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← Understanding Evolution: 17 Misconceptions and Their Responses

Understanding Evolution: 17 Misconceptions and Their Responses - Comments

Chris Boccia's Avatar Comment 1 by Chris Boccia

The "Read more" is not a hyperlink.

Wed, 07 Sep 2011 01:41:01 UTC | #868073

/Mike's Avatar Comment 2 by /Mike

link fixed

Wed, 07 Sep 2011 01:41:44 UTC | #868074

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 3 by Premiseless

I think the misconception about religion and evolution being compatible requires some qualification. Not all religions, if any, are compatible with what scientists consider a reasonable understanding of evolution. If any are I would like to see it explained more fully. This way readers might be more easily able to identify their own belief as breaching scientific understanding, or not, rather than being misled into thinking the very notion of incompatibility is a fallacy.

Wed, 07 Sep 2011 01:55:41 UTC | #868076

spongebob's Avatar Comment 4 by spongebob

Evolution is completely incompatible with Chrisitanity.

No Adam and Eve, no original sin, no need for a savior. Simple as that.

Some might argue that God could have designated Adam and Eve as the starting point of things in the Bible after evolution happened, but that view is not what the Bible says.

So, any believer that believes evolution is how God creates either has not read Genesis or is hoping there is a god and is bending the Bible to accommodate their hopes.

I think evolution, physics, and science in general destroys the authority of the Bible. Church leaders and most believers know this, but fail to adjust or are just plain dishonest.

Wed, 07 Sep 2011 02:26:34 UTC | #868077

Zarrakan's Avatar Comment 5 by Zarrakan

A hypothetical person has an X that they believe tells him/her to do things, and a part of their belief in X is an afterlife where everything is so much better than this. To get there they have to do everything that X tells them to which includes incredibly violent acts of evil.

Replace X with Barney The Purple Dinosaur.

Now replace X with (insert deity’s name here).

Do you really want people like this in our society driving our buses, taking care of our children, making decisions about national defense, roaming our streets armed with guns, etc.

X is an invention of the human mind with no basis in fact/science/reality beyond what any particular person prefers to believe. What if a person’s preference changes to something evil?

Do you see how this could be a problem?

Religious people have no moral responsibility whatsoever.

That's why they can say they value life one moment, and then call for the death of people who don't accept their imaginary friend the next.

Religions are fundamentally death cults that portray life as a miserable thing to be endured, and after you die you will get sky pie in the sky pie kingdom, and sit next to the pie god.

It does not surprise me at all that religious people don't care about conservation, saving endangered species, preserving the natural world, or really doing anything constructive/positive. In their eyes all is filth and evil if it doesn't come from a book that a bunch of uneducated sand jockeys who thought the world was flat wrote over 2000 years ago.

Wed, 07 Sep 2011 04:17:24 UTC | #868103

Zarrakan's Avatar Comment 6 by Zarrakan

Unlike religion, there is only one science, and that science is based on FACT. Whether we accept them or not, FACTS are found via the scientific method, are real, are the truth, and are not based upon opinion. Anything else is garbage some moron made up for their own self-serving reasons.

All the technology you enjoy today came about because of the scientific mindset by actively seeking answers to how the world really works (FACTS), and using that information to solve problems. Not praying to fantasies. If you are a religious person, and you don't live like a caveman, YOU ARE A HYPOCRITE. Reality is not Burger King where you have it "your way." You cannot sit in front of your HD wireless powered 52 inch TV watching Avatar, and object to scientifically proven FACTS like evolution.

Wed, 07 Sep 2011 04:17:53 UTC | #868104

SciPhile's Avatar Comment 7 by SciPhile

As the author of the post, I would just like to say that I fully support the cause and mission of the RDF.

I would be more than happy to contribute anything further or volunteer if it would be of any help to the RDF. Please let me know if there is anything that I can do on my end.

Thanks for the link, science rules!

Wed, 07 Sep 2011 04:20:32 UTC | #868105

JuJu's Avatar Comment 8 by JuJu

Misconception: “Evolution and religion are incompatible.”

Religion and science (evolution) are very different things. In science, only natural causes are used to explain natural phenomena, while religion deals with beliefs that are beyond the natural world.

The misconception that one always has to choose between science and religion is incorrect. Of course, some religious beliefs explicitly contradict science (e.g., the belief that the world and all life on it was created in six literal days); however, most religious groups have no conflict with the theory of evolution or other scientific findings. In fact, many religious people, including theologians, feel that a deeper understanding of nature actually enriches their faith. Moreover, in the scientific community there are thousands of scientists who are devoutly religious and also accept evolution.

Surprisingly an accommodationist viewpoint got slipped in there, I guess they were hoping no one would catch it. They were doing just find up 'til then.

Its like looking at one of those picture games for children where the child is suppose to pick out the one item that doesn't fit with everything else. That particular "misconception" just jumped off the screen.

Wed, 07 Sep 2011 04:27:12 UTC | #868107

Quine's Avatar Comment 9 by Quine

Surprisingly an accommodationist viewpoint got slipped in there, I guess they were hoping no one would catch it. They were doing just find up 'til then.

The University of California is a State institution and they have to walk a careful line re religion. Because there is evidence, they can say evolution is true, but the statement above is about as close as they can get to saying that religion is not.

Wed, 07 Sep 2011 04:41:05 UTC | #868109

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 10 by Steve Zara

Comment 9 by Quine

The University of California is a State institution and they have to walk a careful line re religion.

That's one of the reasons I am extremely cautious about secularism - because it results in such careful line-walking.

Because there is evidence, they can say evolution is true, but the statement above is about as close as they can get to saying that religion is not.

I'm afraid I don't see it as in anyway supporting the position that religion is false. I really can't see it in those words...

The misconception that one always has to choose between science and religion is incorrect. Of course, some religious beliefs explicitly contradict science (e.g., the belief that the world and all life on it was created in six literal days); however, most religious groups have no conflict with the theory of evolution or other scientific findings

I find it hard to accept that the last section is true. Catholic dogma, I have discovered, is quite explicit about the existence of some sort of Adam and Eve in the form of first humans. Also, the idea that humans are the goal of evolution just doesn't fit with the mechanism of evolution. A Catholic student might look through the fossil record and wonder how the changes in species were designed so as to lead to us, which is a deeply confusing and misleading way to understand evolution.

Christianity seems to have "toleration" for science, providing it doesn't go too far.

There's also this sneaky bit;

In science, only natural causes are used to explain natural phenomena, while religion deals with beliefs that are beyond the natural world.

That's question begging about the possibility of there being a non-natural world.

I may be being too strident, but I find text like the above dishonest.

Wed, 07 Sep 2011 05:27:39 UTC | #868120

Quine's Avatar Comment 11 by Quine

Because there is evidence, they can say evolution is true, but the statement above is about as close as they can get to saying that religion is not.

?I'm afraid I don't see it as in anyway supporting the position that religion is false. I really can't see it in those words...

That is because it doesn't; they can't.

Wed, 07 Sep 2011 06:06:50 UTC | #868127

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 12 by Jos Gibbons

The second I saw the claim 17 misconceptions would be corrected, I immediately hypothesised one of the "misconceptions" would be the incompatibility of evolution and religion, and what do you know? I was right. Of course this claim shouldn't even need to be refuted (if it is indeed false) because, if a scientific fact is at odds with religion, it's not the science that's worse off for that, because evidence supports it. But it's just so damn impolitic to say things like that! So we get the usual accommodationist case. My problem isn't even that I don't find the argument they offer compelling; it's that the argument hasn't updated in the slightest in the wake of criticisms of it.(This puts them on the level of creationists.) For example, Coyne and Harris have both noted the difference between "Lots of scientists are religious" and "Science is compatible with religion" by comparing the sentences "Lots of married people are adulterers" and "Marriage is compatible with infidelity". And maybe that anti-accommodationist argument doesn't work. Well, then, show it doesn't by including a response to it!

Wed, 07 Sep 2011 07:27:28 UTC | #868132

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 13 by DavidMcC

I totally agree with previous posters that accomodationism should not have been allowed to "sneak in". Natural selection is incompatible with god-driven "evolution" - period.

However, two of the other "misconceptions" are more subtle, and related to each other, I think:

Natural selection involves organisms ‘trying’ to adapt.”

It's true that species without a brain don't "try" to do anything, yet are still subject to NS. However, what those with brains try to do (whether consciously or not) is to survive and breed, and adaptations help with that. The specific traits evolution ultimately gives them depend on HOW they are surviving, because pre-adaptations play an important role in shaping the likely adaptations.

“Natural selection gives organisms what they ‘need.’”

Again, NS tends to "go along" with pre-adaptations, because these are a relatively likely area for random mutations to be beneficial, and in that sense, gives organisms what they "need", by enhancing pre-adaptations.

Wed, 07 Sep 2011 08:28:37 UTC | #868142

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 14 by DavidMcC

... Perhaps it's better to say, that organisms end up "needing what they've got" (by co-evolution of their parts) rather than "getting what they need", which implies a non-existent ability of evolution to predict the future.

Wed, 07 Sep 2011 10:57:12 UTC | #868179

puzzled's Avatar Comment 15 by puzzled

I understand perfectly the basic tenet that evolution is the product of differential fertility through the process of natural selection. My problem is that in human beings differential fertility is not the product of natural selection and it is for this reason that evolutionary theory gives us no insight into human reproductive behaviour, the one behaviour that above all others it should be able to tell us about. Given this, it seems perfectly reasonable for evolutionary theorists to talk about animal , or non human behaviour, but on what authority do they talk about human behaviour, or the human condition Theorists such as Richard Dawkins cannot have it both ways. On one hand arguing that we are merely organisms driven by our genes desire to reproduce , then admitting that, of course, human beings, in their ability to organise their own fertility, occupy a special relationship to evolution. In this our genes appear both all powerful and yet also powerless, at the same time. The clearest example of how social imperatives concerning fertility triumph over any genetic imperative to reproduce is that of age-related infertility; in this we find rational women who postpone their fertility for so long they inadvertently commit genetic suicide.

Wed, 07 Sep 2011 11:59:37 UTC | #868192

RSingh's Avatar Comment 16 by RSingh

Post JuJu/Steve:

All religions make testable claims such as existence of god, immortality, reincarnation, prayer efficacy etc., as emphasized by Victor Stenger. The fact that these claims are borderline case for unfalsifibility does not take them compatible or closer to truth. Russel’s tea pot has all characteristics but for the lack of mass-belief. Should you (i.e. advocates of 'compatiblity') not be at elats ‘as skeptical’ to it as to religious absurdities.

Jerry Coyne has more to add, if it helps: http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/2010-10-11-column11_ST_N.htm

Wed, 07 Sep 2011 12:04:39 UTC | #868196

sanban's Avatar Comment 17 by sanban

Fertility isn't really the ultimate key to natural selection, rather, it's the surivival of the genes, usually through the successful production of offspring that survive to reproduce. Sometimes fertility can be a liability to this goal. E.g., animals that must invest heavily in supporting young for extended periods will put off producing more young until the dependent young are able to fend for themselves. In some species, cooperative rearing of young means some individuals can reproduce again while young are still dependent upon the family or clan. This also sometimes mean some members do not get the opportunity to reproduce, but their genes still survive because their relatives are successfully rearing young. Humans are among this group of animals.

Technological advances have given us more control over our own fertility, and our genes drive us to discover ever more about the world around us.

But our genes produce much more than the drives responsible for reproduction and rearing. Our intelligence, the amount of change it's produced and the speed with which these changes have taken place all complicate efforts to understand how our genes affect our behaviour.

I understand perfectly the basic tenet that evolution is the product of differential fertility through the process of natural selection. My problem is that in human beings differential fertility is not the product of natural selection and it is for this reason that evolutionary theory gives us no insight into human reproductive behaviour, the one behaviour that above all others it should be able to tell us about. Given this, it seems perfectly reasonable for evolutionary theorists to talk about animal , or non human behaviour, but on what authority do they talk about human behaviour, or the human condition Theorists such as Richard Dawkins cannot have it both ways. On one hand arguing that we are merely organisms driven by our genes desire to reproduce , then admitting that, of course, human beings, in their ability to organise their own fertility, occupy a special relationship to evolution. In this our genes appear both all powerful and yet also powerless, at the same time. The clearest example of how social imperatives concerning fertility triumph over any genetic imperative to reproduce is that of age-related infertility; in this we find rational women who postpone their fertility for so long they inadvertently commit genetic suicide.

Wed, 07 Sep 2011 15:30:07 UTC | #868287

JuJu's Avatar Comment 18 by JuJu

Comment 16 by RSingh

Post JuJu/Steve:

All religions make testable claims such as existence of god, immortality, reincarnation, prayer efficacy etc., as emphasized by Victor Stenger. The fact that these claims are borderline case for unfalsifibility does not take them compatible or closer to truth. Russel’s tea pot has all characteristics but for the lack of mass-belief. Should you (i.e. advocates of 'compatiblity') not be at elats ‘as skeptical’ to it as to religious absurdities.

I'm not sure what you're trying to imply here. Do you think Steve and I think religion and science are compatible? If so you might want to re-read my comment, maybe you're not aware that the highlighted portion is a quote from the article and the two sentences below it are what I have to say about it. I think it should be clear that I certainly am not in the "compatibility" camp.

Wed, 07 Sep 2011 15:34:14 UTC | #868288

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 19 by DavidMcC

Aside on "compatibilism".

With reference to ongoing debates on "free will", it has become clear that there are those who do not distinguish between compatibilism in the context of "free will" and the same word in the context of this thread. I, for example, am a "compatibilist" in the former sense, but not in the least in the latter sense. Unfortunately, a number of site members seem to be doing their best to muddle them up. (No, I'm not necessarily looking at you, Juju!)

Fri, 09 Sep 2011 12:24:51 UTC | #868872

LeoPolishchuk's Avatar Comment 20 by LeoPolishchuk

Misconception: “Evolution is like a climb up a ladder of progress; organisms are always getting better.”

Thus, nucleic acid-polypeptide technology: a database of DNA through RNA is implemented to the polypeptide interface of technological lines. But this is - automated production system! Who - User? And it's even more ancient entity - the lipid membrane! Once upon a time, how many of out there billions years ago, some engineers of a great civilization Lipidoids have created this nucleic acid-polypeptide technology and armed with it, separated by a million ships in all parts of the visible universe. But what does our evolutionary? And they are the origin and "evolution" of life "replikat" - the RNA! Wow! Thus, you can display the evolutionary origin and development of a computer from a computer-mouse! Well, yes, and a computer system, of course, the last of the duplicated banal mouse itself has formed such a small simple piece, like user! ..

I think that most painful of geo-anthropo-centrism, damn it, again slow! Intelligent life, armed with a polypeptide nucleic technology could in a few billion years, are widespread in the universe, but here on Earth we have only one of the planetary population.

Another interesting question. The above is clearly evident to experts, especially molecular biologists, but! Many in NASA speak of panspermia only microorganisms. But no pan-noo-sperm! Why? It's that - a taboo? But then I wonder who the customer? Ah yes, the theory of evolution, such as lost ... And creationism, too, seems like something is melting ..! And all this is because the origin of life in the universe moves away into the distance - for billions of years ago, into an unknown world of the creative lipidoids who had not yet created a DNA, proteins and many metabolic technologies ... Well, evolution is replaced by the theory of irreversible devolution (strictly Darwinian!) Universal structures created by the ancient creative design http://spacenoology.agro.name/ in the regression, but more adapted to different niches. But this "eternal dispute" evolutionary creationist - a handy tool for preaching! Evolutionists use these 17 Misconceptions and make clearly erroneous concepts that creationists have permanently dosed "Thunder" ... Easy! And now let me develop a pan-Noo-sperm - and everything out!

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 10:03:09 UTC | #869641