Evolution, Religion and Science

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

220px-Charles_Darwin_seated_cropA topic that probably causes among the most heated discussions on this blog is the attempt to either displace evolution from Public School Curriculum, or to at least give “intelligent design” equal footing to evolution. My own opinion is that “intelligent design”, or “Creationism” as some call it, has no place in our public school system. Those who would force it on our schools would be destroying the Constitutional separation of Church and State. We saw a blog post by Professor Turley  a week ago discussing some crazy State Legislator in Missouri introducing a bill to teach “Creationism” as a scientific theory and to teach “Evolution” as a philosophy, almost all who commented were not only outraged, but some disparaged Missouri as a backward state. A few of the comments belittled religion in general. http://jonathanturley.org/2013/02/15/missouri-legislator-introduces-bill-to-teach-creationism-as-a-scientific-theory-and-to-teach-evolution-as-a-philosophy/ . Another blog post by Professor Turley in October 2012, about Missouri Senate Candidate Todd Akin brought a firestorm of angry comments, also disparaging Missouri. http://jonathanturley.org/2012/10/15/akin-disproves-evolution/#comments  Interestingly this Conservative State voted for Todd Akin’s opponent when Election Day came around.

Earlier on April 1st, 2012 David Drumm (Nal) did a guest blog titled “The Evolutionary Gorilla in the Room” http://jonathanturley.org/2012/04/01/the-evolutionary-gorilla-in-the-room/ and received almost 240 comments. Now in truth this was an excellent guest blog and certainly drew a lot of discussion. But as I perused the comments, all 238 of them, I noticed something that I think is worth discussing. More than half of the comments were between Gene Howington and Dredd as a continuance of their ongoing argument about Dredd’s microbial theories. I must admit that when it comes to the scientific aspects of biology, I tune out as quickly as Lawrence Rafferty does when Calculus is raised.  Another long time regular Bron did have more than a few comments as he tried to insinuate Ayn Rand into the discussion as usual. J  Now here is the interesting part, on all three of those blogs there was nary a voice raised in defending “intelligent design.” While here at the blog many of the usual suspects are hostile to organized religion, we do have more than a few “religious” people who drop by and comment. Given the tradition of contentious, yet “civil” discussion here how can that be? I think I have a possible answer to that coming from a study done at MIT, by a renowned Physicist and I must admit I found his answer surprising.

In a Huffington Post article dated 2/12/13 (Darwin’s birthday), Mark Tegmark,  MIT Physicist, wrote this to begin his article titled: “Celebrating Darwin: Religion and Science Are closer Than You Think”:

“He looked really uneasy. I’d just finished giving my first lecture of 8.282, MIT’s freshman astronomy course, but this one student stayed behind in my classroom. He nervously explained that although he liked the subject, he worried that my teaching conflicted with his religion. I asked him what his religion was, and when I told him that it had officially declared there to be no conflict with Big Bang cosmology, something amazing happened: his anxiety just melted away right in front of my eyes! Poof!

This gave me the idea to start the MIT Survey on Science, Religion and Origins, which we’re officially publishing today in honor of Charles Darwin’s 204th birthday. We found that only 11 percent of Americans belong to religions openly rejecting evolution or our Big Bang. So if someone you know has the same stressful predicament as my student, chances are that they can relax as well. To find out for sure, check out the infographic below.”

I frankly don’t know how I could present the “infographic” chart from the article because the technology is beyond me so I suggest you follow this link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/max-tegmark/religion-and-science-distance-between-not-as-far-as-you-think_b_2664657.html and see it for yourself because I think it is of great interest to those, who like myself are nonplussed by the resurgence of religious Fundamentalism, The “infographic” is done as a circular chart that lists all the religions practiced in this country, their percentage of the population and each religious belief’s official view of Evolution. Only about 11% percent of the religious population of this country belong to faiths that are opposed to Evolution, For instance:

Catholics are 23.9% of the population and their official teachings see no conflict with Doctrine.

Methodists represent 6.1% of the population and feel evolution is “not inconsistent with religious doctrine.

Lutherans represent 4.6% of the population and of them only 1.4% (The Missouri Synod) are opposed to the theory of Evolution.

People with no Church affiliation represent 16.4% of the population and see no conflict.

Jews represent merely 1.7% of the population and 1.3% see no conflict with Evolution, while the other .4% have no official position on it.

There are conflicts between the various Baptist and Presbyterian Denominations, with some accepting Evolution and some rejecting it. Again please look at the chart at the link because I guarantee you will find it as absorbing as I did.

What are we to make of this data which demonstrates that of the various religious beliefs that make up our country, 89% seemingly have no religious conflict with Evolution? Yet Evolution has become a major issue. Professor Tegmark comments:

“So why is this small fundamentalist minority so influential? How can some politicians and school-board members get reelected even after claiming that our 14 billion-year-old universe might be only about 6,000 years old? “That’s like claiming that my 90-year-old aunt is only 20 minutes old. It’s tantamount to claiming that if you watch this video of a supernova explosion in the Centaurus A Galaxy about 10 million light-years away, you’re seeing something that never happened, because light from the explosion needs 10 million years to reach Earth. Why isn’t making such claims political suicide?

Part of the explanation may be a striking gap between Americans’ personal beliefs and the official views of the faiths to which they belong. Whereas only 11 percent belong to religions openly rejecting evolution, Gallup reports that 46 percent believe that God created humans in their present form less than 10,000 years ago. Why is this “belief gap” so large? Interestingly, this isn’t the only belief gap surrounding a science-religion controversy: whereas 0 percent of Americans belong to religions arguing that the Sun revolves around Earth, Gallup reports that as many as 18 percent nonetheless believe in this theory that used to be popular during the Middle Ages. This suggests that the belief gaps may have less to do with intellectual disputes and more to do with an epic failure of science education.”

Professor Tegmark’s is of the opinion that scientific education in America has been a failure and thus we have the gap between religious belief and science. I think his explanation is a rather middle of the road one and to that extent I disagree with him. The science education I received in elementary and high school was excellent, even if I was too lazy a student to study much. How much I do know scientifically and how much those peers of my age know is quite adequate. There has been a two pronged attack on our educational system that began in the late 60’s. A conscious effort to “dumb down” the people of America has been in effect since then to make them more pliable and easier to fool. The first part has been cutting funding and the second part has been attacking the curriculum. If you add to it the evolving of the Internet and the changes that has wrought, we see that it is not that the scientific education has failed, but the political support for it.

Most of us assume when we are told by someone that they are deeply religious and know their “bible” front to back, that they are truthful. I believe that in their hearts most feel they are being truthful, but their truth falls far short of reality. Many people don’t read their entire holy documents, but instead rely on their religious leaders to guide them as to what is “true” and what is important. We know that some religious leaders focus on what THEY think is important like The Book of Revelations and they don’t “preach” the Jesus who gave The Sermon on the Mount” I think there are many, like Professor Tegmark’s first year student who didn’t know just what his denomination believed about the Cosmos. This is not just true for Christians, but I believe it is true for Jews, Muslims, Hindu’s and Buddhists.

Another problem is our mainstream media plays a role in religious ignorance. I addressed this in July 2011. I was writing about the many TV documentaries being produced on networks like The History Channel and even ABC’s Primetime-Nightline which ran a series titled “Battle With the Devil”, a show that “investigates the belief in satanic will or possession by a demon”. Because the Religious Right in this country is so well funded, they speak with a loud voice. Our media, corporate controlled, fears anything that might hurt the bottom line, so they cater to those with the loud voices and the money behind them. http://jonathanturley.org/2011/07/23/fundamentalist-religion-and-tv-documentaries-a-problem/ What we see then is that a population if 11% in our country, that is working to force their silly, medieval beliefs onto all of us.

Two days ago Professor Tegmark followed up with a second Huffington Post article relating his experiences after he posted his first article. Here are some snippets from it:

“I’d been warned. A friend cautioned me that if we went ahead and posted our MIT Survey on Science, Religion and Origins, I’d get inundated with hate-mail from religious fundamentalists who believe our universe to be less than 10,000 years old. We posted it anyway, and the vitriolic responses poured in as predicted. But to my amazement, most of them didn’t come from religious people, but from angry atheists! I found this particularly remarkable since I’m not religious myself. I have three criticisms of these angry atheists:

1)They help religious fundamentalists:
A key point I wanted to make with our survey is that there are two interesting science-religion controversies: a) Between religion & atheism b) Between religious groups who do & don’t attack science

2)They could use more modesty:
If I’ve learned anything as a physicist, it’s how little we know with certainty. In terms of the ultimate nature of reality, we scientists are ontologically ignorant. For example, many respected physicists believe in the so-called Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics, according to which a fundamentally random process called “wavefunction collapse” occurs whenever you observe something. This interpretation has been criticized both for being anthropocentric (quantum godfather Niels Bohr famously argued that there’s no reality without observation) and for being vague (there’s no equation specifying when the purported collapse is supposed to happen, and there’s arguably no experimental evidence for it).

3)They should practice what they preach:
Most atheists advocate for replacing fundamentalism, superstition and intolerance by careful and thoughtful scientific discourse. Yet after we posted our survey report, ad hominem attacks abounded, and most of the caustic comments I got (including one from a fellow physics professor) revealed that their authors hadn’t even bothered reading the report they were criticizing. Just as it would be unfair to blame all religious people for what some fundamentalists do, I’m obviously not implying that all anti-religious people are mean-spirited or intolerant. However, I can’t help being struck by how some people on both the religious and anti-religious extremes of the spectrum share disturbing similarities in debating style.

Having watched the religious debates that go on here continually, I do think that Professor Tegmark has a valid point. Although I am a Deist, I have no affection for either organized religion, or for the “holy books” that make up their various canons. However, I have in my life experienced what I would call the ineffable, so I personally won’t preclude the fact that there is a “Creative Force” of some kind that drives this Universe. Please understand me in this, because as Tegmark saw even his peers criticized him far too quickly: Because I don’t preclude doesn’t mean I think there is one, I just won’t rule it out. From what I know of modern physics in its current fashion there is the belief that the Universe is a lot “weirder” than science at the beginning of the 20th Century imagined it to be.

While I understand that most of us are angry and fed up with those 11% who believe in something like Genesis, perhaps we should aim our fire directly at that group of benighted fools and accept that others might be more approachable. What do you think? As I finish this I have a vision in my head of having to duck, where do you think that comes from?

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

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231 thoughts on “Evolution, Religion and Science

  1. Great job Mike. I agree with your frustration over the religious and non-religious deniers who just can’t believe in science. I also agree that the minority who push this denial use religion as their excuse to deny what they don’t understand.
    By the way, I never got as far as calculus. Geometry was a big enough problem for me! :)

  2. Mike S,

    Once again, you have written a mini-thesis; you can’t possibly expect us to give a paragraph or 2, expressing our opinion without doing our homework. I am going to need at least a few hours, maybe even a day or 2 to organize my thoughts on this one.

  3. “Of all religions, this is the best: Not one of rituals. Not one of words. But, one of Deeds -Serving the truly needy”. From The Guru Granth, The Sikh Scriptures. Sikh means a student, a learner, a seeker.

  4. Lively article Mike, thank you for the insights (or incites as some might decry)

    I had advocated for some years that science and religion do not need to be mutually exclusive. Some of the more ardent religion followers can simply argue that quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, or other scientific fields are valid and are the result of God’s creation. That way, the science is not completely disputed but is simply a manifestation of Gods creation.

    One could reasonably argue that studying the sciences is akin to studying bible scriptures and to learn from the sciences is to read the word of God.

    If this type of philosophy was embraced by the more pious of individuals there could be much agreement between sciences and religion, the base thoughts woudl be the same, only difference being whether the sciences are divinely inspired or not.

  5. If a religion taught reason and objective reality, then we would use terms like belief and faith what they really mean before having had been hijacked by the religions- the reasonable guesstimate based on logic and empirical truth..

    Mike: Thanks for putting the pieces of the puzzle together to create the landscape of the awe and wow factors that we are all surrounded by.

  6. Permit me to be OT with a “timely” post. We may not be doing anything about Pfc Mannings fate, but others are protesting.
    =============

    “70 communities to rally for Army whistle-blower facing life behind bars this weekend (on Feb. 23)

    Bradley Manning Support Network
    and Courage to Resist
    February 22, 2013

    This weekend, more than 70 cities worldwide are marking PFC Bradley Manning’s 1,000th day in jail without a trial. Supporters are holding rallies, marches, live performances, art installations, and other creative events
    ===================

    http://www.bradleymanning.org/news/on-february-23-international-protests-of-bradley-mannings-1000th-day-in-jail-without-trial

    Not too late to start an event or join one near you. Detailed list on the site above. Support our troops who protest. Support those who would that we be informed, not propagandized.

    Thanks Mike for for the space.

    I’ll read your apparently heavy post later. Congrats on that.

  7. As an Athiest it is difficult to embrace the Faith based theology that says that we earthlings are only six thousand years on the planet. On the other hand, I am a dog who was a human in a prior life and I recall being given the choice up in that Pearly Gates center that looked like Ellis Island. Some of the dogpac believe that God put Dog on Earth on the Eighth Day to take care of and guide humans. I quibble with that and think that it took us about eight hundred thousand years to evolve into a dog composure with sure paws ready to tackle the guidance of humanoids. So, I am torn between two world views, one being grounded on science and the other on my own experience and conversations with other dogs who claim to have been humans in a prior incarnation. I will leave it at that but I deny any of that Faith based stuff and do not cotton to the notion that its not fried chicken, its Shake n Bake. Such is the phraseology of those who believe in the Sears Roebuck version of the Bible. When the finer points of theology versus science make me wiggle my way to explaining such things as my own history I bow to itchinBayDog and her philosophy of life. If I didn’t , I would get a bite in the arse. She is liable to chimne in here.

  8. Yo: Idealist. Good of you to bring up the Bradley Manning thing. I was just reading a long book about the Fall of The Third Republic and about how the French tortured and locked up Dreyfus and accused him of being a traitor and a no good jew. That Dreyfus Affair was the precursor to France going to hell in the hand basket and forming the Vichy Government which collaborated with the Nazis in 1940 until the end of the war. Quantico is like Devils Island. America is on the slippery slope to perdition.

  9. Mike S,

    Well-written article! I like to express my opinions:

    You made the following comment: “Intelligent design or creationism has no place in our public school system.”
    · It has been there since the beginning of America. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that America decided not to teach Creationism in the classroom (although it seems like there are some states bringing it back…i.e. Missouri). My question to the federal and state governments: Why can’t we give the students and their parents a choice: Do you want to learn about Creationism, Evolution, or both in K-12?
    You also made the comment: “Those who would force it on our schools would be destroying the Constitutional Separation of Church and State.”
    · This wall of separation between Church and State, i.e. Thomas Jefferson, is so fictional. Don’t you know that your tax dollars are going towards ‘faith based initiatives or programs’? The flaky green paper, and silver, gold, brown coins has “in God we trust” written all over it. Are you going to not use this? (If you aren’t then send it my way…just joking). Whether you like it or not, you-along with every other non-Christian-are following Biblical principles in the form of US laws and customs (and I don’t have to name them all; I am sure you know a few of them).
    You made the comment: “We do have more than a few ‘religious’ people who drop by and comment. Given the tradition of contentious, yet ‘civil’ discussion here, how can that be?”
    · Whenever you (or anyone) attack someone’s culture, political beliefs, religious views, stereotypes, etc, then, of course, you will receive either the silent treatment or someone condemning you to the opposite side of heaven. On the other hand, many believe that they don’t need to defend their beliefs or culture to people who are not trying to understand why they believe the way they do.
    Finally, You made the comment: “While I understand that most of us are angry and fed up with those 11% who believe in something like Genesis, perhaps we should aim our fire directly at that group of benighted fools….”
    · My question is as follows: Is this an anti-religious, anti-Christian, Hindu, Islamic, etc blog or a legal blog? Is this a religion bashing blog? There are so many health issues (linking of pancreatic cancer to sodas), business and technological issues (why hasn’t the SEC looked into the Apple stock that went from $375 a share, to a little over $700 a share, then dropped to $460 a share in less than a year, and not one investor screaming), government issues (FDA is allowing companies like Monsanto to put genetically modified organism-gmo-in our food with out telling us what has been done to these gmos) that are more important than the way you worded your opinions on this issue.

  10. OT OT OT OT

    Have we evolved? I think not. And Dr. Eric Berne says the same.
    “What do you say, after you say “Hello”.

    If you want to break the balls of your enemy, friend, collegue, fellow snob, then tell them that you ate here in Paris.

    “Pierre Sang in Oberkampf, 55, rue Oberkampf, Paris; no phone; pierresangboyer.com. Prix fixe six-course dinner without wine is 35 euros ($47 at $1.33 to the euro). Wine pairings available for an additional 30 euros.”

    It’ll cost you five times that in Stockholm and you can be sure that it won’t be as good here. Don’t come to Stockholm for fine cuisine.

    http://travel.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/travel/playful-meets-artisanal-in-paris.html?nl=travel&emc=edit_tl_20130223&_r=0

    Excerpt:
    “During a recent visit, our first one was an amuse-bouche combining pomegranate seeds, a spoonful of Korean-style spinach (soaked in rice vinegar) and a dash of chile tapioca, all topped with an oyster. Next up was quick-seared salmon atop smoked chestnut cream garnished with sprigs of salicorne, a succulent also known as glasswort, for a pleasantly salty finish.

    The meal peaked with a chicken ballotine stuffed with black trumpet mushrooms and served alongside creamy cracked-wheat risotto. The wedge of Laguiole cheese that followed steeled our palates for a chocolate fondant topped with a coconut emulsion and speckled with crushed caramel.”
    ===============

    I onced plocked black trumpet mushrooms outside Stockholm. Rare.
    This truly is a different ballotine, they are usually stuffed with sausage meat and bread crumbs.
    The Laguiole cheese would have to be ordered by me from France.
    The wonders of internet.

    Am I a connaisseut? Only on paper. Although my first attempts often succeed. My Sole a la Walewska was not as elaborate nor as pricey as this one. I served it to Kerstin when I was still courting her.
    http://www.bigfoodmonster.com/fish/sole_walewska.php

  11. TLDR:This is my latest entry in the endless series of guest blogger reposts intelligently designed by HuffPo or ThinkProgress. Government should the Decider for what what public debates students can be exposed to in public schools. Since only a minority of religions have a doctrinal conflict with evolution, there is no need for further discussion on the topic. Science education is miserable in the US because the religious right has controlled all educational spending since the 1960’s.

  12. Tegmark: If I’ve learned anything as a physicist, it’s how little we know with certainty.

    There you have the entire explanation in one sentence.
    Even in one word:

    CERTAINTY

    .

    Some people desperately, desperately need solid certainty in their lives and post-death. This certainty also has to be simple.
    The Sun moves around the Earth. That’s easy. Anyone can see it doing just that. When the evidence becomes overwhelming, one can accept planets going around the sun. They can be seen with telecopes. Their orbits are predictable. Rockets go out to visit them. It’s different but it’s still simple. God made a beautiful thing.
    .

    The problem with having God kick the whole thing off billions of years ago is simply not acceptable.
    What that does is to raise questions about the significance of humans in God’s plan. Why on Earth (sic) would he faff around for ever before creating us? A few thousand years has a nice human scale to it. No need for any longer.
    Entropy and a gradual fading of the Universe are not a problem. We’re going to have Armageddon long before all this slow dying Sun business has a chance to affect anything.
    .

    I think the problem for the creationists is that they are absolutely terrified of death and what might follow. They don’t actually have a faith that the unknown will be benign. They expect ressurection – and into a clean shiny physical paradise. This they can relate to.
    They need to be absolutely certain about what exactly God is and what the plan is. More importantly, they need to be central to God’s plan – and not just a blip of a few thousand years in billions of years.

    If one challenges their certainties in this, one is challenging their entire raison d’etre. It’s primal. There is no debating this. There is no shifting.

  13. “…their ongoing argument about Dredd’s microbial theories …” – Mike S

    You must have tuned out before reading the text, because they are not my theories, they are from peer reviewed journals, including but not limited to:

    Chemical and Engineering News
    Science Daily
    American Society for Microbiology
    Cambridge Books
    Proceedings National Academy of Sciences
    NATURE Journal
    Mendeley
    Berkeley Microbiology Lectures
    Health Central
    New England Journal of Medicine
    American Scientist
    Scientific American
    Seed Magazine
    Wikipedia
    NY Times
    The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

    (The Human Microbiome Congress). Furthermore, a discussion of evolution today would be silly without discussion microbes and their impact on human genetics:

    … some 90 percent of the protein-encoding cells in our body are microbes … 99 percent of the functional genes in the body are microbial … exchanging messages with genes inside human cells … microbes cohabitating our body outnumber human cells by a factor of 10, making us actually “superorganisms” that use our own genetic repertoire as well as those of our microbial symbionts … We just happen to look human because our human cells are much larger than bacterial cells … no matter how you look at it, it’s high time we acknowledge that part of being human is being microbial …

    (ibid). Your mythology series could be updated to include all the textbook myths about evolution that have filled science textbooks.

    One would be hard put to list the creation myths and science myths, because they are quite abundant.

    Yes, a discussion about evolution or creationism without discussing the most abundant life forms on Earth, microbes, would be … well … you fill in the blank.

  14. Creationists can ask “why did God make us out of microbes”, and evolutionists can ask, “why did microbes do what they did to help us survive”, but ignoring these new discoveries is akin to adhering to a flat Earth ideology:

    The Human Genome Project’s most startling finding was that human genes, as currently defined, make up less than 2 percent of all the DNA on the genome, and that the total number of genes is relatively small. Scientists had predicted there might be 80,000 to 140,000 human genes, but the current tally is fewer than 25,000 — as one scientific paper put it, somewhere between that of a chicken and a grape. The remaining 98 percent of our DNA, once dismissed as “junk DNA,” is now taken more seriously.

    … some 90 percent of the protein-encoding cells in our body are microbes … 99 percent of the functional genes in the body are microbial … exchanging messages with genes inside human cells … microbes cohabitating our body outnumber human cells by a factor of 10, making us actually “superorganisms” that use our own genetic repertoire as well as those of our microbial symbionts … We just happen to look human because our human cells are much larger than bacterial cells … no matter how you look at it, it’s high time we acknowledge that part of being human is being microbial … Microbes may indeed be subtly changing our brain early on — and for what purposes we cannot yet say … the mere fact that microorganisms can shape our minds brings up many more questions about how humans develop their identity … these findings call for a complete re-examination of human physiology and immunology. Attributes that were assumed to be human traits have been shown to result from human–microbe interactions.

    (One Man’s Junk Gene Is Another Man’s Treasure Gene?). Denying this new science will result in a wrong view of evolution, or a wrong view of creationism.

    Why?

    Because being devoid of the facts is no way to think about either notion.

  15. Claiming there is a “controversy” about the fact of evolution is like claiming there is a “controversy” about whether the KKK murdered blacks or a “controversy” about whether the holocaust happened. There is no “controversy”, only the educated and the ignorant, only the facts and historical revisionism.

    The only place religion belongs is in homes and churches. It does NOT belong in schools, law government or the public square. If religion had any merit, it wouldn’t need the force of law to impose itself on others. If religion had any facts, it would submit itself to testing and verification, not feebly cling to the canard, “you don’t test ‘god'”.

    The only people who have to obey or listen to any religious twaddle are those who believe in or belong to it. Non-adherents DO NOT have to obey, and their children DO NOT have to be forcibly indoctrinated. Claiming that the religious have a “right” to expose their beliefs to children is as revolting as a flasher claiming a “right” to expose his genitalia to children.

  16. Many years ago, our local state representative introduced a bill into the legislature that would make teaching creationism mandatory. I wrote him a polite letter on my office letterhead opposing it, requesting he withdraw it, stating my reasons.

    A couple of weeks later, instead of getting a reply from him, I got a long personal handwritten letter from his wife. She told me, among other things, that because I was a scientist, she felt sorry for my kids because they would all burn in hell because of how I was raising them. She said I needed to come to Jesus and be saved before it was too late for my eternal soul.

    Her letter was so full of fail I did not bother to reply, or I would have told her to buzz off.

  17. Let me add that every time I get a letter or have personal interaction with persons such as our State Representative’s wife, I am struck by the amount of hate and vitriol present. Their faces smile, but their eyes don’t. Their words belie the teachings of Jesus. As we have discussed here before, Gandhi commented that he rather liked Jesus. His followers, not so much.

  18. Very interesting! Also, “Revelation,” not “Revelations.” Priggier-than-thou Bible readers (like me) get on you about that sort of thing.

  19. “to either displace evolution from Public School Curriculum, or to at least give “intelligent design” equal footing to evolution.”

    The theory of evolution has a sheltered life in the school system. It is quite evident that any evidence, other theories, or anything contrary to evolutionism is not allowed. Students therefore must be forced to learn this theory and either ignore or pretend alternative theories and contradicting evidence does not exist.

    I can see the point where someone would say that if other theories can’t be taught, then evolutionism needs to be removed.

    “My own opinion is that “intelligent design”, or “Creationism” as some call it, has no place in our public school system. Those who would force it on our schools…”

    Seems like we have a double standard here. One belief system is allowed while others are not. Since to date there still hasn’t been anything substantive or definitive that proves evolutionism to be true, if qualifies as a belief with equal status as a belief that life was deposited on earth by aliens. Why would you require the evolutionism belief to be sheltered from scrutiny by other theories?

    “…would be destroying the Constitutional separation of Church and State.”

    Technically, evolutionism shouldn’t be forced on the students because of “separation of church and state”.

    It appears you have the meaning for “separation of church and state” inverted as do many others. The original intent of the letter that first contains the phrase “separation of church and state” was to ensure that a wall of separation protects the church from government intervention.

    So evolutionism being taught solely as if there are no other theories or contradictions to the theory is a violation of separation of church and state. If the state wants the students to be exposed to all of the data regarding evolutionism then the state has a right to allow students access to the contradictions of evolutionism as well as other theories.

    “…’Evolution’ as a philosophy, almost all who commented were not only outraged, but some disparaged Missouri as a backward state. A few of the comments belittled religion in general.”

    All those who object to evolution being taught as a philosophy should pay careful attention to the wording of textbooks in its discussion of evolutionism. Almost every phrase is “Scientists BELIEVE in …” or “it is BELIEVED to be true that …”. That doesn’t sound like science. That sounds like philosophy. Science textbooks should contain solid statements such as “it is known that…” or “the evidence proves …”. You do not ever encounter statements such as those regarding evolutionism. Stop a staunch evolutionist on the street and if you ask them what evidence can you offer for evolutionism, you’ll get one of those belief statements as their “proof”. Well, I have a belief too, we were created. We didn’t evolve. The proof is intelligent design.

    What is embarrassing and peculiar, is that those who are so entrenched behind the adult fairytale known as evolutionism believe that everyone else is backwards because they don’t believe in such nonsense. Missouri should be applauded for allowing a breath of fresh air and the observation of other theories and evidence that happens to contradict the evolutionary theory.

    Think about it this way, if students are exposed to ALL of the data, then they can make an educated choice as to what is true and what is false. What are those who peddle evolutionism afraid of that it must have a monopoly and be sheltered from scrutiny? The more that evolutionism is protected and sheltered from questioning, the more it appears weak and someone with common sense should see huge red flags, or at least some baloney detectors should go off.

  20. P Smith… “Claiming there is a “controversy” about the fact of evolution is like claiming there is a “controversy” about whether the KKK murdered blacks or a “controversy” about whether the holocaust happened. There is no “controversy”, only the educated and the ignorant, only the facts and historical revisionism.”

    Apples vs. ferrets comparison. Yes there is indeed a controversy. Evolutionism is not as cut and dry as you think. There are considerable problems to the theory of evolution, contradicting information, so many twists and turns to the theory that it’s basically a huge knot. In fact, there are more unanswered questions regarding evolution than information. What is a “fact” of evolution? I have yet for anyone to give me even one example that makes evolution a “fact”. The only FACT we have about evolutionism is it lacks proof.

    Also it comes across as very elitist when you say everybody else is stupid because they don’t believe in evolutionism. To the contrary. I believe someone is extremely stupid for believing that a pineapple and a porcupine share a common ancestor. Such “science” should have been dismissed and laughed out of the country a long time ago. The fact that such a stupid theory as evolutionism has lasted so long without anything substantive as proof is a huge problem for science and has in effect, shipwrecked the cause of science since so much time and effort has gone into entertaining such a hokey theory.

    I would direct the question to you that I asked earlier – if evolutionism is so well established and as you put it, a “fact”, then why would you be so terrified if students were allowed to examine the contradictions of evolutionism or heaven forbid – see the evidence for Creation and alternative theories?

    If something can’t take scrutiny, and must be sheltered from it, you have to realize how weak evolutionism appears to those with exposure to ALL of the information.

  21. Oldest son went to pre-med at a small college, but it has very high academic standards. The pre-med program has a widespread reputation as being a “doctor factory.” 100% of the students who manage to survive pre-med are accepted into a medical school somewhere.

    On his first day of class as a freshman, he attended a biology class. The professor began his first lecture by announcing they would be teaching evolution as science. As in factual. He added, “Theory is a construct in science, and does not mean what most people think it means.”

    He added that creationism would NOT be taught, and would not be tolerated in class discussion, because it was religion and not science. Prof added that if the students wanted to discuss creationism, then by all means attend the church of their choice.

    BTW, that college is owned and operated by the Methodist Church. My son said several students got up and walked out; heading for the Dean’s office to change their majors.

  22. BarkinDog “As an Athiest [sic] it is difficult to embrace the Faith based theology that says that we earthlings are only six thousand years on the planet. On the other hand,”

    Realize that evolutionism is faith based. Being that there isn’t anything that definitively proves evolutionism happened in the past, one is forced – atheist or not, to accept evolutionism based on faith.

    Furthermore, it is impossible for anyone to live without faith in one form or another.

  23. I find Mike’s observation that no one has stepped up to defend intelligent design most fascinating despite many slow hanging pitches right over the plate.

    My only objection to magic-thinking, a long-cherished freedom, is when its users drag it into our shared public square and demand to be taken seriously Or Else. This is how politics works today. Most elected pols still hail from the halcyon days of church bulletins printed by mimeograph. There exists next to no relevance between govt and the governed.

    The next iteration of social media will include direct participation in politics. Expect to see live updating caveman graphics which tell you in an instant what year your average pol thinks it is. This is going to cause screech and holler that makes tea people seem like potted plants as they are rooted out of government.

    Because people my age and younger are not going to put up with it, and they are developing the tools to see that it stops. They got Pinochet ‘ere the end, and Milosevic died in prison. The story of the lawbreakers that brought about our politics by rabid dog has yet to be finished.

    To my beloved reggies here, including our host, I humbly request less h’rumphing over brandy and more activism. There are power people here. Now is your time.

  24. Hubert Cumberdale:

    Realize that evolutionism is faith based. Being that there isn’t anything that definitively proves evolutionism happened in the past, one is forced – atheist or not, to accept evolutionism based on faith.

    Whether there is definitive “proof” of evolution, or not, does not determine the truth of evolution. If one considers evolution to be based on faith, that faith is justified based on evidence. That evidence is in the form of fossils, taxonomy, and DNA. All indicate that common descent is true. Not a single piece of evidence has falsified evolution.

  25. Scrolling by after Dredd:

    “Why should I wash my hands. I’ve been dissecting corpses and delivering babies for years.”

    And then there are the supposedly unfriendly ones. Why supposedly? Because the chief of ???? here does not get flu shots. She prefers to get the stimulus to her immune system that flu gives.

    As for artificial defenses against flu, the latest is that flu viri are evolving and soon the current vaccine development method won’t be efficacious anymore.
    A “radícal” new technique will be ready in maybe five years.

    Five years, and viri have been with us how long? Idiocy.

    Simple, live and let live. Welcome the virii. (Viri=plural of virus?)

    Me? I get the shot. A firm believer in crackpot medical science.
    How about you, Dredd?

  26. “you made the following comment: “Intelligent design or creationism has no place in our public school system.”
    · It has been there since the beginning of America. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that America decided not to teach Creationism in the classroom (although it seems like there are some states bringing it back…i.e. Missouri). My question to the federal and state governments: Why can’t we give the students and their parents a choice: Do you want to learn about Creationism, Evolution, or both in K-12?”

    RWL,

    I don’t deny that it was there at the beginning of the Republic, so was slavery but we somewhat evolved. You may recall that the Pilgrims who founded a section of this country left Europe because they weren’t free to express their religious beliefs there. Then when they came to these shores, they were in turn religiously intolerant. Must I go into the history of organized religions everywhere in history to show that there have always been certain elements within them who seek to use good teachings for power. The naked truth is that Darwin was the excuse that intelligent people of the enlightenment needed to throw off the intellectual chains caused in Christian Nations by the literal interpretation of Genesis. Our ancient ancestors dealt in metaphor. Genesis was understood in its time to be metaphor, not history.

    In truth if you view Genesis as metaphor, that is when the insights can be detected. For instance the story of Abraham and the almost sacrifice of Isaac, was a metaphor against human sacrifice, a practice which was then common in the ancient world. The problem with metaphors being viewed as history is that those “unholy” people who seek power through religion can bamboozle the the less well-read masses into believing those elements which
    tend to bolster their power. As I pointed out this is true today of the Preachers who concentrate mostly on Revelations and the more horrific elements of the Torah (Christian’s Old Testament) in order to use fear to control their congregations.

    “You also made the comment: “Those who would force it on our schools would be destroying the Constitutional Separation of Church and State.”
    · This wall of separation between Church and State, i.e. Thomas Jefferson, is so fictional. Don’t you know that your tax dollars are going towards ‘faith based initiatives or programs’?”

    Yes that is true but that is because a minority of “Religious” people have used it to override the beliefs of the “Founding Fathers” most of whom as members of the “Enlightenment” were more sophisticated in their religious beliefs. They well knew the problems of having religion intertwined with the State, but in a Country as divided as ours was both before and after the Revolution, they had to look away about certain things lest it was all brought down by demagogues.
    This is true today as well. The fact that many religious institutions serve as gatherers of wealth, rather than true spiritual teachers provide examples of the problem. It’s not so much that our “political class” is religious, as that it must pay lip service and obeisence to religion to get elected.

    “Whether you like it or not, you-along with every other non-Christian-are following Biblical principles in the form of US laws and customs”

    I’m sorry you put it into “non-Christian” terms because as you know I’m Jewish. However, I would turn it around by reminding you that what you call “Biblical Principles” are predominantly Jewish principles from the Torah, which Christianity has appropriated, but used selectively. :)

    “We do have more than a few ‘religious’ people who drop by and comment. Given the tradition of contentious, yet ‘civil’ discussion here, how can that be?”
    · Whenever you (or anyone) attack someone’s culture, political beliefs, religious views, stereotypes, etc, then, of course, you will receive either the silent treatment or someone condemning you to the opposite side of heaven. On the other hand, many believe that they don’t need to defend their beliefs or culture to people who are not trying to understand why they believe the way they do.”

    Well in a sense that’s why I wrote this piece, even though I was aware that it would “stick in the craws” of people on both sides of this issue. I am not happy by what I see as sniping on both sides of the religious divide, I come from a large, very religious family. I have close friends that are quite devout in their beliefs. I respect their beliefs and I certainly don’t make fun of their beliefs. I’ve stayed as a guest in homes that were religous to the Nth degree and while under my hosts roof, I’ve followed their practices. I can understand and respect people who are truly pious from all faiths. I’ve known deeply religious people of all faiths who were in my opinion “saintly”
    human beings. Yet as I view some of those people most religiously prominent in American life today, I honestly don’t see piety, I see greedy con-men. This is true of not only Christians, but Jews, Muslims and all other faiths. Their “Sin” as I see it is that they prey upon peoples innermosts fears and doubts to control them. Jerry Falwell telling people that Jesus would vote Republican is an example.

    The problem is that these sociopaths disguised as “holy men” do not represent more than 11% of the religiously affiliated people in this Country, yet they impose their will upon the rest of us through the deception of a literal interpretation of “The Bible”. We see the same theme played out in Muslim countries. As a Jew I see this also played out between the various sects of my own community. I see certain “Ulta-Orthodox” Jews intimidating
    religious Jews. When I was young and living in a “Kosher” home, there was one definition of the laws of “Kashruth”. Food producers and markets required certification of adhering to those laws and had to pay for it. Competition arose under the “certifiers” (“Mashgiachs”) and suddenly in my 20’s I saw what to me was a new term “Glatt” (meaning truly) Kosher.

    I see this “fast buck” religion played out in all faiths and I decry it. However,
    I also dislike the way non-believers” patronize many fervent believers. I don’t believe it is helpful. When I used to read Christopher Hitchens, for instance I would seethe. Not because he was an atheist, but because in truth he use the same tactic used by the Religious con-men” He picked and chose selectively from the Bible to make a worst case scenario, without ever admitting to some of the wisdom contained there. I think that those like myself who believe strongly in the separation of Church and State, must be cognizant of the fact that not all religious people are “stupid, superstitious, morons” and that many are good people. When we stereotype we weaken our case.

    “My question is as follows: Is this an anti-religious, anti-Christian, Hindu, Islamic, etc blog or a legal blog? Is this a religion bashing blog? There are so many health issues (linking of pancreatic cancer to sodas), business and technological issues (why hasn’t the SEC looked into the Apple stock that went from $375 a share, to a little over $700 a share, then dropped to $460 a share in less than a year, and not one investor screaming), government issues (FDA is allowing companies like Monsanto to put genetically modified organism-gmo-in our food with out telling us what has been done to these gmos) that are more important than the way you worded your opinions on this issue.”

    In my opinion the success of this legal/civil liberties/free speech blog is due to the wide range of topics discussed here, in a mostly civil manner. Professor Turley, when he invited us to “Guest Blog” knew us from our communting here for a long time and I think felt that we could present our divergent ideas in a cogent manner. He has never told us what to write, nor does he ask first approval of what we write. Paraphrasing the old broadcasting phrase: The opinions of the Guest Bloggers are their own and do not neccessarily reflect the opinions of this blog’s proprietor.

    I’m sorry that I went on in such detail with this answer to you RWL, but your well-written detailed comment deserved no less.

  27. Dredd,

    I hope you get the fact that when I referred to it as “your microbe theory” I was kidding and also viewing the ongoing debate between you and Gene with both amusement and affection. Had I been factually descriptive of the debate I would have wound up way off track and it would have been a different blog. I recognized that this would be a difficult subject and so tried to handle it as lightly as possible. Please again note my last sentence:

    “As I finish this I have a vision in my head of having to duck, where do you think that comes from?”

    Also to everyone, so I then can get out of the way, when I wrote:

    “While I understand that most of us are angry and fed up with those 11% who believe in something like Genesis, perhaps we should aim our fire directly at that group of benighted fools and accept that others might be more approachable”

    I worried over the use of the term “benighted fools” as being too harsh. I used it, however, because I do think that to believe literally in Genesis is to accept an obvious and internally inconsistent metaphor as the true history of the Creation of the World and that to me is foolish.

  28. “To my beloved reggies here, including our host, I humbly request less h’rumphing over brandy and more activism. There are power people here. Now is your time.”……….James in LA.

    Hear, hear!

  29. Hubert Cumberdale:
    There is no such thing as “evolutionism.’ That is a back-door way to put evolution on an equal footing with creationism, which is not possible. Evolution is not complicated, is not only provable but has been proved, and is ongoing. As I write this, scientists in labs all over the world are studying organisms with short life cycles such a fruit flies. By introducing a constant stressor in the study sample group, they watch to see how the creature evolves to deal with the stressor. For example, if they are placed in complete darkness for a number of generations, they lose the ability of sight and become blind, but senses of hearing, smell and touch improve dramatically. We see the same thing when infectious bacteria evolve to adapt to antibiotics, becoming resistant or immune to the antibiotic.

    So in summary, there is no such thing as “evolutionism.” There is simply evolution. Your proposition is not only grammatically incorrect, but factually and scientifically incorrect.

  30. Dredd, I want to tell you about the Day Felix Caught A Bird. Felix is a black cat in the care of a neighbor who recently caught himself a sparrow. I was alerted to this fact by the screech of birds, but not from the unlucky sparrow, which was still alive, and being held by Felix on my front lawn.

    As I watched, Alfred Hitchcock descended. More and more birds came, each hollering a most intense dislike for this murderous cat. Birds of many, many species, large and small. They were in the trees and on rooftops.. They were flopping around on the sidewalk and lawn. The power lines were crowded musical scores, each bird a note in this growing Wagnerian epic. Hundreds and hundreds of birds.

    Some wheeled at Felix, coming in circles. A few hit my windows as they passed. Whatever was happening, it was affecting all the birds that could hear, smell, and taste. Neighbors began coming out of the house to see what all the racket was.

    It ended when Felix finally killed the sparrow. The birds all fled immediately.

    The amount of chemical-to-electric and back again translation which had to have occurred synchronized across many bird species at once is just mind-boggling. Distress, it turns out, is distress. One suspects higher-order messaging going on between the cells which predate the birds by many tens if not hundreds of millions of years: bacteria.

    As you say, ignoring them is like trying to ignore the sky. Add this: science also fails when it does not consider the observer as part of the package.

  31. Hubert Cumberdale sez: “Furthermore, it is impossible for anyone to live without faith in one form or another.”

    *********************************************

    Hubert, that is a slippery logical slope. People have “faith” in all kinds of things. When I got up and turned on the shower this morning, I had faith the water would come on and it would get hot. Flipped the light switch and behold, there was light!

    I have almost total faith in the fact that way too many people are too stupid and/or greedy for their own good…..or mine.

    As for the existence of a Prime Being, the jury is still out on that one, since you have to be dead to find out. I am not quite ready to make that leap of faith just yet. I certainly am not on the same page as the Puritan preachers who thought life was something to be endured while waiting to go to Heaven.

    I have faith, but maybe we are talking about different things.

  32. Hubert: “What is a “fact” of evolution? I have yet for anyone to give me even one example that makes evolution a “fact”. The only FACT we have about evolutionism is it lacks proof.”
    ***
    Not so fast there my salad-y fingered friend.

    One fact is all I have patience for but here it is and it’s going on daily in your walls, garden, basement and where ever those pesky little pests reside. Also inside of you, specifically regarding the antibiotic resistance of Dredd’s various little microbes, bless their little microbial souls. (I say that with all due respect Dredd; I’m a big fan of our microbes.)

    “…We have simply caused pest populations to evolve, unintentionally applying artificial selection in the form of pesticides. Individuals with a higher tolerance for our poisons survive and breed, and soon resistant individuals outnumber the ones we can control.”

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/10/1/l_101_02.html

  33. Bron asserts, “Atheism is just as much of a “religion” as religion is.”

    How so? Maybe you ought to define your terms.

  34. Microbes do a lot of neat things for higher order complex beings. Some of them kill us, but a great many of them don’t. Some of them provide benefit. A lot of them do nothing at all to us. The same can be said of their non-living simpler cohorts in smallness, the prions and the viruses.

    They are not, however, controlling our genetic destiny.

    The best explanation of the mechanisms behind adaptive evolution is still natural selection.

  35. Yeah. I want to see you talk your way out of that one too, Bron. I think your dictionary is out of whack. OED sez “religion” is as a noun means “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods”. Contrast this with “atheism” which is a noun meaning “disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.” I submit you are not using the right word at all. I submit the word you are looking for is “fanatic(al)”, an adjective meaning “filled with excessive and single-minded zeal.” By definition, atheism cannot be a religion, but practitioners of both schools of thought can and do advocate their positions with fanatical devotion that can and does lapse into the extreme. Atheism and religion can be similar, but they are not equivalent.

  36. James in LA,

    “……James in LA1, February 23, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Dredd, I want to tell you about the Day Felix Caught A Bird. Felix is a black cat in the care of a neighbor who recently caught himself a sparrow. ….”
    ==========

    Do you do storyideas for a living? Consider it. “Hollywood” is close by.

  37. RWL: “My question to the federal and state governments: Why can’t we give the students and their parents a choice: Do you want to learn about Creationism, Evolution, or both in K-12?”
    ***
    For the same reason that schools don’t poll students and their parents on whether students should have years long training in maths or be taught how to inscribe a hand full of symbols on clay in order to keep track of their possessions and debts. Though as such things go symbols in clay were good enough as a root for the Semitic languages and to get your average Semite through the year’s accounting so why not now?

    Because public schooling does not exist to cater to the whims or traditions of children and their parents, that’s what private schools, churches and fraternal organizations are for. Public schools are there to provide children with enough knowledge- facts strung together in an understandable fashion- to prevent them, through their gross ignorance, from being a lifelong burden on society. As well public education is to provide the society with a compliment of potentially productive, creative and innovative citizens to maintain and advance the nation and its culture. Public schooling exists at it’s core for the benefit of the nation/culture and re-inventing the wheel every generation does not advance the nation or its culture.

  38. @idealist, thank you for your kind words! I write mostly computer code, followed by English, followed by music. So I do have outlets.

    As for Hollywood being nearby, why yes, it is. Like, across the street, border-wise. You can smell the pee from here… Hollywood isn’t what it was. Too many people can make movies now. L.A. is now too expensive for artists. But not for those who exploit them.

  39. Good stuff Lotta,

    But with your argument the religious could answer: “Our faith does advance society. See where the muslims stand if you don’t believe us”

    BTW the muslims of some genetic “closeness” are also semitic. `
    Which semites are you referring to?

    I will stop sniping, stop sniping, etc promises.

  40. James in LA.

    Lived in a house on a hillside (it is all uphill, cruising up from Sunset Blvd) with some other freaks. Two french, one dutch, one aspiring American actress, age 30+.

    Moved later to Silver Lake district. No real upgrade. LA is LA. People are people.

    I left LA and found folks pretty much the same. But suspect Hollywood still leads in the mixture of hopes, has-beens, and ?????? people.

    I always thought that writing computer code was mind developing, and then I got a job doing it after a year at Stockholms U. There are apparently (you) those who are better than I was. But that is no news.

  41. ID,
    Those using the Hebrew and Aramaic languages, the Old Testament originalists. There are many more Semitic languages but I was thinking along the lines of ‘well, if one is going to give credence and choice regarding one portion of the old testament why not also honor the belief by doing the same to the original language (or its root) of the book itself?’ Makes as much sense and would benefit the students and country just as much.

    Doesn’t matter to me if one is talking about Muslims or fundamentalist Christians, their holy books have no place dictating curricula in a secular school. Their only relevance IMO is in a high school or college level philosophy course, any examination of philosophy must include religions and their influence.

  42. Eternity is so Ephemeral.

    POOF were here,…POOF were gone.

    POOF, POOF baby,
    What goes on between the POOFS stays between the POOFS.

    …. All my ancestors went POOF.
    I accept that I will follow them all, and my descendants will follow too.

  43. The fact is, modern science grew out of esoteric religious traditions.

    Bacon saw experimental science as a means to restore the human race to a pre-fall condition, by giving us access to divine mysteries. When Leibniz invented binary arithmetic, he had a theological motive.

    The conflict between science and religion has been more often driven by politics than by actual religious tensions.

    Take heliocentrism, for example.

    Where Galileo ran into trouble with the Pope, it was over politics, not theology. Galileo had had previous difficulties with the Church, and, when he undertook to write his empirical treatise on heliocentrism, had actually been granted permission by the Church to do so — provided he presented his findings as theory (or, in today’s terminology, hypothesis) rather than fact.

    What got Galileo put under house arrest was his technique: he wrote his treatise as a dialog, and put several quotes from personal meetings with the Pope into the mouth of his doubtful idiot character, Simplicio.

    Back up a few years to the period between Copernicus and Kepler:

    Dominican Friar Giordano Bruno became quickly convinced of the truth of heliocentrism based on a diagram published by Copernicus: it wasn’t the math that interested him, but the iconography. What got him burned at the stake was what he read into that diagram, not that he republished the diagram or promoted the view as true. Bruno reasoned that if the Earth went about the sun, then the earth was a star (planets were called “wandering stars”). Because stars were associated with heavenly powers, Bruno took this to mean that the earth was alive in some manner. He also postulated that each star in the sky also had planets in orbit, and that the universe was infinite in size. Bruno did get into trouble over heliocentrism, but not on the basis of any scientific demonstration of the idea.

    About the same time, Francis Bacon, who is often remembered as the “father” of empirical science, *rejected* heliocentrism. Bacon did so not because he found Copernicus’s math unconvincing — he utterly disregarded the math — but rather, Bacon rejected heliocentrism for political reasons. James I took the English throne after Elizabeth. James was terrified of magic, and published a demonology.

    At the time, magic was closely allied with mathematics, perhaps in part as a result of the diffusion of cabbalistic systems of numerical permutation which spread throughout Europe following the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, as well as due to numerous connections between astronomy and a “natural magic” that connected various grades of celestial beings with astronomical phenomena.

    James was terrified of mathematics, as a tool for magic that could attract demonic influences. Consequently, Bacon — the “father” of modern science — rejected heliocentrism to distance himself from the mathematics used by Copernicus, as a means of currying favor with the new crown. His motive was political.

    There are similar dynamics at play in today’s debates about evolution. Politicians reject science for political reasons. They fabricate the conflict between science and religion for reasons of short-term political gain. They create discontent among fervent believers in order to profit from it.

  44. Atheism is just as much of a “religion” as religion is.

    ……which drew dictionary attention.

    Maybe the thought was:
    ………… Atheism is just as much of a faith as religion is.

    Faith – A belief not based on proof.
    .

    Some people who have faith are at ease with the universe.
    Some people who have faith are no so at ease.
    .

    I think creationists are not at ease.
    They protest too much. They do this because they feel fundamentally threatened by any suggestion that one can have faith without absolute certainty.

  45. Being hypersenstive, I reacted to what I thought was anti-semitism.

    You? Perish the thought. It’s been awhile since you were here, or we have been on different threads.

    I thought it was shared genes that united them, but you say language.

    How come only the Assyrians are the only ones who speak Aramaic and can relate Jesus teachings in his language. The oldest church they claim. Feisty bunch So do they brag to me in Stockholm.

    Anywho it is now a moot point. Nice to read you!

  46. One company is experimenting with lighting homes with microbes that consume waste products:

    The bio-light is a concept that uses different biological technologies to create ambient light effects. It explores the use of bioluminescent bacteria, which are fed with methane and composted material (drawn from the methane digester in the Microbial Home system). Alternatively the cellular light array can be filled with fluorescent proteins that emit different frequencies of light.

    (Phillips). The concept is in the developmental, experimental phase, but shows some promise.

  47. idealist707 1, February 23, 2013 at 11:23 am

    Scrolling by after Dredd:

    “Why should I wash my hands. I’ve been dissecting corpses and delivering babies for years.”

    And then there are the supposedly unfriendly ones. Why supposedly? Because the chief of ???? here does not get flu shots. She prefers to get the stimulus to her immune system that flu gives.

    As for artificial defenses against flu, the latest is that flu viri are evolving and soon the current vaccine development method won’t be efficacious anymore.
    A “radícal” new technique will be ready in maybe five years.

    Five years, and viri have been with us how long? Idiocy.

    Simple, live and let live. Welcome the virii. (Viri=plural of virus?)

    Me? I get the shot. A firm believer in crackpot medical science.
    How about you, Dredd?
    ============================================
    I found a fantastic Swedish scientist, or should I say his revolutionary paper.

    It even relates to the current Mike S post we are populating with comments.

    It delves into the great canyon that creationist and evolutionist have heretofore been somewhat reluctant to explore.

    I speak of the great canyon betwixt abiotic evolution and biotic evolution.

    His name is Per-Olow Löwdin who evidently professionally takes notice of the phrase “quantum biology”:

    Today there seems to be little doubt that many of the fundamental biochemical processes in the living systems are directly connected with the transfer of electrons and protons. Since these are fundamental particles which do not obey the laws of classical physics but the laws of modern quantum chemistry, the electronic and protonic structure of biologically interesting molecules and systems has to be treated by quantum chemistry. This has led to the opening of a new field which has been called submolecular biology or “quantum biology.”

    (“Proton Tunneling in DNA and its Biological Implications“, 1963). I suppose we could say that it is akin to an earlier paper in some ways, written by Erwin Schrödinger titled “What is Life” (1944).

    At any rate, the puffing by evolutionists and creationists has built a bridge over that canyon, a covered bridge, since they do not like to tread there.

    One reason may be alluded to by Mike S where he writes:

    From what I know of modern physics in its current fashion there is the belief that the Universe is a lot “weirder” than science at the beginning of the 20th Century imagined it to be.

    The video at the bottom of this comment features a physicist who delves into the touchy subject, showing simple experiments that can show your eyes what Mike S was referencing.

    So basically, both creationists and evolutionists gloss over the vastness like the venerable Dr. Keith Richards, of the great Rolling Stones University does when he explains all things mysto with “shit happens.”

  48. Riesling 1, February 23, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    If evolution is scientific fact, why does one have to “believe” in it?
    ===================================================
    The same goes for just about everything, so let me introduce you to the study of belief, faith, trust within science-religion, which is affectionately called Epistemology:

    I find myself believing all sorts of things for which I do not possess evidence: that smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer, that my car keeps stalling because the carburetor needs to be rebuild, that mass media threaten democracy, that slums cause emotional disorders, that my irregular heart beat is premature ventricular contraction, that students’ grades are not correlated with success in the nonacademic world, that nuclear power plants are not safe (enough) …

    The list of things I believe, though I have no evidence for the truth of them, is, if not infinite, virtually endless. And I am finite. Though I can readily imagine what I would have to do to obtain the evidence that would support any one of my beliefs, I cannot imagine being able to do this for all of my beliefs. I believe too much; there is too much relevant evidence (much of it available only after extensive, specialized training); intellect is too small and life too short.

    What are we as epistemologists to say about all these beliefs? If I, without the available evidence, nevertheless believe a proposition, are my belief and I in that belief necessarily irrational or non-rational? Is my belief then mere belief (Plato’s right opinion)? If not, why not? Are there other good reasons for believing propositions, reasons which do not reduce to having evidence for the truth of those propositions? What would these reasons look like?

    In this paper I want to consider the idea of intellectual authority, particularly that of experts. I want to explore the “logic” or epistemic structure of an appeal to intellectual authority and the way in which such an appeal constitutes justification for believing and knowing.

    (The Pillars of Knowledge: Faith and Trust?). These religion vs evolution and counterclaim, evolution vs religion, discussions are, at its quantum biological center, merely a way of dealing with our vast insecurities within.

    It is an old insecurity that has been with us since before rock n roll.

  49. Dredd,,

    Thanks for the Swedish scientist bone. It should be spelled
    Per-Olov Löwdin according to Wikipedia. How you found him is a mystery.
    While he never got a Nobel Prize, he sat on the committee that selects them and did some good stuff in Florida, which is not easy to do, Florida being Florida.

    I prefer this TED bit. Your Englishman with the muslim name, I will save for later

    I post this site address for an exciting fast paced presentation.
    The source for the url will not be revealed. It is in American english!

  50. Riesling:

    belief</strong
    /biˈlēf/

    Noun

    1. An acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.
    2. Something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held opinion or conviction.

    ****************************************

    If I KNOW something, I also believe it.

    If I have a belief based on a hunch or faith, I do NOT KNOW for certain it is true, but will bet on it anyway.

    c.f.: I know there was a horrific wreck at the end of the NASCAR race at Daytona just a few minutes ago. I saw it live on television. I do not know if there were any serious injuries. I can safely say “I believe that was a bad multi-car crash.” Those statements are based on observation, even though I am hundreds of miles from Daytona.

    I believe there were no serious injuries, based on observation and what the television commentators said, but have no way to know that for sure at this moment in time. The latter is just a belief, not a knowing.

    I believe it may rain tomorrow, so if I go out I will take an umbrella. My belief in rain is based on what the weather report says on the little weather bug on my computer toolbar. I do not know if it will rain or not, but will take precautions based on my belief.

  51. Montessori kids make a “timeline of the universe” in their early years. They lay it out on a long, long, long roll of felt, and they measure and illustrate all sorts of geological events all the way along it. I think the roll of felt they use in the construction of their time-line is 10 or 12 feet long. Way way way at the far end (being the most recent years) they have about a half inch for human history. The creation of this time-line is a very hands-on visual and tactile experience for them to be able to understand what their world is about. I have never met a Montessori-educated kid who had not LOVED the work they did on the time-line.

    So I was in a used book store recently and I saw a beautiful book, about 15″ by 28″, like a coffee table book, called “The World Chart of World History,” and I thought it would be a beautiful representation of the time-line, but in a paper form and capable of being thumb-tacked onto a wall somewhere, and I picked it up for my friends who are Montessori teachers.

    Woe is me, I got home and opened it to discover that it STARTS with Adam and Eve, and the caption reads, “God created the Heaven and the Earth.” The funniest part is that the author was Professor Edward Hull (1829-1917), a geologist and stratigrapher, who was the director of the geological survey of Ireland! And he was Professor of Geology at the Royal College of Science in Dublin. He has the dates all set forth in there, including the ages of a lot of the folks represented. Eve has a cute curly hairstyle and dimpled knees. She and Adam wear their traditional grapeleaves! The world dates back to 4004 BC.

  52. Gene H. 1, February 23, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    Microbes do a lot of neat things for higher order complex beings. Some of them kill us, but a great many of them don’t. Some of them provide benefit. A lot of them do nothing at all to us. The same can be said of their non-living simpler cohorts in smallness, the prions and the viruses.

    They are not, however, controlling our genetic destiny.

    The best explanation of the mechanisms behind adaptive evolution is still natural selection.
    ============================================================================================
    Mike S has affection for you, as he mentioned in past comments and in the body of his post today:

    But as I perused the comments, all 238 of them, I noticed something that I think is worth discussing. More than half of the comments were between Gene Howington and Dredd as a continuance of their ongoing argument about Dredd’s microbial theories.

    Perhaps getting a room is in order? ;)

    I jest.

    Seriously now, I appreciated your comment, even though it seemed to me to be overly cautious in the sense of not giving in too much … it was a good mixture of defense and offense.

    And ripe with challenges: you used “non-living … cohorts … prions … viruses”

    Gene H, don’t you realize that I sense it when you dis my homies?

    In my post up-thread to the good Swede I mentioned than none other than the owner of Schrödinger’s Cat had a published a paper: “What is Life” (1944).

    Now, if such a notable cat owner can professionally wonder “what is life“, why can’t I take a tad of umbrage at your, in effect, calling my homies “deadbeats” sir?

    I will remind you that you have not offered sufficient evidence and discussion about DeathLife Valley — the place where dead became alive in evolutionary terms (I called it a “canyon” up-thread talking with Idealist707)

    Anywar, we need to remember the bigga badda boom (a.k.a. The Big Bang) was not a biotic event, it was an abiotic event.

    Mother Bang was a machination baby.

    Way on down Highway 61 is the place where the machination became biotic undulation.

    At the canyon I talked about with Idealist707 just up-thread.

    So here is the matrix:

    abiotic evolution -> biotic evolution
    unnatural selection -> natural selection

    Or as Dr. Keith Richards of Rolling Stones University puts it: “shit happens.”

    The research and development of scientific evidence and discussions (in peer reviewed papers and about peer reviewed papers) tells us what is in the shit that happens.

    Dr. Per-Olov Löwdin, a Swedish genius, parachuted into that deep canyon, that wierd canyon of quantum physics, (“DeathLife Valley”) and came up muttering something like “quantum biology.”

    Was he talking about a place of convergence, a place where unnatural selection and natural selection overlap, oscillate back and forth like a tunneling proton?

    Anyway, I appreciated your comment, but still wonder about my homies the prions and viruses being non-life.

    I mean in the sense of the morality that thinks life is better than machines.

  53. None of which negates that prions are not alive, that viruses ride on the cusp of abiotic and biotic chemistry and that neither are dominating or controlling our evolution. Anyone who thinks they are doesn’t understand evolutionary processes.

  54. “… dominating or controlling our evolution …”

    Interesting that these words glom on to each other with control at the nucleus …

    Dr. Keith Richards of Rolling Stone University participated in an experiment that shows inter alia that “control” is kinda out …

    Young species like homo sapiens are not even in the movie “Control” … a science fiction where religios and evolos turn their word factories on each other … boom bam pop crack …

  55. Wiggy McSmart once said: “where there is a need of control, there is insecurity.” Dredd

    Please tell that to my wife of 24 years.

  56. Interesting quote considering you’re the one who keeps insisting that microbes, viruses and prions are the dominant force in evolution instead of recognizing that any form of symbiosis is simply another input into the matrix of probability that makes up natural selection. You bemoan control and yet seek to explain away parts of human nature by stating microbes, et al., are the most important influence on adaptive evolution.

    Curious contradiction.

    Unless, of course, one is misapplying misunderstood science to create a surrogate for unseen forces that control our lives. Misunderstood science is a poor substitute for religion just as misunderstood religion is a poor substitute for science.

    Maybe you’ve changed your mind and now recognize horizontal gene transfers for what they are which is namely an influence but not an ipso facto determinative or controlling influence any more than environment and genes are in the process of natural selection. And that microbes don’t make art, have civilization or practice either religion or science. Or that abiotic is alive despite the word itself meaning “physical rather than biological; not derived from living organisms: abiotic chemical reactions
    devoid of life; sterile”. All of which are erroneous claims you have previously made.

    All in all, nested in the anthropomorphic fallacy.

    Nature doesn’t need a boss. There is nothing magical about life. It happened as a function of a complexity threshold being reached and it probably happens anywhere there is enough liquid water and basic elements to mix with enough energy for a biotic chemistry/biome to arise. There are millions of worlds with life – technological or otherwise. Just so, there are probably just as many worlds that were near misses and one or more factor wasn’t suitable for anything but simple life and/or not quite making it to biotic chemistry over the life threshold abiotic chemistry. I know this because mathematics tells me so.

    Life is in many ways simply a symptom of the fractal nature of this reality.

  57. Evolution. A lot of things have evolved over time. Take the Sixth Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Kill. It is written in stone. Then along comes the Y’all Cans. The Y’all Cans are a group who really thrive in the southern United States but can be found in all 50 states. They say that the Sixth Commandment has evolved and that If “you would read youre Bible JoeBob, you would know that the state can execute a murderer”. That is what we sometimes get on the blogsphere if we discuss the killing of a human by The People of The State of Texas. The Sears Roebuck Bible has evolved to the situation where it is ok for all of the people of a state to kill. Of course they call it an “execution”. When my time comes, and thank dog I dont live in Texas, I would not want to have to explain away my role to Saint Peter in the killing of all of those humans by the executioners in Texas on death row. Saint Peter says that Y’all Can is not a defense. So residents of the State of Texas beware and you better have a better reply to Saint Peter than that apCray about the Sears Roebuck Bible.

  58. @gene, dredd

    You two may be interested in this article by Stephen Jay Gould, “Kropotkin was no Crackpot.”

    http://www.marxists.org/subject/science/essays/kropotkin.htm

    It presents a coherent critique of Darwin’s view of competition from the perspective of an overlooked school of Russian evolutionary biology.

    Essentially, the Russians viewed Darwin as a provincial Brit too heavily under the influence of Malthus, which makes enough sense given Darwin’s life on an island nation; Kropotkin, however, in the expanse of the Russian wilderness, was attuned to other, symbiotic dynamics.

  59. Interesting find there Indigo. I’m marginally aware of Kropotkin’s work because I was taught evolution by a professor very much in the proper Darwinian meaning of “survival of the fittest” as having been distorted by Huxley into something it wasn’t. I have a fairly robust understanding of the disservice Huxley did. The way I was taught cooperation and competition are polar opposite inputs and that while both can be drastically influenced by environmental and resource factors (cooperation being easier when resources are abundant and vice versa), when all things are equal neither is more important than the other as an input for natural selection. I’m not too surprised to find that I agree with Gould’s criticisms of both men’s argument, but pleasantly surprised that he and I both ended at the same biological/ethical/sociological place vis a vis finding a basis for ethics in the natural world. I agree with Gould on a lot of things (especially the idea of punctured equilibrium), but not everything.

    That article was a keeper though. I bookmarked it. Thanks.

    Makes me want to go read Kropotkin’s original works.

  60. Riesling
    1, February 23, 2013 at 3:14 pm
    If evolution is scientific fact, why does one have to “believe” in it?
    ==========================================================

    the influenza virus doesn’t care if you believe in it or not, but if it did not mutate then one vaccination would keep you from getting the flu for life.

  61. There is a difference between “believe” and “believe in.”

    One is a statement of fact, the other is a statement of hope. Both terms have wiggle room. It is more scientifically accurate to say that evolution is a fact. I believe in using facts to explain our universe.

    Whether there is a Prime Being is a matter of faith, hope and conjecture. If one wants to believe in that concept it is a free society. But do not try to impose that faith based belief as a substitution for the empirical experimental method.

  62. I’ve just spent nearly two entertaining hours (the links slow things down) reading every word of this comment and responses, even those of folks I usually skip over. Kudos to all.

    Getting back to the original infographic, my denomination happens to have the longest red strip on the chart. Oh, well, my denomination is also known for folks not agreeing with each other.

    There seems to be minor semantic games going on in some of the responses, the same sort of word games that are used by my denomination.

    The most serious word game is equating a scientific “theory” to the common use of the word as meaning “hypothesis.” Sloppy wordsmanship makes for a sloppy argument.

    The other is the word “belief” or its variants. As rightly noted, we personally know very little, and most of that is limited to personal experiences which themselves may have been mis-perceived. We operate on beliefs. The issue is whether the belief is warranted or not, a warranted belief being based on facts scientifically observed or derived — something that can be measured or observed in our common four dimensional reality, Something natural.

    Or our belief is based on faith — something that cannot be scientifically proven, measured, or observed directly or indirectly (I added that last clause to pick up dark energy and matter), something outside our ordinary four dimensional reality. Something unnatural. Something for which there is no reason to believe. Faith.

    If I could prove God, wherefore faith?

    And that is by definition, And that is part of the teachings of my denomination — that faith is a gift from God. He is not a scientific proof. And this should make people of faith to be among the humblest of all folks, but it doesn’t seem to work that way.

    Often a believer will comment that disbelief is the opposite of faith. No it isn’t. Certitude is the opposite of faith,

    Certitude is the believer’s stumbling block, for it blinds the faithful to an indelible and eradicable corollary of his faith that will follow him in his walk all the days of his life.

    He could be wrong.

  63. I’m also pretty certain that without violating separation of church and state I could draw up a high school curriculum that incorporates the Bible (and all the other books of faith and the world’s great mythologies) with the result that every graduate would probably be a secular humanist — and by using current teaching practices.

    The modern theory of cosmology would serve as the background for geology, geography, biology, and even physics. Before that, though, the students would be taught the parameters of science and the scientific method so that the modern theory of cosmology could be compared and contrasted with the various creation stories.

    Grammar class would examine the 23rd Psalm as an extended metaphor, as would also be done for Frost’s equally beautiful but not divinely inspired The Road Not Taken. In literature we could examine the precursor of Noah’s flood in the Gilgamesh. In history, we could search for the real Jesus or Mohammed or Buddha. Of course the comparative religion’s class would begin with the following video —

    BTW, Mike, the history course would correct the misconception that “the Pilgrims who founded a section of this country left Europe because they weren’t free to express their religious beliefs there.” Actually, as emigres in the Netherlands they were free to exercise their religious beliefs to their hearts’ content, the same as everyone else and therein was the rub — their kids were being affected by liberal beliefs. They mostly sailed to the New World for economic reasons because, as emigres in the Netherlands, work was hard to come by and there was no social net. In fact, their trip to AmeRica was funded by venture capitalists intent on exploiting the beaver fur trade with the Indians. In fact, within just a few years after the Pilgrim’s and other European arrivals, the New England beaver population was nearly wiped out

  64. pete9999

    the influenza virus doesn’t care if you believe in it or not, but if it did not mutate then one vaccination would keep you from getting the flu for life.
    =====================================================
    Thanks, I got a chuckle out of that. Well said.
    A virus cares about nothing, not even itself. It’s not alive. It doesn’t mean you harm. It doesn’t know that you exist, or that it exists.

    Likewise, evolution doesn’t care whether you believe that it happens.
    You’re caught within evolution. It produced you. It doesn’t care about you.

    The theory of gravitation doesn’t know you exist. The effect that the theory describes, gravity, just kills you if you jump out of a plane without a parachute. It’s real. It matters not, whether you believe in the theory. Nothing personal.

    Oh, and an atheist is a person who doesn’t believe in a deity. That’s all it means. It’s not a religion. It’s not a belief. It’s a lack of belief.
    A true atheist doesn’t sit around thinking, “I believe there’s no deity.”
    A true atheist never thinks about it, at all, any more than you sit around thinking, “I believe there’s no Santa Claus.”

  65. Earlier I said that I would eschew gettiing into two person’s argument, but let me try another technique, only quoting a sentence or two and quibbling over them.

    “The best explanation of the mechanisms behind adaptive evolution is still natural selection.”

    Summarizing a needed long exposition which is needed, with one sentence, is a useful tool when tired.
    That this was snarky was dut to my inability to phrase it better.
    And I haven’t had my breakfast yet.
    ==============

    “The research and development of scientific evidence and discussions (in peer reviewed papers and about peer reviewed papers) tells us what is in the shit that happens.”

    Which proves actually nothing. Peers reviewed peers for centuries in science. Both people who review and the journal system itself can be and probably are corrupt. See Chomsky, et al. One more authority!
    ===========

    Descending to ad hominems is in effect conceding that the other has won. My wife taught me that. When anger enters, then reasoned thougjt flees. However, this may only be a debased debate technique

    ===========

    ´How can a beloved popular belief (=science in medicine). be replaced by a “better one”. Love of new things overrides comfort.. And of course the strife eternal between the young and the old, ie people.

    =============

    One more: ´Prions and viruses are not biotic, ie living. Then how come they are dependent on a biotic substrate to procreate. Prions, in my ignorance, could be the result of a mutation. Folding proteins to increase does not seem to be a part of the abiotic world.

    ===============

    Do i love to niip at people’s heels? No, but decorum and rules, plus the slowness of this debate technique (ie internet blogging) are irritating.
    Why is a two-man fight so sancrosanct? I can give reasons but won’t.

    Oh,yes I will. Congress is one example of meeting the need of reasoning on a matter..
    A mob, as one of our programs called Debate often is, often descend into chaos with interrupting non-sequiturs and blatther, which can yield little in terms of a reasoned conclusion by any part. Even if in Congress the number of consecutive speakers may be large, you can be sure that approved party line will be observed. Which brings up back to the dialogue between two parties (pun not intended).

    Guaranteed so long that none will read it. Brevity is best. Our brains are accustomed to sound bites. The writings of the 19th century philosophers suits me best.

  66. EVOLUTION, RELIGION AND SCIENCE INCLUDING QUANTUM PHYSICS

    We can believe, but hopefully not worship the science of quantum physics,which of course (?) lies behind our being here, evolving, and developing religions.

    Anything at the quantum level can not be seen to happen. Any measurement constitutes an intrusion, and thus an influence which is (often?) indeterminate. In the famous double split experiment, hypothetical as well as in the lab proves that electrons are “aware” of being examined, Each and every slowly emitted electron. The observer is part ot the system and thus effects it.

    Someone quoted above Nils Bohr in his famous quote, which I won’t repeat, but will say for myself that the bandying of quantum by posters here is to prove one has not understood WTF ýou are talking about.
    It has been perhaps 75 or more years since Bohr said that.

    And we are in fact no closer today to understanding quantum phenomena than then. “Strings” I won’t bother talking about. Wasted years!

    Is there an unseen mechanism that determine when a reaction will occur, when a radiation decay generated particle will be emitted?
    What mechanism lies behind that? Unlike Einstein, I will leave God out of the question.

    Statistics of atomic decay can be determined for a large (number of atoms) in a mass, but not for any individual atom. Same with regard to the rate of chemical reactions.
    In a mass, yes there is a measurable reaction rate on our human scale of things, but NOT for any individual atoms interacting to form a compound.

    Of course, everyone here knows this!??? No snark, just irony as emphasis.
    Lawyers study how many bailiffs can dance in pairs with judges on a pin while receiving bribes. Adding a touch of humor berating our system of injustice.

  67. That is to say: studying science is correctly a waste of time for lawyers, and a number of other professions as well. Understood, I hope!
    No snarks hiding here.
    Feel free to correct other types of “errors”.

  68. Speaking of Keith Richards.

    Is he Evolving, does he have himself as a Religion, and is his art the result of painstaking experiments, as in Science.

    Some artists are like old vintage wines: some improve with time, others go flat and are in fact dead..

    Here is 12 years after the video posted above.

    Answer the questions for yourself.

  69. “Now is the end, my friend….” Music comes to mind unbidden.

    Thanks to Bob Kaufen, Oro Lee and naturally all other commenters here who did a magnificent job. If I sound like an echo, then I am. Echo, a lovely classical Grecian tale.

    Hope this blog’s comments come alive again. Like the sun rising. I have no beliefs, but hopes.

  70. Gene H. 1, February 23, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    Interesting quote considering you’re the one who keeps insisting that microbes, viruses and prions are the dominant force in evolution instead of recognizing that any form of symbiosis is simply another input into the matrix of probability that makes up natural selection. You bemoan control and yet seek to explain away parts of human nature by stating microbes, et al., are the most important influence on adaptive evolution.
    ================================================
    There is some controversy about whether DNA is alive or not, as there is with various viruses, but there is growing evidence for a virus first evolutionary narrative:

    We all started out as a fertilized egg: a solitary cell about as wide as a shaft of hair. That primordial sphere produced the ten trillion cells that make up each of our bodies. We are not merely sacs of identical cells, of course. A couple hundred types of cells arise as we develop. We’re encased in skin, inside of which bone cells form a skeleton; inside the skull are neurons woven into a brain.

    What made this alchemy possible? The answer, in part, is viruses.

    One way cells can switch genes on and off is producing proteins that latch onto nearby stretches of DNA called promoters. The match between the protein and the promoter has to be precise; otherwise, genes will be flipping on at all the wrong times, and failing to make proteins when they’re needed. Pfaff and his colleagues found that all the two-cell genes had identical promoters–which would explain how they all managed so become active at the same time.

    What was really remarkable about their discover was the origin of those promoters. They came from viruses.

    During the earliest stage of the embryo’s development, these virus-controlled genes are active. Then the cells clamp down on them, just as they would clamp down on viruses. Once those genes are silenced, the totipotent cells become pluripotent.

    Pfaff and his colleagues also discovered something suprising when they looked at the pluripotent ball of cells. From time to time, the pluripotent cells let the virus-controlled genes switch on again, and then shut them back down. All of the cells, it turns out, cycle in and out of what the scientists call a “magic state,” in which they become temporarily totipotent again.

    Cells in the magic state can give rise to any part of the embryo, as well as the placenta and other tissue outside the embryo. Once the virus-controlled genes get shut down again, they lose that power. This discovery demonstrated that these virus-controlled genes really are crucial for making cells totipotent.

    Pfaff and his colleagues propose that the domestication of these virus promoters was a key step in the evolution of mammals with placentas. The idea that viruses made us who were are today may sound bizarre, except that Pfaff is hardly the first person to find evidence for it. Last year, for example, I wrote about how placental mammals stole a virus protein to build the placenta.

    A discovery this strange inevitably raises questions that its discoverers cannot answer. What are the virus-controlled genes doing in those first two cells? Nobody knows. How did the domestication of this viral DNA help give rise to placental mammals 100 million years ago? Who knows? Why are viruses so intimately involved in so many parts of pregnancy? Awesome question. A very, very good question. Um, do we have any other questions?

    (We Are Viral From the Beginning, emphasis added). Wanted dead or alive.

  71. The Swedish scientist Löwdin (mentioned up-thread) talks about genetic material, e.g. DNA as if it is not alive.

    It is a molecular structure that can be altered by abiotic quantum mechanical behavior, not just biotic behavior:

    In this paper we have pointed out that, since the protons are not classical particles but “wave packets” obeying the laws of modern quantum theory, the genetic code cannot –in spite of all precautions– be 100% stable. Due to the quantum-mechanical “tunnel effect,” there is always a small but finite probability that the protons will change place, alter the genetic code, and give rise to mutations. This implies also that this transfer of protons over a distance of about 10-^8 cm may be one of the driving forces in the evolution of living organisms on the earth.

    (“Proton Tunneling in DNA and its Biological Implications”, by Per-Olov Löwdin; Journal: Review of Modern Physics, Vol 35, No. 3, July 1963, , p. 732). This would be an interesting phenomenon in the virus first theory as applied to RNA diversity and horizontal genetic acid proliferation.

  72. I believe, for I have seen the light, Charge on Dredd.

    I saw on TV a beautiful (in eye and mind) intro to a botanical program.
    It was part of a big circle, the cell? And streaming out from it were small particles. Was it intercellular “hormonal” signaling? Were they invitations to “predators” to come feed on a cell which will soon undergo apotopsis.
    Tit for tat in terms of gene modification services or bacterial services.

    The only problem compared with standard theory, is the frequency of modification, and the low success rate of mutated cells. and the danger of producing a life threatening mutation (cancer).

    Tunneling, for those who don’t know, is a way of crossing an energy barrier without paying the price, simply said. A product of quantum physics.. Very useful in solid state devices. That it was important in biology was outside my field of study.

  73. “Getting back to the original infographic, my denomination happens to have the longest red strip on the chart. Oh, well, my denomination is also known for folks not agreeing with each other.

    There seems to be minor semantic games going on in some of the responses, the same sort of word games that are used by my denomination.

    The most serious word game is equating a scientific “theory” to the common use of the word as meaning “hypothesis.” Sloppy wordsmanship makes for a sloppy argument.”

    Oro Lee,

    I want to thank you for your last two comments. Long ago in my then incarnation of being a Union Leader “Wunderkind” I was known for my fiery, extemporaneous speeches which almost always garnered standing ovations and applause. I was 25 and for the first time in my life I had a large following. After the speeches though, aglow in my feeling of being so charismatic, people would congratulate me agreeing with points I hadn’t made and positions I hadn’t taken. In the miasmic glow of my own self-congratulation the seed of doubt began to spread. Was it the logic and truth of my argument, or was it just a knack for speakig in a way that people could project their own pre-judgments onto my points and feel comforted in the fact that we “agreed”. I came to realize that my forensic skill was that of beautiful voice, a comfort being on stage that projected ease, a large vocabulary that tended to obfuscate what I was trying to say, and pleasing good looks. Finally seeing the truth of the matter marked my end of political aspirations, because the issues were always more important to me than my ego. I am nothing if not passionate in my convictions and my ethics..

    My thanks to you go for being the first to reference the excellent “infographic” which I had hoped people would study. It is the basis of where I was trying to go with this guest blog. Religious fervor opposed to science was the issue I aimed at, with the thought that some of the ire from the non religious (including myself), was being wasted on religion in general when it was a specific subset of religion that was the real target. This debate, which has plagued history has already been won, with the victory going to open minded people on both sides of the coin. This was Professor Tegmark’s point, as he showed in his “infographic” and in his original study which is also linked above. The enemies of reason are very specific ones that should be attacked specifically, lest they overturn the gains of the “Elightenment” which is their goal. In this struggle there are allies to be made from both non-religious and from religions themselves.

    “I’m also pretty certain that without violating separation of church and state I could draw up a high school curriculum that incorporates the Bible (and all the other books of faith and the world’s great mythologies) with the result that every graduate would probably be a secular humanist — and by using current teaching practices.”

    I’m sure you could ad were such a curriculum actually stad a chance of being implemented it would turn public education on end. The essence of education should be to teach logic and reasoning skill, with the courage to believe that most students who have learned those skills well would free themselves from dogma and “isms” of every kind. My efforts on this blog have one major focus and that is to try to show people how mythologies of various natures actually hinder the social evolution of humanity. By looking beyod the myths of common wisdom, some distant day we might actually establish a world worth living in. To paraphrase a more insightful musical philosopher than Keith Richards: “People may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one”.

  74. I have never indicated, as Gene H wrote, that viruses control or dominate anything.

    That is his imagination, or the lack thereof.

    What I have done is quote scientists and papers where it is pointed out that “human genes” are only about 2% of the “human genome”, and that the other 98% is microbial.

    Viruses are microbes that make up a smaller part of the human genome, but prokaryotic microbes make up the most of “the human” genome.

    See Idealist707’s video of Dr. Bonnie Bassler up-thread explaining that fact, and also note:

    The virus now turns out to have an intimate bond with every person on Earth. In the latest issue of Nature, a team of Japanese and American scientists report that the human genome contains borna virus genes. The virus infected our monkey-like ancestors 40 million years ago, and its genes have been passed down ever since.

    Borna viruses are not the only viruses lurking in our genome. Scientists have found about 100,000 elements of human DNA that probably came from viruses. But the borna virus belongs to a kind of virus that has never been found in the human genome before. Its discovery raises the possibility that many more viruses are left to be found.

    Scientists who hunt for these viruses think of themselves as paleontologists searching for fossils. Just as animals get buried in rock, these viruses become trapped in the genomes of their hosts. While their free-living relatives continue to evolve, fossil viruses are effectively frozen in time.

    “We can really dig fossils out of the genome and literally put them back together,” said Cédric Feschotte, a genome biologist at the University of Texas, Arlington. “It’s like putting a hominid back together and asking it if it can walk upright.”

    When scientists sequenced the human genome in 2001, they noticed many segments that bore a striking resemblance to genes in retroviruses, a class of viruses that includes H.I.V.

    Retroviruses carry their genetic material in a single-stranded version of DNA, called RNA. To make new viruses, they make DNA versions of their genes, which are inserted into a host cell’s genome. The cell then reads the retrovirus’s genes as if they were its own, and manufactures new retroviruses.

    (Hunting Fossil Viruses in Human DNA). Viruses are microbes that can make DNA, so one naturally wonders why it is not possible for them to have evolved prior to prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, then they took part in the development of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells through genetic acid fabrication which became RNA then later DNA.

    Since the early Earth was radically different, perhaps Dr. Löwdin was on to something with his proton tunneling, because he also pointed out:

    “The analysis of the original proton wave packet involves an interesting phase problem, and, since the energy distribution is temperature dependent, the whole phenomenon is also temperature dependent.”

    “The tunneling times will depend essentially on the height and the form of the barrier. In DNA, the form of the double-well potentials regulating the hydrogen bonds depend not only on the base pair involved but also on neighboring pairs, their net charges, and the entire electric environment. The tunneling time is hence not only characteristic for a certain biological specimen but is also a funciton of the position in the DNA molecule involved. The tunneling time is very likely also temperature dependent, even if the protons are lwell shielded in the double hexix. The main problem is whether the tunneling time is very short in comparison to the replication time, or whether there exist organisms where the penetration of the barrier is slow in comparison to the replication.”

    “It should always be remembered that, in Born’s interpretation of quantum mechanics, the quantity |¥|² represents the probability density for finding the proton in a specific position. The tunneling of the wave packet is hence a time-dependent process which is going to influence the properties of the genetic code.”

    “In this connection, it should be observed that the tunneling probabilities depend not only on the base pair involved but also on the electrostatic environment, the neighboring base pairs, etc., which may explain the occurrence of “hot spots.”

    (ibid, link up-thread). Domination and control are irrelevant.

  75. I apologize for the dropped “N’s” above, I was typing on my laptops deficient keyboard, when I should have used the excellent one Darren gave me.

  76. “More than half of the comments were between Gene Howington and Dredd as a continuance of their ongoing argument about Dredd’s microbial theories.”

    I had written this hoping to preclude another debate here because it seems I forlornly hoped the thread would stick to the topic. hope springs eternal, but ego trumps hope.

  77. Mike S,

    Evolution, Religion and Science is the post.

    The discussion of methods of evolution does not preclude either creationists or evolutionists from describing “how it happened.”

    Talking about why God did it this way, or why it just happened this way.

    While I understand that most of us are angry and fed up with those 11% who believe in something like Genesis, perhaps we should aim our fire directly at that group of benighted fools and accept that others might be more approachable. What do you think?

    I have pointed out that neither side has explained the transmutation from the far greater episode of abiotic evolution that was dynamic for ~9.21 billion years prior to biotic evolution showing up, which has been a dynamic for only about ~3.54 billion years.

    I can’t see ranting against “that group of benighted fools” unless we can coherently describe what it is we know or believe in that makes fools of them.

    Perhaps you would care to lead the way in explaining “I forlornly hoped the thread would stick to the topic” … by perhaps clarifying what Evolution, Religion and Science is about if it isn’t about what has been commented on heretofore in this thread.

  78. Oro Lee 1, February 24, 2013 at 12:14 am

    I’ve just spent nearly two entertaining hours (the links slow things down) reading every word of this comment and responses, even those of folks I usually skip over. Kudos to all.

    Getting back to the original infographic, my denomination happens to have the longest red strip on the chart. Oh, well, my denomination is also known for folks not agreeing with each other.

    There seems to be minor semantic games going on in some of the responses, the same sort of word games that are used by my denomination.

    The most serious word game is equating a scientific “theory” to the common use of the word as meaning “hypothesis.” Sloppy wordsmanship makes for a sloppy argument.
    =========================================================
    Yes, the method in “science” is hypothesis, theory, then law.

    For a hypothesis to move up to theory, there is often the requirement of a prediction based on the substance of the hypothesis itself.

    Should that happen, a theory results, and the more it happens the stronger the theory.

    When it is developed into general consensus it is called a law.

    An example is Dollo’s Law, which basically says evolution cannot go “backwards,” it only goes “forward.”

    The process is not a scientific as it should be, because there are times when politics moves a hypothesis or theory along in the absence of the requirements.

    But why can’t religion follow suit?

    Why can’t a believer in your denomination advance a hypothesis about this or that scripture?

    Then make predictions based upon that hypothesis, and if it pans out, then call it a theory. With sufficient success, call it a law?

    As an example, the mention of The Hittites were used by Bible skeptics to prove it was historically false.

    Then The Hittite ruins were found.

    A hypothesis by a person in your denomination could have been “the Hittite empire will be found”, perhaps even giving a general location.

    If found, it would become a theory.

    And so forth.

  79. Dredd,
    Viruses do not make DNA. They are incapable of that.
    Their DNA only very rarely would be inserted into the host’s genome. Almost never.
    Since Mike had other plans for this thread, I’ll shut up, now.

  80. @dredd

    The difference between hypothesis, theory and law isn’t a linear hierarchy like you identify.

    Hypothesis is an experimental tool. Theory explains. Law describes.

    They’re epistemologically distinct, not individual rungs on some scala naturae.

  81. “I have never indicated, as Gene H wrote, that viruses control or dominate anything.”

    Bullshit, Dredd. That is an outright lie. More than one person has called you on that issue in the past and you perpetually hemmed and hawed, but now you want to change your story after many months of it being demonstrated that you simply don’t know what you are talking about – including the basics of biology. The word is “equivocate”. You have previously not only claimed that viruses are responsible for such things as religion and science, but that they literally practice religion and science as well indicating not only higher intelligence but the ability to plan. You have previously said that microorganisms are the dominate driver of natural selection and human behavior, perpetually whining about how genetics and environment just weren’t as important to natural selection. You were wrong but that was your story, Midi-chlorian boy. If you want to change your story now?

    Be my guest.

    “If any man is able to convince me and show me that I do not think or act right, I will gladly change; for I seek the truth by which no man was ever injured.”

    A blanket denial of your previous position has nothing to do with my alleged lack of imagination and everything to do with you being simply intellectually dishonest and unwilling to own your own previous arguments.

    “But he is injured who abides in his error and ignorance.”

    ************

    Bob K,

    What! There is no Santa? Blasphemer!

    And I mean that in the best way possible. :D

    ************

    Mike S.,

    Considering that one of Dredd’s pet theories past is that microbial life is religious? I raise a toast to your dashed but probably precluded hopes.

    ************

    Oro,

    Good post. Interesting take on the nature of belief, disbelief and certainty. You are definitely on to something there, but I want to chew on it a bit. There may be a slight but distinct difference to being a polar “opposite” as compared to simply being “in opposition”, but I think the core contention has some meat on the bone.

    Tegmark is an interesting guy. His mathematical universe hypothesis is a provocative hypothesis on the path to the theory of everything. You should consider looking into that as parts of his contentions there hinge upon both uncertainty and completeness. That his finding here indicates religion is not the problem so much as specific subsets of religion comports with the anecdotal evidence seen here over the years with you being a perfect example of someone who is religious but doesn’t allow dogma to trample fact or hinder understanding as compared to some of our other more dogmatically minded posters who occasionally want to tell us we are all going to Hell for not believing as they want us to believe. Is the problem an excess of fanaticism or a lack of reason in the individual? I submit it could be both.

  82. Bob Kauten 1, February 24, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Dredd,
    Viruses do not make DNA. They are incapable of that.
    Their DNA only very rarely would be inserted into the host’s genome. Almost never.
    Since Mike had other plans for this thread, I’ll shut up, now.
    ==================================================
    Says you without a link to authority, suggesting you are an authority.

    My quote upthread says:

    Retroviruses carry their genetic material in a single-stranded version of DNA, called RNA. To make new viruses, they make DNA versions of their genes, which are inserted into a host cell’s genome.

    Wikipedia states:

    A retrovirus is an RNA virus that replicates in a host cell. First it uses its own reverse transcriptase enzyme to produce DNA from its RNA genome, reverse of the usual pattern, thus retro (backwards). This new DNA is then incorporated into the host’s genome by an integrase enzyme. The cell then treats the viral DNA as part of its own instructions, which it follows blindly, making the proteins required to assemble new copies of the virus.

    (Retrovirus). You should get a memo out to them right away so they can inject your authority as a quote negating the hundreds of virologists and microbiologists you have contradicted.

    I am sure they will send you a thank you card.

  83. “Perhaps you would care to lead the way in explaining “I forlornly hoped the thread would stick to the topic” … by perhaps clarifying what Evolution, Religion and Science is about if it isn’t about what has been commented on heretofore in this thread.”

    Dredd,

    As I stated in the comment you took umbrage with:

    “It is the basis of where I was trying to go with this guest blog. Religious fervor opposed to science was the issue I aimed at, with the thought that some of the ire from the non religious (including myself), was being wasted on religion in general when it was a specific subset of religion that was the real target.”

    And Dredd, I have too much respect for your intelligence to believe you didn’t understand that.

  84. Indigo Jones 1, February 24, 2013 at 11:50 am

    @dredd

    The difference between hypothesis, theory and law isn’t a linear hierarchy like you identify.

    Hypothesis is an experimental tool. Theory explains. Law describes.

    They’re epistemologically distinct, not individual rungs on some scala naturae.
    ==================================================
    Another authority since you provide no backup link.

    Like Bob Kauten up-thread, you need to get a memo out to these misinformed folk:

    A hypothesis is a tentative statement about the relationship between two or more variables. A hypothesis is a specific, testable prediction about what you expect to happen in your study.

    (What Is a Hypothesis?). And you need to get a copy of your memo to these guys too:

    A scientific theory summarizes a hypothesis or group of hypotheses that have been supported with repeated testing. If enough evidence accumulates to support a hypothesis, it moves to the next step —known as a theory— in the scientific method and becomes accepted as a valid explanation of a phenomenon.

    (What is a Theory). I won’t go on into a law because one can only place two links in any one comment.

    Ask Gene H what a law is, he is a lawyer. Demand a link though.

  85. Mike Spindell 1, February 24, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    “Perhaps you would care to lead the way in explaining “I forlornly hoped the thread would stick to the topic” … by perhaps clarifying what Evolution, Religion and Science is about if it isn’t about what has been commented on heretofore in this thread.”

    Dredd,

    As I stated in the comment you took umbrage with:

    “It is the basis of where I was trying to go with this guest blog. Religious fervor opposed to science was the issue I aimed at, with the thought that some of the ire from the non religious (including myself), was being wasted on religion in general when it was a specific subset of religion that was the real target.”

    And Dredd, I have too much respect for your intelligence to believe you didn’t understand that.
    ==================================================
    “Religious fervor opposed to science”

    That is exactly what I have been showing.

    Religiously wrong ideas about evolution from those who think they know science but clearly do not.

    They inject various kiddie games about what is logic and what is not rather than keep up with wonderful scientific discoveries that are unpresidented in the history of science.

    I suggest that you list the topical discussion you expect at the bottom of future posts and use succinct and limiting titles.

    In the prior post of “238 comments” I was the only one to comment that those who believe in God need not cut themselves off from science.

    I made that statement to RWL who had been given short shrift otherwise.

    Bigotry is sicko.

  86. “Since Mike had other plans for this thread, I’ll shut up, now.”

    Bob,

    As my father used to say to me time and again in a bad Scottish accent “The best laid plans of mice and men aft gae aglee”, or something like that. The truth is that anyone who comments here is free to make any comment they want, off topic, or on topic. However, as is my nature I never hesitate to express myself openly. Dredd, who is a prolific and valuable contributor here, on occasion moves into using whatever topic is presented to advance his own beliefs/agenda. He is intelligent enough to somehow appear to tie his comments into the blog that began the thread, but the intent is to go his own way. I called him on it this time and also referenced when he did that on Nal’s
    excellent blog mentioned way above, in the hope he would refrain here, which he didn’t. Lest it be said that I’m leaving my friend Gene out of this critique I hold him blameless, not simply because he is my friend, but because Dredd knows damn well that Gene will respond to this line and I think enjoys the instigation because it still draws attention to him.

    I would never prevent anyone who comments to do just that and in fact once I, or any other guest blogger writes, something we have no right to control the thread that follows. That is in the tradition of this blog’s Proprietor Jonathan Turley, save for the demand that the debate remains relatively civil. When I started commenting here years ago Jonathan was struck by my honesty in revealing myself in my comments. When he asked me to guest blog I think it was in recognition of this is who I am. I speak my mind, even with people I like and express my feelings when they occur.

  87. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_theory#Theories_and_laws

    Both scientific laws and scientific theories are produced from the scientific method through the formation and testing of hypotheses, and can predict the behavior of the natural world. Both are typically well-supported by observations and/or experimental evidence.[23] However, scientific laws are descriptive accounts of how nature will behave under certain conditions.[24] Scientific theories are broader in scope, and give overarching explanations of how nature works and why it exhibits certain characteristics. Theories are supported by evidence from many different sources, and may contain one or several laws.[25]

    A common misconception is that scientific theories are rudimentary ideas that will eventually graduate into scientific laws when enough data and evidence has been accumulated. A theory does not change into a scientific law with the accumulation of new or better evidence. A theory will always remain a theory; a law will always remain a law.[23][26]

    Theories and laws are also distinct from hypotheses. Unlike hypotheses, theories and laws may be simply referred to as scientific fact.[27][28]

  88. Indigo has no need to cite for what he says is a manifest truth no matter how you want to try to twist definitions to suit your ends. You should realize Dredd that what you just cited does not contradict with Indigo said but rather confirms it.

    hypothesis /hʌɪˈpɒθɪsɪs/, n.,

    :a supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation

    (Hypothesis is an experimental tool.)

    theory /ˈθɪəri/, n.,
    :a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, especially one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained

    (Theory explains.)

    law /lɔː/, n., [in relevant part]

    3:a statement of fact, deduced from observation, to the effect that a particular natural or scientific phenomenon always occurs if certain conditions are present:

    (Law describes.)

    Those definitions come from the OED which I know you don’t accept as an authority on the English language but especially when you try to redefine words to mean what you want them to mean instead of what they actually mean. Why don’t you whip out that ol’ chestnut about “grandpa’s dictionary” now? It would be about expected since right about now you need words to mean something other than what they really mean in order to prop up your bullshit.

  89. “That is exactly what I have been showing.
    Religiously wrong ideas about evolution from those who think they know science but clearly do not.”

    Dredd,

    BS and disingenuous in “religious wrong ideas”. I’ve called you out, but then again you’ve succeeded in your needy thirst for attention. You win, I’ve said my piece.

  90. Gene H. 1, February 24, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    “I have never indicated, as Gene H wrote, that viruses control or dominate anything.”

    Bullshit, Dredd. That is an outright lie
    ====================================
    Let’s test your hypothesis and mine.

    Count, in this thread, and the one that Mike S said had “238 comments” in it.

    Show were I used the word control or dominate (except when describing your proclivities) as a dynamic of microbes.

    You are lying again because you have lost the argument again.

  91. Mike Spindell 1, February 24, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    “That is exactly what I have been showing.
    Religiously wrong ideas about evolution from those who think they know science but clearly do not.”

    Dredd,

    BS and disingenuous in “religious wrong ideas”. I’ve called you out, but then again you’ve succeeded in your needy thirst for attention. You win, I’ve said my piece.
    =============================================
    Religiously (“scrupulously faithful; conscientious”) wrong, not “religious wrong ideas”, there is a difference.

    I guess I should have said “terribly” wrong. Either one works.

    That guy who got harassed by the atheists must have discovered a new type of religiously zealous atheists.

    Perhaps atheists and religionists can now see that they are more alike than they think they are.

    It was you, only recently in a comment, who lit into a guy for not providing links to authority, only relying on himself.

    You castigated him for doing that.

  92. Gene H. 1, February 24, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    Mike,

    That I have a well-known and marked low tolerance for bullshit is one of my more endearing traits.
    ======================================
    That would work great if you knew the diffenence between bullshit and gene hicks. :mrgreen:

  93. Bob Kauten:

    I dont know how you can say what you said about viruses.

    “Scientists have found about 100,000 elements of human DNA that probably came from viruses. But the borna virus belongs to a kind of virus that has never been found in the human genome before. Its discovery raises the possibility that many more viruses are left to be found.”

    “Retroviruses carry their genetic material in a single-stranded version of DNA, called RNA. To make new viruses, they make DNA versions of their genes, which are inserted into a host cell’s genome. The cell then reads the retrovirus’s genes as if they were its own, and manufactures new retroviruses.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/12/science/12paleo.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

  94. Dredd,

    I’m not going to dig through a cherry picked thread to find discussions that happened elsewhere, months ago. Anyone following your gibberish over time knows that what I’ve said about your previous claims is true and if they doubt it, they can go back over years of threads to confirm that however I would personally recommend against reading that much misrepresented and misunderstood science in one sitting as it may cause their heads to explode. You’re busted. Take it like a man. Oh, that’s right. You’d have to be intellectually honest to admit you were and are talking out of your ass when it comes to biology and evolution.

  95. Gene H. 1, February 24, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Indigo has no need to cite for what he says is a manifest truth no matter how you want to try to twist definitions to suit your ends. You should realize Dredd that what you just cited does not contradict with Indigo said but rather confirms it.
    =====================================================
    It is the creationists who do not properly discern the differences in hypothesis, theory, and law.

    You are religiously defending that proclivity.

    I require strict and succinct differences among the three so that any one of them cannot pose as any other one of them to produce confusion or sloppiness.

    A hypothesis is not a theory, a theory is not hypothesis, and neither of them is a law.

    And the distinction is procedural: first comes a hypothesis, second comes a theory, and finally comes a law (assuming the distinct characteristics for each one are attained).

    Muddy the waters all you want, but it will not clear things up.

  96. Gene H. 1, February 24, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    Dredd,

    I’m not going to dig through a cherry picked thread to find discussions that happened elsewhere …
    =================================
    Of course not.

    That is your idea of science, say something and throw a temper tantrum if someone does not accept it as law.

    Religiously wrong.

  97. Gene wrote:
    That I have a well-known and marked low tolerance for bullshit is one of my more endearing traits
    ~+~
    I can appreciate that trait. Mine, unfortunately, is set so low it could be considered Fail Deadly

  98. Indigo Jones 1, February 24, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    @dredd

    > Ask Gene H what a law is, he is a lawyer

    I was talking about scientific law.

    @Another authority since you provide no backup link

    I provided definitions. Do you want a link for every word I use?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_theory#Theories_and_laws
    ======================================================
    It doesn’t matter, he is a law unto himself, which is what scientists struggle to avoid.

    A hypothesis is not a theory and a theory is not a hypothesis, and neither of them is a law.

    Logically then, they cannot be the same, and one who understands them can detail the differences.

  99. Dredd,

    Oooo. Coming from a guy who thinks bacteria practice religion and science? I’m so . . . completely and utterly unconcerned about what you think of me. Your demonstrable contact with reality is sketchy at best.

  100. Dredd,

    “It doesn’t matter, he is a law unto himself, which is what scientists struggle to avoid.”

    Except that both Indigo and I provided authority to prove what you were saying was wrong in the form of dictionary and encyclopedic entries. “I” had nothing to do with it other than being the messenger. As for temper tantrums, the only one I see here is yours for being called out on your nonsense.

    You really do need to learn when to walk away.

  101. maybe I dont understand what Dredd is saying but how is it a problem to think that a virus or a bacteria or high concentrations of O2 helped with evolution?

    A wolf doesnt become a whale because it swims in the water for 10 million years and changes its diet from rats to fish. That is almost as bad as believing God pointed his finger and said shazam and bang a wolf is a whale..

    Genetic mutations are not caused by swimming in water or eating fish instead of rats. Well maybe the fish had some sort of bacteria or virus which acted on the organism’s DNA. I could believe that, but not the change of diet in and of itself.

    If you want to do science and are over the age of 40, you had better free your mind of the conventional wisdom you learned in high school and college, its a whole new world out there and we are learning some weird things and it is only going to get weirder.

  102. Gene H. 1, February 24, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Darren,

    Must be why we get along so well. :D
    ===============================
    Get a room. Bullshit is so endearing to some people.

  103. Bron 1, February 24, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    ….

    If you want to do science and are over the age of 40, you had better free your mind of the conventional wisdom you learned in high school and college, its a whole new world out there and we are learning some weird things and it is only going to get weirder.
    ======================================================
    Bingo.

  104. In Dredds defense, he doesnt think bactria/microbes practice religion. He thinks there is some gene that we now express as religion which was contained in ancient microbes.

    I think his posts are pretty interesting and thought provoking. If I was a biologist, I would be looking into the role viruses and bacteria played in evolution. I dont see how anyone can doubt that they did.

    No offense to Charles Darwin but there was something more going on than a simple selection for a particular fruit.

  105. Excuse a mouse peeping when elephants fight. In no particular order, which is my usual state of mind.

    MikeS,
    YOU titled this blog including the word EVOLUTION. Open sesame, and that is where some come in, and your point is lost thereafter. Rather your mind soars above our comprehension. Or there is another cause which Eric Berne mentions as important on the first page of the preface to “What do you say after you say hello”. You I presume have a copy of it.
    Hints are often misunderstood. Your kind words are/can be misunderstood. What the others did is their concern. I read the complaint as a welcome to the fight for we who perhaps diverge..
    Hope you will let Darren teach you the use of b and /b. Even I can manage that (hopefully). Don’t do as Dredd does, his quotation technique is terrible.

    I stop now to eat my prepared food. My help has gone now and the food is warm. All of which is TMI.

  106. “A wolf doesnt become a whale because it swims in the water for 10 million years and changes its diet from rats to fish.”

    But it can. I don’t think you understand, Bron. That’s precisely how environment influences evolution. The wolf with the adaptations beneficial to adopting the new diet in the environment is going to naturally selected in and those adaptations are going to be passed to the next generation. As these adaptations compound, you eventually reach speciation when the adapted organism becomes so different from its origin/predecessor species that is has to be recognized practically and taxonomically as distinct by science. Wolf becomes whale. That’s just how adaptive evolution works. The inputs of genetics and symbiosis work in the same manner – if they provide an active or passive benefit to survival, those changes select in, if not, they select out. We are not homo habilis in the same way a wolf is not a whale. Speciation is at the core of evolution and primarily what Darwin’s work explains – “On the Origin of Species“.

  107. Bron,

    In Dredd’s defense, he changed that story midstream when called out on religion and science being social constructs.

  108. @dredd

    >And the distinction is procedural: first comes a hypothesis, second comes a theory, and finally comes a law

    The difference is not procedural, it’s epistemological.

    A law serves a different purpose than a theory, it is not an improvement on a theory. A theory will never become a law.

    A theory is actually more broadly encompassing than a law. It is a categorical error to place scientific law “on top.”

  109. Gene H:

    If Charlie accepts that those changes were caused by genetic mutations as a result of DNA changes due to a chemical, virus or spontaneous mutation, I am all for it. But if he says it is because of eating fish, I dont believe it.

    DNA isnt impacted by an animal swimming in water or eating a particular fruit.

  110. Dredd,

    Between bites of food, I must say: “What can you expect from a blog public composed of lawyers, former LEOs, and psychologists.
    Science is not their metier.
    Only GeneH claims to be polyglot. I have another word but will save it until later.

  111. Bron,

    What Darwin said does not preclude those mechanisms but you are precluding environment as a driver of evolution. Mutations can and do come about from environmental considerations favoring or disfavoring a given organism. In the wolf/whale example, what drives an animal to seek a new food source? The need to eat. What happens when their prey animals or plant foods die out or otherwise vanish from their niche? They either starve to extinction or they find a new food source and adapt. If being able to swim better helps catch more fish, it’s going to select in. However, simply introducing a new food source can drive change alone if adapting to the new food source is somehow beneficial. The relationship between environment and ecology is a two-way street too. Organisms transform their environments while environments shape what changes are beneficial versus detrimental. Natural selection is a matrix of probability populated by various combinations of genetics (shaped by differential reproduction, random mutation, symbiosis and environmental forces) and environment (shaped by geology, meteorology, cosmology, etc. in addition to the organisms living within the biome). Evolution and natural selection are a far more subtle and interactive processes than a cursory understanding of the topic can reveal.

  112. id707,

    I’m not a polyglot. I only speak English, a bit of German, enough French and Japanese to get slapped or find a restroom, and read a smattering of Latin. That hardly qualifies me as a polyglot.

    Here’s to hoping your other word is better than “polyglot”.

  113. Gene: “Is the problem an excess of fanaticism or a lack of reason in the individual? I submit it could be both.”

    My fishing buddy says its the difference between Christians who “Hold Fast” and those who “Push On;” those who know just enough of the faith to be satisfied with a God fashioned in their own image, and those who’d rather have a God worthy of the awesomeness of the universe.

    I want to talk about stars.

    Regardless of the role of prions, viruses, microbial forms, nucleic acids, RNA, DNA, and chromosomes, I stand amazed that with the exception of hydrogen (and maybe some helium), the elemental, constituent parts of the foregoing were birthed in the heart of an exploding star. As is true of every single atom of which I and you are made, and all the other stuff that lives around, on, and in us.

    I remember summer evenings so long ago as a child lying on my back in an alfalfa patch staring at the Milky Way on lazy summer nights — pure contentment, and then everyone would agree on how insignificant the expanse of the cosmos made them feel.

    I never said anything. I never felt insignificant when I was outdoors in a spot where I could see stars. I felt big. And I felt a part of, and not apart from, something even bigger. And that by itself, not God, gives me the desire and strength to reach out to others and say we are all the same and we are in this together. And if it helps, I use the language of faith to make that plea.

    And I always thank God for giving me and my friends such a grand backyard — the entire universe — to play in.

  114. “Mike Spindell1, February 24, 2013 at 12:54 pm
    “Since Mike had other plans for this thread, I’ll shut up, now.”
    Bob,

    As my father used to say to me time and again in a bad ……”

    MikeS.
    Read it again and tell me that you did not enjoy putting that horn into Dredd’s side. Even saints have haloes which go as awry as they did prior to becoming saints. And you?

    I won’t say it is uncivil, but it smells to me, and it is not because that I am partial to him. The best with him is that he tries to open closed minds which have shut after a day at the lawbooks and an hour or so in court.

    I am not picking on you. I am commenting as I come down the pile. A long way to go. But I am admittedly saving some things for later.

    If my strength is enough (always a good excuse for a sick man) I will address Dredd’s failings. I register them meanwhile.

    GeneH? Not worth the effort. He knows all the dirty tricks. And he prefers to believe Plato instead of modern science. How does that work? Plato as a scientist whose logic overrules all since then. In his mind, yes.
    And GeneH knows how to make a closing argument in court forgetting all rules of evidence, casting shit at the opponent. suggesting he beats his wife, etc. Proof? What is that? But science in spite of his claims are not his forté. Ever see a science link from him.
    Yo, he has kicked my ass, but what is that for me to get upset over, he cows most folks here. But not me or Dredd. Maybe others too, but haven’t reflected on that point.

    Back to my food. It is getting cold now.

  115. Rolling up I see a correction from GeneH.

    You are correct sir, I meant to say polymath powers was your claim.
    Or am I mistaken again.

    Just corrections deserve answering. Others not.

    I will roll futher back and continue my reading from where I left off, several lightyears ago. Even light get tired, or so say some.

  116. Id707,

    Plato? Oh, noes. That’s not a better word than “polyglot”. Sorry, but you won’t be moving on to Final Jeopardy. I’m more of an Aristotelian.

    The rest of your ad hominem drivel is just that: ad hominem drivel.

  117. One of the dictionary definitions of “natural” is:

    of or pertaining to nature or the universe

    (Dictionary). Is “nature” and “the universe” synonymous, such that, natural selection describes The Big Bang and the following 9.21 billion years of evolution preceding the advent of biotic life on Earth some 3.45 billion years ago?

    Or does “natural selection” only apply to biotic evolution?

    Up-thread a science writer of Discover was quoted:

    A discovery this strange inevitably raises questions that its discoverers cannot answer. What are the virus-controlled genes doing in those first two cells? Nobody knows. How did the domestication of this viral DNA help give rise to placental mammals 100 million years ago? Who knows? Why are viruses so intimately involved in so many parts of pregnancy? Awesome question. A very, very good question. Um, do we have any other questions?

    What is wrong with saying “I don’t know?”

    The only other choice seems to be gnosticism on steroids, except perhaps no-one seems to know what a gnostic is anymore:

    The search for definitions is never easy, particularly in such fields as the social sciences. In these disciplines much attention must be given to the historical context in which beliefs and actions unfold. Crucial differences and similarities in nuance, tone, and subtleties of mood are more important here than hard and fast definitions. The debate about Gnosticism, it would seem, turns on such nuances, and it may well be that not much can be resolved by definitions. Nevertheless, the present chaotic conditions warrant an attempt.

    (What Is Gnosticism). When all you got is muddy water you might as well work that mojo …

  118. You don’t have to be a scientist to embrace the scientific method or quote scientific facts and their sources. It’s called ability and intellect. A person who thinks outside their profession is not someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about necessarily. People benefit from having greater interests and often these outside interestes benefit their professions.

  119. Oro,

    That’s why I find cosmology inherently interesting. As Neil DeGrasse Tyson once said about cosmology, “I feel grand. I do not because I feel smaller, I feel bigger, because it’s the collective minds of all of us, the human species, that figured this stuff out, and that’s extraordinary. For me, the unheralded discovery of the twentieth century, which I carry with me every waking moment, is the recognition that the very chemistry of our bodies were formed in the hearts of supernovae, stars that exploded, gave their lives to the enrichment of the galaxy, out of which formed new stars and planets and people. So, it’s not so much we are in the universe, the universe is in us.” Or to put it in the simple elegance of Einstein, “My sense of God is my sense of wonder at the universe.” While I understand psychologically why some people rebel at the sheer enormity of the universe and their consequently small place in it, I don’t understand it intellectually. Then again, I’ve always had a proclivity for mystery and unsolved questions. To be otherwise to me seems to be opting to sit on the porch instead of going out into the backyard to play and discover. It’s not as easy or safe as saying “Invisible Guy X is responsible and we don’t need to think about it” but it does have its advantages.

    Also, I can’t suggest strongly enough the value of looking at Tegmark’s work on MUH. Although I think a theory of everything is probably precluded by Gödel’s incompleteness theorems, he goes a long way to addressing that point. I think you’d find it interesting.

  120. IndigoJones and GeneH´and Dredd and MikeS and all,

    I must interrupt my meal again.

    Although IndigoJones profiles himself with an ode to biology(?), he is obviously not a scientist, Nor is GeneH. Nor is Dredd for that matter.

    Gentlemen,

    The first you should learn as a scientist, and I was a lowly engineering student once. is that there are NO LAWS in science. There are theories that exist until proven wrong. And as long as we progress then the likelihood of that is high An open mind rests not on laws, but on a willingness to accept change.

    An aside. The discussion here often can be likened to those which the followers of Constantine’s wife used on the Greek academies scattered over the Hellenic world. Don’t kill their arguments. Kill them.
    Now this is one of GeneH’s specialty, ie Constantine and the happenings then, I am sure he will respond.

    I notice the followers of GeneH, if we can call them that, are sticking their heads up now. Do they sense blood. Or is it the sh*t that attracts them..

    Anyone who does not feel umbrage rising. I will get to you later.

    PS to MikeS. We are all familiar with Dredd’s method of latching on to a subject and using it for self-promotion. Many have commented before.
    But to use this now as a cudgel is unsound. He is on the subject.
    It just happens to be subject you had not envisioned when you named and wrote your blog. Foul play, sir.

    That was a long aside, but none here are perfect. Except GeneH.
    He is my idol, or is it ideal, or idle. Yes, OS, I hear your mumblings.

    I have three bites left to eat. And no, I won’t choke on them, but a bon appetit would be appreciated.

  121. Indigo Jones 1, February 24, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    @dredd

    >And the distinction is procedural: first comes a hypothesis, second comes a theory, and finally comes a law

    The difference is not procedural, it’s epistemological.

    A law serves a different purpose than a theory, it is not an improvement on a theory. A theory will never become a law.

    A theory is actually more broadly encompassing than a law. It is a categorical error to place scientific law “on top.”
    ================================================
    The surge of absolutism is inapposite:

    As you can see, there is no ‘proof’ or absolute ‘truth’ in science. The closest we get are facts, which are indisputable observations. Note, however, if you define proof as arriving at a logical conclusion, based on the evidence, then there is ‘proof’ in science. I work under the definition that to prove something implies it can never be wrong, which is different. If you’re asked to define hypothesis, theory, and law, keep in mind the definitions of proof and of these words can vary slightly depending on the scientific discipline. What is important is to realize they don’t all mean the same thing and cannot be used interchangeably.

    (Scientific Hypothesis, Theory, Law Definitions, emphasis added). If science does not have crisp meanings, and it doesn’t, then the religious people who say “it is only a theory” are within bounds.

    Run that by me using Dollo’s Law:

    Dollo’s law, biological principle, formulated about 1890 by Louis Dollo, a French-born Belgian paleontologist, that evolution is not reversible; i.e., structures or functions discarded during the course of evolution do not reappear in a given line of organisms. The hypothesis was first advanced by a historian, Edgar Quinet.

    (Dollo’s Law). This was a hypothesis advanced by a historian, then evidently picked up on by an evolutionist, and still accepted not as a hypothesis or theory any longer, but now is considered to be a law of nature.

  122. idealist707 1, February 24, 2013 at 1:39 pm


    Don’t do as Dredd does, his quotation technique is terrible.

    ================================================
    I follow the rules of HTML.

    blockquote is a term of that art.

    My quotes begin with and end with the HTML tags for blockquote.

    That was intended to allow block quotes such as:

    Dear Idealist707, this is a block of text inside an HTML block quote tag.

    If you don’t like those, then write the HTML gods and tell them.

    If they fix it I will use the fixed version Schweedie (Humphrey Bogart).

    And then we will get a room. ;)

  123. Bron,

    Have gotten through the pile to you.

    I must include you with the anti-gen faction here! I trust that you note the difference in spelling and meanings.
    You have your ideas, take kickings from GeneH and others. Don’t sulk, comes back with your own ideas undeterred by bullying.

    AND you have an open mind. Which few of GeneH’s followers are willing to show that they have.

    Am I picking on GeneH. Not at all. He is just such a large……!
    Civility before all. Even truth must be reined in.

    Hope some here will note the spelling. REIN as in reining a horse. Not reigning as in being a king. Often mispelled here.

    Wandering of an unreined mind? Perhaps.
    Öne bite left.

  124. “Earlier on April 1st, 2012 David Drumm (Nal) did a guest blog titled “The Evolutionary Gorilla in the Room” http://jonathanturley.org/2012/04/01/the-evolutionary-gorilla-in-the-room/ and received almost 240 comments. Now in truth this was an excellent guest blog and certainly drew a lot of discussion. But as I perused the comments, all 238 of them, I noticed something that I think is worth discussing. More than half of the comments were between Gene Howington and Dredd as a continuance of their ongoing argument about Dredd’s microbial theories. I must admit that when it comes to the scientific aspects of biology, I tune out as quickly as Lawrence Rafferty does when Calculus is raised. Another long time regular Bron did have more than a few comments as he tried to insinuate Ayn Rand into the discussion as usual.”

    I am responsible I’m afraid for a “self fulfilling prophecy”, which is the problem of being a legend in your own mind. Where I was wrong though was that Bron never once mentioned Ayn Rand………….yet.

  125. Bron,

    You say: “…DNA isnt impacted by an animal swimming in water or eating a particular fruit.”

    Perhaps not ,although Stalin the great scientist favored a scientist who claimed so.

    But there is something called EPIGENETICS. I will not essay saying more about that. But check Wikipedia. A fairly good source, produced by fallible people and nerdy types. Ie, folks who know more than I do.

  126. Still operating under the delusion that your opinion of me matters, id707?

    And really Dredd. “It’s only a theory” in the context of absolutism is nonsense. Semantic argument and ignoring the nature of reality. Probability is the nature of the universe. This is a fact of quantum mechanics. There is no such thing as absolute certainty, only differing level of probability that are rendered fact by the collapse of the wave function and the movement on the arrow of time representing entropy. But when evaluating a proposition one who takes simple belief over demonstrable evidence? They are engaging in willful ignorance. Probability backed by experimental data and observations indicate that both natural selection and (at least some variant on) Big Bang cosmology are true descriptions which again goes to what is a scientific law: a statement of fact, deduced from observation, to the effect that a particular natural or scientific phenomenon always occurs if certain conditions are present. Absolute certainty is not required for judging veracity.

    And that is the core problem with the subset of religiosity that Tegmark identifies – their inability to cope with reality and binary thinking keeps a vocal minority in opposition to scientific consensus based upon evidence.

  127. orolee 1, February 24, 2013 at 2:10 pm


    I want to talk about stars.
    ….
    And I always thank God for giving me and my friends such a grand backyard — the entire universe — to play in.
    ======================================================
    That is way cool.

    So, what was God thinking when s/he made stars “backstabbers?”

    I mean this:

    In those models “stars” evolved then produced carbon within them, which is the basis of biotic life and therefore biotic evolution (e.g. Logic of Metabolism).

    Stars evolved such that they made carbon based life possible, yet they will eventually destroy all the life in the habitable zone of planets near them; life which they originally made possible:

    Earth’s fate is precarious. As a red giant, the Sun will have a maximum radius beyond the Earth’s current orbit, 1 AU (1.5×1011 m), 250 times the present radius of the Sun. However, by the time it is an asymptotic giant branch star, the Sun will have lost roughly 30% of its present mass due to a stellar wind, so the orbits of the planets will move outward. If it were only for this, Earth would probably be spared, but new research suggests that Earth will be swallowed by the Sun owing to tidal interactions. Even if Earth would escape incineration in the Sun, still all its water will be boiled away and most of its atmosphere would escape into space.

    (Life According To Science). Before this “catastrophe” happens there is sufficient time for life forms to learn space travel and find a new home world, if …

    (Did Abiotic Intelligence Precede Biotic Intelligence?). All stars will destroy life on planets near them.

    This is following eons and eons of supporting life on those planets near them … those at the right distances that is.

    What does that mean to you as a believer in God?

  128. raff,

    Although a cosmetologist might disagree, I think you can make an argument that when you work to beautify the universe you are taking a hands on approach to cosmology albeit from an aesthetic perspective rather than an interrogatory perspective. ;)

  129. “Gene H.1, February 24, 2013 at 2:05 pm …….”

    Excellent, did you copy this from Wikipedia? No cheating allowed. It does not breathe the true GeneH.

    This began as an honest compliment, but with my lightning-quick (?) mind
    it changed, after writing the first word, to as expression of suspicion. I am very sensitive to styles of writing. And I compliment myself often. Also a good trait.

  130. @idealist

    >You say: “…DNA isnt impacted by an animal swimming in water or eating a particular fruit.”

    Perhaps not ,although Stalin the great scientist favored a scientist who claimed so.

    ***

    DNA is impacted by environmental factors, but genes are not.

    Genes are only about 3-5% of the DNA in a typical organism. Genes code for specific proteins. Most DNA is non-coding, though it performs regulatory functions and … well, we’re still learning what all that DNA is for.

    Epigentics provides a model for the inheritance of certain types of acquired traits. Epigenetic tags can switch particular genes on or off, and the markings attached to particular genes can be inherited.

  131. Mike Spindell 1, February 24, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    “Earlier on April 1st, 2012 David Drumm (Nal) did a guest blog titled “The Evolutionary Gorilla in the Room” http://jonathanturley.org/2012/04/01/the-evolutionary-gorilla-in-the-room/ and received almost 240 comments. Now in truth this was an excellent guest blog and certainly drew a lot of discussion. But as I perused the comments, all 238 of them, I noticed something that I think is worth discussing. More than half of the comments were between Gene Howington and Dredd as a continuance of their ongoing argument about Dredd’s microbial theories. I must admit that when it comes to the scientific aspects of biology, I tune out as quickly as Lawrence Rafferty does when Calculus is raised. Another long time regular Bron did have more than a few comments as he tried to insinuate Ayn Rand into the discussion as usual.”

    I am responsible I’m afraid for a “self fulfilling prophecy”, which is the problem of being a legend in your own mind. Where I was wrong though was that Bron never once mentioned Ayn Rand………….yet.
    ====================================================
    Then write some more good blogs on something else.

    Like why your people’s book was right about the Hittites and the scientists were wrong.

  132. “MikeS.
    Read it again and tell me that you did not enjoy putting that horn into Dredd’s side. Even saints have haloes which go as awry as they did prior to becoming saints. And you?”

    ID707,

    Sainthood? I haven’t even been beatified, nor would I wish to be. I’m just down here in the muck with the rest of us animals making my way through the rat race of life, looking for the turn that will get me to the cheese.

    “PS to MikeS. We are all familiar with Dredd’s method of latching on to a subject and using it for self-promotion. Many have commented before.
    But to use this now as a cudgel is unsound. He is on the subject.
    It just happens to be subject you had not envisioned when you named and wrote your blog. Foul play, sir.”

    ID707,

    Not foul play at all. Responding to something that bothered me with honesty and my own viewpoint is not foul play. I even stated that I would in no way try to deter, which as you put it so well: “We are all familiar with Dredd’s method of latching on to a subject and using it for self-promotion.” As I previously stated anyone, even as you so frequently do, is entitled here to go off topic with no penalty other than a possible, though infrequent rebuke. :) AND PLEASE don’t give me your “guest bloggers as privileged characters rant yet again”, since you know very well that Professor Turley singled you out as our most prolific commenter.

  133. Interjection:

    Mountains can be eroded by simple drops of water, and caressing winds.
    Mount Everest, here I come. Give me a million years, and I will humble you.

    Did you know that the Appalachian chain once was as high as Mount Everest, and was conjoined with Asia Minor? There is proof. but you can take my word for it. Continents do shift and time does make great changes
    with a little help.

  134. Gene H. 1, February 24, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Still operating under the delusion that your opinion of me matters, id707?

    And really Dredd. “It’s only a theory” in the context of absolutism is nonsense. Semantic argument and ignoring the nature of reality. Probability is the nature of the universe. This is a fact of quantum mechanics. There is no such thing as absolute certainty, only differing level of probability that are rendered fact by the collapse of the wave function and the movement on the arrow of time representing entropy. But when evaluating a proposition one who takes simple belief over demonstrable evidence? They are engaging in willful ignorance. Probability backed by experimental data and observations indicate that both natural selection and (at least some variant on) Big Bang cosmology are true descriptions which again goes to what is a scientific law: a statement of fact, deduced from observation, to the effect that a particular natural or scientific phenomenon always occurs if certain conditions are present. Absolute certainty is not required for judging veracity.

    And that is the core problem with the subset of religiosity that Tegmark identifies – their inability to cope with reality and binary thinking keeps a vocal minority in opposition to scientific consensus based upon evidence.
    ==========================================================
    So, you are only expressing a theory?

    Nothing solid?

    I guess the only way to get around “not knows” is to buy scientific textbooks from used book stores and castigate anyone who deigns to differ with them:

    A discovery this strange inevitably raises questions that its discoverers cannot answer. What are the virus-controlled genes doing in those first two cells? Nobody knows. How did the domestication of this viral DNA help give rise to placental mammals 100 million years ago? Who knows? Why are viruses so intimately involved in so many parts of pregnancy? Awesome question. A very, very good question. Um, do we have any other questions?

    (from quote up-thread). Hey, I think I will sing to orolee’s choir and to the favorite Rabbi of Mike S:

  135. “Then write some more good blogs on something else.
    Like why your people’s book was right about the Hittites and the scientists were wrong.”

    Dredd,

    “My people”, as you so quaintly put it, were right about the Hittites. It is often lost on many that the biblical story of the “Exodus” may well be tied to the Hittites having conquered Egypt at one point for around two centuries. The Pharoah Joseph worked for may have been a Hittite, which would explain the later maltreatment of the Hebrews. Since my avocation is the intertwining of mythology with ancient history, there are many stories I could write, because I believe there is more “fact” in some mythology than is given credit for by Archaeologists, who I think in some ways are the least scientific of scientists,

    In the end though, I write about what tickles my fancy and arouses my passion, that makes the process easier and more fun.

  136. “one more comment about your “self fullfilling prophecy”. I never made it to Calculus!”

    Raff,

    Neither did I.

  137. Upon re-reading GeneH’s comment to me:

    “I’m not a polyglot. I only speak English, a bit of German, enough French and Japanese to get slapped or find a restroom, and read a smattering of Latin. That hardly qualifies me as a polyglot.
    Here’s to hoping your other word is better than “polyglot”.”

    Jeez, was that to me.
    Japanese, in spite of over time having spent many weeks there, I can not or will not speak it. Porridge in the mouth mixed with monotonality, and paucity of word sounds makes it not to my liking.
    My French may exceed yours, but as a non-speaker on his first visit, I got picked up on the bus to town by a German girl who had a French boyfriend. This was in the days of Le Bourget, and departing down a ladder and strolling across the tarmac. Have studied French since then, to no great avail.
    I gladly concede Latin to you, and Greek as well. Now if we can get the doctors with us, and lawyers too, and who knows who else……then!!!!

  138. Gene H. 1, February 24, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    id707,

    No wiki needed. Unlike you and your buddy, I didn’t sleep through my biology classes.
    ======================================================
    You would have been a lot better off if you had.

    If you want to do science and are over the age of 40, you had better free your mind of the conventional wisdom you learned in high school and college, its a whole new world out there and we are learning some weird things and it is only going to get weirder.

    (Bron up-thread).

  139. No, Dredd. Not at all. I’m saying if you (in the generic sense) expect absolutes you are going to be disappointed. Reality isn’t composed of absolutes at the sub-atomic level. Feel free to argue against physics all you like. The uncertainty that comes with recognizing the universe is a probabilistic place instead of a deterministic place based on scientific evidence presented by quantum mechanics is only crippling if you let it, but it is the way of things. Denial is a psychological mechanism, but no amount of denial changes the laws of physics. What is and was is the collapse of the wave function, what will be is the probability of those collapsing waves, but there is always the random to interfere with expectations.

  140. Dredd,

    “You would have been a lot better off if you had.”

    So I could what? Misinterpret and misrepresent materials to spread nonsense theories like you? I’ll pass. Thanks.

    But it’s nice to know you think highly of willful ignorance.

    It certainly explains a lot.

  141. Oro Lee and Gene,

    Two of the most memorable moments in my were spent camping and so away from City Lights. In both instance I had arrived too late to set up a tent and spent the evening in a sleeping bag looking up at the night sky I had never seen as a child. The first was by a river, in a river valley in the Grand Tetons National Forest. The huge horizon and absence of background light let me first see the sky as I imagined our ancestor saw it. It took my breath away and I just lay quietly for hours late into the night looking up at the Universe. The secon was years later in the White Mountains of Vermont. However one processes it the emotion is a gut wrenching awe at the magnificence of creation.

    And now for my more mundane side, kitschy if you will. I am leaving commenting for today to prepare to watch the Academy Awards, which I’ve done regularly for the last 60 years. I love them, even with their often sappy comedy and sometimes they even make me cry. I’ve seen all the contenders for Best Picture, except for Zero Dark Thirty (hiss) and my money is on “Les Miserables”, but as I said about it in my guest blog at the time, the movie had me when the first chord played.

  142. GeneH,

    RE: Your defense against me and Dredd and for all I know against others, in that what we think about you is of no importance to you.

    Kinda self-centered aren’t you. We attack your ideas, not the messenger.
    But you won’t admit that. Closing the door to well-founded argument is just your style/technique. It does not amount to the proverbial rats***.

    We do not see the messenger. We only hear the wind blowing. (you can read my real thoughts can’t you. you are too intelligent, as one said previously today.

  143. My meal is eaten. I am mellowing now.

    So what got into me today with all my posts?

    Following a healthy regime helps give me energy. And the comments here were so good that they deserved to be picked at.
    Original contributions are beyond my capability. But spot a blemish is my specialty since 7 years of age. My principal did not tell me so then, but I realized it the last year. Therapy is helpful.

    Enuf me. Will get back later to read the rest. No more comments now, if I need to say it again.

    PS
    I get ECG’d on Tuesday and electro-converted on Wednesday. Flutter is tiring. Only MikeS knows, perhaps more persons here. Cryo or heat treated on March 21. So it is for real. They even have offered me to participate in a study üsing cryo technique. I am studying that now. It came Friday.

    BFN

  144. Gene H. 1, February 24, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    Dredd,

    “You would have been a lot better off if you had.”

    So I could what? Misinterpret and misrepresent materials to spread nonsense theories like you? I’ll pass. Thanks.

    But it’s nice to know you think highly of willful ignorance.

    It certainly explains a lot.
    ============================================
    It explains evolution.

    What you think you know because of what they thought they knew is myth.

    You are religiously into myth and proud of it.

    The creationists must be in awe.

    Not that they would belive you, but that they are saying “we are not worthy” to unlatch his sandals he is such a good bullshitter.

  145. Gene H. 1, February 24, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    No, Dredd. Not at all. I’m saying if you (in the generic sense) expect absolutes you are going to be disappointed.
    ———————————————————
    You have proven that with your erroneous shadowy “absolutes.”

    Absolute BS.

    Reality isn’t composed of absolutes at the sub-atomic level. Feel free to argue against physics all you like. The uncertainty that comes with recognizing the universe is a probabilistic place instead of a deterministic place based on scientific evidence presented by quantum mechanics is only crippling if you let it, but it is the way of things.
    —————————————————————————
    I noticed you disagreed with one of history’s great evolutionists upthread.

    Where was Einstein wrong? No links necessary Mr. Authority.
    —————————————————————————-
    Denial is a psychological mechanism, but no amount of denial changes the laws of physics. What is and was is the collapse of the wave function, what will be is the probability of those collapsing waves, but there is always the random to interfere with expectations.
    ——————————————————–
    I never knew you were a surfer on De Nile river til now.
    ====================================================
    Way cool Gene H.

  146. Mike Spindell 1, February 24, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    “Then write some more good blogs on something else.
    Like why your people’s book was right about the Hittites and the scientists were wrong.”

    Dredd,

    “My people”, as you so quaintly put it, were right about the Hittites. It is often lost on many that the biblical story of the “Exodus” may well be tied to the Hittites having conquered Egypt at one point for around two centuries. The Pharoah Joseph worked for may have been a Hittite, which would explain the later maltreatment of the Hebrews. Since my avocation is the intertwining of mythology with ancient history, there are many stories I could write, because I believe there is more “fact” in some mythology than is given credit for by Archaeologists, who I think in some ways are the least scientific of scientists,

    In the end though, I write about what tickles my fancy and arouses my passion, that makes the process easier and more fun.
    =====================================================
    Me too, but I quote authority.

    Which clashes with the authority figures here.

    Very telling.

  147. Mike

    I too had similar experiences with the night sky

    During the 1987 Haley’s comet return two friends of mine and I went up to t he top of Badger Mountain near Wenatchee to try and see it. (what little there was) as we travelled up the mountain the fog became so thick we could only drive about 10 miles per hour. One friend wanted to turn back, but I suggested we continue in the event it lifted with elevation. To all of our great astonishment and gasps the fog lifted instantly to reveal the most star filled night sky I had seen in my lifetime; one extreme to another.

    When we arrived at the plateau and walked out. The sky was moonless, yet the starlight was so illuminous you could read by it. Perfectly clear sky with the milky way showing various facets and was nearly white in some areas. It was the only star filled sky I could asnwer the question “how many stars did you see?” answering “all of them”

    THe next was out in the middle of nowhere in Montana around March of 1996. THe sky was almost as brilliant and included the Hyakutake Comet, which seemed to take up a quarter of the length of the horizon looking all around. It was one of the highlights of the year.

  148. Dredd,

    “No, Dredd. Not at all. I’m saying if you (in the generic sense) expect absolutes you are going to be disappointed.
    ———————————————————
    You have proven that with your erroneous shadowy “absolutes.”

    Absolute BS.”

    Really. Perhaps you should understand the basics of quantum mechanics before you say something so ridiculous. The wavefunction represents the probability amplitude for finding a particle at a given point in space at a given time and particles exist only as a probability until the wavefunction collapses upon observation. Everything beyond the instant now is a matrix of probability. Everything in the past is collapsed wavefunctions.

    “Where was Einstein wrong?”

    In rejecting the implications of quantum mechanics for one thing. And I won’t go so far as to say “wrong” but the whole marrying his cousin thing is a bit creepy. Einstein was just as wrong when he said “God does not play dice with the universe” as Bohr was right when he admonished Einstein to “stop telling God what to do with his dice”. If you have a problem with that, take it up with the Young’s interference experiment (better known as the two-slit experiment). However, I’m really not surprised your knowledge of QM and physics is as pitifully superficial as your understanding of biology. Half-knowledge is practically your trademark.

    You’ll have to do better than that. Apes quote microbiologists, Otto, they just don’t understand it. Considering it has been pointed out numerous times that you don’t understand the basics of biology let alone natural selection, I think I’ll stick with actually being educated and able to think for myself instead of just “taking your word” on the subject.

  149. Mike/Darren/Oro,

    I’ll have to admit I’m a bit jealous of the Montana comet view. Urbanization and the consequent light pollution has ruined the night sky for large segments of our population. Many people go through their entire lives without seeing the backbone of the night in anything other than a picture and forget seeing all but the biggest comets.

  150. Bron,

    I’ve been thinking about your statement “humans have a spiritual component, they will fill it with something else if isnt God”.

    I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Not wrong, but imprecise. That there is a psychological need but I don’t think it rests in spirituality precisely, but rather in our propensity to both desire completion (purely emotive response to uncertainty or ambiguity) and the ability extrapolate to complete patterns based on partial information (a much broader adaptation that affects a larger swath of human behavior than spirituality, ranging from hunting strategies to the fundamentals of perception). A psychological hole can be rooted in many sources other than spirituality or a lack thereof but it is that desire for completion and seeking complete patterns that often drives filling the hole no matter the source. We like neat and tidy but the universe persists in being (as Alan Watts said) “all wiggly”. It’s naturally going to cause some tension.

  151. Stem cells, the big rage of not so long ago, are turned on and off by the use of genes from viruses.

    In other words, genetic material placed in a host organism’s DNA by viruses can change cells back and forth from cells that can become any other cell to restricted cells:

    Pfaff and his colleagues also discovered something surprising when they looked at the pluripotent ball of cells. From time to time, the pluripotent cells let the virus-controlled genes switch on again, and then shut them back down. All of the cells, it turns out, cycle in and out of what the scientists call a “magic state,” in which they become temporarily totipotent again.

    Cells in the magic state can give rise to any part of the embryo, as well as the placenta and other tissue outside the embryo. Once the virus-controlled genes get shut down again, they lose that power. This discovery demonstrated that these virus-controlled genes really are crucial for making cells totipotent.

    (link up-thread, see also this). This was reported less than a year ago in July of 2012.

  152. Question for religious folk, creationists or otherwise:

    If God exists and created humans in the likeness of God, why is human extinction a real possibility?

    I suppose the same question would perplex those who think homo sapiens are the hightest evolved and most fit to survive:

    Ever since humans fanned out from Africa and began to take over the world, many species have disappeared. The mammals that inhabited the Pleistocene until about 11,700 years ago—the wooly mammoths and the saber-toothed tigers—died most likely at the hands of human hunters. The carrier pigeon, which once numbered in the billions, is gone. The rhino’s days appear to be numbered, as do the bluefin tuna’s, and so forth. The current rate of species loss, by some estimates, is 200 a day, but nobody knows with any precision. Whether this trajectory takes us to mass extinction is not something science can answer definitively at the moment.

    Even climate, which we tend to think of as a slowly unfolding crisis, could conceivably bite us sooner than we think. Some researchers think that weather patterns such as the ones that bring monsoons to India and sustain glaciers in Antarctica could behave like dynamical systems, prone to sudden, unpredictable, and dangerous changes.

    (Could Humans Go Extinct?, Slate, Feb. 2013). Or is it true what Ernst Mayr says, that homo sapiens are the least fit to survive because human intelligence is a fatal mutation:

    I’LL BEGIN with an interesting debate that took place some years ago between Carl Sagan, the well-known astrophysicist, and Ernst Mayr, the grand old man of American biology. They were debating the possibility of finding intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. And Sagan, speaking from the point of view of an astrophysicist, pointed out that there are innumerable planets just like ours. There is no reason they shouldn’t have developed intelligent life. Mayr, from the point of view of a biologist, argued that it’s very unlikely that we’ll find any. And his reason was, he said, we have exactly one example: Earth. So let’s take a look at Earth. And what he basically argued is that intelligence is a kind of lethal mutation … you’re just not going to find intelligent life elsewhere, and you probably won’t find it here for very long either because it’s just a lethal mutation … With the environmental crisis, we’re now in a situation where we can decide whether Mayr was right or not. If nothing significant is done about it, and pretty quickly, then he will have been correct: human intelligence is indeed a lethal mutation. Maybe some humans will survive, but it will be scattered and nothing like a decent existence, and we’ll take a lot of the rest of the living world along with us.

    (What Kind of Intelligence).

  153. Lottakatz,

    Your comment: “Because public schooling does not exist to cater to the whims or traditions of children and their parents, that’s what private schools, churches and fraternal organizations are for.”

    · This is not true. Are you up-to-date on the curriculum of the public schools, in particular public high schools? The public high school curriculum has changed due to parents and their children’s demands. For example, when I was coming up in high school, African-American & Native American history was only 2-3 pages in a 500 pg. American History book. Today, most public high schools offer African-American & Native American History classes (some even teach Women History in America as a course, too). In Missouri, it is so easy to change almost anything; all you have to do is get a few people to sign a petition, and then it can be put up to vote by the people (most states can overturn the voters’ amendments or ballot measures with a 2/3 majority, or judges can rule the proposed amendment as unconstitutional…. but you get the point).

    Your comment: “Public schools are there to provide children with enough knowledge- facts strung together in an understandable fashion- to prevent them, through their gross ignorance, from being a lifelong burden on society. As well public education is to provide the society with a compliment of potentially productive, creative and innovative citizens to maintain and advance the nation and its culture. Public schooling exists at it’s core for the benefit of the nation/culture and re-inventing the wheel every generation does not advance the nation or its culture.”

    · Really? Have you seen the state of America’s Public Educational System? Or are you stating this as what the public educational system’s purpose or suppose to do? The private, religious schools were doing the same function or purpose-even before public schools were formally established-that you stated. Most of America’s public school systems are performing horrendously. This leads me into the next discussion with Mike S.

    Mike S,

    After reading all of the comments (I just came from Church, running errands, and noticed that I had received over 85 emails since the 11:45 service!), I started to agree with Bob Kauten’s statement: “Mike had other plans for this thread.” Then, I read your explanation that you were trying to make: “Religious Fervor opposed to science, with the thought that some of the ire from the non religious (including myself), was being wasted on religion in general when it was a specific subset of religion that was the real target.”

    As long as Harvard University, Washington University in St. Louis, and John Hopkins University maintain their billion dollar endowments, then the ‘specific subset of religion’ will not hinder the advancement of science (or research and development: R&D). It is truly amazing that the same ‘subset of religious groups’ who are opposed to R&D, are the same groups donating millions of dollars to these above mentioned universities.

    With this being said, the title of this article or subject matter would have been more informative (and less demeaning to our religious followers) if it went along as follows: By introducing Creationism and/or Evolution in Missouri’s K-12’s Public Education System, will this improve it’s overall quality? Will this curriculum change improve high school graduation rates? Will it improve the scores on college entrance exams? Will this curriculum change increase the college attendance and completion rates? Will this change increase the students’ desire to explore the sciences? Will the change improve the numerous disciplinary and behavioral issues impeding the educational development of children in Missouri’s public schools?

    Or even better: Why are America’s private religious, k-12 schools (particularly, the Catholics/Jesuit schools) outperforming our public schools in every category (including what I mention above), even in the math & sciences? Is it because they are praying during and before every class? Or is it because they are objectively teaching evolution (meaning evolutionary theory is not replacing the book of Genesis) or not teaching evolution at all? Although we have historically modeled our public educational system after the private religious educational system, why are the private, religious students outperforming the students in most public education schools? Is it as one pastor stated: ‘historically, the more we take God out of the classroom, the worst our public school system has become?’

    But I also want to add that Religion (i.e. Christianity, for sake of discussion) does this country a great service: It provides another means of socially controlling the ‘bewildered masses.” We need Religion in America (since you can do almost anything, and only get a slap on the wrist for it: speaking about America’s criminal justice system). Think about how many potential murders, serial rapists or god knows what other crimes some people may do or continue to do if Religion wasn’t controlling them (and yes, I know that there are people who claim to be religious, and commit worse crimes, but it could be much worse without Religion). Yes, I do believe in the overarching theme of Joseph Conrad’s novel “Heart of Darkness” about people: ‘darkness potentially inherent in all human hearts’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_of_Darkness

  154. Dredd: “All stars will destroy life on planets near them.

    This is following eons and eons of supporting life on those planets near them … those at the right distances that is.

    What does that mean to you as a believer in God?”

    1. Given my religion, nothing — it teaches an end of days followed by some ineffable bliss for the true believers; I believe other religions may as well. My only concern is with those folks who resist action on climate change because Jesus is coming back to right everything.

    2. At the rate we are proceeding, I doubt there will be any intelligent life to notice. What matters is how life is lived here and now for we all will be dead and gone long before this beautiful world is turned into a lava ball by the sun.

    3. So for me it’s all about the here and now, and it’s all about love — not the huggy-poo, kissy-face pure emotional type of thing, but the conscious act of the will – a freely made decision – to meet others’ needs.

    4. How? – well, why not feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, tend the sick, give hope to the imprisoned, and for those blessed with the wherewithal, to loose the chains of injustice and break the yoke of oppression? And walk humbly and upon meeting a stranger, be kind for he has had a tough day.
    ******************************************************************************************

    Dredd: “Or is it true what Ernst Mayr says, that homo sapiens are the least fit to survive because human intelligence is a fatal mutation?”

    However you want to slice it, the problem appears to be a 21st century intelligence paired with emotions and instincts that are at least 15,000 years old. The rapid advance in intelligence was not due solely to natural evolutionary processes, but was also culturally driven. I guess the question is, can’t we make a concerted effort to do the same with emotions?

    BTW, the following is a Washington Post review of a book I am presently studying:

    http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-04-13/entertainment/35452968_1_social-conquest-crafoord-prize-selection

    Absent drastic change in mankind — way beyond what is contained in any book of faith — I kinda think that the glory days of humankind may mostly be in our past. Indeed, maybe most of the days of man are in our past.

  155. Gene,

    I disagree … not with what you wrote, for all of it is true, but it missed the “sense” of Bron’s statement, “humans have a spiritual component, they will fill it with something else if isnt God”.

    You went for the rational but the statement addresses the mystical … that which is neither apparent to the senses nor to the intelligence.

    It is that component that will always be introducing new religions or reworking the old ones. I think Kant got it better than most.

  156. Oro Lee,

    I followed your link to Edward O. Wilson’s book, read the review and just bought it for my kindle. It looks fascinating and I’m excited to read it. It’s quite pertinent to the entirety of this threads discussion.

  157. RWL: ” For example, when I was coming up in high school, African-American & Native American history was only 2-3 pages in a 500 pg. American History book.”
    *
    LOL. you are probably younger than I then because the history books I was taught from didn’t lavish so much as 2 or 3 pages, but George Washing Carver did merit a couple of sentences as did Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Mary Harris Jones was nowhere to be found though.

    My point was that schools need a fact-based curriculum, ‘teaching the controversy’ or subjecting the prospect of a fact-based or non fact-based curriculum to a popular vote is absurd. It does a disservice to the kids and the the state.

    Math is math and science is science, reading comprehension is reading comprehension, and history has always been the most suspect and agenda driven of subjects IMO. Which is totally consistent with my view of the states purpose for educating its young. Even as a child reading my lily-white history texts I knew they were incomplete. I knew that from my home training and my other reading. There were vast gaps. I am comfortable with a wider view of history being taught because it is fact-based. What we grew up with was not insofar as the gaps favored a particular world view and discouraged or ignored everything else. Art/drama/etc is cool because it teaches or fosters creativity and a certain plasticity of mind that is personally and/or professionally rewarding.

    BTW I live in Missouri and I know the book/curriculum battles we have from reading about them only- all of my children are hypothetical. I can agree that we have some very special troglodytes as elected officials at every level of state and municipal government. No offense to troglodytes.

  158. Blouise,

    I disagree with your disagreement, but not with what you wrote. :D

    I don’t think I missed the sense of Bron’s comment as I did not dismiss man’s sense of the numinous, but rather placed it the context of rationality and the greater scope of psychology simply as a clarification. I said I didn’t disagree with what Bron said for content, but rather precision. As an observation of human nature, what he said was true but the underlying mechanism applies beyond the sense of the numinous. Previously I’ve stated that personally I’m a waffler on the whole atheist/agnostic thing which ought to be an indication that I think there is something to the numinous. I tend to think in terms of frames of reference. If a God exists, by definition of being beyond the constraints of this universe (or all multiverses), then it is not within our frames of reference which are inexorably bound to this one universe. We would have zero chance of understanding a god. A god is like a singularity – the known rules do not apply because we have to frame of reference to understand beyond the Schwarzschild radius because quantum mechanics forbids wavelike particles entering a space smaller than their wavelength. If you accept Kant’s view, I don’t think this conflicts with it (Bob would know better as the resident Kantian) because the antithesis of Kant’s Fourth Antimony comes within striking distance of what Einstein would later address in relativity (namely that observations of reality can be different for the same event based on frame of reference). Numinosity is not confined to the religious although it is often associated with feelings of religiousity. Being overwhelmed by a vision of natural beauty has no requisite of being tied to a particular dogma though yet it still inspires the same “transcendent” sensation. In fact, looking at the sense of the numinous only in religious terms I think cheapens the experience by displacing it with abstraction. But I digress.

    Even though scientists have demonstrated they can actually create some numinous sensations (like sensing a presence in an empty room) by manipulating magnetic fields around the brain, I don’t think that sensory input is an necessarily an evolutionary fluke. The sense of the numinous serves some purpose. I think that purpose is to make us feel connected to the universe and curious about ourselves and our role in it. If you buy the idea that we are not so much in the universe as the universe is in us – that sapient life is the universe trying to understand itself, the sense of the numinous is a driver behind our desire to understand. It’s mystery. Curiosity loves a mystery and we are a curious species. Whether you call mystery “God” or simply an appreciation of the beauty or wonderment of the universe is not really relevant. Will this sense of the numinous continue to cause some to create fantasies about what drives the universe we seek to understand from within? Probably so. As long as we posses that sense, some will seek to interrogate nature to understand the underlying reality rationally while some will make up stories. We aren’t just a curious species, but a creative one as well.

    Some like Coke, some like Pepsi.

    I’m more of an RC man myself.

    Something is going on here. What? We’ll never completely know. Is there direction or is the universe a watch without a maker? We’ll never know for sure. But that’s beside the point if you recognize incompleteness isn’t a barrier to understanding, but rather a barrier to certainty. An answer that is probably correct but ultimately unprovable is the best we’ll ever do.

    And we are back to our desire to have completion and our propensity to fill in patterns.

  159. Gene (and Bron sort-of and even Dredd),

    I looked for Season two episode Five of a TV series “Through the Wormhole” on YouTube but Discovery channel had them take it down. It was titled “Is There a Sixth Sense”. It speaks to your reply Gene and probably the mechanism that Dredd is looking for (My impression only Dredd-not a slight or fault, just an impression.) and what most people mean by “spiritual”. You summed it up very well Gene with the statement “The sense of the numinous serves some purpose. I think that purpose is to make us feel connected to the universe”.

    I have long thought that the transcendent feeling one gets when seeing a particularly breathtaking natural phenomena is basically the shock of the new. 90% of our population is urban, we are starved of nature. I can recount every time I was in a position to actually see the Milky Way or another perfectly mundane aspect of nature that was new and transcendental to me. It was the lack of such things that made them extraordinary in the main. Even so, something more was going on than just lack of familiarity.

    My belief is that the connectivity you speak of is absolutely real, functional and comes to us over the entire length and breath of our evolutionary history. This must be the case because birds migrate and I have developed an entirely circular theory (The ‘we are all just migrating birds theory’) to explain it. Don’t be dogmatic about the science Gene, just go with the allusion, consider it a matter of art, not science. :-)

    Why do birds migrate over thousands of miles and the width of oceans? Because they always have migrated as the fossilized footprints of dinosaurs demonstrate and because feathered dinos became birds. Because seasons have changed since the great continent started to break apart and freed the ocean to invent a new kind of weather pattern. The dinos retained the impulse/need and mechanisms to migrate to a seasonal food source (sensitivity to magnetic fields and celestial navigation) but the continents changed more and faster than the dinos. A small inland sea that could be skirted became an ocean when its rift valley was torn apart to the great ocean. The big dinos died (for various and sundry reasons) and the smaller feathered ones gave rise to true birds. Birds migrate across the ocean because they have to, just turning south at the coast and settling where it’s warmer isn’t an option for some of them. It’s in their bones after millions of years of exquisite, evolutionary fine-tuning, if you can’t complete the migration you die and the species is better off for it.

    So is it with us all but we have no longer recognize it or use it. We still know when we are being watched, we still think of something or someone and tomorrow they call or the event plays out and we laugh it off and call it a happy coincidence, we still look at someone and think ‘that person is trouble’ and avoid them without ever having seen them before.

    I don’t go beyond the physical in my philosophy but that covers a lot of territory. It encompasses that those microbes (we are each a self contained universe of and for our billions of passengers) influence us in ways we have not yet begun to imagine to the likelihood (IMO) that somewhere on the electromagnetic spectrum we pick up signals from tomorrow and as well the past. And why not, at the quantum level such terms are just an expression of viewpoint I’ve read. Like birds we were built that way so we would fit into a perfectly integrated, planet wide system of mutually supportive biomes. LOL, Gaia is my deity of choice. Maybe when we look at a sight Darren so beautifully described at 4:40 what is happening is the electromagnetic interference pattern normally present due to all of those electric lights is lifted just long enough for a tiny, sleeping cluster of microbes to be stimulated by a different bit of radiation from the starlight and it kicks them in their tiny, collective butt and tells them wake up and get to work, whatever work that may be, work so old and obscure we no longer even need it.

    Srsly, I don’t know what’s going on with the spiritual thing but I’m sure it’s chemical/biological, it’s pro-survival, it’s old, very, very old and its been perverted to serve an un-natural agenda.

    [This long, nowhere near on-point (Sorry Mike) posting is all Darren’s fault- his posting (24th/4:40) above put me in a reflective mood as I thought about the last time I had one of those ‘…it’s filled with stars’ moments] :-)

  160. Mike Spindell:

    Since you are a legend in my mind, I cannot let your prognostication of philosophical primacy go begging. So I am posting the following and it is actually germane:

    “PLAYBOY: Has no religion, in your estimation, ever offered anything of constructive value to human life?

    RAND: Qua religion, no—in the sense of blind belief, belief unsupported by, or contrary to, the facts of reality and the conclusions of reason. Faith, as such, is extremely detrimental to human life: it is the negation of reason. But you must remember that religion is an early form of philosophy, that the first attempts to explain the universe, to give a coherent frame of reference to man’s life and a code of moral values, were made by religion, before men graduated or developed enough to have philosophy. And, as philosophies, some religions have very valuable moral points. They may have a good influence or proper principles to inculcate, but in a very contradictory context and, on a very—how should I say it?—dangerous or malevolent base: on the ground of faith.

    Playboy Interview: Ayn Rand
    Playboy, March 1964

    Christ, in terms of the Christian philosophy, is the human ideal. He personifies that which men should strive to emulate. Yet, according to the Christian mythology, he died on the cross not for his own sins but for the sins of the nonideal people. In other words, a man of perfect virtue was sacrificed for men who are vicious and who are expected or supposed to accept that sacrifice. If I were a Christian, nothing could make me more indignant than that: the notion of sacrificing the ideal to the nonideal, or virtue to vice. And it is in the name of that symbol that men are asked to sacrifice themselves for their inferiors. That is precisely how the symbolism is used.

    Playboy Interview: Ayn Rand
    Playboy, March 1964

    Unable to resolve a lethal contradiction, the conflict between individualism and altruism, the West is giving up. When men give up reason and freedom, the vacuum is filled by faith and force.

    “Requiem for Man,”

    It has often been noted that a proof of God would be fatal to religion: a God susceptible of proof would have to be finite and limited; He would be one entity among others within the universe, not a mystic omnipotence transcending science and reality. What nourishes the spirit of religion is not proof, but faith, i.e., the undercutting of man’s mind.

    Leonard Peikoff, “‘Maybe You’re Wrong,’”
    The Objectivist Forum, April 1981, 12

    I hope I havent let you down, Mike. But as I said, the post is germane to religion. :)

  161. What comments, what a blog this has become, where to begin?

    I’ll take in brief separate posts.

    Where have the old days gone when “serious” blogs were devoted to judicial matters (possible, but there has always been MikeS). The comments generated were, if not citing arcania, were cryptic, expressed in code only known the longtimers here, and seldom more than two lines long.

    Compare these old days, with today’s blog, although this one is by MikeS, who as usual brings up deep subjects. MikeS may notice the number of comments generated. I would suggest that the numbers in great part are due to the import of the words in his title: Religion, Evolution, and Science.
    Those simple, almost all encompassing words is open sesame to almost all commenters here. Only bots excepted. (Snark?)

    At any rate, the numbers increase (generally over all blogs?).
    The true from the heart content has increased. Comments are more personal.
    Fewer commenters shout for “proof”, evidence, etc. in challenging these personal excerpts from the lives of others. Self-referential posts were as a rule condemned as unworthy of posting when I arrived. I have as you noticed have self-referencïal parts in most of my posts. Many if not most follow suit today.

    Are most of you glad that you are now free to be humans in the first hand, and secondarily debaters dedicated to the “logical”?

    Even “numinance” may be expounded upon in the blog NOW. So far have we come.

    It pleases me. And that is sufficient reason to post this.

  162. Eric Berne once wrote: (paraphrased from memory). Each day you know a friend the more you know about him, and how to say hello to him.
    You will get closer to knowing him over time, but never completely.
    Want more old friends? Get some new ones, and they will become old ones.
    =============

    Now LottaKatz is not a friend, nor even a good prospect for becoming one. Posts are made, mostlt cryptic. Not revealing private issues very much and often. Helpful when inclined and not irritated. Dissing when such is felt necessary.

    So why mention LottaKatz?

    In my relatively short time here, this is an open, deeply personal LottaKatz who speaks to us today. I welcome that for my sake, LottaKatz’ sake, and for the sake of others here, who would at times wish to speak on personal matters, which relate to the bigger world we live in.

  163. RWL,

    I read your comment late last night, but four hours of Academy Award watching wore me out and so I’m replying today.

    “As long as Harvard University, Washington University in St. Louis, and John Hopkins University maintain their billion dollar endowments, then the ‘specific subset of religion’ will not hinder the advancement of science”

    I don’t agree. These “estimable” institutions are just as subject to intimidation and manipulation as any other. I graduated with a Masters Degree from Columbia University School of Social Work (CUSSW). Columbia is an Ivy League School with a very rich edowment. I regularly get the Social Work School’s magazine. When religous based funding became available via government programs CUSSW the magazine began to include articles extolling religious based programs, since that was a new area for Social Work to find funding. At the time of my graduation, two decades before this would have been considered an anathema. All these institutions are subject to wealth and power.

    “With this being said, the title of this article or subject matter would have been more informative (and less demeaning to our religious followers) if it went along as follows: By introducing Creationism and/or Evolution in Missouri’s K-12’s Public Education System, will this improve it’s overall quality?”

    If that was the case then it would be someone other than me writing this article. Is it not clear by my words that I consider what is euphemisticly called “intelligent design” (Creationism) ridiculous, even if one does’t think Evolutionary Theory is the be all and end all. The Earth is ot 10,000 years old and that has been proven. The creation story in Genesis is a metaphor and that can’t be denied, except by closing one’s mind. Where did the other humans mentioned in Genesis come from? Where were the wives for the sons of Adam come from? This teaching has no place in a public school system and indeed as Professor Tegmark’s study shows only religions making up but 11% of this country’s population don’t accept the evidence of science.

    “Although we have historically modeled our public educational system after the private religious educational system, why are the private, religious students outperforming the students in most public education schools? Is it as one pastor stated: ‘historically, the more we take God out of the classroom, the worst our public school system has become?”

    I’m not sure what metric you use to compare religious education to public education, but accepting that for the sake of argument i think it proves nothing. The overwhelmig majority of children going to religious schools have more income, in comparison to those going to public schools. Most of these parent could afford to pay the tuition for a private school. Since the 70’s the public school system in America has been consistently short-changed and those successful schools within it are skewed to wealthy neighborhoods. Your comparison, if the metrics are valid, is an apples to oranges situation.

    “But I also want to add that Religion (i.e. Christianity, for sake of discussion) does this country a great service: It provides another means of socially controlling the ‘bewildered masses.” We need Religion in America (since you can do almost anything, and only get a slap on the wrist for it: speaking about America’s criminal justice system). Think about how many potential murders, serial rapists or god knows what other crimes some people may do or continue to do if Religion wasn’t controlling them”

    Your premise is entirely untrue and unprovable. The only people who get a “slap on the wrist from the criminal justice system” are the rich and powerful. The proof of this is that the Uited States has by far the highest rate of incarceration in the world. Yes let us think about the “serial rapist” pedophiles within the Catholic Church worldwide. The religion of many ordained priests did not prevent them from committing heinous crimes. You are making a statement in talking about crime prevention that has no basis in fact.

    “Yes, I do believe in the overarching theme of Joseph Conrad’s novel “Heart of Darkness” about people: ‘darkness potentially inherent in all human hearts”

    I’m not sure I accept that either, but even if true, that doesn’t prove your case. If there is the potential for darkness in every human heart doesn’t mean religion holds people back from the “darkness. In world history religion has more frequently played a destructive role, than a healing one.
    Just a short look explains that:

    The spread of Islam “by the sword”.
    The Crusades
    The Albigensian Heresy
    The Inquisition
    The Protestant Reformation and its attacks on heresy.
    The frequent Pogroms that Jews experienced all over Europe.
    The sanctification of slavery by Southern Baptists
    The war in Bosnia

    That is only a “sampler” of the evil done in the name of God. Now in truth I do believe that the evil done in Jesus name had nothing to do with Jesus teachings and everything to do with people who perverted his teachings for their own will to power. However, that is the difference between prophets wanting to bring healing to humans ad those who use the prophet’s teachings to their ow advantage. Even The Buddha, whose message was meant to alleviate human suffering had followers centuries later who slaughtered eachother over points of doctrine. To bring it to current times perhaps you can explain to me how the message of Jesus in the Gospels has tranferred him into being a warlike, intolerant Conservative in America, who takes the side of wealth?

  164. “I hope I havent let you down, Mike. But as I said, the post is germane to religion. :)

    Bron,

    You haven’t let me down and as you well know I predicted this comment in my blog. That doesn’t mean I’ll respond to the erzatz wisdom of a terrible novelist, who had pretension of being a philosopher, but lacked the intellect. :)

  165. “Where have the old days gone when “serious” blogs were devoted to judicial matters”

    ID707,

    From the beginning of my time here years ago, Professor Turley both produced blogs of legal import, as well as social commentary and humor. Now underlying this particular guest blog, though unstated, is the very important legal matter in the US of separation of Church and State.

    As for the intention of my title being provocative……..no kidding. :) “No kidding of course meant in the colloquial sense.

  166. “My belief is that the connectivity you speak of is absolutely real, functional and comes to us over the entire length and breath of our evolutionary history.”

    LK,

    I agree with you and with the rest of your comment. My wife and I watched the entire “Through the Wormhole” series and it spun my thoughts in a similar direction. Also no need to apologize to me because this thread went off my conception of the tracks long ago and right now I’m just going with the flow. :)

    The best laid plan………………etc.

  167. MikeS,

    Did you read the rest of my comment.? Cherry picking my bit of sarcasm meant as a teaser, and displaying it in your manner as a lonesome sound bite, leaves me pissed. Sound bites and cherry picking is bad.

    Foul!!! Or was it intentionally meant to make an ass of me with my own words OK, admit it and we are quits.

    Now I get it MikeS. You were just showing me what my sniping on bits of others cómments has fór effect. Yeah, agreed. No apologies needed. Except from me to you and others. Hard heads (or dumb ones) need hard knocks to understand.

  168. Gene,

    “If you buy the idea that we are not so much in the universe as the universe is in us – that sapient life is the universe trying to understand itself, the sense of the numinous is a driver behind our desire to understand. It’s mystery.”

    Now that I can buy if it is framed in some of what lotta wrote.

    I am not the least bit uncomfortable with the mystical even though I have no idea how it works. Perhaps it is the profession I was in for so many years. Ask any musician who works in the classics, my favorites were Vivaldi, Verdi, and good ol’ Wolfgangus, about floating away into the unknown … trusting it and taking your audience with you. There is no truthful way I can deny its existence nor its impact.

    A belief in a deity is not necessary, in my opinion, though it is often the initial approach experienced by many. Thus was the truth I “sensed” in Bron’s statement.

    Was it part and parcel of the Big Bang? Testify! :mrgreen:

  169. Mike,

    That which I love about separation of Church and State is that the State cannot tell me what to believe nor can it interfere with others trying to convince me what to believe. Thus, in the end, I remain the only one responsible for the belief system I have chosen and have no one to blame or thank but myself.

  170. Just to show that my comment sentence was truncated and soundbited, I will re-post it in its entirety. The sentence in question reads:
    “Where have the old days gone when “serious” blogs were devoted to judicial matters (possible, but there has always been MikeS).”

    Now I by adding MikeS as a serious producer of primarily social articles of serious value, then I assumed that the sarcasm was understood.
    Particularly when the preceding sentences by me are read first.

    My memory says that beside an occasional MikeS blog, the most was posted for laughs to use as a dart target, or cats who must be found, etc.

    But the primary meat was meant for lawyers and the other judicial followers in different capacities (both in work life and here at JT’s)

    I wonder what else seems foolish standing on its own. Kicks are oftest returned by kicks. Is that too cryptic?
    ===============================

    idealist7071, February 25, 2013 at 10:19 am

    What comments, what a blog this has become, where to begin?

    I’ll take in brief separate posts.

    Where have the old days gone when “serious” blogs were devoted to judicial matters (possible, but there has always been MikeS). The comments generated were, if not citing arcania, were cryptic, expressed in code only known the longtimers here, and seldom more than two lines long.

    Compare these old days, with today’s blog, although this one is by MikeS, who as usual brings up deep subjects. MikeS may notice the number of comments generated. I would suggest that the numbers in great part are due to the import of the words in his title: Religion, Evolution, and Science.
    Those simple, almost all encompassing words is open sesame to almost all commenters here. Only bots excepted. (Snark?)

    At any rate, the numbers increase (generally over all blogs?).
    The true from the heart content has increased. Comments are more personal.
    Fewer commenters shout for “proof”, evidence, etc. in challenging these personal excerpts from the lives of others. Self-referential posts were as a rule condemned as unworthy of posting when I arrived. I have as you noticed have self-referencïal parts in most of my posts. Many if not most follow suit today.

    Are most of you glad that you are now free to be humans in the first hand, and secondarily debaters dedicated to the “logical”?

    Even “numinance” may be expounded upon in the blog NOW. So far have we come.

    It pleases me. And that is sufficient reason to post this.

    ÉND OF REPOSTED COMMENT

    Again, you get kicked when someone feels pain at your words. But of course where it hurts is never revealed in the kickbacker’s comment.

    And that is chicken, speaking colloqually from 1950 or thereabouts.
    As for kidding, the double meaning escapes me, and I am not ashamed to admit it.

    If I have to elucidate by expanding my comments above I will do so, but out of consideration of other sinners here, and of course in service of civility and the Professor, I won’t for now.
    I prefer to refrain from naming names, practices and weaknesses. Not that that consideration has often been offered to me. And I do feel the blog has become better, for my “contribution” of self-referential personal comments related to the subject. Etc etc as said in previous comment to the herein cited.

    Shall we go back to worshipping MikeS? He is a treasure of great value, but no ambitions to be a politician and certainly not God. He has feet of clay, just as we do, admits to crying easily (wish I could, but I would never stop if I did), and has his life to cherish. So do we our own rightfully so.

    His esteem is for other things than we esteem occasionally, (but in all, I think we should keep him—-said in jest of course).

    I

  171. MikeS,

    Provocative. Kidding, The real purpose of showing the importance of separation of Church and State……..

    You were singing another tune further up thread complaing about something which no one had understood, and also deploring the many kidnapping of your threads meaning and its purpose.

    I remained silent, but you received considerable number of comments, to put it politely, which disagreed as to the purpose of the thread. Basis for their claim was the title as one piece supporting their views.

    You then retired, claiming that a blogger had no special rights to steer the comments made (even if they appear to be a kidnapping of it?), and that it was only for the blogger to watch passively.

    (Some mention of correcting misinterpretations was I believe not included) Remarkably few opportunities were offered to meet such incorrect ideas/interpretations etc.. I believe.
    Could this be due to that few even discussed your blog per se, but had instead had established their own thread?

    Now for a final diss. Not snarks, but facts.

    In discussions you have been philosophical about your low number of commenters generally. 10, 15, 20, 35?
    Now you have hit the jackpot and have been perhaps uneasy as to this event happening. I would in all likelihood have done the same or worse.

    But I am not a GB and don’t want to be anything here except myself. Glad in my commonality and my uniqueness, Even my bacterial, viruses etc are different from Dredd’s. I am I, and that is sufficient. I have nothing to prove here anymore, as I did before. I enjoy the illusion that my words are sometimes read, but that is a common trait. Notice how many people talk IRL.
    They stop listening when they start talking. That is akin to many other practices, but your impatience limits my exemplification (your being all here, not MikeS).

    Perfect, I don’t aspire to the impossible. So I expect and can forgive myself for my mistakes. Can all say that here?
    It ends here. Whew, I say.
    My potatoes are long over-cooked by now.

  172. “Now I get it MikeS. You were just showing me what my sniping on bits of others cómments has fór effect.”

    ID707,

    If you were a gunfighter you’d be too quick on the draw. Accuracy trumps speed every time. :)

  173. “You were singing another tune further up thread complaing about something which no one had understood, and also deploring the many kidnapping of your threads meaning and its purpose.”

    “You then retired, claiming that a blogger had no special rights to steer the comments made (even if they appear to be a kidnapping of it?), and that it was only for the blogger to watch passively.”

    “Shall we go back to worshipping MikeS? He is a treasure of great value, but no ambitions to be a politician and certainly not God. He has feet of clay, just as we do, admits to crying easily (wish I could, but I would never stop if I did), and has his life to cherish. So do we our own rightfully so.”

    ID707,

    All of your statements about me above are true, save for the idolatry part, because I certainly have feet of clay. Now what do you, who knows Gestalt Philosophy and Berne’s Transactional analysis so well (factual statement, not snark) make of those seeming inconsistencies? Let me add that my therapist and the people who trained me, felt I was the best patient to work in Gestalt that they had ever seen. Further that Gestalt Philosophy informs my life. So how come my actions seems so inconsistent? Think about it before shooting from the hip as is your wont.

    Let me further add that none of the comments I’ve made on this thread were directed at you negatively, since I feel affection for the you that presents himself on this blog. In a real gunfight those that shoot from the hip usually got shot.

  174. “Thus, in the end, I remain the only one responsible for the belief system I have chosen and have no one to blame or thank but myself.”

    Blouise,

    This is as it should be, but so few want to take responsibility for themselves. Hence the two seemingly dichotomous pharases:

    “The Devil made me do it.”

    “God commanded me to do it.”

    All variations on the same theme.

    BTW: You are one hell of a tough Scrabble player.

  175. ID, I recall 5 years and a scosh ago first coming to this site and finding threads that were a mini-education in some aspect of the law with citations and argument worthy of any courtroom or brief. There were also a lot of recipes and more discussion about food and vacations than one might imagine. I think the technical arguments have lessened somewhat but so have the recipes. There’s more politics/economics now and there seems to be a wider base of specialized knowledge present to draw upon. Many posters have also moved on. The number of posting (declared) females is up by a good 250-300% off and on.

    Things change. An open-door policy invites change, the blawg is a dynamic system due to that. I wonder now and then if some of the long-time posters think the difference is positive or negative. I’ve always found the blawg and the commenters interesting so while I may lurk for various personal reasons I tend to return when I am able. If you stick around you will see more change than you might imagine.

    Regarding your specific comment about my posting, I post what I like and most of it is personal opinion or ad hominem over time. I have very little in the way of professional training to bring to bear.

  176. It is interesting that Dr. Roger Penrose believes that human consciousness is governed by quantum mechanics, that Dr. Ernst Mayr believes human consciousness is a fatal mutation, and that Dr. Per-Olov Löwdin explained how quantum mechanics are “unstable” or contrary to our understanding of non-quantum objects, and therefore make human DNA functions somewhat unstable.

    Especially in the sense that stem cells go into and out of a “magic state” more regularly than previously thought … while morphing into human brain cells (Stem Cell Malfunction A Quantum Toxin Source?). Add the factor that microbe viruses provide the genes to humans with which to do the switching, and you can throw away grandpa’s biology book.

  177. Mike S,

    I was about to make a follow up comment to your reply; However, after reading IDEALIST707’s mini-documentary of you, I decided to take a different approach:

    I give up Mike S, you win.

    Bob Kauten,

    You were right: Mike S had other plans for this thread.

  178. Mike S,

    A couple of new myths have been exposed at Think Progress:

    The two greatest myths about global warming communications are 1) constant repetition of doomsday messages has been a major, ongoing strategy and 2) that strategy doesn’t work and indeed is actually counterproductive!

    These myths are so deeply ingrained in the mainstream media that such messaging, when it is tried, is routinely attacked and denounced …
    You’d think it would be pretty obvious that the public is not going to be concerned about an issue unless one explains why they should be concerned about an issue.

    (Apocalypse Not: The Oscars, The Media And The Myth of ‘Constant Repetition of Doomsday Messages’ on Climate). I think the issue of human civilization rendering itself extinct would be an issue Origin of Species thumpers and Bible thumpers would both be zealously involved in.

    Did God make mass murders, or did natural selection do it?

    Excuse me please, if this post was supposed to be about circumcision.

  179. “Add the factor that microbe viruses provide the genes to humans with which to do the switching, and you can throw away grandpa’s biology book.”

    “microbe viruses “? Making shit up again I see. There is no such thing as “microbe viruses”. There are microbes and there are viruses and they aren’t even close to the same thing. Also, you apparently you can’t distinguish between natural and engineered systems. Your assertion that viruses “provide the genes to humans with which to do the switching” shows a complete and utter lack of understanding of how homologous recombination works both in nature and as a process harnessed in the lab for gene splicing. The “viral genes” don’t determine how homologous recombination works in the sense you seem to think. That is determined by various enzymes and how they repair gene breaks and how the gene broke in the first place (a single strand versus a double strand break) combined with the how the enzyme in question resects the damaged/cut gene. How these cut ends are resected by said enzymes determines whether there is genetic crossover or not. If the enzyme creates the right kind of structure for bonding? Crossover. If not? None. It is the enzymes that provide the mechanism for switching. In the lab, it’s human selected genes that make the cells back into totipotent cells. In nature, it’s random chance depending upon which enzymes and genes happen to lurking about the gene break.

    It’s not the “viral genes”.

    You just don’t get the basics.

    That’s why you keep quoting stuff you don’t understand, conflate it into something it isn’t, and I hang you with it. It really is a shame you read so much biology and have garnered such a poor grasp of the subject. But suppose this just proves that even the autodidactic can have bad teachers.

  180. “Excuse me please, if this post was supposed to be about circumcision.” (Dredd to Mike S)

    lol … now that was funny

  181. Also –

    “Penrose believes that human consciousness is governed by quantum mechanics”

    And he may be right, but including his statement is argument by non-sequitur.

    “Mayr believes human consciousness is a fatal mutation”

    And it may be, but so what? It’s an interesting mutation and even though our track record is short compared to the dinosaurs, I don’t think you can argue that intelligence is not a beneficial mutation at least in the short term (in terms of geological time)

    “Löwdin explained how quantum mechanics are ‘unstable’ or contrary to our understanding of non-quantum objects, and therefore make human DNA functions somewhat unstable.”

    “non-quantum objects”:

    Really.

    Show me something without any gluons and I’ll show you a cloud of scattered disjunct particles. There is no such thing as a “non-quantum” object. Anything that contains atoms and their constituent parts? Is a quantum object. It’s a matter of scale.

    Also I really doubt that is what he actually said but rather a shitty paraphrase. Our understanding, contrary or not, is not what makes make “human DNA functions somewhat unstable.” They are that way regardless of our understanding and they are so by nature. Differential breeding wouldn’t be possible if they weren’t and we’d all reproduce asexually.

    Feel free to foam at the mouth now.

  182. Gene H. 1, February 25, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    “Add the factor that microbe viruses provide the genes to humans with which to do the switching, and you can throw away grandpa’s biology book.”

    “microbe viruses “?
    ======================================
    All viruses are microbes, but not all microbes are viruses.

    To you, the truth is a microbe and you don’t have a microscope, the only way to see microbes.

    All est. trillion species of them.

  183. “All viruses are microbes, but not all microbes are viruses.”

    Wow. That’s both staggeringly wrong and staggeringly stupid at the same time.

    Congratulations.

  184. BTW, your quote? Is also gibberish. “They include fungi, bacteria, viruses, archea and protists. All except fungi consist of a single cell, although microbe diversity is vast. Microbes are the causes of many disease…”

    Viruses don’t have cell structure.

  185. Another interesting thing about viruses is that they don’t have a metabolism.

    “A microorganism (from the Greek: μικρός, mikrós, “small” and ὀργανισμός, organismós, “organism”) or microbe is a microscopic organism that can be a single cell (unicellular), [1] or a multicellular organism. The study of microorganisms is called microbiology, a subject that began with Anton van Leeuwenhoek’s discovery of microorganisms in 1675, using a microscope of his own design.

    Microorganisms are very diverse; they include all of the prokaryotes, namely the bacteria and archaea; and various forms of eukaryote, comprising the protozoa, fungi, algae, microscopic plants (green algae), and animals such as rotifers and planarians. Some microbiologists also classify viruses as microorganisms, but others consider these as nonliving.”

    And if it doesn’t have a metabolism? It’s not alive. Only the wishful thinkers in the extremist “viruses are everything” camp think they are.

  186. Way cool, I found this democratic dictionary site …

    Best AnswerChosen by Voters

    Microbe and germ are nonspecific terms that can mean different things to different people.

    Microbe just means something microscopic, but is usually used as almost synonymous with germ.

    Germ is a term usually restricted to any disease-causing agent, e.g. bacterium, protozoan or virus. (Bacterium is singular, bacteria is plural.)

    Democrats … gotta luv ’em.

    BTW, what are your thoughts on quantum circumcision?

  187. dREDD:

    are you saying that a virus is used in genetic engineering? I know they have tried to use them as vectors. They might even be able to use viral enzymes to manipulate DNA. Since a virus uses our DNA to replicate itself, it makes sense that if we could manufacture their enzymes we could use them for genetic engineering.

    As you said above, this aint your grandfather’s biology, nor your fathers for that matter.

    If I was a biologist working in genetics, I would do acid on a regular basis to free mind from conventional wisdom.

    Which brings me to QM, maybe its very shy? When you look for it, it hides. I wonder if you hold your fingers in front of your eyes and look through the slits made by your fingers you could find a Quantum?

    Carry on, Dredd. You are more thought provoking than most.

  188. Again, can anyone here prove either the existence or non-existence of a ‘ghost in the machine’ responsible for our design?

    Really?

    http://www.phil.pku.edu.cn/resguide/Kant/CPR/16.html#415

    And destined to take the place of the three frogs of the apocalypse in your eschatology, wouldn’t said ghost in the machine proving its own existence constitute ‘the end of the world as we know it?’

    Here’s hoping the good name of the frogs are redeemed as well; should that happen that is.

  189. BTW, for those of you keeping score at home, the names of the three frogs of the apocalypse happen to be Murry, Bertrum and Stanley.

    It’s written on whatever it is they write it on up there…

  190. Bob,

    Because some insist on seeing direction (and the ancillary intent and meaning) where there isn’t any would be my guess. That whole desire for completeness thing.

  191. Blouise: “I am not the least bit uncomfortable with the mystical even though I have no idea how it works. Perhaps it is the profession I was in for so many years. Ask any musician who works in the classics, my favorites were Vivaldi, Verdi, and good ol’ Wolfgangus, about floating away into the unknown … trusting it and taking your audience with you.”
    *

    In that regard you have truly been a shaman- music is one of the sure-fire gateways to the mystical. I have seen people transfixed and even weeping due to the places music have taken them. In fact I was one of them!

    I recall some years ago reading about a syndrome surprisingly common among tourists at museums in both France and Italy. People weep, or grow short of breath, or faint, (or some combination of those symptoms) and are overcome by emotion and confusion. Low blood sugar didn’t account for most of it.

    Art is a gateway. It’s one of the reasons even an old fuddy-duddy like myself want it taught in schools. It has plenty of practical and beneficial reasons to make it part of any school curriculum but that’s not the best reason by half. It changes your mind and touches your soul.

  192. Bob, Esq.: “Again, can anyone here prove either the existence or non-existence of a ‘ghost in the machine’ responsible for our design?”
    *
    Not me. If you know the names of the Three Frogs of the Apocalypse you’re way more plugged into the mystical heart of the universe than I. :-)

    I don’t know which one them this little guy is but I suspect that he IS one of them because the universe has a really twisted sense of humor- on that point I have faith. He looks like a Bertram to me.

  193. Gene, Thanks for the video, that’s what I’m talkng about baby! Great choice.

    *

    RWL, LOL, If you think Mike can exercise any control over his thread- or any guest poster poster, or even the Professor, can exercise control over any thread they initiate on this blawg- you need to read more threads. Herding cats doesn’t even come close. :-)

  194. Bob Esq:

    never stopped us before, doubt it will in the future.

    A good deal of what is written here by Gene, Mespo, you, Mike and others is pretty good stuff.

    Although you havent been posting much lately. Which is too bad. I always used to like watching you and Mespo “discuss” various topics. He with his Greek and you with your German interpretation of various issues.

    “Man thats hubris and full speed ahead.”

    Murry, Bertrum and Stanley

  195. want life after death

    http://ifidie.net/

    they post any message you choose to prerecord on your facebook page.

    personally, i want one that says “help, i’m not really dead come get me i’m running out of air!!!”

  196. pete9999:

    how long do they keep it up?

    that is a good idea though. in a thousand years I wonder if facebook will be around and if it is will they have the people on it now in an archive for future archaeologists to look at.

    Better than a mummy and not as stinky.

  197. An article today indicates that Owls practice altruism and have a language:

    Researchers have discovered, for example, that young barn owls can be impressively generous toward one another, regularly donating portions of their food to smaller, hungrier siblings — a display of altruism that is thought to be rare among nonhuman animals, and one that many a small human sibling might envy.

    The scientists also discovered that barn owls express their needs and desires to each other through a complex, rule-based series of calls, trills, barks and hoots, a language the researchers are now seeking to decipher.

    “They talk all night long and make a huge noise,” said Alexandre Roulin of the University of Lausanne, who recently reported on barn owl altruism in the journal Animal Behaviour with his colleague Charlene A. Ruppli, and Arnaud Da Silva of the University of Burgundy.

    (NY Times). Their hearing is incredible too:

    Would that owls might lend us their ears. Species like the barn, barred, screech and horned have some of the keenest auditory systems known, able to hear potential prey stirring deep under leaves, snow or grass, identify the rodent species and even assess its relative plumpness or state of pregnancy, based on sound alone.

    (ibid). Should teachers be allowed to teach this as a design or as the result of naturally selected dynamics?

  198. Dolphins are trying to do some oneupmanship on the Owls I guess.

    Some scientists are declaring that Dolphins have individual “names” which are used to tell them apart:

    Dolphins give themselves “names”—distinctive whistles that they use to identify each other, new research shows.

    Scientists say it’s the first time wild animals have been shown to call out their own names.

    (National Geographic).

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