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I’m glad we’re at a point were we can confidently make statements like the poster.  Now we just need to catch up in other areas of biology and life will be good.

 

Evolution

Creationist:  *argle-bargle* – “Science said this!”, trots out gross caricature of scientific theory.  “It is ‘just a theory!” – More *argle-bargle*.

Rational People:  …  *heavy sigh*

 

And then…the slapdown.

 

 

You are entitled to your opinion, but never entitled to the facts.

 

billnyeIt has been awhile since we’ve had a Red Pen of Justice post here on DWR.  Thankfully(?) that void shall now be filled by krisman2013’s lovely post titled: Evolution – The Theory that Became a Religion.  Can you feel it?  The crushingly vapid ignorance about to be put on display is willing the RPOJ back to life where it must, once again, *wiggle* for the cause of justice and rationality.

Let’s just start this off slow and easy because unless you have your black belt in grappling with ignorance this shit will leave you flabbergasted and struggling for breath.

—–

“It is not uncommon these days for those that do not believe in evolution and the big bang as the origin of all life to be called names, denigrated and treated as if they were troglodytes.”

The reason that you are being called names and denigrated would be because you are demonstrating a dangerously incandescent white-hot grade of ignorance.  To people who comprehend basic scientific facts and theories you may as well be stating the earth is flat and the sun is revolving around us.

“Nevertheless, even though I grew up on a steady diet of science”

And only saved by the thickness of your skull did not one iota of the “science” manage to slip in, god bless your heart.

“and heard the preaching of evolution as the definitive origin of life from grade school through college I have big questions.”

My veteran readership will already realize that our journey with Kris is going to end poorly for him.  For even in his poorly punctuated thesis we can see one of the tells of insipid religious thought.  Conflating the teaching of evolution with ‘preaching’ and thus setting up the entirely false equivalence of science & religion.

Muffin, your science professors were not preaching, they were hoping you might gain understanding on how science and the scientific method works, thus providing a rational framework and methodology for understanding what goes on around you.

Preaching is pretty much the opposite of that as you are *told* how the world works and not to ever question what you’ve been told.

We’ll have to leave it Muffin, as you launch into a series of questions that I’m pretty sure you don’t want the answer to because it will mean you’ll have to engage more than three neurons necessary for maintaining religious belief.  Luckily, you have me to kickstart your atrophied mental apparatus.   Do keep in mind that learning is hard though and not necessarily fun (for you) or comforting.

“Starting with the big bang, scientists explain that the universe we know of came out of this big bang at the start of it all.”

So far so good.

“In order to postulate that the big bang happened and that they know how and why it happened they use the laws of gravity and physics. “

I can feel the checkmate scientists coming… can’t you?

“At the moment of the big bang, when there was just some universe sized mass inside of a pea there would have been neither the laws of gravity nor the laws of physics.  [1]So what were the origins of those laws?  [2]If those laws were not formed, did time exist?  [3] If time did not exist how are we measuring time? [4] When did time actually start?  [5] When did the laws of gravity and mass get created?”

Ahhhh…there we go.  Questions that reading for about an hour on wikipedia could answer succinctly.  To answer these question, I will be referencing the Wikipedia article curiously entitled “Big Bang Theory“.  I have inserted numbers in front of each of Muffin’s questions for easy understanding.

[1] – The origins of those laws came about as a result of the big bang, they did not exist before that time.

[2] – Nothing existed before the big bang, at least not anything we can measure since we require space and time to measure events.

[3] – Time did not exist before the BB.  We measure time by arbitrarily by imposing a set of measurements that allow us to come to a commonly accepted understanding of how time passes.

[4] – Time started when there was a break down from of the previous state of being infinitely dense and hot.  See, the Big Bang.

[5] – During the Big bang.

I am not a physicist, however you can listen to some people that are.

A short version of the Big Bang and Lawrence Krauss discussing the origin of our universe.

History_of_the_Universe.svg

“Who created them?  Wait,…. Hold On.  I take back that last question.  Science can’t have a who or something more powerful than itself. “

Muffin, science is not an person, it is a method for discovering information about the universe we live in.  This just isn’t a question that applies.

“The laws must have been created by the people that discovered the laws.  So, they created the laws of physics and then used them to explain why they existed to discover them. “

Err…what?  People do not create laws of nature/physics/mathematics.  They discover them and by using the scientific method attempt to show that this is how the world works.

“Yet, they can’t explain why the laws exist or why anything exists.”

Did you miss that part about the big bang?  Just checking here because it sure seems like you want to insert a sky-daddy that will make everything right for you.

“They can’t even say how the laws actually came into being.  Pretty flawed theory.  (Yet no other option is allowed in the schools.)”

Err…they were discovered and tested, and eventually proven to be laws we can predict things by.  The science in schools is being taught precisely because it is the most accurate version (disclaimer – much of what is taught in k-12 is watered down) of how we know the world works.

“As to evolution, if I mix a bunch of random chemicals together the result is generally a smoothy not life. “

Yet perform that mixing over billions of years and life can evolve and given the evidence it does.  See Qualia Soup’s Evolution primer and of course Wikipedia to get started.

“The earth, in its hot violent stage would not have been hospitable enough  for random chemicals to come together sufficiently that single living cells could be created. “

How long do you think this ‘hot and violent stage’ was?  There were other stages where life could begin, necessarily so since well, we are here.

“The idea of life from stuff by chance goes completely against that law of physics..   “

In a closed system.  The earth, by definition is not a closed system so Second Law of thermodynamics does not apply in the way you think it does.

“Just some questions regarding evolution as an improved state of the species.”

Evolution does not always ‘improve’ a species, there are some very disastrous adaptations that have caused species to become extinct.

I’m sure your questions will shed light on your understanding of Evolution.

“If we have been evolving for so long:

  • [1] Why are there stupid people? Wouldn’t evolution have selected against them?

  • [2] Gay and Lesbian people can’t have children.  Wouldn’t evolution have selected against them?

  • [3] Mothers kill their unborn fetuses every day,   Wouldn’t evolution have selected against that urge?

  • [4] Whether 7 feet tall or three feet talk.  Wouldn’t evolution have selected against one of them?

  • [5] We are called homo erectus.  Where is the next human species?

  • [6] If we evolved from apes why do the remaining apes not evolve?

  • [7] Why do we still get the flu?

Oh wow. So you haven’t read  about what evolution is at all.  Fantastic.

1 – I often ask myself that question, on some days more than others… 

   Firstly, people have developed cultures, societies and civilization.  All interfere with the process of natural selection and therefore we cannot directly attribute characteristics like “stupid” to evolutionary pressures.  More importantly, how do you know that stupid is being selected against? It might be a characteristic in a package of traits that makes the organism in question more fit to survive. 

2 – You do realize that people who identify as homosexual are not a different species right?  Just checking. 

3 – Evolution is a slow and gradual process, at least in terms of human evolution.  When you talk about women terminating their pregnancies, this is a social feature of society and therefore is not selected for in an evolutionary sense. 

4 – No conception of survival of the fittest present in your mind is there?  Why do you think most of humanity fluctuates around a couple of established means?  Through evolutionary processes the outliers have been weeded out precisely because the package of traits they brought to the table was inferior to the average you see today, thus they did not reproduce, thus you rarely see three or seven foot people. 

5 – Ummm…we are currently called Homo sapiens. Also, as mention earlier, evolution in humans takes a long time, no distinct species has yet evolved from Homo sapiens.

6 – We share a common ancestor from apes, and they are evolving.  Will they take the same route we did, most likely not. 

7 – Because the flu virus is evolving just as we are.  That is the reason there is a new flu vaccination every year, because the virus mutates over time to change itself into a form that is virulent to humans, despite our best immunological responses. 

“Interbreeding my explain small species variations in an isolated environment but non of these creatures shows signs of turning into a completely new species.”

   Natural Selection

    Speciation

    Genetic Drift.

A video on how we get variations in species.  And how we get new species.

“Even scientists explaining the pre-cambrian explosion are at a lost to explain the rate of observed change and the creation of new species.”

*sigh* Yes, indeed we don’t have explanations for everything.  We’re working on, see this video on the Cambrian Explosion.

“I would argue that there is an unseen hand directing all these processes.  Science could never admit that.  What a shame.”

Ah, everyone saw that coming. Well, then Muffin, please state the evidence for your claim that an unseen hand is guiding all of this and show us all how it is more persuasive that the current biological set of facts it is meant to replace. 

   This post made me tired, when I realized that this wasn’t so much a smackdown, but rather a lesson on basic scientific literacy.  A sad commentary indeed, but not quite the calibre of what I’m used to for RPOJ articles.  Oh well.. :) 

 

 

 

kluge I’d like to recommend reading this particular book as it offers a laypersons guide to how our minds evolved and the inelegant solutions and workarounds that are now standard in the homo sapiens brain. Consider this summary of why sometime we become angry and that anger dominates our rational capacities.

“What occasionally allows normal people to spiral out of control is a witch’s brew of cognitive kludges: (1) the clumsy apparatus of self-control (which in the heat of the moment all too often gives the upper hand to our reflexive system); (2) the lunacy of confirmation bias (which convinces us that we are always right, or nearly so); (3) its evil twin, motivated reasoning (which leads us to protect our beliefs, even if those beliefs are dubious); (4) the contextually driven nature of memory (such that when we’re angry at someone, we tend to remember other things about them that have made us angry in the past). In short, this leaves “hot” systems dominating cool reason; carnage often ensues.

Gary Marcus. Kluge – The Haphazard Evolution of the Human Mind, p. 156.

It is nice to have a post you can point to when people suddenly become hyperskeptical of Evolution.   Thanks Qualia Soup.

Tfoot has been on a roll as of late, another quick gem of a video from him explaining the possible evolutionary and societal benefits of believing in magic.

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