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Canofceleri

Evolution Discussion

Recommended Posts

Canofceleri

I'd like to see some debate here. I named K^2, Leftcoast, and Ravien specifically because I've been generally out of my depth in the Global Warming discussion when these guys talk-- so I want to see what they and the rest of you have to say about evolution.

 

I know many scientists would look at evolution as fact, and I think that from what I've read it is probable. But certain aspects seem weak at the moment. The Cambrian Explosion in particular is interesting... it seems like Darwin thought that it would be explained in due time and more fossils would fill in the gaps... but I don't think they have yet.

 

Weigh in.

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K^2

It is very hard to deny that evolution works. We see it in labs on simpler species. The bacteria antibiotic resistance is rather well studied, and it is a good demonstration of evolution on very small scales.

 

It is a different question, however, if you want to ask if evolution explains everything. So far, it doesn't quite. More specifically, we don't know why mutation rates seem to vary so much. We have some ideas and models, but there is no way to really test them at this time. That's one thing that is difficult with evolution. You can always build a model that fits a past experiment. The challenge is to make one that also predicts future ones, and that stuff happens over thousands, if not millions of years.

 

So far, however, we don't have a scientific theory that works better than evolution. As I said earlier, we can test evolution in the labs. It makes predictions, and predictions hold. All of the alternative "theories" make no such predictions, and we have no chance of testing them. One point for evolution, no points for everyone else, but who knows. Maybe something better will come along.

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Ravien

Actually we see evolution on every scale of life. Unfortunately, larger organisms have longer generations. Colonies of bacteria can double their number every few hours, some tiny insects have generations that last only a few days, rodents can have generations around every few years, and human generations are roughly every 20 years. Due to this, it's much easier to observe evolution among the faster reproducing species, as phenotypic changes and speciation take numerous generations to become obvious. So in laboratory settings, we've seen bacteria and fruit flies and mice evolve.

 

But outside of laboratory settings, we've actually taken advantage of evolution for thousands of years, and the results are all around us. Cats and dogs are not naturally occurring animals. They were bred from their larger, wild ancestors, but have now speciated so much (especially cats) that they can no longer breed with them (this is a large part of what makes one species distinct from another). Similarly cows and chickens and sheep do not exist in the wild, and cannot breed with their ancestors. This is the direct result of applied evolution. The same is also true for pretty much all the plants we eat, like tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, etc. None of which are naturally occurring. Most of our food and pets which we have bred simply could not survive in the wild. Can you imagine a sh*tzu dog being a successful species in the wild? Can you imagine how well tomatoes would survive in the wild?

 

Not only can we see the result of evolutionary processes right through to speciation in the animals we have bred for our own use, but we can also see the result of these same processes in ourselves. Through geographical isolation for extended periods of time, we have split into the many different races which make up all of us as humans. Aryans, Africans, South Americans, Latinos, Eskimos, Indians, American Indians, Australian Aboriginals, Caucasians, Asians, Guineans, Maoris, Indonesians, Scandinavians, etc etc etc.

 

10,000 years ago, the entire population of humans on earth was African. In those last 10 millenia, we have spread across the entire world, and due to our primary method of transport being walking or maybe, sometimes, riding a horse, we enjoyed very long periods of geographical isolation in varied environments. The result was the beginnings of speciation, which were cut short by improved methods of transport, effectively nullifying our isolation and allowing us to interbreed among our species again, halting the speciation process. As transport improves in the future, and we continue to interbreed, eventually we'll likely become one race again. But until then, the fact that we have so many races, and that these races are "conveniently" geographically delineated and consistently appeared during prolonged periods of isolation, is pretty compelling evidence for evolution among humans. Moreso, this evidence is directly observable to anyone with eyes. And all the variation in our species only occurred in the last 10,000 years!

 

And if you're concerned at all about "gaps" in the fossil record, I'd recommend reading up on punctuated equilibrium, and check out Talk Origins. And if you're really interested in patching up any gaps in your understanding of evolution, a good place to start would be the Wikipedia page on Objections to Evolution, which contains rebuttals and explanations to a wide range of arguments that have been brought against evolution.

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K^2

Breeding is a good example of evolution, but it doesn't actually help experimentally demonstrate evolution. Yes, evolution would have predicted that we can selectively breed organisms, but we figured it out before we came up with the concept of evolution. And the worst part is that you cannot use it as a counter argument against creationism. Creationists will simply say that these creatures were not selectively bred from their wild counterparts, but were created such from the start to be of use to humans.

 

Things you can demonstrate in the lab are far more convincing. You start out with one phenotype, and end up with another, distinctly different phenotype not previously observed. This demonstrates beyond any doubt that organisms will evolve under environmental stress. Once you got that, of course, it is useful to mention that both selective breeding and natural adaptations can be explained by this, definitely existing phenomenon, rather than needing to invent a new one.

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gizmo

You can't argue with evolution, it happens.

 

Human minds are conscious and unconscious. What we learn affects us everyday, what we learn unconsciously will affect our body, what we learn consciously will affect our environment.

 

Evolution takes time, lots of time on a scale like human evolution. Look back at how humans were built 100 years ago. The strongest man then probably isn't 1/2 as strong as the strongest man today. Then look at their intellectuality. In 1907 think of the technology we had. If someone would've told you about the "Internet" in 1907 they would've called you a nut and institutionalized you. A land where all people can meet without physically being there. Where all ideas can be shared and a great deal of knowledge can be discussed in an un-palpable world.

 

If you would've said the same thing in 1707 you would've been hung as a witch or something to that effect.

 

Evolution of the mind and body.

 

Don't forget this either. Humans are animals, we'll become extinct like almost everything else has unless we use our capability to survive and evolve to live on throughout time.

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Leftcoast

I don't think I can add much after what has already been said. I will repeat that there are no other legetimate theories to challenge evolution

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K^2

JuVeNiLe, evolution of our society over the past few hundred years has virtually nothing to do with biological evolution of human species. We, as species, remained almost unchanged over at least 10k years. The fact that today's strongest man is going to be statistically stronger than one from 100 years ago also has almost everything with us having better physical training and medicine than with any physical changes. In fact, if anything, we would have been devolving over the past 100 years, since we have been deminishing evolutionary pressures with advances in agriculture, medicine, and law to the point of being insufficient to fight the natural degradation of the genome.

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Ph3L1z14n0
Evolution of the mind and body.

I think it's important somebody establishes what the topic is about.

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Im Rick James B**ch!
JuVeNiLe, evolution of our society over the past few hundred years has virtually nothing to do with biological evolution of human species. We, as species, remained almost unchanged over at least 10k years. The fact that today's strongest man is going to be statistically stronger than one from 100 years ago also has almost everything with us having better physical training and medicine than with any physical changes. In fact, if anything, we would have been devolving over the past 100 years, since we have been deminishing evolutionary pressures with advances in agriculture, medicine, and law to the point of being insufficient to fight the natural degradation of the genome.

Exactly. Too often people seem to think that patterns, such as humans growing taller, have some correlation to evolution. Using this example, humans are becoming taller because of health improvements. As humans, our DNA has a defined, through the combination of alleles, potential height in which we can reach. Us reaching this height however is subject to circumstances. Humans grow less when sick thus it is the increase in health which has caused humans to become taller.

 

Seeing as this topic is rather open ended, how do you all think reproductive cloning would affect natural selection? As i am currently studying cloning legislation, as part of my legal studies curriculum, i have been thinking about this for some time, however, i cant yet convert my thoughts into a tangible essay (i dont really know where to begin) so i think i will delay statement for now. Hopefully some opinion will galvanize an argument.

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K^2

Naturally, cloning makes it harder for species to evolve. It would be nearly equivalent to asexual reproduction in some species. But on the other hand, seeing how we already done almost everything we could not to evolve, I don't think it can hurt any more.

 

What I think is more interesting is what we can do with in vitro fertilization and minimal engineering. For example, I am a carrier for a blue eye gene, but my eyes are brown. Lets say, I am to marry a blue-eyed girl, and i want to have blue-eyed children. The old fashioned way, the odds are 50/50. But using in vitro fertilization and some rather straightforward DNA replication and sequencing techniques (most of which I personally have tried in a lab), I could easily get this to 100% without violating any currently existing stem cell or cloning laws.

 

This does have an effect of somewhat artificial evolution. Not only do we chose the mate, but we also chose which traits, own and of our mate, gets passed to the next generation. Naturally, wanting our children to be healthy, we will filter out genes that might cause health problems. The only trouble with this is that we are likely to get stuck in a local "maximum" of physical and metal abilities, but it is still much better than the road we are heading on now.

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Ph3L1z14n0
Naturally, cloning makes it harder for species to evolve. It would be nearly equivalent to asexual reproduction in some species. But on the other hand, seeing how we already done almost everything we could not to evolve, I don't think it can hurt any more.

 

What I think is more interesting is what we can do with in vitro fertilization and minimal engineering. For example, I am a carrier for a blue eye gene, but my eyes are brown. Lets say, I am to marry a blue-eyed girl, and i want to have blue-eyed children. The old fashioned way, the odds are 50/50. But using in vitro fertilization and some rather straightforward DNA replication and sequencing techniques (most of which I personally have tried in a lab), I could easily get this to 100% without violating any currently existing stem cell or cloning laws.

 

This does have an effect of somewhat artificial evolution. Not only do we chose the mate, but we also chose which traits, own and of our mate, gets passed to the next generation. Naturally, wanting our children to be healthy, we will filter out genes that might cause health problems. The only trouble with this is that we are likely to get stuck in a local "maximum" of physical and metal abilities, but it is still much better than the road we are heading on now.

Your statement makes me think of the movie Gattaca, which would be a really creepy world bored.gif

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thekingoftown

Ok all you guy's think we came from nothing, answer these

 

1. Where did the space for the universe come from?

2. Where did matter come from?

3. Where did the laws of the universe come from (gravity, inertia, etc.)?

4. How did matter get so perfectly organized?

5. Where did the energy come from to do all the organizing?

6. When, where, why, and how did life come from non-living matter?

7. When, where, why, and how did life learn to reproduce itself?

8. With what did the first cell capable of sexual reproduction reproduce?

9. Why would any plant or animal want to reproduce more of its kind since this would only make more mouths to feed and decrease the chances of survival? (Does the individual have a drive to survive, or the species? How do you explain this?)

10. How can mutations (recombining of the genetic code) create any new, improved varieties? (Recombining English letters will never produce Chinese books.)

11. Is it possible that similarities in design between different animals prove a common Creator instead of a common ancestor?

12. Natural selection only works with the genetic information available and tends only to keep a species stable. How would you explain the increasing complexity in the genetic code that must have occurred if evolution were true?

13. When, where, why, and how did:

* Single-celled plants become multi-celled? (Where are the two and three-celled intermediates?)

* Single-celled animals evolve?

* Fish change to amphibians?

* Amphibians change to reptiles?

* Reptiles change to birds? (The lungs, bones, eyes, reproductive organs, heart, method of locomotion, body covering, etc., are all very different!)

* How did the intermediate forms live?

14. When, where, why, how, and from what did:

* Whales evolve?

* Sea horses evolve?

* Bats evolve?

* Eyes evolve?

* Ears evolve?

* Hair, skin, feathers, scales, nails, claws, etc., evolve?

15. Which evolved first (how, and how long; did it work without the others)?

* The digestive system, the food to be digested, the appetite, the ability to find and eat the food, the digestive juices, or the body’s resistance to its own digestive juice (stomach, intestines, etc.)?

* The drive to reproduce or the ability to reproduce?

* The lungs, the mucus lining to protect them, the throat, or the perfect mixture of gases to be breathed into the lungs?

* DNA or RNA to carry the DNA message to cell parts?

* The termite or the flagella in its intestines that actually digest the cellulose?

* The plants or the insects that live on and pollinate the plants?

* The bones, ligaments, tendons, blood supply, or muscles to move the bones?

* The nervous system, repair system, or hormone system?

* The immune system or the need for it?

16. There are many thousands of examples of symbiosis that defy an evolutionary explanation. Why must we teach students that evolution is the only explanation for these relationships?

17. How would evolution explain mimicry? Did the plants and animals develop mimicry by chance, by their intelligent choice, or by design?

18. When, where, why, and how did man evolve feelings? Love, mercy, guilt, etc. would never evolve in the theory of evolution.

19. *How did photosynthesis evolve?

20. *How did thought evolve?

21. *How did flowering plants evolve, and from that?

22. *What kind of evolutionist are you? Why are you not one of the other eight or ten kinds?

23. What would you have said fifty years ago if I told you I had a living coelacanth in my aquarium?

24. *Is there one clear prediction of macroevolution that has proved true?

25. *What is so scientific about the idea of hydrogen as becoming human?

26. *Do you honestly believe that everything came from nothing?

 

Now when you answer all of them, then I'll believe in evolution.

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Otter

1. Where did the space for the universe come from?

 

No beginning, no end. I much prefer this to having it conjured up by some "god" - because, after all, where did he come from? Eh? The Moon, maybe?

 

2. Where did matter come from?

 

Matter came from matter.

 

3. Where did the laws of the universe come from (gravity, inertia, etc.)?

 

Man. We've chosen to define the nature of reality in "laws". So I suppose the straight answer is - the laws of the universe are only our understanding of the behavior of the universe.

 

4. How did matter get so perfectly organized?

 

Define perfect.

 

5. Where did the energy come from to do all the organizing?

 

The universe. It's a gigantic, pulsating, energy recycler.

 

6. When, where, why, and how did life come from non-living matter?

 

No one can give you an answer to when with any degree of accuracy. As for how, there are many theories. Look 'em up. Amino acids have been synthetically produced in the lab. As for why? There is no why.

 

7. When, where, why, and how did life learn to reproduce itself?

 

I guess the real uestion here is how, and again, there are many different theories.

 

8. With what did the first cell capable of sexual reproduction reproduce?

 

First cell, or first living organism? It makes no difference - cellular mitosis. Sexuality is somewhat limited in creatures consisting of one cell or less.

 

9. Why would any plant or animal want to reproduce more of its kind since this would only make more mouths to feed and decrease the chances of survival? (Does the individual have a drive to survive, or the species? How do you explain this?)

 

I think I'd be more interested to hear why creationism solves this particular issue. Oh, wait, I know... spooky f*cking magic and god. Awesome. Listen - we decended from biological soup that had one function: to reproduce. Soon after, I'd imagine, it learned how to eat. I notice a common thread here, as well - you keep suggesting through your questions that there must be some sort of agency behind the way things are, some sort of intelligent plan. Why? Evolution has no logical forethought. God's the one with the master plan - and according to creationism, or even spooky cult theories like intelligent design, he has us doing the exact same god damned thing.

 

10. How can mutations (recombining of the genetic code) create any new, improved varieties? (Recombining English letters will never produce Chinese books.)

 

Haha, good one. Let's ignore the obviously flawed example. Read Ravien's post up above - we have already, through controlled breeding and controlling the environment, seen a form of evolution produce what we would call "beneficial" results. Additionally, you seem to be under the impression that evolution is all about "improving" a species. It's not - it's about one thing: survival. And not because there's agency behind this survival, no. Those who don't survive just aren't around any more.

 

Don't fall into the trap of thinking that these mutations happen quickly. Take a look at the grand canyon, for example - you can see the erosion, literally, in the layers of sediment slowly carved away over millenia by our ever changing environment. Little changes add up over time. Now, change, as in the millenia-spanning process, does happen quickly when at the mercy of a changing environment, but it's not an overnight, Kevin Costner growing gills in Waterworld kind of story.

 

11. Is it possible that similarities in design between different animals prove a common Creator instead of a common ancestor?

 

Yes, just as possible as the idea that we all may be living in some high school kid's computer simulation in the year 4950, or that Lord Xenu placed us all here ages ago. Possibility is not at question here.

 

12. Natural selection only works with the genetic information available and tends only to keep a species stable. How would you explain the increasing complexity in the genetic code that must have occurred if evolution were true?

 

You're basing your question on a flawed premise. You're forgetting about advantage. Natural selection, again, has no agency - it's the byproduct of every organism's fight to survive and procreate, not every species.

 

13. When, where, why, and how did:

* Single-celled plants become multi-celled? (Where are the two and three-celled intermediates?)

* Single-celled animals evolve?

* Fish change to amphibians?

* Amphibians change to reptiles?

* Reptiles change to birds? (The lungs, bones, eyes, reproductive organs, heart, method of locomotion, body covering, etc., are all very different!)

* How did the intermediate forms live?

 

There is a lot of research here that you can look up yourself. The fossil record we have today is really rather self explanatory.

 

14. When, where, why, how, and from what did:

* Whales evolve?

* Sea horses evolve?

* Bats evolve?

* Eyes evolve?

* Ears evolve?

* Hair, skin, feathers, scales, nails, claws, etc., evolve?

 

Again, look it up, my budding Christian friend.

 

15. Which evolved first (how, and how long; did it work without the others)?

 

Oh god.

 

* The digestive system, the food to be digested, the appetite, the ability to find and eat the food, the digestive juices, or the body’s resistance to its own digestive juice (stomach, intestines, etc.)?

The ability to "find" and "eat" food.

 

* The drive to reproduce or the ability to reproduce?

Chicken or the egg? I'd personally argue the ability to reproduce, because that's kinda the precursor to the whole thing, no? Couple this with the fact that the first reproduction was probably a hermaphroditic mitochondrial congo line.

 

* The lungs, the mucus lining to protect them, the throat, or the perfect mixture of gases to be breathed into the lungs?

 

Haha, good one. If by "perfect mixture" you mean the "atmosphere," then I'ma go with the one.

 

* DNA or RNA to carry the DNA message to cell parts?

 

I think RNA, but you'll have to ask someone with more knowledge.

 

* The termite or the flagella in its intestines that actually digest the cellulose?

Flagella.

 

* The plants or the insects that live on and pollinate the plants?

Plants.

 

* The bones, ligaments, tendons, blood supply, or muscles to move the bones?

Muscles.

 

* The nervous sytem, repair system, or hormone system?

A system is a byproduct of an organism.

 

* The immune system or the need for it?

The need for it, although, we're talking about a system again.

 

16. There are many thousands of examples of symbiosis that defy an evolutionary explanation. Why must we teach students that evolution is the only explanation for these relationships?

Because it's the only scientifically, logically, sound explanation for these relationships.

 

17. How would evolution explain mimicry? Did the plants and animals develop mimicry by chance, by their intelligent choice, or by design?

The same way it describes horns.

 

18. When, where, why, and how did man evolve feelings? Love, mercy, guilt, etc. would never evolve in the theory of evolution.

This is assuming that man is the only creature capable of "feelings."

 

19. *How did photosynthesis evolve?

Photosynthesis is probably one of the first things that evolved.

 

20. *How did thought evolve?

Just like everything else in this bloody list. Over time.

 

21. *How did flowering plants evolve, and from that?

They evolved from plants that didn't flower.

 

22. *What kind of evolutionist are you? Why are you not one of the other eight or ten kinds?

Run this one by me again, big mon. What kind of creationist are you? Why are you not one of the other thousands of kinds?

 

23. What would you have said fifty years ago if I told you I had a living coelacanth in my aquarium?

Cool! Can I see it?

 

24. *Is there one clear prediction of macroevolution that has proved true?

Is there one clear prediction of religion that has proved true? Look up macroevolution. It seems you're trying to pull a dead rabbit from an old hat. If you care to illuminate me on these "predictions" that have fallen flat, please do so.

 

25. *What is so scientific about the idea of hydrogen as becoming human?

Sorry, care to reword this?

 

26. *Do you honestly believe that everything came from nothing?

No. I never said that - that's what creationists say.

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thekingoftown

Well let's see. You didn't answer #2, "Matter came from matter". Where did the matter come from? You're screwed minds just go in Edy bitty circles dude. You came up with uhh... Zero good answers.

 

If the earth is billions of years old the oceans would be 99.9% salt, if it was about 6000 years old (to short a time to "evolve") it would be just about right.

 

If the earth was billions of years old, the population would be about 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,

000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,

000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,

000,000,000.

 

And the moon would be long gone.

 

I could go on and on man.

Edited by thekingoftown

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Otter

So could Charles Manson, it doesn't mean you're worth listening to.

 

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tommy vs. claude
Well let's see. You didn't answer #2, "Matter came from matter". Where did the matter come from? You're screwed minds just go in Edy bitty circles dude. You came up with uhh... Zero good answers.

 

If the earth is billions of years old the oceans would be 99.9% salt, if it was about 6000 years old (to short a time to "evolve") it would be just about right.

 

If the earth was billions of years old, the population would be about 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,

000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,

000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,

000,000,000.

 

And the moon would be long gone.

 

I could go on and on man.

Any factual evidence for this at all?

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K^2

thekingoftown, short general answers. If nothing exists, there are no rules to define existence either. If there are rules, you cannot say that nothing exists. Furthermore, existence/non-existence can only be defined in contrast. As a result existence of nothing is ultimately equivalent to existence of everything. You cannot ask where universe came from if nothing existed at first. If nothing existed, then the universe existed along with everything else that could possibly exist. QED.

 

Evolution is not random re-combination. There is also selection. Evolution from random mutations works. We see it in the lab. Bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics. We can see the changes that occurred in their genome to make it possible, and we can trace these to random mutations. It works. QED.

 

Self-replicating and living are not the same thing. We know that the conditions in Early Earth history were ideal for creation of the bio-molecular soup that would allow for RNA to self-replicate on its own. Once a single even short chain of RNA formed, it would self-replicate, and that puts rules of evolution into play.

 

Everything else is just your ignorance. For example, your question about how the first sexually reproducing organism (you said cell, which is even more ignorant) reproduced. First such organisms were hermaphroditic and had asexual reproduction modes. One could reproduce asexually into many, they would further reproduce sexually. Divergence between genders is also a gradual process which is well documented for many species. All of these puzzles have been solved, and the answers are readily available. The fact that you ask these questions thinking that they somehow prove you right only prove that you can't even open a Wikipedia page and look it up.

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Otter

So...you're saying he's young, so the fact that he's ignorant is a moot point? Great.

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thekingoftown

Lol, I give up on you guy's.

But i just read something about tears, look at this.

If only the strongest survive, why do we cry. Why has this trait gone on? If you dont cry you must be stronger, yet it has gone on.

Just a thought.

 

And to tommy vs. claude

 

The moon thing, if the moon is moving a way from the earth at a slow but steady pace. if the earth was billions of years old the moon would be so close that tides would be so big that no land breathing animal could live on earth for an least 1 million years.

 

The pop thing, well reproducing for millions of years, you do the math.

 

And the sea thing, the sea too in getting more and more salt in it, so if it was millions of years old, the salt content would be enormous.

 

One more thing, where are all the Missing links? you find cow bones, you find whale bones. but none in between. If it took millions of wears, you would think there would be tons of bones. But there aren't any.

Edited by thekingoftown

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K^2

Not crying doesn't actually make you stronger. It might be a sign of strenght, and when display of strength is required, crying isn't the way to go. But it is survival of the fittest, not the-one-that-looks-the-toughest. If later was the case, we'd have only really bad-ass looking animals around, and none of that little bunny rabit crap.

 

Crying by itself is important for a childhood stage, though. It's a call for attention from one's parents. Way to inform them that something is wrong. In adult stage, crying is a bit silly, of course, but it's not generally harmful either.

 

Seriously, if you are going to try to argue against evolution, it would help actually learning a few things about it. And learn some formal logic while you are at it. Your logic is clearly suffering.

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tommy vs. claude
Lol, I give up on you guy's.

But i just read something about tears, look at this.

If only the strongest survive, why do we cry. Why has this trait gone on? If you dont cry you must be stronger, yet it has gone on.

Just a thought.

 

And to tommy vs. claude

 

The moon thing, if the moon is moving a way from the earth at a slow but steady pace. if the earth was billions of years old the moon would be so close that tides would be so big that no land breathing animal could live on earth for an least 1 million years.

 

The pop thing, well reproducing for millions of years, you do the math.

 

And the sea thing, the sea too in getting more and more salt in it, so if it was millions of years old, the salt content would be enormous.

 

One more thing, where are all the Missing links? you find cow bones, you find whale bones. but none in between. If it took millions of wears, you would think there would be tons of bones. But there aren't any.

You have yet to give me any factual information to back your statements up.

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Forty

Crying has nothing to do with your survival strength as a species. That is a terribly weak argument.

 

Your other points are based on flimsy science facts that you are using as a reference point for the factuality of evolution. What does any of that have to do with this?

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Leftcoast

 

The moon thing, if the moon is moving a way from the earth at a slow but steady pace. if the earth was billions of years old the moon would be so close that tides would be so big that no land breathing animal could live on earth for an least 1 million years.

 

Are you trying to say that the moon should be close now because it has been moving away for millions of years?

 

In case you are wondering, the moon was very close to the earth at one point in time many millions of years ago.

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jheath
Ok all you guy's think we came from nothing, answer these

I know this is an old topic, but I saw this list of questions and I couldn't resist. I'll do my best to answer this questions from a standard atheist's perspective.

 

A word of caution, though. Most people won't find these answers very satisfactory. People love having the "final answer", which explains why religions appeal to the majority of the population. Atheism doesn't really provide answers; it is instead an ackowledgement our uncertainty. Better to say "I don't know" than to cover our ignorance by pretending to know all the answers.

 

With that said, on to the list!

 

---

 

1. Where did the space for the universe come from?

2. Where did matter come from?

3. Where did the laws of the universe come from (gravity, inertia, etc.)?

 

I think what you're trying to ask is how everything (space, time, matter, energy, the laws of physics) can come from nothing. The most honest answer to this question is "we don't know".

 

Here's what we do know: the universe appears to be expanding. Why do we think this? Because light from neighboring galaxies is red-shifted. The further galaxies seem to have a greater red shift, which is in line with what you'd expect if the universe were expanding. So if we turn the clock back, the further back in time you go the smaller the universe becomes. Of course, there's a limit to how far back you can go, as the universe can't get smaller than a single point (called a singularity by scientists). Based on the current rate of expansion and our understanding of fundamental forces (gravity, electromagnetism, and the nuclear forces), we estimate that this singularity, this starting point, was 15 or so billion years ago. The idea that this singularity exploded outwards to form the universe as we see it is known as the Big Bang theory.

 

Now, are there alternative explanations for the red-shift that don't involve an expanding universe, and hence a Big Bang? Certainly. A small group of scientists think that there might be something in the vaccuum between the galaxies which is causing a shift in the frequency of light. Unfortunately, they haven't been able to come up with independent evidence for their theory. You see, scientific theories are validated based on independent evidence. If I came up with the theory that gravity is caused by invisible monkeys holding things down, I'd need to come up with some independent evidence for the monkeys' existence for it to hold up.

 

Is there independent evidence for the Big Bang theory? Why yes, there is! You see, a consequence of an expanding universe would be that the universe cools off with time: the same amount of energy filling bigger amounts of space. If you go backwards, you'd expect things to get hotter and hotter, until you reach the hottest instant at the moment of the big bang itself. We can observe the remnant of this incredible heat in the cosmic background radiation; it's cooled off to about 4 degrees Kelvin, but it's readily observable.

 

Do I believe in the Big Bang theory? Here's an answer that will surprise you: no! I think it fits the evidence the best among all theories, but I don't believe in it the way Christians believe in the stories of Genesis. If another theory comes along that better matches the observable evidence, I'm quite ready to abandon the Big Bang theory, as would most scientists. It's just that no other theory explains things like the Red Shift and the Cosmic Background Radiation nearly as well, and the creation myth in the Bible doesn't even address those things at all. Given a choice between an old book and the observable evidence, I choose the observable evidence.

 

With that said, the Big Bang theory is only a good description of what happened after the singularity exploded. It does not address where that singularity came from, or the origin of the laws that governed its behavior. In short, we still don't know how something came from nothing. I would argue, though, that the Bible doesn't answer this question either. It states that God created the universe, but says nothing about where God came from. It's only another form of the something-from-nothing paradox.

 

4. How did matter get so perfectly organized?

5. Where did the energy come from to do all the organizing?

 

I have no idea what you mean by "perfectly organized". From my perspective, it's a total zoo of disorganization (especially my room). In fact, for a very long time after the Big Bang it would have been even more of a mess... due to the tremendous heat, there could not be planets or stars or galaxies, or even individual atoms. At those high temperatures, all that would exist was a chaotic mess of elementary particles zipping around in a gas. As the universe expanded and cooled, these eventually "condensed" into atoms, then molecules, etc. The peices of matter we see today are the frozen chunks of that primordial gas of particles.

 

6. When, where, why, and how did life come from non-living matter?

7. When, where, why, and how did life learn to reproduce itself?

 

Ah, this one is the fun one. Christians believe we're made out of dust shaped in God's image, so I suppose they think God has intestines, pancreas, sweat glands and the like. I wonder what He eats? (I'll leave aside the matter of whether he creates holy sh*ts).

 

Our understanding of the origin of early life is still in its infacy... a lot of it is speculation and educated guesswork, so feel free to take it as such. Here goes:

 

One thing common to all life on earth is that it is composed of cells. You, me, whales, bacteria... we're all based on this fundamental building block. (As such, viruses occupy an interesting grey area. They can reproduce, but only when they're inside a cell... without a cell to hijack the virus would just lay dormant forever). Something common to all cells is the cell membrane; the boundary of the cell. These membranes are made up of interesting molecules called amphiphiles. Amphiphile means "loves both"; in this case, both oil and water. One side of the molecule is a hydrocarbon chain, same as what you find in oil. On the end of this chain is a polar head, which is attracted to water (another polar molecule). Amphiphiles occur quite readily in nature; you could probably find them in abundance in the early earth before life evolved.

 

Now, what happens when you throw a bunch of amphiphiles into a body of water? You'd end up with a two-layered sheet of the amphiphiles: the oil-seeking ends of the molecules would attract each other, while the water-seeking ends would face the water. These sheets can not stretch out indefinitely: they would break up and form spherical shells, the thickness of the shell two molecules thick. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the first step towards a cell. The waters and chemicals inside the shell's membrane are separated from the outside waters. With billions of these shells forming and breaking up, random chance would eventually result in one of those shells trapping chemicals capable of producing more amphiphiles (more membrane) with the energy of sunlight... capable of making the shell self-perpetuating. Any self-replicating system has an inherent advantage over the non-replicating types. From here the process of evolution takes hold; the shells best capable of replicating by definition become the fathers of the next generation, and so on. Shells which by random chance captured chemicals which improved the process were the ones that lived on through their descendants, resulting in an ever-increasing progression towards cellular life as it exists today.

 

If this all sounds improbable to you (random chance resulting in a molecule inside a shell which perpetuates itself), that's because it is. The odds of this happening to any one shell are vanishingly thin. However, given trillions and trillions of shells, and given billions of years, the odds are high of occuring at least once. Once that initial spark of life occured, it perpetuated itself from that point on. Biologically, the essence of life is self-perpetuation.

 

8. With what did the first cell capable of sexual reproduction reproduce?

 

With other cells like it.

 

The theory is that in the beginning all reproduction was asexual... cells making exact replicas of themselves, with the occasional mutation mixing things up a little. The problem with asexual reproduction is that if the cell reproducing itself has a weakness, all of its replicas have that same weakness... a single threat could wipe out the entire colony. In its first stages sexual reproduction probably occured only by accident; two unrelated cells unintentionally merging and exchanging DNA. Eventually, cells which encouraged this sort of swapping became more successful in some circumstances than their asexual brothers; colonies which practiced DNA swapping could survive threats which would otherwise wipe out a colony of clones. Sex became a survival strategy... Bow-chika-bow-wow!

 

9. Why would any plant or animal want to reproduce more of its kind since this would only make more mouths to feed and decrease the chances of survival? (Does the individual have a drive to survive, or the species? How do you explain this?)

 

Too easy. Any creature that lacks the desire to reproduce will probably not have children. Thus, the no-one inherits that creature's lack of interest in reproduction. On the other hand, the creatures which are interested in sex are the ones making children, and those children will inherit the sex drive themselves. If a species as a whole wasn't interested in reproduction, it would only last for one generation.

 

Thus you have two fundamental drives: the sex drive, which allows the species to survive, and the survival instinct, which keeps the individual alive. You'll find that most creatures are highly motivated by both.

 

10. How can mutations (recombining of the genetic code) create any new, improved varieties? (Recombining English letters will never produce Chinese books.)

 

This here is an interesting one. First off, a mutation isn't a recombining of the genetic code. That's sexual reproduction, which is different. A mutation is a random change in the code: equivalxnt to a randoq letter gettzng changed in a word. smile.gif

 

Since mutations are random, the effect they have is also random. Most mutations have no effect. Some are harmful, reducing the chance of that creature surviving (and hence reducing the number of children that inherit that mutation). Very rarely, some are beneficial (which increases the odds of reproduction, and hence increases the population having that mutation. Note that the effect can depend on circumstance: a mutation that makes your bones lighter and more hollow would be deadly to an elephant, but beneficial to a bird.

 

There are some cases where "bad" mutations can combine to form a "good" combination. Let's say animal A has a mutation which produces a nerve toxin in small amounts; the toxin makes life hard for the animal, but it doesn't kill it. It mates with animal B, which has large, useless skin pores. All of a sudden, the offspring, C, has something radically new: poison skin, which enables it so survive better against predators! Animal C, and all of its offspring, have a decided advantage against all the other animals of its type, and so it outcompetes them... one small step in the evolution of the poisonous tree frog.

 

11. Is it possible that similarities in design between different animals prove a common Creator instead of a common ancestor?

 

Of course it's possible, it's just unlikely. The Genesis myth says that God created all animals in their current form, which is contradicted by fossil evidence. The further down you dig, the more the fossils become unlike the animals that we see today. Meanwhile, this evidence matches the theory of evolution very nicely.

 

I'm curious, by the way... how do Christians feel about monkeys sharing over 90% of their DNA with humans? Does that mean they're made 98% or so in the image of God?

 

12. Natural selection only works with the genetic information available and tends only to keep a species stable. How would you explain the increasing complexity in the genetic code that must have occurred if evolution were true?

 

I don't know where you get your ideas about natural selection keeping a species stable. Maybe that's what you're priest says... it's certainly not what Darwin says.

 

Let's take the poison tree-frog example from earlier. Until the mutation occured, the group of frogs have similar chances of survival. Once the frog with poison skin occurs, he and others like him have a decided advantage over the other frogs. While the other frogs get eaten by predators at a certain rate, the poison frogs are eaten at a much lower rate, and hence have more children. Very quickly they begin to dominate the population and out-compete the non-poisonous type. The population remains stable only until the next big change upsets the balance once more. The genetic code becomes more complex as more and more of these successful mutations are incorporated.

 

---

 

Whew! I'm going to tackle the rest of the questions later, since this is taking a lot of time to type up. Hope those of you reading this find it interesting.

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