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This is a topic I've been wanting post for a while, and Ed gave me the opportunity.

So in

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=22190934

Ed responds to me with this:

You wrote, "More faith? Hardly. What it takes is more reason and logic, more willpower to get on with the task of knowledge rather than giving up and taking the easy path."

My reply: British philosopher Anthony Flew said, "it is impossible for evolution to account for the fact that one single cell can carry more data than all the volumes of the encyclopedia Britannica put together."


Ed is obviously impressed with this rhetoric. The encyclopedia is big...wow, that must be a lot of data in a tiny space, how could it possibly be?

Problem is, I have frequently thought that most religionists who reject science as just another faith, completely fail to understand the real "scale of things". Maybe it's related to this "god gene" we've been hearing about, which perhaps has the side effect of preventing its carriers from understanding vastness. So they hear phrases like Flew's and they just throw up their hands. They can't get a grip on the scale of things, so they discount it (maybe because they think it's better to ignore something and retain a semlance of pride, than admit that the profundity is beyond them...)

Now I'd love to poke specific holes in Flew's statement, but I don't have the biological data in front of me. I must say though, that is an extremely vague statement. What does he mean by "data"? As far as I can tell, he must mean basic chemical interactions between molecules. I'm sure Flew would also marvel at the amount of "data" being passed back and forth between the molecular constituents of a simple drop of water the size of a cell. If, as David Suzuki once said "The molecule is to the cell as the cell is to the universe", then talking about encyclopedias is a bit of an understatement.

Anyway, back to the post I have been wanting to make: those who question the process of evolution often do so on the grounds that the chances are too small.

So let's do some math.

Bacteria are the simplest living creatures, and yes, Ed, though we have not seen a complex organic globule actually turn into the first bacteria, we can identify the likely processes and show that the chances of it happening are not low on a global scale.

Once a simple life form exists, the chances of it mutating and changing somewhere in the world are pretty darn high.

At http://www.odysseyexpeditions.org/oceanography.htm they say that 1 cubic centimeter of sea water contains anywhere from 100 to 1,000,000 bacteria.

For the sake of the god-gene-limited, let's take a lower number and call it 1000.

A cubic meter has 100 * 100 = 10,000 cubic centimeters.

That means for each cubic meter there are: 1000 * 10,000 = 10,000,000 bacteria.

According to the above site there are 1,185 million cubic kilometers of sea water in the world. Since there are 1,000,000 cubic meters in a cubic kilometer, that's:

1,185,000,000,000,000 cubic meters of sea water. Each of which has 10,000,000 bacteria, for a total of:

11,850,000,000,000,000,000,000 bacteria. This is just in the oceans, never mind all those on land, IN land, and in you helping you digest breakfast.

In an attempt to give a sense of scale, each human takes up about 1 cubic meter, which according to our calculations equals 10 million bacteria. So:

11,850,000,000,000,000,000,000
^ ^
| | you are here
| all humanity is here

I wonder if I have lost Ed in the details yet.

If the nutrients are present, bacteria can divide every 20 minutes. If not, they can live for at least 10,000 years (as was posted here a while back). I think it's safe to say that bacteria in the oceans aren't lacking, but let's play it safe and say that they divide once a day.

So we have 11,850,000,000,000,000,000,000 divisions per day.

How does mutuation happen? Accidental violence, basically. Everybody who gets cancer has experienced a mutation of at least one cell. This can be caused by UV, toxic sludge, radioactivity, etc. Bacteria have little control over any of this, and could easily be subjected to any of it. So any of those cell divisions could have something wrong with them, leading to death, or something better.

11,850,000,000,000,000,000,000 divisions per day. And all you need is one to make a change. To spew a little Flew-type rhetoric, dude, if I were betting on evolution vs. Powerball, I'd take evolution.
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WOW! Excellent post.

My thought at the OP's post was a little less...well scientific. But it is the same comment of his that gave me pause.

The encyclopedia.

His implication that the encyclopedia contains everything 'knowable' is supreme hubris. In fact, as your example of vastness points out, our encyclopedia is laughable in its incompleteness. There is barley anything in them compared to the Universe, or even compared to what could be known about the oceans.

The encyclopedia is limited to the knowledge that humankind has written down. There is so much information that we have lost, don't know, may never know.
His comparison is like saying since I know how lighbulb works, I know how the stars shine.

Once again, totally messed up logic, but people swallow it without question.

Buffy (who thinks this dude needs to get a clue and come back...)
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My reply: British philosopher Anthony Flew said, "it is impossible for evolution to account for the fact that one single cell can carry more data than all the volumes of the encyclopedia Britannica put together

Let me attempt to counter that in a more succinct manner:

Pentium

6
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My reply: British philosopher Anthony Flew said, "it is impossible for evolution to account for the fact that one single cell can carry more data than all the volumes of the encyclopedia Britannica put together."

Ed is obviously impressed with this rhetoric. The encyclopedia is big...wow, that must be a lot of data in a tiny space, how could it possibly be?


Creationists are easily impressed by big numbers, because for the most part, they don't understand math.

I once observed on the CvE board that it's never enough for a creationist to write a big number in scientific notation, they always have to write some fanciful description of it.

Why, if you stacked that many zeroes on top of each other, they'd go all the way to the moon!

One creationist I recall actually took the time to write out some large number of zeroes, irritating the crap out of me as it screwed up my browser and made the rest of the post pretty much unreadable.

It's like they're all aspiring comedians. "Boy I tell ya, that number was big." "HOW big was it?" "It was SO BIG, that..."

To somebody who is not innumerate, saying "The number is 10^500" is exactly as informative as saying "imagine writing 500 zeroes down on a piece of paper" and much more informative than some idiotic remark like, "That amount of information would fill a whole bunch of encyclopedias!"
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Now I'd love to poke specific holes in Flew's statement, but I don't have the biological data in front of me. I must say though, that is an extremely vague statement. What does he mean by "data"?

I imagine he's talking about DNA. He's talking about evolution, and DNA contains the only information that is transmitted from cell to cell by evolution. It'd be meaningless to talk about the rest of the chemical state in evolutionary terms, since evolution doesn't affect that. Except indirectly through DNA, of course.

A quick google gave me figures of 4 million base pairs for a bacterium, and 2.3 billion for a human cell. Since this is base 4, we're talking 8 million bits for a bacterium, or 1 million bytes, and 4.6 billion for a human cell, or 575 million bytes.

For comparison, the Britannica contains about 230 million bytes, if we only consider word count. It's a bit stickier if we include photos and illustrations, which contain quite a lot of information. The largest CD version is 6 CDs, which is a minimum of 3 billion bytes of information. If we're playing fair, human cells do not contain as much information from DNA as the Britannica.

Still, 575 million bytes sounds like a lot. It's a big number, as you pointed out, these people don't really understand big numbers. How could evolution come up with such a big number?

Well, it helps to look at some of those other big numbers. You mentioned 11,850,000,000,000,000,000,000 cell divisions per day. What you didn't mention was the 3 billion years since prokaryotic cells first appeared. Now, we know that our Creationists can't understand that number, since they keep insisting that the universe is only 6000 years old. Never mind that we've observed light that's 2 million years old from Andromeda, which is nearby as galaxies go.

To return to cell division, 3 billion years = 1,095,000,000,000 days. Using your figure, we're talking about 12,975,750,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 cell divisions, and we're being conservative in our estimate. To produce 2.3 billion base pairs of information, we need roughly 1 in every 5,641,630,434,782,610,000,000,000 cell divisions to produce 1 base pair change.

Now, not all of those base pair changes need to be useful. Remember, Flew says nothing about meaningful information in a cell, which is rather harder to answer. DNA contains a lot of noise. Much of it, to our present knowledge, codes for nothing at all. The differentiation of useful base pair changes from non-useful ones is what the "evolution through natural selection" part is all about.

- Gus
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To somebody who is not innumerate, saying "The number is 10^500" is exactly as informative as saying "imagine writing 500 zeroes down on a piece of paper"

That's why I avoided scientific notation when doing my back of the envelope calculations in my divisions / base pair change post. Saying 5.6 x 10^24 doesn't have the same impact on some people. I will say that number is a lot of encylopedias. Using Flew's word count approach, it's half an encyclopedia of encyclopedias of encyclopedias.

- Gus
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To return to cell division, 3 billion years = 1,095,000,000,000 days. Using your figure, we're talking about 12,975,750,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 cell divisions, and we're being conservative in our estimate. To produce 2.3 billion base pairs of information, we need roughly 1 in every 5,641,630,434,782,610,000,000,000 cell divisions to produce 1 base pair change.

Richard Dawkins in The Ancestor's Tale says the mystery isn't that there isn't enough time to evolve all the phenotypes we see around us, but that there is too much time to evolve all the phenotypes. IOW, he says it's a mystery why there aren't more species rather than how did all the species evolve in the time available.

g2w
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I rec'ced your post because I did know that Andromeda really is 2.3 million light years away and gave you the benefit of the doubt on the rest.

Slightly drunk (3 or 4 beers) numerically impaired lawyer joel.
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jwiest: religionists who reject science as just another faith...can't get a grip on the scale of things...

Kazim: ...because for the most part, they don't understand math...

Gusmed: ...[so]they keep insisting that the universe is only 6000 years old.


Watching the members of this board play a game of virtual connect the dots can be so enlightening. Somehow it had never occurred to me that the opposition might be innumerate, as well as illogical.


alto
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<<
Richard Dawkins in The Ancestor's Tale says the mystery isn't that there isn't enough time to evolve all the phenotypes we see around us, but that there is too much time to evolve all the phenotypes. IOW, he says it's a mystery why there aren't more species rather than how did all the species evolve in the time available.
>>

It seems that most DNA changes are no longer present:
1. many changes do nothing or work negatively, so they fade away
2. most species have been terminated in mass extinction events
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Great post, thanks for the info.
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It seems that most DNA changes are no longer present:
1. many changes do nothing or work negatively, so they fade away
2. most species have been terminated in mass extinction events


Dawkins points this out since all he could do was to use the currently existening genotypes as the starting point for his journey "back to the future."

g2w
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First of all unless you direct your comments to me, i generally won't read it.
i chanched upon your comments. So i will direct you to a master mathematician who concluded that the best mathematical decision he ever made was coming to Christ. They named the computer language after him...Pascal, so as a programmer you might appreciate his intelligence since you obviously disrespect mine.

This link will allow you to click on his famous work Pensees:

http://www.classicallibrary.org/pascal/


Peace ... a wonderful thing


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First of all unless you direct your comments to me, i generally won't read it.

That wasn't my primary motivation. Your comment was a catalyst for something else I'd been meaning to write.

So i will direct you to a master mathematician who concluded that the best mathematical decision he ever made was coming to Christ. They named the computer language after him...Pascal, so as a programmer you might appreciate his intelligence since you obviously disrespect mine.

This is meaningless to me. Just because a smart guy decided to give in to irrationality doesn't make him any less irrational. A lot of programmers I know are brilliant but socially inept. I trust them with programming, but not in other spheres of life.

The first quote I saw turned me off:

Or, First part: That nature is corrupt. Proved by nature itself.

Second part: That there is a Redeemer. Proved by Scripture.


This is bung in so many ways I barely know where to begin.

First, your link is to some guy living in the 1600's. He may have been a brilliant mathematician, but he also, like everyone else in his day, still had an extremely limited view of the world and its contents, and the universe and its scope. So why his necessarily ignorant views on metaphysics would be appealing is beyond me.

Nature is corrupt: only from the standard European view of nature as something that needed to be tamed and conquered. Historically people in this time period viewed nature as hostile, a source of pestilence and fear. Only tamed land could be farmed, and the minute the sheep wandered into the woods, there were the wolves a-waiting. So it's not surprising he would have this view.

Actually it seems most religionists are still locked into this world view of nature as hostile. Why else would they worship the creator in a man made building, rather than getting out in his creation? They haven't come around yet to the fascinations of ecology and the fantastic and intricate web of life that surrounds and sustains us, and how order can arise from myriad random actions by the host of its participants. Or if they have, they do like you: throw up their hands at the incredible complexity and say "Holy moly, God did it!"

Proven by Scripture: do I need to say anything about this that hasn't been said? Only those desperate to believe something will find the circular logic of "scripture is true because it says so" appealing. That Pascal uses this at all completely discredits him, IMO.
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PastorEd: First of all unless you direct your comments to me, I generally won't read it. I chanced upon your comments.

Ed, Jon's post was not directed to you. Read it again: it is about a general class of people so innumerate they cannot understand simple matters of scale. You were the exemplar, not the target of Jon's remarks.

So I will direct you to a master mathematician who concluded that the best mathematical decision he ever made was coming to Christ. They named the computer language after him... Pascal, so as a programmer you might appreciate his intelligence since you obviously disrespect mine.

Jon has addressed this point, but I want to back up his brief comments with some solid evidence.

Pascal lived in the 17th century, 1623-1662. If you can name even one European mathematician or scientist of that century that was an atheist, I will be very surprised. Even Pascal's intellectual sparring partner, the ultra-rationalist Rene Descartes, was a Christian.

Pascal simply had no scientific or logical basis for disbelief in the Christian God. Neither science nor modern logic existed in his era, and all math was pre-calculus. Let's take a look at what has been learned since Pascal's time:

1. Isaac Newton invented calculus in 1665 and used it to revolutionize mechanics and optics, and to explain gravity and why the orbits of planets are elliptical. This was the major break with the "science" of Aristotle and the ancient Greeks. Modern physics and our ideas of the nature of cause and effect begin here, five years AFTER Pascal wrote Pensees (1660).

2. Chemistry in the 17th century was still in the Dark Ages. The periodic table of elements was unknown, no one knew what fire or burning or oxidation really was, and alchemists were still looking for the philosopher's stone.

3. Geology did not even exist, and no one had reason to believe that the timetable of events in Genesis might be laughably wrong.

4. Linnaeus had not yet invented his scheme for understanding the categories of biological life: species, genera, families, phyla, kingdoms, etc. In fact, vitalism reigned supreme: the doctrine that life sprang into existence from raw materials (e.g. mice could be created simply by wrapping wheat in old rags and leaving it undisturbed for a week).

5. Genetics did not exist, not even as an inkling. Mendel was still two hundred years in the future.

6. Microbiology did not exist, the microscope not having yet been invented. Bacteria, viruses, all were unknown and unsuspected.

7. The germ theory of disease was unknown to Pascal, as was its predecessor, the zymotic theory of disease (the idea that bad air and miasmas were the root cause of diseases like cholera, yellow fever, and malaria). He had no notion of physiology, or pathology, and very little of anatomy. The circulation of blood, the function of the brain, the Krebs cycle, how respiration works, how temperature is regulated: all of these were unknown. He had no concept of a science of medicine, because it did not yet exist.

8. Telescopes did exist, and so did astronomy, but people were just beginning to come to grips with the idea that the stars were not fixed onto a transparent rotating surface several hundred meters above the earth. The scale of the solar system was known, more or less, to a few astronomers, but the idea that the sun might be a star was not. Galaxies were utterly unknown. The "universe" consisted of the sun and the planets out to Jupiter -- that was it.

9. Almost all of what we know as logic was discovered in the last 200 years. Pascal knew only the logic of Aristotle and some medieval propositional logic. Predicate logic didn't exist, nor did axiomatic set theory, model theory, or proof theory. Set theory was unknown. The absence of predicate logic meant that most formal reasoning, even mathematical reasoning, was deficient in ways that we would find unacceptable today.

10. Probability was in its infancy, helped along by Pascal himself. Statistics, on the other hand, did not exist as a discipline. Consequently no one could test hypotheses using data, as we do today. Since statistical methods are part of the core of science, allowing us to reject inadequate hypotheses while simultaneously guaranteeing a known maximum probability of error in making that rejection, it is fair to say that Pascal had essentially no concept of modern scientific methodology.

11. Energy, entropy, information, thermodynamics: all of these lay deep in the future. Pascal knew no more about the Laws of Thermodynamics than you do [I base this judgment on your pathetic attempts to make thermodynamic arguments].

12. Almost none of modern algebra was known to Pascal. He had a lot of number theory and some exposure to solving polynomials up to the fourth degree, and that was about it. Linear algebra, vectors, tensors, categories, functors: none of this was known to him, and it is now thought by many to be the heart of mathematics. Calculus of real functions, real and complex analysis, topology, algebraic geometry: all of these were unknown to him. Essentially the entire apparatus with which we understand the physical world was entirely missing: he simply had no way of understanding physics, let alone cosmology and astrophysics.

13. Finally, Pascal had no knowledge or concept of optimization theory, including what we now call the genetic algorithm. Unlike ourselves, he had never seen a computer algorithm optimize a genetic code for survival, or reproduction, or anything else. If he had seen such a thing, commonplace to our eyes today, he would certainly not have agreed with your idea that evolution is somehow impossible without intelligence.

Well, I could go on and on. The important point is that Pascal and his contemporaries had not been exposed to any of the enormous body of evidence that the natural world is much richer than imagined by any medieval European (or any resident of Palestine two thousand years ago). Of course they were religious -- there was no reasonable alternative. Today, on the other hand, we have a viable alternative. By suggesting that Pascal's Christianity in some way justifies yours, you call into question your knowledge of history, science, math, and yes, perhaps even your own native intelligence.

If your mind cannot grasp what scientists are trying to tell you, then it would be smart to just leave it alone. If you make reckless statements on subjects you do not understand, like thermodynamics for example, then you risk making quite a fool of yourself.

Loren Cobb
http://www.Aetheling.com
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LorenCobb is already one of your Favorite Fools


A simple rec for that reply seems woefully insufficient.


alto
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Loren, WOW what a post. Thanks.

2000 years ago, intelligent and educated people believed an angry god caused lightning. Pascal lived in an intellectual environment only slightly more advanced. No wonder he had some beliefs that were backward by today's standards.

Today we find so many otherwise smart and educated people who believe in irrational things, and insist we teach these to our children. But this is a problem of more willful ignorance than that of Pascal.
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Well, I could go on and on. The important point is that Pascal and his contemporaries had not been exposed to any of the enormous body of evidence that the natural world is much richer than imagined by any medieval European (or any resident of Palestine two thousand years ago). Of course they were religious -- there was no reasonable alternative. Today, on the other hand, we have a viable alternative. By suggesting that Pascal's Christianity in some way justifies yours, you call into question your knowledge of history, science, math, and yes, perhaps even your own native intelligence.

Ed's primary problem, Loren -- and that of most theists -- is that they lack even the most rudimentary exposure to or understanding of the very disciplines you enumerate. They are, to all intents and purposes, living at the time of Newton and, if they have any tentative ideas about science, they are pretty much limited to Newton's Laws. Most theists have never taken a class in formal logic. Most theists have no grounding in advanced mathematics. Few, I would guess, even took chemistry in high school and have only the shallowest understanding of the scientific realm as it existed in the 17th century, much less today.

This morning's New York Times is running an editorial which deplores the inability of most Americans to even understand and correctly assess the validity of an argument by analogy:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/13/opinion/13sun3.html?th

When Grover Norquist, a leading conservative activist, was on the NPR program "Fresh Air" a while back, he casually made a comparison that left the host, Terry Gross, sputtering in disbelief. "Excuse me," she said. "Did you just ... compare the estate tax with the Holocaust?" Yes, he did.

We are living in the age of the false, and often shameless, analogy. A slick advertising campaign compares the politicians working to dismantle Social Security to Franklin D. Roosevelt. In a new documentary, "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room," Kenneth Lay compares attacks on his company to the terrorist attacks on the United States.


An uneducated citizenry is prey to every manner of charlatan, and is likely to hold every manner of uninformed opinion about subjects central to their wellbeing -- and to the wellbeing of others. Untrained in the skills required for reasoning even at the most fundamental level -- Aristotelian logic -- most Americans seem to be making judgments on matters of life and death on the basis of rhetorical ploys which students at medieval universities would have found laughable.

When one combines the undeniable truths that most people are only of average intelligence, have little actual interest in or motivation towards the acquisition of the level of knowledge -- increasingly complex and daunting -- needed today to make decisions about matters outside their narrow and largely personal focus, and react to feelings of inadequacy and incompetence in an increasingly complex world with stubborn and emotional credulity, it's hardly any wonder that most American believe in angels and hell and a Supreme Being peering down on them from the sky.

It takes a great deal of intellectual energy to function even adequately in the modern world, and most people seem to unwilling to expend such energy. Instead, they take comfort in number and band together to exclude that which makes them feel inadequate and uncomfortable and frightened and embrace any doctrines or outright con jobs which bring them a sense of personal power and security.

We live in dangerous times, and the greatest danger we face is human ignorance, and the determined efforts of those with power to keep most humans ignorant.

SLL


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Loren,

Excellent! One rec per word, if I could.

Not sure if it was intentional, but your website is below your signature. I took a look. You do good work, my man! If you don't mind, I might want to email you about some stuff in the Spring. May need to pick your brain.

Bob
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<Ed's primary problem, Loren -- and that of most theists -- is that they lack even the most rudimentary exposure to or understanding of the very disciplines you enumerate. They are, to all intents and purposes, living at the time of Newton and, if they have any tentative ideas about science, they are pretty much limited to Newton's Laws. Most theists have never taken a class in formal logic. Most theists have no grounding in advanced mathematics. Few, I would guess, even took chemistry in high school and have only the shallowest understanding of the scientific realm as it existed in the 17th century, much less today.>

As a theist who took college coursework up through Organic Chemistry, Modern Physics, and Linear Algebra, I am one of the exceptions that proves the rule - and your comments make me feel a bit lonely! This begs a wider question, especially when one considers both that since theists are a majority in this country, they will naturally represent the general educational level of the country, and that only a small sliver of even college-educated people have the level of grounding in modern science and mathematics that I possess.

Is there any statistical, as opposed to anecdotal, evidence of a correlation between educational level and belief or lack of belief in a deity/deities?

[My immediate family possesses 5 Bachelors degrees (3 in hard sciences, 1 in engineering), 3 Masters degrees (2 in hard sciences, 1 in engineering), and 2 Ph.D.s (1 in a hard science), and we are all theists, so, ANECDOTALLY, I have not witnessed a correllation between higher educational level and a shift towards atheism.]

Cheers,
madmikeyd
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13. Finally, Pascal had no knowledge or concept of optimization theory, including what we now call the genetic algorithm. Unlike ourselves, he had never seen a computer algorithm optimize a genetic code for survival, or reproduction, or anything else. If he had seen such a thing, commonplace to our eyes today, he would certainly not have agreed with your idea that evolution is somehow impossible without intelligence.

Great point Loren, after my response to Ed and I had thought of following up with something about this since I have just started delving into and programming this kind of stuff myself. I was turned on to it by this article from a couple years ago in Scientific American (the link is only a reference, you have to pay to get it):

http://www.sciamdigital.com/browse.cfm?sequencenameCHAR=item2&methodnameCHAR=resource_getitembrowse&interfacenameCHAR=browse.cfm&ISSUEID_CHAR=AB9F2CB9-ADA7-E562-F463B0CFD31518DE&ARTICLEID_CHAR=AF1DDCD5-DEE5-12E5-021A9653F3B480CB&sc=I100322

The short summary of this particular article is that people are harnessing the principles of evolution to design new electronic circuits. You set the environmental parameters (ie: define what characteristics will be favored) and the algorithm goes to work find a design that most closely meets your needs.

The thing that got me jazzed on a philosophical level is that some of the final designs that emerged worked in ways that couldn't be completely explained by the electrical engineers. They had weird "apendages" whose function was not completely clear...the detritus of a random process...yet without those parts the whole wouldn't function.

Looking at living beings, don't we see this all the time?
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A mass extinction comes every 62 million years, according to new research by UC physicists:

With surprising and mysterious regularity, life on Earth has flourished and vanished in cycles of mass extinction every 62 million years, say two UC Berkeley scientists who discovered the pattern after a painstaking computer study of fossil records going back for more than 500 million years.
http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/03/10/MNGFIBN6PO1.DTL

The dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago.

We're 3 million years past the "sell by" date, and I'm seeing increasing evidence of it every day.
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Goofy: We're 3 million years past the "sell by" date, and I'm seeing increasing evidence of it every day.

True. I am sometimes amazed that we managed to avoid nuclear war with the USSR for more than 50 years, which war would have been the equivalent of a mass extinction. With that possibility receding, we are noticing things like global warming, mass destruction of the biosphere on earth, over-fishing, over-farming, and over using the earth's resources in many arenas.

Then sometimes I wonder ... what if we did trip some mechanism which led to the near extinction of the human race? Let's say 99.9% wiped out. There would still be a lot of people around. I mean 0.1% of 6 billion is still 6 million people, far more than needed to function in communities. What if we took away 99.9% of the other living creatures? We might even completely exterminate half (of more) of all species and still have a viable ecosystem, maybe not very similar to what we have now, but viable. Would the surviving humans learn from past mistakes, or would they retreat into superstition and mystery? Planet of the apes? Or what?

Sometimes I even wonder what if we exterminate all the human race? So long as we don't exterminate all life on earth (and I think that is beyond our ability at this time), I wonder what the earth might look like in one million years, or ten million. How long would there be any vestige of the proud achievements of the human race? Would future archaeologists find evidence of a past civilization, or would the elements completely erase our cities, our highways, dams, and the large projects of which we may be proud? Would small items survive for the attention of the future? Things like jewelry, like porcelain, and a few other things may be harder to destroy completely.

In short, I wonder if the loss of the human race would be an unmitigated disaster to anyone except us?

cliff
... Oh, and have a nice day, all!
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The dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago.

We're 3 million years past the "sell by" date, and I'm seeing increasing evidence of it every day.


We're doing it ourselves.

http://www.actionbioscience.org/newfrontiers/eldredge2.html
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zim14: Not sure if it was intentional, but your website is below your signature. I took a look. You do good work, my man! If you don't mind, I might want to email you about some stuff in the Spring. May need to pick your brain.

It was intentional. I don't have a lot of patience with the anonymity of discussion boards. I prefer to know at least a little about who I am addressing, and that they know something about me. A lot of the sharp words and intemperate ideas expressed on these boards are made possible by the freedom from personal responsibility that anonymity conveys.

In any event, the anonymity is gossamer thin. Many handles can be traced back to their owners with minimum effort, using common internet tools -- I do this from time to time for the sheer sport of it -- and any government agency can subpeona the information if they really want it.

By all means, email me anytime, on any subject.

Loren
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madmikeyd: Is there any statistical, as opposed to anecdotal, evidence of a correlation between educational level and belief or lack of belief in a deity/deities?

I would guess that there is probably a weak correlation, not strong enough to get excited about. There are almost certainly some studies that have been done on this point, but I don't know of them. I think if they had found any sort of strong correlation, we would have heard.

Plenty of scientists and otherwise well-educated people are deeply committed theists. What is of interest to me is their style of theism, not the fact of their theism. For example, Karen Armstrong was a nun, but I think her writings on the history of religion ought to be required reading for every social scientist. Teilhard du Chardin was another who combined science and religion in fascinating and creative ways. Even Albert Einstein should be considered a theist.

I think the critical distinction to be made is not between theist and atheist, at all.

Instead, we should be comparing those who use doctrinaire religion as a form of escape or comfort from the complexities and uncertainties of the world, on one hand, and those who see both religion and science as vital parts of the quest for truth on the other. It's my guess that there is a strong correlation between educational level and this kind of distinction.

After all, religion does not have to be the rigid and tightly constrained view of the world that evangelical Christians espouse, and in many parts of the world it is not. Spiritual thoughts are simply part of the human experience, perhaps more so than logical thoughts. Science and religion do not need to conflict with one another, and in fact do not for most people in the world today. It is only the fundies (whether Christian, Muslim, or Jewish) with their cult-like levels of denial that are causing conflict.

Loren
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Is there any statistical, as opposed to anecdotal, evidence of a correlation between educational level and belief or lack of belief in a deity/deities?



Recently, Edward J. Larson, a science historian at the University of Georgia, and Larry Witham, a writer, polled scientists listed in American Men and Women of Science on their religious beliefs. Among this general group, a reasonably high proportion, 40 percent, claimed to believe in a "personal God" who would listen to their prayers. But when the researchers next targeted members of the National Academy of Sciences, an elite coterie if ever there was one, belief in a personal God was 7 percent, the flip of the American public at large. This is not to say that intelligence and atheism are in any way linked, but to suggest that immersion in the scientific method, and success in the profession, tend to influence its practitioners.

http://www.nytimes.com/library/magazine/home/20010114mag-atheism.html


proton


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We're doing it ourselves.

http://www.actionbioscience.org/newfrontiers/eldredge2.html


It certainly looks that way!

The late 'environmental ethicist' Stan Rowe, together with naturalist/ecologist Ted Mosquin, a very special friend of mine for the past 35 years, has produced an enlightening and powerful Manifesto which may serve up some food for thought to the 'thinkers' on this board:

http://www.ecospherics.net/pages/EarthManifesto.pdf

"The Ecosphere is the Life-giving matrix that envelops all organisms, intimately intertwined with them in the story of evolution from the beginning of time. Organisms are fashioned from air, water, and sediments, which in turn bear organic imprints. The composition of sea water is maintained by organisms that also stabilize the improbable atmosphere. Plants and animals formed the limestone in mountains whose sediments make our bones. The false divisions we have made between living and non-living, biotic and abiotic, organic and inorganic, have put the stability and evolutionary potential of the Ecosphere at risk."

"Humanity's 10,000-year-old experiment in mode-of-living at the expense of Nature, culminating in economic globalization, is failing. A primary reason is that we have placed the importance of our species above all else. We have wrongly considered Earth, its ecosystems, and their myriad organic/inorganic parts as mere provisioners, valued only when they serve our needs and wants. A courageous change in attitudes and activities is urgent. Diagnoses and prescriptions for healing the human-Earth relationship are legion, and here we emphasize the visionary one that seems essential to the success of all others. A new worldview anchored in the planetary Ecosphere points the way. "

Stan has since died, but in a quote describing himself, he said:

"I'm not a misanthrope, but a defender of Earth against the excesses of anthropes."

cat
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<<Recently, Edward J. Larson, a science historian at the University of Georgia, and Larry Witham, a writer, polled scientists listed in American Men and Women of Science on their religious beliefs. Among this general group, a reasonably high proportion, 40 percent, claimed to believe in a "personal God" who would listen to their prayers. But when the researchers next targeted members of the National Academy of Sciences, an elite coterie if ever there was one, belief in a personal God was 7 percent, the flip of the American public at large.>>


Another reference to the same study:

<by Tom Flynn

The same authors who reported no decline in religious belief among American scientists since 1916 now announce that, during the same period, faith declined sharply among natural scientists of top rank.

In a letter to Nature (July 23, 1998, p. 313), University of Georgia historian of science Edward J. Larson and Washington Times reporter Larry Witham described a survey of religious beliefs they administered to 517 American scientists who belong to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Larson and Witham's survey closely replicated a survey of 400 "greater" scientists performed in 1914 by psychologist James H. Leuba and repeated by Leuba in 1933. Leuba, an atheist, expected religious belief to decline with increasing education and accomplishment, and it did. Leuba found distinguished scientists significantly less likely to believe in God and immortality than their less-accomplished contemporaries. Further, religious belief among top scientists sagged further during the 19 years between Leuba's two studies.

Larson and Witham polled NAS members in a mix of disciplines mirroring that originally polled by Leuba. The results seem stark: belief in God and immortality were precipitously lower than what Leuba reported. "Among the top natural scientists," Larson and Witham observe, "disbelief is greater than ever - almost total." The accompanying table compares belief, disbelief, or doubt regarding God and human immortality as measured in 1914, 1933, and 1998.

Biological scientists rejected beliefs in God and immortality by 65.2% and 69.0%, respectively; among physical scientists, those beliefs were rejected by 79.0% and 76.3% of respondents. "Most of the rest were agnostic on both issues," Larson and Witham report, "with few believers." Of all disciplines polled, mathematicians reported the highest level of positive belief in God and immortality, biologists the lowest.>

Full story:
http://www.secularhumanism.org/library/fi/frontlines_18_4.html

Cheers,
madmikeyd
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<<Recently, Edward J. Larson, a science historian at the University of Georgia, and Larry Witham>>

A further link to their study of the wider sample of scientists:

http://www.beliefnet.com/story/1/story_193_2.html

<. . .In two separate mailings, Leuba sent his survey to a total of 1,000 scientists drawn randomly from the 1910 edition of American Men of Science. He received about a 70 percent response. Similarly, we randomly drew 1,000 names from the current edition of the same volume, now called American Men and Women of Science. Our response was about 60 percent. We stuck to Leuba's apportionment: Half biologists and a quarter each in math and physics/astronomy.

On the quirky side, Leuba's survey found that about 20 percent of the scientists who did not believe in God nevertheless believed in personal immortality. In the 1996 response, the breakdown was closer to what might be expected: respondents tended either to believe in both God and immortality, or to reject both. Leuba defined the divine in very conventional terms: "A God to whom one may pray in expectation of receiving an answer." We believed that because such traditional tenets still prevail in American culture, retaining Leuba's 1916 definition of God--hearing prayers and giving immortality--still was the best simple question. If respondents in Leuba's time did not agree with his survey in general--one respondent said, "This is a lot of damned rot!"--we received unsolicited comments that the definition of God did not allow for enough variation. "Why such a narrow definition [of God]?" asked one 1996 respondent, writing in the survey margin. "I believe in God, but I don't believe that one can expect an answer to prayer."

. . .

Topic of Question: 1916 Survey 1996 Survey

A. Belief in Personal God

1. Personal Belief 41.8% 39.3%
2. Personal Disbelief 41.5% 45.3%
3. Doubt or Agnosticism 16.7% 14.5%

B. Belief in Human Immortality

1. Personal Belief 50.6% 38.0%
2. Personal Disbelief about 20% 46.9%
3. Doubt or Agnosticism about 30% 15.0%

C. Desire for Immortality

1. Intense 34% 9.9%
2. Moderate 39% 25.9%
3. Not at all 27% 64.2%>

Cheers,
madmikeyd
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Happy balloon day, Cat!

k
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I know exactly 8 persons with doctor's degrees in math or science. Of these, 7 are athiests and one is Catholic.

Any other scorekeepers?

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Madmikeyd,

You represent yourself as a scientifically fluent theist. I would like to hear why. I get tired listening to those who know all about God from the Bible.
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Happy balloon day!

Moonglade
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Thanks, khalou! Five years - hoodathunk.

*!*
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Thanks Karen!

cat
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I know exactly 8 persons with doctor's degrees in math or science. Of these, 7 are athiests and one is Catholic.

Any other scorekeepers?


I know twelve I can think of off the top of my head. Of these, 9 are atheists or agnostic, 1 is Bhuddist (he's Chinese), 1 is Moslem (he's Iranian) and 1 is a Christian fundamentalist nutcase who is convinced that -- in his view -- since Einstein and God can't both be right, Einstein has to be wrong. In his field, he's brilliant. But outside his field, he's a bit of a laughingstock. He has spent years writing "scholarly" papers attempting to prove that Einstein's math is wrong and the papers get rejected when his OWN math (and logic) turns out to be not only wrong, but wrong headedly wrong.

And each time he's proven wrong, he simply says, "Einstein can't be right, and some day I'll prove it."

SLL
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<<Recently, Edward J. Larson, a science historian at the University of Georgia, and Larry Witham>>

A further link to their study of the wider sample of scientists:

http://www.beliefnet.com/story/1/story_193_2.html

<. . .In two separate mailings, Leuba sent his survey to a total of 1,000 scientists drawn randomly from the 1910 edition of


<tr>

i admit to being completely confused what's being said
and even more confused about the point
( i _am_ stupid this week, but have a not from my Doctor )

but as a TWAG,
i'll stick by something i think Chomsky said in the 60s --
just cuz there's a significant statistical correlation, doesn't make it right to shove people
in pigeon holes and nail shut the cover
(although , as the Japanese say, "When all you have is a box of nails....." )

of course, since he was being intentionally ambiguous as to whether 'right' was the
right of Reason, politics or ethics : 'sall moot

</tr>
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I know exactly 8 persons with doctor's degrees in math or science. Of these, 7 are athiests and one is Catholic.

Any other scorekeepers?


<t>
interesting .... i can think of only one person i've ever known where i knew both
that they were PhD in Science and what their 'religious' affiliation was

the nun who taught my 1st yr Calculus .... and really, for all i know, she didn't believe
a word of it, but just liked the fabulous fashions.

but then, haven't been much impressed with PhDs since that weekend with Stephanie,
and less impressed after four years trying to get my own.

- coulda been "Dr. T" <sigh> ,or not
<t>
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The dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago.

We're 3 million years past the "sell by" date, and I'm seeing increasing evidence of it every day.


Lemme see. The fossil record being studied goes back 500 million years plus. OK, that's about 8 or 9 extinctions. And they've got the time frame down to exactly 62 million years (give or take an hour or so)?

As for We're 3 million years past the "sell by" date, and I'm seeing increasing evidence of it every day

So is that schmuck Tim LaHaye.

Only he believes he will survive it.

schcik





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Ed's primary problem, Loren -- and that of most theists -- is that they lack even the most rudimentary exposure to or understanding of the very disciplines you enumerate. They are, to all intents and purposes, living at the time of Newton and, if they have any tentative ideas about science, they are pretty much limited to Newton's Laws. Most theists have never taken a class in formal logic. Most theists have no grounding in advanced mathematics. Few, I would guess, even took chemistry in high school and have only the shallowest understanding of the scientific realm as it existed in the 17th century, much less today.

Gee, Sandy.

Lessee, I read Scientific American, hardly a bastion of Newtonian physics or creationist biology. Interesting article this month positing that the discovery and spread of agriculture actually prevented a natural cooling cycle leading to a new ice age. Not sure I buy the author's argument, but it was a good read. Several months ago, there was an entertaining article on multiple universes.

Advanced mathematics? Does calculus count?

Chemistry? Yup.

Formal course in logic? Yup.

Physics? Yup.

Granted these were all years ago (I am, after all in my late 50's), but they qualify under your criteria.

You're painting with a large brush in mighty big strokes.

Wonder how many nominal atheists actually have taken courses in chemistry, physics, biology, chemistry, logic and advanced math.

Or is this just another tactical weapon to be used to beat on people? From the way you write, it would appear that you believe that most (if not all) atheists have been the beneficiaries of a broad grounding in math, science and logic.

Pardon me if I don't share your faith in the advanced education of atheists. After all, I haven't seen the evidence to prove that particular assertion. ;-)

schick.





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Lemme see. The fossil record being studied goes back 500 million years plus. OK, that's about 8 or 9 extinctions. And they've got the time frame down to exactly 62 million years (give or take an hour or so)?

Well, that's sort of exactly the point of the article, that they believe there is periodicity to the extinctions. You can laugh at that if you like, but then we know there is periodicity to sun spots, to the change of the magnetic poles from North to South and back again, and other natural phenomena. We know that our solar system revolves in a wingtip of a greater galaxy and that there is periodicity to making that revolution, that even galaxies move through space, that there are comet showers which return on predictable timetables, and so on.

Of course you can just dismiss the concept if you like. No harm, no foul. No point actually considering the proposition, either, right?

Wonder how many nominal atheists actually have taken courses in chemistry, physics, biology, chemistry, logic and advanced math.

Let's see, I had advanced physics, advanced chemistry, and calculus in high school. I had biology, but hated it, and yes, I've had my fill of logic courses. Then I went to college (technically "university"), where I programmed a mainframe in Fortran in 1965. Please deposit one vote on the side of "atheists."

Pardon me if I don't share your faith in the advanced education of atheists. After all, I haven't seen the evidence to prove that particular assertion. ;-)

I'm sure she wasn't claiming every single atheist is a Ph.D. nor that every theist is completely uneducated. Take yourself, for instance, as you seem proud to do. I'm sure in that case she was just judging from the ignorance of your writing.
 
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Well, that's sort of exactly the point of the article, that they believe there is periodicity to the extinctions. You can laugh at that if you like, but then we know there is periodicity to sun spots, to the change of the magnetic poles from North to South and back again, and other natural phenomena. We know that our solar system revolves in a wingtip of a greater galaxy and that there is periodicity to making that revolution, that even galaxies move through space, that there are comet showers which return on predictable timetables, and so on.

In his book "Unweaving the Rainbow" Richard Dawkins goes into this a little. He quoted the same time period, 62 million years, but also another shorter period of 26 million years for smaller scale extinctions.

One theory he offered is that our sun is part of a binary system with an orbit of 26 million years, with the unseen 2nd star causing orbital disturbances in swarms of comets and asteroids leading to increased metorite impacts with Earth.

This all is in a discussion of Fourier analysis. Very interesting reading for the mathematically interested. He even talks about the possibility of determining the length of and male elephant's penis based on the wave pattern of the bull's urine trail during musth (an elephant "walk-about").

Who says science & math are dull?

-biskit
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In his book "Unweaving the Rainbow" Richard Dawkins goes into this a little. He quoted the same time period, 62 million years, but also another shorter period of 26 million years for smaller scale extinctions.

One theory he offered is that our sun is part of a binary system with an orbit of 26 million years, with the unseen 2nd star causing orbital disturbances in swarms of comets and asteroids leading to increased metorite impacts with Earth.


I read somewhere that our solar system passes through the galactic plane in our revolution every 20 some million years.
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<You represent yourself as a scientifically fluent theist. I would like to hear why.>

I am not sure exactly what you are asking here, but I will take a stab at a concise answer.

Speaking as a specifically Christian theist, almost all conflicts with science and religion are a result of a literal interpretation of the Bible. As someone who follows the more traditional interpretational method, of assuming that something in scripture must be allegory should it conflict with scientific observation, I am not, for example, encumbered by the idea that God created the world in six 24-hour days, or that evolution is incompatible with scripture. My take on creation becomes, then, the idea that God created the universe out of nothingness 14.3 billion or so years ago - an idea which is not in any way proven by, but is compatible with the scientific evidence [ie, the idea of the 'Elegant Universe']. Where my view becomes unreasonable from the atheist point of view is that I see room for the miraculous - but assuming for the moment the existence of God, it strikes me that God would be able to influence matter on the subatomic level, and that the 'hand of God' could ultimately be seen in the seemingly random world of quantum mechanics.

Hopefully that is as clear as mud 8-).

Cheers,
madmikeyd
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madmikeyd: As someone who follows the more traditional interpretational method, of assuming that something in scripture must be allegory should it conflict with scientific observation, I am not, for example, encumbered by the idea that God created the world in six 24-hour days, or that evolution is incompatible with scripture.

It might be somewhat more sensible to say that if something in scripture conflicts with science then it is either (a) allegorical, or (b) just plain wrong. I would be happy with this position.

In any event, the dogmatic insistence of fundamentalists in the non-metaphorical nature of the Bible leads me to wonder why this literal truth is so important to them. After all, Jesus spoke often in parables to his followers, so why should not the Bible speak to us in allegory? But apparently this idea is not acceptable even in the slightest degree. I would be very interested in your opinions on why they think this way.

I frequently get the impression that it all has to do with fear, specifically the fear that if the Bible is not literally true, then we are in doubt about what is really true and what is mere fallible interpretation. By extension, then, neither the nature of God nor the moral system of good and evil imparted by the Bible is absolutely known. Therefore, (so this dysfunctional argument seems to go), all is chaos and randomness, and there is no meaning to life. Is that all there is to it?

Loren
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8. Telescopes did exist, and so did astronomy, but people were just beginning to come to grips with the idea that the stars were not fixed onto a transparent rotating surface several hundred meters above the earth. The scale of the solar system was known, more or less, to a few astronomers, but the idea that the sun might be a star was not. Galaxies were utterly unknown. The "universe" consisted of the sun and the planets out to Jupiter -- that was it.


This isn't quite true. Most learned people of the period knew the stars were very far away.

We even knew the distance to the moon, and the circumference of the earth by about 235 B.C.

http://www.cartage.org.lb/en/themes/Sciences/Physics/aboutphysics/physicstimeline/1799/1799.htm
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We're 3 million years past the "sell by" date, and I'm seeing increasing evidence of it every day.

You forgot to carry the seve... AAAAHHHHGGGGGGGHHHHH!!!
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Recently, Edward J. Larson, a science historian at the University of Georgia

Hey! I took Ed's class on the History of Science when I (and he) were much younger.
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Well, that's sort of exactly the point of the article, that they believe there is periodicity to the extinctions. You can laugh at that if you like, but then we know there is periodicity to sun spots, to the change of the magnetic poles from North to South and back again, and other natural phenomena. We know that our solar system revolves in a wingtip of a greater galaxy and that there is periodicity to making that revolution, that even galaxies move through space, that there are comet showers which return on predictable timetables, and so on.

Boy, have you got me underestimated. I was making fun of the person who posted the link, not the article. The periodicity mentioned in the article is not absolute, but has some variability to it. Saying that we're 3 million years overdue is kinda ridiculous unless one thinks that the 62 million years is dead accurate rather than an average. So why are you lecturing me on periodicity when you're not telling me anything I don't already know? Oh, I know. You weren't aware I was an astronomy buff back way back when.

Oh yeah, I had algebra, plane and solid geometry, trig, differential and integral calculus, advanced chemistry and physics, also in high school. I also became a programmer.

I'm sure she wasn't claiming every single atheist is a Ph.D. nor that every theist is completely uneducated. Take yourself, for instance, as you seem proud to do. I'm sure in that case she was just judging from the ignorance of your writing

For someone who knows me not at all, you sure seem hell bent on a rush to judgment. Oh wait a minute. Not knowing. That's ignorance, isn't it?

schick

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A primary reason is that we have placed the importance of our species above all else. We have wrongly considered Earth, its ecosystems, and their myriad organic/inorganic parts as mere provisioners, valued only when they serve our needs and wants. A courageous change in attitudes and activities is urgent. Diagnoses and prescriptions for healing the human-Earth relationship are legion, and here we emphasize the visionary one that seems essential to the success of all others. A new worldview anchored in the planetary Ecosphere points the way. "

<>

"I'm not a misanthrope, but a defender of Earth against the excesses of anthropes."


<t>
good bumper-sticker. too pessimistic for me personally, but good....

reading some ecology guy a couple years ago, he said something like --
< every species believes it's their world, just that humans can enforce that belief
nearly every species can look & act ahead to the next generation...
humans (maybe apes) can look ahead further, but can't act as far as they look.

the problem isn't so much humanity's arrogance that the Universe is theirs, but
their arrogance that they can easily over come their evolutionary heritage.
>

he was not optimistic


Happy B'loons Day!
<t>
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1 is a Christian fundamentalist nutcase who is convinced that -- in his view -- since Einstein and God can't both be right, Einstein has to be wrong. In his field, he's brilliant. But outside his field, he's a bit of a laughingstock. He has spent years writing "scholarly" papers attempting to prove that Einstein's math is wrong and the papers get rejected when his OWN math (and logic) turns out to be not only wrong, but wrong headedly wrong.

And each time he's proven wrong, he simply says, "Einstein can't be right, and some day I'll prove it."

SLL


Interesting, since Einstein was a also believer in God.

Also a better mathematician than your fundamentalist friend

OTOH, Hawking seems to think that God does indeed play dice with the Universe contrary to what Einstein believed. http://www.hawking.org.uk/lectures/dice.html

So Einstein was indeed wrong, at least in one area.

But not in the way your fundamentalist friend thinks.

schick
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Where my view becomes unreasonable from the atheist point of view is that I see room for the miraculous - but assuming for the moment the existence of God, it strikes me that God would be able to influence matter on the subatomic level, and that the 'hand of God' could ultimately be seen in the seemingly random world of quantum mechanics.

Hopefully that is as clear as mud 8-).

Cheers,
madmikeyd


You been reading Danah Zohar (http://www.dzohar.com/home.htm), mikey? Specifically SQ- Spiritual Intelligence, the Ultimate Intelligence

While she pulls up just short of a quantum theory of God, she sure does some speculation.

A little too "New Age"y for me, but I did enjoy the read.

schick
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Interesting, since Einstein was a also believer in God.

Also a better mathematician than your fundamentalist friend

OTOH, Hawking seems to think that God does indeed play dice with the Universe contrary to what Einstein believed. http://www.hawking.org.uk/lectures/dice.html

So Einstein was indeed wrong, at least in one area.


there ought to be LAW ... that no one ever use the word "God" without specifying
which [bleeping] god.

everything i've read says Einstein's god was more like Spinoza's which almost the same as
mine and none of the three bear much resemblance to the Jewish god (that they grew up
with) or the christian one (i grew up with)
(which is NOT to say that i won't be burning in Atheist Hell with the two of them)


-x
..... i was with you till this, Schick -- "the meds, the meds!"
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In any event, the dogmatic insistence of fundamentalists in the non-metaphorical nature of the Bible leads me to wonder why this literal truth is so important to them. After all, Jesus spoke often in parables to his followers, so why should not the Bible speak to us in allegory? But apparently this idea is not acceptable even in the slightest degree. I would be very interested in your opinions on why they think this way.

Literalism in Biblical interpretation is relatively recent (last 120 years or so). Damn! I wish I could remember the name of the author who wrote a history of Christian belief in the U.S. He also wrote a devastating critique of the Catholic church while being a practicing Catholic. He's a fairly prolific author. If I can remember his name or the titles of the books he's written, I'll pass on a link.

I frequently get the impression that it all has to do with fear, specifically the fear that if the Bible is not literally true, then we are in doubt about what is really true and what is mere fallible interpretation. By extension, then, neither the nature of God nor the moral system of good and evil imparted by the Bible is absolutely known. Therefore, (so this dysfunctional argument seems to go), all is chaos and randomness, and there is no meaning to life. Is that all there is to it?

Loren


As much as anything, it's a reaction to rapid social change. People fear what they can't yet understand. The situation is exacerbated when other people make a mockery of them rather than trying patiently to explain things.

The Scopes trial didn't help either. It humiliated people, the grandsons and granddaughters of whom probably form the backbone of the fundamentalist movement. The author I mentioned above spent quite a bit of time giving the background of the Scopes trial. Clarence Darrow comes off as not quite the hero people seem to think he was and H.L. Mencken, who apparently was the one who convinced Darrow to take the case comes off as an arrogant a$$hole who was mightily convinced of his own superiority.

Again, if I can remember the author (or the book title), I'll provide a link.

schick
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and H.L. Mencken, who apparently was the one who convinced Darrow to take the case comes off as an arrogant a$$hole who was mightily convinced of his own superiority.



"comes off as?" More like "was". And I respect the man.
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everything i've read says Einstein's god was more like Spinoza's which almost the same as
mine and none of the three bear much resemblance to the Jewish god (that they grew up
with) or the christian one (i grew up with)
(which is NOT to say that i won't be burning in Atheist Hell with the two of them)


-x
..... i was with you till this, Schick -- "the meds, the meds!"


I don't really care what Einstein meant when he used the word "God". He simply specified that "God" <insert name of choice> didn't play dice with the Universe. And who knows what Hawking meant by "God"?

And you will be burning in Atheist Hell (hereinafter known as Thomas Road Baptist Church - home of Jerry Falwell).

Actually, according to Sartre, "Hell is other people" and I guess Falwell is about as "other" as you can get. ;-)

schcik



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"comes off as?" More like "was". And I respect the man.

I was being polite.

schick
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<< And each time he's proven wrong, he simply says, "Einstein can't be right, and some day I'll prove it. >>

I ask, why does he have such a passion?

More evidence for the segmentation of the brain into a logical part and an illogical part. The two parts don't communicate. I have met so many intelligent engineers in my life who uncritically accept Genesis and everything else in the Christian package. I still wonder why this is the case. Wishful thinking? Fear of truth? Fear of God? Loyalty to family and friends? Discussion is mostly useless, since all you get is a stubborn assertion that the Bible was inspired by God and must be accepted.
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<<
As someone who follows the more traditional interpretational method, of assuming that something in scripture must be allegory should it conflict with scientific observation ...
>>

Like all the rest, your starting point is a devinly inspired Bible, even though much of it is clearly BS. Would it not be more logical to regard it as human literature, reflecting the knowledge and beliefs of one small tribe of people living thousands of years ago?
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In all fairness for those reading this other than jwiest. i am responding to his post on 3-11-05 @ 11:55am. To get the full import you may find his post helpful. Apparently he didn't write that post to me, but he speaks of me and since i happened upon it, i respond.

jwiest,
You wrote: "Now I'd love to poke specific holes in Flew's statement, but I don't have the biological data in front of me. I must say though, that is an extremely vague statement. What does he mean by "data"? As far as I can tell, he must mean basic chemical interactions between molecules."

Response...Basic chemical interactions-yes. Simple-no. THE DATA HE SPEAKS OF IS GENETIC CODE. DNA molecules are made up of two very long polymers in the shape of a double helix. Both polymers contain nucleotides. The nucleotides can be broken down into three categories. 1)deoxiribose, 2)phosphates, and 3)nitrogenous bases. There are four different nitrogenous bases or chemicals...thymine, cytosine, adenine & guanine. These four bases are the foundation of the GENETIC CODE. These four act as the cell's memory instructing it on things like protein and enzyme synthesis. EACH CELL HOLDS 46 DNA MOLECULES. EACH DNA MOLECULE CONTAINS ROUGHLY 160 MILLION NUCEOTIDE PAIRS. This is the huge amount of data Flew spoke of.

Now try and poke away.

Next, jwiest goes into math and mentions he wonders if i have gotten lost in the details yet. As if somehow i should be intimidated by his intellectual prowess?

Dear jwiest your mathematical equation is irrelevant. i think that somehow you are so impressed with yourself that you forgot what the point really is.

You said: "Bacteria are the simplest living creatures, and yes, Ed, though we have not seen a complex organic globule actually turn into the first bacteria, we can identify the likely processes and show that the chances of it happening are not low on a global scale."

Let me start with a quote from http://intelligentdesign.org/odds/odds.htm
"It was Dr. Emile Borel who first formulated the basic Law of Probability which states that the occurrence of an event where the chances are beyond 1 chance in 10 to the 50th power(the 200th power is used for scientific calculations), is an event which we can state with certainty will never happen, regardless of the time allotted or how many opportunities could exist for the event to take place.(Emile Borel, Probabilities and Life, Dover 1962, chapters 1-3)
The mathematical probability of a single living cell arising spontaneously has been calculated over and over again by evolutionary scientists and they have been unable to come up with a figure which falls under Borel's upper limit!"

"See the work of Dr. Frank Salisbury, Dr. George Wald, Dr. Harold Morowitz to name just a few and you will understand why probability work has all but ceased by evolutionary scientists. Evolution fairs badly in the light of probability considerations. These considerations played a larger role in changing Astronomer and Physicist Sir Fred Hoyle from his belief in a purely evolutionary origin of life to believing in a Creator."

"Hoyle calculated the chance that life could have evolved spontaneously to be 1 chance in 10 to the 40,000 power. This number is far larger than Borel's upper limit and makes the supposed spontaneous origin of life nothing short of a miracle!(See - Evolution from Space, Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe,J. M. Dent & Sons, 1981, p. 130)"

Let me show you a real math equation you should be looking at.
i'm tempted to reference the atheist-gene like you did the God-gene but i'll be nice...

DNA is a vastly more complex structure than human bones, but for example purposes this will work. Both the bones and our DNA must be assembled together in a perfectly integrated whole. There are approximately 206 bones in the human body, and let us keep it simple and go for general positioning of the bones in our equation. We will ignore whether the bone is facing the right way or not. Instead focusing on getting the bone into its right position. So again, achievement of the bones in their general correct position is all we will shoot for. Keep in mind that cell organelles are FAR more complex than this.

So first, we have to determine how many possibilities exist given that there are 206 bones. In other words, how many combinations could we randomly make out of the 206 bones. A system of two parts (1 x 2) has two possible combinations...1,2 or 2,1. A system of three parts (1 x 2 x 3) has 6...1,2,3 or 1,3,2 or 2,3,1 or 2,1,3 or 3,1,2, or 3,2,1. And so on to 206 we go (1 x 2 x 3 x 4....x 206). This is called 206 factorial and it is approximately 10 to the 388th power. If this experiment could be completed every second for every single second available in some evolutionary estimates of 10 billion years...that is somewhere around 10 to the 18th power worth of seconds to work with. This produces a probability of 10 to the (388-10=370) power. The chance of getting the bones all in their correct position is less than one chance in 10 billion years.

Come back when you've done your homework.

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Now try and poke away.

As if somehow i should be intimidated by his intellectual prowess?

i think that somehow you are so impressed with yourself that you forgot what the point really is.

Come back when you've done your homework.


Arrogance is one thing and ignorance another. But combine them with search-engine capability and you really have a monster. I'll bet your sermons are a hoot pastor.

So first, we have to determine how many possibilities exist given that there are 206 bones. In other words, how many combinations could we randomly make out of the 206 bones. A system of two parts (1 x 2) has two possible combinations...1,2 or 2,1. A system of three parts (1 x 2 x 3) has 6...1,2,3 or 1,3,2 or 2,3,1 or 2,1,3 or 3,1,2, or 3,2,1. And so on to 206 we go (1 x 2 x 3 x 4....x 206). This is called 206 factorial and it is approximately 10 to the 388th power. If this experiment could be completed every second for every single second available in some evolutionary estimates of 10 billion years...that is somewhere around 10 to the 18th power worth of seconds to work with. This produces a probability of 10 to the (388-10=370) power. The chance of getting the bones all in their correct position is less than one chance in 10 billion years.

Your lack of knowledge regarding the nature of DNA and probabilities is stunning in its depth pastor. Your model has no relation to actual theories of abiogenesis for a number of reasons (see the article I cited in my last post http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/abioprob.html) and thus is not useful. Some of the most powerful are:

1) Abiogenesis does not theorize that the DNA molecule jumped from a completely disorganized state to a strand of DNA in one step. This is the biggest fallacy continually propagated by creationists. There are believed to be a number of steps involved in the formation of life. At each step, the probabilities are vastly greater than those you imply for a strand of DNA.

2) Creationists ignore the fact that multiple 'trials' were going on at any given time. They pretend that there was only one 'set' of DNA molecules in existence that all needed to find each other and hook up before life could be born. But the planet is vast and was teeming with life's precursors - combining, failing, and combining again and again and again. Based on probabilities taking into account actual conditions, there was ample time for self-replicating molecules to form and evolve. To put it in terms you're familiar with, I'll use your faulty example: if there were 10 billion sets of disorganized bones lying around, you'd expect to have a working skeleton in 1 year.
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<It might be somewhat more sensible to say that if something in scripture conflicts with science then it is either (a) allegorical, or (b) just plain wrong. I would be happy with this position.>

It might be, but in light of 2 Timothy 3:16 I would cease being a Christian if I accepted the 'just plain wrong'.

<In any event, the dogmatic insistence of fundamentalists in the non-metaphorical nature of the Bible leads me to wonder why this literal truth is so important to them. After all, Jesus spoke often in parables to his followers, so why should not the Bible speak to us in allegory? But apparently this idea is not acceptable even in the slightest degree. I would be very interested in your opinions on why they think this way.>

Because it creates for them a black and white world in an arena, Biblical exegesis, which would otherwise have a large number of grey areas.

Cheers,
madmikeyd
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<Like all the rest, your starting point is a devinly inspired Bible, even though much of it is clearly BS. Would it not be more logical to regard it as human literature, reflecting the knowledge and beliefs of one small tribe of people living thousands of years ago?>

To be precise, my starting point is a Bible which represents divinely inspired human literature.

Cheers,
madmikeyd
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<Like all the rest, your starting point is a devinly inspired Bible, even though much of it is clearly BS. Would it not be more logical to regard it as human literature, reflecting the knowledge and beliefs of one small tribe of people living thousands of years ago?>

To be precise, my starting point is a Bible which represents divinely inspired human literature.

No. To be precise, your starting point is a Bible which claims to be "divinely inspired," but for which there is no external evidence that this is the case.

The Koran also claims to be "divinely inspired."

You're merely accepting that claim from the Bible at face value and rejecting the claim from the Koran for no better reason than you have for accepting the same claim from the Bible.

SLL
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<<To be precise, my starting point is a Bible which represents divinely inspired human literature.>>

<No. To be precise, your starting point is a Bible which claims to be "divinely inspired," but for which there is no external evidence that this is the case.>

And, as a theist, that represents a distinction without a difference.

<The Koran also claims to be "divinely inspired."

You're merely accepting that claim from the Bible at face value and rejecting the claim from the Koran for no better reason than you have for accepting the same claim from the Bible.>

Assumes facts not in evidence.

Cheers,
madmikeyd
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Edsword2: Come back when you've done your homework.
-----

Physician, heal thyself. The level of your arrogance is exceeded only by your ignorance.





Rich
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"DNA is a vastly more complex structure than human bones, but for example purposes this will work. Both the bones and our DNA must be assembled together in a perfectly integrated whole. There are approximately 206 bones in the human body, and let us keep it simple and go for general positioning of the bones in our equation. We will ignore whether the bone is facing the right way or not. Instead focusing on getting the bone into its right position. So again, achievement of the bones in their general correct position is all we will shoot for. Keep in mind that cell organelles are FAR more complex than this.

So first, we have to determine how many possibilities exist given that there are 206 bones. In other words, how many combinations could we randomly make out of the 206 bones. A system of two parts (1 x 2) has two possible combinations...1,2 or 2,1. A system of three parts (1 x 2 x 3) has 6...1,2,3 or 1,3,2 or 2,3,1 or 2,1,3 or 3,1,2, or 3,2,1. And so on to 206 we go (1 x 2 x 3 x 4....x 206). This is called 206 factorial and it is approximately 10 to the 388th power. If this experiment could be completed every second for every single second available in some evolutionary estimates of 10 billion years...that is somewhere around 10 to the 18th power worth of seconds to work with. This produces a probability of 10 to the (388-10=370) power. The chance of getting the bones all in their correct position is less than one chance in 10 billion years.

Come back when you've done your homework."

Pastor,

These two paragraphs make it all too plain that YOU have homework to do. You need some education in biology, and more specifically I would recommend a developmental biology course. Yes, it seems miraculous that these 206 bones found their way, doesn't it. You're trying to look at these bones as if they fulfilled some sort of ultimate purpose, namely to make a man in god's image, but I can assure you they didn't. Evolution has no particular plan.

Ed, give up. Just give it up. Or if you're truly interested in understanding, go to school.

Bob

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The Koran also claims to be "divinely inspired."

You're merely accepting that claim from the Bible at face value and rejecting the claim from the Koran for no better reason than you have for accepting the same claim from the Bible.

SLL

Actually, Sandy, I don't think the Bible itself claims to be divinely inspired, with some exceptions. The Koran, otoh, is the literal word of god, as dictated to Mohammed. Mohammed was merely the steno.

cliff
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<<
To be precise, my starting point is a Bible which represents divinely inspired human literature.
>>

Instead of answering my question, you rephrased it in a minor way and left the room.

Answer the question. "Divinely inspired" needs justification. I find this idea groundless and even absurd. Why am I wrong?

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Loren: In any event, the dogmatic insistence of fundamentalists in the non-metaphorical nature of the Bible leads me to wonder why this literal truth is so important to them. After all, Jesus spoke often in parables to his followers, so why should not the Bible speak to us in allegory? But apparently this idea is not acceptable even in the slightest degree. I would be very interested in your opinions on why they think this way.

I have not come across the people you speak of, who insist that the entire Bible is literal.

I think the problem is more likely, which portions of the Bible are to be understood literally, and which in some other way. For example, I have never heard of Christians who interpret Jesus's counsel to "be like doves" to mean that we should lay eggs. Do these people you speak of still have eyes, or do they never lust (and so would not need to follow the suggestion that it would be better to enter heaven with one eye, than hell with two).

The issue I think is how to interpret Genesis. Parables are easy to distinguish from narrative, and poetry is easy to distinguish from history in my experience with the Bible. It's not rocket science. These genres are distinguished by their features, not by whether they conform to modern scientific knowledge.

Those who take Genesis as literal history therefore ususally do it on the basis of the features of the text, the form of the text. Is it poetic? Is it parable? Does it have any features by which to judge it as something other than historical narrative?

They feel that they are being consistent in their approach to the Bible as a whole, when they judge Genesis to be historical, because to them it lacks the features that would put it in another category.

But then (in my opinion) they misinterpret the text that they have correctly judged as historical, and read into the text and insist on just one possible interpretation, and the error cascades from there.

I think your suspicions about fear are right. Once you allegoricalize Genesis (with no apparant basis), why couldn't you just do the same with any other portion that doesn't comply with modern human understandings of justice, right and wrong, etc. and just create a religion to suit the fancy of each society? I think they rightly conclude the faith becomes meaningless at that point.

Bryan
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<<To be precise, my starting point is a Bible which represents divinely inspired human literature.>>

<Instead of answering my question, you rephrased it in a minor way and left the room.>

It needed re-phrasing from the perspective of someone like myself who does not see 'divinely inspired' and 'human literature' as mutually exclusive.

<Answer the question.>

I have already answered your previous question by agreeing with you that the Bible represents Human Literature. Now, for you new question:

<"Divinely inspired" needs justification. I find this idea groundless and even absurd. Why am I wrong?>

The only justification is justification through faith which, as I have admitted on numerous occasions here, is inherently irrational - so I do not neccessarily believe that you are wrong.

Cheers,
madmikeyd
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Come back when you've done your homework.

Ed, you've just shown your penchant for the circular logic that keeps you in the religionist camp: your example presumes the bones existed first and then were arranged. That's deranged.

I think you got a good answer here:

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=22202270

I'd like to add that you seem to be missing a framework for understanding complex systems and their autogenesis. Take any solution of atoms or molecules, apply energy, and at different stages the solution will take on a preditably orderly behavior. A mass of warm humid rising air results in a very orderly structure...a hurricane. Sometimes systems can even become powerful enough to be self-sustaining, such as the massive hurricane on Jupiter (the great red spot) which has been blowing for the last 300+ years.

We are barely beginning to understand how this happens, never mind WHY, but it's repeatable and verifiable.

What's the point? There is no reason to think the preconstituents of life don't follow the same behaviors. You can make amino acids in a few weeks in a test tube, starting with a simple solution of organic elements. After a billion years of heating and cooling and zapping and simmering, you think somewhere once these amino acids couldn't have joined up by accident with an enzyme (a new ordered system) that happened to help it copy itself (self-sustaining)?

All systems do it. Why not life precursors?

If you think it's not probable, you've missed the scale of things, Ed.

A brief comment on the WHY: like I said, we don't know why systems arise and self-sustain with the application of energy. That behavior seems like a fundamental principle of our universe. If you want to label that "God", fine with me. Just don't fabricate a whole mythology of snakes and apples and whatever else along with it.

Anyway, does this mean DNA suddenly came forth whole and complete, ready to make cell walls and flagella and eventually 206 bones all put into the right place at the right time? Of course not. The first self-replicating molecule probably wasn't more than a few chains long and completely at the mercy of the elements.

BTW:

Next, jwiest goes into math and mentions he wonders if i have gotten lost in the details yet. As if somehow i should be intimidated by his intellectual prowess?

By me? Hardly. I was ribbing you on your comment that Dawkins lost you in the details. It's a fair admission, but it admits a major problem: if you can't keep track of those details, how will you ever get what we're talking about? And discounting what we believe because you can't or won't understand strikes me as intellectually irresponsible.
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You can laugh at that if you like, but then we know there is periodicity to sun spots, to the change of the magnetic poles from North to South and back again, and other natural phenomena.

Are we in the middle of a pole shift right now? Do we all have to get new compasses?

6
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My take on creation becomes, then, the idea that God created the universe out of nothingness 14.3 billion or so years ago - an idea which is not in any way proven by, but is compatible with the scientific evidence [ie, the idea of the 'Elegant Universe'].

Where do you think God came from?

6
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The Scopes trial didn't help either. It humiliated people, the grandsons and granddaughters of whom probably form the backbone of the fundamentalist movement. The author I mentioned above spent quite a bit of time giving the background of the Scopes trial. Clarence Darrow comes off as not quite the hero people seem to think he was and H.L. Mencken, who apparently was the one who convinced Darrow to take the case comes off as an arrogant a$$hole who was mightily convinced of his own superiority.

You are SO RIGHT! Things would be way better if we had never started teaching evolution in American schools. That way we could be even *more* retarded compared to the rest of the civilized world.

And if you've ever lowered yourself to read a word of Mencken, you'd see that the fact that he's arrogant and superior isn't exactly front page news.

6, ain't descended from no monkey
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"Where do you think God came from?"

He came from the overarching need of most of us to feel like we have an answer to life's ultimate questions, of course.

God made the volcano mad - till science came up with more useful explanations based upon experience and observation.

Then God created the earth in seven days - till science came up with more useful explanations based upon experience and observation.

Now God started the Big Bang - unless and until science comes up with more useful explanations based upon experience and observation.

Even though we have covered this line of reasoning about 10,000 times, maybe Madmikey, unlike the previous 9,999 adherents, will:

1) explain the substantive difference between the statements, "God caused the Big Bang" and "I don't know what caused the Big Bang", and

2) tell us whether it is even theoretically possible to conceive of an empirical test to ascertain a difference between the two statements, and

3) if it's not theoretically possible to conceive of an empirical test to tell us the difference between the two statemnts, explain how there still remains a meaningful difference between the two statements?

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<<
The only justification is justification through faith which, as I have admitted on numerous occasions here, is inherently irrational - so I do not neccessarily believe that you are wrong.
>>

This may be enough for you, but not for me. It would be the same as having faith in a Fairy Godmother.

Why do you have faith if you admit it is irrational? Why do you choose to believe when you have no reason?

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You are SO RIGHT! Things would be way better if we had never started teaching evolution in American schools. That way we could be even *more* retarded compared to the rest of the civilized world.

As usual, you jump to the unwarranted conclusion that I would support the teaching of creationism or Intelligent Design in public schools. Bulls**t. The problem with the Scopes trial was that it could have been handled one hell of a lot better and could have ended without having the people you despise being so humiliated. The whole idea from the beginning as far as Darrow and Mencken were concerned was to humiliate people. The defense of evolution per se was entirely secondary.

But then, humiliating people serves a purpose, doesn't it? It allows one to feel so superior to everyone else.

I know a man upon whom you would look with utter disdain. He has no college degree and he also goes to an Evangelical church. He works as an upholsterer. He has the bad luck on a number of occasions to find a good job in his field only to lose it because management drives the company into the ground or the company is sold to someone else or it loses a contract. The poor guy just can't catch a break and he has worked like hell all his life to support his family. I know him because my late son was married to his daughter for 6 years. Initially, my son's decision to marry his daughter appalled both me and my wife since all we could see were his religious views and had no visibility into his essential humanity and that of his wife and daughter. When my son became sick and later died, I got to know my daugher-in-law and her parents quite well. In doing so, they became human beings instead of a stereotype.

I don't agree with the politics of this man or with his religious views, but I greatly admire him nonetheless. He doesn't quit, he doesn't whine and he doesn't complain about what a bum rap life has given him and it HAS given him a bum rap. He's a good man and a decent human being who has seen far more than his fair share of hard knocks. He also has the virtue of not looking down on other people.

All you apparently can see are stereotypes and not the underlying humanity of your fellow human beings when they don't share your elitist Weltanschauung.

Personally, I'll take the poor, ignorant schlubs who are out there taking a beating every day over your world of self-congratulatory "superiority".

Any time.

Every time.

Even when I don't agree with them.

schick





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mine and none of the three bear much resemblance to the Jewish god (that they grew up
with) or the christian one (i grew up with)
(which is NOT to say that i won't be burning in Atheist Hell with the two of them)


-x
..... i was with you till this, Schick -- "the meds, the meds!"

I don't really care what Einstein meant when he used the word "God". He simply specified that "God" <insert name of choice> didn't play dice with the Universe. And who knows what Hawking meant by "God"?


i don't really care either... just curious whether they meant something more
with the 'dice' thing than "there is no irreducible randomness" / "is too!"

and Just Sayin' .... i thought if people were more precise in the 'god' discussions here
there'd be less hate & discontent.

won't be my last mistaken notion.


And you will be burning in Atheist Hell (hereinafter known as Thomas Road Baptist Church - home of Jerry Falwell).

Actually, according to Sartre, "Hell is other people" and I guess Falwell is about as "other" as you can get. ;-)


yup.
JPS is still one of my favorites.


-
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All you apparently can see are stereotypes and not the underlying humanity of your fellow human beings when they don't share your elitist Weltanschauung.

Personally, I'll take the poor, ignorant schlubs who are out there taking a beating every day over your world of self-congratulatory "superiority".


How's the weather up there on your high horse?


overspent
...if you squint, you might see me down here, wallowing in the self-congratulatory muck...
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So first, we have to determine how many possibilities exist given that there are 206 bones. In other words, how many combinations could we randomly make out of the 206 bones. A system of two parts (1 x 2) has two possible combinations...1,2 or 2,1. A system of three parts (1 x 2 x 3) has 6...1,2,3 or 1,3,2 or 2,3,1 or 2,1,3 or 3,1,2, or 3,2,1. And so on to 206 we go (1 x 2 x 3 x 4....x 206). This is called 206 factorial and it is approximately 10 to the 388th power. If this experiment could be completed every second for every single second available in some evolutionary estimates of 10 billion years...that is somewhere around 10 to the 18th power worth of seconds to work with. This produces a probability of 10 to the (388-10=370) power. The chance of getting the bones all in their correct position is less than one chance in 10 billion years.


The flaw in this is that you are trying to predict the odds of an entire skeletal system appearing from nowhere - kind of like the chance that some magical being created it. Yes, that would be impossible.

Actually, you need to calculate the odds of each tiny incremental change as it happened. For example, you would need to calculate the chance that a mutation would occur to turn the thumb, just ever so slightly, from facing away form the palm, like a chimp's, to facing slightly inward toward the palm. We obviouly know this can happen from the number of 'birth defects' we see all the time. Odds are good.

If a creature is born with a thumb turned slightly toward the palm turns out to be an advantage to it, it may have a slightly better chance of survival and pass that trait along.

And given 10 billion years, even in your scenario, it is possible for bones to evolve that actually line up so that they work together.

What would be really amazing is if people had bodies whose parts weren't working as a system. Now that would be a miracle.



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Personally, I'll take the poor, ignorant schlubs who are out there taking a beating every day over your world of self-congratulatory "superiority".

I soooooooooo wish I could be the kind of person who values people based not on their ignorance, bigotry, hatred or racism, but rather only based on my perception of their attitude towards very specific types of people they think are stupid. I really do! You're so cool, Wada.

6
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cnaylor: Yet another long post...

in your earlier post #143712 you start with my copy..."Dr. David Raup, curator of geology at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago states that the “250,000 species of plants and animals recorded and deposited in museums throughout the world did not support the gradual unfolding hoped for by Darwin.”

Then you follow up your response with..."That's correct though clearly misunderstood by you. Darwin believed that evolution occurred at a steady, even pace throughout history. However the evidence demonstrates that evolution sometimes occurs at different rates. You prove only creationism's bias and willingness to be deceptive in its arguments with this type of 'quote-mining'."

Here on this post you write: "Your lack of knowledge regarding the nature of DNA and probabilities is stunning in its depth pastor. Your model has no relation to actual theories of abiogenesis for a number of reasons (see the article I cited in my last post http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/abioprob.html) and thus is not useful. Some of the most powerful are:

1) Abiogenesis does not theorize that the DNA molecule jumped from a completely disorganized state to a strand of DNA in one step. This is the biggest fallacy continually propagated by creationists. There are believed to be a number of steps involved in the formation of life. At each step, the probabilities are vastly greater than those you imply for a strand of DNA."

So on the one hand you say, "evolution sometimes occurs at different rates" as if to refute the gradual changing Darwin spoke of, then on the other hand you come out and say "there are believed to be a number of steps involved in the formation of life." So which is it? Baby steps or big steps? i point out no big steps...you reply baby steps. i point out no baby steps...you reply big steps. That dear sir, is one of the problems i have with evolution teaching. It has evolved into a theory that can be explained anyway possible just so one can avoid the possibility of God.

Let me quote from the link you suggested, and keep in mind i'm not a biologist nor do i pretend to be one.

"Firstly, the formation of biological polymers from monomers is a function of the laws of chemistry and biochemistry, and these are decidedly not random."

This quote from your source is exactly why creationists recognize an intelligent designer..the 'not random'. This is the whole point of origin. Its either random or by design.

His second point about much simpler origins makes the math easier but his thesis is still unproven and unknown (if even possible) and he even is honest enough to admit to it....
"At the moment, since we have no idea how probable life is, it's virtually impossible to assign any meaningful probabilities to any of the steps to life except the first two (monomers to polymers p=1.0, formation of catalytic polymers p=1.0). For the replicating polymers to hypercycle transition, the probability may well be 1.0 if Kauffman is right about catalytic closure and his phase transition models, but this requires real chemistry and more detailed modelling to confirm. For the hypercycle->protobiont transition, the probability here is dependent on theoretical concepts still being developed, and is unknown."

Now, unless his assumptions are proven then creation is a very real alternative. If his assumptions are proven then one must deduce what proof is concluded. In the end i make this assumption...while evolutionary scients will work very hard to substantiate evolution, and while discoverie of the complexities of life and its transformations will increase...evolutionists will never be any closer to proving evolution that Darwin was. They will know more and be able to give a more detailed account of the mechanisms involved...but never arriving at the proof. 100 years from now someone should qoute me on this because i think this statement will hold true then as well.

You write: "Creationists ignore the fact that multiple 'trials' were going on at any given time. They pretend that there was only one 'set' of DNA molecules in existence that all needed to find each other and hook up before life could be born. But the planet is vast and was teeming with life's precursors - combining, failing, and combining again and again and again."

Reply: First of all, one must either start with the 'assumption' that there was something here to work with in the beginning or there wasn't. To support that Boyle's law is incorrect means one must account for a huge number of components here at the beginning. As long as scientists admit this to be an 'assumption' and readily declare that is their 'assumption' then i don't have a problem with their silly conclusions...but don't impose such an assumption as a more relevant origin upon people. Don't suppose yourself to be of superior intellect than the creationist. Admit both sides start with from a philosophical position...i admit to one. From such an admission good science(that is genuinely helpful) can come forth. But let the researchers be honest and forthright in accepting both their failures and successes as evidence. Don't get mad at someone if they suggest trying to prove evolution is like the dog chasing its tail...evaluate such a criticism for what its worth. Scientists should have the decency to strive for honest evaluation and conclusion.

Another issue: You brought up spontaneous generation. To make abiogenesis work one must also presume an atmosphere condusive for such transitory activity...which to my limited knowledge here translates to ammonia and methane present in the atmosphere. Has science proven that such an atmosphere was present? i heard back around 1983 that NASA supposedly concluded there is no evidence to support such an atmosphere ever existed. You allude to search engine capabilities so i won't bother to find it for you...i'll assume you can do that.

Please answer:
Agree or disagree and why... it really comes down to this doesn't it..."in the beginning God created the heavens and earth" or "in the beginning matter existed and began to take shape into what we now know as life."

You said every time you see an animal that you see one in transit to a new animal that never existed before.
My reply: Every time i see a human give birth...i always see a human born. Who is logical here, me or you? I've already adressed the rest of what follows your quote about time being your salvation. Really when it comes to salvation evolutionists think time is on their side...when in reality their time is running out.

Why is it unreasonable for men and women of science to be expected to lay aside bias when such bias proves to be an obstacle? Instead what we have are scientists pointing the finger outward toward creationists and critics without regards for this challenge. Such smugness among the scientific community is falling out of favor with many sincere and honest scientists and partially explains why embracing intelligent design has a growing following. Darwins Black Box was written by a fairly sharp scientist and that wasn't as long ago as you point out in your criticisms of my postings. Since you dismiss my quotes, the challenge then falls upon you to provide such wonderful improvements to evolution that you allude to having come about. i read what you provided and it led to a whole lot of links...some of which i tackled, some of which i intend to tackle later. At least they had the decency to let Behe answer their criticisms.
Really what has science done to improve our understanding of the evolutionary theory over time? While i admit to some ignorance here, i read what you ask and i can't see it proving much except to fend off creation criticisms. This isn't evidence of evolution this is merely defending a philosophical position. Science should do better, and if you are a scientist i hope you will (as able) give honest discovery a higher priority than the priority you give to defending an unproven theory. Evolution is, after all, only a theory.
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