The Evolution Conflict

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Mohsin, Mar 18, 2004.

  1. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Quickly, before I go, I thought I had mentioned several. The two species of horse mixing, the beefalo, the brangus, the quagga/zebra. Of these examples, the brangus possibly could be argued as directly related "breeds", but as far as I know, the others constitute distinct species, that are still capable of hybrid reproduction (excepting the quagga, acting as it were posthumously).
     
  2. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    a little humor to lighten the discussion..

    Namaste all..

    so.. i was watching Saturday Night Live, a weekly comedy show here in the States... they do a bit each week on topical news items..

    so.. in the state of Georgia, recently, there was a big debate about taking the word "evolution" out of the biology classes. finally, the debate was settled and they let the word "evolution" still be used in biology, however, as a concession dinosaurs will now be called "Jesus Horses."

    :)
     
  3. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Cute! :)
     
  4. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards, gluadys!

    Oh my! Where to begin. So much information to cover, while attempting to keep it in an understandable format, and retaining a friendly and open conversation.

    I will take this as a complement. I have been a self-directed student all of my adult life. The trouble is, so much of what I came across is lost in my memory as to where it came from or who to credit. And I can accept that in the process of relying on memory, sometimes I lose the details, but I would like to believe I still retain the gist.

    Perhaps it would be well to state that I have no hidden agenda. The axe I grind on this is my own. It is a study I have put the better part of 20 years into. I understand the frustration with adamant creationism, I do not hold that specific view, but there are components that do hold merit.

    I think the best way to format this for better comprehension is to break it down into segments, because some of the same issues keep repeating themselves. Once we can resolve these, perhaps we can move on. By resolve, I do not necessarily mean convince. We can agree to disagree, and still remain friends. We need to find a way to speak to each other so that we can communicate specific ideas, with the sender and receiver each seeing the same thing. Then we will have accomplished something. At this point, the old stereotype of a plain white bread stuffed-shirt in a lab coat doing their best to talk over the head of their audience is that that is prevailing in my mind. I want to believe that is not the case. Just as I am sure certain stereotypical images are superimposed in your mind about my presentation, and gauging by some of your responses, I can assure you they are not accurate.

    SEMANTICS:
    I suspect there is a great deal of miscommunication between us, based in semantics and preconceptions. I am not familiar with the lingo and jargon of the biologist, and certainly not with the subtleties, innuendoes and exceptions. And I suspect you are understanding me in terms used by people who have even less clue than myself on the subject, the kind who do indeed "rant and run." I am prone to poetic license in my writing style, perhaps that is not conducive to explicit understanding. I am also not unlearned, merely predominantly self-taught. While I may hold no degree in these specific disciplines, I have had an ongoing amateur fascination with theology, anthropology, history and the natural sciences for a long time now. A jack of all trades, so to speak, I have not mastered any of them, and likely never will. Consequently the specific jargon of any one of them is largely meaningless to me in the confusion created by the sum total. Please bear with my ignorance. :)
    ---------------
    Agreed, I never intended my words to be taken to imply such a ludicrous thing. That would be anti-natural, and against the cosmic order. It would be against the flow of the Tao. It would conflict with the universal IS.

    Yes!, this is specifically that to which I was implying!
    -------------------
    I thought something here didn't quite ring true with what I was taught, but since my focus was elsewhere it slipped through. My apologies.

    Having skimmed quickly through some of my material, I see that early crocs are indeed considered reptiles. Some seem to consider them to be the predecessor of land reptiles, others consider them to be a transitional creature preceding both land and aquatic reptiles, and one even claims they lean towards the avian branch.
    --------------
    Very well, point taken. While humanity may not be a goal to reach or worthy of emulation, it does speak volumes in my mind as to the deliberate distinction that separates humanity from the rest of the natural order. That we are able to consider this matter in the depth and detail we collectively do, is a distinction that is worthy of note. Conscious thought is a distinction that cannot be lightly dismissed.
    --------------
    I suspect we are saying the same thing with different words. I am trying my best to understand your preferred usage of words, it would be helpful if you met me halfway instead of relying on political correctness. If a degree is a recognition of learning, then a learned person should be able to understand and accommodate. In trying to reach you in your language, I am not speaking up to you, I am reaching out to you. Reciprocity is appreciated. Since I have no academic authority to answer to in these matters, academic authority holds no sway over my assessment of these matters. That is one of the benefits of being a free-lance thinker.
    -------------
    Agreed, but I want to be certain you understand that sword cuts both ways.
    -----------------

    SPECIATION:
    Ah, now to more of the good stuff!
    ----------------
    Ah yes! Punctuated equilibrium. I am not familiar with Eldredge, but I have read a few articles by Gould. I have "Rocks of Ages" here now, but with threads like this and school besides, I haven't found the time yet to read it.

    My take on punctuated equilibrium allows for "outside interference." I suppose the concept is similar, but from different vantages. That is, Gould attempts to explain the instance, I attempt to understand the underlying cause (the "Prime Mover"). Gould envisions the material aspects, I envision the spiritual aspects. In the context of this discussion, spiritual can be equated with subatomic. In other words, natural science traditionally dismisses the spiritual context, but that does not mean it doesn't exist. I accept spirit does exist, increasingly borne out by sub-atomic quantum theory, and it is towards this end that I am ultimately directing my interests. These matters are not easily transposed, and do require some conjecture. But then, doesn't most science?
    --------------
    Disregarding the political components, am I to understand then that the human branch separated into twigs, only to be reforming into a branch? Or maybe the more appropriate nomenclature would be humans have evolved only to devolve?
    --------------
    OK, so this is yet another to add to the list of dissimilarities between our "closest cousin" and us.
    What a difference those few genes make...

    Dogs, parrots and porpoises can understand human speech too. B.F. Skinner taught rats and chickens to understand symbolic substitutes for speech. I read some material about Dr. Savage-Rumbaugh at Georgia State and Kanzi, and I am also familiar a little more so with Dr. Patterson and Koko the gorilla. Parrots and porpoises have also been trained to communicate with humans. I do find one component in these studies to be unsettling, that the scientists find it necessary to make the creatures talk up to them, rather than the humans learning to speak to the animals. In other words, why haven't the researchers invested more time in learning the animal language? It makes me wonder where the real intelligence lies in these interactions. It is not inaccurate to imply that these animals are trained and kept, much like circus animals, dependent on the ability to perform. I do not feel they are being mistreated, but the analogy is there just the same.

    Perhaps this comes across somewhat jaded, for that I apologize. The creatures are wonderful, gorgeous animals, all of them. But communication is not necessarily speech, and most certainly not language. Besides a larynx, language also requires conscious rational thought. And all of these animal examples demonstrate a mental aptitude approximately equal to a three or four year old human, "here-and-now", with some concept of past (memory/remembrance), and little to no concept of future, certainly not beyond a few minutes. Which helps explain...

    The bonobo material I covered illustrated the use of a stick to poke a termite mound. That is barely tool usage, and hardly an indication of tool manufacture. The stick is not made pointed by deliberate means. It is not fire hardened (no fire...). It is not attached to a chipped stone. Again, these things require rational thought, and rational thought is a major component that separates humanity from the rest of the natural order. My original point was that with a 40,000-200,000 year (depending on the source of research) head start in tool manufacture for humans, one would think that our closest relative would have made some form of progress is this area by now.
    ---------------
    Very well, another thing I was taught in grade school that turns out to be incorrect. While I understood the little poster demonstrating the "radiation" of humans from the little one to the big one was rendered invalid by a number of things (such as Piltdown man and Peking man, as well the recent info concerning Neandertal), I had still been under the impression that Cro-magnon was a stage or step just prior to modern man. So, the dogma shifts again, and nobody informed me. OK...
    ---------------
     
  5. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    split post, sorry!


    "Oldest cave paintings ever found light up human history
    Philip Willan in Rome
    Thursday October 19, 2000
    The Guardian
    Italians were distinguishing themselves as artists long before the Renaissance and medieval times, it seems.
    Researchers have found images painted some 35,000 years ago - almost certainly the world's oldest cave paintings and possibly man's first artistic creations - in a hill near the north-eastern Italian city of Verona.
    The images, presented at a press conference in the city yesterday, were painted in red ochre on rock and represent an animal with an elongated neck (possibly a weasel), a mysterious five-legged animal and a man - thought to be a wizard - wearing a mask with horns. They were found last year on fragments of rock from the walls of the Fumane Cave in the Lessini Hills, north of Verona.
    "They are probably the oldest cave paintings, although we cannot affirm that with scientific certainty," said Professor Alberto Broglio, who teaches palaeontology at the university of Ferrara and coordinated the excavation.
    The paintings, which could at first have been mistaken for smudges of dirt, may not have the visual impact of the bull daubed on a cave wall at Lascaux in southern France or the deer of the Altamira Cave in Spain, but they are at least 10,000 years older.
    Dr Alessandra Astes, director of the Natural History Museum in Verona, said scientists were able to date the paintings, which measure between one and two feet long, through carbon dating and archaeological stratographic techniques, because the rocks had become detached from the cave wall and were buried under later generations of debris.
    The figure of the man in the horned mask and with his arms outstretched was extremely rare in early cave paintings, said Dr Astes.
    "The find is of enormous scientific significance, which goes far beyond its artistic or stylistic value," she said.
    "The find is of exceptional value. I have been working as an archaeologist for 30 years and I have no hesitation in saying that."
    Dr Astes believes the images are almost certainly the oldest in Europe and, therefore, in the world.
    "No art forms of similar antiquity have been found in Africa, which is, after all, the cradle of humanity," Dr Astes said.
    For researchers, who are still excavating the Fumane Cave, the discovery is a crucial link in the history of human life on Earth as well as a first glimpse of the creative instinct that inspired Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo in a later age.
    The cave contains traces of Neanderthal man and evidence of habitation by modern Homo sapiens, including sharpened flints, bones and decorations made from sea shells. There are also the remains of a prehistoric hut.
    The fragments were originally covered with stalagmites which, Prof Broglio said, helped preserve the images.
    "This find completes our picture of the first representatives of modern man and throws light on the debate as to whether he descended from Neanderthal man or was an immigrant from the Middle East," he said.
    The find supports recent DNA evidence that modern Homo sapiens were not related to Neanderthal man, the professor said.
    He added: "The traces we have found show a clean break between Neanderthal and modern man both in terms of culture and lifestyle. There is an abrupt change in the techniques of decoration and the use of flint and bone tools. Everything changes, in a radical, brutal fashion."
    Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,4078522-103681,00.html"

    This does not refute your comment, but it does help clarify some of it. I believe there is also a thread on this site that references a bone flute. While not cave art, music seems to me a very important expression of art. I have also seen examples of "dot art", for lack of a better term, forming geometric shapes and symbols, that I believe were attributed to Neandertal. I will have to re-find the references.
    --------------

    OTHER (confusion over semantics of speciation):
    Forgive the imprecision in my choice of linguistic expression. I had no reason to believe my words would be interpreted as implying the crossing from one family of animals into another, dragonflies becoming wombats or some such. I suppose it is inevitable that a person with a focus on science would demand explicitly precise language, and considering the confusion even among its own ranks regarding proper linguistic delineation and distinction, it must be of necessity.
    Some of us, however, are more poetic in our expression. This does leave room for semantic interpretation and cause for misunderstanding, but it also allows for the beauty of the word to shine. Beauty, I think, is something science all too often overlooks. Sometimes words are allegorical, after all. I simply need to recall that I must reinterpret my musings, and focus on my intended audience, and try to write to them at their level, in their language. Of course, this can be difficult if they cannot fully agree amongst themselves as to specifics of nomenclature, which leaves me confused as to how to get my points across in their language.
    --------------
    Agreed, I have not attempted to refute this basic premise. My only exception to this has been that some related species have been re-introduced only to cross and hybridize, which renders the "species" distinction in question in these instances.

    This is conjectural supposition. It is not unfounded, but it is not proven, by its nature.

    Very well, but then we have this to deal with...
    -------------------------
    So, what differentiates between the seagull species that interbreed, and the dog breeds that interbreed? It seems to me, by all of the effort put forth in this discussion to this point, that by the definitions established, the seagulls are not species but breeds (or varieties). Either that, or the dogs are not breeds, but species that are able to interbreed. This is the exact confusion I am running into across the board in my research. So I must assume that "species" and "breed/variety" are effectively interchangeable, depending on the particular researcher, even though most ascribe to the requisite definition of species as not being able to intermingle. Does this better establish my quandary?
    ----------------
    MISC:
    Ah, now, we could go here very easily, but it would derail this thread. You will find a bit about my take on this issue in the thread "Religion as a Meme." In short, evolution is a dogma, science is a religion.

    There is still much to cover that I haven't had the time for as yet. Already I have invested several hours into this post, I must go for now. Thanks for your input! I always enjoy an intelligent discussion. :)
     
  6. gluadys

    gluadys New Member

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    Wonderful! LOL!
     
  7. gluadys

    gluadys New Member

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    Still puzzled. What notions are seriously challenged by these examples?
     
  8. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards, gluadys!
    Thank you for asking. First, the notion of species not interbreeding. At least, that is the purpose of these specific examples. Other notions can wait until the topic arises in the conversation.
     
  9. gluadys

    gluadys New Member

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    So you are saying that in a science class you are taught that one species does not interbreed with another, and this is how we define a species and differentiate one from another, right?

    And then you come across all these hybrids in which different species have mated and produced offspring, so it seems the classroom teaching was wrong. Is that it?

    The first thing I would ask is: what is the level of the class being taught? Is this primary school, secondary school, undergrad or post-grad classes? I think that you agree, that the closer we are to the beginning level, the more we concentrate on the most general truth. Then introduce exceptions and anomalies after the basics have been learned. So in English class one will first learn the general spelling rule "i" before "e" or the general grammar rule "s" is added to make the plural. And only when these are well-learned does one learn "except after c" or "except when one adds 'es' or changes a final 'y' to 'i' and adds 'es' or when one uses one of some dozen other ways to make a plural in English.

    Is it wrong to teach primary or secondary students that as a general rule we define a species as those who take their mates from the species pool and do not interbreed with members from another species pool? After all species do not interbreed with the vast majority of other species. Cats do not mate with fish, grasses do not mate with pine trees, mushrooms do not mate with earwigs, and so on. There are many many many more situations in which two species will not interbreed that those in which they will.

    Hybrids are like those exceptions to the spelling or grammar rules. The general rule does not apply in all cases. And, to be sure, those who go on to study biology at a higher level will need to study various exceptions to the general rule---so that one can start making rules about the exceptions (like "except after 'c' ")!

    The theory of evolution, of course, explains why these exceptions exist, when we can expect them and when they will not occur or will be highly improbable.

    One rule we can make about hybrids is that they need to have a fairly close evolutionary relationship. In most cases they need to be of the same genus. Rarely they can be of the same family, though not of the same genus. Beyond that the relationship seems to be too distant for successful reproduction to occur.
     
  10. mahogan

    mahogan tgyhuj

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    Darwin and God

    In his 'Descent of Man', which outlines the theory of evolution and in particular human evolution, Darwin deliberately avoids the concept of God and theology. His comments on human intellect do not rise above the racist beliefs of his day. I find his concept of 'advancement' to be problematic.

    He has the idea that although evolution is a progression, it is always an improvement and so all previous species are subordinate to the higher. The idea of domination which exists within Darwinism is a product of the same empirtical capitalist system which gave rise to the supremacist interpretations of social Darwinism and so there are grounds to question not the theory of evolution but its purpose. There are not, for example, any instances of spontaneous evolution such that a species evolved outside of an environmental context.

    Linking Darwinism to the Koran, Torah or Bible is self defeating surely, not only because religion and intelect were not covered but also because, to paraphrase Kierkegaard, if one believes, then one believes, proof is unnecessary.

    Belief is the thing in itself. Whatever the argument, at root is an a priori concept and all attempts to ban religion or science come down to an attack upon belief. I prefer those other societies, where religion and belief was tolerated because there was a goal to acheive, which was survival both of the local community and of the environment.

    Regards

    Martin Hogan
     
  11. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards, gluadys!

    Thank you. Thank you very much for being a good sport.

    Yes, but that "elemental" education has continued on into this thread, over the course of over one hundred posts, among intelligent people (many of whom I presume to hold advanced degrees). Why the continued pretense among educated people? Unless it is unchallengable dogma...in which case I must be an heretic at this point.

    Effectively yes, but I have known of the examples I presented for a very long time, I didn't find them merely for the sake of this discussion. I did take the ones that were brought to light in this discussion that I was not familiar with and look into them, as any good student should research what their teacher is telling them. Why must I blindly accept on faith what a teacher tells me, except and unless that teacher has first earned my trust. My trust is earned by being logical, truthful and consistent, which I suppose is called "factual."

    Is it not safe to presume the audience here is at least undergrad level? Why continue elemental teaching?

    Of course, one begins teaching at an elemental level to students at that level. To continue to do so long after they should be taught otherwise is wrong.

    Agreed. However, in presuming this of me, when I at no time suggested anything like this, is implying that I am naive and uneducated on the subject. How my words could possibly have been taken to mean crossing family lines is a gross insult of my intelligence, considering who made the implication. If you can take political offense at an inadvertant choice of words, then I should be allowed this luxury of personal offense. It is just not polite.

    If I do not understand, I will not hesitate to ask. But do not couch the discussion in lingo and jargon deliberately intended to mask, and do not treat this audience as unintelligent morons who must blindly and mindlessly parrot a political position.

    Darwin had an intelligent flash of insight. Great for him! But to take that and over the years develop a dogma, that includes forceful supression of dessenting opinion, is not right on so many levels. And one of the worst levels is politics.

    Agreed, when not taking into account deliberate manipulation in the laboratory. That is, among populations reproducing naturally.

    Thank you again. As always, it is a pleasure! :)
     
  12. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards, mahogan! I don't believe we've met, welcome to CR!

    Since I haven't read Darwin, I will spare that for another person better versed than myself.

    I had a discussion only yesterday to this very effect, specifically the influence of Darwinian thinking on the rise and acceptance of Hitler's regime in Germany.

    I hadn't heard these words before, but they go so well with the words I have used a lot lately, "we become what we will ourselves to become."

    AH! Here you hit the nail on the head. I could not have said it any better, thank you!
     
  13. gluadys

    gluadys New Member

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    You are quite right. Darwin was a man of his place and time and shared the prejudice of his peers on the question of race (though by the standards of the day he was decidely liberal).

    Darwin does not "deliberately" avoid the concept of God and theology. He simply does not discuss an unscientific topic in a scientific document. We do not expect to find theological references in works on optics or chemistry. There is no more reason to expect them when the topic is evolution.

    As for his concept of advancement, it is problematic and is one of the places where the modern theory of evolution has broken with Darwin's thinking.

    Yes, and one of the most difficult things to get across to people who first learned about evolution prior to the 1950s---or get their first exposure from creationist sites which deliberately play up the 19th century version---is that the theory of evolution is no longer seen to support these notions of progression. The 19th century version embraced the concept of "orthogenesis" i.e. evolution as a linear process of progress toward perfection. That concept has been dead in scientific circles since the 1930s. But it takes a long time for the message to filter through to the general public, especially when there are vested interests who prefer to maintain an erroneous vision of evolution.

    Both Darwin and today's biologists would agree that every new species evolves in an environmental context. That is central to the TOE.

    Right!

    I agree.

    Good to meet you.
     
  14. gluadys

    gluadys New Member

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    Ah, this is good to know. I am also self-taught in this sphere though I have the advantage of double the number of years. It would be more accurate to say there are components of a creationist (or intelligent design) outlook that appear to hold merit, until they are investigated more closely. I have not found one yet which is truly well-founded.

    Agreed.

    Yes, when I see phrases that have been invented for the purpose of sowing confusion and distrust appearing in a post, I tend to react automatically. It is not fair to you to assume that you are using such language to be deliberately provocative if you do not know its history.


    Such as for example "one species turning into another".

    I am glad you agree it is ludicrous. It is not unusual to find evolution being presented in just those terms by an anti-evolutionist.

    Of course. And the relationship of the capacity of conscious thought to evolution is still an open question.

    When a concept is essential to understanding a theory correctly, it is not a matter of political correctness to clarify it. We also have to deal with the history (as mentioned in my response to Mahogan) that for a while, the TOE was interpreted by scientists in terms of progress and ascension.

    What has happened is that the discovery and then the integration of genetics with natural selection, followed by the discovery of the mechanisms of DNA transmission, have provided a mass of evidence that evolution does not work that way. It says something about the poor communications of science with the general public that a viewpoint now over 70 years out of date still dominates the lay person's view of evolution.

    I have also discovered by experience that it is often very difficult for a person who has absorbed the earlier--but erroneous--view of evolution, to shift gears and start working with the more accurate view. So, I expect you will still use the language of progress or ascension from time to time, even if you are trying to avoid it. Bear with me if I remind you every time that it is inaccurate. As you may be aware, it is harder to unlearn a bad habit than it is to learn a good one in the first place.

    Not to put Gould down, for I enjoy reading his essays, but I find Eldredge to be the better communicator. Well worth your investment to read him.

    I would quibble with the word "dismisses". This suggests that science has an atheistic bent which is hostile to the spiritual context. It is more accurate to consider science as agnostic about the spiritual context because the nature of scientific inquiry precludes an investigation into spiritual matters. Most scientists, even atheists, would agree that the fact that science cannot explore what is spiritual by no means implies that the spiritual does not exist. However, precisely because science cannot investigate the spiritual, we should not take its silence on spiritual matters as hostility.

    We may have some similar ideas here---ideas which are also alluded to by a number of scientists (though not in their scientific papers). It would be good to discuss in a separate thread.

    The first formulation would be the more appropriate. Evolution is keyed to time's arrow and cannot retreat, so "devolution" is a vacuous concept.


    Actually there has been some research done in this regard. I expect that Jane Goodall and others who have spent much time with animals in the wild have learned many of their signals.

    Agreed. But then let's also remember that a 3-4 year old human has a fairly rich emotional life. S/he understands emotional bonding, experiences fear, anger, delight, contentment, etc. We are learning that many animals are also capable of such "human" feelings.

    But our closest relative does not have a head start. The event which differentiated the human line from its ancestor was also the event which separated out the chimp line. Like the two branches on the letter 'Y' both begin at the same node. And since large brain development and language developed only in the human branch, it is our species which has had the advantage in this respect.

    Another misconception here again is that evolution will take many species in the same direction, toward a perceived goal. Evolution is always geared to the present, never the future. It is decidely not teleological or goal-directed. There is absolutely no reason why any species should follow the footsteps, as it were, of human evolution, no matter how much time it continues to evolve.


    No, there has been no "dogma shift" in this case. It has always been known in scientific circles that Cro-Magnon is part of our own species---and that was in my Biology 101 text 40 years ago. So either your text did not present this properly or you mis-interpreted what it said. (not an unexpected event in the case of a grade-school student.)
     
  15. gluadys

    gluadys New Member

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    Thanks for the article on cave art. Recently I have been reading the fiction of Jean Auel which is set in that era. The "plot" if one can call it such, is standard pulp fiction romance. But she has very thoroughly researched the time period and the civilization which produced the paintings at Lascaux. It's quite fascinating to learn details of the everyday life of the time.


    And I re-acted strongly because this is precisely the impression which professional creationists such as Kent Hovind, Duane Gish, et al intentionally foster among their followers. According to them, unless you get such ridiculous results, there is no such thing as "evolution". So, they attempt to have their cake and eat it too. On the one hand, they can say that ordinary evolution is not "evolution" --- only variation and adaptation, and on the other hand say that "evolution" is a terrible, evil, atheist conspiracy that really never happens. The only reason that "evolution" never really happens is because they define it in this strawman way and never deal with the real stuff.

    Classification is of necessity a messy business. Nature does not conform to the categories we try to impose on it, so anytime we set up a classification system, there are always situations in which something falls on the boundaries rather than on one side or the other. When it comes to living forms and their fossils, it is well to remember that the only classification category which has any reality in nature is the species. All other classifications whether internal (sub-species, varietas, forma) or external (genus, family, order, class, phylum) are entirely figments of human categorization: groups within species, and groups of species.

    And to rub salt in the wound, although nature indisputably provides us with many samples of species, even this category is fuzzy at its edges. This, of course, is an expected situation because of evolution. Only specially created forms could exist in water-tight classificatory compartments. Evolution implies the existence past or present of intermediate forms and many of both are to be found.


    Yet, there is a wonderful beauty in science too and it is not rare to find scientists moved by the beauty of what they study. Being myself something of a numerical dyslexic (I can't for the life of me remember as many as three digits in order) I was rather puzzled when I first heard about the beauty of mathematics. But this is apparently a real motivation for a certain type of scientist. I forget who it was who, when asked what he believed by one of his students, turned and wrote on the blackboard: "Truth is expressed in beautiful equations."

    That the basics of nature are expressed in beautiful equations is a curiosity. Some insights of science can only be expressed mathematically. All verbal descriptions are allegories. ("big bang" is an example.) This has led some to suggest that God is a mathematician.

    I don't expect to ever come personally to the level of mathematical expertise where I can judge the elegance and beauty of mathematics, I have to take those who have that capacity at their word.

    For myself, I, like you, am much more comfortable with the elusive and slippery beauty of words. The very imprecision of words allows for a flexibility, an appeal to lateral thinking, that is the essence of poetic creativity. (Did you know that "poetry" comes from a Greek word meaning "to do, to make"? The root meaning of "poetry" is intimately connected with "creativity".)


    The important thing to note about the sea-gulls and other ring species is that eventually the differentiation is evident as speciation. Population A interbreeds with population B which also interbreeds with population C which also interbreeds with population D which also interbreeds with population E. But where the territories of population A and population E overlap (as those of the herring gull and lesser black-back gull do in the area of the North Sea) population A does NOT interbreed with population E. These two are separate species even though the intermediates are not.

    As for dogs, since they are so connected to humans, they do not have the distinct territorial ranges which enables us to identify ring species in nature. Nevertheless, I have heard that some taxonomists do consider them to be a ring species, and there was a paper published recently to the effect that modern dogs are four different species. And all are closely enough related to the wolf to verify that they are part of the same ancestral group.

    Note that even if one takes a non-evolutionary perspective, the problems of classification don't disappear. Darwin noted the frequent disagreements among English botanists as to whether certain plants were true species or merely sub-species varieties.

    Darwin viewed sub-species varieties as "incipient species" and suggested that species are best understood as "well-marked and permanent varieties". By the same token, what we now call a genus was once an undifferentiated species and the species within it were once the various sub-species varieties which have, over time, developed the more inflexible boundaries of species.

    There is certainly a philosophy of science which needs to be distinguished from science itself. And I don't doubt that some people adopt a quasi-religous belief which could be called "scientism".

    However, to the extent that science makes real discoveries about a real world, it is not a religion. Rather, in so far as religion is a quest for truth, scientific truth is part of every religion. Biological evolution is not a dogma, philosophy or religion. It is a well-supported scientific theory.

    Of course, nothing bars a person from developing a creed or philosophy that elevates ideas based on evolution to a dogma---but such a religious use of science is not to be confused with the actual scientific conclusions or the evidence on which they are based. In fact, most philosophies (such as Social Darwinism) which claim to be derived from the TOE have distorted the actual science to make it fit their philosophical presumptions. Social Darwinism, for example, owes much more to the prejudices of Herbert Spencer than to the science of Charles Darwin.
     
  16. gluadys

    gluadys New Member

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    You too.

    Let's not move the goal posts here. You originally said:

    Emphasis added.

    This is what I was responding to. A discussion about what is appropriate on this board is a different question.

    Of course, as a student progresses from elementary to more senior levels, a more detailed and nuanced picture of evolution ought to be presented, just as a music student is presented with a progressivley more detailed and complex understanding of musical theory. If that is not being done, the neglect deserves condemnation.

    But it is equally absurd to promote, as Jonathan Wells and Philip Johnston seem to suggest, that arcane disputes about the minutiae of evolution be discussed by 12-15 year olds who don't have enough basic education to even understand the questions yet.

    Junior high school students, who are just being introduced to the concept of natural selection, should not be expected to evaluate the methodological adequacy of Kettlewell's observations of industrial melanism in pepper moths. On the other hand, such discussion is appropriate and should be mandatory among professionals and in post-grad classrooms where budding professionals receive their training.

    And, informally, it is also an appropriate topic on a board like this, provided participants have first demonstrated they have a sufficiently adequate grasp of natural selection to engage profitably in the discourse.


    When it comes to science you ought not to believe blindly even the teacher who has earned your trust. Science is build on a foundation of repeatable observation and testing. Anyone with the requisite educational foundation ought to be able to come to the same conclusions through personal experience as the original proposer of the theory did.

    If I have one bone to pick with science education generally, it is that it focuses overmuch on what scientists have concluded, and not enough on the way they moved from observation to conclusion. So students of science are expected to learn a lot of factoids as if they dropped from heaven instead of being discovered through difficult field work and disciplined thinking. So long as this is the norm in science classrooms, science will have the aura of dogma.

    As I said, there are many people whose idea of evolution is at that level, and there are people with a vested interest in promoting such a false concept. And even people who are well-educated generally can fall prey to this particular bait if their grounding in biology is weak. I have seen such concepts in the writings of people with PhDs in physics, for example. (The average person holding a PhD in physics has probably not looked at biology since high school and is no more knowledgeable in the field than a teenager.)

    So my remarks were not intended as an insult to your intelligence, for even very intelligent and highly-educated people can be naive outside of their area of expertise.

    Now that you have enlightened me as to the parameters of your knowledge, we need not revist that topic again.



    As I have said, on this topic, you are outside the parameters of my normal experience. So please forgive me if I step on your toes now and again, because I am inadvertently reacting as I would to the more usual types I encounter in these discussions.

    Most people who couch their critique of evolution in terms of "dogma" either have a very political agenda or are naive followers of those who do. When you use the same political jargon they use, it is natural for me to assume that you either espouse the same political agenda or have naively and inadvertently acquired the lingo without understanding its political implications.

    The theory of evolution is not a dogma based on Darwin's flash of insight. It has been repeatedly tested and, where necessary, revised to bring it in line with new information. It is decidedly not the same theory as it was 150 years ago, though it is still recognizably drawn from it. Darwin's proposal was a bare-bones outline that suggested additional lines of research. And the researches conducted along those lines have led to refinements of the theory and suggested more avenues of research. Furthermore, discoveries outside the field of evolution have had major impacts on the theory as well. Genetics and molecular biology in particular have provided a much more comprehensive understanding of the finer mechanisms of evolution.

    We know that in some respects Darwin was totally off-base. He espoused phyletic gradualism as the principal mode of evolution. We now know that allopatric speciation is the most common mode and phyletic gradualism is rare. He thought evolution would proceed at a fairly slow and steady rate through time. We now know that rates of evolution vary from species to species and from time to time, so that it moves in fits and starts with episodes of rapid evolution followed by longer periods of stasis. Darwin was still wedded to a hierarchical notion of evolutionary progress. We now know that evolution is not teleological and does not generate species in a hierarchy of rank order, but in a radiation of equal but diverse opportunity.

    These are all things that have been learned through actual in the field, in the laboratory, research by scientists who knew that science is not served by an unquestioning acceptance of status quo, dogmatical thinking.

    Couching criticism of science, and of evolution in particular, in terms of attacking dogma is itself a political strategy that obscures the reality of scientific activity. It is a tactic used to avoid engaging with actual data.

    As one wag on another board puts it: a creationist is a future supporter of evolution who has not yet studied biology.

    Unfortunately, many of them never do study biology.

    No, this rule even applies to deliberate manipulation. Even when hybrids are produced through in vitro fertilization rather than through an actual mating of male and female adults, viable hybrids require a reasonable closeness of evolutionary relationship between the species being hybridized. If the relationship is too distant, the matching of chromosomes required in mitosis becomes too problematical to overcome.

    Of course we now have biogenetics to contend with. And some instances of gene transfer from one life form to a radically different life form. Such transfer does not interfere with mitosis though. It is more like an artificial mutation of the DNA.

    What this does show is that all life forms have a commonality which is consistent with common descent. Will we eventually be able to use biogenetics to breed chimeras like unicorns and griffins? Time will tell.


    The feeling is mutual.
     
  17. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Juantoo3 wrote: I accept spirit does exist, increasingly borne out by sub-atomic quantum theory, and it is towards this end that I am ultimately directing my interests. These matters are not easily transposed, and do require some conjecture. But then, doesn't most science?

    Gluadys wrote: We may have some similar ideas here---ideas which are also alluded to by a number of scientists (though not in their scientific papers). It would be good to discuss in a separate thread.


    lunamoth: Although I would have little to contribute, I think this would be a very interesting new thread.
     
  18. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards, gluadys! Thank you for the wonderful response!
    Thank you.

    It is extremely rare in my experience to find this acknowledgement.

    I am prepared to accept this component. My take is that the TOE is a "working hypothesis", from which matters can be explained and even demonstrated in general, but as so often happens the specifics render certain anomalies that question the "fact." Perhaps it is human nature to respond to questions that cannot be answered by ridiculing the questioner. Not that the question cannot be truthfully answered, but that the person questioned is either unknowledgeable and too lazy to do the homework, or somehow feels his authority (and ego) threatened.

    Thank you.

    I have seen this, in fairness. I have also seen that I described, perhaps related directly to my second previous comment.

    If you would like to start it off, I will be happy to contribute, especially since my take at the moment is little more than a collection of random thoughts on the subject.

    Through regular observation of animals, one can learn their language, at least to a point. I learned how to convince my grandparents geese that I was the boss, by watching how they intended to convince me. But the animals I alluded to are to a great degree asked to perform, in other words "trained," which can skew the demonstrations. In going over the conversations with Koko, I find a great deal of loose interpretation by Dr. Patterson. Koko is a wonderful creature, but I question a great deal of Dr. Patterson's interpretations of the interactions with her.

    OH, absolutely! I have seen interactions between mammal mothers with their babies that could only be described (in my mind anyway) as mother/child love. So I have absolutely no problem seeing emotional development in animals. But emotions and conscious thought are quite different things, as so many of the psychological sciences are quick to remind us.

    Perhaps I mispoke? It is not the bonobo that has the head start, my comment was that after such a great deal of time they should be a little further along.

    I am not infallible, there is always the possibility of being mistaken. If so, I have been mistaken in that specific matter for a very long time.
     
  19. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    You're welcome. It was one of a collection I brought together for a paper in my sociology class. I find the interplay in pre-historic times between conscious thought, religion and written language interesting. Did Jane Auel write "Clan of the Cave Bear?"

    I have heard the name Duane Gish, I am not familiar with any of his work. Mine is collected through the years from a patchwork quilt of sources, beginning with an original thought around 1973-4.

    I think I see the source of the problem here. I do think evolution, at least as it is commonly taught, is "just" variation and adaptation. As for the "evil conspiracy", I have nothing to do with that. I will leave that for the conspiracy theorists and UFO chasers.

    OK, I can accept the limitations of human categorization. I suppose some of my problem has been with the authoritarian insistence that the categorizations have been strict and unchallengeable. What I am taking away from this conversation is a much greater reality of scientific endeavor, in that most research I have read couches itself in qualifiers and conditions (we believe this is how it works), whereas the evolutionist position seems much more authoritative in my opinion in their presentations. It is not "we believe," it is "this is how it happened."

    Absolutely, perhaps it is my experience alone in that they seem the minority.

    I have always loved that allusion.

    No, I didn't. That is really cool.

    At this point, I think I have beaten this horse too much. Thank you for finally presenting the information in a format that talks to me, rather than at me.

    This is a reasonable assessment of that I view as the religion of science. Truth, of course, is subjective. The collection of truth science pursues is different from the collection of truth religion proper pursues, but they both seek "truth." I suppose one place science and religion disagree is "spirit." In viewing spirit as real, it forms a component of truth, included in one discipline and overlooked in the other. And then there are the truly unanswerable questions, perhaps rightly confined to religion.

    Perhaps it is unavoidable, but I see a great deal of the attitude of science expressed in decidedly religious terms. This is most evident when the two are pitted against each other.

    To this I must concede.

    Which supports my view.
     
  20. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    I suspect this is where I get my viewpoint.

    Thank you.

    I think you will find I am a forgiving person. All I ask is the same in return.

    I can see now how you might think this of me. "Dogma", in my estimation, does not equate with false. It is merely accepted without question. And usually denounces any challenge quite rabidly.

    May I ask what it is you mean by the term "teleological?"

    I suppose I should clarify. I am not criticizing, nor ever have, science as a discipline. Evolution, on the other hand, has presented many assertions in a very authoritative manner, that in my view are not always properly borne out.
    Perhaps it is a residual fallout from the Scope's trial, but the conflict between religion and science is a very emotional one on both sides, at least in the states.

    The dogma of religion is developed through experience and observation as well as canon. In this, it is not unlike scientific exploration. But it is very personal and subjective, which means often that it is not repeatable, most certainly not under controlled laboratory conditions. It is still a discipline, and a venue for research, although it is generally not viewed as such.

    I see two mirror images pointing fingers at each other.

    Very well, I see my confusion.

    The "Who" and "how." Maybe better, spirit and substance.

    Would it be ethical to do so?

    Are you up to discussing anomalous fossils and carbon dating?
     

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