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Uppity Wisconsin - Progressive Webmasters

« An Uncivil Society | Main | Tommy Thompson Tries Out His Act Outside of Iowa: Not Quite Ready For the Big Time »

April 16, 2007

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Jess Wundrun

Just for fun-a must see: http://www.transbuddha.com/index.php/buddha/comments/9179/

Wherein a peanut butter jar proves that evolution is false. Neat-o!

Charlie

In your second paragraph, you must mean 4.5 BILLION years, not million.

Anon

You're showing your age, Paul. Evolution is no longer the call to rebellion it was because it has been discredited even by its own promoters.

The younger generation is moving strongly in favor of creation even though they've been brought up with evolution. It's only a matter of time that evolution will be phased out, not by rule or law but by common sense.

Aaron

So Paul did you go to easter services? just wondering...

Also as an administrator of a promising local software company that allows their employees to take a 1/2 off on good Friday, would you be in favor of allowing employees to take that 1/2 day on another day of their choosing?

To Anon: Its not that common sense is prevailing, but rather our education system is failing.

Anon

Aaron - I don't think our education system is failing, talk to some of these younger teachers...smart and determined with good skills and they work hard for success. They're a different breed than what we have seen in the past.

Me

Paul and Anon perfectly prove what is completely wrong with this whole Evolution vs. creation debate. Too many people see this as a black and white issue: Either evolution is 100% true, and is the definitive proof of the non-existence of God, or Creation is true, and the earth is 6,000 years old. In reality, there is a whole spectrum of positions along the Creation-Evolution continuum. The two opinions that get the most news are the two on the ends of the spectrum. If people were more exposed to the positions in the middle, I think the debate would be entirely different.

For instance, not all people who believe in creation believe that physical creation happened in a literal 6 day period, 6,000 years ago. There are a great number of people (called Old Earth Creationists) who believe that the Earth was created over a period of millions (billions) of years by God, but are not ready to accept Evolution as the means by which different species came about. Many of these people are convinced that Evolution, or something similar is responsible for the variety within a species, or even different species within some larger category ("Kind").

There are also a fair number of people (called theistic evolutionists) who believe that God created the Earth and everything in it, and believe that Evolution as we are discovering it is a part of that creative act by God. Francis Collins, the lead scientist on the Human Genome Project is one example of a committed Christian who also believes the Evolutionary process to be true.

Unfortunately, the people who get all the attention are the Young Earth Creationists and the atheistic evolutionists. It ends up as a battle between Richard Dawkins and James Dobson, and everybody thinks they need to take sides. Meanwhile, the battle is over one or two chapters of the Bible, taken out of the cultural context in which it was written. A few pages of scripture, showing God's role in the functioning of the cosmos, and the dedication of the Earth and all creation as his Temple, are taken literally, as if they were written to Jim Smith of Nowhere, KS, when in reality they were written to Amminidab of Ancient Jerusalem. Yet Jim Smith doesn't take any consideration for how Amminidab would have understood those scriptures, and rather puts it into his own modern viewpoint. Therefore, he reads it as a science text, telling him the exact age (plus or minus a few years) of the earth and everything in creation. Meanwhile, the scientific community gets up in arms, because the religious community are trying to prove them wrong. They are no longer content to just make their observations, and a few of them take it upon themselves to try to prove definitively that God does not exist. Meanwhile, the sensible people on both sides of the issue are trying to find common ground, but they don't make the news. Common ground makes for boring news stories.

Science and religion do not need to be in opposition to each other. Personally, I fall somewhere between the Old-Earth Creation group and the Theistic Evolution group. I believe fully in a creator God, but I believe that the Bible isn't a science book, it's a religion book, and I'm just trying to explore how all the pieces fit together. It has taken us thousands of years to figure out what God has created, and we've still got a lot of work to do, and I see the scientists as doing that work.

Aaron

Before the advent of science people needed a way to explain the world around them and create organized societal structures to allow communities to coexist and prosper and religious teachings and organizational structures filled that gap. Theism has itself evolved over time since Galileo proved that the sun was not the center of the universe. Some religious people see any scientific evidence that contradicts the bible as an attack on the pillar of their religion and seek to discredit/ignore it so that they can continue to rely on their literal interpretation. Any reinterpretation is seen as a slippery slope that could destroy their belief system. Others continue to reinterpret scripture in an attempt to cling to their beliefs.

Most scientists are atheists because the more a person comes to understand scientific principles and the scientific method the harder it becomes for the person to rationalize an irrational belief in a god/creator. This is why fundamentalists are against teaching of evolution and science in school as they have seen young educated people turn away from religion. As an atheist when I vote for school board members I am wary to vote for someone who touts their religious involvement because I fear that they might attempt to corrupt the science curriculum by trying to legitimize creationism or limit access to sex education because of their puritanical dogma.

The reason why some scientists have felt the need to speak out against religion is because their work is being attacked and impeded by religious zealotry. The teaching of science in the classroom is under attack by the religious right. Experimentation on stem cells(that would be destroyed anyway) is extremely handicapped to the point that other countries that value science and education like South Korea are becoming front runners for biological science. Scientists don't need to prove that god doesn't exist any more that they need to prove that pink unicorns or flying spaghetti monsters exist. The burden of proof is on religious leaders to prove that there is a god or prove that their sacred biblical text is anything more than a misguided historical document. They have no proof that stands up to scientific scrutiny, only speculation in areas that science has not yet fully explained. Proof that something is not yet scientifically explainable is not proof of god.

I think that there are some human truths in religious teachings, but these are based on fundamental human morality and the rules that govern a civil society. These truths sugarcoat the rest of the religious teachings to make the house of cards seem to be grounded in fact. I am an atheist, but I grew up in a religious household and I know how it can be hard to relinquish irrational beliefs when you have been indoctrinated by your parents and society from a young age.

Sagredo   (Dan Sebald... well I'm not going to be Simplicio!)

Salviati: "Speaking of gravitation, that too is only a theory, as in Newton's Theory of Universal Gravitation. I know, it's my imagination that when you throw a ball into the air it comes down or that we all don't go spinning off the earth into space."

Galileo used a bit of sarcasm too and he only ended up with house arrest... which isn't so bad.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialogue_Concerning_the_Two_Chief_World_Systems
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/galileo/


As for the origin of humans, considering the span of time before us, scientists are dealing with limited data and doing a bit of extrapolating, and sure they have their biases. But refining theories is part of the scientific method, and that is why it's nice to have many independent scientists (unlike the way science is funded in the U.S. now days; I digress). The dating of strata where the Clovis point is found gives some insight into the pre-history of North America, and then there are new technologies like genetic analysis that come along and show some of the facts concerning Clovis point don't fit the original theory. A bit of fuzziness here or there doesn't mean the whole original theory is wrong. (When pure mathematics is involved, however, accuracy becomes paramount. Math is deduction as opposed to induction.)

The latest theory Paul refers to (good links, by the way) is the "out of Africa" theory and it hinges on a marker gene traceable because of the fact (if I recall correctly) that the human race may have been on the verge of extinction in Africa at one point. (Or it could be that humans were happy in Africa and decided to not venture elsewhere. Or they tried to venture out but the rest of the natural world kept winning. Or...) Had genetics technology not been invented by modern times and the human mixing on the planet got to be too much, the ability to follow the genetic paths would have been lost.

In the middle east was a split. One subgroup went to Australia following pretty much the coastal path. They stayed in Australia becoming the aboriginal people that we know today.

Europe, The Americas, it's actually quite fascinating to follow the pre-historical paths of the genetic trail:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0000AYL48
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/neanderthals/

The first link is the program referred to in one of the stories Paul gave a link to. Some times I wonder if maybe people considered the significance of their role in the experiment taking place on the planet they might behave a little more nicely toward one another, other life forms and the planet itself... D'oh! Now it's my turn for house arrest.

In fairness, others before Galileo came up with the helio-centric solar system, notably Copernicus.

The thing about scientific method and the natural world is that it isn't democratic. It doesn't matter how obstinate the populace or, yes, scientists sometimes. People can work hard to reveal the truth. People can work hard to conceal the truth. But the truth doesn't change. Approach it with pre-conceived notions, in one direction or another, and you are standing on quicksand. (Read the end of that wiki page about Galileo and tidal theory.)

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