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aurora
2003-Nov-06, 10:38 PM
Texas decision on science textbooks. Sounds like a victory for science.

http://www.cnn.com/2003/EDUCATION/11/06/evolution.textbooks.ap/index.html

sarongsong
2003-Nov-06, 11:07 PM
"...scientists and educators argued that the theory of evolution is widely believed..."
Since there's no hard evidence either way, only the book publishers win with their "you-must buy-this-textbook-this-year" mandate, no matter what's in them.

Jack Higgins
2003-Nov-06, 11:22 PM
Since there's no hard evidence either way, only the book publishers win with their "you-must buy-this-textbook-this-year" mandate, no matter what's in them.
Ah come on... #-o Although you're right about the publishers making money either way, there really is no question about whether evolution exists.

We have genetic enginnering now - therefore a DNA change can change an animal's characteristics - this has been shown to occur in nature - therefore evolution exists.

If they want to teach the bible's version, then do it in sunday school, or religion class or whatever!! Biology class is for eduction on scientific things that really exist...

I'm in ireland, where up until like 20 years ago the church ruled the whole country, and no-one questioned them about anything. Now, after all the scandals & stuff, most people don't really care what they say! (ok so I don't know about percentages or anything, but most people do think that)
I go to a school which is controlled by the catholic church, but we still have to obey the national curriculum. And in biology, there is not even a mention of whether evolution exists or not. It's just written there in the book, in black and white. In religion class, even back when I was in primary school, there was no time given to the "scientific" part of religion. We actually mostly discuss current affairs & social issues etc, not about this kind of thing.

Why would a religion teacher or a priest know more about evolution than someone with a degree in biology?

Sorry if I came across a bit strong there, but I really feel seriously about this...

sarongsong
2003-Nov-07, 12:30 AM
We have genetic enginnering now - therefore a DNA change can change an animal's characteristics - this has been shown to occur in nature - therefore evolution exists
I admire your passion, Jack; no apology needed.
Can you give an example where this occurs in nature---naturally?

Wally
2003-Nov-07, 01:14 AM
How 'bout with bacteria? Over the years, they've become more and more resistant to our drugs, forcing us to develop different/stronger drugs to combat infections. Is this by chance? Nope. It's natural selection. Those that survive do, and reproduce. Those that don't survive, don't.

Wingnut Ninja
2003-Nov-07, 02:22 AM
Microevolution can be observed directly. Macroevolution can be tracked with fossil records and comparing DNA between species.

RMallon
2003-Nov-07, 02:26 AM
Here's a recent great addition to Talk Origins....

http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/index.html

It's one to bookmark and pass around.

Swift
2003-Nov-07, 02:54 PM
A lot of the "Creation Science" forces make the claim that no one has observed evolution and its just not true. The bacteria evolving antibiotic resistance (that several have mentioned) is a great example. But there are others, and not just in the fossil record. For a truely excellent book on this I would highly recommend "The Beak of the Finch". It talks about this husband and wife team of scientists (the Grants) that have studied the Darwin Finches on the Galapagos for something like 25 years. On one small island they have tracked EVERY finch born there, who its parents were, and various characteristics of it, and for 25 generations how those characteristics have changed with environmental changes. The changes are small compared to what can happen over thousands or millions of years, but it is mathematical proof of evolution. Other, similar studies are given in the book.

There is one thing from the CNN article that bothers me. One of the pro-evolution board members is quoted as saying

"The voices of the science community have been loud and unified," Smoot said. "This is not a theory. There's no question about what whether evolution exists at all."

Though I appreciate the point, they are wrong. Evolution is a theory. Though the Creation Science people would make that out as a bad thing, it is not. They are all confusing hypothesis and theory. A Theory is a hypothesis that has testable ideas that has to be shown to be correct by this testing. Newton's ideas about gravity were a Theory, that was tested for a long time to be correct until it could not explain some things, such as Mercury's orbit. Along comes Einstein's theories which better explain the available facts. To this day people are still testing Einstein's theories. Yet even though those are just theories we still manage to get spacecraft to where they need to go.

Evolution is a very well proven, very widely accepted theory. But it is not dogma or TRUTH. It has been proven and will continue to be tested.

The other tactic of the Creation Science types is to take disagreements among scientists about the details of evolution and say that is proof that evolution isn't true. Though there are strong differences about some of the details, there is no disagreement about the general theory.

Sorry if that was a rant, but it is a subject I feel strongly about. :oops:

sts60
2003-Nov-07, 03:01 PM
Just to make this on-topic for BABB, a similar gang (young-earth creationists) pressured the textbook publishers to change "millions of years ago" to "long ago".

What annoys me most of all is the sanctimonious blather of the Discovery Institute types. "It's not about religion." This is, purely and simply, a lie, and the DI types are liars. They need to be called on this, loudly and clearly, every time they use falsehood in the service of what they perceive to be Truth.

ToSeek
2003-Nov-07, 03:03 PM
That evolution has occurred is a fact. The mechanism behind it is arguable. Good page about this issue from Talkorigins.org: Evolution is a fact and a theory (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolution-fact.html).

aurora
2003-Nov-07, 04:59 PM
Can you give an example where this occurs in nature---naturally?

Try these.

Examples of speciation:

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html

More observed examples of speciation:

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/speciation.html

Evidence for macroevolution

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/

And for a real hoot, read the feedback section of the talkorigins website.

Vermonter
2003-Nov-07, 05:04 PM
Is this the same Texas Board of Education who shot down an Environmental Science textbook because they considered it "un-American" for representing solar energy in a more favorable light than conventional coal power?

Paraphrasing the head of the Board... "The oil and gas industry must be consulted on these matters...they always get the raw deal."

ToSeek
2003-Nov-07, 06:26 PM
Here's a recent great addition to Talk Origins....

http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/index.html

It's one to bookmark and pass around.

We discussed that in the planning stages:

http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=5992

Never did find out if anyone here helped out.

George
2003-Nov-07, 07:49 PM
Sorry if that was a rant, but it is a subject I feel strongly about. :oops:

Good, Swift! We should all have strong feelings about anything that attacks are personal beliefs yet still be willing to have a degree of openess to new idea. For this reason, I tend to admire the scientific approach more as it prides itself in seeking out the truth in, hopefully, an unbiased way. I also belive this view is very scriptually rooted (Ps. 111 for one). It is tougher to be open when people "draw lines in the sand".

What gets me is where those sand lines get drawn. So, allow me to add some balance if I may...

Evolutionists don't have all the answers and disagree among themselves.
However, microevolution, I believe, is well accepted now even with most religous leaders. Macroevolution is not so evident even though more and more "transitional" fossils are found.

Even tougher is the issue of life popping up 3.5 billion years ago. What are the mathematical odds of randomly combining proteins in the necessary step for life. Just how many monkeys with typewritters would it take to eventually type out any normal 50 character line in say 1 billion years. Are the odds enormous that life has formed randomly in the time alotted for Earth or are the odds enormously staggering?

Creationists seem to have a higher horse they should come down from.
Creationists that get the most notice seem to be the ones that adhere only to a very simplistic interpretation of scripture. Putting happy dinosaurs on the Ark, quick forming fossils, etc. are not logical at all. It is getting more and more like a blind faith approach and I find this unfair to scripture as well.

Both act threatened by the other so the conflicts rage on.

I believe very strongly in the God of the Bible and His current daily involvement in mankind. I believe in a more Unified Theory idea. "Days" are events and Adam was the first "living soul". This allows evolution as a result of the hand of a Creator.

mike alexander
2003-Nov-07, 10:25 PM
Odds of the monkeys typing "igotothefarm" at random: pretty low. about 1 in 10^17. (worst case: 26^12)

Chance of monkey typing "i" one in 26. Save i.

Monkey typing "go"? one in 676. Save i go.

'to' same 1/676. save igoto. And so on.

Worst case 'farm' one in about half a million.

Point is that the appropriate model is not a reversed explosion. More like crystallization. It may take a while for a crystal to start forming from a solution, but once it does preestablished order directs the next steps. Say you had 100 grams of sugar in solution in warm water and asked what the odds are that the individual molecules will all align themselves in an orderly cube. An exact number is hard to come up with, but it has to be a lot bigger than 10^23 (approximate # molecules of sugar in the water). But sugar crystals DO form.

And, as they say, add just a little sweetness to our days.

George
2003-Nov-08, 10:09 PM
Thanks for that insight, Mike. There is good logic in that reasoning.

It would be interesting to know if proteins, for example, behave closer to your crystalization example or more like random non-reading monkey typists. I suspect they do otherwise 26^50 (not counting spaces and punctuation marks) pure random permutations would take some serious monkey business! :)

My hope is to see more openess to all possibilities especially by those bound to reject the others view. 17th century textbooks would have done well to mention Copernicus and his heliocentric theory given the Venus and Saturn observational results found by Mr. Galilei. It's almost as if it is pay-back time in Texas.

Speaking of which, I am a Texas Aggie and - WOW! We figured Oklahoma would not forget who beat them last year. Ouch!

tuffel999
2003-Nov-09, 01:23 AM
Ohhh crap I can't believe evolution keeps coming up. You would think of all of the bbs's, in all of the interent what are the chances of people still bringing up that nonsense here. Here is a very good answer provided here on the bbs by beskeptical. http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=7843&highlight=evolution

I could also go and pull primary literature but most people don't have access to the online copies of research journals.

Espritch
2003-Nov-09, 02:00 AM
It would be interesting to know if proteins, for example, behave closer to your crystalization example or more like random non-reading monkey typists.

They would behave more like crystallization. That is to say, they behave according to the laws that drive chemical processes. These laws are not random. You need only look at prions, the self replicating proteins that cause mad cow disease, to realize that there is nothing inherently impossible about life arising from non life given the appropriate chemical precursors.

The trick in abiogenesis is in determining exactly what kind of chemistry was occurring on the earth when life first started. This is no small challenge and I'll be the first to agree that, at this point, we don't have a clear picture of how it happened. But so what? Claiming some mysterious designer as an explanation is really no explanation at all unless you can explain, in scientific terms, what that designer is, how it did it, etc. Do religious people really want their God put under a microscope? If not, they shouldn't invoke him as an explanation for scientific questions.

sarongsong
2003-Nov-09, 09:41 PM
...Do religious people really want their God put under a microscope?
Looks like it:
"People don't realize the threat of scientific dogmatism. They're not looking for the truth."---Texas Board of Education Trustee Don McLeroy, who voted against the biology textbooks because he felt they were biased against religious explanations.
[From the 11/09/03 print version of http://nctimes.com Opinion Page]

George
2003-Nov-10, 01:13 AM
...Do religious people really want their God put under a microscope?
Looks like it:
"People don't realize the threat of scientific dogmatism. They're not looking for the truth."---Texas Board of Education Trustee Don McLeroy, who voted against the biology textbooks because he felt they were biased against religious explanations.
[From the 11/09/03 print version of http://nctimes.com Opinion Page]

Thanks for the quote. A great illsutration of my concern with attitudes. I simply want to see openess to all possibilites for truth. Creation theories that are not conflicting with evolution should be considered, or at least tolerated until proven false. Is it irrational to consider all the delicate variables at Planck point 1, as well as, the beauty in life's mechanisms that an intelligence is at work that doesn't allow himself to be revealed? Faith alone would be one justification of this in my opinion. Not blind or irrational faith, however.

Thanks for the info, Espritch.

Well that's enough out of me. Back to astronomy.....

RBG
2003-Nov-10, 01:58 AM
I've always discounted the often cited... "What are the random probabilities of life forming, let's see - 22 gazillion times 4,348 trillion... etc., etc."

As mentioned, we are talking about physical processes along the lines of the crystalization example. It's not what are the probabilities of random elements and compounds coming to together... what is never part of their calculation is that various chemicals have a 100% natural affinity for one another such that there is no random probability involved. Na + Cl will make NaCl. There's nothing fortuitous about it, in the big picture. If you could list all the chemical reactions needed from time zero to me... the probabilities of each reaction must be 1. (Which is a different statement than predicting the outcome of the "chemical reaction" at time zero, of course.)

I'm dangerously close to rambling, so I think I'll stop here.

RBG

Vermonter
2003-Nov-10, 02:19 AM
...Do religious people really want their God put under a microscope?
Looks like it:
"People don't realize the threat of scientific dogmatism. They're not looking for the truth."---Texas Board of Education Trustee Don McLeroy, who voted against the biology textbooks because he felt they were biased against religious explanations.
[From the 11/09/03 print version of http://nctimes.com Opinion Page]

Thanks for the quote. A great illsutration of my concern with attitudes. I simply want to see openess to all possibilites for truth. Creation theories that are not conflicting with evolution should be considered, or at least tolerated until proven false. Is it irrational to consider all the delicate variables at Planck point 1, as well as, the beauty in life's mechanisms that an intelligence is at work that doesn't allow himself to be revealed? Faith alone would be one justification of this in my opinion. Not blind or irrational faith, however.

Thanks for the info, Espritch.

Well that's enough out of me. Back to astronomy.....

No...creation theories should stay out of science classes and science textbooks altogether. Creation "Theory" is not science, and should not be treated as such. Which "theory" did you have in mind, by the way?

Betenoire
2003-Nov-10, 06:54 PM
...Do religious people really want their God put under a microscope?
Looks like it:
"People don't realize the threat of scientific dogmatism. They're not looking for the truth."---Texas Board of Education Trustee Don McLeroy, who voted against the biology textbooks because he felt they were biased against religious explanations.
[From the 11/09/03 print version of http://nctimes.com Opinion Page]

But in truth they don't. Creationists carry out the debate by picking apart evolution through narrow-view questions, argument-by-definition, and outright mis-representation. They NEVER provide details of their alternative proposal. Think about what you've heard of Creationism. What is the theory, exactly? "Erm... God did it." This is not any thing that can be discussed on a scientific level, so they go to great lengths to avoid saying that. Notice in the original article that the complaint wasn't that "Creationism is just as valid" but that "Some scientists and religious types disagree with evolution."

Edit:
Also, how do we define "microevolution" and "macroevolution"? I mean, specifically? What's the dividing line?

Vermonter
2003-Nov-10, 09:44 PM
Paraphrasing Talk.Origins "29+ Evidences for Macroevolution"...

Microevolution, or change beneath the species level, may be thought of as relatively small scale change in the functional and genetic constituencies of populations of organisms. Macroevolution is the theory of descent by gradual modification from a common ancestor.

tuffel999
2003-Nov-10, 11:35 PM
That macroevolution definition needs some work. There are times when evolution can be very rapid(relatively speaking).

fingolfen
2003-Nov-11, 12:26 AM
Why would a religion teacher or a priest know more about evolution than someone with a degree in biology?

Sorry if I came across a bit strong there, but I really feel seriously about this...

I agree with you there 100%. However, one thing that a Roman Catholic school has going for it is that the Vatican has stated that evolution is "more than a hypothesis". While the Pope still wrestled with some potential spiritual consequences of evolution, he upheld the scientific veracity of the theory. See:

http://www.cin.org/users/james/files/whatsaid.htm
http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA660.html
http://www.talkorigins.org/pdf/faq-god.pdf

tuffel999
2003-Nov-11, 01:16 AM
This was a really interesting point that has been brought up time and again about this speech and the Catholic church in general. I will have to look back for it but the way this situation was explained to me at the time was that evolution and religion need not conflict with one another. The basic premise being that evolution dealt with the body while religion dealt with the soul.


Me Speaking Now:
Basically meaning the flesh may evolve but the soul remains a constant creation of god. It is supported by the philosophical question of what is man without his soul? I alwas liked this approach as a good way to wrap up the two points of view. Nature may have formed the body through evolution(with god's design) but the soul is a permenant fixture bestowed upon man by god as a gift. This is personal belief that I will not repeat again but I think it falls kind of in line with what I believe was meant by the pope.(I am Catholic for those wondering)

Sister Ray
2003-Nov-11, 05:33 AM
Wasn't it Stephen Jay Gould that said something along the lines of "Religion and science aren't incompatable with each other, but they don't have anything to do with each other." I agree that the two should not be mixed. Bad for all involved.

At my school, the teachers weren't even allowed to mention evolution! And this was a public school! I guess they were afraid of offending some creationist. (As an aside, in the sociology class I took my senior year, we were supposed to write essays on the truth of evolution versus creationism. There were two creationists. One I was amused by, because she used a cartoon that was very obviously anti-creationist to cover her report. The cartoon showed a scientist and a creationist in two seperate panels. The scientists is saying "These are the facts. What conclusion can we draw from them?" The creationist is saying "This is the conclusion. What facts can we draw from this?" How the girl missed the point I have no idea. The other creationist's entire argument was something along the lines of people from different regions are still genetically similiar. I asked him how that disproved evolution, and he couldn't answer.)

gethen
2003-Nov-11, 01:49 PM
Thirty-five years ago, long before the pope's 1996 statement, I was attending a Catholic highschool, and we were taught that the theory of evolution explained the origins of man. The Bible, we were told, gave the same story in a form that the people of its era could understand, but should not be taken literally. As a result, the first time I realized that some people actually took the Bible version literally was when I went off to college at a major university and ran into some fundamentalists. I thought they were joking. I still think they must be joking.

Betenoire
2003-Nov-11, 05:58 PM
Paraphrasing Talk.Origins "29+ Evidences for Macroevolution"...

Microevolution, or change beneath the species level, may be thought of as relatively small scale change in the functional and genetic constituencies of populations of organisms. Macroevolution is the theory of descent by gradual modification from a common ancestor.

But then we need an effective definition of species that can be applied to fossils as well as living creatures. The "sexual isolation" definition is insufficient: Is it determined by geologic (Oceans, say), physiologic (Great Dane vs. Chihuahua), or chromosomal (species w/different chromosome counts yield sterile hybrids) definitions? Generally, the latter is most often used, but by this definition buffalo and cattle are the same species (there are other examples of this phenonmenon). And then there are the issues of applying this definition to plants, or microbes.
The species dividing line may well be a dividing gradient, which reduces the "microevolution/macroevolution" distinction to pointlessness (but Creationists will continue to use it to say "Only microevolution occurs").

tuffel999
2003-Nov-11, 07:19 PM
Thirty-five years ago, long before the pope's 1996 statement, I was attending a Catholic highschool, and we were taught that the theory of evolution explained the origins of man. The Bible, we were told, gave the same story in a form that the people of its era could understand, but should not be taken literally. As a result, the first time I realized that some people actually took the Bible version literally was when I went off to college at a major university and ran into some fundamentalists. I thought they were joking. I still think they must be joking.

I have found very few catholics in the industrial countries of North America(minus mexico) and Europe who would argue against this point of view. However, I have noticed a trend with people who argue creationism versus evolution. On an educational level people who support creationism are less educated on average. That does not mean that there aren't any highly educated proponents of creationism just fewer than are on the evolution stand. These are but 1 man's observations and therefore couyld be wrong but it is a pattern I have noticed.

gethen
2003-Nov-11, 08:46 PM
Oh, I agree tuffel999. I wasn't implyng that there were more creationists at that university, just that I found it ironic that a center of learning was the first place I ran into any of them. I grew up in a very small town, and would normally expect the reverse to have happened. Had to hit the wider world to discover all the vagaries of human nature I guess.

mike alexander
2003-Nov-12, 08:37 PM
I went to a Catholic high school around the same time as Gethen, around the cusp of the sixties, and evolution was presented in my biology classes without fanfare. It just was. Catholic college, too. No fuss.

Betenoire brought up the Chihuahua/Great Dane. Hey, that was my example, many threads ago! :wink:

Those interested should go back to read the excerpt from my book, Chihuahua Red. :roll:

Espritch
2003-Nov-12, 10:28 PM
Also, how do we define "microevolution" and "macroevolution"? I mean, specifically? What's the dividing line?

Most creationists define microevolution as evolution within a kind. A kind is a notion based on the use of the word in the Noah flood story (God brings 2 of every animal, each accoriding to its "kind"). They claim evolution can happen within a kind but not from one kind to another. The problem is they can't offer a useful working deffinition of what constitutes a kind. Some creationists dump every single species of dinosaur in a single kind but require separate kinds for men and chimps. Obviously, kind mean whatever the creationist find it convienient for it to mean. Keep the number of kinds small enough to all fit in the ark, but make sure you don't suggest a relationship between men and monkies. :roll:

Vermonter
2003-Nov-12, 10:42 PM
It's easy, really. God just used sub-space to make enough room for the animals. Each stall door was a portal do a large habitat that could contain the animal(s).

informant
2003-Nov-13, 10:11 AM
...and then He reversed the polarity of the neutron flow (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=9302)? ;) 8)

Vermonter
2003-Nov-13, 05:54 PM
Exactly. He reversed the polarity to lock the doors.

sarongsong
2003-Nov-13, 10:24 PM
"...[4" tall] 210 million-year-old Morganucodon (or Morgie, for short) is no mere rodent, but the ancestor of today's more than 5,000 species of mammals, including humans..."
http://www.smithsonianmag.si.edu/smithsonian/issues03/nov03/mall.html
http://www.smithsonianmag.si.edu/smithsonian/issues03/nov03/images/mall_morgie.gif

mike alexander
2003-Nov-13, 10:49 PM
The human race is descended from rodents. That explains a lot.

sarongsong
2003-Nov-13, 10:55 PM
Maybe, maybe not; article says "oldest known mammal".

Emspak
2003-Nov-13, 11:04 PM
I've followed this thread and wonder -- why is it that only in the US is this evolution thing an issue?

I brought this up before, in another thread. But I don't see the biology students I met from countries that are ostensibly more "religious" -- a lot of them in the Middle East (where there are official state religions) but some from places like Mexico -- start carrying on about baises against religion. Nor did I see the students who weren't biology majors do it.

I will say it again, for the benefit of those who don't get it: religion and science are two different things. They are two different tools. You would not use a srewdriver to hammer nails, nor would you use a hammer for brain surgery. Right tool for the right job.

If I want to talk about morality, there is a place for faith in that. That is one reason most people on Earth have faiths and religions and such. (It is also a darn good tool for making your people different from other people and binding them together).

But if I want to talk about how my body works and why, where the light in my watch comes from, and why Dolphins breathe air, then that is where science enters. No Gods allowed. He only muddles the problem and thus far has offered precious little in the way of useful, predictable, duplicable information.

Darn it, I am one who does recognize the role of faith in people's lives. But if your faith is so strong, why do you need a scientist to validate it? Orthodox Jews are pretty religious people and folow scripture pretty closely, but they aren't complaining about the New York City schools' discussions of evolution.

sarongsong
2003-Nov-13, 11:08 PM
...Right tool for the right job...
What tool explains consciousness?

kylenano
2003-Nov-13, 11:38 PM
I've followed this thread and wonder -- why is it that only in the US is this evolution thing an issue?


It's appearing in the UK now too, there have been a few reports in the press. The latest - the Guardian newspaper is holding what it calls a 'one-day event' on 1st December in London called "Creationism: Science versus faith in schools". Speakers include Professor Steve Jones, Professor Russell Stannard and Tim Radford, who is the science editor of the Guardian.

On a related note - we spent last Saturday afternoon at Down House in Kent, where Charles Darwin lived from 1842-82. He wrote On the origin of species there.

It's so peaceful there, just outside a small village. Quiet, surrounded by woods and fields with sheep in them. Such a contrast to the arguments that have resulted from the publication of that book.

Carolyn

chani
2003-Nov-13, 11:40 PM
I read a really good book The Bridge of Life by Somebody Sinnot. He reconciles Science with Religion. Science sometimes lacks beauty, while religionists pay pass too quickly over knowledge. Another good book is the Destiny of Man.