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I Am Evolution - Comments

AshtonBlack's Avatar Comment 1 by AshtonBlack

Very nice. :)

Sun, 11 May 2008 08:56:00 UTC | #169244

ronfac's Avatar Comment 2 by ronfac

Lovely, wish I'd said that. But then I'm not a paleoanthroplogist.

Sun, 11 May 2008 08:58:00 UTC | #169245

Vinelectric's Avatar Comment 3 by Vinelectric

"One bucket of dirt at a time"


I hope that "God" heard that..

Sun, 11 May 2008 09:01:00 UTC | #169248

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 4 by mordacious1

This is kind of like saying "I believe air. I breath in oxygen and it gives me life...". It's sad that someone has to write a piece about "I believe evolution" when evolution is a FACT. Instead we should just use evolution without ANY modifiers.

Sun, 11 May 2008 09:07:00 UTC | #169252

Styrer-'s Avatar Comment 5 by Styrer-

Comment #178374 by mordacious1 on May 11, 2008 at 10:07 am

I am afraid I agree. This constant combining of 'belief' with 'evolution' risks refuting the very point the article seeks to make. Clarifying that 'belief in evolution' is entirely wrong-headed is ill-served by the rhetorical device used here. Not a great article.

Best,
Styrer

Sun, 11 May 2008 09:25:00 UTC | #169260

Quine's Avatar Comment 6 by Quine

I have said this before, but this is a good place to reiterate that when people ask me if I believe in evolution, I answer, "I don't have to believe in evolution; I can check it."

Sun, 11 May 2008 09:39:00 UTC | #169265

flobear's Avatar Comment 7 by flobear

I think one of the reasons scientists find it so difficult to write beautifully in defense of evolution is that they're just completely befuddled at the disbelief.

Also, their training and experience does not equip them to handle those with intentional and determined ignorance.

Sun, 11 May 2008 09:43:00 UTC | #169268

Colwyn Abernathy's Avatar Comment 8 by Colwyn Abernathy

I listen to evolution, I observe it and I do evolution.


And evolution never calls, and I bump into evolution at Starbucks and there's an awkward exchange of words that include "I meant to call you, but I've been busy, y'know, with evolving an shit."
"That's kewl," I say, sheepishly, and all the things I want to say to evolution are lost in my throat, never to be born, and I hope and pray that evolution WILL call, but evolution never does...evolution's a heartless bastard.

Wait...that's not what she meant, is it?

Sun, 11 May 2008 09:55:00 UTC | #169274

Disbelief's Avatar Comment 9 by Disbelief

I agree, it's sad that this article had to be written.


Comment #178387 by Quine on May 11, 2008 at 10:39 am
I have said this before, but this is a good place to reiterate that when people ask me if I believe in evolution, I answer, "I don't have to believe in evolution; I can check it."


Right on!

Sun, 11 May 2008 09:58:00 UTC | #169277

ft77's Avatar Comment 10 by ft77

Penn Jillette also went on this programme with the title "I believe there is no god."
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5015557

Sun, 11 May 2008 10:03:00 UTC | #169282

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 11 by mordacious1

Just love Penn. When you go to the link the article is titled "There is No God". This is Penn's true statement. He just added belief in the clip because that was the premise. I stole his "I'm so beyond atheism that there's no word in the english dictionary for it." statement several months ago. Sums me up quite nicely.

Sun, 11 May 2008 10:34:00 UTC | #169296

rickenbacker77's Avatar Comment 12 by rickenbacker77

Merriam Webster:
believe -- 1 a: to have a firm religious faith b: to accept as true, genuine, or real

I think the writer is applying definition 1b. And if that's the test, then I too, believe evolution.

"The metamorphic nature of my belief is not at all like a traditional religious one; it's more like seeing is believing."

I think that says it all. Loved the essay.

Sun, 11 May 2008 11:00:00 UTC | #169307

Barry Pearson's Avatar Comment 13 by Barry Pearson

"Believe" is a perfectly good word here!

I have published my positions on certain words ("Belief", "knowledge", and "proof") here:
http://www.barrypearson.co.uk/articles/gods/me.htm#words

Also, see:
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/believe

What fraction of the population has enough information to accept evolution as a fact? 1%? So what should the other 99% say? That they too accept it as a fact even without that information? Do we want people to be so easily convinced? Why? "Mere authority"? (Evolution today - creationism tomorrow).

It requires a lot of information to accept "evolution" as a fact. It requires vastly more information to accept "evolution by natural selection" (a different topic, of course) as a scientifically validated theory.

Those of us responding here are probably within the 1% of the population who know enough to credibly have confidence in "evolution by natural selection". But we shouldn't demand or even expect this from others. And I don't think we should speak as though we expect it.

What we should want is that they admit their ignorance, and a desire to learn. We have a right to criticise those who refute "evolution by natural selection" without doing their homework first.

Sun, 11 May 2008 11:16:00 UTC | #169314

rotaTOR's Avatar Comment 14 by rotaTOR

Here we have a scientist who takes pleasure in her work and life and wants to share that with other people,without mentioning religion as her source. What happens? She is attacked for it! How lame is that?

Sun, 11 May 2008 13:12:00 UTC | #169381

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 15 by mordacious1

hmmm I don't say I believe gravity, or clouds, or concrete, or whatnot. Whenever the word belief is added, it denotes that there is doubt. There is no doubt among educated people, therefor no need to use "believe". Sorry, I have to stick to my guns on this one.

Sun, 11 May 2008 13:17:00 UTC | #169386

heafnerj's Avatar Comment 16 by heafnerj

I heard this on NPR this morning and gave a silent cheer (I was still in bed snoozing). As a teacher, I have a bit of a problem with "believing" in science as opposed to "accepting" it, but the overall message is good.

Sun, 11 May 2008 13:25:00 UTC | #169394

RamziD's Avatar Comment 17 by RamziD

I think this article is a creative way of making a point. I find nothing wrong with saying "I believe" something that is true. Like the poster above who quoted the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the author was merely pointing out the difference between definition 1a and 1b to better assert her acceptance of evolution and what it means to her. It's something that we often take for granted, but the distinction is legitimate.

Sun, 11 May 2008 13:37:00 UTC | #169397

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 18 by mordacious1

rotaTOR No one is attacking her life or her work, we are just discussing semantics. Words are important, especially when some of the readers/listeners are people who don't "believe" in evolution. If one uses their word, it gives credence to their warped view of science.

Sun, 11 May 2008 13:42:00 UTC | #169401

aussieatheist_111's Avatar Comment 19 by aussieatheist_111

" Those of us responding here are probably within the 1% of the population who know enough to credibly have confidence in "evolution by natural selection". But we shouldn't demand or even expect this from others. And I don't think we should speak as though we expect it. "

Given the countless examples of scientists being correct when they say something is a fact (I'm thinking engineering, medical advances, etc.), I think it is rather reasonable to expect the masses to trust the word of scientists. By all means, check it out independently, but trsuting scientists, especially when there is no tentative semantics or throngs of critics and doubters involved, is surely not irrational?

Sun, 11 May 2008 13:43:00 UTC | #169402

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 20 by mordacious1

Barry Evolution, fact. Natural Selection, theory. If you want to say that you believe in Natural Seletion that's fine with me.

Sun, 11 May 2008 13:51:00 UTC | #169410

MuNky82's Avatar Comment 21 by MuNky82

rickenbacker77 wrote:

Merriam Webster:
believe -- 1 a: to have a firm religious faith b: to accept as true, genuine, or real

I think the writer is applying definition 1b. And if that's the test, then I too, believe evolution.


Ah yes, but creationists (in their "fudging the truth until it feels good" way) only read the definitions that fit their views. Type in "theory" at www.merriam-webster.com and they read definition 2 or 6b, instead of 1, 3 or 5.

Sun, 11 May 2008 14:54:00 UTC | #169441

robotaholic's Avatar Comment 22 by robotaholic

I think the point of her essay was to show that evolution is correct. It also seems perfectly logical that if you asked an anthropologist if they believe in evolution that they would say yes. There is nothing wrong with this paper and also I enjoyed it. -Some people are just argumentative and difficult...

Half the people objecting to the word "believe" in this paper would not object if used in the context of quantum physics: "I believe in quantum physics."- I can't imagine someone objecting: "Quantum physics is not something to believe in- it's something to accept"-

Like I said, people should just not be so uptight!

(besides she's really really pretty lol http://www.personal.psu.edu/hmd120/ )

Sun, 11 May 2008 14:56:00 UTC | #169444

heafnerj's Avatar Comment 23 by heafnerj

Yes, I certainly do distinguish between between *belief* and *acceptance* because the former doesn't require evidence whereas the latter does. I've been teaching science for fifteen years and it's about time we, not just the scientific community but everyone, paid more attention to simple terminology. It's not an issue of being "uptight"; that accusation is indeed a deeply entrenched part of the fundamental problem.

And yes, it is incorrect to say that "I believe in quantum physics." because quantum physics is based on experimental evidence, not blind faith. Therefore, belief is not in order. And remember that Webster doesn't always get it right.

Anyway, terminological subtleties may be arguable to experienced scientists, but certainly they are quite confusing and a learning barrier to young, untrained, introductory students. Use terms for which there is no ambiguity for the introductory students and let their terminological proficiency grow with their reasoning abilities.

For the record, I'm completely in favor of the essay, so please nix the straw man arguments and burden shifting. ;-) Lastly, commenting on one's choice of words isn't the same as attacking one. I would have thought posters here would know the difference! I don't seen a single ad hominem attack among the comments here.

Sun, 11 May 2008 15:21:00 UTC | #169459

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 24 by mordacious1

robotaholic Any part of quantum physics that is theory, and that is a heck of alot, then use "believe if you wish. Once it is generally understood by the scientific community to be fact, then drop the "believe". This is not a complex concept, people.

Sun, 11 May 2008 15:27:00 UTC | #169460

Rational_G's Avatar Comment 25 by Rational_G

rickenbacker77 has it right.

And the author explains exactly what she means in the first few sentences.

So everybody chill out.

Nice essay.

Sun, 11 May 2008 15:36:00 UTC | #169462

dragonfirematrix's Avatar Comment 26 by dragonfirematrix

Bravo! Very well said!

Sun, 11 May 2008 18:06:00 UTC | #169497

wiz220's Avatar Comment 27 by wiz220

Indeed! After all... A is A.

Sun, 11 May 2008 21:16:00 UTC | #169540

Barry Pearson's Avatar Comment 28 by Barry Pearson

aussieatheist_111 said: Given the countless examples of scientists being correct when they say something is a fact (I'm thinking engineering, medical advances, etc.), I think it is rather reasonable to expect the masses to trust the word of scientists. By all means, check it out independently, but trsuting scientists, especially when there is no tentative semantics or throngs of critics and doubters involved, is surely not irrational?
But what proportion of the population is aware of "no ... throngs of critics and doubters involved"?

And the general population is kept aware of science that goes (temporarily) wrong, causing engineering or medical disasters, because it makes headlines.

After a degree in Mathematical Physics, a career as an engineer, and decades of pleasure from reading about science (many books each year, New Scientist each week, etc), I am still cautious about what scientists say!

mordacious1 said: Barry Evolution, fact. Natural Selection, theory. If you want to say that you believe in Natural Seletion that's fine with me.
WE know evolution is a fact, (and I have no doubt that "evolution by natural selection" is a universal process/algorithm, almost like a law of Information Theory). But we don't represent the vast majority of the population who don't know (or perhaps care) about this science.

And we know what we mean by "evolution is a fact". But most of the population, if they think about it at all, probably link "evolution" to "Darwin", and THAT special version of evolution ("evolution by natural selection") isn't a fact in the same way.

heafnerj said: Yes, I certainly do distinguish between between *belief* and *acceptance* because the former doesn't require evidence whereas the latter does.... And remember that Webster doesn't always get it right.
It is normally the word "faith" that is used for "... without evidence". Or sometimes "hope".

I use "believe" for something I have a degree of confidence in but no proof. "I believe that the next time I use the brake pedal it will slow the car". "I believe the meeting is next Tuesday, but I'll have to check". (Others may disagree with this usage).

I wonder if people are being over-cautious here? Remember that Creationists will quote-mine and distort WHATEVER is said, so I doubt if ANY form of words be safe from them. What is surely important is to convey the pleasure of science and confidence in its explanatory power (sooner or later) to an audience that isn't as pedantic as we may be.

Mon, 12 May 2008 00:01:00 UTC | #169588

ICONIC FREEDOM's Avatar Comment 29 by ICONIC FREEDOM

A responder to a post about religion and evolution on Townhall once wrote to me saying that, "if I was evolving, I'd think I would know it". To which my immediate response was, "clearly you're not as evidenced by your post".

My point: as this subject articulates, if we need to point to the obvious evidence of evolution, look no further than your own life existence.

Everything, everywhere, at all times is evolving and developing. Change and shift are constant and current, there is no stopping it.

Yet, this obvious fact of observation is lost on those who "believe".

"ACCEPT" is a good substitution for "believe" when speaking of evolution. Perhaps "development" might be a good substitution for "evolution".

Mon, 12 May 2008 01:21:00 UTC | #169621

mmurray's Avatar Comment 30 by mmurray

Given the countless examples of scientists being correct when they say something is a fact (I'm thinking engineering, medical advances, etc.), I think it is rather reasonable to expect the masses to trust the word of scientists. By all means, check it out independently, but trsuting scientists, especially when there is no tentative semantics or throngs of critics and doubters involved, is surely not irrational?


aussieatheist_111 -- assuming you are an aussie check out some of the things people are saying about the recent showing of Richard Dawkin's two-part series on new-age therapies and other mumbo-jumbo. Some are sensible but for other people trusting scientists is not on. They would much rather concentrate on the few examples of scientist being wrong!

http://www2b.abc.net.au/tmb/Client/MessageList.aspx?b=81&t=1&te=False

Michael

Mon, 12 May 2008 01:42:00 UTC | #169632