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Evolution: Slouching toward the truth - Comments

Rich Wiltshir's Avatar Comment 1 by Rich Wiltshir

An article that tells us what we know about religoon's adherance to ignorance. What audience is he aiming at? Who needs to be told that 39% is almost 4 in 10?

Thu, 14 Apr 2011 20:53:52 UTC | #615556

josephor's Avatar Comment 2 by josephor

Perhaps most disturbing of all, on the eve of Darwin's 200th birthday in 2009, only 39 percent of Americans — that's about four out of every 10 — stated they believed in evolution, according to a Gallup poll. In this country perhaps more than any other, religious dogma has obscured and overshadowed the truth behind human existence.

What percentage of the 61% understood evolution and rejected it in favor of creation? What percentage of the 61% did not know enough about evolution so chose creation because it was basically the only explanation that they knew? What ever the answer to my questions maybe, it is easy to see that education has long enough been hampered by self-serving faith heads.

Thu, 14 Apr 2011 20:59:30 UTC | #615561

BowDownToGizmo's Avatar Comment 3 by BowDownToGizmo

We'll coax america out of the 19th century any day now.

Thu, 14 Apr 2011 21:00:32 UTC | #615562

alaskansee's Avatar Comment 4 by alaskansee

BowDownToGizmo

Good idea, we'll need some shinny stuff, especially for the catholics.

Thu, 14 Apr 2011 21:11:13 UTC | #615573

blitz442's Avatar Comment 5 by blitz442

Comment 2 by josephor

I would go so far to say that many of those who say they accept evolution do not understand it. I barely understand it, and I understand it far better than anyone I know.

At least in the US, it's just not taught all that much in school. A person's political bent, and how accepting they are of science in general, seems to determine their acceptance of evolution. It has little to do with familiarity with the subject matter.

Thu, 14 Apr 2011 21:25:35 UTC | #615579

Homosapienclone's Avatar Comment 6 by Homosapienclone

As a Atheist I belive this is our one chance at life, so everything from quarks to massive black holes at the hearts of galexies. All were here long before me and will remain after I am gone. I think this means more to me than most religous people do thinking we get a 2nd chance in a unknown. We are all humans stuck on a "pale blue dot". Yet religious people are willing to murder the shit out of each other for the unknown. As I see it Atheist people appreciate life more since its 1 sperm out of the millions that bombard an egg to become a single cell organism that divids into a being thats capable of reading this comment. Life is wonderful and to miss out on it in the idea that you will be handed another chance at consciousness.

Thu, 14 Apr 2011 21:25:47 UTC | #615580

Scruddy Bleensaver's Avatar Comment 7 by Scruddy Bleensaver

The US is only my adopted home country, but I always cringe in embarrassment at stories like this. The US have a long tradition of self-reliance, and that's a virtue in my book, but unfortunately the flip side of self-reliance can often be a form of insular yokelism and distrust of authority and of anything that can't be easily understood. Many prefer apparently simple answers that are at least easily-grasped because they appeal to "common sense" instead of education.

I went to school in the South, where "teaching evolution is like teaching Atheism and thus a violation of the separation of church and state" was the point of view. I've long-since given up arguing and moved to the most secular part of the country instead. At the same time, it seems to be getting both better and worse in recent years. It's hard to predict, but with the insecurity brought on by the lack of a true social safety net, so that job loss or a serious illness can literally wipe out everything you have through no fault of your own, the average person here will still seek the apparent security and comfort of their church community.

Religion was regarded by the wise as false, by the common man as true, and by their leaders as useful. I may have mangled the quote, but that about sums it up.

Thu, 14 Apr 2011 21:26:33 UTC | #615581

Matt B's Avatar Comment 8 by Matt B

I certainly don't believe in evolution. I accept it as a plausible explanation for how life developed and spread into the diverse spectrum we can see in the world around us, based on a rational consideration of the evidence. One could argue that I believe evolution is valid (in the same way I believe that Ohm's Law will yield approximately accurate results), but I do not believe in evolution.

Sorry, but this phrasing irks me to no end, especially when used by people who do accept evolution. To me, it implies that it's in the same vein as belief in a deity. I know I'm nitpicking, but the dialog between theists and non-believers is muddled enough, and we can't count on fundamentalists to understand what we are actually trying to say.

Thu, 14 Apr 2011 21:27:05 UTC | #615582

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 9 by Neodarwinian

This is a constant battle at the question and answer sites I frequent. The inane arguments these people put forward in defense of their religious beliefs and against evolutionary theory have been oft refuted. Then there are the straight lies. When you call them on their lies the then accuse you of all sorts of things. Religious ideology blinds these people to any wrong behavior done in the name of there specific delusion. Until this madness is overturned we will continue to slide into the abyss of scientific illiteracy and be forced to watch the increase in mindless superstition gnaw at the foundation of our country.

@ Matt B.

Thank you for bringing the point up that I had forgotten. That " believe in " nonsense.

Thu, 14 Apr 2011 21:30:06 UTC | #615585

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 10 by Alan4discussion

Comment 9 by Neodarwinian

This is a constant battle at the question and answer sites I frequent. The inane arguments these people put forward in defense of their religious beliefs and against evolutionary theory have been oft refuted. Then there are the straight lies.

The information in the UK is rather better. It was discussed here - http://richarddawkins.net/articles/568607-religion-respecting-the-minority. Hopefully the the information from the latests census will show a continuing trend, if people have answered truthfully.

December 2010 - In the latest 2010 BSA report, published earlier this month, only 42% said they were Christians while 51% now say they have no religion.

Thu, 14 Apr 2011 21:52:16 UTC | #615592

Nordic11's Avatar Comment 11 by Nordic11

Please permit me to make a distinction among American Christians. Many US believers are young earth creationists (creation of the world 4004 BC, humans living with dinos, worldwide flood created all earth's geology), and to be fair, this was the only thing taught in our churches in the 70s and 80s. But there are many of us "old earth creationists" who believe most if not all of what modern science has discovered about our universe, but I guess we're boring because we never get the headlines. Our young earth brothers are somewhat of an embarrassment to us, but we must live with that. They’re part of our family.

The real distinction between us is whether a divine being is in the universe's driver's seat or random chance. This is the root of our debate, and I think it is where the discussion should start.

Considering their ridiculous theories, blasting young earthers must certainly be fun, but their views do not represent the beliefs of many conservative Christians, and it can hardly be entertaining entering a battle of wits with unarmed men.

Thu, 14 Apr 2011 22:45:41 UTC | #615598

blitz442's Avatar Comment 12 by blitz442

Comment 11 by Nordic11

The real distinction between us is whether a divine being is in the universe's driver's seat or random chance. This is the root of our debate, and I think it is where the discussion should start.

That's a false dichotomy, so it's a very bad place to start. Design and random chance aren't your only options, since evolution by natural selection is not a strictly random process.

Thu, 14 Apr 2011 22:58:40 UTC | #615600

anonymous.shyster's Avatar Comment 13 by anonymous.shyster

Comment 8 by Matt B I certainly don't believe in evolution. I accept it as a plausible explanation for how life developed and spread into the diverse spectrum we can see in the world around us, based on a rational consideration of the evidence. One could argue that I believe evolution is valid (in the same way I believe that Ohm's Law will yield approximately accurate results), but I do not believe in evolution.

Sorry, but this phrasing irks me to no end, especially when used by people who do accept evolution. To me, it implies that it's in the same vein as belief in a deity. I know I'm nitpicking, but the dialog between theists and non-believers is muddled enough, and we can't count on fundamentalists to understand what we are actually trying to say.

I agree with this. We have to make sure we don't line ourselves up for the old, 'well you believe in science/evolution/dawkins/whatever-bullshit-they-happen-to-infer', rather we merely accept the best current theory until a better theory replaces it. This is distinct from the believer, who happens to think that he has to hold strong to the belief, as if there is something to be gained, even if it's wrong! (Which it cannot be, because he happens to believe in it.)

No, we should avoid using the word "believe" in our vocabulary, as it gives the creationists the idea that we are inflexible and as emotively driven as they are in our acceptance of evolution, for example, as they are for their creation story (talking snake included).

Accepting a theory doesn't infer belief, it just supposes we happen to see it as a good model of explanation that has some validity for approximating future events. "It works". (To some extent.) Belief always infers emotional attachment. Belief is counter to knowledge - they think they know; they believe. I read somewhere on a website (jovialathiest) that the etymology of belief is to 'love the lie'. Not sure how true this is (I was unable to find any sources for his assertion, nor do I have a knowledge of latin/whatever the roots happen to be). Regardless of it's validity, I happen to like this definition. To believe is to love the lie. Anybody able to back this up (or otherwise)?

Thu, 14 Apr 2011 23:07:44 UTC | #615603

blitz442's Avatar Comment 14 by blitz442

Comment 11 by Nordic11

But there are many of us "old earth creationists" who believe most if not all of what modern science has discovered about our universe, but I guess we're boring because we never get the headlines

Do you believe that God "got things going" with the Big Bang and let nature take over the rest, or do you literally believe in a series of separate creations of living things spread over 3.8 billion years?

Thu, 14 Apr 2011 23:10:35 UTC | #615604

lumesalfa's Avatar Comment 15 by lumesalfa

All the animal who can born from the Nature, including monkey, Because when the born in this earth they can run in the same time. But only a man kind need help to survive. Therefore mankind not created from The Nature. ( Universal Truth)

Thu, 14 Apr 2011 23:38:46 UTC | #615608

lumesalfa's Avatar Comment 16 by lumesalfa

Comment Removed by Author

Thu, 14 Apr 2011 23:39:24 UTC | #615609

Matt B's Avatar Comment 17 by Matt B

Comment 11 by Nordic11

The real distinction between us is whether a divine being is in the universe's driver's seat or random chance. This is the root of our debate, and I think it is where the discussion should start.

I've seen your comments in other discussions, and feel that you're being genuine in wanting to discuss ideas here. Therefore, I will just say two things and hope it's taken as constructive criticism, not rudeness.

First, your above quote sounds more like deism than christianity. If your distinction is between whether it's a conscious force or a non-conscious force that "drives" the universe, that says nothing about burning bushes, or a deity that demands sacrifices, or commands armies to slaughter, or publishes messages on stone tablets ... well, you know the stories. I've actually come to hold a grudging tolerance for deistic belief, as it's relatively harmless compared to people who take christianity "seriously." Those people are dangerous (I have distant relatives who are fundamentalists so I know first hand).

Second, I doubt there are many non-believers who suscribe to the "random chance" argument. There is very little random about it, if I have my facts straight. You can read about this (if you haven't already) in "The God Delusion." Or, if you have a few hours, the Professor also goes over it during his special Growing Up In The Universe. I highly recommend you watch this to get a better understanding of the scientific position, or even just because it's interesting.

Please correct me if I'm wrong about anything; I'm more than happy for an open discussion. Thank you!

Thu, 14 Apr 2011 23:40:07 UTC | #615610

Matt B's Avatar Comment 18 by Matt B

Comment 15 by lumesalfa

All the animal who can born from the Nature, including monkey, Because when the born in this earth they can run in the same time. But only a man kind need help to survive. Therefore mankind not created from The Nature. ( Universal Truth)

Can you please clarify the point you are trying to make? How does mankind need help to survive? I'm tempted to flag your comment for trolling, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.

Thu, 14 Apr 2011 23:46:27 UTC | #615612

blitz442's Avatar Comment 19 by blitz442

Comment 18 by Matt B

I think that lumesalfa has an airtight argument. Isn't it obvious that all animals when born can run in the same time (I'm not so sure about plants though), that people can't, and therefore there is a God?

It also could be that these are the only words of English that he knows, randomly strung together.

Thu, 14 Apr 2011 23:53:21 UTC | #615614

Rodger T's Avatar Comment 20 by Rodger T

Comment 15 by lumesalfa :

All the animal who can born from the Nature, including monkey, Because when the born in this earth they can run in the same time. But only a man kind need help to survive. Therefore mankind not created from The Nature. ( Universal Truth)

Can anyone here provide a translation from the original gibberish?

Fri, 15 Apr 2011 00:01:45 UTC | #615617

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 21 by Steve Zara

Comment 11 by Nordic11

The real distinction between us is whether a divine being is in the universe's driver's seat or random chance. This is the root of our debate, and I think it is where the discussion should start.

Actually, I don't think that is the real distinction between us at all.

The real distinction is about respect for each other, about how we want each other to be treated, about what it means to be human and alive and aware in this universe.

The difference between you and creationists is those matters is negligible. You both believe in a tiny reality, with humans at the centre. You both believe that we are not our own selves, but souls loaned to the world for mere decades, before being accepted or rejected as suitable worship-fodder for God.

You both think your beliefs give humans freedom and dignity, when in reality your beliefs mean we are insignificant slaves of a divine tyrant that we can only pray is benign in spite of the evidence around us.

Don't try and convince anyone that you have a more moral view of the world simply because you manage to believe that 7 days was 13.7 billion years.

Atheism is the moral alternative that happens to be true. We are owners of our own lives, and have the chance to make our own destiny.

Fri, 15 Apr 2011 00:11:45 UTC | #615618

Matt B's Avatar Comment 22 by Matt B

Comment 19 by blitz442

Doesn't the fact that they all run in the same time go against special relativity? Perhaps he was implying that some laws of physics are only applicable to humans, since we're not from the Nature. I suppose the Nature runs off of an absolute clock, but we can't thanks to Einstein, and wouldn't survive unless god was there to, like, wind our own perception of time close to the absolute clock of the Nature.

In summary, god created the Nature to run off of a universal clock, then made us in a way that we couldn't survive from that clock without his hand helping to fine tune (buzzword!) our Newtonian perception of time, for reasons that we cannot understand because he's god, the blind watch-maker (he must have read Dawkins after all). I solved the puzzle!

Fri, 15 Apr 2011 00:12:12 UTC | #615619

Nordic11's Avatar Comment 23 by Nordic11

Blockquote

Creationist museums have been erected that depict humans saddling the backs of dinosaurs, which went extinct about 65 million years before the first modern humans emerged out of Africa 200,000 years ago.

Please permit me to make a distinction among American Christians. Many US believers are young earth creationists (creation of the world 4004 BC, humans living with dinos, worldwide flood created all earth's geology), and to be fair, this was the only thing taught in our churches in the 70s and 80s. But there are many of us "old earth creationists" who believe most if not all of what modern science has discovered about our universe, but I guess we're boring because we never get the headlines. Our young earth brothers are somewhat of an embarrassment to us, but we must live with that. They’re part of our family.

The real distinction between us is whether a divine being is in the universe's driver's seat or random chance. This is the root of our debate, and I think it is where the discussion should start.

Considering their ridiculous theories, blasting young earthers must certainly be fun, but their views do not represent the beliefs of many conservative Christians, and it can hardly be entertaining entering a battle of wits with unarmed men.

Fri, 15 Apr 2011 00:15:02 UTC | #615622

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 24 by ZenDruid

All the animal who can born from the Nature, including monkey, Because when the born in this earth they can run in the same time.

I gist this as, animals can stand and run shortly after birth. I'm not sure about monkeys though.

But only a man kind need help to survive. Therefore mankind not created from The Nature. ( Universal Truth)

Something to do with the big heads and not having enough neck strength at birth....

Fri, 15 Apr 2011 00:32:57 UTC | #615629

anonymous.shyster's Avatar Comment 25 by anonymous.shyster

Considering their ridiculous theories, blasting young earthers must certainly be fun, but their views do not represent the beliefs of many conservative Christians, and it can hardly be entertaining entering a battle of wits with unarmed men.

Old argument, ad infinitum. "We don't believe like they do. Our creation story is different". You believe the rest of the gibberish, however, but not the 4004bc story or the talking snake part. So, do you believe the bible or not? No brainer really. Unless your brethren who happen to believe that the bible is the inerrant word of god are an embarassment to you too?

Oh that's right, you believe ALL of it, only the niggling inconvenient parts are "metaphorical".

Fri, 15 Apr 2011 00:39:46 UTC | #615632

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 26 by aquilacane

The evidence used to support Darwin's theory has only surmounted in the more than 150 years since its publication. And yet, despite the enormous amount of supporting evidence and broad consensus among the scientific community, large portions of the population continue to dismiss it as heathen drivel.

This is what blows my mind, especially with the easy access to information the web has provided. The microsecond I was told we shared a common ancestor with apes, it all made sense. It's so clear, so obvious and backed by mountains of evidence. I can't fathom how someone can hide from a truth that is so plain to see.

A scribble

Hide

Fri, 15 Apr 2011 02:05:55 UTC | #615651

Matt B's Avatar Comment 27 by Matt B

A scribble

Beautiful as always.

This is what blows my mind, especially with the easy access to information the web has provided.

I had a realization one evening and it goes something like this. In the old days, it was okay to be ignorant about the world because the average person lived in the same place and interacted with the same people. Now we're at the point where we not only have such an amazing store of knowledge, but much of it is available in real time on the internet, in addition to the instant communication.

Therefore, I suppose that some people have to try even harder to remain properly ignorant. It's not as easy to play dumb as it once was, and trying to claim belief in an ancient collection of tales is a good exercise for this. I find it plausible that, because of the fear/grace instilled in the deep emotional centers of the brain, some people will force their experiences to fit that standard mold. When something doesn't fit, there are two choices; Realize that you're mistaken and change your mind appropriately, or; Still have that nagging fear of hell in your deep subconscious and block out the new knowledge that threatens to disrupt your delicate balance of faith.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but it would seem to explain a lot of the awkward squirming done by theists when caught in a net of reason.

Fri, 15 Apr 2011 03:07:22 UTC | #615661

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 28 by aquilacane

Comment 27 by Matt B

Thank you for the comment on the scribble.

I suppose that some people have to try even harder to remain properly ignorant.

You can see them fight with it in their heads. The most common coping mechanisms I have witnessed are anger, out right denial, both veiled and unveiled threats and, of course, disengagement.

Fri, 15 Apr 2011 03:33:06 UTC | #615667

Al Denelsbeck's Avatar Comment 29 by Al Denelsbeck

@Nordic11, comments 11 and 23, apparently:

The real distinction between us is whether a divine being is in the universe's driver's seat or random chance. This is the root of our debate, and I think it is where the discussion should start.

The article didn't differentiate, actually. It merely referenced those who didn't accept evolution, and it was a disturbingly large percentage. The conservative christians who accept evolution are, like non-theists, among the minority.

The reason that religion enters into this is that it makes hundreds of claims regarding the universe that are not supported by any evidence whatsoever. Many people, however, do not guide themselves on evidence, but on what they think is expected of them within their culture. And right now, US culture is kind of weak on emphasizing, "evidence is important."

Considering their ridiculous theories, blasting young earthers must certainly be fun, but their views do not represent the beliefs of many conservative Christians, and it can hardly be entertaining entering a battle of wits with unarmed men.

It's not a battle of wits at all - creationists don't rely on such (I did not specify young earth, either.) It's a matter of trying to establish that rationality is far more useful than vague appeals to invisible authority, or wishful thinking.

What you're trying to say is that there is a significant difference between scriptural literalists and the more conservative/moderately religious, but to be blunt, I see no significant difference at all - distinctions between levels of deistic intervention aren't anything more than emotional opinions. No theist/deist can demonstrate that their particular level of belief is more applicable or pertinent than any other. You might want to draw a line for yourself and say, "god did this, just not all that," but how do you back that up?

Our young earth brothers are somewhat of an embarrassment to us, but we must live with that. They’re part of our family.

And THAT, my friend, is the problem. As long as you allow it to go on, because you think there's more value to waving the christian flag than supporting science, we're all stuck with the idiots.

Now, seriously, which side of the fence do you want to be on? You just complained that moderates are getting lumped in with fundamentalists/literalists, but then refer to them as "family." Are you going to blame me if I simply draw my own line, with rationalism on one side and any and all forms of religious belief on the other?

Fri, 15 Apr 2011 04:55:43 UTC | #615679

Starcrash's Avatar Comment 30 by Starcrash

I just had an argument with my father about evolution last night. He believed that the existence of gays is proof that evolution doesn't happen (because he still believes it's all about "survival of the fittest", as his constant use of it would demonstrate).

Never mind constant evidence of evolution happening within our lifetimes - flu strains frequently emerging, for example - as well as Richard Lenski's lab proof... we don't need more evidence than we already have. Those who want to live in denial will continue to do so.

...

Fri, 15 Apr 2011 05:16:13 UTC | #615680