Banner
    Why Are We Still Talking About Darwin?
    By Hank Campbell | February 12th 2012 06:30 AM | 116 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Hank

    I'm the founder of Science 2.0®.

    A wise man once said Darwin had the greatest idea anyone ever had. Others may prefer Newton or Archimedes...

    View Hank's Profile
    If someone in 2012 wants to criticize Henry Ford because he didn't know everything about automobiles a century ago, it's a little silly. He knew what he knew given the science and the technology of his day - he revolutionized his field.  Freud got a lot wrong about psychology but he created the only unified theory of psychology recognized by people today. Criticizing him is as quaint and pointless and irrelevant as someone criticizing a 19th century analysis of Coleridge - any researcher doing it is likely to get a "someone paid for them to write this?" response.

    In 2012, though, people are still trying to bash Darwin and their main argument is he didn't know everything. To biologists, he had perhaps the greatest idea anyone ever had, descent with modification, and that was that.  His books are okay, he was not a great writer, you are really only reading them for historical context, but a 'culture war' exists over him that never happened about Einstein or Arthur Holmes.

    Wait, Holmes? Who? Right, he is a nobody to most people in science. But Arthur Holmes pioneered a way to show the actual age of rocks, which led to the theory of continental drift. As a result, what Thomas Huxley meant when he said, ‘Biology takes its time from Geology’ became literally true.  Quantifying geologic time did far more to harm the beliefs of Biblical literalists than evolution or relativity ever did.  And yet only the kookiest of people today deny continental drift, just like only the kookiest people deny evolution. But it is made to seem like it is some huge number denying science and polls back that up. Far more than in most countries.

    Why do we hear so much about a war between science and religion in America now?  When I was in high school, it seemed like 'creationism' did not exist the way it does now.  Sure, there were religious people but the so-called Scopes Monkey Trial had established that evolution was science and should be taught in science classes five decades earlier. I grew up in a town with one stop sign, five churches and no bars yet I never once heard that Darwin was wrong in a conservative, all-white, rural Pennsylvania town.  A few years after I graduated there was a rather silly effort to give religion some equal time in a school district in another state.  As Dr. Eugenie Scott of the NCSE (they lead the fight to keep religion out of science classes) said of her experience working to keep science and religion separate then, on the side of science in that conflict were...religious people. They did not want have to spend their Saturdays and Sundays undoing one sectarian viewpoint that might be taught in schools during the week.

    Today, religious people are terrific allies for science when not being attacked just as they historically have always been; there would be no science without religion, religion kept knowledge for society when governments wanted knowledge gone. Even in Darwin's time, religious people were still doing great science. Mendel was not an atheist, progressive, government-funded biologist, yet he won a race biologists didn't even know they were in until after he won it. The list of philosophical and scientific achievements by liturgical people is long.

    I was surprised, after Science 2.0 became a formal project almost six years ago, that while physicists wanted to talk about physics and psychologists wanted to talk about psychology, biologists mostly wanted to talk about religion. I assumed that was because Prof. P.Z. Myers of the University of Minnesota, best known as Pharyngula on Scienceblogs.com (and also once again on his own site), was popular.  Bashing Republicans and religion was the It thing in blogging in 2006 and the bulk of Scienceblogs writers started doing the same thing because that was why their audience came. It was all about who to ridicule rather than science.  Obviously they are a much different group now but some biologists jumped on that bandwagon.   And maybe, I thought, religious people have it coming for being anti-science. So many in science claimed it, it must be true, right?

    Yet I can't actually find many of these religious anti-science people, despite the fact that California is kook central.  Any crazy cause you want to find, you can find it in California, including religious kinds. They exist, there just aren't as many people as is claimed when someone needs to generate pageviews.  The Sacramento Bee had a pretty good article on the topic of science and religion this weekend- yes, science pieces written by local reporters still get printed - but Jennifer Garza had to do what journalists do, show balance, even if it is false balance.  

    The article is called "Area pastors keep faith in science", which is a terrific title (the print version anyway.  The online link above uses a different title.  No idea why), and profiles how during Darwin Day (recognition of his birthday, which someone has now decided should be an entire Evolution Weekend) some area churches are taking the chance to talk about science.   But it does that setting up The Myth of the Oppressed Underdog thing journalists love to do. In this case, that a pastor is bucking Big Religion by accepting science.

    "Darwinism - the theory that all life descended from a common ancestor - is a controversial issue in some faith groups, and many religious leaders reject (Rev. Betsy) Monnot's views." Really?  'some' groups but 'many' leaders? Where is the documentation for that? 30% of Democrats and 39% of Republicans don't accept evolution - but a whole lot of them are not not necessarily anti-science when they answer a question that they don't accept evolution, they are instead anti-scientist-who-ridicules-their-beliefs and don't believe some aspect of evolution because, let's face it, evolution is hard. Biology teachers get a lot wrong so it's no surprise most people do also. And then there is the condescension again.  The more that scientists allow activists in a culture war to represent them as being against religion, the more people will rebel against science for reasons that have nothing to do with science, even if it looks that way on polls. Science literacy is not magically achieved because someone claims to accept evolution.  If you ask 99% of people who claim to accept evolution about adaptive radiation,  they are stumped. They simply choose to believe it. To the credit of Americans, they cop to acknowledging what they don't know and not claiming to believe in it more than most Europeans, who will claim to be more scientific about evolution while they insist eating feces on organic food is safer than eating a genetically modified potato.


    Looks simple enough, right? Well, so does chess, and there are a lot more Grandmasters in chess than biology. See my article on The Evolution of Evolution if you want to see how the term itself 'evolved' - it was part of our 30 Days of Evolution Blogging for Darwin's 200th birthday

    "The loudest Christians do not represent all Christians," Monnot said, and it is unfortunate we don't hear more of that same sentiment from the science community about its loud people.  There are benefits of a liturgical society - as I have said before, when unpopular disasters that don't make the pages of the New York Times occur, how many atheist science groups put boots on the ground? Lots of religious groups do just that, without publicity and without thanks.  Sorry, scientists, you are not saving the world writing tirades about religion on your blogs. 

    Science is a common language, no different than math.  It is for all of us. For every goofy Young Earth Creationist like Ken Ham out there, there are a million religious people who love science and just want the essential mystery of the spark of life left to wonder.  So stop talking about all religious people like they are Ken Ham.  If you feel the need to tell religious people their God is causing abortions and murders and poverty, you aren't making the world better for science, you are just being an asshole.

    A culture war against religion does not help science, especially not science that is increasingly controlled by politicians.  Not every religious person should be sneered at as a 'creationist', which is a wink-wink assertion that anyone religious must believe the planet is only 6,000 years old and dinosaur bones are some sort of head fake test of faith.  If you don't like being called 'immoral' for not going to church you shouldn't refer to religious people as 'intellectually immature' because they believe in one more God than you do.

    Obviously, religious people do not escape blame for a culture war. Ken Ham and others like him are doing religion no favors by being irrational and nonsensical in claiming evolution says we evolved from monkeys.  But in science media, articles criticizing Republicans and religious people are still the norm, and not being part of that echo chamber is more fun, so I will argue we can stop worrying about cranks in religion and let scientists blog about science. 

    My title 'Why Are We Still Talking About Darwin?' can be read two ways, depending on how you want to read it. One can be 'why are we talking about Darwin at all? and one can be 'why is Darwin still relevant today?'  He's relevant where Freud is not because he was right. He's relevant where Newton is not because his simple concept still holds a lot of mysteries.

    It's time to stop defending him. He doesn't need defending. He was right, just like Archimedes was right about sitting in a bathtub and just like Holmes was right with continental drift.  We don't bother to defend them. If someone says evolution did not happen, walk away, just like you should walk away if someone says astrology works or the Moon is made of cheese.

    It's no great victory to debunk those people but lumping in 85% of the world as being the same as those people is not really the way to increase science acceptance.

    Comments

    On "Darwin says men descend from monkeys" - given how religion evolved from mimicry, it is fun to watch heralds for religion distort or reduce Darwin to that assertion in order to make evolution theory feel more offensive. Darwin didn't mean to be right in that sense.

    Why do so many biologists devote so much of their intellectual effort (as exhibited on their blogs) to non-biology matters: debunking religion, ridiculing conservatives, advocating for favorite politicians, promoting the "occupy" clowns, showing pictures of their cats, printing recipes, etc., etc. etc.?

    Compare their published interests to other scientists: physicists, biochemists, heads of university laboratories and even to other professionals whose occupations demand intellectual rigor such as surgeons, electrical engineers, geologists, mathematicians, etc. Few of them, to my knowledge, engage in activities favored by prominent biology bloggers.

    My explanation: most of them are basically place-holders, tenured professors who were attracted to biology as a relatively "easy" science. No serious unexplained questions remain for biologists to solve. Just keep on with the same-old same-old. Teach from textbooks with lots of pictures. Write your own book explaining that evolution really happened, lord it over the undergrads by posting "molecule of the month" problems, and similar no-sweat "intellectual" activities favored by the resting-on-their-oars biology professoriat.

    If they were serious, evolutionary theorists would be working on major unsolved problems of evolutionary theory -- problems evident to any thoughtful person -- such as what is the theoretical explanation for the origin of the the Bilaterians? How did gene pools capable of producing only multicells with colonial characteristics suddenly start to produce meticulously-constructed complex animals? It happened too long ago to examine directly? Tough. That's the job of theorists: go where observational science cannot go and come up with logical, falsifiable explanations.

    Biology is an area of INTENSE research. Every professor I know does experimental research -- in genetics, development, gene regulation, phylogentic analysis, and a hundred other things. All of which are relevant towards understanding the origins of things such as multicellular and body form. We have barely scratched the surface of understanding the complex interactions of genes. Molecular biology is still in its infancy.

    It should be obvious that biologists frequent blogs because biology is the one area of science that mainstream culture shamelessly attacks for amusement. Also, I am laughing at you because it was the supposedly more "intellectually rigorous" geologists who actually discovered evolution. Biologists just provide the mechanisms. Is a billion years of fossils enough proof for you?

    Why are we still talking about Darwin ...

    My take on the issue is that we are talking about Darwin because he is 'an easy mark' for the anti-science crowd. This town, where I live, is about as solidly fundamentalist as a place can get ... aside from the geologists who work for the oil interests, every one gives lip service to 'the controversy.'

    The reason that geology, physics, chemistry, et al., is relatively immune is that as ignorant as most Americans are, the math is just too daunting ... but saying 'I ain't dee-sended frum no munkee' is an easy attack. That it is about as logical, and as scientific as the earth being flat and the center of the universe, is beyond the thinking ability of the average yokel ... and sadly most of his rather poorly educated, semi-literate, and mindlessly inept neighbors.

    What I find amazing about Christian fundamentalists in the United States is that the founding fathers were Christian secularists. That is why religion is separated from state in the Constitution.

    It is also why all Thomas Jefferson rewrote the bible, called the Jeffersonian bible, because he liked the concept but thought most of the supernatural aspects were made up by the transcribers of hundreds of years of oral tradition.

    So, you wonder what the man who wrote the Constitution and Declaration of Independence would think about those who demand that Presidential Candidates present their religious credentials.. I think he would be very unimpressed and probably uncomfortable with the re-entry of religion into American politics.

    Hank
    What I find amazing about Christian fundamentalists in the United States is that the founding fathers were Christian secularists. That is why religion is separated from state in the Constitution.
    Your interpretation of history is flawed. The founding fathers were not secular, they were instead sectarian, and the Constitution was written to prevent a totalitarian government from creating a national religion, like the Church of England.  Keep in mind the bulk of early settlers were people from Europe escaping religious oppression.  It was written to make sure religious freedom remained for all, not to block religion. That you think the Declaration and the Constitution were written by the same person - and you can't name him - says you need to bookmark talking points a little less and be more thorough.
    Nice post. I live in a country that was predominantly catholic in the recent past. It still was quite catholic when I was young. The majority of our schools are affiliated with the catholic church, or to be more correct: affiliated with the vast social structure set up by catholic religious minded people and groups in society (unions, political parties, all sorts of organisations).

    In all my years in catholic schools, universities etc. I've never heard someone attack Darwin or promote creationism. When I was 11 or 12, our schoolteacher - a catholic friar ("frater") no less! - explained carefully that we shouldn't take biblical stories literaly.

    Maybe "aculeus" is onto something. Attacking religion on a blog is quite easy, it bestows you with some intellectual prestige, you don't have to write about biology (which is far more difficult and bestows you with less intellectual prestige) etc. In the meantime these blogs are rarely about interesting things. I once asked what was to me a very simple question. What are the fundamental problems of evolution theory? After all, in physics there are some very succesful theories (standard model, general relativity etc.) but no physicist will deny that they have fundamental problems. The unexplained parameters of the SM, there's no quantum theory of gravity yet, etc. If unexpected particules turn up in the LHC many physicists will be very happy. So please biologists, tell me about the fundamental problems of evolution theory, tell me about the results that will make you happy and send you back to the drawing board.

    Utter silence was the reply.

    Very strange indeed.

    There is no conceivable proof that would send real scientists "back to the drawing board" on evolution, short of God appearing in person and telling us he planted 3.6 billion years of progressively more complex fossils just to trick us. It is true that biologists don't know EVERYTHING about every species, every gene, every method of speciation, every chemical reaction needed for abiogenesis, etc. This does not make the fossils any less convincing, nor mean that we should remain silent while 40% of the population perpetuates lies to their impressionable children. Telling the truth about biology is not "attacking religion", as you say, no matter how much creationists scream about it.

    Also, do not conflate biologists with atheists. Most biologists are atheists, but most of the people satirizing creationists for giggles are not biologists, just educated amateurs. Or sometimes uneducated amateurs... because creationism is pretty easy to mock.

    If you have the time go to www.dissentfromdarwin.org and read some pretty heavy hitters-- -PhDs and MDs worldwide from a variety of prestigous universities who are concerned with some aspect of Darwinian evolution. Very interesting.

    Cherry picking. And AS I JUST SAID being concerned about "some aspect" of evolution does not mean doubting that it occurred. Scientists have spent the last two centuries being concerned about and subsequently improving upon such aspects. It's called research. I don't suppose a creationist has ever heard of it. The result is a theory more powerful than Darwin ever dreamed -- so stop calling it "Darwinian", it's the modern synthesis.

    Evolution, as a theory, is on much firmer ground than even something like the Standard Model is. "Descent with Modification", which is what Darwin proposed is what is basically meant when someone talks about evolution. That concept is essentially a settled fact. "Selection" both natural and artificial occurs and has been extensively documented both in the laboratory and in nature. The physical mechanism which allows for heritability and modification is DNA, whose existence is an essential prediction of the theory.

    The "Theory" of Evolution is more properly thought of as a law within the confines of what it attempts to explain. With a massive number of observations documenting evolution in real time, the huge fossil record showing these changes continuing at geologic time scales, and DNA regression analysis documenting these branchings, there is no competing explanation waiting in the wings for new data to arise in the sense that something like String Theory or Super Symmetry might displace the Standard Model depending on findings from experimentalists.

    Hank
    A funny comment from James Watson at the World Science Festival, which Brian Greene puts on; "Biology doesn't need string theory.  Evolution works."
    A suspicion is allowed by the history of string theory, which is that string theorists might be confused not on whether but on what in the physical world they are actually talking about - similarly to Searle's Chinese room argument against AI. So in front of Watson's remark, I ask : what if strings secretly mapped to life histories - they are appropriately shaped, aren't they ?

    If I had to try to flesh this out, I'd target mimicking string dualities with mathematical equivalences between utterly simplified models of natural selection (I mean, there clearly exist divergent ways of exhibiting the "gist" of the idea of natural selection as mechanical dynamics inside a mathematical model in the style of population genetics).

    To clarify my final parenthesized statement: simple population genetics models postulate fitness coefficients that hide a diversity of simplistic but concrete manners for these coefficients to be "implemented" in terms of life histories. For instance, one can have a model with a fixed reproductive age and uniform reproduction rate for individuals surviving to that age. But an alternate possibility could be to translate selective advantage into earlier reproduction all other things staying equal, and they are yet other possibilities. The idea would be to make a census of such streamlined "implementations" of biological selection and describe their equivalences more in detail, in the hope that a string duality can be recognizably mimicked by such means.

    car2nwallaby
    It seems the scientific theories that are hardest to accept are those that fundamentally change the way we think of our place in the universe.  Evolution meant we were no longer held completely apart from other animals.  Sure tectonic drift and the geologic age of Earth meant we had to revise some ideas.  But drifting continents didn't challenge our most basic ideas of who we are like evolution did.  Since religion is all about helping us understand who we are, it's understandable that reshaping those ideas could create tension.

    I agree that the strategy of "if bashing your religion doesn't make you believe in evolution, we'll just have to bash harder" is not a good one, and for many reasons.  Religion certainly has a valuable place, and there's no reason why it can't coexist with science.

    Side note to couvent and aculeus on open questions of evolution, under active research: Origins of life.  Which first: RNA, proteins, or lipid vesicles?  One origin, or multiple?  Development of multicellularity.  Cheating vs cooperation, even among microbes.  Strength of kinship and group selection.
    Gerhard Adam
     Evolution meant we were no longer held completely apart from other animals.
    I agree that religion isn't and wasn't the problem with the beliefs that evolution addressed.  Like it or not, humans have always used their perspectives on how things should be "classified" to justify their behaviors and actions.  It invariably served as an excuse for all manner of bad behaviors which could always be explained away as an consequence of nature and how the universe was.

    Suddenly Darwin provides a theory which connects us to everything and it becomes clear that we aren't just connected to the animals and the biosphere, but also to each other, ethnically, religiously, politically, etc.  No longer could one use simple excuses to kill others or to enslave them.  If we couldn't rationalize our differences, we were stuck having to explain how we could behave as we did to others of our own kind.

    In my view, that is the underlying problem that people have with evolution.  Suddenly you can't just kill and abuse others [including animals] because of some "natural order".  With evolution, we are accountable.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I don't give a rodent's rear who “we" are - there IS NO WE! I KNOW who I am, that's enough for me. And I don't really care what anyone or everyone else feels things says or even does, I worry only about what I feel think say or do, and often berate myself for not being able to handle that with much grace. I suppose those who believe in society or consider the views of others in forming their own are rather stuck with caring about all this Tommy-rot, but I do NOT care about it all that much.

    Evolution is a fact. Faith (if in a variety of things, from person to person) is ALSO a fact. Neither is going away. Get used to it.

    At an absolute minimum, "We" is the other organisms on the planet which share roughly half, or one quarter, of your active DNA, e.g. your parents, grandparents, siblings and cousins. In evolutionary terms, you are part of them, and they are part of you. Not the whole part, certainly, but their genes have a vested interest in how your reproductive success pans out. There is definitely a "we" in human evolution. There's a reason for the old saying "Blood is thicker than water."

    Individuals do not evolve, although they are shaped by evolution. Populations evolve. The most interesting parts of evolutionary theory, especially human evolution, come from the tension between these facts. Fascinating stuff. Ignoring the "we" in evolution, though, seems like a mistake, seeing how humans are made up of a fantastic number of "wes" (cells) which decided to become genetically identical and sacrifice for the community good.

    Gerhard Adam
    I suppose those who believe in society or consider the views of others in forming their own are rather stuck with caring about all this Tommy-rot, but I do NOT care about it all that much.
    Of course you care, which is precisely why you're posting.  You care very much that society recognizes you.  You care very much that society recognizes your ability to work with others in a social grouping.

    In short, you don't exist without others, so to behave as if you don't care ... well, that's not just disingenuous, but it just isn't true.  You depended on hundreds if not thousands of people to allow you to post that set of statements.  I wonder how you'd really feel if you lived by yourself, dependent only on yourself.  I suspect your little cave or hut wouldn't be nearly as cozy as the room you sat in [which I'm equally sure you didn't build and am definitely sure you don't provide the power to] to post your message.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I just read a news article this weekend saying that only 40% of Americans believe in evolution. I think mostly it comes down to the fact that people don't accept apes and jellyfish as being their ancestors. However, the train never leaves the evolution station on a polymer chemistry level, as aminos needed for life are not naturally formed, nor are the required peptide bonds possible. Finally, the chiralty and sequencing of aminos in even the simplest protein chains is impossible. Then the formations of complicated structures and organ functions is not explained by any evolutionist that I'm aware of either. Evolution is simply ... dead in its tracks scientifically.

    Gerhard Adam
    Evolution is simply ... dead in its tracks scientifically.
    Ahhh, but I'm sure if asked, you have an even more improbable magical explanation available.  I won't say anything against your religious beliefs, if you don't insist on foisting your biological ignorance on the rest of the readers.

    In any case, that's what's good about science.  Nobody gives a damn what you or anyone else "believes" or "thinks" unless you're prepared to present evidence.  If you aren't, then you're not relevant.

    Just for the record .... I don't criticize you because you may have religious beliefs.  I criticize you because you clearly know nothing about biology and think that it's perfectly acceptable to come on to a science site, spout off your ignorance and then claim that 40% similarly ignorant people agree with you.  That hasn't nothing to do with religion. 


    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    only 40% of Americans believe in evolution. 
    Well, no. Depending on how you frame the question, up to 40% don't.  Not knowing everything about science does not make the science flawed.  The arguments you make are fairly common for people who have an existing agenda against evolution and I can use similar arguments to deny gravity, but you shouldn't jump off a building. Whether you believe in science or not, it always believes in you.
    David,
    How does it feel to be humiliated in front of the world by showing your complete ignorance on biology and chemistry? All you did was throw out a few fancy words with absolutely no evidence or logic behind them. Evolution is nowhere near dead. The evidence is mounting daily in study after study, as it has for more than 150 years.

    Excuse me, how does accepting anything about religion help science?

    Gerhard Adam
    It simply isn't relevant to science.  Just as religion should never be used to try and explain science, neither should science be used to try and explain religion.  They are simply in two separate domains that can never cross.

    As Hank has mentioned in several articles, it appears that people are willing to use all kinds of excuses when it comes to advancing an anti-scientific agenda.  So those that might have a certain religious persuasion will use it to make their anti-scientific statements.  In all likelihood if it weren't religion, they'd do it with some other excuse.  Similarly there are many that adopt similar anti-scientific positions for political reasons, for economics, etc.

    In short, there are an endless supply of excuses for people to lay claim to anti-scientific beliefs and ideas.  Religion shouldn't be singled out as the "enemy" when it is clearly much more generic than that.
    Mundus vult decipi
    John Hasenkam
    No serious unexplained questions remain for biologists to solve. Just keep on with the same-old same-old. 

    You're kidding right? There is a constant stream of papers addressing a multitude of mysteries in biology in general and evolution in particular. 

    Hank, the evolution-religion conflict is essentially a beast of the USA. It attracts no attention here in Australia and I imagine that is true of the rest of the world. AS for PZ M*y%e^$r)s, I'd prefer not to mention his name so as to reduce his google hits. 
     the evolution-religion conflict is essentially a beast of the USA. It attracts no attention here in Australia and I imagine that is true of the rest of the world.
    I agree that the driving force of the conflict is American but here in the UK, Australian creationism is pretty big. Which, in my opinion, is grossly unfair. After all, we invented Darwin, Wilberforce and Huxley.
    John Hasenkam
    I agree that the driving force of the conflict is American but here in the UK, Australian creationism is pretty big. Which, in my opinion, is grossly unfair. After all, we invented Darwin, Wilberforce and Huxley. 

    That's just the Aussie way of giving the mother country hell because of the way it treated us in WW1 and 2(yes, we won't forgive that). Never heard of Australian creationism but am delighted it has been exported to the other side of the globe. I thought Ken Ham was in the USA driving the creationism arguments. Good to know we export the likes of him. 
    Overall good article, but disappointed that the writer doesn't understand that plenty of intelligent people don't buy into the notion that continents go whizzing around the planet, willy nilly. It's an incredibly stupid idea that is completely at odds with the laws of physics. Moreover, if they took the time to look at the fossil evidence, they'd see that that wont support sailing continents, either.
    Evolution is a fact. The method(s) that drive evolution are still being worked out, but plate tectonics is nothing but ignorance.

    Hank
    Evolution is a fact. The method(s) that drive evolution are still being worked out, but plate tectonics is nothing but ignorance.
    I'm not often surprised but you've certainly managed to do it.  You really think, despite the evidence, that the continents of today have been the same shape for billions of years?
    Gerhard Adam
    I don't believe I've heard this one before, so I'm pretty anxious to see how this plays out.  I just hope it doesn't involve aliens, because then I'll be seriously disappointed.
    Mundus vult decipi
    And what exactly is wrong with aliens?
    Gerhard Adam
    Don't know how exact I can be, but largely because they're so damn alien.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Redneck!
    Hank
    Yeah, his big, white hat can't cover that up.
    Expanding Earth Theory has been around since before plate tectonics, and doesn't require breaking the laws of physics. The same proofs that showed that N.America was once connected to Europe and that S. America was connected to Africa, show that N.America was connected to Asia.
    Fossil evidence from Madigascar, and all across the Indian Ocean/S.Pacific complex shows that those animals are closer to S.American than African ancestors. Indian fossils show that they were always connected to Asia. There isn't a single piece of evidence that I have seen in more than 40 years of interest in the subject, that doesn't support Expanding Earth over Plate Tectonics.

    Gerhard Adam
    There isn't a single piece of evidence that I have seen in more than 40 years of interest in the subject, that doesn't support Expanding Earth over Plate Tectonics.
    Sorry, but that's bias talking.  While you may favor one view over another, to claim that there is NO evidence for plate tectonics is simply disingenuous and decidedly unscientific.

    There are plenty of problems with the expanding earth theory, which is precisely why it remains a source skepticism [at best] and is dismissed by others.  Personally I have no expertise in the matter, so I can't make much of an argument one way or another, but I do know enough to recognize someone is playing fast and loose with the evidence, which you clearly are.

    While you can certainly make your point about what evidence you find compelling, and make an argument as to why this makes more sense that plate tectonics, it is important to remember that you can make geology sound as religious as "creationism" if you're only interested in advancing a belief.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Of course it's bias. Bias is making a choice of one over the other. In this case, it is based on what I have observed. I haven't played "fast and loose" with anything. I have simply stated what I know to be true.
    As you said, you can't make a case one way or the other, and I'd certainly be interested in what you consider the problems of the EA theory to be.
    BTW, much of what passes for science today is really just belief. Which means that it is nothing but religion. This isn't new. Plenty of smart men have made the observation that science advances by funerals. Today, as always, he who gains the funding is the High Priest, and all others must bow down before him. Just ask the climatologists and meteorologists who have dared speak out against Anthropogenic Global Warming. The truth is known about that myth, and only holds on because they still have the backing of much of the media, and an incredibly gullible and ignorant populace. But those numbers are rapidly dwindling.
    Unfortunately, we probably wont have the kind of dramatic evidence to prove EA as we already do to disprove AGW.

    Gerhard Adam
    BTW, much of what passes for science today is really just belief. Which means that it is nothing but religion.
    Statements like that are just silly.  Are you really so naive as to believe that all science is in such a state of disarray that until it is absolutely settled, then it's little more than religious belief?  After all, you're suggesting that everything is based solely on opinion with no data at all.
    The truth is known about that myth, and only holds on because they still have the backing of much of the media, and an incredibly gullible and ignorant populace.
    Of course, it must be so because you say so.  So let's forget evidence and disagreement about data and dive headlong into the realm of conspiracy theories, because that's precisely what you're alleging.
    I have simply stated what I know to be true.
    Once again, you're simply confused.  You've only stated what you believe.  Hopefully it's based on some evidence, but your use of the word "true" indicates that you know nothing of the sort.  You should know better than to use such terminology.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Not sure why you feel the need to mistate what I write, when what I write is in plain view. Go find someone else to play with. If you have some real data that you'd like to discuss, then I'd be interested, but this little circle jerk you have is just going to have to stay with you.

    As you said, you can't make a case one way or the other, and I'd certainly be interested in what you consider the problems of the EA theory to be.
    That was Gerhard speaking for himself. Since he has already said he is not an expert, why would you be the slightest bit interested in his critique?

    I guess you could say that Gerhard and I do actually trust the experts to some extent. Shock horror! Not 100% but enough to know the difference between good science and crackpottery.

    Still, this *is* a science site and if you want to present a theory which is scientifically tenable but goes against the prevailing view, why not write a blog on it? I am sure there are enough professional geologists around to correct any little mistakes. <grins>.
    Already done so, as well as taking part in numerous panel discussions and online discussions over the years with real geologists. Never been shut down, even once. So, I understand that you're coming late to the party, but your ignorance of the subject, or my participation in it, really doesn't give you any superior point of reference.
    I simply responded, respectfully to someone who is misquoting me. And, my pointing out a common fallacy (the original point) in no way requires that I provide a thesis on the subject. I have said and written plenty over the years. Time for you to catch up.

    Gerhard Adam
    Well, then it should be easy to provide some links.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Links to "panel discussions and on-line discussions"? You give the man way too much slack. How about a peer-reviewed paper in a professional journal?
    Where do we begin here? Assuming this person intends to be taken seriously, it is obvious that this individual cannot even spell much less understand the laws of physics. There has never been any evidence at all that the Earth is either expanding or contracting. No scientist in the world believes that it is. However, we have seen plate tectonics at work (notably, earthquakes, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the Rift Valley in Kenya, etc.). Because something moves at maybe an inch per year does not mean that it is not moving. Plate tectonics does not violate the laws of physics in any conceivable way. Decades of geologic evidence has confirmed plate tectonics as it has confirmed evolution.

    Remember that in scientific terms, a theory is a proposed explanation for a phenomenom that has been observed in nature, one that has survived research and testing. A scientific law is simply the definition of a natural process. Ignorance is not knowing something. Stupidity is looking at overwhelming evidence and refusing to accept it. This is the way the world works, whether you like it or not.

    Maybe you could begin with the truth. Nothing you wrote is, at all. BTW, sorry if I missed a word in spellcheck, but that's just another personal attack. Nice job.
    As for your charges that "No scientist in the world believes that this is". Oh wait...sentence fragment...but I wont comment on your inability to actually write a sentence in the English language. James Maxlow and J. Marvin Herndon are just 2 scientists who have written on EA. Then there is Neal Adams, who doesn't making his living doing scientific research, but has all the bona fides of a scientist, just as I do. So just why should I take you seriously?
    There isn't a single proof to show how continents can move around the globe. Large scale subduction is impossible, and if continents had actually done as much traveling as the current paradigm says, then they would be ringed by vast mountain ranges. Then there is the problem of how the continents were formed in the 1st place. These are just a few of the problems with plate tectonics. None of these are answered by the current paradigm, and I noticed that no one wants to take a crack at the fossil evidence.
    Now, if you'd like to be taken seriously, then write something that shows intelligence instead of your vast arrogance.

    Gerhard Adam
    ... and thus the bullshit begins.

    How can I tell?  Well, first of all, to suggest that "there isn't a single proof to show how continents can move..." is simply not true.  Plate tectonics wasn't just scribbled out on a bar napkin after a few beers.  It has it's evidence, which if you would care to refute, would be one thing, but to claim it has absolutely NONE ... that's just bullshit.

    The mere fact that you refuse to recognize the problems in the expanding earth theory is another red flag, since anyone that understands the science would recognize the shortcomings in their own theory (of which there are many as well).

    Here's just one essay critique:
    http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayFulltext?&fid=4516808&jid=GEO&volumeId=121&issueId=06&aid=4516800

    Your point of arguing from authority doesn't do anything to improve your position, since you have still failed to provide even a single link in support of your theory, but your continuous misstatements about how plate tectonics has no evidence strongly raises red flags.
    http://www.skepticblog.org/2009/11/23/no-growing-earth-but-a-growing-problem-with-science-journalism/

    I think we can readily see who is guilty of a "vast arrogance". 

    BTW ... I noticed that when you mentioned Neal Adams you didn't include the "Hollow Earth" theory as another condition that is being touted.  Perhaps that one is a bit less credible?
    Maybe you could begin with the truth.
    There you go with that "truth" thing again.  Unless you want to argue philosophy, provide evidence, perhaps then we can argue about what  the "truth" is.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I didn't really sign up to educate you all on geology, and everything I have posted since is in response to personal attacks that in no way address any of the points that I have made.
    That fact is that contrary to what the author posted, there are many of us who do not support plate tectonics, and we are nowhere on the fringe. Now, if you'd like to pay me for a seminar, I'll be happy to educate you thoroughly, but your continued attacks and expressions of your ignorance do nothing for your case.
    BTW, Hollow Earth Theory wasn't part of my position, so bringing it up is irrelevant and just another sad attack.
    So, since you're the expert here, stand up on your hind legs and dazzle us all with your brilliance.
    Please explain the mechanism whereby the continents were created apart from the rest of the planet. Include how, under the current paradigm of stratification these could manifest.
    Please explain the mechanism by which large pieces of Earth are driven through solid rock without building up vast piles of crustal material, and forget subduction since lighter crustal material cannot be subducted into the more dense mantle.
    While you're at it, please explain or contradict a single point that I have made, other than misstating what I write.
    This would be interesting if I was dealing with someone who even understood the basics, but so far you have shown you don't even understand basic physics or geology, so I'll expect nothing more than personal insults and misstatements of my positions.

    Gerhard Adam
    You're the one that introduced the topic, as well as claiming that the alternative [plate tectonics] has not a shred of evidence to support it.  So, I'd say that you were the one that threw down the gauntlet.

    I'm certainly not interested in a seminar from you, since it is quite obvious that you aren't prepared to provide any information beyond your own personal views.

    It is ironic, that while you offer no explanations, you expect me to provide them to you, despite knowing full well that the literature is quite well documented regarding what is a well-accepted theory and explanation for geology.  So perhaps it isn't me you should be arguing with, as much as the "peers" that don't accept your position.

    As for Hollow earth theory, you brought it up when you introduced Neal Adams has having all the necessary credentials in support of the expanding earth.

    ... and please stop being coy about my "misstating" anything that you've written.  In truth, you haven't done anything except be a smart-ass alleging that everyone is essentially lying (since that can be the only reason to support a theory that has "absolutely no evidence"). 

    -------------------
    Well, I remembered that I've come across some of your posts before, so I'm going to call your bluff.  I don't believe you know anything about the Expanding Earth Theory, and that this is simply another one of your agenda items against AGW.  I'm calling you out on the fact that I think you're lying about knowing geology or anything else for that matter.  It seems your posts both here and across the net seem to be short on information and long on insults [typically just calling everyone stupid].
    Mundus vult decipi
    I haven't insulted anyone, yet that is clearly not the case from you. In fact, you have done nothing but insult me, and when I challenge you to back up your claims, you can't provide a single defense. This is typical.
    Now, I'm being moderated after being continuously attacked.
    In short, this has proven my point.
    Thank you gentlemen.

    Gerhard Adam
    That's what happens when you can't keep your stories straight.  You've already called me stupid, a moron, and ignorant ... but that was when I disputed your claim that oil as abiotic.

    It must be difficult being expert in so many areas that main stream science rejects.  Then again, you seem to make it a point to collect such comments from all over the internet.  Despite that, I find not a single paper or article credited to you regarding any of your claims.

    I stand by my original point.  You're a fake.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Excepting of course that continental drift can be, and has been, measured. There is no comparable measurement of the Earth expanding in size. And beyond the fact that no measurements support the idea of the Earth blowing up like a balloon, the idea itself is a much more convoluted and complex notion than existing models, and is likely unphysical as well. Just because someone makes a youtube video of it does not make it true.

    Now, don't tell me I was wrong. A true story: When I was 4-5 rears old, I remember that I played often the strategic board game "Risk". The standard version is played on a board depicting a political map of the Earth. Even at that young age, it was completely obvious to me that, when looking at the shape of the continents, that they almost perfectly fittet into each other. It also became clear to me that the continents are moving and that they had to be connected in the past. At that day I discovered continental drift (due to the lack of detailed information and better maps, I could not think of plate tectonics though). Only years later I heard that I was not the first person who discovered continental drift, and that my name would not so easily make it into history books (but then, whou would give the nobel prize to a 5-year old anyway ;-)

    "A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five". Groucho Marx.

    Axel

    UvaE
    You're right. The continents do not whiz around and they don't sail either, but plate tectonics is for real.
    Science is definable mathematically. But what is the definition of religion? Without clear definitions, there can be no debate. I do not believe in an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent being who is responsible for the universe. However, I refuse to call myself an atheist because that title seems equivalent to admitting to some kind of lemming mentality. I have various ethical positions that I consider religious. My definition of religion is a blind faith that provides guidance when necessary. I personally depend on harmless honesty, basic courtesy, a commitment t to complete responsibilities. Those I consider religions and for me, they are inviolate. If a situation occurs where there may be alternatives, I faithfully follow my principles. But here's a question: If an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent being exists as described by most major "religions," how could "atheists" exist? Wouldn't the mere presence of such a being be undeniable? And yet, no inkling of such a profound presence has ever made itself evident to me.

    Gerhard Adam
    Unfortunately you're doing it .... you're trying to pick a fight with religious people.  Whatever you believe is your business and what they believe is theirs.  If any such beliefs are going to be presented as "science" then there is plenty of opportunity for debate.

    BTW, your comment about science being definably mathematical is problematic, since mathematics is the one element that isn't science, nor is provable.  Science is about method, specifically about observation, experimentation, and verification.  It is NOT about mathematics.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I was not trying to pick a fight with anyone. Least of all, "religious" people. As I said, I have my own, and I don't try to push them on others. I was only asking for clear definitions of the views being presented. Regarding the existence of "atheism", I was only asking a question that has long bothered me.

    Concerning science and mathematics: Scientific conclusions are determined by observable incremental measurements. Those measurements are based on mathematics.

    Gerhard Adam
    I was only asking for clear definitions of the views being presented.
    Understood, and you also used the term 'debate'.  My point is simply that someone's beliefs aren't a topic of debate, and therefore are subject to anyone's particular set of definitions.  This presumes that their beliefs are personal and maintained within that context.  Certainly if someone wants to use their belief as a basis for making a scientific claim, then it is an entirely different matter, but I do agree with the article, that we should focus on the scientific aspects of the argument rather than on the religious claims which may or may not be alleged to support it
    Scientific conclusions are determined by observable incremental measurements.
    Actually they aren't.  Science is always about repeatability and predictability. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Well the existence of people who do not believe in God has precious little to do with whether God actually exists though it might hint at some of His traits if He does and at some traits of human beings whether He does or not. It certainly has nothing whatsoever to do with Darwin. If you want to discuss the mystery of why atheists exist, by all means message me but I do try to keep my Xian views out of science discussions  - though the "traits" comment above could be construed as a sly gambit if you were *really* cynical.
    Derek,
    Your capitalization of all references to a supreme being fairly tips your hand, so the "traits" comment is not as sly as you might wish. You seem to insinuate that a deity created "atheists" for some obtuse purpose. Or, that nonbelievers are intentionally dismissing or avoiding something obvious. I don't feel anything missing. Belief in a deity simply doesn't exist in me. It's not there, and If a supreme being existed, would not its reality be undeniable? (And none of that "mysterious ways" nonsense, please!)

    How does this relate to Darwin? Most faiths assert that some kind of supreme being made complete, fully developed humans in a single creative impulse. If only two people of the same basic faith (any faith) were isolated, and initiated a theological discussion, they would reach a point, no matter how small, on which they would differ. The "true meaning of life" cannot be questioned. If it is, then there may be an alternative. That is psychologically unacceptable. I am convinced that soon after the moment of divergence, one would have to die to preserve the conviction of the survivor. Nonbelievers would carry on regardless, because we have “no dog in that fight. “

    And that's how the subject of the "traits" of believers and nonbelievers relates to Darwin and evolution. (Not that we've evolved all that much.) Doesn’t it seem reasonable that if we humans recognized that we are a single species and pulled together as such, we could make our Earthly cohabitation better? Or is segregation part of a “divine” population control plan. Am I *really* cynical? That should be obvious and unavoidable.
    .

    Gerhard Adam
    Derek ... I will let you respond, since I have no idea what "segregation" is being envisioned here [especially for a species that doesn't get more intertwined than we are].

    As for the rest, I really don't have a dog in that fight, but I wouldn't mind just watching from the sidelines :)
    Mundus vult decipi
    Thanks for not usurping Derek's opportunity. Your generosity astound me.

    Like I said I am not going to discuss my personal beliefs here. If they "leak out" then tough luck, I'm not trying to keep them secret, just to avoid diluting a science blog with irrelevant noise. That goes for discussing your own absence of belief too.

    I have to confess I completely missed the Darwinian argument. Yes that's a fun idea. Let the religious pick fights with each other until they kill each other off and then let God smite the surviving atheists.  Prophet of Global Suicide eat your heart out.
     
    A debate is only a presentation of differing view. In a debate, these are called arguments.

    I don't understand your statement that "science is always about repeatability and predictability." If that were true, why bother?

    The folks at Cern are still working on the repeatability and predictability of the possible upset of the theory of general relativity (which was unpredictable).

    Their results, posted on the ArXiv preprint server on Friday morning and submitted for peer review in the Journal of High Energy Physics, confirmed earlier measurements that neutrinos, sent through the ground from Cern near Geneva to the Gran Sasso lab in Italy 450 miles (720km) away seemed to travel faster than light.

    The finding that neutrinos might break one of the most fundamental laws of physics sent scientists into a frenzy when it was first reported in September. Not only because it appeared to go against Albert Einstein's theory of special relativity but, if correct, the finding opened up the troubling possibility of being able to send information back in time, blurring the line between past and present and wreaking havoc with the fundamental principle of cause and effect

    Gerhard Adam
    A debate is only a presentation of differing view. In a debate, these are called arguments.
    Exactly so, so what makes you think that an individual's beliefs are subject to such "arguments"?
    I don't understand your statement that "science is always about repeatability and predictability." If that were true, why bother?
    Why bother indeed.  What does that mean?
    The folks at Cern are still working on the repeatability and predictability of the possible upset of the theory of general relativity (which was unpredictable).
    What are you talking about?  It's precisely because GR made predictions that it can be tested.

    As for the rest, you need to catch up on your physics.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Any belief is subject to discussion. The alternative is known as a "closed mind."

    Repeatability and predictability are forms of self testing and peer review. Science is discovery. Discovery is why we bother.

    You say I "need to catch up on (my) physics."

    Large Hadron Collider boss predicts faster-than-light neutrino mystery to be solved by end of summer
    Feb 9 2012 by Oliver Clay

    Has something new happened in the last week? I know they're still sorting out signs of the Higgs, so that can't be it. Still, since you are obviously the ultimate authority, I shall try to discover what happened this week so I can "catch up." Thanks for the advice.

    Gerhard Adam
    So, your idea of understanding physics is being able to read a headline?
    Any belief is subject to discussion. The alternative is known as a "closed mind."
    No the alternative is known as "none of your business", since a belief is, by definition, personal.  If you want to talk about hypothesis, then you can present arguments and begin discussions.

    As for the physics:

    http://www.science20.com/alpha_meme/begging_question_faster_light_particles_not_tachyons_imaginary_mass-84871

    http://www.science20.com/third_millennium_physics/faster_light_neutrinos_and_relativity_ii_million_dollar_bet-84340

    http://www.science20.com/alpha_meme/faster_light_neutrinos_do_not_time_travel_spoil_your_date-83029

    http://www.science20.com/alpha_meme/neutrinos_can_go_faster_light_without_violating_relativity-82950
    Mundus vult decipi
    Pardon, Highness - You nailed it. All my information comes only from headlines, and I usually have someone read them for me while my drool cup and bib are being cleaned. If only there were Cliff Notes for headlines.

    "Belief" is a word that describes a concept. Neither the word nor the concept belong to you. Therefore, beliefs can be discussed with or without your participation.

    All your links lead to hypotheses, some of which I don't dispute. That's fine, just don't claim them as proofs.

    But since pontificating and demeaning seems to be the way to make a point in this forum (at least in your case), let me take this opportunity to inform you that string theory is pure B.S.

    Also, there are no particles; only waves. We require a particulate view of the universe, because of our limited senses. When the Higgs, or something similar is discovered (discovery is not replication, but in this case does involve some predictability), the unified field will be even more complete. Mass and gravity will have a clearer explanation, and particles will be identified as varying densities of wave behavior.

    I don't know what made you so bitter, nor do I care. But now we will end this association.

    UvaE
    there would be no science without religion, religion kept knowledge for society when governments wanted knowledge gone. Even in Darwin's time, religious people were still doing great science. Mendel was not an atheist,....

    There's a great list of Christian thinkers in science in Wikipedia, including one of the earliest advocates of the scientific method, Franciscan monk Roger Bacon, not to be confused with Francis Bacon, known for championing scientific inquiry.
    There is no god, and we are just animals. There are no morals, or right or wrong; there is only what is good for me. If it benefits me to cooperate in a society then that's nice. If I want what someone has and I can take it without any real negative consequences, then that's all the better for me. If I want to accept the negative consequences, then who are you to judge me as being wrong, it's just my own natural instincts that drive me. It's no different when an animal eats its' young, I can do whatever I want because ultimately it doesn't matter.

    MikeCrow
    Society has a place for people like this, either jail, or death row depending.........
    Never is a long time.
    A society based on the morals of Christianity, not science.

    MikeCrow
    Science is amoral, so why would you look to science for moral guidance?

    You can look to religion (even if you're not religious), or society for guidance, but looking to science is at best misguided.
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    Morals have much more of a scientific [biological] basis than you might realize.  In addition, to philosophical explorations of the topic, I would argue that all social animals have at least the rudiments of "morals", and it is precisely such a recognition among peers that allows them to survive in social groups.

    It's really not that difficult a concept, but people get themselves all twisted up in vague definitions and invalid assumptions.  I don't need a divine origin for a morality that works, any more than I need a divine origin for the axioms that drive the development of mathematics. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    Is there a biological basis for rules against rape, kidnapping or slavery?
    Never is a long time.
    Hank
    No, but there's no biological basis for it, either. Ants don't do it.  A moral code that prohibits something comes into effect because another moral code allows it.
    Gerhard Adam
    I would argue that there is a "biological" basis for rules against these kinds of behaviors within the context of a social group.  In other words, once a dependency amongst members exists, then the rules change governing the role of the individual [and their survival] versus the survival of the group itself.

    This isn't the proverbial "group selection", but rather it is a recognition that behaviors that support the group will tend to be selected for over those that compromise the group, when the animals are in such a setting.

    Now when you say "biological" basis, I assume that you're probably meaning something like a genetic predisposition or something of the sort.  I would argue that such isn't the case.  Instead, it comes down to what the group is willing to enforce as a standard for keeping the group cohesive.  In that respect it's "biological".

    Your question regarding slavery is a bit more difficult to answer, because we first have to consider what we mean by that term.  It would seem that the common consideration is to expressly use someone/something for their own purpose.  However, where this becomes more problematic is that we do it all the time with other species.  Other species do it as well [such as ants keeping aphids].  While it may be disputed whether this is truly slavery, the fact remains that one species is depriving another of its freedom to its own advantage.

    Perhaps there is mutual advantage, but that option is denied to that "enslaved" organism.  At some point perhaps the relationship may become symbiotic, but otherwise it is a form of slavery.  So, on that basis, I would argue that our moral attitude towards slavery is primarily in treating others of the same species in the way that we would exploit other organisms.

    So, again, I would say that there is no "biological" basis for a moral code against slavery, but rather it is one that is promoted to ensure the cohesiveness of a group.

    My view of the rudiments of "moral" behavior is that when you observe social animals, it is clear that most animals understand a fundamental set of rules in how they are to approach and behave towards others.  Few creatures would violate another's territory without the full understanding of what that means and what it provokes.  In addition, one can often observe that others in a group tend to cut youngsters a lot more behavioral slack than they would adults.
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    I would agree that they are based on sociological reasons, but I wouldn't consider that biological. And that's really my point, morals derive from society, and IMO if you strip away the metaphysics from the bible, it's a guide for society.
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    I love that kind of reasoning, because it's so ..... shallow.  Let me explain the facts of life to you.
    If I want to accept the negative consequences, then who are you to judge me as being wrong, it's just my own natural instincts that drive me. It's no different when an animal eats its' young, I can do whatever I want because ultimately it doesn't matter.
    You see, in a world where such describes the interaction between individuals, we have a special name for people with your attitude .... corpses.  I'm also under no obligation to put up with your crap, so if you wish to accept "negative consequences", then gear up ... because there would be lots of them and I'd wager you wouldn't live a week.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Fred Phillips
    Great post, Hank.
    California is kook central
    OK, I'll go along with that, as I moved from California to Korea two weeks ago!
    Sure, there were religious people but the so-called Scopes Monkey Trial had established that evolution was science...
    These days that's called 'judicial activism,' the term spat out as if it's some kind of cuss.

    Howdy from Incheon.
    Hank
    An yung!

    Congratulations on the new move.  I think in the case of Scopes, activism is what they prevented.  This was the same decade where Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote the decision affirming that forced sterilization under eugenics was based on science.  So it was entirely possible that had this gone to the Supreme Court, they would have sided with religion.   Luckily, the supposedly backward state (because it is religious, as was the judge) court determined otherwise and it never got the the real crazy people at the top of the judicial branch.
    If science reveals truth it is godly. If Christianity reveals truth it is godly. If anything or anyone reveals truth it is godly. God is not opposed to science in any way. God is opposed to behavior and attitudes that lead to the destruction of nature which includes human beings. This is one of the best articles I've read about this ongoing conflict in many years. Thanks you!!!

    Science is the understanding of God's creation. I am a Christian, and I support evolution to some degree (at least what has been proven to be true), but I also support creation ex-nihilo of Adam, from the dust of the earth, in a pre-neolithic time, among many quasi-modern men, that came from the same place, which took millions of years to accomplish. The simple act of God, utilizing his own laws, fashioning this representative in His image, only to glorify him, through this one act, and the consequences of covenant dominion through that knowledge.

    Gerhard Adam
    I am a Christian, and I support evolution to some degree...
    In the spirit of this article, this points to the problem being discussed.  There's no problem with the first half of that sentence, but what makes you think that science needs your"support"?  If you wish to insist on anti-scientific claims regarding biology, then it has nothing to do with your religious beliefs and everything to do with your inability to understand the science.
    ...I also support creation ex-nihilo of Adam, from the dust of the earth...
    So basically you want to have your cake and eat it to.  That's tantamount to saying that you believe in evolution except for the bit about how humans evolved.  In effect, you support neither the religious account nor the scientific one.  So, it seems that you've cobbled together your own story about things for no better reason than that you apparently like making things up.


    Mundus vult decipi
    Well of course he wants to have his cake and eat it too. Who wouldn't?
     
    By saying "created ex-nihilo" he explicitly removes the origin of one particular human being from the realm of scientific investigation. It is very definitely a statement which is 100% metaphysical.
     
    You are perfectly entitled to assume a prior probability of .00000000000000000000000001 to this proposition, Ken will probably be somewhat less ambitiuous and assign it .9999 or something like that. However baysian probability requires further data which would bring you to convergence. Since this is quite impossible, you are left glaring at each other brandishing your inflexible presuppositions.

    Just remember -  "creation ex-nihilo of Adam, from the dust of the earth" is as metaphysical as "ten thousand angels can dance on the head of a pin".  It does not refer to a physical event! The outcome is a physical being, but the event itself is outside the realm of science.

    What is much more worrying is the use of the weasel words "at least what has been proven to be true". Evolution is proven fact. Period. So perhaps we should invite Ken to say exactly which parts he considers to be proven and which not? I can almost guarantee he will talk about "macro-evolution" and "micro-evolution". Phrases like those act as tracking devices. It means the person using them is parrotting bog-standard creationist nonsense practically verbatim. Of course he won't use them now I've pointed it out, but there are plenty more: "only a theory"; "shortcuts in space"; "but they remain dogs" to name a few of the more banal examples. It's like a language in its own right and is a lethal "Thibbolithk" to those who speak it.

    Absolutely amazing how the both of you, got what you interpreted out of what I said. When did I say that Adam was the first hominid? Or where else did I say that science needs my support? I never did. I said, I, in the first person, based on my what I understand of it, support what I have been demonstrated with. This is why these conversations can go nowhere. Have you two ever read Genesis 1 and 2? Have you bothered to further your knowledge on Temple order and worship as prescribed by the Hebrew culture? Have you glanced at other model of ANE creation narrative and compared them with the Bible's? Remove your presup about what I interpret and allow dialogue, but so far, neither of the two of you are worth the time at this point.

    Gerhard Adam
    There's no dialogue, since you insist on pursuing non-scientific explanations.  What I don't understand is why you presume that neither Derek nor I have ever examined any of that literature.
    When did I say that Adam was the first hominid?
    You specifically indicated that Adam was created from nothing (ex nihilo).  That pretty well excludes biological evolution.
    Have you glanced at other model of ANE creation narrative and compared them with the Bible's?
    Why would I?  What possible relevance would that have to a biological understanding of evolution?

    The problem is that you behave as if biology is something that you can pick and choose which parts you want to listen to, while you're off examining all kinds of non-scientific narratives that have nothing to do with anything except within the context of a personal belief system. 
    This is why these conversations can go nowhere.
    These conversations go nowhere because you don't actually say anything scientifically.  This isn't a religious nor philosophical discussion, so what have you actually tried to say regarding evolution that has been misinterpreted?  The one thing you did allude to (ex nihilo creation of Adam) is simply magic.
    Mundus vult decipi
    You specifically indicated that Adam was created from nothing (ex nihilo). That pretty well excludes biological evolution.
    I realize you have a personal interest in keeping the record straight but I'm surprised you can remember that far back - Adam!
     

    Gerhard Adam
    I don't have a problem remembering that far back.  Why I chose certain names for certain animals does escape me though.  Somehow it seemed more important then.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Then allow the redoubtable Bob Dylan to remind you!

    Man Gave Names To All The Animals
    by Bob Dylan

    Man gave names to all the animals
    In the beginning, in the beginning
    Man gave names to all the animals
    In the beginning, long time ago

    He saw an animal that liked to growl
    Big furry paws and he liked to howl
    Great big furry back and furry hair
    “Ah, think I’ll call it a bear”

    Man gave names to all the animals
    In the beginning, in the beginning
    Man gave names to all the animals
    In the beginning, long time ago

    He saw an animal up on a hill
    Chewing up so much grass until she was filled
    He saw milk comin’ out but he didn’t know how
    “Ah, think I’ll call it a cow”

    Man gave names to all the animals
    In the beginning, in the beginning
    Man gave names to all the animals
    In the beginning, long time ago

    He saw an animal that liked to snort
    Horns on his head and they weren’t too short
    It looked like there wasn’t nothin’ that he couldn’t pull
    “Ah, think I’ll call it a bull”

    Man gave names to all the animals
    In the beginning, in the beginning
    Man gave names to all the animals
    In the beginning, long time ago

    He saw an animal leavin’ a muddy trail
    Real dirty face and a curly tail
    He wasn’t too small and he wasn’t too big
    “Ah, think I’ll call it a pig”

    Man gave names to all the animals
    In the beginning, in the beginning
    Man gave names to all the animals
    In the beginning, long time ago

    Next animal that he did meet
    Had wool on his back and hooves on his feet
    Eating grass on a mountainside so steep
    “Ah, think I’ll call it a sheep”

    Man gave names to all the animals
    In the beginning, in the beginning
    Man gave names to all the animals
    In the beginning, long time ago

    He saw an animal as smooth as glass
    Slithering his way through the grass
    Saw him disappear by a tree near a lake . . .

    UvaE

    Not actually Dylan but...
    Have you two ever read Genesis 1 and 2? Have you bothered to further your knowledge on Temple order and worship as prescribed by the Hebrew culture? 
    Of course. Many times. Can't speak for Gerhard as he is not a Christian as far as I know.
    Remove your presup about what I interpret and allow dialogue
    I don't want dialogue. I want you to shut up.
     
    Gerhard Adam
    Well, I have read it, more than once [which is one reason I'm not a Christian].
    Mundus vult decipi
    which is one reason I'm not a Christian
    And the other is?

    See Ken, even when we're ganging up on you, we still have to have little digs at each other.
    Wow, again, completely missed it.

    How do I exclude evolution by believing that Adam was created ex-nihilo?
    From that statement alone, it appears you haven't really studied any further into Gen 1 and 2, among the following chapters, against the backdrop of an ANE culture, other than a simple reading of it. If you did, you wouldn't make such an uneducated statement about human history, something you seem to hold dear to, only in the biological sense. Cultural and social structure means nothing....lol....

    The article wasn't about scientific nor philosophical/religious discussion as you are trying to thwart, it was the issue that both have with each other trying to prove or disprove each other without any merit between the two, or lumping, as you both are doing, me into a category that you are presupposing....So in reality, it is you guys who are off topic, yet at the same time, doing exactly what the author is complaining about. I was simply acknowledging the author's conclusion and affirming some of his study results in my belief system..

    Selah.

    It's no good you continually whinging about "you two", Ken. Gerhard is talking about the origin of his namesake. I specifically said I was not interested as any supernatural theory is outside the realm of science (unless there is scientific evidence of course), which also means it is out of place in a science blog. 

    For myself, I am still waiting for you to say which bits of evolution you regard as proven and which you don't. Contrary to your silly accusations of being off-topic, asking about the difficulties you have with evolution is most definitely relevant to "Why Are We Still Talking About Darwin?". How can you think otherwise? Whereas discussing ancient creation myths is not by any stretch of the imagination.


    Good article (as usual). I think most of your points are well thought out and on target. But, to a degree I think the problem is a bit simpler . . . and it comes from both sides.

    First, secondary education is generally pretty poor in this country. As a result, topics such as evolution are given only cursory explanation. Students who are curious enough will delve into it and learn at least the basic concepts. But most will not. The result is you getting far too many people who think the core of evolutionary theory is that "man descended from apes". If you knew nothing else about it, and that is what I told you evolution was all about, assuming you are at all a rational thinker, you would most likely immediately ask "then why are there still apes"? The fact of the matter is, a large percentage of our population has that question somewhere in their minds because they were told (or so they understood it) that man is a descendant of apes.

    From the other side of the equation, you have overly-sensitive scientist and pseudo-scientists. These are the ones who tend to forget that the very essence of science is to question; to challenge. Nothing in science is "settled". Yet, when evolution in general is questioned, they go off the emotional deep end. If I tell you the sky is green and you respond with "you're a biggoted ignoramous", you may have satisfied some emotional need of your own, but you have not "won" the argument or convinced me of the error of my ways. Quite the opposite. Due to those pesky little nutrinos that keep beating the light in the super collider, physicists are both exceited and a bit in fear. Suddenly, after a century, there is evidence which may indicate Einstein was fundamentally wrong. Someday, something could come up to throw evolutionary biology into the same maelstrom. I hope the over-sensitive types can refrain from approaching the proverbial ledge.

    Hank
    secondary education is generally pretty poor in this country. As a result, topics such as evolution are given only cursory explanation. Students who are curious enough will delve into it and learn at least the basic concepts. But most will not. The result is you getting far too many people who think the core of evolutionary theory is that "man descended from apes"
    This is a good point. The same surveys that show how many Americans don't accept evolution also show how many high school biology teachers don't understand it.  To an extent that I have argued maybe we should stop trying to teach evolution in high school.  Evolutionary biologists don't like me for that but we also don't teach brain surgery or string theory in high school, while we do teach anatomy and gravity and could teach genetics.   So we can settle for education being poor - but because the teacher's unions won't allow national education standards we can't get a core curriculum and No Child Left Behind has basically been gutted, meaning education will once again go backwards - but I actually side with teachers and students a little on skepticism if the subject is too hard for even 99% of scientists to understand it.
    Gerhard Adam
    Suddenly, after a century, there is evidence which may indicate Einstein was fundamentally wrong. Someday, something could come up to throw evolutionary biology into the same maelstrom.
    Perhaps that might be pertinent, if it wasn't discussed with a sense of "I told you so".  In the same way that Einstein was "wrong", I can state unequivocally that if anything alters evolutionary biology in any fundamental way, it isn't going to be the discovery of the rib from which Eve was created.

    The problem isn't that nothing is "settled" in science, it's that it is often used as a springboard into all kinds of wild speculation because they're all just "theories".  That's what is frustrating.  I don't believe that scientists are overly sensitive, but it isn't reasonable for them to have to answer every crackpot notion someone arrives at simply because they had an epiphany when they were high.

    As with anything else, if someone has a contrary view, then they should be willing to express it and not step in with the arrogance of science having to prove something to them.  The onus is on them to educate themselves sufficiently to make a coherent argument for why their view differs.  Simply saying that "evolution is wrong, so prove it to me" isn't an argument.  It will simply result in that individual being called an idiot.
    Mundus vult decipi
    The problem isn't that nothing is "settled" in science, it's that it is often used as a springboard into all kinds of wild speculation because they're all just "theories". That's what is frustrating. I don't believe that scientists are overly sensitive, but it isn't reasonable for them to have to answer every crackpot notion someone arrives at simply because they had an epiphany when they were high.

    I don't disagree. I think where science gets in trouble, however, is a general tendency to go defensive when holes in the theory are questioned. You know as well as I that all theories have their weaknesses. Science could do a better job of acknowledging that openly. Some fields are better at that than others (physics, for example, does a good job in my opinion of acknowledging we have no idea why quantum theory seems to have a completely different set of rules). The two biggest culprits in my mind are evolutionary biologists and climate scientists.

    Crackpot ideas abound and scientist should not have to defend against them. But, they should listen, nonetheless. I was helped a friend of mine fix his brakes. I don't know a damn thing about brakes. At one point he was having a problem with something or another so, based on my observations, I made a recommendation. He dismissed it. He knew I knew nothing of what I spoke and he had done this dozens of times. Ten minutes later, still failing to resolve the problem, he tried my suggestion. It worked. You never know where a breakthrough will pop up. Even a brake-ignorant guy like me can sometimes see the tree inspite of the forest.

    Gerhard Adam
    That works in physics because people are afraid of physics.  They find the math too daunting, so they tend to leave it alone.  Biology and especially evolution has the aura of "every-day understanding" around it.  So people expect it to be intuitive.  As a result, they feel like they can argue about it, because they have a dog that doesn't behave anything like a wolf, so why should they believe that humans descended from monkeys.

    I don't have a quarrel with the idea that all manner of people can contribute useful ideas, but they will do so by expressing their opinions in a way that represents some thought.  Sometimes an idea may appear stupid and yet suddenly produce a significant insight.  There's nothing wrong with that. 
    I think where science gets in trouble, however, is a general tendency to go defensive when holes in the theory are questioned.
    Well, that's the problem isn't it.  Questioning holes isn't very helpful.  Helping fill those holes, even with "crazy" ideas might be more useful. 

    I don't know how many times I've heard someone discount evolution because there's no good explanation for the origin of life.  So when it is admitted that there is no theory of the origin of life and that it isn't part of evolution, then they proceed to argue that that's a lie, because everyone "knows" that evolution is all about how life began ... or that we should just admit that we don't know anything and that perhaps the Biblical account of creation has merit that should be considered.  After all, those guys over at the Discovery Institute don't have a problem providing answers.

    At that point, I usually find my patience failing and invariably will call the guy an idiot.

    Basically I don't really want to discuss problems with people that aren't prepared to actually discuss them.  If they only want to advance their own beliefs, then they're wasting mine and everyone else's time.
    Mundus vult decipi
    James Ph. Kotsybar

    SURVIVAL OF THE WITLESS

    -- James Ph. Kotsybar


    When fire, water, earth and air were thought

    to be the elementals that composed 

    all matter, folks did not remain distraught 

    at what avant-garde chemists then proposed.

    Most understand that our world is a sphere, 

    with only one natural satellite. 

    No matter where folks sail, they do not fear

    they’ll reach Earth’s edge and fall into the night.

    Most even have embraced that time’s not fixed 

    and have adopted relativity. 

    So why should folks’ beliefs remain so mixed

     about evolution’s activity?

    Abundant evidence supports this view, 

    yet institutions argue it’s not true.

    Salutations, Rhyming Friend
    Though poetry drives me round the bend
    And music is the noise of fools,
    They go to show that all mankind
    Have areas to which they're blind
    And break their inconsistent rules.
     
    The love of truth should guarantee
    Acceptance of each certainty
    Achieved with scientific rigour;
    But when that meme turns parasitic
    And fear of hell drives men hysteric
    Then madness is persued with vigour.
     


     

    James Ph. Kotsybar
    <!--[if gte mso 9]> 0 0 1 37 212 Chaotic Exotics 1 1 248 14.0 <![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE <![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]> <![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;} <![endif]--> <!--StartFragment-->

    WITH ALL DUE RESPECT:     

     

    Perhaps you are British

    (or verse makes you skittish),

    but here’s advice you could use:

    Though spelling might differ for

    color, rigor and vigor

    pursue is not spelled like peruse.

     

    (Thank you for your comment on my post.)

     

    <!--EndFragment-->
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Hey guys this is great, but please get it right
    His pursued was persued not perused
    As long as it rhymes you don't need to fight
    As poetic licence lets words be abused.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    James Ph. Kotsybar
    What Helen is tellin' is don't waste your melon 
    on issues of spellin'.

    Gerhard Adam
    THAT'S IT!

    One more rhyme and
    I'm dropping a dime

    [on someone]   :)
    Mundus vult decipi
    Look what you've done, Pedantic Ex-Friend!
    This rhyming game would have come to an end
    If you hadn't corrected my "spellin'"
    For after I'd squandered my quota of "u"
    There was only one left to include in "persue" 
    A good excuse, right? But now we have ... Helen! 
     
    Who has broken the rhyming pattern I chose
    And gone back to your plain A-B-A-B
    You get credit for keeping it going I s'pose
    But Helen - not even a maybe. :)
     

    p.s.

    And as for Gerhard
    he does try hard

    [I think!]

     
    Hi Derek,Here is my reply to you, I can't seem to post a comment or reply when I'm logged in!

    These are harsh words from potholing Derek
    Who thinks rhyming’s a game without any merit
    Other than making his quota of u’s
    But James is our expert at crafting these lyrics
    Based on his knowledge of evolution and physics
    So when it comes to rhyming, Derek you lose!

    Calm down Gerhard, this is now my last rhyme
    You won’t even have to part with that dime
    I can’t compete with James or Bob Dylan
    Animals smooth as glass slithering through the grass’
    And folks with beliefs so mixed about evolution’s past
    Cos I’m Helen the melon, so no need for yellin!

     
    Sourpuss Helen comes late in the day
    Pronouncing the score and the winner
    Like anyone cares what you think or say -
    Your job is preparing the dinner!

      
    Meow, meow, meow, meow, meow!
     
    Very true Derek. Goodbye!

    Why are we still talking about Darwin ? For the same reasons we flock to the picture convention for man's ascent according to Darwin that displays man leading the way and more apish ancestor following man

    ...rather than the opposite with man following ancestors, even though the latter is a much more faithful representation of what's implied by evolution theory.

    Religion extends paternalistic deference, parents deserve deference, God is an uberparent, religion champions deference to ancestors. And that, of course, first of all among or before those most attentive to social hierarchy. Darwin did not just deny the straightforward (interpretation of the) biblical account of genesis, he simultaneously asserted a (perceived) reversal of the social status of ancestry (eg "man descends from monkey"). A flip of polarity over a fundamental scale that (some significant sector of the adepts of) religions can't accommodate.

    I wonder really if i sould defend my believe in God against people hat are so ignorant and prejudging about that God believing prople hate science and dont accept science because they believe in God. but OK for your sakes i will do it a little.
    I grew up as an atheistic scientific interested guy; studied science and work in science; i earn my bread with science. In 2004 i accepted Jesus Christ as my saviour and the bible as Gods true word. did i have to do away with al my science knowledge... no not entirely. of course God asked me if I was prepared to change my thoughts about science and shortly after wards i discovered why He asked that; there have been numourus flaws in secular science; things that were simply not true. i have been lied to for so many years by the secular science indoctrination regime in our school systems. we have been indoctrinated by evolution big bang idea's since we were small kids. i found out the truth about this.

    God showed me creationism; creationisme is science showing facts and artifacts that you dont see in your schools. arguments and numbers (scientificall numbers and facts) that we don get to hear on our schools.
    and i started to see the truth tha the bible is correct on all espects of it; including the scientific parts that are mentioned in the bible. no the bible is not a science book thats right but the facts that are mentioned in the bible are all scientific correct. But that is not what science wants to recognice; in contrary; science rejects the scientific facts that the bible mention.
    Well that is not a good scientific attitude isnt it ? no it is an attitute of prejudgement and unwilling to know the truth. because i know both sides of the story i dare to claim that i can very hard say this.
    I advice people to get into the bible and creationism deeply before judging and rejecting it.

    Gerhard Adam
    I grew up as an atheistic scientific interested guy; studied science and work in science; i earn my bread with science.
    That's good.  ... and now you're a preachy sorta guy.  I get it.

    Then you should know that I am saying this because you understand how science works, and you won't be offended.

    You offend all the readers here because you supposedly know how science works, so you must know that science works on evidence.  What's even worse, is that if you truly know that something in science is wrong, then I'm sure you would be quite excited to indicate how things really work and correct things.

    However, you don't know anything of the sort.  You're just preaching the same old crap, and you know nothing new. 

    What's worse, is you insult the intelligence of other Christians or religious believers by making it appear that they have to adopt some sort of "down home" flavor of religious superstition, instead of recognizing that there are no incompatibilities between a religious belief and scientific knowledge. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    I also became a Christian from an atheist background. I also looked into creationism deeply. Unlike you, I discovered it was a total fraud.
    James Ph. Kotsybar
    Sorry, Gerhard, I just have to post this one:

    AT ODDS

    -- James Ph. Kotsybar

    Researchers seeking solutions can’t say, 

    “Things are the way they are because of God.” 

    From Spirit, scientists must shy away 

    or risk their labors be seen as slipshod.

    The fraction of them considered devout 

    must keep their studies apart from belief, 

    not daring to proselytize about 

    what brings their natures comfort and relief.

    Faith remains outside their explanations, 

    despite convictions which may be affirmed. 

    No matter what profound implications, 

    their answers must be physically termed.

    They want to know God’s thoughts, yet they resist 

    even acknowledging God could exist.