Skip to main content

I, like I assume most of you, have found it impossible to debate the merits of evolution with deniers. No amount of evidence or logical arguments have any impact.

So, I've hit on a new strategy that seems to be working a little better. Rather than argue the evidence for evolution and against Creationism or Intelligent Design, I just point out that the theory of evolution is extremely "useful." And while the theory might not get them into heaven it is making their life here on earth much better.

It all started with my last seminar in last semester's Theories of Social Change class. Follow me below the curved orange lines.

In my last “Theories of Social Change” class, I asked the students, “How has evolution impacted your life?” To a student, their response was that evolution had had no impact. After I reviewed ways the theory has impacted their lives, as I will for you below, one student commented, “I thought evolution was just about monkeys.”

Many were raised in fundamentalist homes and churched by ministers who deny and harshly attack the theory of evolution as a “Monkey Theory.” But evolution is more than monkeys turning into humans. Evolution is about your health, the food you eat, and who should be imprisoned and who should go free. The theory of evolution is useful and makes our lives here on earth better.


The most obvious benefits are in the medical “miracles.” Everyone recognizes we inherit skin color, height, blood types, shape of ears and noses. We also inherit broken genes that plague families with deadly diseases like Tay-Sachs, breast cancer, sickle cell anemia, and Fanconi anemia.

Treatments and cures for these and others diseases rely on understanding how evolution works. Evolution based therapies have been used to treat or cure leukemia, AIDS, Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), sickle cell anemia, and SCID, known as Bubble Boy Syndrome.

An important component of medical research is our ability to test treatments on other species before trying them on humans. Humans benefit when the therapies don’t work or are actually harmful. Species we test on are not so fortunate. One and five million monkeys were sacrificed to create polio vaccines. Thousands of chimpanzees and millions of rats and mice have been used for testing. Other species used for testing and creating new drugs include cats, dogs, birds, cattle, pigs, and sheep, to name but a few.

We can use other species for testing because we have many genes in common.  While we look different, all mammals have similar organs - lungs, hearts, kidneys, stomachs, and even brains that work in similar ways. We move oxygen from our lungs to our blood then to individual cells similarly. We even have similar emotions so we test drugs for mental disorders on mice before administering them to humans.

Evolutionary theory is also protects us from illness and death by infectious agents like viruses and bacteria. Scientists track flu viruses as they spread about the planet, information used to manufacture the most effective annual flu vaccines. Vaccines to protect us from AIDS and other deadly diseases are based on evolutionary theory.

In no way do I want to discourage anyone from praying for the sick. Prayer can comfort both the ill and those who love and care for them. But the reality is that neither Creationism nor Intelligent Design theory are useful for producing new drug therapies.


Long before evolutionary theory, humans were actively involved in the domestication of plants and animals. Seeds from the larger and tastier fruits, vegetables, and grains were selected, planted, and nurtured. Sheep, goats, cattle, chickens, pigeons, dogs, and cats fell under the intelligent design of humans. God might have dropped Moses some manna from heaven, but it was human intervention that dramatically increased food production.

Today, evolution based genetic tools are applied to agriculture. Rice, an important food for much of the world lacks vitamin A. Using evolutionary theory, a gene that produces vitamin A was inserted in a rice strain to create Golden Rice. This new rice offers hope to the 500,000 children who the World Health Organization estimates go blind each year due to vitamin A deficiencies. Similar work has produced crops with natural insecticides, reducing the need for potentially harmful chemicals.

It was been over 160 years since the gulls of Great Salt Lake saved Mormon crops from crickets. Today we rely on evolutionary theory to protects our foods from external threats like molds, bacteria, and insects.

Our ability of feed a rapidly growing population of 7 billion people depends on genetic engineering and evolutionary theory.


Larry Birkhead was awarded custody of Anna Nicole Smith’s child. After Ms. Smith died, three men claimed to be the baby’s father. The court used DNA analysis, rather than Solomon’s sword, to determine Mr. Birkhead was the father.

On a more serious note, the Innocence Project has freed over 250 prisoners. Many who had spent decades in prison for crimes they never committed. A large number had even “confessed” to these crimes. Justice was not limited to freeing the innocent. In 40% of the cases, the DNA resulted in identifying the actual felon.

DNA testing is critical tool for criminal investigations. Courts rely on this evidence to arrive at fair and just verdicts. Today Britain and the U.S. maintain DNA data banks of criminals numbering 4.5 million and 7 million respectively. DNA had proven to be far more reliable tool than finger prints, eye witness accounts, or even confessions.

DNA criminal analysis goes beyond separating the guilty from the innocent. Sometimes it is about finding closure for families of victims. Badly mutilated or decomposed bodies can be impossible to identify. But in the crime of our lifetime, DNA from bone fragments identified victims in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center towers.

Tracking ancestors

Genealogy is a favorite hobby for many with thousands of websites devoted to tracing one’s ancestors has evolved beyond notes in Bibles, newspaper notices, and hospital record. Companies offer DNA tests to identify where your ancestors originated.

For some, it is more than a hobby. Spencer Wells, a geneticist and anthropologist, uses DNA to track ancient human migration patterns. Others used DNA to prove Native American heritage. Descents of Sally Hemings used DNA to support their claim her children were fathered by Thomas Jefferson.

If I'm in a really contentious spirit, I point out that the Bible has two lines of descent from David to Jesus. If we had DNA samples of all the named men in those lines would would know which, if either Bible version, is correct.

Throw them a rope

Depending on the situation, you can always assure your audience that they can believe in their God and acknowledge the importance of evolutionary theory. Jane Goodall, who taught us so much about the life of chimpanzees, is both a devote Christian and evolutionist, something she wrote about in her book, Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey.

Francis Collins, the scientist who headed the Human Genome Project, does not see his beliefs in evolution and god as incompatible and has written books for the general public on both. In The Language of Life: DNA and the Revolution in Personalized Medicine, Collins explains how evolutionary theory is conquering diseases and making us healthier. In The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, he explains his personal belief in God. Many other top scientists also believe in evolutionary theory, while practicing their religious faith and believing in God.

If I remember correctly (note to self: look this up), the Catholic Church endorsed the sun centered solar system as useful for calculating the date Easter falls on. But they endorsed the earth centered universe as real. Look what happened. Only 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. now say in the General Social Survey that the sun circles the earth.


Originally posted to SocioSam on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 11:36 AM PST.

Also republished by SciTech and Community Spotlight.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  I am pretty sure the Catholic church accepts (22+ / 0-)

    evolution. They don't see a conflict between human evolution and faith.

    I am teaching at a Catholic university, and they have courses on evolution here.

    In an October 22, 1996, address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Pope John Paul II updated the Church's position to accept evolution of the human body:
    "In his encyclical Humani Generis (1950), my predecessor Pius XII has already affirmed that there is no conflict between evolution and the doctrine of the faith regarding man and his vocation, provided that we do not lose sight of certain fixed points.... Today, more than a half-century after the appearance of that encyclical, some new findings lead us toward the recognition of evolution as more than a hypothesis. In fact it is remarkable that this theory has had progressively greater influence on the spirit of researchers, following a series of discoveries in different scholarly disciplines. The convergence in the results of these independent studies—which was neither planned nor sought—constitutes in itself a significant argument in favor of the theory."[31]
    In the same address, Pope John Paul II rejected any theory of evolution that provides a materialistic explanation for the human soul:
    "Theories of evolution which, because of the philosophies which inspire them, regard the spirit either as emerging from the forces of living matter, or as a simple epiphenomenon of that matter, are incompatible with the truth about man."
    That's from wiki

    Wiki link

    I am culturally Catholic, and I remember John Paul's 1996 speech.

    "If you don't sin, then Jesus died for nothing!" (on a sign at a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans)

    by ranger995 on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 12:06:14 PM PST

    •  Yes they do (10+ / 0-)

      My comment was about their fight with Galileo.

      I don't know what consciousness is or how it works, but I like it.

      by SocioSam on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 01:13:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That was over in the 1700s (7+ / 0-)

        The RCC accepts current science on evolution with respect to the physical and biological sciences, except for non-God-based speculation concerning the soul; current cosmology, including the age of the universe, the solar system, and Earth, with God as the creator of all Bang-Stuff and laws of physics; and accepts the conclusion of the world's climate scientists that global warming, caused by the burning of fossil fuels, is a dire threat to humans and the environment.

        •  Not really... More like Twenty years ago (5+ / 0-)

          From Wikipedia:
          On 15 February 1990, in a speech delivered at the Sapienza University of Rome,[140] Cardinal Ratzinger (later to become Pope Benedict XVI) cited some current views on the Galileo affair as forming what he called "a symptomatic case that permits us to see how deep the self-doubt of the modern age, of science and technology goes today".[141] Some of the views he cited were those of the philosopher Paul Feyerabend, whom he quoted as saying "The Church at the time of Galileo kept much more closely to reason than did Galileo himself, and she took into consideration the ethical and social consequences of Galileo's teaching too. Her verdict against Galileo was rational and just and the revision of this verdict can be justified only on the grounds of what is politically opportune."[141] The Cardinal did not clearly indicate whether he agreed or disagreed with Feyerabend's assertions. He did, however, say "It would be foolish to construct an impulsive apologetic on the basis of such views."[141]

          On 31 October 1992, Pope John Paul II expressed regret for how the Galileo affair was handled, and issued a declaration acknowledging the errors committed by the Catholic Church tribunal that judged the scientific positions of Galileo Galilei, as the result of a study conducted by the Pontifical Council for Culture.[142][143] In March 2008 the head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Nicola Cabibbo, announced a plan to honour Galileo by erecting a statue of him inside the Vatican walls.[144] In December of the same year, during events to mark the 400th anniversary of Galileo's earliest telescopic observations, Pope Benedict XVI praised his contributions to astronomy.[145] A month later, however, the head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Gianfranco Ravasi, revealed that the plan to erect a statue of Galileo in the grounds of the Vatican had been suspended.[146]

          •  There is still low-info debate in certain quarters (0+ / 0-)

            but most restrictions on printing his works were lifted in the 1700s, and all restrictions were removed in the early 1800s. Quoting from Galileo's wiki article:

            All traces of official opposition to heliocentrism by the church disappeared in 1835 when these works were finally dropped from the Index [of prohibited books].
            The world has and will probably always have people who believe the Earth is flat, the moon landings were faked, and pro wrestling is real. But it's been >200 years since the RCC officially opposed heliocentrism.
      •  Given the retrograde Bishops in the U.S. though... (6+ / 0-)

        I wouldn't count on that lasting for long.

        If you really want to be contentious, you could suggest that because the church insists on celibacy, the Roman Catholic Church is systematically pulling out of the gene pool people who are willing to devote their lives to their faith. It's an old argument to be sure, but if there is anything inherently within human nature that contributes to religious spirit, they are preventing it from being passed on to the next generation.

        Perhaps they realize this at some level; that's why they are so strongly against contraception - for others.

        "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

        by xaxnar on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 04:22:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  doubtful (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cream Puff, commonmass, TN yellow dog

          Despite the crazy things in the history (and present) of  the Catholic church, there has long been a tradition of scholarship.  The Catholic universities are nothing like Regent or Liberty U. They're respected academic institutions.

          Besides that, the Church generally makes changes at a glacial pace, and objecting to evolutionary theory at this point would be a pretty radical move.

          That said, I know a Catholic who lives among a community of evangelicals. and she's on the ID train, which I'm guessing is due to the influence of the large fundamentalist community. I think Brownback (Catholic) is an ID guy too, who accepts micro-evolution, but not macro, even though the church doesn't dispute evolution. Wouldn't surprise me if Santorum is a creationist.

          48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam If you can't feed a hundred people, then just feed one. - Mother Teresa

          by wasatch on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 12:33:24 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  But that wins you no points (6+ / 0-)

      Protestant fundies do not recognize the authority of the Catholic Church and couldn't care less about the Pope's opinions except to rail against them as they do against evolution.

      Ideology is when you know the answers before you know the questions.
      It is what grows into empty spaces where intelligence has died.

      by Alden on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 05:06:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  yes, I went to Catholic schools (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      grade school and high school.

      we had science class and we had theology class.
      Evolution was taught in science class. No conflict.

      48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam If you can't feed a hundred people, then just feed one. - Mother Teresa

      by wasatch on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 12:24:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  So does the Mormon [LDS] Church (0+ / 0-)
  •  Dunno About You But I'm Not Qualified to Debate (8+ / 0-)

    evolution, or climate change, relativity or quantum mechanics. Those are actually subjects of technical expertise that almost no ordinary citizens and voters have.

    Our role as citizens is in what to do about the findings of expertise, not to challenge them from ignorance and incompetence.

    Here's something you might think about though, it'd be interesting to see what our scientifically trained members say.

    The way your digital camera works is that its lens takes advantage of the fact that light is made up of waves and not particles. The shape of the lens causes the waves to bend and come to a focus on the sensor at the back of the camera.

    But the way you get the image out of the camera is that the sensor takes advantage of the fact that light is a flow of particles, not waves, and these particles trigger electrical activity in the sensor which then delivers the picture.

    Those two descriptions contradict each other, they can't be both true at the same time, yet they have to both be true at the same time in order for the two parts of the camera to work together. [Well that was the state of understanding some years ago as my layman mind remembers it, maybe the wave/particle conflict has been resolved since then.]

    How this may help in an evolution debate between untrained citizens could be to show that there can be contradictory explanations for the same thing depending on how we look at it.

    When science looks at the earth and its life, the process that it sees is evolution. When religion looks at them, it sees a creation.

    There's no need for either view to disqualify the other, each has its place and works in its own domain without negating the other in its other domain.

    There are millions of people educated in science who follow religion; there must be some who believe the creation story of the Bible is literally true yet also accept that evolution theories are the only ones that work in scientific work.

    The point of the debate is to get them to accept that the creation story can't be a scientific explanation for purposes of education. That remains a tall order because this movement is aggressively imperialistic.

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

    by Gooserock on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 12:10:29 PM PST

    •  Except, and this is key (5+ / 0-)

      they are not both true at the same time, they are true in quick succession.

      If you understand science before you discuss particular arguments, you can at least understand the range and definitiveness of what you know.

      "All things are not equally true. It is time to face reality." -Al Gore

      by Geek of all trades on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 01:18:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The "truth" of stories (7+ / 0-)

      such as "The Creation Story" is not the same kind of "truth" of scientific theories.  

      The two can be compatable, if one accepts that stories are a different kind of narrative, with a different purpose, that explore "truths" in very different ways.

      That's really all it takes.

      Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

      by a gilas girl on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 02:25:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's a pretty simple arguement ... (18+ / 0-)

      Evolution is testable.  That is:  like all science there is a hypothesis (things evolved) and a test (carbon dating, DNA sequence similarity and mutation rates; body plan design; etc.).  Creationism is completely untestable.  How does one test the appearance of something (life and diversity) from nothing (god)?   Creationism is Fundamentally not science.  It is a philosophy - and should be considered (and taught) as such.

    •  Stephen Jay Gould's nonoverlapping (8+ / 0-)

      magisteria strike me as a copout. Perhaps the religious view is valid "in its own domain", but in that case it's an ever shrinking domain. I mean, religion explained plagues and earthquakes as divine punishment (indeed in the case of AIDS it still does). But today even fundamentalist Christians use antibiotics and retrofit their homes against earthquakes. Why?   Could it be because the eternal truths of religion don't hold a candle to the incomplete, fallible, nerdy work of men and women of science?

      I know you're arguing from a position of kindness. For a long time I was one of those people you say must exist: I believed the Bible is somehow true (and divinely inspired) and yet, having been raised in a sane intellectual enviroment, I knew that evolution is the only reasonable way to make sense of the universe of life.  But I no longer try to square the circle.

      Silvio Levy

      •  "Religion" is a tricky and slippery concept - (6+ / 0-)

        scholars of religion haven't agreed on what their object of study is...

        So with that absolutely massive caveat in mind...

        I'd say that the non-overlapping part of science and religion is that one is about explanation and the other isn't.

        When I go to church on Sundays, I'm not looking for an explanation of the universe.  I'm looking for a perspective on the universe that reminds me of my connection to the universe, and my connection to people - especially the ones who get on my nerves.  I'm looking for something that grounds me and keeps me going.

        Science tells me our solar system will end in a supernova.  Some years ago, I would regale my roommates every morning about the supernova and the futility of life.  Then, I started going back to church, which gave me a sense of connection that actually chilled me out.  A couple of weeks later, my roommates said, "You haven't talked about the supernova in a while."  It's not that I stopped thinking that our world would end in a supernova down the line - it's that a spiritual practice helped me put that fact into a perspective that made life valuable, meaningful, and worth living.  YMMV.

        If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

        by dirkster42 on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 07:41:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That is the best explicatiion of (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          the differences/compatibility of science and religion that I've ever heard.

          I may well borrow it. It really puts things into a perspective that a lot of people can get.

          Thank you.

          I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

          by samddobermann on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 04:00:24 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I disagree (6+ / 0-)

      The argument with ordinary citizens and voters CAN indeed be held if ordinary citizens and voters are more clearly instructed in the nature and use of the scientific method in school.

      Emotionalism, defensiveness, and muddled thinking on the part of too many pro-science, pro-evolution advocates keeps the argument going. It is f*ing maddening to me to watch this go on decade after decade after decade.

      You say:

      When science looks at the earth and its life, the process that it sees is evolution. When religion looks at them, it sees a creation.
      I say:

      When religion looks at the Earth and its life -- and let's toss in the entire universe besides -- it sees that science has ZERO to say about how all the Bang Stuff got here. It's anybody's guess -- or anybody's belief based on divine revelation -- if/how the Bang singularity came into being. Science deals ONLY with what's here, with post-Bang and how it all works. That's IT. (And fwiw the RCC embraces current science concerning the post-Creation physical/shared universe, including the age and formation of the universe and Earth, and human evolution.) So from the very first day of science class, this is what we should tell students and their parents. There is no basis for any argument about how the universe came into being. NO scientist knows or can say, s/he can only speculate. And that's not science, it's rhetoric. Save it for rhetoric class. End of story.

      IMO, what we have to do next is teach kids, by doing, the scientific method based on the principles of physics, the very first science kids can see in action with their own eyes. Waves in a pool or propagated thru a Slinky. Gravity. Centripetal force. Water as solid, liquid, and gas. Friction. How adding more and more salt or sugar or alcohol to water depresses the freezing temp and raises the boiling temp (i.e., why we use antifreeze, and why we pour rock salt into the ice around our ice cream maker). Let them observe how a phenomenon works, then let them use what they've observed to design an experiment, test their hypothesis, analyze the results, and prove that they all see the same SHARED results. Science deals only with experiences that can be shared. Science cannot characterize for us the quality of our existential states of being, such as love, fear, anxiety, beauty, perception of the existence of God/no-God, etc. Save that for religion/philosophy/psychology class. End of story.

      Use that to lead them into the more complex history of experimental and theoretical science that underpins the applied sciences: medicine, materials and engineering, agriculture, animal husbandry, etc. This is how science is done, how it is applied to the SHARED world.

      From this body of experience and understanding, it is then logical to show students that we have used all these principles and methods to build our current model of the universe. THIS IS NOT A CREATION STORY; IT'S AN "AND THEN..." STORY. This is a vast, internally very consistent model built with the methods of science, and reflects our attempt to use the methods of science to explain the origin and behavior of everything in the shared/physically perceived universe. If some people look at that model and choose to believe it demonstrates there is no First Principle/Creator/God, that is irrelevant to the model itself and its utility. And if some people believe there is a First Principle/Creator/God, that is likewise irrelevant to the model itself and its utility.

      Finally -- and this is perhaps the most difficult step for non/a/anti-religious science proponents to accept -- we need to be willing to teach that our model of the universe is simply (complexly) humanity's "tool set" from which arises all of our abilities to understand and manipulate the matter and energy around us. A person can choose to use this tool set or not, or can use some but not all of the tools. As weird as it may seem, I've met and even sometimes worked with highly competent civil, mechanical, and electrical engineers and engineering technicians -- and even a small number of microbiologists -- who believe God created heaven and earth in 7 days. The origin of the universe is completely irrelevant to their professional specialty. It's irrelevant to most or all of mathematics, physical chemistry, rocketry, spectroscopy, soil science, dance, music, painting, carpentry, architecture, etc., etc., etc., etc. Belief in human evolution is likewise irrelevant to most avenues of human endeavor. Pretty much as long as you don't want to be an astronomer, cosmologist, evolutionary biologist, geneticist, or geologist, you're free to believe only a subset of our current "tool set," and you can get along just fine.

      Do we profit as a nation more by "my way or the highway" thinking on this, or by finding a way to sidestep theocratic politics and get the job of teaching science DONE? I say the teaching of science does not have to be a fight against conservative religion. Only dogmatic thinking on both sides of the issue stops us from reframing it logically and productively. Both sides are behaving ignorantly and stubbornly, IMO, due to confused thinking and/or a desire for dominion.

      (And while I'm going on about this: Light is not "made up of" waves or particles. Light behaves "as if it is made up of" waves and "as if it is made up of" particles. The same mathematics that allow us to model wave propagation in fluids also allow us to model some of the behavior of light. Similarly, the math we use to model the behavior of physical particles also allows us to model some of the behavior of light. Especially when talking to people who are not science-literate, it pays to be careful about how one talks about these concepts so as not to paint sci-fi movies in impressionable minds. For instance, it's a misnomer to say that light "travels" from point A to point B. A horse travels from point A to point B. We can sit on a hill and watch it as it travels by using our eyes & brain to process the light that reflects off of it. No such process can be used to detect light in some intermediate state of "passage," hence there is no basis for saying that light "travels.")

      •  This isn't true (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Boris Godunov, mithra666, Milou
        When religion looks at the Earth and its life -- and let's toss in the entire universe besides -- it sees that science has ZERO to say about how all the Bang Stuff got here. It's anybody's guess -- or anybody's belief based on divine revelation -- if/how the Bang singularity came into being. Science deals ONLY with what's here, with post-Bang and how it all works. That's IT. (And fwiw the RCC embraces current science concerning the post-Creation physical/shared universe, including the age and formation of the universe and Earth, and human evolution.) So from the very first day of science class, this is what we should tell students and their parents. There is no basis for any argument about how the universe came into being. NO scientist knows or can say, s/he can only speculate. And that's not science, it's rhetoric. Save it for rhetoric class. End of story.
        What science can say, with fairly good confidence, is that the whole question is meaningless. Or, at the very least, it doesn't mean what the asker thinks it means, nor does it mean anything the asker could comprehend in a non-mathematical sense.

        Our whole concept of time (and space) and the related concept of causality is entirely dependent on the existence and properties of the time dimension of space-time. Which exists within our universe. Time and space, in the sense that we mean them, only exist within our universe, which has only existed since the Big Bang.

        There was no "before the Big Bang" along our time axis, and therefore it is meaningless to even ask how the initial singularity "came into being" because "coming into being" only means what we think it means in the context of time as we understand it which is nonexistent in (or 'outside,' if there's any such meaningful 'place') the initial singularity.

        And even what I'm saying here is essentially meaningless because all the language I have to talk about existence ('is', 'was', 'within', 'outside') is also dependent on space and time which only exist in the sense that we mean them within our universe. Our language is simply not equipped to describe a timeless, spaceless state.

        And since the question is meaningless, any religious answer would be meaningless, because it too would have to use human language and human concepts to describe something that 'happened' at a time and place that did not exist.

        An exception could perhaps be made for a religious text written entirely in math. String theory papers, for instance.

        "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

        by kyril on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 09:31:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're literally correct, but I speak of (0+ / 0-)

          First Cause/First Principle/Creation. There is of course no language for it, and certainly no physics. And yet many/most of us think in such terms. This could just be our space-time brain flapping in the breeze of infinities. Or it could be a hint that the space-time construct does not encompass all there is to us, whatever us may be/not be. Mysteries and curiosities for which our meatly selves may never have answers... Or perhaps we simply don't have the technology and/or understanding of space-time yet to look at anything outside of/not Bang Stuff. The concept of atoms was around for thousands of years before our science caught up with it.

          And your point further drives home the opportunity clear-thinking people must take to separate all notions of science education from religious belief.

          Science is not a creation story; it is an "and then..." story. And the utility of the scientific method and the model of the universe we have derived from it, right or wrong (physically or "morally"), comprise everything we know about manipulating matter and energy. Properly framed to reactionary/ fundamentalist/fearful low-science people, it is the entire array of methods we have for "exercising dominion over Creation" in keeping with the Old Testament edict. We should take every opportunity to frame/sell it as such.

          In the end, who gives a damn what creation story people may or may not believe as long as they are competent science thinkers when it comes to matters outside/after creation? If they can make intelligent decisions about vaccinations, causation of disease, environmental pollution and remediation, tech jobs, sustainable agriculture, national science policy, etc., etc., isn't that more important from a personal, societal, and planetary standpoint? I certainly think so.

    •  I AM qualified to debate evolution (0+ / 0-)

      but I choose not to. I'm an atheist, but in my younger years I was a Methodist and then an Episcopalian. Like the astrophysicist, Sir Martin Rees, I went to church "for the good of the tribe."

      I have encountered no empirical evidence nor experienced personal mystical or spiritual "revelations." Nothing in my experience suggests that God or any other omniscient, omnipresent super ego-like, etc., entity exists.

      Theistic religions and the theology thereof all hang on accepting this one point --- that there is, in fact, a God; a point I reject.

      There is no common point of agreement and I'm not interested in learning about believers' points of view on matters wherein religious belief is brought to bear on testable questions about how the universe works. Period. Exclamation Point.

    •  Wave? I thought the light particles were diverted (0+ / 0-)

      relative to the angle between direction of travel and the surface of the refractive medium it hits, with degree dependent on the ratio of the refractive indices of the two media thru which they travel; and the photonic energy (i.e. "color") also modifies this angle, most obvious in a prism, or chromatic aberration of a simple lens.
      Wave and particle both work, you just have to see with both eyes simultaneously...

      Dead cat not dead!! Just don't open the box, Pandora!!!

      A "creation" does not look anything like an "evolution." This is a very weak analogy, indeed.  I find myself reluctant to cut them that much slack.  It is very possible for one point of view to be completely bogus.  And in this case, it's not the one you can easily and reproducibly visualize with a pencil in a glass of water, with your own eyes, in the presence of others...

  •  Your anti-creationism friend is (7+ / 0-) and the Usenet group

    •  I know but (3+ / 0-)

      he is so fixated on that that he ignores all evolution. But he did recently admit that he could see that it did have some useful features.

      I don't know what consciousness is or how it works, but I like it.

      by SocioSam on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 04:12:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Evolution is. The evolution of everything (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        including language is everywhere. What is upsetting to the fundies is the Darwinian theories of evolution of living entities.

        You could start more simply. Does he recall what computers were like in 1980? And what they are like now? They didn't just jump from one to the other. They changed by small steps: they evolved. What is more, from one type of "personal" computer, lots of entities branched off into many different types and shapes and etc.

        Language evolves. ...

        I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

        by samddobermann on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 04:19:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Evolution as a math problem (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dirkster42, samddobermann

    DNA is an imperfect replicator.
    Imperfect replication + environmental pressures x time = biological evolution.

    the truth hurts, Fox News is painless.

    by Biph on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 01:30:55 PM PST

  •  Falsifiability is a useful argument. (16+ / 0-)

    Ask the creationists what evidence would make them change their views.  Obviously, their answer will be that there is no possible evidence which would do that.  Then contrast that with the scientific approach.  Tell them that if scientists found multiple instances of modern human fossils alongside those of homo erectus, and both mixed in with T. Rex, or some other extreme example, scientists would have to modify their view of evolution.

    Point is that views which are impervious to evidence aren't science, and shouldn't be taught as such.  They might be true (although that's unlikely), but they aren't science.

  •  Good Timing (19+ / 0-)

    I'm teaching a brand-new community ed class called "The First Humans" starting tonight. Since this is a very conservative Christian community in which discussion of EVILution is generally banned, it will be interesting to see what kind of students I have.

    In my credit classes I usually take students through the human involvement with plant evolution, pointing out that what they eat has not only evolved, but has been shaped by human intervention.

    Thanks for posting.

  •  I often ponder the paradox (10+ / 0-)

    that those most hostile to evolution of species, are exactly those most devoted to Social Darwinism.  They are all for "might makes right" as applied to human affairs, yet curiously opposed to its larger application.

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

    by lgmcp on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 04:29:30 PM PST

  •  This is from an email exchange (7+ / 0-)

    I went through a number of attempts to discuss this with an old friend I hadn't seen in years.  I think that a logical stop gets reached in these discussions because the "born again" group identity depends entirely on acceptance and agreement with this idea:

    "the major idea I was trying to convey about Darwinism (besides the fact that it's far from being "science", as in provable, at this point) is that if we accept the idea that humans are 'evolved', we put ourselves in a whole different frame of reference than being "created in image and likeness of God."

    There is a whole line of scholarship about the history of the writings that are in the Bible and where they come from, and there are various views on how one can be a Christian and be able to deal with science and logic.  None of this matters.  

    Evangelical culture is not defined by what is actually in the New Testament.  

    You can't get inside why it is that this culture cannot see that God is probably bigger than human consciousness can comprehend and is not likely to be limited to terms that can be contained in very narrow interpretations of things.  

    To be "born again" is to shift loyalty to the group and away from such conventions as academic standards for debate.

    If this were just some people who want to turn away from modernism and towards a comfortable sort of community, that would not be a real issue.

    What is really a problem is that there is a lot of money behind this and it is enough that it is distorting public policy and preventing a pragmatic approach to dealing with real world problems.  The more we are caused to slow down our efforts to understand and deal with things, the more damage might actually be done to our overall long term interests.

    I don't know if one can argue with people who are determined not to hear.  

    Instead, maybe the energy is better spent on trying to deal with other people who are eager to address reality.  

    hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

    by Stuart Heady on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 04:32:26 PM PST

  •  A well reasoned argument (3+ / 0-)

    to be sure.

    I usually take a more practical approach. I tell the person who does not believe in evolution to try an experiment.

    I will pick up a handy nearby object, like a brick or a raw egg. I ask the denier to hold the object above their head and then tell them to let the object go.

    Evolution is just like gravity. It's just a theory.

    Trickle-down theory; the less than elegant metaphor that if one feeds the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows. - J.K. Galbraith

    by Eric Twocents on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 05:05:12 PM PST

  •  Couple of addenda (3+ / 0-)

    This is very nourishing food for thought, and a more polished version might even make a great book!  

    Toward that end, I have a couple of things I'd like to point out, from my perspective as a non-biologist.

    1) Every result of breeding in animal husbandry, from Angus beef to the Westminster dog show, is the same process as evolution, only done on purpose by humans.  

    2) Could you make clear the link between evolution and DNA?  You only imply it here.  Could DNA have ever been discovered without evolutionary theory?  

    "You're not stuck in traffic, you are traffic."

    by nominalize on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 05:13:29 PM PST

    •  It was. Mendel did his work without knowledge (0+ / 0-)

      of Darwinian theories  of evolution and Darwin had no idea of Mendel. In fact Darwin's ideas about how the information was passed down the generations, he called them hypotheses, was even to him unsatisfactory.

      Mendel read Darwin's publication and caught on and he sent a copy of his monograph to Darwin but Darwin never got around to reading it. Tragic. If those two had met and been able to sit and talk it would have been extremely fruitful.

      When genetics was rediscovered around 1900, they could see that it would explain the underlying changes that led to the variation that darwin saw as driving evolution BUT they got off track and actually did not accept all of Darwin's theories.

      DNA is the entity made up of the genetic material that contains the coded instructions for the potentially developing organism. Kinda like a recipe book.

      Mistakes in copying DNA gives rise to the variation in genetic makeup of individuals but it is the reassortment of the different genes by way of sexual reproduction that underlies the variation in the phenotype  that evolution relies on.

      Natural selection works on phenotype, not on genotype. Phenotype is the organism's physical/mental/behavioral characteristics.

      Most of the diarists examples involve genetics and not evolution at all. Example: The DNA testing for parenthood. The adding to rice of a gene for vitamin A production.

      I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

      by samddobermann on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 04:45:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The evolution DNA link is that (0+ / 0-)

      Now DNA works is based on evolutionary theory. Granted that theory has changed and gotten more complex since Darwin, but the DNA technology is based on evolutionary theory.

      As for it being discovered without evolution, yes as it is a chemical structure. DNA was first isolated in 1869 but ten years after Darwin's Origin of Species and before his next book on Human evolution.

      I don't know what consciousness is or how it works, but I like it.

      by SocioSam on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 05:39:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Do you look exactly like your parents? No? (3+ / 0-)

    Well, that's evolution.

  •  God Made Man But He Used The Monkey To Do It (4+ / 0-)
    God made man but he used the monkey to do it
    Apes in the plan
    And we're all here to prove it
    I can walk like an ape
    Talk like an ape
    I can do what monkeys do
    God made man but the monkey supplied the glue

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 05:24:22 PM PST

  •  I just say "I could make some serious improvements (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bnasley, foresterbob

    on the current design, couldn't you? For example, if I were designing my own body, I sure would make pregnancy easier. And I'd give myself a prehensile tail."

    Then say if you can think of an improvement on the current design, what does that say about the Almighty? That he/she/it is flawed? Or that maybe it's evolution that's flawed?

  •  Wolves to dogs was mentioned above. (6+ / 0-)

    There are some nice documentaries about this.

    The number of ways that dogs have adapted to living with humans is amazing. For example they can read our faces and they ask for our help. Wolves can't do either of these things. Russian scientists have been trying to breed wolves and foxes to get dog-like behavior with some success.

    Dogs also demonstrate how separate species can evolve from one. This a separate issue from adaptation and one that the smarter creationists focus on, since evidence for adaption is all around us. Can anyone imagine a Great Dane mating with a Yorkshire Terrier? They are completely genetically isolated and would be called separate species if we found them in the wild. Yet everyone would concede that they are descended from the same original dogs.

    •  the dogs a forming ring species (0+ / 0-)

      since each breed of dogs can breed with other breeds a little bigger or smaller than they are.

      I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

      by samddobermann on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 04:57:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  How do you raise your kids to believe in (3+ / 0-)

    Creationism? What are they gonna do for a living? Be on a reality tv show? I have said that to people (nicely).
    They need to be able to assess evidence, correlate cause and effect, to make good decisions. You are putting them at a significant disadvantage if you teach them otherwise.

    "You can die for Freedom, you just can't exercise it"

    by shmuelman on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 05:37:35 PM PST

  •  Here is how I make sense of it all... (3+ / 0-)

    The Big Bang IS the Garden of Eden.
    A theory (science) told as a tale (prose).
    Very compatible, so you need not defend one and deny the other. Lighten up, you may learn something or better enjoy what you think you know.

    The best example of evolution is that you look like your parents and your children look like you.

    Creative Design is an insult to God!
    Because it give human qualities to an Almighty.
    Multimillion-year-old fossils were not intelligently created 7,000 years ago.
    Creative and Design are human words. God is not human so it is foolhardy to describe God in frail terminology invented by humans. Stop it.

    Always ask anyone quoting the Bible what version of the Bible they are quoting. They generally do not know that the book they have is a version (KJV? Douay-Rheims? Vulgate? Bishops? Gideon?) that was edited, typeset, printed, and published by human beings, usually as a product. Do not demean the content, but admit that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John never met Jesus and did not know each other and did not publish books.

    Never regard your own feeble interpretation as infallible, and never legislate that your version of the unknown supersedes any other.

    Science is always open to a better explanation.
    Faith-based adherence to a rigid man-made perception is arcane.

    Do not insult learning children because they will see right through it sooner or later.

    Question what you hear. Be nice to those who mislead, but let them know that they mislead.

    Honesty is not a policy, it's a character trait.

    by Says Who on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 05:38:12 PM PST

    •  Missed the most significant aspect of "version" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Says Who

      Translation. The meaning of a message can change dramatically with each successive translation.

      We must do our best to describe God with our frail terminology when trying to share our understanding with others who may not believe, but are looking for answers.

  •  Giggle (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ivorybill, samddobermann

    also a good plan: put the GMOs in an evolution diary.

    “I apologise ...for not making myself clear. I should have said that this new age drivel is undermining the very fabric of our civilisation --@ProfBrianCox

    by mem from somerville on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 05:41:27 PM PST

  •  What a great approach! (0+ / 0-)

    I still have faith that all is not lost on any younger generation.

    The last sound on earth will be the squawk of an optimist.

    by CT yanqui on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 05:44:08 PM PST

  •  some caution (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    murasaki, means are the ends

    Your approach sounds overall well, but I would debate some of your examples.

    Yes we can use rats, dogs, monkeys etc for testing drugs. That does not necessarily mean this is so because of common origin.
    How about using the classic example of sickle cell anemia providing safety from malaria in western Africa?

    Your vitamin A rice is genetic engineering, not evolution. I would rather use the maize/teosinte example, provided those are clearly different species now and can not interbreed any more. A different example would be wheat, where wild species shed their seeds so that they spread easily, and the sorts we breed keep them in the ear, so they are easy to harvest, and they are then spread by us.

    Again, DNA checks are not proof of evolution. Creationists could just say our DNA was created this way.

    On this train of thought, I would suggest addressing the problem of multiresistant bacteria strains in hospitals and overall, because they are a prime example of evolution in action that affects us all.

    Freedom is not just a word. 'Freedom' is a noun.

    by intruder from Old Europe on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 05:47:28 PM PST

    •  Yes, the DNA thing in the diary seemed (0+ / 0-)

      very obscure at best and rather tenuous anyway. More about the value of science than the evolution of any part of the DNA.

      Democrats promote the Common good. Republicans promote Corporate greed.

      by murasaki on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 06:32:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  the thing with DNA (0+ / 0-)

        Is that one can reconstruct evolutionary pathways - taxonomy - showing parallels between DNA and form and function in the real world. It's not a coincidence that our DNA shares more similarities with chimps, than with mice, than with crocodiles, than with sea squirts, than wth yeast, in order.  DNA is central to evolution; it's the source code which changes, based on reproductive fitness in the real world.  Maybe hard to get that across in a course on theories of social change, but it's really difficult to take genetics/DNA out of a discussion on evolution.  There's the fossil record, and there are homologies of structures in living organisms, and then there's DNA.  These are the core areas of proof for evolution.  

        “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

        by ivorybill on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 03:53:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for the suggestion (0+ / 0-)

      but I would add that DNA technology is based on evolutionary theory. That is part of the problem. People don't recognize DNA technology and research as based on evolutionary theory.

      I don't know what consciousness is or how it works, but I like it.

      by SocioSam on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 07:07:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  evolution in action (0+ / 0-)

        A lot is based on evolutionary theory. But not everything developed based on an understanding of evolution is in turn proof of evolution. Particularly not easy-to-understand proof.

        For antibiotics-resistant bacteria strains, there are figures by time and country aplenty available, showing clearly how our use of antibiotics has an effect on which strains can survive and spread.

        Good luck with your students.

        Freedom is not just a word. 'Freedom' is a noun.

        by intruder from Old Europe on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 08:07:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  genetic engineering is (0+ / 0-)

      an application of evolution. And given time, that engineered lifeform can speciate (evolve).

      [insert pithy sigline here]

      by terrypinder on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 09:11:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I had a very succesful interchange (6+ / 0-)

    with one, once.

    By way of background, I live in a boarding house. A nice one, but a boarding house, nonetheless, my doctorate from an elite institution notwithstanding.

    I also teach evolution on a sessional basis at a local university.

    One evening, I was prepping before class, and one of the other people wandered into the kitchen. She noticed what I was working on and then said, "Oh. Evolution. I don't believe in that."

    "Umm," I responded, not really breaking in the work. "Do you believe in birth defects?"

    "Oh, yes."

    "Do you believe that birth defects are sometimes fatal?"

    "Oh, yes."

    "Well, that's evolution. Mutation and Natural Selection, so I'm not really sure what it is you don't believe in."

    She walked away in silence, and we didn't broach the subject again for quite some time. After a couple of months, she came back and began to ask honest questions about DNA, inheritance, etc., to which I gave her honest answers.

  •  I have argued for evolution and against creation (6+ / 0-)

    with people across the intelligence and intellectual sophistication spectrum (and these are obviously not the same thing), and have come to the realization that you simply can't argue with people who come from a place of faith and emotion, especially when there's a large element of fear underlying them (and there almost always is, when it comes to the denial of reality), be it fear of social ostracism for rejecting their family, peer group or community's beliefs, fear of punishment from god, or even, especially for more intelligent and sophisticated people, fear of the unknown, or great void, or nothingness, beyond material reality.

    I know some very smart, very well-educated people who clearly choose to believe in magical thinking like creationism (or, I'd argue, by extension, belief in a god who is more than philosophical construct to help fill in the void left by all that we still don't know, like where the universe came from and why it is the way it is), because they're terrified of the alternative, and simply feel more comfortable believing in what makes them feel comfortable and secure than in what frightens them. They are, basically, being infantile. And you can't argue with an infantile, or with an infantility side of an otherwise mature and intelligent person.

    Letting go of what we're used to and comfortable with is hard for most of us, even if it makes no sense and is no longer necessary or justified (e.g. smoking), and that's what we're asking them to do, let go of such a thing, and clearly, they're resisting. That's when we back off, and give them space, and time.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 05:56:46 PM PST

    •  Giving people space and time works until... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      foresterbob, wasatch, ivorybill

      They decide they cannot accept that people are in control of school boards, local government, or the White House who are not Believers.

      The reason that the GOP is tilting in the direction of the evangelicals is that there has been a persistent effort over the past forty years to change the direction American society is going in.  The easiest aspect to influence is politics, so that is where they have been steadily working and gaining ground.

      Santorum is just the first of the more frank and candid evangelical candidates we will see.  

      The prime directive for all "born again" Christians is to convert those who must be saved lest they fall into the grasp of Hell.  

      They aren't kidding.  They mean it.

      hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

      by Stuart Heady on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 07:17:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm talking on a personal level (0+ / 0-)

        On a political level, nuh uh.

        Also, technically, being a Catholic, Santorum isn't an evangelic. But he is nuts.

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 08:02:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Also, on a lighter note (4+ / 0-)

    I object to evolution on religious grounds, so I don't think I should have to pay taxes that help pay for teaching it. If you want your kids to be taught evolution, pay for it yourself. You're basically demanding that you be paid to brainwash our children with far-left commie pinko anti-American propaganda.


    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 06:00:17 PM PST

  •  I read somewhere recently (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    murasaki, SocioSam, ivorybill, terrypinder

    (wish I could remember where), something to the effect of:

    Science (which obviously includes evolutionary theory) has done more for improving the human condition in the last 200 years, than organized religion has in 2000 years.

    •  But does saying so make it true? (0+ / 0-)

      Especially considering that the organized religions of the world have been the generators, disseminators, and archivers of science, history, and philosophy for centuries, thus the science of the last 200 years owes a great debt to religion. NB: Mendel was a monk.


      Hmmmm. Come to think of it, our last 200 years of science and technology have brought us the H-bomb, napalm, land mines, drones, assault rifles, fossil fuels, factory meat farming, nerve gas, the vast industrial sweatshops of Asia, bioweapons, meth, oxycontin, heroin, nuclear waste, shale oil, CFCs, estrogen mimics, massive deforestation, the mining of fish from the oceans with hundreds of thousands of miles of fishnets, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Fukushima, Chernobyl, the Macondo disaster, global warming, etc., etc., etc.

      Those scholarly monk bastards. Look what they helped us do to ourselves!!!

  •  check out this DNA human ancestry project (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SocioSam, foresterbob, Milou

    The National Geographic Society has been sponsoring and promoting this use of DNA to probe that ancient origins of humans for some years now.

    Basically, it is possible to work back through genetic tracking to identify where groups of modern people have come from, and then to track back to the origins of the Cro Magnon line.

    Apparently, the origins are somewhere in the 170,000 plus year range and all in Africa.

    The fossil record which includes hominids that are older than Cro Magnon, goes back to around 2-3 million years.

    Fascinating reading.

    A true evangelical will just nod and smile knowingly and go back to saying that man was created in God's image and nothing should be allowed to impeach that principle.  

    You can't crack this.  For true fundamentalists, facts do not trump.  

    The problem comes when you have decision makers on local school boards who want to be nice and think you can find a compromise they will accept.  

    There isn't one.  

    hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

    by Stuart Heady on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 07:10:26 PM PST

  •  When I was researching evolution last year... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Evolution was something I was convinced of in general in junior high, and kind of stopped thinking about.  So, when I started to look into the history of Christian affirmations of evolution, this sort of image was what really brought it back home to me.

    If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

    by dirkster42 on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 07:54:23 PM PST

  •  Outstanding diary! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight, ivorybill

    As a scientist who long ago gave up trying to explain reality to faith-based deniers I think you have posted perhaps the best short essay on why science matters and is based in fact.

    I applaud you!

    Well, done.

    You could be listening to Netroots Radio. "We are but temporary visitors on this planet. The microbes own this place" <- Me

    by yuriwho on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 08:25:06 PM PST

  •  Golden Rice is an agribiz scam, and a 'cruel hoax' (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Just Google 'golden rice scam' and such, and you will find many articles such as this one pointing out that a person would have to eat many kilos per day to meet their MDA.

    The facts:

    1. Vitamin A is ridiculously abundant. It is available in fruits, veggies, down to edible sidewalk weeds the world over. It is neither scarce, nor difficult to obtain.

    2. Golden Rice is often less productive than rice that farmers are already growing on their land, thus GR would in many cases lower the amount of food produced.

    3. The problem is not lack of Vitamin A at all, it is lack of calories and dietary fats with which to utilize Vitamin A intake. Thus, animal sources are preferred, and  desirable. See the Wikipedia article on Vitamin A deficiency.

    Golden Rice is simply a propaganda tool to agitate for GMO acceptance--their 'we'll save/feed the world so pay no attention to our behavior or the facts' campaign.

    Love this article; love facts even more. You might find some better examples perhaps.

    Life is a school, Love is the lesson.

    by means are the ends on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 10:47:55 PM PST

  •  In the end, a theory's usefullness is its ultimate (0+ / 0-)

    measure.   You hit the nail on the head.

     How well it describes the world around us and makes predictions determines how "true" a theory (or a model) is.

    You ask any quantum physicist if their QEM theories or the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics is actually how the world works and they'll tell you that they can't know for sure but they do describe what were seeing really really well.  Plus, the math works.

  •  microevolution (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    They will just say that these are all evidence for 'microevolution'.  I've heard creationists say that 'microevolution' (minor changes in variation, such as different breeds of dog) is ok with them.  They just don't think that you can get one new species from another.  Yes, that doesn't make sense, but there it is.  

    The struggle of today, is not altogether for today--it is for a vast future also. - Lincoln

    by estamm on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 06:01:54 AM PST

    •  Unfortunately, biologists have shot themselves (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gsenski, SocioSam

      in the foot on this one by accepting "microevolution" and "macroevolution" as legitimate distinctions, although there has been some pushback against doing so within the scientific community.

      There really is no difference between the two.  "Macroevolution" is just an accumulation of a lot of "microevolution" changes.

  •  I really have no problem (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Treating people like the idiots they are. As I put it to them, I liken it to arguing with someone who believes the earth is flat or that the sun revolves around the earth. Tenants of the church at one point. I am not going to waste my time. I read up on Intelligent design back when the Dover school trials were happening (shout out to Believe me, most people do not have a clue what “irreducible complexity” is in their lexicon. That pretty much leaves the Creationist crowd and if it is not in the bible, forget about it. That’s where you can leave them with questions to explode their head. “Do you believe in gravity?” , “What does the bible have to say about gravity?” , “Don’t worry, Gravity believes in you.” . I like the gravity analogy, because the truth is, unlike evolution, we don’t really know the root cause of gravity.

    Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber. ~Plato

    by marko on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 06:32:37 AM PST

  •  I'm a practicing Episcopalian and have (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    no qualms with evolution. Let us not forget that Darwin himself studied religion at Cambridge. My church doesn't have a problem with it either. As they say, the "three legged stool" of Anglicanism is "Scripture, Tradition and REASON".

    I do not understand people who feel that somehow Genesis 1 has to be taken literally. In my opinion, it's an insult to God--who is smart enough to allow his creations to change and adapt on their own. Whatever God is. Or even if he is.

    Santorum: Man on Dog; Romney: Dog on Car. Ren and Stimpy: Dog on Cat

    by commonmass on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 06:53:41 AM PST

  •  Wait... "Only" 1 in 5? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    •  I saw that too (0+ / 0-)

      So 20% of our fellows believe the earth is flat. Isn't that remarkably similar to the portion of hardcore conservatives in the general population? IIRC, 23%. Just sayin'.

      I AM the Chosen One, according to my emails, so listen up!

      by numi on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 01:03:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  My favorite argument in this vein (0+ / 0-)

    Lots of recent computing uses evolution to create optimized inhuman solutions. A genetic algorithm can create better optimized machine code than a human. It can generate a better algorithm than a human (One that a human can barely begin to comprehend the workings of). Computer scientists use evolutionary principles to create the software which run the digital age. My favorite way to start the argument goes like this:

    Them: Evolution is [fake].
    Me: Oh well, the internet, airplanes, and your mobile phone working every day must just be a miracle.
    Them: ???

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site