I Want to Fit In

Politically Incorrect Social Studies

I’m Curious (Looking for an Evolutionist/Atheist Viewpoint)

Posted by iwanttofitin on April 17, 2007

I came across this quote in something I was reading the other day and it struck my interest. Now for me, it is understandable and I get it. But, since I’m not either an evolutionist or an atheist or anything similar, I am curious to know what a response would be to that. There are many, I’m sure. From my previous joke posts on evolution, I’ve been shown there are many of you who have ventured into my blog and here’s something else for you to comment on. Please enlighten me.

The question “How did life originate?” which interests all of us, is inseparably linked to the question “Where did the information come from?” Since the findings of James D. Watson . . . and Francis H. C. Crick, it was increasingly realized by contemporary researchers that the information residing in the cells is of crucial importance for the existence of life. Anybody who wants to make meaningful statements about the origin of life would be forced to explain how the information originated. All evolutionary views are fundamentally unable to answer this crucial question.

Werner Gitt, In the Beginning was Information: A Scientist Explains the Incredible Design of Nature (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, [2005] 2006), 99.

About these ads

62 Responses to “I’m Curious (Looking for an Evolutionist/Atheist Viewpoint)”

  1. JBT said

    That’s an easy one: “I don’t know.”

    Science doesn’t claim to have all the answers. It has a few answers but it has way more questions to which, currently, the answer is “I don’t know,” or, “I think it’s this, but I’m not sure.”

    A large portion of the theory of Evolution is observable, so scientists are pretty sure about it. But there are parts that are not observable, parts that are uncertain or inadequate, parts that seem certain but are subject to debate, and there plenty of questions still to be answered.

  2. Dan said

    What exactly in biology or DNA does “Information” actually refer to?

    References to “Information” in DNA from people like Gitt, Dembski, etc., is a misdirection. In chemistry, it’s more useful to refer to reaction rates. Take the production of pharmaceutical compounds, which are exceedingly complex by themselves, such that looking at such a molecule, it would seem extremely unlikely to synthesize, even to the degree that a ~200mer of RNA (e.g. a ribozyme) is extremely unlikely to form spontaneously. Yet, conditions can be found where the steps to such complex molecules are not merely possible, but probable, in a highly predictable manner.

    The only problem is we don’t know what conditions those are.

    But for a measure of “information” in DNA – how do we measure the probability of something occuring under certain conditions when we don’t know what those conditions are? It’s a meaningless term, scientifically…

  3. JBT said

    Check out this article: http://saintgasoline.com/2007/04/01/if-creationists-held-their-religion-to-the-same-unreasonable-standards-they-set-for-evolution/

  4. That article was a typical evolutionist argument. Basically, I discredit his whole argument because he says this:

    The theory of evolution is actually supported with a wide array of evidence, so much so that the theory is almost as undoubtable as a scientific theory can get. Evolution is right up there with basic principles of elementary physics in terms of observational support. In the face of such overwhelming evidence, the only route left for potential criticism is to adopt epistemic standards of such unreasonableness that virtually nothing could be considered true if we applied such standards across all areas of inquiry and knowledge.

    and then says:

    When they (creationsits) argue that huge biological changes resulting from evolution have never been observed, for instance, they do not realize that scientists need not directly observe single-celled organisms becoming primates in order to reasonably conclude that such an event occurred.

    He then goes on to give none of this “wide array of evidence.” I have no problem arguing that the creationists’ claims are absurd given, this, this, and this, but when you claim something as part of your argument against another thing, back it up.

  5. Dan said

    Sure, it’s nice to cite references, evidences, etc. But that’s beside the point – anyone with a cursory knowledge of biology knows that what he says is, of course, completely accurate.

    Does one have to cite the evidence for the age of the Earth, when talking about geology or paleontology also? No. Because we’ve long ago accepted as fact that life evolves and the Earth is ~4.5 billion years old, and do not require the evidence to be repeated again.

  6. Of course you’ve accepted it as fact. That’s what you believe. I believe one thing and you among others believe other things. Just because it is accepted by certain people as fact doesn’t make it so. If I believe that gasoline is healthy to drink, it doesn’t make it so. If you believe you can fly like Superman, it doesn’t make it so.

    The Scientific Method “is based on gathering observable, empirical, measurable evidence, subject to specific principles of reasoning.” Of course, there is first a hypothesis. Evolution has been hypothesized and reasoned. The most important aspects of “gathering observable, empirical, measurable evidence” has not been demonstrated.

    No one has ever observed one species evolving into another. A species mutating is not a form of evolution. It is still the same species. Evolution supposedly being “proven” through science is a complete falsehood.

  7. Dan said

    LOL

    You also trust your priest or pastor to cure you when you’re sick, and distrust doctors, don’t you?

  8. Dan said

    Also, you said:

    The most important aspects of “gathering observable, empirical, measurable evidence” has not been demonstrated.

    That is either a lie, or you just don’t know any better.

  9. Dan,

    This is not a lie because I do know better. Prove me wrong. The first 3 facets of the Scientific Method are these:

    * Observation. A constant feature of scientific inquiry. (Scientists have never observed one species evolving into another)

    * Description. Information must be reliable, i.e., replicable (repeatable) as well as valid (relevant to the inquiry). (Obviously if it hasn’t been observed, it hasn’t been repeated. Therefore any theory is not reliable.)

    * Prediction. Information must be valid for observations past, present, and future of given phenomena, i.e., purported “one shot” phenomena do not give rise to the capability to predict, nor to the ability to repeat an experiment. (Another facet that can’t happen with trying to observe evolution. Even if you maintain that it occurred in the past, even though evolution is supposed to be continuous, any prediction based on that theory alone won’t work because the observation has never happened, therefore it can’t be repeated.)

    Like I said. Prove me wrong. Show me where scientists have observed one species evolving into another. Show me where scientists have observed random pieces of matter and particles forming life. Back up your arguments.

  10. You also trust your priest or pastor to cure you when you’re sick, and distrust doctors, don’t you?

    Stick to the topic. This type of response will get you nowhere. To answer your question simply; No and No.

  11. Dan said

    Just checking in to see the conversation, but don’t have much time till Tuesday to chat. Briefly, however, go check the TalkOrigins website for some very useful, informative and accurate explanations. Second, go read a book (e.g. Ernst Mayr’s “What is Evolution” or anything by Sean B. Carroll). Third, for specifics, look up Pubmed.com, and search for “Evolution” or “recent evolution”, and you’ll find thousands of articles, each with separate examples, to occupy your reading pleasure for months, if not years.

  12. Dan said

    Returning to this falacious comment:

    The most important aspects of “gathering observable, empirical, measurable evidence” has not been demonstrated.

    Since you claim to not be lying, I can only conclude that you’ve never actually read anything on the topic at hand. I would also be surprised if you’d started reading anything on the topic just now, so let’s point you to a few specific examples of scientific studies “gathering observable, empirical, measurable evidence,” via pubmed.com…

    Doing a search there for “recent evolution,” you should find over 14,000 individual scientific papers, about 10,000 of which are primary research articles, documenting 10,000+ separate pieces of evidence on “recent evolution.” Similarly, one can find almost 200,000 such studies on “evolution,” ~60,000 such studies on phylogeny (the relatedness of large groups of species and such), and hundreds of papers on a variety of other, more specialized research topics relating to evolution.

    But just for the “recent evolution” search, take a look at the first 20 hits, including papers titled: “Body mass and temperature influence rates of mitochondrial DNA evolution in north american cyprinid fish,” “Parallel evolution by correlated response: lateral plate reduction in threespine stickleback,” “Body size evolution simultaneously creates and collapses species boundaries in a clade of scincid lizards,” “Testing the adaptive selection of human mtDNA haplogroups: an experimental bioenergetics approach,” “A human-specific mutation leads to the origin of a novel splice form of neuropsin (KLK8), a gene involved in learning and memory,” “Adaptive gradients and isolation-by-distance with postglacial migration in Picea sitchensis,” “New insights into classification and evolution of the Lecanoromycetes (Pezizomycotina, Ascomycota) from phylogenetic analyses of three ribosomal RNA- and two protein-coding genes,” to name several of the more interesting papers. The list goes on like that for thousands and thousands of details.

    Life evolves, and there’s a LOT of extremely detailed information on how it evolves, which you would know if you were even remotely familiar with the study of life.

    So, you were saying?

  13. I did a search those papers you suggested and in none did I find anything talking about observing one species evolving into another.

    In the DNA genome one, it talks about the evolution of certain traits in humans from different regions. That is not the type of evolution that one talks about when it concerns species to species evolution. Your parents giving you their genes and then that continuing from you on down the line does not result in a new species. It just results in certain traits staying specific to your family or even your region. Asians tend to marry Asians so their traits get more specific and the last time I checked, they are still perfectly human. Am I all of a sudden a new species if my family line consistently has a well defined jaw, grey eyes, and perfect eye site?

    A couple other papers talked about evolution in terms of mutation. Mutation isn’t evolution. Viruses mutate all the time. We’ve never seen a flu virus become a bacterial meningitis. It may mutate but it still a flue virus. When someone is born with 6 fingers we consider it a defect and tend to get that extra finger (or fingers removed). Why don’t we consider that progress? That’s because it’s a mutation and not normal.

    Another thing, “Natural Selection” isn’t evolution either. That’s just a weeding out of the species. The strong survive. It still doesn’t get to the foundation of evolution which is one species evolving into a completely new one. Ok, so we have survival of the fittest, but that only works with species that are already here. With all of those articles I read, the assumption that is made with all the research is that these animals evolved because we see them adapting to different environments. That means nothing. Humans have been adapting to different environment for years yet we are still human.

    You still have yet to show me observable proof of one species evolving into another. You mean to tell me that with the thousands of years of recordable history we have that it takes tens of thousands of scientific papers using language that only a scientist can speak (I have to say dictionary.com is very useful) and focusing on such minutia as genes that relatives pass on, adaptation as environments change, and mutations (which for the most part a looked down upon) that we have nothing that even remotely resembles on species evolving into another?

  14. Dan said

    As a follow-up to my comment last night (still stuck in moderation, I suppose), I just wanted to add some thoughts to your question re:”observable proof of one species evolving into another.”

    I have no idea precisely what you were suggesting there, but it does sound a little bit like the standard creationist canard, kinda like “well, have you ever seen a cat evolve from a dog?” Is that what you meant to ask? Gosh I hope not.

  15. Your comment isn’t in moderation. It might have been put in my spam folder (I’m not sure why because obviously I approved your first comment so the rest don’t need moderation) which I delete about once a day. I’ve never had a real comment in there so I assumed I never would. I apologize if I deleted you comment. If you resubmit it, I’ll make sure to check my spam from now on.

    Regarding ”observable proof of one species evolving into another.” Yes, it says exactly what I meant it to say. I’ve never claimed to be a creationist. To be honest, creationism itself seems to be a religion all on its own. My question refers to this:

    If evolution is scientific and for something to be scientific it has to be proven (obviously there has to be the acknowledgment that a “proven fact” might become wrong because of some other “proven fact” like the heliocentric or geocentric theories) using the scientific method. I’m just being consistent with science. Science says you must have X, Y, and Z for something to be true and when evolution only has the Z, that makes me very skeptical.

    But please repost your comment so that I may better respond.

  16. Dan said

    I just assumed it was because I included a hyperlink. No worries, and regardless, without putting it in html code, the link I provided was to a simpler, more easily readable enumeration of the evidences for evolution from the TalkOrigins website (as opposed to the highly technical Pubmed references):

    http://talkorigins.org/origins/faqs-evolution.html

    The rest of my points in the “lost comment” included a rebuttal to some of your comments:

    In the DNA genome one, it talks about the evolution of certain traits in humans from different regions. That is not the type of evolution that one talks about when it concerns species to species evolution.

    Evolution is evolution. Some research focuses on diversification of individual species in modern era, others focus on speciation, and still others focus on phylogenies of groups of species.

    Am I all of a sudden a new species if my family line consistently has a well defined jaw, grey eyes, and perfect eye site?

    Possibly – if you change enough that you’re no longer interbreeding with the rest of the population, you’re no longer, by definition, a member of that species. This is where taxonomic groupings of races, subspecies, species and genera come in.

    A couple other papers talked about evolution in terms of mutation. Mutation isn’t evolution.

    There are all sorts of mutations. All mutations are, by definition, changes in DNA. Some mutations are beneficial, some are detrimental, most are neither; similarly, some occur in somatic cells and cannot be passed on to offspring, others are in germ-line cells and can be passed on.

    But mutations that are inheritable and beneficial can and do occur, and can be selected for, and the new form has therefore evolved slightly.

    Another thing, “Natural Selection” isn’t evolution either. That’s just a weeding out of the species.

    Most of the time, that’s true. There’s something called “Punctuated Equilibrium” (see the TalkOrigins site) that explains and measures that quite well by a series of equations called the Hardy-Weinberg Equations. What happens when environments change is that the equilibrium shifts, and a different form of the old species replaces the old, or two halves of an old population become increasingly dissimilar to each other. This, again, is a mechanism of change/evolution.

    To the remainder of your recent comments (on observed evolution):
    evolution has specifically been observed in bacteria, and computer simulations to many, many generations; as well as three-spined stickleback fish, Darwin’s finches (comparing evidence of them in 1836 and 2006), peppered moths, diversification of red crossbills into two species and the coevolution of them with black spruces in a small region of Idaho, and, well, I don’t study speciation myself, so the list of examples that I can recite off the top of my head in only a minute or so, without looking up, is relatively short.

    TalkOrigins and PBS have yet more helpful FAQs answering this question, however:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html

    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/search/topicbrowse2.php?topic_id=52

    Hope those help. I also still strongly recommend reading one of Mayr’s and/or Carroll’s books.

  17. I only have time at the moment to respond to one of your rebuttals. I want to deal with “Evolution is evolution.” That isn’t true. I’ve been defining what evolution I am talking about. The evolution that concerns the origins of life is what I have a problem with. The corvette has evolved over the years but we don’t consider that having anything to do with the origin of life.

    That brings me to the following: Your examples of the moths, finches, and sickleback fish aren’t examples that science requires. The moths are still moths, finches still finches, and sickleback fish are still sickleback fish. They just have different traits. Your remark of cats turning into dogs brings up an important point and it goes along with the above examples. How many different breeds of dogs are there? Hundreds? At least. There may be thousands but I don’t research dogs breeds. The same can be said for cats. All breeds have traits that are specific to that breed. A poodle looks nothing like a great dane, yet we would never consider them a different species. They are all still dogs and cats with different traits. I care how much breeding you do to get rid of certain traits and keep others, you will still have a dog or cat.

    The origins of life on this earth (according to evolutionists) began from a supposed single celled organism or organisms (where it came from is never explained) and from that evolved life as we know it. I don’t like going to the fossil record, but it really is important. Think of all the species we have on this earth and then realize how many stages of changes would need to take place to get to every species we have. Your talking billions of changes and yet we struggle to find one piece of solid evidence. We should have hundreds and thousands of “missing links”.

  18. Dan said

    The evolution that concerns the origins of life is what I have a problem with. The corvette has evolved over the years but we don’t consider that having anything to do with the origin of life.

    But origin of life is a separate issue from evolution. Origins theories are based upon implications of evolution, but they are NOT the same thing.

    If you had said that from the beginning, I would have agreed whole-heartedly with you, and not said anything else – there are indeed no scientific proofs available on the origins of life.

    But you weren’t talking about the origin of life, when you asked for evidence of species-to-species transitions, were you?

    The moths are still moths, finches still finches, and sickleback fish are still sickleback fish.

    Partly true. No one has yet sat around for a thousand years to watch the most rapid “true” speciation events, much less the hundred thousand years to watch the predicted rates of most transitions. We do rely heavily on the fossil and molecular records to reconstruct major changes in evolution. But in this area, too, the evidence is quite astounding, much like the evidence for continental drift and the age of the earth is quite overwhelming. And why is this? Because a variety of very different techniques for reconstructing these ancient changes all agree. The best explanation (other than “God must’ve done it”) is that the biodiversity of life has evolved, and changed over time, such that what was once a population of fish, could one day become a population of amphibians.

    But yes, we haven’t even been around to physically see much of natural history – if the age of the earth were a calendar year, we would’ve arrived just in time for the New Year’s Eve bash at the end of it – we missed the rest of the year.

    Think of all the species we have on this earth and then realize how many stages of changes would need to take place to get to every species we have. Your talking billions of changes and yet we struggle to find one piece of solid evidence. We should have hundreds and thousands of “missing links”.

    If you think there’s much missing, look again. Check out the period of 350-370 million years ago, and the fossil record for the emergence of limbs in lunged fish is quite impressive. How about the reconstruction of the eye? Avian feathers? Etc.

    What’s missing that creates a big enough gap to cast doubt on evolution? Nothing that I’m aware of.

  19. I think you’ll realize this is at a point where neither of us are going to be convinced by anything the other says, but I don’t want to end it here. We’ve sort of gotten off of what my original point was.

    You said that evolution was “fact.” My response was that for something to be a fact (according to science which is what evolution is) it has to adhere to certain rules (which, by the way, scientists adhere to those rules when it comes to any theory that proposes something against evolution). Those rules state A,B,C,and D. Evolution can only fulfill C and D. By those scientific rules, evolution is at most, a theory. To believe in something that can’t be proven (much like Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and even Atheism) is referred to as faith. Yes, evolution is purely faith based. That was what I was meaning to get at the beginning, but obviously neither one of us steered the discussion that way.

  20. Dan said

    Okay – regarding the point of evolution as accepted fact, and the requirement for observation and evidence, let’s compare evolution to other topics of science which lack observational proof: cosmology and formation of stars and planets, and geology and formation of mountain ranges or continental drift, to name two broad theories.

    Would you count them as unproven and faith-based as well?

    And also, this gets to my earlier comment on believing doctors versus believing in shamans, priests, reverends, or other clergy. Biomedical research and the medical technology it provides relies on humans being related to a wide variety of “model” organisms, including (but not limited to) mice, chickens, fruit flies, nematodes, slime molds, and yeast. There are many reasons why biomedical research is not conducted on humans, but my point here was that if you don’t accept that we’re all related, and you’re right, we’ve all been taking huge chances trying new therapies that have not actually been studied in humans.

    But no, that’s not the case. Doctors have a very good idea what happens in the body, and much of that is based on the conclusion that we’re related to these other species, down to the smallest building blocks. That’s an unbelievable coincidence, if we’re not all evolved from common ancestors.

  21. Dan said

    Also, regarding your non-acceptance of evolution and “missing” links, please include what is missing that casts doubt on the relatedness of different organisms, in light of the fossil and genetic records.

  22. Would you count them as unproven and faith-based as well?. . . cosmology and formation of stars and planets, and geology and formation of mountain ranges or continental drift, to name two broad theories.

    I would say they are all “faith” based concepts. None have any tangible proof (that’s what makes them “faith”. It has nothing to do with religion). When all you have are theories, that’s all you have. It’s a theory because it hasn’t been proven.

    Mountain ranges are different. Depending on the type of range, it can be observable. The Himalayan mountains are constantly getting higher every year because the tectonic plates smash into each other at that exact spot. Volcanoes can create mountain ranges.

    Your argument dealing with us being related sounds more like an Intelligent Design argument than an Evolutionist one. The argument goes that if God or some other designer created all life, then it would make sense that we all share common characteristics in how we function.

    The relatedness of species is more damaging to evolution than it does to do anything for it. I would actually expect animals that are way more evolved than others to be completely different in how they function.

  23. To further this discussion without it getting stale I’d like to ask you another question and it leads into something that I will get into once I get your response.

    For this world (or universe) to have the diverse animal kingdom that it does and the complexity, all of that information that we posses would have to be contained in the one celled organism that started it all. My question is this:

    If the organism evolved and evolved and so on and now there is this person writing out this text on this blog, was all the information that makes me up and makes me function contained in that one celled organism? If not, what caused me to have it now?

  24. That one line meant something completely different and it obviously wasn’t clear so I took it out. That’s why your comment is gone too since it would now refer to something not there. My apologies.

  25. Dan said

    That’s an easy question, and one that has been observed and studied in the lab – gene duplication and divergence. I actually have some blog posts of my own on three separate studies done on this phenomenon:

    http://migration.wordpress.com/2006/07/12/duplication_and_coevolutionary_modeling/

    http://migration.wordpress.com/2007/02/27/myosin-and-their-isoforms-aspects-of-migration-and-evolution/

    http://migration.wordpress.com/2006/07/19/pi3k_evolution/

    For further information, there’s the generic Wiki on Gene Duplication…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_duplication

    … check the references there for better explanations.

  26. Dan said

    To your corrected comment:

    When all you have are theories, that’s all you have. It’s a theory because it hasn’t been proven.

    You do realize that Gravity is a theory, also, right? So is the Germ Theory of Disease.

    The relatedness of species is more damaging to evolution than it does to do anything for it. I would actually expect animals that are way more evolved than others to be completely different in how they function.

    Nonsense – if they’re related, they wouldn’t be completely different. And indeed that’s how it is, related animals are identical on the scale of building blocks, but do come up with fascinatingly different anatomical structures (think of the many types of limbs in vertebrates, which all use the same bone structure; indeed, we have almost the same gene controlling limb formation with arthropods; similar analogies are found with many other genes – again, read Sean Carroll’s Endless Forms Most Beautiful, he’s a brilliant geneticist that explains this quite nicely, with tremendous detail).

  27. Dan said

    And, not to pile on, but regarding this claim you made:

    Mountain ranges are different. Depending on the type of range, it can be observable. The Himalayan mountains are constantly getting higher every year because the tectonic plates smash into each other at that exact spot. Volcanoes can create mountain ranges.

    … so mountain ranges rising a few inches a decade support the theory of Plate Techtonics, but changes in traits and characteristics of various species do are insufficient evidence of speciation?! That’s a serious logical inconsistency – either both are small-scale evidences of their respective theories, or neither is; or, in your own terms applied to Plate Techtonics, hills rising a few inches a decade still does not make a mountain range.

  28. So basically, what your telling me is that a pile of rocks becoming high enough to be considered a mountain range (by definition) is the same as a mouse turning into a human being.

    Responding to your comment about duplication and divergence:

    If I take a piece of paper with the first page of Moby Dick on it and duplicate it a million times, all you get is a million of those pages. If you duplicate a gene over and over again, the information doesn’t change.

    If a gene changes, imagine someone speaking to you in a language you don’t understand. The speaker makes sense to himself, but the listener has no idea what to do with the information. A life form functions based on things working a specific way. If a gene all of a sudden changes it’s code to say, produce gills, the life form wouldn’t know how to read it and the gills wouldn’t form.

    Over time things break down. That’s been shown. We die. We don’t grow stronger and better ad infinitum. Wood rots. CDs only last 100 years. Books deteriorate. Is it Evolution that causes the life form to miraculous know what to do with genetic coding that say “grow an opposable thumb”?

  29. Dan said

    So basically, what your telling me is that a pile of rocks becoming high enough to be considered a mountain range (by definition) is the same as a mouse turning into a human being.

    Close, but not quite. It’s comparable to an ape becoming a human being. A mouse becoming a human being is more similar to alchemy, where one might turn lead into gold.

    If I take a piece of paper with the first page of Moby Dick on it and duplicate it a million times, all you get is a million of those pages. If you duplicate a gene over and over again, the information doesn’t change.

    Again, bad analogy. A better analogy here would be Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, where an original story was copied by about 5 different people back in the 13th century. These 5 were then recopied numerous times, by hand. The result was many different versions of the same story. This is essentially the same thing in biology, where there is a measurable rate of errors in the gene copying process inside cells. Given enough time, and enough copying errors, and selection of which errors work best, major changes can happen.

    Yet, some genes are vital, and a cell or organism would not survive to pass on its genes if a vital gene were changed. That’s where duplication comes in – a vital gene is duplicated, and one stays the same, to maintain the vital function. The other is free to serve any function, or no function at all, and mutate until it is unrecognizable. Voila! – New information, new functionality, new trait, etc.

    If a gene changes, imagine someone speaking to you in a language you don’t understand. The speaker makes sense to himself, but the listener has no idea what to do with the information. A life form functions based on things working a specific way. If a gene all of a sudden changes it’s code to say, produce gills, the life form wouldn’t know how to read it and the gills wouldn’t form.

    That paragraph needs some clarification, because it sounds like two examples trying to be said at once. But I think I get what you’re trying to say, and again, it’s incorrect. We’re talking evolution, AKA descent with modification. So, for the language metaphor, try comparing mother tongues with their daughter dialects. For example, Old and Modern English. I couldn’t understand Old English to save my life (could you? I need an expert to translate Canterbury Tales for me), but I of course accept that Old English evolved into Modern English. For that matter, I accept that English evolved from Latin, and that from Ancient Greek. And today, Modern English and Modern Greek are completely different languages, but their similar syntax and grammar structure give away their common ancestry. To your other example, I just don’t think that you understand developmental behavior, and if you do a little bit anyway, you forget, that nonfunctional gills wouldn’t be selected for, and it wouldn’t matter. But my main response to the gills bit is to tell you – go read Sean Carroll’s Endless Forms Most Beautiful – it’s an entire book explaining how such innovations in natural history could indeed evolve, and quite easily.

    Over time things break down. That’s been shown. We die. We don’t grow stronger and better ad infinitum. Wood rots. CDs only last 100 years. Books deteriorate. Is it Evolution that causes the life form to miraculous know what to do with genetic coding that say “grow an opposable thumb”?

    That’s Lamarck speaking. Try Darwin, or, better yet, Carroll.

  30. What I was trying to get at is what is causing this jump from an ape to a human? What causes the this new information to be formed and understood when before, it didn’t matter and wasn’t understood.

    The pile of rocks becoming a mountain range has a force of energy from tectonic plate movement or volcanoes causing them to rise. Language evolves, yes, but it is the human element who causes the change. It is the human element that translates the Old English into the New English. We change the language. It’s a learn behavior and not something that genes cause. It is the same principle of the Corvette evolving over the decades. It’s an outward change cause by outward forces, not internal.

    What is causing the change to happen? It’s not Lamarck, or Darwin, or Carroll. It’s not you or me. Is it nature, or evolution, or what?

  31. Dan said

    What I was trying to get at is what is causing this jump from an ape to a human? What causes the this new information to be formed and understood when before, it didn’t matter and wasn’t understood.

    There are a variety of mechanisms that mutations occur, and selection acts, to generate new species. Selection isn’t even the only mechanism by which evolution occurs. And biologists are still, to this day, studying those many mechanisms, and refining our understanding of them.

    But, does the fact that we don’t know everything mean that we don’t know anything, as you appear to be suggesting? Of course not. We can clearly show that life evolves, and have described many of the mechanisms by which it can evolve.

    Language evolves, yes, but it is the human element who causes the change.

    We don’t choose to change our language, it happens because people don’t speak in the same way as those who taught them. It evolves, not because we choose it to, but it still changes. That’s the way of all things, really – everything changes, and not because it wants to, but because it does; and it changes according to describable laws of nature.

    It’s an outward change cause by outward forces, not internal.

    Yes. Exactly. That’s Darwin talking, not Lamarck.

    What is causing the change to happen? It’s not Lamarck, or Darwin, or Carroll. It’s not you or me. Is it nature, or evolution, or what?

    Do you really think that I said Darwin, Carroll, or anyone else makes things change? Again, you’re going from incorrect to ridiculous. They didn’t make things evolve, the described it. That’s what science does, it describes nature. We learn from these individuals, because they were either the first to explain something in a new way, or they explained it very well and are easy to learn from, or both.

  32. You’re avoiding the question. You still haven’t answered it except for this little bit:

    That’s the way of all things, really – everything changes, and not because it wants to, but because it does; and it changes according to describable laws of nature.

    What describable laws of nature? Describe one for me. If laws of nature are describable, why can’t we predict exactly when a hurricane will form and how large it will get and the exact path it will take?

    I agree that there are laws of nature. But those laws are steadfast and have always been. I know that tomorrow they will the same as they were 3,000 years ago.

    “Everything changes not because it wants to but because it does.” Your laws of nature would be changing too. How can these laws have any effect if they are constantly changing?

    Anyway, where did these laws come from?

  33. Dan said

    I’m not avoiding anything. I’m trying to explain to you that evolution is a proven and measured description of change in nature. But you seem remarkably obstinant in refusing to admit that fact. I assume that’s because there’s only so much space in blog comments to explain matters of such extensive detail. (incidentally, that’s why I pointed you to simpler and better explanations like books and biology-related websites, and indicated the tens of thousands papers in the scientific literature as an indicator of the futility of trying to explain all of that to you in a few blog comments).

    What describable laws of nature? Describe one for me. If laws of nature are describable, why can’t we predict exactly when a hurricane will form and how large it will get and the exact path it will take?

    Not sure about hurricanes, I’m not a climatologist or geophysicist, but we’re talking about biology anyway. Describable laws of nature? Try Hardy-Weinberg’s equations, and principles of organic chemistry, to name two.

    I agree that there are laws of nature. But those laws are steadfast and have always been. I know that tomorrow they will the same as they were 3,000 years ago.

    Yes, fair point. Some things do not change. But physical objects, whether they be planets, stars, mountains, or organisms, do change, and so do the tools they use, like languages. They change, but they also follow the constant universal physical (and chemical) laws of nature.

    Think about it, if nature and the universe were completely constant, with every day just like the last, things would be pretty boring. There’d be no need to learn, no need to do anything, really. On the other hand, if nature was completely random, changing radically from one day to the next in completely random ways, we’d never be able to make sense out of it. Neither case is true, because things change, and they change according to understandable patterns, laws, rules, etc. Physics and chemistry is all it is, really, but complicated enough that it’s difficult for our tiny brains to understand all of it – we need books and libraries to contain all that information and understand it. Sure, it’s overwhelming at times, but that’s just the way it is.

    Anyway, where did these laws come from?

    Now that’s metaphysics and deep philosophy. You’re not a Zen philosopher, by any chance? :o)

  34. Some things do not change. But physical objects, whether they be planets, stars, mountains, or organisms, do change, and so do the tools they use, like languages. They change, but they also follow the constant universal physical (and chemical) laws of nature.

    Wait a second. Intangible things don’t change? You just told me that languages change even if we don’t want them to. They just do. Show me the word “She” or “Plaster.” Just as natural laws are representative of how things work, language is only descriptive of things we see and even can’t see.

    Why do some intangible things change but some don’t? What decides that this thing will change but those over here need to stay constant?

  35. Dan said

    Intangible things don’t change? You just told me that languages change even if we don’t want them to. They just do. Show me the word “She” or “Plaster.”

    I didn’t use the word intangible. The speed of light isn’t intangible, it’s measurable, and an example of constancy. Language is a tool. It changes because how we learn it and how we use it changes. Populations of species change, because the conditions they live in changes, and because populations are diverse and dynamic to begin with.

    You just told me that languages change even if we don’t want them to. They just do.

    Yes. The alternative – that someone just wakes up occaisionally and decides to invent a new language or dialect – is so ridiculous that I’m astounded that you even consider it. And what am I supposed to show you about “She” or “Plaster”? That they evolved from previous words or word-roots (their etymologies), not invented from scratch.

    Why do some intangible things change but some don’t? What decides that this thing will change but those over here need to stay constant?

    Why is the world round? You’re resorting to metaphysics.

  36. [...] by Dan In the last week or more, I’ve gotten myself in a discussion at another blog again. This guy is absurdly irrational. For a good laugh, go check out the discussion. Some of my favorite gems: [...]

  37. You told me that all physical things change. Light has has physical properties to it so that makes it physical. You also told me the speed of light doesn’t change. It is constant. If light is physical, the speed at which it travels should change (at least gradually).

    If something isn’t physical, it is intangible. Whether you said the word or not doesn’t hide the fact that that is the only explanation for what you were talking about.

    Yes, language is a tool. It is also more than just noise. The words we form with the noise we can make has meaning because we give it meaning. I never suggested that someone decided to create a new language. Of course, blacks in America have done that so if I had suggested it, it really wouldn’t be far from the truth. What that noise means is something that changes over time through gradual misunderstandings and new meanings, etc. But why is it that language can change, yet math (which is another intangible) NEVER changes. We always assume it to be the same and unchanging. We’ve created symbols for us to understand numbers and math but have you ever seen a “2”?

    And what am I supposed to show you about “She” or “Plaster”? That they evolved from previous words or word-roots (their etymologies), not invented from scratch.

    So where did the etymologies come from? Someone had to originally create a word to describe something before that word could change in how it is said.

    Why is the world round? You’re resorting to metaphysics.

    Look, you’re giving me all these contradictory statements about evolution (which by the way you have moved away from and are now using “change”) and I want to know why only some things change or evolve and others don’t.

    What’s causing all this to happen?

  38. Dan said

    Look, you’re giving me all these contradictory statements about evolution (which by the way you have moved away from and are now using “change”) and I want to know why only some things change or evolve and others don’t.

    What has been contradictory? Perhaps I just didn’t explain it well.

    Evolution, is by definition, change. I’m just trying to use simpler terms to get my point across.

    I want to know why only some things change or evolve and others don’t.

    Again, that’s metaphysics – the philosophy of asking why things are the way they are. It’s an unanswerable question, kind of like “why do we exist?”

  39. You can’t have it both ways.

    Obviously there would have to be laws that say “these two pieces of matter will evolve and those three must remain constant.”

    So what is it? What is/are the describable laws that determine what evolves and how? You can’t say that there are these describable laws of nature and then when I ask you a question concerning them, you tell me that “it’s an unanswerable question.”

    By saying metaphysical are you conceding to me that there is something supernatural about how things work?

  40. Dan said

    Obviously there would have to be laws that say “these two pieces of matter will evolve and those three must remain constant.

    Where did I suggest that matter or energy remain constant? I suggested that matter and energy changes according to rules, and that those rules are constant. Take the speed of light, or gravity. Light and gravity changes from color to color or planet to planet, right? But the laws that determine why a given color is red and gravity on Earth is 6 times that of the moon remain constant. Similarly, biochemistry changes, according to the underlying rules/laws of organic chemistry, which ultimately are describable by the laws of physics. Why is this so hard to understand?

    But yes, some questions are unanswerable. Such as what was before the universe? How did the universe happen? Why is the speed of light 186,000 miles/second? Why are we made of atoms?

    Once again, the fact that we don’t understand everything does NOT mean that we don’t understand anything. And no, by metaphysical, I’m saying that you’re delving into deep philosophical matters (see Plato’s allegory “The Cave”) that have nothing to do with question of whether and how life evolves.

  41. I suggested that matter and energy changes according to rules, and that those rules are constant. Take the speed of light, or gravity. Light and gravity changes from color to color or planet to planet, right? But the laws that determine why a given color is red and gravity on Earth is 6 times that of the moon remain constant.

    Prove to me that these rules never change. Prove that they are constant. Just because you claim it to be so isn’t a convincing argument. The speed of light hasn’t been measured over the course of history. Gravity has not either. You’re assuming that these rules/laws are constant.

  42. Roger Rabbitt said

    Good luck trying to engage Dan. He gets bored after a few exchanges, and concludes that your are “absurd” because you don’t easily come around to his POV.

    I see he trotted out the old chestnut about IDers/creationsists going to the doctor when they are sick. But even most evolutionists, when pressed, understand that doctors aren’t really scientists, have pretty much no practical use for Darwinian theory, and such a course of study isn’t required in medical school.

    And an amazing number of doctors are Darwinian skeptics of one form or another. So a better question might be: Do Darwinians go to see a doctor when they are sick?

    Interesting that plate tectonics merited a mention here. It’s predecessor, geosynclinal theory, was viewed as central to geology on earth, as Darwin’s theory was to biology on earth. Yet, it was replaced by plate tectonics over a relatively brief period of time. Before that replacement, geologists could have confidently made as strong assertions about the scientific evidence for it, as Dan does for Darwinian theory.

    And BTW, I’m not an evolutionist, but I am an agnostic/athiest, so the two aren’t necessarily entwined.

  43. Dan said

    Ha!

    RR – Nice perspective, but don’t try to assume that you and Mr. IWantToFitIn are in the same boat. Let me spell it out for you: I dislike you. This blog’s host – I don’t dislike him, I just don’t think he understands science very well, as evidenced by the no less than 5 things that he’s said that are ridiculous.

    I got frustrated with him – and I admit it. But you, RR, are just an ass.

  44. I figured he’d quit responding soon after he posted about me on his blog. Structuring an argument around name calling and belittlement is not the way to go.

    I admit that I’m a Christian and obviously I believe I’m correct in my way of thinking just same as Dan thinks he correct. No one normally argues a point of view they don’t believe. You believe you’re correct in your thinking (or at least you don’t know what to think depending on your agnostic views).

    Maybe he realized this but his position of evolution being this scientific fact and then telling me that it happens because it does and the reason for it is unanswerable, is just as faith based as a belief in God or another supreme being. The all powerful force of Evolution becomes the highest power.

    I hold to “God created what we have today in 6 days.” That’s hard for many to believe, but at least I have an explanation for the order we see in life. What’s true today is true tomorrow and so on. Our lives have purpose and I’m not just some piece of matter that has no purpose except to just “be” and evolve. I’m not just “dust in the wind.”

    My answer to live isn’t, “it just is.”

    I’m glad another has something to say though. No one else felt the need to chime in. I’m curious as to what your atheist/agnostic beliefs are.

  45. Dan said

    I admit that I’m a Christian and obviously I believe I’m correct in my way of thinking just same as Dan thinks he correct.

    Sure, and if we were discussing Christianity or religion in general, I’d defer to you on such matters, assuming that you’re more informed. On matters of science, and especially biology, however? Sorry, but I do assume that my knowledge of that topic is quite a bit more extensive than yours.

    Maybe he realized this but his position of evolution being this scientific fact and then telling me that it happens because it does and the reason for it is unanswerable

    Maybe I didn’t explain myself well there. What I meant was that evolution is scientific fact, there’s vast volumes of evidence that are very difficult to explain over the internet (that’s why we have schools still in this era of the worldwideweb), and that it’s no surprise that life evolves, given the degree to which the universe is chaotic.

    Perhaps this was difficult to understand because there are so many ideas and concepts that I skimmed over in that extremely brief and concise paragraph. These concepts:
    1) The evidence for evolution is astronomical (I pointed towards the hugeness of the literature, and a handful of websites that condense that volume of info to a manageable bit of reading).
    2) I hinted at issues of gradualism and punctuated equilibrium in natural history.
    3) I mentioned measurement of the smallest units of heredity as evidence of evolution in progress, to your request for direct observation of evolution.
    4) I mentioned (in passing) the consilience of evidence for the interrelatedness of all life on Earth (fossil and molecular records, and the coincidence that all life shares the same fundamental building blocks, as evidence for “descent with modification”).

    And I’m sure I’m still skimming over it all too quickly. It’s a lot of information, it really is. And, being familiar with most of it (being a biologist), I am in the habit of talking about these things with people of equal familiarity with biology. I know, I should be more patient and explain details more carefully with non-experts, and for that I apologize. I only plead that, yes, it is frustratingly difficult to simultaneously cover such a breadth of information and explain the salient details clearly enough.

    In any case, you ask what my beliefs are – I am an atheist and a reductionist: I don’t think that the Christian God is any more real than the Norse/Greek/Egyptian/Hindu/Etc. Gods. Sure, I go to church (was raised in the United Church of Christ), just like the rest of my family, but we all treat the Bible/sermons/etc. as purely metaphorical, and recognize that we talk about Heaven/souls/etc. because it feels good to think that there’s something after death. But really, when it gets down to it, that is it, I think (or at least there’s nothing to suggest otherwise). When we die, that’s it; our mind and soul are nothing more than the brain at work; free will is an illusion; God(s) represent our tendency towards animism; and our attraction to religion is based on social cohesiveness and our emotional drives.

    I know, that’s a lot there – I’m not trying to convince you of any of that, I’m just trying to list what I believe regarding religion. And I also know, that such views are found to be depressing to many people. For me, I justify such “near-nihilistic” by recognizing the things that clearly are real, and clearly are worth living for – my family, the hope for a better world for my descendents, etc.

    I hope that’s of some help.

  46. Dan said

    Also, I’ve taken out the personal wisecracks on my own blog post, changing to more accurate comments such as “making ridiculous assertions.” Please don’t take that personally, but yes, were I a teacher grading such comments on a essay, I would probably fail you.

  47. While I was curious as to what RR’s beliefs were considering he’s an agnostic/atheist and not specifically one or the other, I was also interested to find out what you believed too.

    You and I both look at the “evidence” with a lens of presuppositions. We have both formed what we believe is truth before we even have seen the facts. You hear evolution and then see the fossil record which only shows a bunch of dead animals but since there are many that are similar, it fits nicely into the theory of evolution. You see slight changes in traits being passed down from parents to children (human and non) and see that that fits nicely into the theory of evolution, but really, neither one proves anything.

    I obviously look at the fossil record and see just a bunch of dead animals that are different species. I see the complexity and attribute it to God. I see slight changes in traits being passed down and I see just exactly what it is. Traits being inherited. I don’t see that as evolutionary change. Again, neither observation proves anything.

    Neither one of us can prove our respective “faiths.” Neither one can be observed in a laboratory; neither scenario can be created.

    But I find it interesting that you are consistent with your evolutionary beliefs yet still find it necessary to even voice what you believe to me or anyone else. What is the definition of what truly matters in this world? Why is something truly worth living for if in the end we all mean nothing? Why should we care about what the Virginia Tech shooter did and morn the loss of those 32 students, if we are all just matter and electrical impulses causing us to do anything? What he did shouldn’t be considered “wrong” with your beliefs. There is no such thing as right and wrong, only right. His actions were just another part of the evolutionary process.

    I also find this interesting,

    the hope for a better world for my descendents, etc.

    Why would you hope for a better world? This is the better world. This is the best world we can have in this point in the evolutionary process. No matter what you do, your decedents will be in the best world in that moment in time. Your time on earth is pointless with your views. We mean nothing. So why do we care about what happens?

  48. Dan said

    Sorry, I missed the fact that your original question on beliefs was directed at RR. Anyway, I disagree very strongly by referring to acceptance of any theory as a matter of faith. Perhaps if you’re referring to the metaphysical assumption that what we can objectively quantify is not necessarily “real” (again, see Plato’s “Cave” allegory), then maybe you can argue that science in general does not perceive reality accurately.

    But I don’t actually think that argument makes any sense – that our senses can deceive us, I agree, but I do not agree that this translates to “we cannot objectively know anything for sure,” as you seem to be arguing. What it does mean is that intuitive revelation, like the sort that religion depends upon, is highly suspicious, and the resolution of “what is real,” occurs in the application of knowledge. For instance, you know that a theory is accurate by testing it, applying it, etc. And evolutionary biologists and geneticists have been exceptionally successful in measuring their predictions of genotypic and phenotypic frequencies in evolving populations. That’s not an assumption – you can objectively measure these things. Similarly, we assume quite rightly that astrophysicists believe in correct ideas when they predict the motion of the Pioneer probes to within a couple meters over a 10-billion-mile trip. I don’t think that it’s accurate to refer to the acceptance of such things as “faith.”

    You, on the other hand:

    I see the complexity and attribute it to God.

    Which God? Why not the Egyptian Sun God, Ra, for instance?

    What is the definition of what truly matters in this world? Why is something truly worth living for if in the end we all mean nothing?

    I answered this. Just like in any mammalian species, what matters to me is my family, my progeny, and may mate. Posterity is worth living for.

    All that question shows is that you don’t understand the secular humanist/atheist point of view.

    And I don’t understand your question about a better world. Do you not think that the world changes with every generation? Do you not hope that tyranny and oppression will be reduced in the future?

    Your time on earth is pointless with your views. We mean nothing. So why do we care about what happens?

    Yes, this is a point that creationists like yourself appear to be unable to comprehend, as I predicted you would say – Again, I said that I think that religion fabricates a lot of nonsense that doesn’t exist. How does that translate to “nothing matters”??? Please try to understand, I still think that my family exists, and I still love them.

    God doesn’t exist, but emotions still do.

  49. Roger Rabbitt said

    Dan says:

    Let me spell it out for you: I dislike you. . . But you, RR, are just an ass.

    Dan, Dan, Dan . . . Still ever the charmer.

  50. Roger Rabbitt said

    iwanttofitin Says:

    I’m curious as to what your atheist/agnostic beliefs are.

    It really is jst a lack of affirmative belief. Don’t know if there is a God. Don’t know if we can know if there is a God.

    My postion on Darwinian evolution is unrelated to my religious beliefs, or lack thereof. Used to be a pretty committed Darwinian, and couldn’t understand anybody not buying in. Eventually I was challenged to read Behe’s book, and show where he was wrong. Found the book interesting, and as I sought out resources to challenge Behe, I found nobody really taking on his arguments. Lots of ad homs and strawmen, but nobody really taking on the arguments.

    That caused quite a bit of reflection on my part, and I realized that it was Darwinian skepticism that really held the high ground intellectually. Maybe in the end Darinian evolution will be proved to be the “answer”, but for now, neither the science nor the arguments support it.

  51. Dan,

    The first part of your reponse I’ll answer a little later, but the rest I’ll deal with now.

    Just like in any mammalian species, what matters to me is my family, my progeny, and may mate. Posterity is worth living for.

    But why are these things worth living for? With your worldview, these things mean nothing. In the end, when you are gone, everything you lived for doesn’t matter, because that’s what you are-matter. A piece of tissue that is a complete accident in this universe.

    I do understand the atheistic/humanist point of view. You only hold to it consistently in words then you add “spritual” things (spiritual in the sense that science can’t account for them) that don’t fit in with a Godless world.

    Do you not think that the world changes with every generation? Do you not hope that tyranny and oppression will be reduced in the future?

    I believe the world changes for the better with every day that passes. Yeah, there are worse days than others, but it is in continual progress. But that’s because that’s God’s promise (God of the Bible).

    Atheism can’t account for progress. Because of entropy (which is very scientific), we should be in a constant state of decline, not progress, if we are strictly matter with no souls or conscience.

    Why do you hope that tyranny, oppression, murder, rape, theft, etc. will be reduced in the future? If it is all meaningless to begin with, it is all meaningless now. Why are those things wrong anyway?

    Please try to understand, I still think that my family exists, and I still love them.

    You “love” them? What is love? Isn’t it just a random electrical impulse in your brain making your body act a certain way? We have no free will according to you, so you don’t actually have feelings. What you do just happens. The way you act just happens. These “feelings” you have are just impulses. Emotions don’t exist. The self sacrificing you would do for your family and even friends should have nothing to do with how you “feel” but everything to do with animal instinct and survival of the fittest. Your “reason” for being here (however random it may be) is to further your species and that’s it. Completely selfish reasons. Completely instinct.

    I understand your worldview, but you have to borrow from other worldviews to make your worldview to work.

  52. Dan said

    But why are these things worth living for? With your worldview, these things mean nothing. In the end, when you are gone, everything you lived for doesn’t matter, because that’s what you are-matter. A piece of tissue that is a complete accident in this universe.

    Maybe you’re right, and there is no Big Truth, or higher meaning to everything. So what? For whatever reason, I am here, aren’t I?

    You don’t know why you’re here either, but you go along with a story that was passed down over a few hundred generations, because it reassures you. Don’t you find that condescending or patronizing?

    I do understand the atheistic/humanist point of view. You only hold to it consistently in words then you add “spritual” things (spiritual in the sense that science can’t account for them) that don’t fit in with a Godless world.

    No. Spiritual isn’t what science can’t account for, it is sort of an emotional/subjective context that helps me establish what has value to me, and describe what I appreciate. Your failure to understand this is evidence that you do not understand the atheist/humanist POV.

    Because of entropy (which is very scientific), we should be in a constant state of decline, not progress, if we are strictly matter with no souls or conscience.

    Only in a closed system (which you would know if you were actually familiar with the concept of entropy). In an open system, such as the Earth, energy can be added (as in the form of heat, light, chemical energy, etc.) that counterbalances the decline. Take life, for instance. You eat food, which contains chemical energy, and this energy helps you function, for a time. One day you’ll stop eating, and stop functioning, and then you decline (not before) – but this entropy is replaced by the metabolism of other life forms, which gain from your latent chemical energy, and the circle of life continues.

    Why do you hope that tyranny, oppression, murder, rape, theft, etc. will be reduced in the future?

    How many ways can I say this, before I turn blue in the face? I hope to have kids in a couple years, and I hope that they have children, and so on. I worry about their future, just as anyone would. Those things, murder, rape, theft, etc., could get in the way of their future.

    What is love?

    Love is an emotion. You know what it is, so please, stop playing rhetorical games and start being serious here. But, you claim that emotions don’t exist – are you truly heartless??? I’m not.

    The self sacrificing you would do for your family and even friends should have nothing to do with how you “feel” but everything to do with animal instinct and survival of the fittest. Your “reason” for being here (however random it may be) is to further your species and that’s it. Completely selfish reasons. Completely instinct.

    So? I admit it – I feel emotions. Just as do dogs, dolphins, apes, etc. Does the fact that it is instinct diminish emotions? No – they’re still a part of who I am (see The Human Condition).

    I understand your worldview, but you have to borrow from other worldviews to make your worldview to work.

    No. You think you understand my worldview. I think I understand yours too, in a very superficial way, but I’m sure you disagree with my conclusion that your worldview is built upon more superstition than mine. I recognize this, but you do not.

  53. You don’t know why you’re here either, but you go along with a story that was passed down over a few hundred generations, because it reassures you. Don’t you find that condescending or patronizing?

    I do know why I’m here. That story you speak of is very much rooted in history. Hi”Story” is a story of past events. An argument for the Bible being just a story, and that’s it, would be credible if it was written by only one person or even a few. The Bible has dozens of authors and thousands of eyewitness accounts recorded for the events that took place. If you were to make up a story, would you create a story using real people who could refute it upon questioning? Read Josephus’ (Someone who did not believe in Jesus but was around during the events of the New Testament) account of history and you’ll see that his account and investigations match the Bible historically. So no, I don’t find it patronizing or condescending.

    No. Spiritual isn’t what science can’t account for, it is sort of an emotional/subjective context that helps me establish what has value to me, and describe what I appreciate.

    You missed my point. Atheism can’t account for emotions. You shouldn’t have any. There is no basis for them to begin with. What’s good for you may not be good for me. What determines why something is good or even right for you and not the same for me?

    Referring to entropy:

    What do you mean in a closed system? Ice melting is the classic example of entropy. Energy is being added to ice for it to melt. By your definition, that is an open system. Anyway, that’s besides the point. As soon as you’re born you are on a one way path to death. Nothing can stop it. Your body grows old and breaks down and you die. I don’t see any counterbalancing going on there. Breaking down doesn’t occur all at once. Ice slowly melts. It doesn’t all of sudden become water.

    How many ways can I say this, before I turn blue in the face? I hope to have kids in a couple years, and I hope that they have children, and so on. I worry about their future, just as anyone would. Those things, murder, rape, theft, etc., could get in the way of their future.

    You can say it as many times as you want but you still can’t account for wanting any of those things. There is no hope with Atheism. You have no purpose and you shouldn’t care about anything. You worry about your children’s future but you still can’t account for why. Murder, rape, etc. can get in the way of their future but would any of those things happening be wrong? If so, what makes them wrong?

    Love is an emotion. You know what it is, so please, stop playing rhetorical games and start being serious here. But, you claim that emotions don’t exist – are you truly heartless??? I’m not.

    Emotions exist with my worldview that has order and purpose under God. Atheism has no emotion. With your worldview, you are matter-a piece of material and work only under random nerves firing and electrical impulses. I’m not heartless and I imagine you aren’t either, but you can’t account for why you aren’t heartless. You have no reason not to be. Again, you said you have no free will so you obviously wouldn’t say you choose to be heartless or not. Heartless is a feeling or emotion and, remember, those don’t exist in something that is purely matter.

    So? I admit it – I feel emotions. Just as do dogs, dolphins, apes, etc. Does the fact that it is instinct diminish emotions? No – they’re still a part of who I am (see The Human Condition).

    I’ve already dealt with emotions. Again though, you can’t account for feelings with Atheism. What instilled these feelings in you to begin with. Remember, you’re just tissue. A family member (I’m not trying to push buttons, just trying to use something that would be very emotional as a point) gets murdered in front of you. Why stop and morn? Under your atheistic views, you should keep walking and say “Oh well.” That’s it. Life goes on.

    No. You think you understand my worldview.

    I understand it better than you think or are willing to admit. Living consistently with atheism is a very scary thing.

  54. Dan said

    I do know why I’m here. That story you speak of is very much rooted in history.

    The first chapters in Genesis are hardly history.

    You missed my point. Atheism can’t account for emotions.

    Oh okay. True, atheism doesn’t account for emotions – but neuroscience and humanism do. All atheism is really is just the skepticism of theism, and doesn’t amount to much on its own. So, while yes, I’m an atheist, that is a very narrow and oversimplified definition of who I am.

    What do you mean in a closed system? Ice melting is the classic example of entropy. Energy is being added to ice for it to melt.

    Energy being added, by definition, makes it an open system. In closed systems, no energy or matter leaves the system. This is basic high school physics.

    You can say it as many times as you want but you still can’t account for wanting any of those things.

    Sure I can. I want those things for the same reasons that any animal wants to – the drive to procreate. Is it wrong to admit that I’m fundamentally an animal, merely with different characteristics? Yes, I can’t answer every question of “why” in the world. I don’t know everything, and I don’t make up answers for things that I don’t know. Does that mean that I’m not here? Do I have to know why life exists, why the universe exists? No – I know that it does, and that’s enough. Why is this very simple concept so difficult for you to grasp?

    Again though, you can’t account for feelings with Atheism. What instilled these feelings in you to begin with.

    My animal ancestors.

    A family member (I’m not trying to push buttons, just trying to use something that would be very emotional as a point) gets murdered in front of you. Why stop and morn? Under your atheistic views, you should keep walking and say “Oh well.” That’s it. Life goes on.

    Once again, disbelief in God does not make one a heartless bastard.

    Actually, if my recollection of history is correct, didn’t the Roman’s say similar things about the Christians two thousand years ago?

    I understand it better than you think or are willing to admit. Living consistently with atheism is a very scary thing.

    So you think.

  55. Dan said

    Actually, to that final quote – you don’t even understand elementary physics (thermodynamics), biology (evolutionary biology and neuroscience), or philosophy (metaphysics), yet you presume to understand me?

    How supremely arrogant of you.

  56. Actually, to that final quote – you don’t even understand elementary physics (thermodynamics), biology (evolutionary biology and neuroscience), or philosophy (metaphysics), yet you presume to understand me?

    How supremely arrogant of you.

    I never said I understand you. I said I understand your worldview. So no, it wasn’t arrogant of me.

    True, atheism doesn’t account for emotions – but neuroscience and humanism do. All atheism is really is just the skepticism of theism, and doesn’t amount to much on its own.

    Ok, so to explain emotions you are referring to humanism which says:

    Humanism is a broad category of ethical philosophies that affirm the dignity and worth of all people, based on the ability to determine right and wrong by appeal to universal human qualities—particularly rationalism.

    What is rational? I understand it based on a higher authority. By the way, you only discount Genesis (among other biblical things) because you never saw the account first hand. You weren’t there. You would say that I came from a lower life form-presumably an ape type animal-yet we have never witnessed this, yet you claim it to be history. I say hogwash. You say hogwash to me. Yours takes as much faith if not more than mine. At least I can explain my existence and purpose.

    Back to humanism- rationalize what? What is the ultimate authority of right and wrong? How can you tell me murder is wrong if you have no set standard for right and wrong?

    Neuroscience deals with nerves and brain function. It can hardly tell you anything about emotions. In trying to determine how the mind works, neuroscience assumes from the start that we are only nerves working to move my hunk of tissue-a soul doesn’t exist. It doesn’t tell us anything.

    Energy being added, by definition, makes it an open system. In closed systems, no energy or matter leaves the system. This is basic high school physics.

    By that definition there is no such thing as a closed system. And from some research I’ve done, I found that closed systems do not exist. So how can entropy be observed yet it happens only in a system that does not exist. This is according to your definition of where entropy happens.

    Sure I can. I want those things for the same reasons that any animal wants to – the drive to procreate. Is it wrong to admit that I’m fundamentally an animal, merely with different characteristics?

    So you’re only here to procreate? Why do you have a job? Why are you talking to me and trying to get me to subscribe to your way of thinking? Why do you want to rid the world of tyranny and theft? Why do you care about things that hurt your feelings? You should be out mating as much as possible and procreating-not wasting your time on these pointless things.

    Are you an animal or are you fundamentally one? You said we evolved from animals and if that’s true, then that’s what you are-an animal. You can’t be both. If you are one, then you posses nothing more than animal. If you are fundamentally one, then where did and how did this change from animal to something better take place? And why with humans and not apes? Who determined that? You?

  57. Dan said

    I never said I understand you. I said I understand your worldview.

    Ha! Go back and re-read what you wrote earlier: “I understand it better than you think or are willing to admit.”

    What is rational? I understand it based on a higher authority. By the way, you only discount Genesis (among other biblical things) because you never saw the account first hand. You weren’t there.

    And you were? You say hogwash to me – yet there is traceable evidence that one can objectively study and measure to support my “hogwash.” What do you have? The assertions of who came before? Can you confirm their assertions? Of course you can’t. How then, pray tell, do you know that your Christian forebearers knew the truth, but pagans of Ancient Greece did not?

    Your view is based on faith that what you’re told is correct. Mine is based on claims that I can verify for myself if and when I wish.

    Neuroscience deals with nerves and brain function. It can hardly tell you anything about emotions.

    Ha! Tell that to a neuroscience researcher!

    By that definition there is no such thing as a closed system.

    So? The second law of thermodynamics (which defines entropy) is still a valid theoretical observation, and one can measure entropy. Take Gibbs Free Energy for instance: G (Gibbs) = H (enthalpy, also known as heat) – T(temp)S(Entropy). Now that’s getting up to freshman physics and chemistry, but still pretty simple.

    So you’re only here to procreate?

    In a sense, yes. Sure, I do a lot of other things along the way, such as talk to you. But 1000 years from now, all that will be left of me is my descendents, and not much else. I can understand why this would frighten you, but I’m at peace with it. Afterall, I’m just one human, and I’m not so arrogant to assume that I’m better than the other 6 billion people on the planet, who will also be forgotten a 1000 years from now.

    So you’re only here to procreate? Why do you have a job? Why are you talking to me and trying to get me to subscribe to your way of thinking? Why do you want to rid the world of tyranny and theft? Why do you care about things that hurt your feelings? You should be out mating as much as possible and procreating-not wasting your time on these pointless things.

    Seriously? Why am I bothering to answer such pathetically inept questions? The mere fact that you ask such stupid things reveals that you don’t understand my worldview, and why such concerns are irrelevant.

    Are you an animal or are you fundamentally one? You said we evolved from animals and if that’s true, then that’s what you are-an animal. You can’t be both.

    That makes no sense. They mean the same thing. Do you think a dog is not fundamentally an animal? It’s a specific animal, with unique characteristics, but still an animal. Same with humans. What a stupid question.

    Ahh.. yes, I’m getting frustrated again at your complete failure to understand, yet still arrogant assumption that you do understand. But I didn’t come here for this – I came here originally to point out that your original comment – “The most important aspects of “gathering observable, empirical, measurable evidence” has not been demonstrated” – is profoundly incorrect and uninformed.

  58. I understand it better than you think or are willing to admit.

    “it” refers to “worldview,” not you. “Better than you think” (The “I do” afterwards is assumed. If I were to respond like you I would say that’s elementary English). That says nothing of my understanding of you.

    yet there is traceable evidence that one can objectively study and measure to support my “hogwash.”

    There is only traceable evidence because you’ve molded your worldview to fit the evidence. Pull out evolution, atheism, humanism, everything you want first and then look at the evidence. You wouldn’t come upon the Great Pyramids in Egypt and say, “They must just ‘be.'” Of course not, you’d assume from their complexity (which is actually a relatively simple design) that someone had to design and create them. If I said they were part of nature you would call me a fool and rightfully so. You look at fossils and living creatures and the complexity of this universe and tell me that it just happened. All of that is infinitely more complex and intricate than pyramids yet you claim life is random and meaningless.

    Your view is based on faith that what you’re told is correct. Mine is based on claims that I can verify for myself if and when I wish.

    You can’t verify most of what you have told me. Physical properties, yes. Verify for me emotions, feelings, your mind, right and wrong, the randomness of this world (for your random evolution to work it apparently needs an ordered world to work which is contradictory). So what if humans have DNA that is similar to an ape or a rat? It’s not the same. You can’t verify any of your describable laws of nature to me. You say they exist but can’t tell me where they come from. I say that’s putting a lot of faith in something that you can’t verify yet you know is there. Your god is nature, or evolution, or you. You’re putting a standard on things and you can’t explain where that standard comes from so there must be something higher than you that sets these rules.

    Ha! Tell that to a neuroscience researcher!

    Exactly, the researcher is already assuming that emotions are just electrical impulses before he does any research. He can’t account for emotions so he dismisses them as random.

    My statement, “By that definition there is no such thing as a closed system.” was to point out that we live in a closed system no matter how large it is. Size isn’t of importance. We see entropy at work every day yet you claim it doesn’t happen on this earth.

    Sure, I do a lot of other things along the way, such as talk to you.

    Talk to me and rationalize with me and have complex thoughts and think and get frustrated and more; yet in a purely materialistic world, those things don’t exist. Matter has no other property than what it is made up of. You are animated by energy and that’s it. We really aren’t typing coherent words that we both understand. Your brain is just randomly typing letters and that’s it. It’s all a complete coincidence that I’m doing the same thing.

    Seriously? Why am I bothering to answer such pathetically inept questions? The mere fact that you ask such stupid things reveals that you don’t understand my worldview, and why such concerns are irrelevant.

    Just because a question gets down to the basics, doesn’t make it pathetically inept. Why are my questions stupid? Another basic question. What determines the stupidity of a question?

    Do you think a dog is not fundamentally an animal? It’s a specific animal…

    A dog is not fundamentally an animal. That’s like saying it has characteristics of an animal but isn’t one. A dog is an animal. Now that you have associated the human population with animals flat out, why do we not have punishments for animals when they rape and murder each other and even eat each other? Why the sudden moral order with humans?

  59. Dan said

    Also, to turn some of your questions around:

    A family member (I’m not trying to push buttons, just trying to use something that would be very emotional as a point) gets murdered in front of you. Why stop and morn? Under your atheistic views, you should keep walking and say “Oh well.” That’s it. Life goes on.

    What about for your Christian views? Should you keep walking and say “That’s God’s choice, oh well”? If everything happens by God’s design, why should we care what happens? It’s God’s decision, and no amount of grief or other emotions will effect that in the slightest way, right? That makes grief pointless.

    The self sacrificing you would do for your family and even friends should have nothing to do with how you “feel” but everything to do with animal instinct and survival of the fittest. Your “reason” for being here (however random it may be) is to further your species and that’s it. Completely selfish reasons. Completely instinct.

    The alternative is, what, to do everything simply to avoid going to hell? Now that sounds like a selfish reason.

    And other questions that you left unanswered:

    You: I see the complexity and attribute it to God.
    Me: Which God? Why not the Egyptian Sun God, Ra, for instance?

    You: Your time on earth is pointless with your views. We mean nothing. So why do we care about what happens?
    Me: I said that I think that religion fabricates a lot of nonsense that doesn’t exist. How does that translate to “nothing matters”??? Please try to understand, I still think that my family exists, and I still love them.

    Me: I admit it – I feel emotions. Just as do dogs, dolphins, apes, etc. Does the fact that it is instinct diminish emotions? No – they’re still a part of who I am (see The Human Condition).

    And one new one: As I’ve said, the primary thing that I hope for is the success of my family? What do you hope for? Salvation? (that would be all well and good if there does turn out to be a heaven, but what about for those people left behind? again, this sounds very selfish)

  60. Dan said

    “it” refers to “worldview,” not you. “Better than you think” (The “I do” afterwards is assumed. If I were to respond like you I would say that’s elementary English). That says nothing of my understanding of you.

    And if I were to respond like you, I would say “that’s contradictory – you can’t have it both ways,” or some nonsense like that. Still, thanks for the clarification.

    There is only traceable evidence because you’ve molded your worldview to fit the evidence.

    Nonsense – you’ve clearly little understanding of the scientific method.

    You can’t verify most of what you have told me. Physical properties, yes. Verify for me emotions, feelings, your mind, right and wrong, the randomness of this world (for your random evolution to work it apparently needs an ordered world to work which is contradictory).

    I don’t have emotions, feelings, the capacity for choice? What a stupid thing to say.

    Who ever said that evolution was random? Mutation is random, but you yourself agreed that mutation is not evolution.

    Exactly, the researcher is already assuming that emotions are just electrical impulses before he does any research. He can’t account for emotions so he dismisses them as random.

    Okay, let’s use an analogy to take that statement apart. If that’s how science worked, than, let’s say we have a rocket scientist – do you really think that a rocket doesn’t actually take off because he is already assuming that it will confirm his theory, a priori? Of course not.

    And, when has a researcher dismissed the phenomenon of emotions as random? You just made that part up.

    My statement, “By that definition there is no such thing as a closed system.” was to point out that we live in a closed system no matter how large it is. Size isn’t of importance. We see entropy at work every day yet you claim it doesn’t happen on this earth.

    Name one example, please?

    Talk to me and rationalize with me and have complex thoughts and think and get frustrated and more; yet in a purely materialistic world, those things don’t exist.

    Again, you’re just making that up. Well, this part – “We really aren’t typing coherent words that we both understand” – is apparently correct, actually, since we’re not getting through to one another.

    A dog is not fundamentally an animal. A dog is an animal.

    So we’re down to semantics???

    Now that you have associated the human population with animals flat out, why do we not have punishments for animals when they rape and murder each other and even eat each other? Why the sudden moral order with humans?

    That’s a good question, and one for the anthropologists. (again, I don’t claim to know everything)

  61. Dan said

    Ha! I just checked out your “10 ten posts list”, including “Why God HAS to Exist” and “Dogs Poo Better Than Humans.” Among your conclusions on those posts:

    After proving evolution false by showing the simple but profound example of how dogs are much better at pooing than humans in my well received article Why Dogs Poo Better Than Humans, another example has come to me by way of revelation. Actually, it was more of the observing type than a true revelation.

    Why are there ugly people, why can they be attractive to others, and how can they be successful? Answer me that according to evolution and I may give it a second thought.

    And:

    Well, if we are so far evolved then why did our bathroom abilities unevolve/devolve (neither of those may be right. Google is too much trouble) to the point where dogs are better at it than us? I’d love to be able to put my cheeks down, do my business, and then stand up and go get lunch. If that day ever comes for humans then I will definitely give in to this evolution madness. Until then I salute all the lucky dogs of this world.

    Evolution is just dumb anyway.

    That is your idea of an intelligent thought?!?!? Wow, I’ve been arguing with a moron! (as if I didn’t know that already) – what a pathetic waste of my time!!!!!!!

  62. I’m not done with our exchange, but I’m going to be out of town for a week so I will pick it up once I get back.

    As to my Top 10 List, if you read through those posts and other posts completely unrelated you’d realize that they weren’t meant to be taken seriously. Many found them humorous and that was the intent. It was the scientific community who couldn’t understand that someone would write a joke about their own beliefs.

    As to this:

    “Wow, I’ve been arguing with a moron!” and “again, I don’t claim to know everything”

    You say both statements as though you do know everything. This whole world and everyone you see and experience in it is taken as truth by you, yet you have no rationale for any of it. You claim to know right and wrong yet can’t tell me where they came from. You claim to have emotions but can’t tell me why we would even have them. We have order and natural laws that never change yet you have no idea why that is. We supposedly evolved from a single celled organism yet you can’t tell where that came come. You can’t give me any reason for what you believe of this universe to be true or reason as to why any of this exists, yet you tell me I’m a moron? Who are you to say that God does or does not exist when you tell me you don’t know everything?

    In response to the Egyptian sun god Ra, in Exodus, Ra had no power over God and was able to do nothing because Ra was and is not a god. God showed His power and glory and Ra did nothing. That’s why Ra is no god. You will dismiss the Bible as a story only because you weren’t there and neither was I. But God and the Bible give a rationale for everything in this universe and why you and I exist.

    So don’t call me stupid, arrogant, and a moron, when you tell me you don’t know why things are the way they are. My joke posts are literally just as true as anything you’ve been telling me based on your worldview beliefs.

    As I said, I will take up the questions you posed to me in your follow up posts when I return.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: