Evolution question.

Discussion in 'Science and the Universe' started by Penguin, Aug 12, 2008.

  1. Penguin

    Penguin Member

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    If us humans were supposed to have evolved from primates, apes etc how come they still exist today?
    If something "evolves" all previous is superceded and the new replaces?

    Also why is no skeletal evidence seldom found to show a creature's evolution? You have one type of creature, and then another type of skeletal evidence found. A scientist would say "now this creature has evolved from that" but not much skeletal evidence is found to show the gradual evolution stages, as in a skeleton with legs from when they were 1 foot tall to being 5 foot tall.
     
  2. 17th Angel

    17th Angel לבעוט את התחת ולקחת שמות

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    I think you will find the main defense of this -theory- (Thought I'd put it in simple terms before the big hitters touch on this.) There are many speice of monkey... Pro evolutionists will tell you something along the lines that we evolved from an advanced primate, like you got ya baboons, gorillas, spider monkeys, apes, chimps and so on.. Many types.. The claim from some will be we came from one individual specie of monkey that is now extinct because it evolved into us.

    You then again have evidence found in places like Hena, Japan... 100,000 year old human skull. or the 60,000 year old Mungo man from down in oz. Or hey even better add those years together.... 160,000 years.... (oldest yet found of our homosapien kind....) In Africa... Oh and I think also in Morocco? They found a childs jaw? That was dated for around 160,000 years... Which But then you compare that to such evidence as the "oldest primate fossil" which is estimated to be 55 million years old lol.... I guess there is a time gap there for evolution, perhaps they would say many of these species of primate are like species of dog? ALL dog come from wolf... Yet they are all so very different... Perhaps this is how they make the claim?
     
  3. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    Evolution does not mean that one species will go extinct to make way for another. For example some members on the margins of their range will be forced to make adaptations. Over time, lots of time, these adaptations mount up to make it unsuitable for the environment in which it had its origins and it would be classed a distinct species. Its cousins can continue to exploit its original range unchanged.



    There is very good evidence to support the evolutionary history of man. Unfortunately the lie-mongers in the 'creationist' camp use a strategy of of half truths, out of context interpretations and laughably bad science to convince those too lazy to look for themselves. All the creationist arguments are wholly and deliberately fraudulent and to me it says something about the integrity of its proponents that is far more important that the pseudo-debate they pretend to engage in.

    I can only guess from the way you phrased your post that you are quite young. My advice to you is to remember that religion has a long and illustrious track record of producing liars. Science does not have all the answers, but at least it searches for them with integrity.


    tao
     
  4. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    Ditto to Tao's answer. Also, the species from which modern humans evolved do not exist today. Primates are a huge group ranging from lemurs to baboons to chimps to us. It's like saying "If horses exist, why aren't Zebras extinct?" Well, because multiple species can co-exist on earth. Diversity of environment lends itself to diversity of species.

    Second, we did not evolve directly from any species of living ape. Our evolution quite clearly began about 4 million years ago with australopithecines, which were a number of species of upright walking, but still quite chimp-like, apes. I can recommend some good, basic reading on human evolution if you like.

    No.

    There is plenty of skeletal evidence in the case of humans. It is really easy to see the gradual shift to modern human anatomy when presented with skeletons starting with Australopithecines, then onto Homo habilis, and then Homo erectus, and then the early and late Archaics, and then modern Homo sapiens. We may not have discovered all the species of humans yet, but there are no "missing links" in the sense of large gaps. We already have enough to have a clear timeline and evolution toward upright walking, larger body size, larger brain, and more complex culture and social structure.

    Mutations can have very large effects. Evolution is based on the mostly random occurrence of genetic mutation, and the environment's selective process on those mutations. A mutation can have rather profound effects on a creature at times. If it is favorable in the environment and is a mutation found in the sex cells (gametes), then it may provide that creature with more offspring over its lifetime (and most importantly, more grand-offspring) and over time this may become a new species, either exploiting new niches within an environment, or out-competing other species in the environment, or allowing it to radiate to new environments.

    A basic course or textbook in evolutionary biology or biological anthropology will explain all this. I can recommend a few good ones, if you like.
     
  5. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    At the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington DC it has a geneology, family tree of sorts which indicates we've all (most of us mammals) evolved from a tree shrew...

    and yes we didn't evolve from them but our current line of apes, baboons, monkeys, gorillas etc, are distant cousins many times removed...



    CNN.com - Fossilized shrew could be ancient human kin - April 24, 2002
     
  6. Penguin

    Penguin Member

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    LOL I'm 35! I just wanted to ask in a direct way to bring out more opinions.
     
  7. Penguin

    Penguin Member

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    Thanks for all your posts. I'll have a read to digest it all when I have more time.
     
  8. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    No problem. I will add that you got responses from a variety of folks on this thread, in terms of our religious (or non-religious) background.

    I would debate Tao's idea that science searchs for answers with integrity while religion produces liars, but that debate can already be found elsewhere. LOL :rolleyes:;)

    Suffice it to say that it is always appropriate to question everything, including science. Scientists are not a uniform bunch of just being in science to search for answers with integrity. There are money, politics, and personal agendas in science, too.

    But it still came up with the best information so far about how life changes over time.
     
  9. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Oh, my good friend Tao!

    Not the least biased or jaded, are we?

    It would be difficult for me to refute your assessment of religion producing liars...however, held to the same standards, so has science produced liars if they too are to be held "absolutely inviolable." Particularly regarding the "story" of evolution. If the story continues to change, then it cannot be said to be "truth." If ever there were a scientific field that thrives on moving goalposts, it is the field of evolutionary theory.

    All I need do is ask for a plain and distinct irrefutable definition of "species." And then allow me to offer numerous contradictions. I'll save us more time by asking up front...does a bigger nose, feet, or hair color qualify to distinguish a new species? Does "inablility" to breed (not preference) with the parent stock denote a species? Does the gene count on the genome distinguish what constitutes a species?

    Indeed, on all counts.

    Oh, but there are those zealots who pretend they search with integrity...often so they can mock those they disagree with or don't understand. They are the ones I generally find that don't take a good hard look at the reality, but rather accept the institutional dogma hook, line and sinker, blindly, faithfully and without question. :D

    I agree evolutionary theory is a good working model. Certainly much can be done using it as a basis to build from. But "truth" it is not, as there are far too many unaccounted for discrepencies.

    ;)
     
  10. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    My goal, as a pragmatic scientist, is useful, accurately predictive models.

    I mean, truth and all that stuff is nice. But what I really want are useful models. Science, for me, is about understanding for improving physical reality. Not that I don't find the rest interesting. But I would not say that my primary goal in my scientific research is finding The Truth. I'm after more practical concerns.
     
  11. Bruno's logic

    Bruno's logic Agnostic/Panthiest

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    Evolution is a human word describing what this universe actually is; motion, change, time in and of space.

    I have no doubt that there is more going on than we are aware of but the basic truth is that evolution means change and that is a never ending subject….

    I Hold to the thought that it’s possible for life to evolve to the point where it becomes self aware and to eventually become aware of the natural physics that govern existance. That eventually self aware entities become so aware of the mechanics of nature that they can create life forms and some even distribute their creations throughout space….
    It is along these lines that I think that at least some of the life on our planet may have come from.
    Seeded by the masters of the universe….

    One thing is for certain, in all of infinite space, nothing remains the same thing for too long…

    Change, embrace it.

    Evolution, accept the inevitable…

    In an infinite space where all things are connected, we are one…. It seems we have forgotten this, but that's the beauty of being human...

    ~Bruno
     
  12. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Now if we can only get Tao to realize this same paradox. ;)
     
  13. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    lol :D

    Before I got to the responses I had re-read my own post and saw how fatuous a statement I made. Not like me at all is it :rolleyes:

    There is indeed a lot of bad science out there and many fraudulent scientists. I think Poo, you have the right approach and I hope to a large degree it is my own. I am less interested in theory than what makes practical sense. But this is precisely why I am a proponent of evolutionary theory, despite its incompleteness, and abhor the creationist fraudsters. Abhor is a strong word and I do not choose it lightly. My problem with the big shouters amongst creationists is that I do not believe for one moment that they believe what they are saying. They are very deliberately and purposefully trying to deceive people, invariably so they profit personally from it. I believe they should be tried in court as fraudsters and not be allowed to hide behind religious freedom. And they should certainly be banned from teaching kids that creationism is science.

    We do have an incomplete picture of the complexities of how evolution works and much disagreement on definitions. That said what evidence does exist is as solid as evidence gets. We may not have a full picture of the intricacies but we do have a very solid observable and testable models of the general principles. Any animal breeder can confirm that.

    Bruno you go into what is the driving force of evolution, change. And I agree with all you say except the rather anthropocentric notion of He Man and the Masters of the Universe. The dominant and most important class of life on our planet is bacteria, not us. It is not just organic life that is subject to evolutionary processes. We have this bias toward thinking that life is organic, carbon based and observable. It may well be that this is only a small part of what life really is. We could just be looking at the fungi fruits on the forest floor and not the invisible rhizome that lays beneath the soil but is 99% of the whole. But what science, at least "good science", does is encourage us to keep looking. I cannot comprehend science ever having all the answers, there are simply too many questions for that to be possible, but at least it approaches these questions with a desire to find out the working truth and to prove it to be testable and repeatable and open to peer review. We cannot do more than that.


    tao
     
  14. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    LOL- that's OK.

    Exactly. Evolutionary theory is useful. It isn't about Truth, but rather what works. It works. Evolutionary medicine is useful. Genetic research is useful. Animal and plant breeding is useful.

    I believe God is Creator, but in the sense that God is change. God is evolution. But my beliefs about a Creator God do not make for useful medical or agricultural advancements. There's a balance there. My spirituality has a purpose, but it's a different one than my science. You could say my spirituality informs the ethics and purpose of my science. But my spirituality speaks to a world other than this physical plane, and science to the "how it works" of this physical plane. My spirituality may give me a purpose to reduce suffering, to heal, to feed people... but it does not necessarily give the means (or all the means humans are capable of having). We were given an intellect for a reason- we should use it!

    I agree. But I also think evolution should be taught in a way that is less threatening to people's beliefs, in part because people only are open to learning when they feel safe and not defensive. When I teach evolutionary theory in classes, I do not say creationism of any sort is science. I explain the difference. But I do tell people that evolutionary theory need to become their belief. They can feel free to learn about it without my telling them they are stupid or blind or something if they disagree. And because of this, they are open to actually learning about that which they have learned to disagree and to find out if they actually do disagree. And they can see the value of their religion and science, without thinking they must confuse the two and justify either one in light of the other's ways of knowing.

    Yep. And it's nearly impossible not to see human evolution as a reality when you hold the skeletons yourself. As soon as you understand the biomechanics of upright walking and can recognize the key structures that make a modern human different from an ape, you can see the gradual changes from the Australopithecines to us that clearly led to modern humanity.
     
  15. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    I see it the other way round. People who use the cover of religion to propagate blatant untruths like creationism in our schools should be subject to criminal prosecution. Evolution theory is not a vague possibility but as much a certainty as the sun will rise again tomorrow. We may not understand some of the fine details fully yet but the general principles are irrefutable and religious zealots/profiteers should not be allowed to say otherwise to our children. It is the creationists, not science, that has driven the need to even debate this amongst ourselves. It is them that should be forced to change their ways. If any aspect of religious teaching is in conflict with available empirical evidence to the contrary then it is religion that has to address that fact not science. One of my biggest issues with religions is that they are allowed to peddle what they know to be fiction or speculation as though it were truth. To me this is fraud and they should be held accountable as fraudsters. Its that black and white to me.

    tao
     
  16. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    What I'm getting at, though, goes back to my pragmatic approach. People simply aren't capable of learning when they feel defensive. From what I've seen, if you attack religious belief in the classroom and set it up as "You must believe in evolution, not creationism, or you are a moron," people just get defensive and tune you out. It's an approach that simply doesn't work, so to me it has no practical value, and it is irrelevant if it is "right" or "just" in the senses you describe. All it does is create an environment of contention and students feel plowed over by the professor, and spend their time questioning the professor's salvation rather than focusing on learning.

    In my approach, I tell students openly that I realize evolutionary theory contradicts many creation stories from a variety of religions. I tell them it's fine if they want to remain unbelievers in the theory, but I want them to understand what that in which they do not believe. I tell them it is actually quite important for them to understand things they wish to refute. I tell them I won't feel they are stupid or anything like that for doing so (and I truly won't- I disagree with lots of people but it won't make me feel they are stupid). Then, students feel free to explore the facts and ideas in class without feeling pressured to comply with my view on things. They feel they are able to retain their own religious beliefs if they want without ridicule.

    The result is that, unlike many professors I have observed or had myself, I have never had students refuse to continue in the course due to the content. I have never had issues with students insisting creationism is science. By tackling the contradictions head on but providing a safe environment, the students feel good about learning. Many students have told me later that they were never open to learning about evolutionary theory before because they felt so pressured, but now they understood it and no longer felt it was a threat to their beliefs. Many, in a safe environment with all the data before them and a clear explanation, came to become evolutionists while still feeling capable of believing in their religion or spirituality more broadly.

    I could certainly beat them over the head with it and attempt to strip away religious belief, but it is hardly a pragmatic way to go about it. Plus, it's just plain rude and other people know it. No one enjoys being told they are a moron in front of a class of people, and to do so just makes students distrustful of the prof and unhappy with the learning process.

    I'm there to be a facilitator, not to open their head and pour in my own ideas. At least, that's how I see it.
     
  17. Penguin

    Penguin Member

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    I've still got to go through all the replies properly but can I ask you please Tao;- What do you think was the "trigger" for evolution?
    Many thanks indeed.
     
  18. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Brother Tao, a sincere question:

    As an atheist, are you not using the cover of the religion-science disagreement over evolution as an excuse to promote your view and suppress others' views?

    I see nothing wrong with religious beliefs. I see nothing wrong with scientific beliefs. I believe the two can coexist. I understand one must work at it in order for the two to coexist.

    For a person limited by a religious POV, the science POV is meaningless and irrelevent. For a person limited by a scientific POV, a religious POV is meaningless and irrelevent. These are extremes, but there are plenty of people out there within one or the other camp. I disagree with both extremes, because my POV is not limited by either religion or science. My POV is *informed* by both religion and science, as well as other things.

    Now, what I see you promoting is kinda like saying everybody must be a chef for a living. And you are wanting to butt heads with somebody who says everybody must be a plumber for a living. Both of you think the other is crazy. This is a working model of the logical fallacy of false dichotomy.

    Science and religion are *not* an either / or proposition...unless you make it one. In so doing, you limit yourself within the frame of the side you choose.

    Rather, I sense a disgust over politics, perhaps some issue at a school board or something? That would be a different matter altogether. We shouldn't throw babies out with the bathwater. Politics should be dealt with through political action, rather than censoring of other POV's.
     
  19. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    Change. No two things that we have been able to observe in this universe are identical. Look closely enough and even the most apparently similar things have differences. So much so that it is virtually a law of nature. But there are patterns. And these patterns are repeatedly, if imperfectly, reproduced according to the available constituents. The basic building blocks of life, for I must presume you mean organic evolution, follow patterns and are able to transmit that pattern through the exchange of R/DNA when organised into what we call a life form. How it first happened we may never know. But we do know that it did happen and that the elements required for that to happen are abundant throughout the observable universe. We can see the signature of the amino acids required for basic cell structure in the spectrographic analysis of distant star forming clouds of dust and gas. All the particular left handed amino acids in our own cells have been found in meteorites, which hints very strongly that life has the possibility to form wherever it finds conditions suitable for it to take hold. Life was most certainly not 'created' a few thousand years ago on the whim of some benevolent kind of white bearded Santa Claus.

    tao
     
  20. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    POO and Juan,

    I feel like you are still missing my point. Which is that these kids you teach should never have been allowed to come to school already corrupted to the point where they are hostile to empirical fact. That children should be allowed to grow free from the conditioning of the sect and its lies. If you were to deliberately deform a child's limb then the child would be removed from you and you would be prosecuted. But religions get away with deforming children's minds with whatever sputum they wish to spit with impunity because they have to be respected because they declare religious freedom. Its a travesty on the human rights of these children.

    I have read enough material on the creationists sites to know that the usual suspects are profiting very nicely and I KNOW also that is the ONLY reason they are on their 'crusade'. Such people are to my mind criminals. How many more centuries are we going to allow the charlatans to profit and disseminate utter crap, polluting each generation with dogmas that are counter to our progress and survival?

    Sure I'm an atheist. And I believe science to be the best tool we have to study the observable. You cannot study the unobservable, it is speculation, philosophy...just ideas with no more credibility than the next persons. And that is how religion should be viewed and embraced. As ideas, not as facts. They are rarely taught that way. And each successive generation is filled up with the dogma of the sect as though it were truth when it patently is not. And I am more than a little tired of seeing this justified by 'religious freedom'. What about 'freedom' of mind being respected for once?


    tao
     

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