chance.

      •  Yes. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DavisDem

        It is probably correct to say that the mutation arose purely by random chance, but it is not correct to say the trait arose by random chance.  Beneficial mutations are far more likely to be observed as a common trait of a species than detrimental ones are.  The many random mutations that lead to unviable offspring and don't characterize the species aren't something I would like to call "traits."  The observable characteristics of species are not best described as random.  

        •  Probably Some Imprecision (0+ / 0-)

          In the use of terms such as "trait", etc.  My point was that there are certain characteristics that a species may have which are neither beneficial nor detrimental.  For example, my understanding is that attached vs. detached earlobes are an inherited characteristic.  It is difficult to see this as being either beneficial or detrimental.  However, one type of earlobe may be more prevalent in a particular population as opposed to another population - a purely random occurrence - and for reasons having nothing to do with earlobes, it would be conceivable that one population might survive and the other might not, which would cause a particular type of earlobe to become a characteristic of the surviving species.  Essentially, that would be the product of random chance.  That sort of thing happens all the time.

          •  unclear whether this is so common (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Prince Nekhlyudov

            Yes.  Some mutations will, through chance, persist despite not conferring any evolutionary advantage to the possessor.  How common this is is unclear, because it is extremely difficult to show that a trait was not at any time selected for.  Environments  change and the prior utility of a trait may not be obvious.  Let's use your example.  You're right that it's unlikely that survival ever depended on earlobe attachment.  But you forget that evolution depends as critically on reproduction as it does on survival.  Survival only allows one the opportunity to reproduce.  If males or females preferred one type of earlobe over the other (this could happen for all sorts of reasons, including cultural ones), then we would expect that chance alone is insufficient to explain why a certain type or number of people tend to have this or that earlobe.   Randomness is not absent from evolution, but the whole reason I said anything is because I think it's a very misleading pronouncement to make (and further was central to the diary, a diary about debunking evolution myths) and does not really describe evolution well or contribute to sharing a better understanding thereof.  

            •  A Completely Speculative Pronouncement (0+ / 0-)

              I have a gut feeling that "randomness" is extremely widespread in evolution, and that someday we will learn that the conception of natural selection that we have today is too simplistic and too mechanistic.  I also suspect that we don't really understand what "randomness" is, and that much of what we currently write off as "random" is actually the product of processes we don't understand.  Have you read any of Steve Wolfram's work?  I was intrigued by the suggestion that randomness may not really exist.

    •  It's mutation that's random, not natural selectio (3+ / 0-)

      In this example, the process that created the ability to use citrate as food was a random mutation that occured once and they couldn't repeat it.

      But the natural selection that followed was not random.  The ability to use a new, untapped food source was a tremendous evolutionary advantage.  It would be expected that any bacteria with access to two food sources would be more fit than a single food source bacteria.

    •  Good point. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Norm in Chicago

      The investigations in epigenetics suggest that there may be a chemical (ligand) response to the environment that in turn generate genetic responses.

      Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity. -8.25 / -5.64

      by carver on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:37:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What I find most interesting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ManhattanMan

    is the observation that on replication the trait reemerges only in the population where it first emerged and only after the 20,000th generation.  This observation opens a window on the question as to nearly all species apparently hit an insurmountable plateau in their evolution.

    •  Perhaps... (0+ / 0-)

      That may be where the "cosmic shit happens" part may come into play.

      Major genetic scrambling (damage, really) from a "relatively nearby" supernova would radically disrupt the picture, for example.

      We need not think alike to love alike -- Ferenc Dávid

      by ogre on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:05:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not an insurmountable plateau... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassandra Waites, BYw, fuzzykitten

      It's called an "adaptive peak". It is one of the major contributions of Sewall Wright.

      Think of the selective environment as a mountain range. The tops of the peaks are the best adaptive places to be. The thing is that wherever you start, you can only go up. Taking a step down means that you are less adaptive and that isn't good. But say that just over that big valley is a different HIGHER peak then the one you're on. You'd rather be over there, but the valley means that you can't evolve that way.

      What they have in their mix is a bunch of E. coli sitting on different adaptive peaks. One of them, somehow, has taken a big step to jump across that valley. That put them in the position where they could climb to the new, higher, peak. That's why only that one population could and why it had to be from that time. It means that the jump that took them across the valley, whatever it was, (and it must be pretty hard to do since no one else does it) took place in that population at that time.

      Congratulations, you're on your way to becoming an evolutionary biologist.

      PrairieStateBlue - Open Source Illinois Politics

      by ltsply2 on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:29:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cybersaur, Eryk, priceman

    Empiricism is a great thing.  

    "There is one man who knows in his heart that we have to build one America - not two - and that man is Barack Obama." John Edwards 5/14/08

    by TomP on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 12:57:59 PM PDT

  •  C'mon, everyone knows evolution is just a Theory (0+ / 0-)

    See this for proof!

    Don't be so afraid of dying that you forget to live.

    by LionelEHutz on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 12:59:54 PM PDT

  •  fascinating, but what about cichlids, etc.? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roadbed Guy, raoul78

    I agree this is fascinating and represents a very important development.  But as a non-biologist, I don't understand how this is so different from Dobzhansky's observations in Drosophila several decades ago, or the rapid speciation observed in cichlids in Lake Malawi.

    Thanks in advance for clarifying how this is different.

  •  Nitpick. (10+ / 0-)

    Just a quick statement regarding human height over the ages.  Humans are not much evolved from their Roman ancestors.  Indeed, most humans on the planet are not descendants of the ancient Romans.  In the case of height over the last two thousand years, the changes seen are much more a function of nutrition than they are of changes in genetics.  Also noteworthy is the fact that until recently, civilized people had poorer diets and shorter lifespans than hunter-gatherers.  Civilized diets were less diverse and more carbohydrate centered than hunter-gatherers.  However, they can out-compete the hunter-gatherers any day of the week due to larger populations, more technology, dedicated warriors, and more complex hierarchies.

    •  Yup (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nanoboy, brianinca, Cassandra Waites, BYw

      "Fittest" is a definition of the population, not the individual.  

      We need not think alike to love alike -- Ferenc Dávid

      by ogre on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:07:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That was just to illustrate, using analogy... (0+ / 0-)

      ...that all the 12 colonies had seen a growth in their E.coli size. That wasn't enough to make the scientists say "new species".

      After all, all European countries now have an average height that exceeds that of the Roman Empire. That's not enough for us to say that Ancient Romans and we are a separate species.

      That talk of 12 colonies: all a bit Battlestar Galactica, if you ask me.

      The nation can be made to produce a far higher standard of living for the masses of the people if only government is intelligent and energetic... (FDR, '37)

      by ShawnGBR on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:12:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Species... (0+ / 0-)

        I didn't suggest that the author suggested that the ancient Romans were a different species.  What I was trying to indicate is that the change in height in humans over history has far more to do with nutrition than evolution.  Speciation, the process of new species arising from old species (usually the process of branching) is not the same as simple evolution within a species.

    •  Humans were taller BEFORE the Romans (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Roadbed Guy, world dancer

      Well before.  The average height of Cro-Magnon was likely on the high side of 6'.  The same goes for other early H. sapiens populations.

      What happened?  Agriculture.  People started sitting in one place, eating a lower-protein diet.  It probably produced both reduced attainment of maximum height encoded in the genes, and less selective pressure on height.

      You can mark the development of agriculture at several sites by a rather rapid drop in average size.

      •  Cro-magnon size was climate-determined, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BYw

        most likely. More mass means slower heat loss per unit volume. Humans post ice-age are more gracile.

        But all subsequent height variations are dietary. Compare upper-class premoderns (high protein) to lower-class ones, farmers/ranchers (more protein) to urbanites (more carbohydrates). See also the dramatic height gains in Japan since a Western diet was introduced.

      •  Indeed, the hunter gatherers were (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Devilstower, LionelEHutz, nanoboy, dhonig

        very large, for two reasons:

        1. better, more diverse nutrition
        1. they HAD to be big to hunt down those dinosaurs . . .
      •  Um, no... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        world dancer

        The tallest specimens of Cro Magnon are quite early. Even by 26,000 BP, the average height of Cro-Magnon was the same as a modern human. That's at least 10kyr before any sort of widespread agriculture.

        And Neanderthals, who inhabited the cooler (at the time) climes of the Mideast and Europe, were short and stocky compared to modern humans. The tall stature of early Cro Magnons more likely represents temporal proximity to ancestral African populations who inhabited climates where a tall, lanky frame was an evolutionary advantage. The Dinka still are the population with the greatest average male height at 6' 3".

        As Cro Magnons replaced Neanderthals in the North, natural selection generally favored shorter builds, eventually bringing the overall average height for the species down.

        While the advent of agriculture can probably be tied to later reductions in height, it had nothing to do with the Cro Magnon "shrinkage."

    •  More importantly, diet varied by class (0+ / 0-)

      Upper class Romans (or any other pre-modern protein-poor diet society) had height distributions similar to modern Italians. Poorer Romans are the ones that give the average 5'6" figure.

      Our genetic potential for height has not changed, but the frequency with which diet permits us to attain it has. That's not evolution per se.

    •  Added a bit to clarify. Thanks! n/t (0+ / 0-)

      The nation can be made to produce a far higher standard of living for the masses of the people if only government is intelligent and energetic... (FDR, '37)

      by ShawnGBR on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:22:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  wonderful diary (0+ / 0-)

    rec'd and bookmarked for later, second reading. Thank you!

  •  I look forward (0+ / 0-)

    to candidate McCain's evaluation of the results. At the very least he can claim to be a mutant offshoot of Bush and therefore not precisely the same...

  •  Question for everyone (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrblifil, GoldnI, Cassandra Waites

    Was I the only one that entered the thread hoping for LOLdog pictures? ;-)

    (For some reason, this afternoon 'lab' did not extend to laboratory, but rather labrador.)

    It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes. ~~ Douglas Adams

    by Remillard on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:07:35 PM PDT

  •  Ah, the fundies will be exploding with shock and (4+ / 0-)

    indignation and then the sh*t will hit the proverbial fan as they cast this powerful proof of evolution as the devil's work on Earth!  

    Years ago, I got into a discussion about evolution with one of these creationist people and when I brought up dinosaurs as a great example of a species that didn't exist in the biblical explanation of man's creation so what's the explanation for that when this person developed a blinding headache and had to leave.

    Funny how facts mess up people's finite minds.

    Peace.

  •  Human Height (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    houyhnhnm, ShawnGBR, Cassandra Waites

    I'm not sure if you are suggesting that the increase in the average height of humans over the past 2,000 years is attributable to evolution.  My understanding is that this is almost certainly not the case, but rather, the increase in average human height is attributable to better nutrition and other environmental factors.  Indeed, average heights have increased in just the last few generations.  For this to be attributable to evolution, you would have to show that tall people are more likely to survive and reproduce and thereby pass on their "tallness" genes, than are short people.  Notwithstanding Randy Newman, I don't think that is the case.

    •  No. Exactly the opposite. (0+ / 0-)

      The scientists discovered a change in the size of the E.coli in the 12 dishes, but this isn't enough to make them say "new species".

      So I drew the analogy with that and how Europeans are taller than a few thousand years ago. And that, too, isn't enough to make people say "yep, that's evolution. Just look at the Swedes. Huge people."

      The nation can be made to produce a far higher standard of living for the masses of the people if only government is intelligent and energetic... (FDR, '37)

      by ShawnGBR on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:24:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Still, I don't like the analogy. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        happymisanthropy

        The increase in size in E. Coli is an example of evolution, albeit not a drastic sort of change that the Cit+ mutation entails.  The change in human height in the last several hundred years, on the other hand, is not a sign of evolution.

        A better analogy than modern man vs. classical man would be the difference in height between different tribes and ethnic groups of humans today.  That is evolution, albeit not the sort of drastic change that counts as a different species.

        Unrelated note - 44,000 generations of E.Coli does not generally lead to as big a genetic drift as 44,000 generations of humans.  Humans have sex, and sex mixes genes and encourages faster diversification.

        •  at 4 feet 7 inches larger size does not mean a (0+ / 0-)

          "postitive" chance in elovution.
          Height is a function of resouces and natural selection.
          The Baka peole of the Congo are short because it is an advantage to be short in a a jungle type of environment. Being tall just means running into branches when chasing a small animal and wanting too much of it aterwards to survive.
          A Masi Warrior is at a great advantage towering over the Africa savana to see the lion coming.
          Mexican people are short but built the pyramids and kept track of the stars, settled for a bit of chihuahua leg for sustenance.

          donate to a shelter box please http://www.shelterboxusa.org/

          by TexMex on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:06:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Still though (0+ / 0-)

    Those bacteria seem awfully complex.  Irreducibly complex.  It's the work of the Intelligent Designer!

  •  Maybe I'm dense... (0+ / 0-)

    But we've seen mutation and natural selection occur before, so what exactly is the big deal?

    "Morbo congratulates our gargantuan cyborg president. May death come quickly to his enemies."

    by Dread972 on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:15:09 PM PDT

  •  But... but Ben Stein made a MOVIE! (6+ / 0-)

    Ben Stein made a movie that said that evolution wasn't real and that people who believe in it are MEANIES!  And if that weren't true he wouldn't be allowed to make a movie about it!  

    So now I don't know who to believe... verifiable experimentation backed with obvious logic, or Ferris Bueller's frickin' teacher.  Wotta crisis I am faced with!  :(

    "I am a comedian and poet, so anything that doesn't get a laugh ... is a poem." - Bill Hicks

    by shadetree mortician on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:18:03 PM PDT

  •  Very nicely done diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ManhattanMan, ShawnGBR

    and an important experimental confirmation of natural selection in the lab.

    This is by far not the first confirmation of Darwinian evolutionary processes. I recommend to readers Jonathan Weiner's book, The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in our Time. The book follows scientists Peter and Rosemary Grant who, for 20 years studied the continuing evolution of finches in the Galapagos Islands: one of the best popular science books ever written.

    War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

    by Valtin on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:20:29 PM PDT

  •  Makes no difference... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ssgbryan, cybersaur

    No amount of experimental evidence will convince the die-hard Fundamentalists.  I applaud the scientists that obtained this result, but don't think it's going to change anybody's mind.

    -5.13,-5.64; When pygmies cast such long shadows, it must be very late in the day. -Gian-Carlo Rota

    by gizmo59 on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:21:43 PM PDT

  •  For some reason, this cartoon seems appropriate (7+ / 0-)

    here

    If you refuse to vote for OUR PARTY'S nominee in November, the blood of a thousand back-alley abortions will be on your hands.

    by dhonig on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:21:56 PM PDT

  •  Croatian lizards (4+ / 0-)

    I read this cool story recently:

    Italian wall lizards introduced to a tiny island off the coast of Croatia are evolving in ways that would normally take millions of years to play out, new research shows.

    In just a few decades the 5-inch-long (13-centimeter-long) lizards have developed a completely new gut structure, larger heads, and a harder bite, researchers say.

  •  The Big Book says it, I believe it, and that's (0+ / 0-)

    that!

    According to a bumpersticker I saw in town today.

    Anything in the Big Book about your evil ooshun?

    Din't think so.

    End of story.

    -9.0, -8.3. Socialized medicine, not "universal coverage". Public transit, not "35 mpg".

    by SensibleShoes on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:29:57 PM PDT

  •  This is why I am an Epsicopalian (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amanda in NC

    because the priests I know believe evolution does exists

    John W. McCain, Bush's third term.

    by aaraujo on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:31:41 PM PDT

  •  As a bacterial genomicist (11+ / 0-)

    working on E. coli, can I just day how AWESOME it is that this is the #1 diary?

    McCain is a Chode.

    by dnamj on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:32:36 PM PDT

  •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DavisDem

    EVOLUTION = PURE BLIND CHANCE, FOR GOOD OR BAD. NOTHING MORE.

    WRONG! IT IS PLENTY MORE.

    The blind chance you are referring to is the mutation The adaptation comes from environmental forcing. This environmental aspect is critical.

  •  How does this help the average Creationist (0+ / 0-)

    What will Joe Creationist do if he can't get people all riled up about teaching Evolution to kids. It's such an easy issue to use to exploit the ignorant.

  •  This is why I hate Star Trek sometimes (4+ / 0-)

    I can suspend disbelief for warp drives and shields and transporters - the technobable.

    But what I can't buy is that 500 lightyears away a race of beings would look exactly the same as a human except for a different nose.  Evolution doesn't work that way.

    Now Niven knew how to evolve an alien.  I love the Pupeteer, one of the best Sci-Fi alien races ever devised.  Their brain isn't even in their heads.
    Yes, I said heads, for those who aren't familar.

  •  Why couldn't a divine being be up to evolution? (4+ / 0-)

    I've often wondered why people who take the current translation of the Old and New Testaments in such a way that limits the ability of a supposedly supreme being. If the God of Abraham is limitless, then why wouldn't He set in motion a process that takes a gazillion years to get to this point? Does He just have ADHD? Is He just easily bored? Is cosmic time just like commercials for someone with Tivo? What's the deal?

    There's no reason to become alarmed, and we hope you'll enjoy the rest of your week. By the way, is there anyone here who knows how to run a government?

    by iconoclastic cat on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:37:31 PM PDT

    •  I think the point is this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      iconoclastic cat, lgmcp

      you can believe what you want to believe, but when it comes to doing science, the mechanism of evolution has been observed period.

      In other words, "goddidit" explains nothing and predicts nothing.

      Sure, evolution doesn't disprove a deity, but it doesn't disprove the Flying Spaghetti Monster either.

      Of course, there remain great scientists who are also theists (e. g., Francis Collins is a devout Christian) but these folks readily accept evolutionary theory and reject nonsense like intelligent design.

      But to be fair, most elite scientists do NOT believe in god.

      When liberals saw 9-11, we wondered how we could make the country safe. When conservatives saw 9-11, they saw an investment opportunity.

      by onanyes on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:41:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "Created in His own image" (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      iconoclastic cat, cybersaur, agnostic, BYw

      That's the point that the creationists can't get away from.  And they reject the whole "left up to chance" part.

      They don't believe that God simply created a universe and evolution, they believe that God created THEM, per plan, from whole cloth.  They believe that there is a giant old bearded white guy in the sky wearing a toga, and that we look exactly like him.

      So God created a random process that produced a result that looks exactly like him?
      See, it doesn't work, so they'll throw out evolution rather than accept that God isn't a giant old white guy.

      •  and if god has (0+ / 0-)

        halitosis, athlete's feet, coronary blockages, premature cojaculation, high blood pressure, alzheimers, fatal chronic diarrhea, small pox, excessive tooth decay, constipation, prioprisms, and pleural lung disease,

        either he is not perfect, ergo, not a god,

        or

        (s)he's a really bad draftsman. Er, woman. DRAFTSPERSON. perdaughter.  ah, forget it.

        What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology and understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

        by agnostic on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 05:43:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Of course, "image of God" can (0+ / 0-)

        be understood as a theological, rather than biological concept.  God chose human beings to be God's representative on earth, which is also the reason for the first commandment - no images.  God already has a image, human beings.

        Thus,there is no conflict between biblical theology and evolutionary biology.  In fact, put together, they can explain so-called "natural" evil - earthquakes, hurricandes, and epidemics.  Only a free-willed universe could produce a free-willed being, and only a free-willed being could adequately represent a free-willed God.

        Believing there is no God is a perfectly rational position, but so is believing there is one, provided that it does not require a denial of human experience, like science.

        So I see only tatters of clearness through a pervading obscurity - Annie Dillard -6.88, -5.33

        by illinifan17 on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 05:55:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I disgree (8+ / 0-)

    All this proves is that my deity is clever at confusing the egg-headed scientists.

    That is, those observed mutations were the result of the Divine Will of His Noodleness, and no one can prove otherwise.

    :-)

    When liberals saw 9-11, we wondered how we could make the country safe. When conservatives saw 9-11, they saw an investment opportunity.

    by onanyes on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:38:06 PM PDT

  •  What do you mean 'to play us out'?? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raatz, happymisanthropy

    **** it we'll do it live!!!!!

    :)

    Assassin: Its worse than you know. Malcolm: It usually is. 宁静

    by TalkieToaster on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:38:09 PM PDT

  •  Here is another interesting example (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lgmcp

    of laboratory induced natural selection in promoting an evolutionary development with an amino acid string -- a basic protein -- the proverbial building blocks of genetic coding.

    http://www.eurekalert.org/...

    Thanks for the good diary.

    Rome is burning ... put down the fiddle.

    by ancblu on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:38:48 PM PDT

  •  great diary (4+ / 0-)

    i agree that the change in height doesn't count as evolution though.  that is more likely due to better nutrition or simply mixing of races in our big melting pot of a country.

    as an ex-theologian turned computer scientist making video games, I can't help but notice that the bible description of the life forming on this world didn't happen by some hand shaping work of God designing each animal.  only humans were formed by hand to be in the image and likeness of God.  and it was very specific in describing that act of creation.  the rest was a bunch of 'let there be' commands.

    i can't help but think about the fact that if there is a creative being... that as a computer scientist... if I were to create an evolutionary simulation(on a computer system much more powerful then exist today) that I would probably do things similar to the order that the Bible says God did them.

    let's have some water
    let's have some air
    let's have some land

    let's have some fish in the water
    let's have some birds in the air
    let's have some animals on the land

    then after a while...

    let's make an animal that gets how cool this stuff is that we made and let's make it so it can make stuff too and let's see what it will do.  should we let it live forever?  we'll see.  for now.  let's see what it names all the animals.  uh oh, it's not good for it to be alone with nobody to share it's thoughts and feelings.  let's give it a mate so the mate can yell at it to take out the garbage.

    hehe

    i wonder if i can get a grant in a few decades to try this out in a 3d simulation?  there's gotta be a market for a world simulation if i put in naked people wandering around a garden.

    Rent the film Revolver. It's an intelligent movie for intelligent people. The critics loathed it.

    by AntonBursch on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:39:10 PM PDT

  •  Scientific laws must make creationists sad. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cybersaur, Cassandra Waites

    Fundamentalists tend to expound on what they believe to be God's laws -- all of which were written after the universe had been around for 13.7 billion years and can be broken easily by the frailest child.

    Meanwhile the actual, unbreakable laws that make the universe tick are right there in every fluttering leaf and cooling cup of coffee.

    I'm not dating Edwards anymore, but I still call out his name when I vote.

    by sagra on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:39:36 PM PDT

  •  Biology and sociology intersect. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TexMex, lgmcp, Cassandra Waites, BYw

    We sometimes forget that in Decent of Man Darwin made an equally impressive leap -- that evolution also plays a role in our social interactions. In other words, communities that learn to live together "evolve" better systems of government. They develop something we'd call ethics.

    "One cannot be pessimistic about the West. This is the native land of hope." Wallace Stegner

    by Mother Mags on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:39:37 PM PDT

  •  This is awesome (5+ / 0-)

    I would like to add though, that mostly, when people talk about Religion, especially when they disparage it, they are talking about a very exoteric, or fundamentalist (read: watered down and simplistic) version of religion.

    If you look at some of the early Christians, or those in the Eastern Orthodox Tradition, or look at the Sufi strain in Islam (real sufism, not westernized sufisim), or even going back to the work of Pythagoras, or some of the early Christian fathers, you'll find some astonishing ideas, and some real knowledge of how to know ourselves as human beings.

    If those who want to disparage religion (and who wouldn't based on it's most public incarnations) expect religious types to read and accept scientific research, they should be willing to look back to some of the real authorities on the matter of religion, before completely dispariging it completely, and throwing out the baby with the bath water.  Of course, you are in no obligation to do so, but in that case, it would be necessary and honest to label oneself as Agnostic on the issue, as you can't reject all thinking on God if you haven't encountered it or researched it yourself.

    Remember yourself, always and everywhere -G.I. Gurdjieff

    by Particle Noun on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:39:52 PM PDT

    •  Plenty of theologicians have been brilliant (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cybersaur

      but we are concerned with the effects of religion as they tend to intrude on the public sphere.  Which too often represent the shallowest and least meaningful aspects of religion, as you suggest.

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:43:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed 100% (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lgmcp

        The positions of the Fundamentalist wing of this country and others is insidious, and needs to be quashed, or at least kept from the political domain.  It's poisonous not only to politics and our country, but religion itself.

        My point, I guess, was that many of the top proponents of that idea also pretty much lump all religious thought into the same basket (Hitchens, Gould, etc.)

        Remember yourself, always and everywhere -G.I. Gurdjieff

        by Particle Noun on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:51:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Two notes (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ShawnGBR, Roadbed Guy
    1. You mention the height of humans in your diary. It's true that humans have gotten taller, but most scientists attribute this to better nutrition, not genetic evolution. I would clarify that.
    1. As another commentor already mentioned, things like this have been reported before. To go beyond his comment, this isn't even the first major event observed in a lab. Novel pathways have been artificially selected for this way many times. In one photosynthetic bacteria, scientists deleted a gene coding for a critical electron carrier. The modified strain could not photosynthesize. They subjected it to mutagenesis, and lo and behold, several mutants came up that had evolved a second electron carrier. There's also the case of nylonase that's often brought up. This work is a little more impressive though, as it looks like the framework for citrate metabolism wasn't even present.
  •  There's a detail a lot of people are missing... (15+ / 0-)

    There were a few comments from people not quite getting why this experiment is different than the many previous examples of evolution in action.  I'll try to explain why.

    Over these thousands of generations, there was plenty of time for mutations to happen to literally every "letter" in the bacterial DNA.  Yet none of these changes allowed them to metabolize citrate as food.  Presumably, it's not something that a single change could accomplish.  Just impossible.

    When one strain finally made the jump after 30,000 generations, they tried to replicate it with earlier versions from that same line.  They found something amazing.  Samples taken from before 20,000 generations acted just like all the other lines - none evolved the ability to metabolize citrate.  But samples taken from after 20,000 generations were very likely to evolve the new trait.

    What that means is that some random mutation around generation 20,000, which did nothing noteworthy in itself, made it possible for one or two other mutations to enable citrate metabolism.  

    A crude analogy:  suppose it takes a hammer and an anvil to break up citrate.  In one of this lines, a bacterium developed a totally useless anvil around 20,000 generations.  In that one line only, 10,000 generations later, a hammer evolved, and presto, it could use citrate.  There is essentially ZERO chance of the hammer and anvil evolving at the same time in the same bacterium.  What this showed is that it is possible for half the solution to evolve - even if it does nothing in itself - which then makes future evolution possible.

    One of the big ID arguments is Irreducible Complexity.  If something has multiple parts, it couldn't evolve unless all the parts came together simultaneously.  This experiment proves that evolution can make the complex components piecewise, thousands of generations apart.

  •  Whole species never move (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    houyhnhnm, TexMex, Cassandra Waites

    It's not that some chiplike apes became more human and the rest then followed.  Some apes became more human, and the rest didn't.  Those populations then continued -- either side by side, or in isolation from one another -- until something came along that snuffed out the line of our somewhat less human ancestors.  That something may have been our more human ancestors, but there's no requirement that whole species move together (as the E. coli experiment demonstrates neatly).

    Isolation is a critical factor in evolution.  Small populations -- especially those in novel or stressful environments -- are far more likely to take a jump than

  •  How in the world (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TX Unmuzzled, ShawnGBR

    did I get to the bottom of the list without reading a single comment about the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

    "If there's one thing I can't stand, it's intolerance"

    by frsbdg on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:45:11 PM PDT

  •  Couldn't this be better explained as God's ... (8+ / 0-)

    ... attempt to trick scientists into thinking that the theory of evolution is plausible? Hasn't it been written that God's greatest trick was to convince the world that he didn't exist? Sure, it might not have been written about that God, but doesn't it make sense? All it takes is a little faith. /snark

     title=

    "Obama, Obama, I love ya, Obama; you're only November away" -- cute ginger kid

    by Tortmaster on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:46:15 PM PDT

  •  God Did It (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tortmaster

    Oh, you science geeks are so easily pranked.

    God did it, to test your faith.

    You know, that perverse, sadistic god, who created the entire universe and wastes everyone's time just making it hard to believe in him, a grand mindgame with some hazily defined bribe for those defying the evidence of their godgiven senses and godgiven logic, stacked against eternal torture for those fool enough to make sense all the time, who don't get the joke.

    Pretty awesome, huh?

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:49:09 PM PDT

    •  Who is this "God" person, anyway? (6+ / 0-)

      (yes, at this point I'm just crapping cartoons all over this diary. Sorry, the whole "Creation" thing is a favorite bugaboo of mine, and the cartoons follow.  Here's my personal favorite:

      okay, I'm done. I promise.  GREAT!!! diary.

      If you refuse to vote for OUR PARTY'S nominee in November, the blood of a thousand back-alley abortions will be on your hands.

      by dhonig on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:24:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Creationists are superstitious (0+ / 0-)

    But so are scientists.

    "One of the most obtuse superstitions was the superstition of the scientists who said that man can exist without faith."

  •  I don't think Evolution is toally random (0+ / 0-)

    At least not as I understand it..

    Particularly what are called "emergent genes" and some types of brain development.

    According to my understanding, researchers believe some of these genes emerged AFTER language developed. And after language developed, some parts of the brain increased in size.

    Again, according to my understanding, this "evolution" is not totally random, it is related, dependent even, on the development of language. Thus, NOT random.

    If someone has more knowledge, and can set me straight, let me know. I can't specifically where I got the emergent gene/language/brain development thing, but it is there for some reason.

    Still, fantastic diary.

  •  So should I stay away from Citracell (0+ / 0-)

    if I, um, have regularity problems... ;-)

    Seriously, anyone who rejects evolution is either ignorant, and thus their opinion is literally worthless, or else brainwashed, in which case their opinion isn't even their own.

    As for that STUPID "clocks didn't evolve, they were created by intelligent beings" pseudo-"argument", any idiot can refute that by mentioning that clocks, unlike living beings (and evolution ONLY applies to living beings), don't reproduce, and thus have no opportunity to evolve. They HAVE to be created by someone (although, the fact that watch design has evolved over the centuries does sort of analogize how evolution works).

    The need to deny reality by so many people is something that I will never understand.

    Mentally as well as physically, we must all evolve or die. Which is precisely what this luddite anti-science movement and the conservative movement in general will eventually do.

    "I will vote for the Democratic candidate for president--period." --Me & John McCain

    by kovie on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:59:00 PM PDT

  •  What a mind-blowingly great experiment and result (0+ / 0-)

    FAN-FREAKIN'-TASTIC!

    :)

  •  Can't Devolution Be Confirmed ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    happymisanthropy

    As well by looking at the history of Republicans from 1964-2008?

    The Republican brand: "Consequences, schmonsequences, as long as I'm rich"

    by D in Northern Virginia on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:00:55 PM PDT

  •  know what's really funny (0+ / 0-)

    as human beings... we could one day go to a planet and terraform it and seed the planet with life that we designed genetically and then make an animal that is like us.

    also, as human beings, we will eventually figure out how to extend our lives forever...at least to what is percievably forever.

    we could one day be Gods.

    and that is the truth.

    so, what if that is what happened on our planet?

    hehe.

    no proof that it did.  but it certainly could have.

    we could be the product of a race of humans that already did this.

    Rent the film Revolver. It's an intelligent movie for intelligent people. The critics loathed it.

    by AntonBursch on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:02:32 PM PDT

  •  Great diary-- (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ShawnGBR, Dave1955

    Not that we needed YET ANOTHER piece of evidence to prove the existence of evolution, which is the most strongly supported scientific theory there is.

    I.e., don't expect all the wingnuts to come running over because of this.

    Never give up! Never surrender!

    by oscarsmom on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:03:35 PM PDT

  •  Note to Self (8+ / 0-)

    Remember this quote:

    'Theory' and 'law' in science don't have the layman meanings. If they did, you could break the law and then claim to be free of gravity too.

    "Extreme violence has a way of preventing us from seeing the interests it serves." Naomi Klein

    by rlharry on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:03:44 PM PDT

  •  It's also worth mentioning... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassandra Waites, BYw

    that in 1956 Max Delbruck and his colleague (Luria?)proved that random mutations that lead to things like antiobiotic resistance follow darwinian patterns and occur even in the absence of selective pressure.  It is simply in the presence of a selective pressure that such traits are retained and propagated to be expressed in future generations.  I believe they won the Nobel Prize for that work.

    The citrate+ phenotype in E coli is simply the same phenomenon with a selective pressure.  In this case it's an environmental adavantage (more food) as opposed to resistance to a negative factor (antiobiotic resistance).

    mmmm...I could so go for some Applebee's salad bar right now!

    by pullbackthecurtain on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:06:48 PM PDT

  •  you mean replublicans have crawled out of the (0+ / 0-)

    slime? Nah! Never happened.  

  •  "Theistic evolution" (4+ / 0-)

    It's already here, and frankly I don't see a problem with it.

    All of science is correct, just part of greater plan by an omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent creator?  Doesn't sour my Cheerios, no siree Bob.

    Oh, and mainline ID proponents hate TE guys (and vice versa); it's pretty great.

    There are people who say, "If music's that easy to write, I could do it." Of course they could, but they don't. - John Cage

    by RoscoeOfAlabama on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:12:30 PM PDT

  •  Unfortunately it won't make a difference for ID (9+ / 0-)

    Unfortunately, this won't make a difference to proponents of ID. They have a wide range of disinformation tactics to make new information like this irrelevant to their erroneous arguments.

    1. Moving goalposts: Once you find a counter-example they just redefine their argument. The intermediary fossils thing is a great example. No matter what level of granularity you provide in the various stages of the fossil record, they will demand that you provide a finer level. In this case, no matter what size of a change in genetic traits that you provide, they will just demand that you provide a large one. The simple counter along these lines is: "The metabolism of citrate is a micro-evolution pre-extant but dormant in the species when created by God."
    1. Changing the subject: Once you provide a counter-example they will not address the subject. Instead they will present a completely different and unrelated line of attack in response. Later, they will bring back the argument that you have already debunked as fact, ignoring the fact that you already debunked it. They will jump back and forth between several different lines of attack repeatedly and never respond to any counter-examples that they can not apply the principle of moving goalposts to. The simple counter along these lines is: "But this change is too irreducibly complex to have happened without it being latent in the genetic structure." At that point they move on irreducible complexity without addressing the issue of the observance macro-evolution. Later they will bring observance of macro-evolution back into the discussion as if the previous interchange never happened.
    1. Forcing you to prove a negative: Again a way of changing the subject, when presented with a counter-example they will simply inform you that there isn't any evidence that there isn't a creator in a completely non-sequitur fashion. The simple counter along these lines is: "Well maybe - I'll have to look into it - but still you can't prove that God didn't create that trait." In the future they will continue to assert that macro-evolution has never been observed because that discussion was unfinished and as a result the argument remains unresolved.
    1. Tiring you out: The ultimate way that an ID proponent feels vindicated is by wearing you out. They can continue twisting logic and ignoring valid logical constructions for so long that eventually the rational thinker will tire of the discussion and leave the table. The ID proponent will never do this. They will keep arguing forever, congesting the discussion into an unmanageable set of rhetorical tangles. Once you walk away they feel like they have won and they are correct because the onus for proof is always on someone else, and they also have a startling ability to overlook, distort, and obfuscate convincing proof that contradicts their claims. Absent anything they believe is conclusive proof, the arrogance of their faith makes them right and their opponent wrong by default.

    Those are four of them. There are more. It is very hard to argue with people who simply do not think rationally and have very poor logical skills. They will often conflate inductive and deductive processes, fail to make simple logical connections, repeatedly resort to numerous common logical fallacies to present their arguments, and continue to assert already debunked ideas as fact. I've found that, unfortunately, it's pretty hopeless.

    No matter what evidence you provide they will ask for more. Unlike the rational mind that accounts for observed evidence and accepts the most likely explanation, they have already made up their mind at the start and distort their perception of the evidence they experience to fit their conclusion. When trying to discuss something like this these two ways of thinking simply do not have an effective way to communicate with one another because they each interpret and use language and semiotics in a very different way.

    Life is like love in autumn

    by kenjib on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:15:47 PM PDT

    •  I have a very good friend who is, unfortunately, (0+ / 0-)

      a Wingnut. To me, it's patently obvious that the Corporate Media has a, uh, strongly Corporate bias. But to my friend, it seems just as obvious that the Media has a Liberal bias. No amount of facts or discussion seems to change that view. And this helps me understand when I read your comment, and in my mind substitute Darwinists where you mention IDers. Not that I'm an IDer, or connected with their cuckoo religious backing at all, but that's how Darwininsts seem to me, just as you describe.

      It's odd.

      •  but... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        houyhnhnm, Cassandra Waites

        Hello Revenant,

        I think I understand what you are saying (though I'm a bit confused by the term "Darwinist") and I guess I don't know the same people that you do, because my experiences have been quite to the contrary. Maybe it's because I know some people trained in biology who can, in a very concise manner, point to various examples and mechanisms of evolution that all debunk the claims of proponents of intelligent design. I find it interesting that you make this comparison in the comment section of this diary in particular, which is a very clear counter-example to your claim regarding "Darwinists." The diary is factual and directly relevant to debunking one of the central claims of proponents of intelligent design.

        You are using a false analogy as regards the media though. We aren't talking about the media and there are many differences that cause problems in making such a comparison. It can serve perhaps to illustrate what you are trying to say but doesn't really provide any support for it, and that's the problem with that type of argumentation. It is very easy to conflate illustrating your point with backing it up when they are not the same thing.

        The key thing is never to forget that it is the intelligent design people who are making a claim, not the people who are debunking them. If they want to claim the existence of a higher being then they need to prove it. They can never prove that a higher being exists and yet it is the fundamental premise underlying the entire idea. That is a facet of #2 above. Whenever you ask them to provide actual proof of a creator they will almost invariably start trying to disprove evolution. However, even if evolution were proven to not exist, that wouldn't make intelligent design any more likely.

        The burden of proof lies on the person making the assumption, and that's the problem I have with what you are saying. In these discussion it doesn't really matter what the "Darwinist" says - the "Darwinist" doesn't have to prove anything at all - yet the proponents of ID will always try to turn the discussion back around to evolution and put the "Darwinist" on the defensive because they know that they don't have any tenable defense for ID. None exists because the entire thing is based fundamentally on an unprovable assertion of faith.

        Why does every argument in favor of ID involve some kind of criticism of evolution? Once the subject changes to a defense of intelligent design the discussion has already gone off the rails. Ask a proponent of ID to provide support for the idea of ID without making any reference to evolution and they will have a very hard time. There's really nothing there because the entire campaign is an attempt to discredit science in the minds of the public for political purposes, not an honest attempt to promote a theory of how various species come into existence. Have you read the Wedge Strategy document that defined many of the founding principles behind the Discovery Institute in Seattle? That explains straight from the horse's mouth what the intent of Intelligent Design really is. It's a very revealing document.

        Life is like love in autumn

        by kenjib on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 05:42:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  They'll say Satan's deceiving the scientists (6+ / 0-)

    and making them see something the Bible says doesn't happen.

    Or it'll be God's changing the bacteria to test the scientists' faith: a test they have failed and will burn in Hell for all eternity as punishment!

  •  My children are not lemons! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ShawnGBR

    Who CARES if some germ gets CITRATE that just shows the hand of GOD who gave us ORANGES. MATTHEW 21:45! So wake up America before it is too late.

  •  so? (0+ / 0-)

    This won't make a difference in what people believe.  If they can believe Gawd created the everythingness a few thousand years ago and planted dinosaur bones to trick us, they can believe She also tricked us in the laboratory.

  •  Aw, you complete tease. (0+ / 0-)

    I was hoping for easily-replicable speciation.

  •  OMG you mean the Peanut butter video is FALSE?!!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    agnostic

    what will I do, what will I do

    If u will not vote for the Dem. nominee, no matter who that is, go apologize 2 the youth of this nation. U've helped put in "100 years of war no Choice McCain."

    by Clytemnestra on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:36:00 PM PDT

    •  And bananas weren't made by God for man? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BYw, Somewhereinasia

      (forget of course that evolution humans descended from monkey and monkey like bananas thingy)

      If u will not vote for the Dem. nominee, no matter who that is, go apologize 2 the youth of this nation. U've helped put in "100 years of war no Choice McCain."

      by Clytemnestra on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:40:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  As it happens (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wayoutinthestix, Somewhereinasia

    Just last weekend I took my son to see the Creation Museum in Kentucky.

    I'll blog it when my eyes stop spinning in my head.

    If Venus is made of ketchup and lions play pinochle, why doesn't the framistan frizzmaz the flomaton?

    by zemblan on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:36:36 PM PDT

  •  It's not like an engineering theory at all. (0+ / 0-)

    If it were people would be using it to create engineered life forms or something.

    I'm certainly not going to apologize for Creationists, but there's a lot of proof to offer, if ever, before Darwinism could be considered "true."  

  •  Correction (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ManhattanMan, Cassandra Waites

    This is very interesting, and fascinating for microbiologists and evolutionary theorists, but it won't convince the anti-evolution types unless the scientists can come up with a laboratory experiment that can change bacteria into a puppy. Actually, come to think of it, they wouldn't even be convinced then. They's say it was a miracle to test their faith.

    That said, human height increasing over the last few thousand years has nothing to do with evolution. It is caused by nutritional improvements, as evidenced by variation in heights between generations as people move from 3rd world countries to mor properous nations. Humans do seem to have gotten taller as they evolved, but it is not possible to separate how much of this is due to evolution and how much to learning how to farm and hunt more efficiently.

  •  And 'Natural Selection'? (0+ / 0-)

    Your diary focuses almost exclusively on random mutations, but the other equally essential component of 'Evolutionary' theory is of course 'Natural Selection'(a.k.a. local adaptation to a particular environment).  Most mutations are harmful and cause the pre-mature death of the organism. Some mutations can increase the chances that a particular organism gets through a certain environmental "bottleneck", and this only means that they live long enough to reproduce. It does not mean that they are a superior organism (i.e. "the life-form in question is more likely to eat, grow, and reproduce").  Human history has ample evidence that suggests that a superior survival machine died out, only to be replace by a lesser creature (See Homo Erectus vs. Homo Hablis).

    •  If it was "superior"... (0+ / 0-)

      ...how come it died out?

      •  Because Evolution is not what you think.. (0+ / 0-)

        it is.  Homo Erectus is exactly what we would think of as the "ultimate survival machine" he stood on average over 6 feet tall, and had enormous bones indicating that he was full of muscle, he had the same cranial capacity, and the same tool kit as Homo Hablis, and according to his teeth he had the same kind of diet.  But a little frail creature that averaged just over 4 feet tall is the one that survived. Why?  Because he had whatever it took to get through a particular environmental bottle neck. Not because he had evolved more than Erectus.  Hablis was a step backward.  The mistake is to think that we arrived here because we are the best.  We arrived here because we are the lineage that had what it took to get through the various environmental crisis along the way.

  •  by the time I evolve into a cute young thing (0+ / 0-)

    I'll be too old for it to be of any use to me

    We're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression.

    by Lepanto on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:49:37 PM PDT

  •  i am not evolved from some ape. (0+ / 0-)

    i do not care for this article, although it sounds interesting.

    i am not some random chance.

    it is fantastic that anyone would venture to say that all this life, in all its diversity and specificity,all these animals who instinctively know how to care for their young, all these flowers and whales and trees and kangaroos and the whole ecological interactions and people! with their beating hearts and functioning livers and consciousness! is all random.
    some random big bang and here we all are. indeed.

    its just basically pointing to all the people and animals and plants and every single function of every single living thing and saying, "look, all these things are mere coincidences! you know how when you breath in the oxygenated blood goes through this vein here and when you breath out the de-oxygenated blood goes through this artery like so.....thats just a coincidence!"

    " and you know how the planets all orbit in that precise manner around the sun, and you know how the sun and the moon affect the tide..and if they shifted balance for just a minute the earth would likely be destroyed? yhh its all just sheer luck!"

    "life as we know it is all just one huge coincidence!"

    i may not understand how God did it all,  but please dont insult my intelligence by telling me all this is "random"

    •  you ARE an ape. (we're all primate) (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      high uintas, agnostic, BYw

      Go to your local community college, and take a few biology classes. That will clear up your misconceptions (like that it's "random"). And you will appreciate the wonder of life even more.

    •  Okay, we won't. You keep thinking the way... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      high uintas, agnostic

      ...you're thinking. And don't think about why we randomists think it's a wonderful world, too.

    •  Excellent snark!! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      otto, agnostic

      Bravo.

    •  Of course, if you come down with the new... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      agnostic, BYw

      ...drug-resistant strain of TB, you might wonder why. But definitely don't ask your doctor how TB became drug-resistant.

      Oh, and don't go to medical school, or become a doctor.

    •  your argument is against randomness (0+ / 0-)

      Technically even a coin toss isn't random.  It's just something that we don't have the means to accurately predict.  There is nothing truly random (well, quantum physicists may disagree) in the universe.  It's just that we can't predict it, so we call it random.

      I'm not trying to be adversarial here.  It's just that you say that you don't understand how God did it all, but then you dismiss the possibility that he/she/it did it through evolution.  My thought on that is that we are not that far from having the technology to creating life in the lab (we already have for less complex life-forms), but something that I'm not sure we would ever be able to do is to seed a planet w/ elements and end up w/ a species in our image billions of years later.  I'm not very religious, so that may be reason enough for you to dismiss me, but I find the idea of evolution to be much more befitting of an omnipotent being than would the idea of creationism.

      McCain - Ready to follow Osama to the gates of Hell but apparently not into Pakistan.

      by khassani on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:04:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  i think you do not understand randomness (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      otto, Cassandra Waites, BYw

      I can assure you quite strongly that you and kangaroos have common ancestors who were on the Earth ~130 MYA.

      Diversity does not imply a lack of randomness.

      Structure does not imply a lack of randomness.

      Instinctive behavior does not imply a lack of an evolutionary history.  

      Evolution is a powerful theory that does a much better job of explaining the diversity of life than any other theory.  Creationism was rejected as a biological theory a long time ago by serious scientists.

      I don't know what you mean when you refer to this "God"  of yours, but it has very little to do with scientific methodology.  If you feel that you have to choose between scientific theory and your God theory, that is not really my problem.  

      Don't drink and blog. Think of the children.

      by RickD on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:08:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That is a philosophical argument (0+ / 0-)

      not a scientific one.

      Loudest the river, fewest the fish.

      by houyhnhnm on Thu Jun 12, 2008 at 09:30:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's not going to convince anyone new (0+ / 0-)

    People who don't believe in evolution won't be moved by this.  The creationists I know believe in microevolution but not macroevolution.

    McCain - Ready to follow Osama to the gates of Hell but apparently not into Pakistan.

    by khassani on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:52:20 PM PDT

  •  To be entirely correct (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoopJones

    evolution is not a "random" process. It is bound by the unfolding of the universe according to deterministic laws of physics. The process is complex and unpredictable for anything short of God, but it is NOT random, properly speaking.

    In addition, the extreme likeliness that evolution was the "how" of the development of the biosphere to where it is today does not discount the notion that there is a "why" or a "for what" of intentional directionality behind it. Is it conceivable that God created lifeforms through evolution for a purpose? Of course.

    You are reinforcing bad stereotypes that evolution and atheism are inevitably linked.

    •  I spotted that too (0+ / 0-)

      It's not random! Evolution is the exact opposite of random.

      Mutations are random. But there's way more to evolution than that.

      •  Well, even a mutation (0+ / 0-)

        is a form of chemical reaction, isn't it? A base pair, or group of them, switches places, or gets added, or deleted, or multiplied, etc. It's chemical bonds forming and reforming according to electromagnetic interactions.
        And no chemist is going to tell you that chemical reactions are random. Unpredictable, perhaps, but not random.

        •  unpredictable, but not random? (0+ / 0-)

          And what is the distinction?

          If I take a card out of a deck and put it on the table face down, is it random whether that card is an ace of spades or a two of hearts?  

          I mean, after all, the act of shuffling is just a physical process, so if we knew the exact position of each molecule in the deck, and in the body of the person shuffling, we could determine what the card would be.

          And yet, most people are quite comfortable using the word "random" to describe this process.  You have basically set up a situation where the word "random" has no application in the world at all!  

          Don't drink and blog. Think of the children.

          by RickD on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:16:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It is "random" in the colloquial sense. (0+ / 0-)

            But not in a scientific sense. There is no scientific randomness, aside from certain more skeptical interpretations of Quantum Mechanics.  The problem is that the term "random" is being used by some here in the more technical scientific and philsophical sense. You may say that it is a given that the original poster meant random in the colloquial sense. However, given that he was using this notion of randomness to bash religious people, I doubt it.

            •  but how do you know? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              agnostic

              How can you assert that there is "no scientific randomness"?  This viewpoint is at best one way of viewing the universe, and hardly a useful one at that, since the laws of chance manifest themselves in so many different aspects of life.  I think it is preferable to view randomness the way mathematicians do (and this is due to my background), that there is no meaningful difference between randomness and whatever can be stated by measure theory.  

              You can quite usefully model the number of people taking a certain subway train at a certain time of day as a random variable.  Now if you look at the details of what each person on that train is doing, and why they are there, you might think that the number is not random at all, but implied by deterministic forces.  I do not see what the difference is.  

              There are a lot of misconceptions about the meaning of the word 'random'.  One is that "random" implies "chaotic".  In fact, a completely deterministic system can be described as "random".  It just is a pretty boring random function, with one state that happens with probability 1.  

              Another common misconception is that "random" implies "uniformly distributed".  

              One implication of the word "random", though, that I prefer here is that "random" is used meaningfully as the opposite of "deterministic".  The problem with saying that everything is deterministic is that
              a) this veers away from a scientific theory to a theological one
              and
              b) it tends to imply that there is a determining force

              Furthermore, when the word "deterministic" is used to describe a chaotic system (which I think everybody would agree reproduction is, since slight changes in initial conditions can lead to massively different outcomes), it tends to understate the complexity of the system.  Also, it really is misleading.

              Consider the parallel histories of marsupials and placental mammals.  In both groups, there are grazing mammals, hunting mammals, ant-eating mammals, etc.  But the biological difference between a marsupial "wolf" and a placental wolf is much greater than that between a marsupial wolf and a kangaroo.  You could argue that the biological conditions imply that the animals all fit pre-existing niches, so to speak, but that really doesn't put off the philosophical questions.

              Sorry, I'm beginning to wander.

              Don't drink and blog. Think of the children.

              by RickD on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:44:17 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Don't know if this is still being read (0+ / 0-)

                I intended to add to this interesting discussion last night, but my internet at home was not working properly.

                I acknowledge that the scientific and statistical use of the word random has a specific meaning that is not the same as the layman's use of the term. One of the reasons for my interjection was to clarify that point for the many laypeople here, that statistical randomness is just a fancy way to say "unpredictable." I acknowledge that "random variables" are a useful way to model complex phenomena where we can't realistically get enough full information to predict or know for sure. I earned my bread for a couple of years tutoring students in math and science, with stats making up most of my load in the more recent years. I liked to tell students, "stats is the science of drawing reasonable conclusions from incomplete information." If you leave it at that, I have no objection. My objection was that I have seen some people, yourself included, going beyond the statistical meaning to implicitly or explicitly switch this scientific-statistical meaning of randomness with the metaphysical sense of randomness - i.e. indeterminacy. For example, the claims made that the statistical randomness (i.e. unpredictability, at least for the small minds of mere mortals such as ourselves) involved in the variation processes of evolution discount the existence of God. I'm sorry; it doesn't necessarily follow. You're stepping beyond the proper realm of what you can confidently state from the standpoint of statistics. You are yourself applying the sort of dogmatic thinking you criticize over the data. You can be an atheist if you want; it's a free country and you are a free agent in this life. But it is not correct to say that evolution requires atheism.

                The fact is that modelling something with a random variable doesn't require metaphysically, ontologically, that you assume the process is random, indeterminate. You don't need to make that assumption for the model to be useful. It is just as reasonable and valid to use random variables to study populations or processes that, while deterministic, are nonetheless impossible for us to predict with 100% certainty or to direct measure.

                What I'm saying is that I don't discount the usefulness of using statistical methods to model the world. What I object to is unjustifiably drawing (negative) theological conclusions, i.e. if "random" variables are useful, God doesn't exist. If you want to insist on keeping science separate from theology, follow your own advice. Dogmatic atheism is itself a flavor of theology.

              •  Also, to comment (0+ / 0-)

                In fact, a completely deterministic system can be described as "random".  It just is a pretty boring random function, with one state that happens with probability 1.  

                Well, for an omnipotent observer, the distribution would just be 1 for the actual state it's going to reach and 0 elsewhere. But for a being with limited knowledge (like us) it becomes uncertain and unpredictable how it will turn out. So although, for God, say, it is known how it will turn out, for us, the best we can do perhaps is probabilistic predictions based on modelling with random variables. I mean, this is the whole use of statistics in sciences, both natural and social.

                Furthermore, when the word "deterministic" is used to describe a chaotic system (which I think everybody would agree reproduction is, since slight changes in initial conditions can lead to massively different outcomes), it tends to understate the complexity of the system.

                Well, the whole idea with non-linear / chaotic dynamical systems is that you can have deterministic systems behaving according to strict rules which still have what appear to be "chaotic" trajectories.

          •  Kind of reminds me of the adage (0+ / 0-)

            "Chaos is just an ordered pattern too large for us to see..."

      •  Please don't confuse the lightly-educated... (0+ / 0-)

        ...with the actual theory.

    •  Bad stereotypes? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ManhattanMan

      "You are reinforcing bad stereotypes that evolution and atheism are inevitably linked."

      Correct. It is best to leave this line of logic to each of us, and useless to insist upon it.

    •  disagree strongly (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ashaman, agnostic

      If the word "random" is to have any meaning in this universe, then evolution proceeds as a random process.

      The idea that everything that happens follows a set order of physical laws is itself a hypothesis, and a fairly empty one at that, since we never will have a grasp on all the alleged physical laws.  

      Evolution and atheism are linked, and I disagree that this is a "bad stereotype".  Most biologists who are familiar with evolution are either atheists or only subscribe to a very detached view of religion that resembles in no way traditional, fundamentalist theories.  

      I do not think it is helpful to try to pretend that there is no tension between modern science and fundamentalist religions.  Part of the value of fundamentalist religions is their insistence on adhering to dogma.  That attitude has no place in science.  

      Don't drink and blog. Think of the children.

      by RickD on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:13:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, there you go again (0+ / 0-)

        Now you're going on the sterotype that religion is nothing but dogma and fundamentalism. It's not. Religion is at heart about man trying to understand his creator and connect to this Creator. At heart, there is no conflict between science and religion. I have a BSc in Physics. I have no problem with Big Bang or Evolution. But I also practice religion. I don't feel a need to compromise my science for my faith, nor do I feel a need to compromise my faith for my science. In an earlier time, scientific greats like Leibniz wrote books on theology while at the same time inventing calculus and writing on the principle of least action. We can and should strive for such harmony in world view again. We are lesser for having lost it.

        •  there i go again? (0+ / 0-)

          Well, I'm glad you have a BSc in physics, but I have a Ph.D. in math and have co-authored several papers in evolution journals.  

          I also was baptized and confirmed as a Roman Catholic, so I do know a wee bit about religion.  

          Your statements about "religion is at heart about man trying to understand his creator" is implicitly a dogmatic statement.  The entire notion that there is a religious creator comes from dogma.  It is not something that a person just thought up last week, after all.  You cannot even utter the word "creator" without having crossed from scientific discourse into something that is rooted in dogmatic thinking.  While I know that people are quite flexible in how they view this dogmatic entity, the refusal to abandon the concept is, indeed, a sign of dogmatism.  

          And gosh, I'm sorry that you think my life is somehow "lesser" for no longer being part of the theistic crowd, but I can only assure you that life is fine and dandy without theism involved.  At least, except for those moments where people start lecturing to me about religion and how their particular religion isn't dogmatic.  If no dogma is involved, then what you've got isn't religion at all.

          Don't drink and blog. Think of the children.

          by RickD on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:32:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  hell, I'm a lawyer, so I have a BS in BS. (0+ / 0-)

            But, I also have a strong science background, and have been involved in toxic tort and product cases for two decades. If I ignore the scientific method, I starve.

            What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology and understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

            by agnostic on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 05:25:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Not true ... (0+ / 0-)

        Have you heard of major religion vs evolution debates in non-christian countries ?

        I do not think it is helpful to try to pretend that there is no tension between modern science and fundamentalist religions.

      •  God does not play with dice. (0+ / 0-)

        He has a computer and a high-speed internet connection.

        Come the end of oil, the Amish will be the most advanced people on the planet.

        by Decih on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 05:34:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Terrific diary !!... (0+ / 0-)

    Thanks for the news and the perspective.

  •  but . . . but . . . Meta Jesus is crying! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SnyperKitty, SherriG, agnostic, mrchumchum

    Evolution can't possibly be true! If it is, it means the godless secular atheist communist gay terrorists have won. The horror, the horror! Soon babies will be born in test tubes, men will be able to marry box turtles, and all copies of the Bible will be burned. Meta Jesus is weeping at this awful development.

    Now please excuse me while I go gas up my Hummer so that I can attend an important lecture on creationism sponsored by the Bob Jones University biology department.

  •  This has also been extensively written about (0+ / 0-)

    by Science blogger PZ Myers over at Pharyngula:

    Evolution observed in E. coli

    if you are inclined for a more thorough explanation of what has been observed in this set of experiments. He also writes about how some in the ID movement have tried to twist this around and say it actually supports ID.  Which is, of course, nonsense.

    •  ID Proponents (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassandra Waites

      Their "theory" works IF God made the decision that the EColi needed a few tweaks so they could thrive on citrate. Give this batch a tweak, wait awhile, tweak it again - "crap, it's not working". Try this other batch. Tweak this one in a different way, wait awhile, give another tweak -  "aha! that worked!" So God's experiment figured out how to make EColi do well with citrate. Now he's working on how to make it do well on tomatoes or spinach or something.

      I think the ID types had best do some careful thinking about all this. Let's say these mutations and adaptations are being directly guided by some supreme being. So we have MRSA, and flesh eating bacteria, and drug resistant TB, and venomous snakes developing more powerful & dangerous venom, and no doubt other examples I'm not thinking of. It would appear that maybe the "Big Guy" is seeing a need to put us in our place, take us down a peg or two, in relation to the rest of His creation.

      "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." Sen Carl Schurz 1872

      by Catte Nappe on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 04:07:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  this darn diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    agnostic, AntonBursch, mrchumchum

    makes me feel like i do when i go to the roof of my country home on a starry night: tiny and insignificant - yet marveling at the wonder of it all.
    oh heck!

  •  God Save Us From Religion ! (0+ / 0-)

    The Plan evidently continues to unfold...as in endless variation, options, and strength by way of diversity . Plan B , C, D, E etc. ad infinitum....

    Spiralling upward, spiritual evolution will only increase with scientific understanding of the true nature of reality.

    God's message ? "keep your mind open"

  •  Not chance (0+ / 0-)

    As many have said evolution does not equal random chance, and to so boldly state that mistake weakens the diary (and repeats a common misrepresentation of creationists).

    •  oh geez (0+ / 0-)

      Random chance plays a tremendously important role in the theory of evolution.  Please do not pretend it doesn't.  Belittling the importance of randomness serves no legitimate scientific purpose.

      If you want people to actually understand evolution, you need them to understand that a great deal of the process is happening according to chance.  I'm sorry if that's too intimidating and frightening for people, but that is simply the way the universe works.

      Is it more comforting to think that every genetic mutation is directed by God?  So that any child who is born with crippling birth defects has been granted that face by a loving God?  I'm sorry, but I just cannot buy that.  It just does not logically hang together.  

      There is not only randomness in the processes of evolution, but we see that in the various stages of meiosis creating egg and sperm cells that the processes of chance are actually amplified.  

      Don't drink and blog. Think of the children.

      by RickD on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:21:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You don't get it (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cassandra Waites

        Mutations are indeed random, or at least pseudo-random.

        Natural selection IS NOT RANDOM. Don't take my word for it... pick up an intro bio textbook.

        •  Don't even need the intro bio text. (0+ / 0-)

          Look at any human beauty magazine. If mate selection were based in pure probability, the focus would be on modifying the probabilities involved instead of on attracting the eye of potential mates by standing out.

        •  please don't patronize me (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MikeCaptnKidd

          I'm a professional mathematician who works in the field of evolution.  You don't need to tell me to "pick up an intro bio textbook".  

          You really do not address the substance of my complaint.  Randomness plays a far more important role in the theory of evolution than many people want to admit.  Indeed, it is the blocking point for many religious people as to why they refuse to accept it.  The understand that the key difference between evolutionary thought and prior thought is the notion that evolutionary histories were not ordained by a creator but were rather proceeding without any evident direction.

          This philosophical jump is really a crucial one to understanding evolution.  I know this doesn't fit into talking points very well, but it is very important.

          Don't drink and blog. Think of the children.

          by RickD on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:50:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  OK, stop fighting! (0+ / 0-)

            I decided to include mutation as the initial spark, and how evolution is how that change makes a new life-form. Either because of the mutation, or even in spite of it.

            Please let's not let this thread turn into this...

             title=

            ...just because I was typing faster than I was planning.

            The nation can be made to produce a far higher standard of living for the masses of the people if only government is intelligent and energetic... (FDR, '37)

            by ShawnGBR on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 04:19:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  credentials (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cassandra Waites

            Yes, and I'm an evolutionary biologist. Do you agree with the original statement that evolution equals random chance? Of course you don't. Genetic drift equals random chance, but natural selection does not. And that new innovation of the E. coli increased in frequency not by chance, but because of the selective advantage.

            So, saying evolution does not equal random chance does not "belittle" randomness. After all the building blocks of evolution is variation and that variation often comes from random mutations. And much of evolution maybe a product of genetic drift. But to say evolution equals randomness leads down the path to Paley's argument of how can a pocketwatch be the product of random events. And that ignores natural selection.

  •  Evolution is just a random switching (0+ / 0-)

    Mutation is just a random switching. Evolution is change based on selection.  If there is no selective pressure, then the mutation will be dropped.  But this is based on thinking of the population (or species) as a whole and not one individual.

    As a whole I agree, but evolution is not random, but is based on natural selection.

    •  nope (3+ / 0-)

      "If there is no selective pressure, then the mutation will be dropped."

      Why would a mutation be dropped, if there were no selective pressure?  

      If a mutation happens, there are three possibilities:

      1. it is deleterious, in which case it will quickly be culled from the population (keep in mind 'quickly' can mean several million years to a molecular biologist)
      1. it is advantageous, in which case 'positive selection' will ensure that it spreads throughout the population
      1. it is neutral, in which case it might stay and it might not

      Almost all mutations fall into the third category.  Indeed, most methods of estimating divergence times in phylogenies depend highly on exactly these changes.

      Don't drink and blog. Think of the children.

      by RickD on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:25:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  About those Bible dinosaurs (0+ / 0-)

    If Venus is made of ketchup and lions play pinochle, why doesn't the framistan frizzmaz the flomaton?

    by zemblan on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:33:39 PM PDT

  •  an email I sent today to a religious friend (0+ / 0-)

    how long do you think it will be until humans are able to overcome old age?  to be able to live forever.  how long until we work out how to safetly get our bodies to regenerate themselves?  it's certainly possible and certainly something desirable for people to do.  the thing about being made out of dirt is that if you figure out how dirt was used to make your body, you can figure out how to keep the body from turning back into dirt.  

    eventually, if humans have the will and follow thru, they will figure this out.  just like we figured out the human genome and how to go into outer space.  as God says, there is nothing we can't do if we put our minds to it.  i think it will happen before we die.  i give it about 40-50 years max.  at the rate of progress right now.  if progress speeds up it could be as soon as 30 years.   humans will figure out how not to die of old age.  then, we'll just have to figure out how to stop dying of stupidity.  

    Rent the film Revolver. It's an intelligent movie for intelligent people. The critics loathed it.

    by AntonBursch on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:37:28 PM PDT

    •  this is certainly theoretically possible (0+ / 0-)

      I keep telling people I'll live to at least 108 because in 50 years, medical advance may well have done a good job pushing back the problems of geriatric medicine.

      But let's not understate the difficulties involved.

      Don't drink and blog. Think of the children.

      by RickD on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:52:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We already see evolution in the lab (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Miss Jones, SherriG, mrchumchum

    We see it all the time in hospitals with drug resistant bacteria.

    An eye for an eye and the whole world will be blind.

    by rini6 on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:58:40 PM PDT

  •  Fascinating (0+ / 0-)

    I don't see the need to view this through a political lens...It's fascinating and breathtakingly exciting all on its own.

    This gets the science geek in this lawyer going....

    "I drank what"? -Socrates

    by BraveheartDC on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 04:16:35 PM PDT

  •  This is too large a topic to cover in a diary (3+ / 0-)

    we might need several DOZEN to do it justice.

    Maybe one of these days- I volunteer to do one, if anyone wants to do a series...

  •  Go State!!!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrchumchum

    :)

  •  Well, I'll be a lily livered gryphon. (3+ / 0-)

    That's truly awesome.  Even better then watching virus plaque populations evolve in real time; alot of their mutations are simple.  This was watching a whole biochemical pathway evolve from scratch.

    I don't think it'll do a damn thing with the creationists, mostly because they argue mostly in the political arena, where stupidity reigns.  But it is another beachhead to keep those few that cross trenches to the science no-mans-land from making it any farther.

    •  Yes, and it's so sad (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ArchTeryx, SherriG

      If bible literalists had their way, children would be robbed of the beauty and excitement of discovering what the natural world is all about, and understanding our place in that world.   As a parent, that really gets my blood boiling.  

      "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." (Frederick Douglass, 1857)

      by dotalbon on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 04:29:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's the part where we CAN win. (0+ / 0-)

        We can't stop the creationists from setting up their beach-heads on their own territory (the Creation Museum, the biggest monument to ignorance every built, comes to mind).

        But we CAN stop them from taking it out on the kids.  I know my advisor's been pretty active in that area here in Columbus, and I hope to be active in it myself.  It's just not easy, because scientists have the facts on their side, but many of us are not good at arguing the politics -- and the creationist goons are often as smooth as can be politically.

  •  I've never understood (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassandra Waites

    Why fundies don't rise up en masse against the Second Law of Thermodynamics.   Can you imagine anything less reassuring than knowing the amount of overall entropy will increase until the universe is completely unorganized -- no stars, no planets, no NOTHING?    

    But the idea that humans and apes share a common ancestor?  That terrifies them.  

    Go figure.  
     

    "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." (Frederick Douglass, 1857)

    by dotalbon on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 04:25:59 PM PDT

  •  Nice science writing touch here (0+ / 0-)

    Now do you want to explain genetic drift?

    "It's the planet, stupid."

    by FishOutofWater on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 04:27:54 PM PDT

  •  I JUST finished Microcosm: e. coli and the new (0+ / 0-)

    science of life here (Amazon) by Carl Zimmer, reviewed by Darksyde here. [Read it on my Kindle, diaried here.]

    If you liked this diary, you will love Zimmer's book.

    You kids behave or I'm turning this universe around RIGHT NOW! - god

    by Clem Yeobright on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 04:29:57 PM PDT

  •  God created time, space, physics, and hydrogen, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassandra Waites

    and then created a day of rest.  I like to think on that 'first weekend' God sat back, got some popcorn, and settled into the couch to watch what would happen.

    Maybe we're still just part way through that day of rest.

    I can't claim any of the thoughts above as original.  I heard someone calling in say the title (in those words exactly, I think) on NPR.  The day of rest goes back to the book of Genesis.  And munching popcorn while you watch the fun is a standard saying on Daily Kos.  

    Well, maybe the idea that we're still part of the entertainment of that first day of rest is original.  

    We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

    by david78209 on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 04:34:39 PM PDT

  •  There is a really good book about evolution... (0+ / 0-)

    Thanks for the diary...it is great!

    This book is a very interesting read.  

    The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time winner of the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction.

    A summary from Wikipedia:  "This book on evolutionary biology written for the layperson by Jonathan Weiner in 1994. The finches of the title are the Galapagos or 'Darwin's Finches,' passerine songbirds in the Galapagos Islands. The adaptations of their numerous species, in three genera, exploiting several ecological niches in the rugged and dry Galápagos Islands provided evidence to Charles Darwin that species are not immutable.

    The author Jonathan Weiner follows the career of two biologists, Peter and Rosemary Grant, who have spent twenty years proving that Charles Darwin did not know the full strength of his theory of evolution. On a desert island among the Galapagos, Daphne Major, the Grants are showing that among the finches of the Galapagos, natural selection sometimes takes place so rapidly we can watch it at work."

  •  well, i observed jesus in a tortilla (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrchumchum

    "she's got the personality, she's got the looks...my homeroom teacher, yeah that's my miss brooks"

    by memofromturner on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 05:39:24 PM PDT

  •  Some Questions (0+ / 0-)

    On the whole, an excellent diary, but I have a few quibbles, or perhaps more accurately questions.  I have to preface this entire post with the disclaimer that I am not a trained biologist.  I do, however, have a passionate layman’s interest in the subject of evolution and I read a fair amount on the subject.  My quibbles come from things that I have read not in scientific papers, but in popular science books.  That said they were both written by authorities in the respective fields.  So I’ll just throw them out there and if anyone can either confirm or refute or elaborate on these subjects, I’d appreciate hearing about it.

    The first has to do with what the diarist wrote about the relationship between humans and apes, specifically:

    "Humans evolved from apes we see today, am I right? No. Humans evolved from a primate a few million years ago. And so did the apes we see today. We have a common ancestor."

    While, as any high school biology student (assuming that student is not from some place that thinks science is subject to the democratic process) knows, this is technically accurate, I have recently read (Richard Wrangham DEMONIC MALES) that it is highly misleading.  If I recall correctly (and here I have to state that I unfortunately don’t have the book with me so I may be mistaken in some of the details) humans, chimps, bonobos and gorillas all evolved from the same ancestral ape species.  However, one of the descendant populations was so well adapted to its environment that it in fact changed very little during the millions of years that since the others split off from it.  It changed so little in fact that it looked very much like its much much later descendents, chimpanzees.  That is to say that while we didn’t evolve from chimpanzees, we did evolve from something that looked and behaved so much like them as to say that for all intents and purposes our common ancestor was essentially a chimpanzee.  This helps to account for why the fossil record does not produce a whole lot of intermediate forms between our common ancestor and modern chimpanzees.

    The second point regards the assertion that "Gorillas and chimps have been taught to communicate using symbols and sign-language."  According to Steven Pinker in THE LANGUAGE INSTINCT (see particularly Chapter 11), this is the scientific equivalent of an urban myth.  Though often repeated and sometimes "demonstrated" before audiences or in nature films, this incredible achievement, though frequently written of in the popular press has, for some strange reason, never been documented in a peer-reviewed article.  Moreover, the apes in question were unable to communicate with native speakers of American Sign Language the way that they did with non-native speakers, who were considerably more generous in their interpretation of what their beloved "test subjects" were attempting to communicate.  This is not to suggest that the idea that "humans are animals" is fallacious.  It certainly is not.  Rather it suggests that human language is indeed a unique development whose precursors are not seen in our closest surviving relatives.  That does not assign verbal communication any mystical significance.  Pinker himself uses the analogy of the elephant’s trunk, an incredibly complex development that is similarly unique in the animal world.  Of course there is no plausible explanation for the development of either the elephant’s trunk or human language save that of Darwinian natural selection.  Moreover it is certain that many human cognitive processes are very closely related to those of our ape cousins.  It’s just that language, as we know it, is likely not among them.  Rather its antecedents likely did not appear for thousands of generations after our paths diverged from chimpanzees.

    Sorry for being so long-winded.

    •  Regarding the first point (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      journeyman, Cassandra Waites

      However, one of the descendant populations was so well adapted to its environment that it in fact changed very little during the millions of years that since the others split off from it.

      This is a somewhat academic distinction (no pun intended).  It's possible that the common ancestor we descended from looked very much like a chimpanzee (I don't know the fossil record at much depth, although I could theoretically calculate a best guess for DNA sequence of the ancestor), but evolutionary biologists will generally refer to humans and other primates as evolving from a common ancestor.  Whether or not it pisses Wrangham off  :)

      (I took his class on primate evolution by the way...it was...interesting.  It had the nickname "sex" since we spent so much time talking about it.)

      •  I saw him at a forum discussion (0+ / 0-)

        on evolutionary biology.  It's what prompted me to buy his book.  He did seem like a very interesting guy.  I would have liked to have taken his class.

        No doubt you are right that our common ancestor was not  just like a chimpanzee.  I very much doubt that they would have been cross-fertile.  That said, the idea that humans evolved from something almost like a chimpanzee is treated as a such a caricature by many biologists that I, for one, was very surprised to find out that it may actually be closer to the truth than most people think.

        That said, my whole support for this point comes from a single book, and one written for a popular audience at that.

  •  A suggestion to anyone with an interest here (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    yet another liberal

    To be sure, this is a fascinating and seemingly well-documented long-term study, solidifying the obvious theoretical basis of the evolutionary process. Here's my suggestion:

    Posting an article about biology, or the human gene pool, or the evolution of life on the planet, or the origin of species, should not necessitate a discussion of creationism vs. science or religion vs Darwin. Let it be what it is.

    To be sure this study undermines what creationists have been shouting, and is important for that reason. And I very much appreciate your succinct overview of some basic biological concepts and misconceptions. But why conclude with a fundamentalist poll? And why does the discussion immediately revert to the creationism debate? Haven't we moved past that here? This is the Daily Kos after all!

  •  Fascinating (0+ / 0-)

    My only complaint would be the following:

    Are you saying we're just animals? Yes. 100% yes. Gorillas and chimps have been taught to communicate using symbols and sign-language. Would you say a blind person isn't a person because they don't read letters? Or a deaf person isn't a person because they talk with their hands? We are mammals. Incredible tool-using ones, but we're animals all the same.

    This study did not prove that.  It proved that yes, we are products of evolution and that therefore purest creationism is false.  However- I think it would be more accurate to say as far as science is able to ascertain (or even cares) we are 100% human and this study bolsters that claim admirably.

    It is not the providence of science to probe beyond the material, however.  Now fortunately, it's quite an excellent process for explaining the material world and if I ever get cancer I'm going to a doctor and not a medicine man.

    However, I just think that it's patently incorrect for science to arrogate the power to define all aspects of human existence.  Science cannot say we are 100% animal.  It can only say that our material selves are products of evolution.

    Sorry to nitpick, but that's my thought anyway.

    "And we will remember this when we are old and ancient, though the specifics might be vague..."- The Decemberists, "July, July"

    by electricgrendel on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 06:42:08 PM PDT

  •  perhaps this will begin new book burnings? (0+ / 0-)

    There are an awful lot of intelligent design textbooks out there that should be in peril.

    -7.5 -7.28, What's a guy gotta do to get impeached around here?

    by Blueslide on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 06:42:43 PM PDT

  •  E.Coli can mutate... (0+ / 0-)

    Better and faster than we can...

    That spells bad news for humans...  

    -6.5, -7.59. Dump Harry Reid. Put in someone who can rid us of Holy Joe Lieberman.

    by DrWolfy on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 06:45:44 PM PDT

  •  Very cool--thanks for posting! (0+ / 0-)
    Great rebuttals, too.  I'll bookmark this page for future debates with creationists.

    How I usually start is this way: "Well, sure God created the universe in 7 days.  What science tells is how long a day is for God, and by what means God created the heavens and earth."

    That usually shuts 'em up long enough to get in a word about the Hubble space telescope and evolution.

    In TX-32, track the voting record of Pete Sessions at SessionsWatch.

    by CoolOnion on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 06:54:11 PM PDT

  •  Quite (0+ / 0-)

    an enjoyable diary. It's very refreshing to have a little science hit the Rec'd list.  

    Common Sense is not Common

    by RustyBrown on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 07:12:31 PM PDT

  •  Please (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Reframing the Debate

    This is hardly the massive discovery your diary makes it out to be. The observation was essentially that a genetic mutation was passed on, and that mutation allowed a further mutation which otherwise cannot occur. While it may be the first time that this exact situation has been observed and recorded with such detail, it is only one of the many discoveries in evolutionary biology which are made every day. There is no such thing as absolute truth in science, which makes your writing somewhat hyperbolic. Still, in the lay sense of the word "fact", evolution has been a fact for many years. This discovery does relatively little to further human knowledge and is simply a flashy yellow-tinged headline maker.

    "I'm just gonna ride this wave for as long as I can cause man, it rules!" -Shane McConkey

    by Calculon on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 07:32:33 PM PDT

  •  Abstract from the peer reviewed article (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassandra Waites

    The role of historical contingency in evolution has been much debated, but rarely tested. Twelve initially identical populations of Escherichia coli were founded in 1988 to investigate this issue. They have since evolved in a glucose-limited medium that also contains citrate, which E. coli cannot use as a carbon source under oxic conditions. No population evolved the capacity to exploit citrate for >30,000 generations, although each population tested billions of mutations. A citrate-using (Cit+) variant finally evolved in one population by 31,500 generations, causing an increase in population size and diversity. The long-delayed and unique evolution of this function might indicate the involvement of some extremely rare mutation. Alternately, it may involve an ordinary mutation, but one whose physical occurrence or phenotypic expression is contingent on prior mutations in that population. We tested these
    hypotheses in experiments that ‘‘replayed’’ evolution from different points in that population’s history. We observed no Cit mutants among 8.4 x 10^12 ancestral cells, nor among 9 x 10^12 cells from 60 clones sampled in the first 15,000 generations. However, we observed a significantly greater tendency for later clones to evolve Cit+, indicating that some potentiating mutation arose by 20,000 generations. This potentiating change increased the mutation rate to Cit+ but did not cause generalized hypermutability. Thus, the evolution of this phenotype was contingent on the particular history of that population. More generally, we suggest that historical contingency is especially important when it facilitates the evolution of key innovations that are not easily evolved by gradual, cumulative selection.
    --- END ABSTRACT ---

    This suggests that the minimum change involved multiple (two or more) mutations.  Fun stuff.

    Politicians cannot be depended upon to act in the interests of the public in the absence of collective pressure.

    by Reframing the Debate on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 07:45:49 PM PDT

    •  As mentioned above by others, the article is (0+ / 0-)

      quite interesting, but I wouldn't call it earth shattering, and the diary overstates its relative importance.  It will be interesting to see what the actual mutation(s) involved are though.

      Politicians cannot be depended upon to act in the interests of the public in the absence of collective pressure.

      by Reframing the Debate on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 07:52:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Possible mechanisms discussed by authors (0+ / 0-)

    Again, from the peer reviewed PNAS paper:

    What physiological mechanism has evolved that allows aerobic growth on citrate? E. coli should be able to use citrate as an energy source after it enters the cell, but it lacks a citrate
    transporter that functions in an oxygen-rich environment. One possibility is that the Cit lineage activated a ‘‘cryptic’’ transporter (41), that is, some once-functional gene that has been silenced by mutation accumulation. This explanation seems unlikely to us because the Cit phenotype is characteristic of the entire species, one that is very diverse and therefore very old. We would expect a cryptic gene to be degraded beyond recovery after millions of years of disuse. A more likely possibility, in our view, is that an existing transporter has been coopted for citrate transport under oxic conditions. This transporter may previously have transported citrate under anoxic conditions (43) or, alternatively, it may have transported another substrate in the presence of oxygen. The evolved changes might involve gene regulation, protein structure, or both (61).

    In any case, it is a relatively small genetic change that they are talking about here.  Still very cool stuff though.  Good diary.  Thanks for pointing this paper out.

    Politicians cannot be depended upon to act in the interests of the public in the absence of collective pressure.

    by Reframing the Debate on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 07:58:08 PM PDT

  •  See, I've always seen (0+ / 0-)

    Evolution dovetailing with Natural Selection in the way a river shapes the rocks and pebbles in its bed. It's crude, and it leaves the mutation part out, but it is a great way to simplify the fact that species don't spontaneously evolve; that a rock (specimen) in a river current (environment) is shaped by its surroundings to fit into a niche (a jagged rock turning into a smooth stone over the course of millenia) as opposed to any sort of conscious effort on behalf of the rock.

    Works best with things like rabbits in snowy climates versus rabbits in non-snowy climates having different colored fur - a brown rabbit would stand out more than a white rabbit in snow, and thus be eaten by predators more often than produce offspring to carry on its genes. Works the same way with brown rabbit versus white rabbit in wooded surroundings.

    Et habeas ibi hoc breve.

    by Thomas Boyko on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 08:38:48 PM PDT

  •  Now that Young Earth Creationism... (0+ / 0-)

    ...has bit the dust.  The next step is to get rid of natural selection as a scientific concept.  I don't like teleology in my science.  I am apparently the only philosopher who likes Gould's approach to evolution.

    The academics still like natural selection however nobody can tell me what explanatory power it has.

    Gould has written several good papers on evolutionary biology and has a good book Full House.

    "There's no sense in being precise when you don't even know what you are talking about."-John Von Neumann

    by AZphilosopher on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 09:00:58 PM PDT

    •  Mmmmmm okay.... (0+ / 0-)

      So a mutation occurs that allows a bacterium to utilize a new food source. This bacterium reproduces into a colony that is more robust than its neighbors because of this.  Before long all surviving bacteria have this mutation. Nothing wrong with calling this selection. And it's not unnatural! The novel thing here is that it has been proven that such capability can be evolved through mutation while depending on a precursor mutation as well that survived for 20000 generations.  It is likely that this precursor was also not "neutral" from the way I read the abstract, if you define "non-neutral" as providing some capability that assists survival, which may have little relation to the final trait.  But natural selection is still what allowed the population with the new mutation to flourish,  by gaining the capability to occupy an environmental niche not occupied by others. No teleology required here. Now you can argue "slow accumulation of small changes" vs. "punctuated equilibrium" but it appears both can happen.  An organism does not in fact suddenly develop an eye in a single generation, but a new metabolic pathway can suddenly be created.

      "The only thing we have to fear - is fear itself." - Franklin Delano Roosevelt

      by orrg1 on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 10:06:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My point here was... (0+ / 0-)

        ...that a "mystical" interaction between the environment and the organism doesn't exist.  People tend to think that the existence of gray moths in an area with gray trees is the sign of some sort of interaction between the moth and the environment. The fact is that its DNA just changed to make it gray and it happened to be useful.

        Traits aren't useful and deleterious, organisms just survive and they don't.  I don't know one trait that protects against meteor strikes.  From the "classical" Darwin point of view, a meteor strike would kill both those organisms with good and bad traits.  Or on this micro scale, it doesn't matter what traits those bacteria have, if they irradiate the culture.

        This desire to use a concept called "natural selection" is just a desire to hew close to the classical Darwinian theory.  The mature study of evolution is going to be an exercise in population statistics.

        "There's no sense in being precise when you don't even know what you are talking about."-John Von Neumann

        by AZphilosopher on Thu Jun 12, 2008 at 12:01:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Scotty?! (0+ / 0-)

    Aye, captain, there's intelligent life down here after all.

  •  Six hundred AND FIRST! (0+ / 0-)

    If we continue to accumulate only power and not wisdom, we will surely destroy ourselves. -Carl Sagan

    by LightningMan on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 09:24:20 PM PDT

  •  Good blog article on this by PZ Meyers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassandra Waites

    at the ever reliable Panda's Thumb. A last nail in the coffin (or should I say in Behe's Black Box) for "irreducible complexity" and therefore Intelligent Design. Good riddance to bad garbage I say.

    "The only thing we have to fear - is fear itself." - Franklin Delano Roosevelt

    by orrg1 on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 09:43:42 PM PDT

  •  2nd poll item is quite a mind-twister n/t (0+ / 0-)

    "Think. It ain't illegal yet." - George Clinton

    by jbeach on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 09:50:00 PM PDT

  •  No Comment. Just My Sig. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassandra Waites

    Evolution IS Intelligent Design!

    by msirt on Thu Jun 12, 2008 at 12:34:37 AM PDT

  •  The Last Redoubt of Intelligent Design... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassandra Waites

    ...creationism or whatever other label this strain of thought garners will be the genesis of human consciousness and intelligence.

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