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Evolution in Action

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  • First advantagous adaptive mutation!
  • by Syncdata (596941) <.moc.oohay. .ta. .17atadcnys.> on Thursday February 20, 2003 @12:18PM (#5344193) Journal
    The discovery of the York groundsel shows that species are created as well as made extinct, and that Charles Darwin was right and the Creationists are wrong.
    This is the part where I imagine Anthony Browne, the columnist, doing a little dance, and thumbing his nose at those bad ol creationists. News Bulletin to Mr Browne, this can be construed as further proving the validity of an already accepted idea in Evolution theory, but finding a weed, no matter how genetically shiney, in a field does not disprove the existance of God, nor the notion that the universe was created by the afforementioned entity.
    • by KDan (90353) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @12:25PM (#5344256) Homepage
      finding a weed, no matter how genetically shiney, in a field does not disprove the existance of God, nor the notion that the universe was created by the afforementioned entity

      No, but it does disprove creationism. People who think that Creationism = Christianity = God are rather stupid to begin with, unfortunately, so I'm afraid it won't help that much overall, but at least it's nice for the feel-good factor of people with brains :-)

      Daniel
      • by Blaze74 (523522)
        I fail to see how this disproves creationism. I don't think the official meaning of creationism includes the idea that all species are static and will never change, just that the first species were created, rather then evoloved.
        • by LMCBoy (185365) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @01:16PM (#5344792) Homepage Journal
          The first rule of Creation Club is: as soon as your "theory" is disproven, just change your definitions and claim that's what you meant all along.

          "I don't think the official meaning of creationism includes the idea that all species are static and will never change"

          Creationism certainly did mean exactly that, until science showed, beyond any reasonable doubt, that species do go extinct, species do adapt, species do evolve. Then the Creationist changed their tune, started talking about species "changing, but only within their kind". They conceded "microevolution", but not "macroevolution" (phrases which they coined, and have absolutely no meaning in the real world).

          "just that the first species were created, rather then evoloved"

          Of course, by the definition of the word "first", this statement must be true. The first species could not possibly have evolved from a previous species. It's an empty statement.

          Anyway, your definition of Creationism is much more limited than the more virulent strain that's been repeatedly disproven by findings like this. Believe it or not, there are people who refuse to believe that new species can evolve, period. According to them, all species that ever existed, or will ever exist, were created during Genesis.
          • Quick note: many of the creation clubbers to do believe in microevolution will admit that macroevolution is possible in plants and other lower forms. Hell Darwin practically proved macro evolution of plants. However he didn't prove macro evolution of animalia, and it still hasn't been proven.
            • Thank you for illustrating the point. :p
            • That new species can form is a fact. It's been observed. Get used to it.
            • Darwin didn't, but it has been proven.

              I read a topic about this on Kuro5hin and one poster came up with the following. I'll just quote directly (I saved a copy of the post, for moments like these.) Unfortunately I don't know who posted it so I can't give credit.


              Speciation is more critical to evolution. It has been observed in plants several times, but the only animal occurrance observed as far as I know, is a sample of worms (Nereis Acuminata) collected in Long Beach Harbor, California in 1964 for use as lab specimens at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. They were bred in captivity. In the late 80s, they decided to test the population against the wild population and found that the Woods Hole population couldn't breed with the Long Beach population.

              In essence the Woods Hole worms are a new species.

            • Well, it looks like it has in corals [eurekalert.org]. Apparently the different species of corals can change in response to changes in sea currents. So a species seems to have time and location components to its definition, as well as genetic. Pretty cool; since my lab works on fluorescent proteins isolated from coral and jellyfish I'll look forward to reading the paper. This (and the homology among the fluorescent proteins we've been studying in a round about way) links into the fact that the more we learn about biology, the more evolution becomes an inescapable conclusion.
          • The first rule of Creation Club is: as soon as your "theory" is disproven, just change your definitions and claim that's what you meant all along.

            Odd, that sounds amazingly like the Scientific Method.

            I believe that God created the universe that we live in. My current (nonscientific) theory on how he did this is through evolution and a "fast foward time", up until about 8,000 years ago when he made a man from scratch that just happened to be genetically compatbile with the super-apes that were walking around. Of course, God having created everything else 8,500 years ago is also a possibility, but unlikely given the extra effort needed.
            • by nathanh (1214) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @02:40PM (#5345524) Homepage
              I believe that God created the universe that we live in. My current (nonscientific) theory on how he did this is through evolution and a "fast foward time", up until about 8,000 years ago when he made a man from scratch that just happened to be genetically compatbile with the super-apes that were walking around. Of course, God having created everything else 8,500 years ago is also a possibility, but unlikely given the extra effort needed.

              How the heck could you know how much effort is involved? Is there a book "How To Create Worlds For Dummies" that I failed to notice last time I was at the bookstore?

              • How the heck could you know how much effort is involved? Is there a book "How To Create Worlds For Dummies" that I failed to notice last time I was at the bookstore?

                Ever notice how God doesn't manifest grand miracles anymore? Part of my semi-dogma is that God works through the least disruptive methods to achieve his ends.

                You could substitute "energy", "thought", or "work" for "effort" above. I believe that God exists seperate from Creation, and Creation exists seperate from God, and thus God flashing the Big Bang makes sense to me--I mean, if we want a crater that looks like it was blasted out, hollywood doesn't get some shovels and a crew of forty artists--they get a lawyer, a permit, and an explosive engineer.
            • by LMCBoy (185365) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @02:45PM (#5345588) Homepage Journal
              Odd, that sounds amazingly like the Scientific Method.

              Yes, exactly! Except the part where they claim it's what they believed all along, and the part where they they claim their answer is THE ANSWER, END OF DISCUSSION, not the best answer available, subject to change on discovery of new evidence.

              A Creationist knows the answer already. To him, "science" is the search for data that fits the answer, and the attempt to explain away all evidence that doesn't fit. Real science presumes that the answer is *not* known, and tries to guess an answer based on what is actually evident in the world.
              • A Creationist knows the answer already. To him, "science" is the search for data that fits the answer, and the attempt to explain away all evidence that doesn't fit.

                You've got some real problems with people who claim God created man don't you? I don't want to pry into personal feelings so I will stave off my desire to hit you with a clue stick. There are a lot of different people who could be defined as creationists. Do all of them claim to define science as you stated? I don't and believe that there is indeed a God who created all there is to see. I also believe in the empirical method created by the first scientist Aristotle. Furthermore, you claim that "Real science presumes that the answer is *not* known, and tries to guess an answer based on what is actually evident in the world." How is that different than a creationist? I don't claim to know exactly how God created the earth, man or anything else. Just that He did. Even science must agree that the world, man and all other observable matter must indeed exist. The only questions is on how it got here.

                I don't want to convert anyone to believe in creation, but I wish that the narrowmindedness you so much lament of creationists would stop manifesting itself in "scientists".

                • The problem with the "creationists" s/he is talking about it that they confuse science with faith, as you are doing now. You may want to re-define what "creationist" means for your context, but you would be altering the definition for the context which we are in. Basically, if you want your god, science has no problem with that, just keep your chocolate out of my peanut butter--but if you want your god to be involved with science...well, first tackle philosophy and then we'll talk. Otherwise leave your god out of it.

                  Also, lay off the violence buddy! How Christian (or whatever your variation) is that?

                  • The problem with the "creationists" s/he is talking about it that they confuse science with faith, as you are doing now.

                    There is no confusion. Science and religion can coincide perfectly with one another. This is not a zero sum equation. Perhaps you could enlighten me as to why I can't believe in a Divinly created earth and think empirically?

                    ...but you would be altering the definition for the context which we are in.

                    So you are saying that creationism means different things depending on the context? Is this the same for evolution?

                    but if you want your god to be involved with science...well, first tackle philosophy and then we'll talk. Otherwise leave your god out of it.

                    Got the philosophy part down. Where would you like to start? Modern thinking with Hobbes, Locke and Thoreau or more classical stuff like Plato and Aristotle? As for God being involved in science, what's the big deal? I don't understand the stark contrast. If God is who I think He is, then science fits nicely into the plan. If I am wrong, then who cares? I am not trying to convince you of the creation...

                    Also, lay off the violence buddy! How Christian (or whatever your variation) is that?

                    Are you referring to the clue stick comment? If not I am afraid you have me at a loss. Otherwise, check a handy dictionary for the words 'sarcasm' and 'symbolism'.

                    • Science and religion can coincide perfectly with one another.

                      Sure, as long as you don't try to provide religious answers to scientific questions. Something like, "what was the mechanism for biological adaptation?"--well, god is not a scientific answer, no matter how you slice it. And that's what most creationists, as they call themselves and are generally known to the world, would have you believe. So sure, have your religion, but like I said, keep your peanut butter out of my chocolate. Or was it chocolate out of my peanut butter? Don't remember...you get the picture.

                      So you are saying that creationism means different things depending on the context? Is this the same for evolution?

                      Creationism: yes, evolution: no (although the word evolution itself means different things itself in different contexts, and possibly even scientific contexts). We're talking the difference between pseudo-science and science here, remember. People who engage in pseudo-science, or religion, can change terms at will as suits their objectives...like you've been doing with this thread. Scientists are required to maintain a common language so they can actually communicate and forward the progress of learning. Big difference there.

                      Got the philosophy part down.

                      Sorry, I didn't express myself very well there. When I said tackle philosophy, I meant something like: "solve" philosophy. Can't do it? Didn't think so. There's the beginnings of the problems of introducing god(s) into science; people can't agree upon basic terms well enough to even solve the problems of whether or not god(s) exist. And because science is essentially pragmatic, we can't really introduce god(s) into it if 1) we can't prove the existence of said entity(ies), 2) (and perhaps more importantly) we can't even agree what god(s) is(are). Follow me? I would think you'd be able to, with all your high-falutin philosophical knowledge!

                      This also goes back to answer your question about why science and god are a bad mix, if you didn't figure that out already.

                      Otherwise, check a handy dictionary for the words 'sarcasm' and 'symbolism'.

                      Hmm...yes...sarcasm...

            • Not quite. In science you'd either throw out your theory or modify the theory to fit the new evidence. With the creationists, you change definitions or just use intentionally poorly defined terms but never give up your core religious belief in a "literal" Biblical creation. This announcement of yet another clear example of the evolution of a new species will change few so-called "scientific" creationist minds (even though it must if they're honest) because they'll lump it with the parent species in the poorly defined nonscientific word "kind." Someone in this thread probably has already done so.
          • Creationism certainly did mean exactly that, until science showed, beyond any reasonable doubt, that species do go extinct, species do adapt, species do evolve. Then the Creationist changed their tune, started talking about species "changing, but only within their kind". They conceded "microevolution", but not "macroevolution" (phrases which they coined, and have absolutely no meaning in the real world).

            Perhaps, in the most extremely ignorant section of the crowd that forgot about the whole noah's ark thing. But you are misrepresenting mainstream(is there such a thing?) creationist opinions. Most creationist's for the last few decades at least have fully believed that micro evolution of species is very wide spread. By creationist assumptions of a literal noah's flood, non-static species are absolutely required.

            Anyway, your definition of Creationism is much more limited than the more virulent strain that's been repeatedly disproven by findings like this. Believe it or not, there are people who refuse to believe that new species can evolve, period. According to them, all species that ever existed, or will ever exist, were created during Genesis.

            Again your confusing creationist views for the last few decades. I wouldn't be a stickler on this but many evolutionary theories from a few decades ago have also changed a great deal. Your confusing the definition of species which scientist's use and the one meant by creationist's when they refer to species. Creationists really aught to use different terms like 'kinds' or 'baramines' or some other more clear terminology. The belief is that new 'kinds' can not arise, and the definition of kinds allows for a 'new species' to develop from a former kind. It is just considered a mutated form of the original kind. Now, defining 'kind' in a meaningfull way is a problem. I've still not seen a good definition of it beyond the originally created species. Which is quite useless in most any current context.
            • Now, defining 'kind' in a meaningfull way is a problem.

              That's because it doesn't express a meaningful idea. It's an arbitrary division of a continuous distribution (the variation of biota) into aritficial "bins". The concept of "species" suffers from the same problem, even taking its most rigorous scientific definition. Once you realize that "kinds" and "species" are artificial organizational aids imposed on a natural system that gives them no regard whatever, you will understand that the distinction between so-called "microevolution" and "macroevolution" is equally meaningless.

              Imagine a population that splits in half, such that the two halves become reproductively isolated, and subject to different survival pressures. The two sub-populations begin to adapt to their new environments, and this results in divergent evolution. At some point, the two populations become different enough that they would no longer be able to cross-breed. Speciation has occured.

              Not so long ago, most Creationists would say that the preceding description was a fantasy, and never, ever ocurred in the history of the Earth. Now, of course, we have many concrete examples, such as the article presented here, so many Creationists have adjusted, and now say: "Ok, ok, so maybe speciation occurs, but only within 'kinds', by God!"

              What they don't seem to realize (or maybe refuse to realize) is that whatever your definition of "kinds", it's at least as arbitrary as the definition of species. So, what, exactly, is going to stop isolated subpopulations from evolving? If they continue on their divergent evolutionary paths, taking tiny steps each generation, the cumulative effect will be that, eventually, the two subpopulations are completely un-alike by any objective measure. All you need is time. And time, we have plenty of (unless you are a young-Earth Creationist, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt).
      • I beg to differ (Score:3, Informative)

        by Frankenmoro (606704)
        it does disprove creationism

        Well, not really. Depends on who you're talking to. If you're talking to a strict fundamentalist who has no science background, then yes, it does disprove his breed of creationism. It doesn't, however, disprove Dr. Michael Behe's breed of "creationism".

        What it does disprove, though, is that speciation is possible, but that's rather obvious to anyone who looks at the genetic/chromosomal make-up of, say, chimps, gorrillas and humans.

        If you're truly interested in this debate, then I would recommend a book called "The Science of God" by Gerald L. Schroeder. He's a physicist who is also a creationist, but with a rather different take on the whole thing. He maintains that God did create the world in 7 literal days, but that it also took roughly 13.5 Billion years. Has to do with the theory of relativity of time... He's also Jewish, and has an incredible grasp on the Hebrew underlying the English in Genesis, and brings to light several key verses that could have either been translated better, or simply lost something in translation. Great stuff.

        As a creationist who also has a degree in genetics and did research under an evolutionary geneticist, I've seen both sides of the spectrum. both sides extremes have their intellectual/theological bigots who aren't willing to budge simply for spites sake. However, those that are willing to at least listen generally can have very unique viewpoints.

      • it does disprove creationism

        Creationism is indifferent to the point: that is, what species do now is not particularly relevant to how they were made unless you assume gradualism, a stance with a rapidly dwindling following. The whole point of Creationism is that things are strikingly different now.

        Assuming it were relevant anyway, a Creationist would expect species to lose the power to interbreed at a telescoping pace, reflecting a cumulating genetic burden, and (to step outside the assumption of materialism for a moment) the inevitable effects of the curse which drove Adam and Eve from Eden.

        People who think that Creationism = Christianity = God are rather stupid to begin with

        Well... you're drawing a bit of a nebulous equation there (ie, a straw man), but even if we gloss over that and your arrogant assumption that you're competent to judge intelligence (when IRL what you are expressing is a measure of perceived agreement with your current set of prejudices), and assume that what you're trying to say is that `Creationism is a necessary consequence of Christianity and vice versa' is stupid, you still lack a reason for your assertion unless you assume that what's written in the Bible is mere myth, allegory or otherwise toothless.

        Unfortunately for your position, the Bible is the single most accurate historical record in existence, even from a materialist point of view, a fact which has been verified point by point in many thousands of places with constantly improving precision over the past few centuries. And what would you call someone who ignores carefully proven data?

        The history and implications of the weed in question, however, rest on an awesome stack of assumptions, assertions, guesses and baseless hopes.

        Specifically, it's a fairly trivial matter to disprove evolution in the most amazing variety of ways. Starting with `there haven't been enough quantum states among all of the atoms of the known universe in the last 20 billion years to produce anything like life.'

  • hmm... (Score:2, Funny)

    by C21 (643569)
    let's hurry up and get it on the endangered species list, how much carbon monoxide does it take to kill this little bugger!
  • According to the article, a species is a genetic mutant that can breed, but not with any other species, including its parent species. Can anyone explain to me how this is not a circular definition?
    • Let me try to explain.

      A horse and a donkey can breed to make a mule, but two mules can not breed to give birth to another mule, so mules are not a species.

      If two mules could breed that would not guarantee that mules were a new species, but if two mules could breed together AND a mule and a horse or a mule and a donkey could not breed, then mules would be a species.

      The definition of breed, in case it's not clear, is basically "give birth to a another animal of the same type as it"

      I believe the reason that horses and donkeys are considered different species is because their offspring, the mule, can not reproduce.
      • Thank you sir. Helpful example, and it is hard not to think about mules and donkeys and horses when investigating this question.
        For 'species' Merriam-Webster gives:

        1. Biology.
        a. A fundamental category of taxonomic classification, ranking below a genus or subgenus and consisting of related organisms capable of interbreeding.
        b. An organism belonging to such a category, represented in binomial nomenclature by an uncapitalized Latin adjective or noun following a capitalized genus name, as in Ananas comosus, the pineapple, and Equus caballus, the horse.

        2. Logic. A class of individuals or objects grouped by virtue of their common attributes and assigned a common name; a division subordinate to a genus.

        So the claim in the paper cited reduces to whether a set of individual plants has done two things:
        1. acquired new properties which are passed down to its children and
        2. is incapable of interbreeding with other plants of the same type from which it was derived.

        It seems to me that this reduces all species-making properties to reproduction. Until now, I hadn't thought of a species as a collection of individuals with unique reproductive-relevant properties. It also makes me wonder whether the survival of the fittest axiom is something belonging primarily to individuals or to species. Charles Darwin is the accepted expert on this so can anyone give Darwin's thoughts here?
      • That's actually a pretty good explanation.

        However, some mules do breed true. It's extremely rare, but documented [hamill.co.uk]. This is made funnier by the common use of the word "mule" by life scientists to mean any infertile hybrid, rather than a specific type of animal.

        Also, there is one other wrinkle to the definition of species; forcible cross-breeding does not count, it has to happen "naturally" as we english-speakers would say. So, species that could interbreed, but don't due to geographic isolation, could merge and lose their separate species designation if the geographic barriers to their interbreeding were removed. Similarly, species that can interbreed but don't due to behavioural or social influences, are still considered distinct species - even if they live and travel together in herds.

        But remember, the purpose of species designation is to allow precise communication by mutually agreed-upon labeling. Scientists constantly redefine genera and species as our knowledge increases; DNA analysis has had profound influence on systematic phylogeny.

        Taxonomic hierarchies like kingdom/phylum/class/order/family/genus/species/ra ce/tribe are naming conventions. They exists for the same reason file and directory naming conventions exist, that is, because an orderly representation of nomenclature aids research and helps further development of knowledge.

        And just as you can find vociferous debate on whether a web page belongs in /home/httpd or /var/www, you can find any number of scientists willing to argue about how species should be categorized.

        Hope this helped!
        • >However, some mules do breed true. It's extremely rare, but documented

          Er, no, actually: there are (as you point out) rare cases where mules do produce offspring, but the offspring are no longer 1/2 horse + 1/2 donkey. They breed, but they don't breed true. Follow your own link through to the BBC article on the recent birth of a foal to a Moroccan mule mom-- the father was a donkey, so the offspring is 3/4 donkey and 1/4 horse BBC [bbc.co.uk].

      • I believe the reason that horses and donkeys are considered different species is because their offspring, the mule, can not reproduce.

        Usually. But it does happen. Consider also Zedonks, Wholphins and the like.

    • It's like the definition of "Concept" in Psychology, "Energy" in Chemistry, or "Work" in Physics - in fact, almost all definitions in the sciences are circular.

      Things are often defined by their own terms in science because it's otherwise impossible to define them. "Species" is otherwise definable as "a group of living things that cannot breed with it's parent's group of living things or any other group of living things", but "a group of living things" is taken out and "species" is put back in.

      Sure, you ask, well, what defines a group of living things? What defines living things? What defines life?

      Well, since these are all unanswered or undefined without using the same original terms, you end with the same type of circular definitions.

      I do hesitate to add that the definition of species they propose doesn't entirely make sense. Instead, it ought to read, "able to reproduce with members of it's own species to produce viable offspring of the same species, while being unable to produce viable offspring with members of other species without creating a new species." Whew. Now how's that for circular? =P
      • If you said to me that some definitions require intuitive experience, I would be eager to agree with you. In other words, the process of coming to know requires more than words in themselves. But instead you told me that I can expect to only make use of the same word in seeing what it means. In other words, tautology is the rule for defining. If this is the case, then there is no tying words back to the world, so we are stuck forever talking about nothing other than talking about nothing other than talking about nothing other than talking about....
        • Some circular definitions are entirely valid and specify uniquely (or at least as well as any other kind of definition). Sometimes it takes a little work to pick apart the valid circular definitions from the ones that aren't. But there is no rule that says a circular definition is bad.
  • 30 years (Score:4, Funny)

    by BornInASmallTown (235371) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @12:42PM (#5344444)
    about 30 years ago

    I know Slashdot is usually the last one to post news headlines, but this is getting ridiculous.
  • According to the research, it has now spread to spread to several sites around York, but only ever as a weed on disturbed ground.

    Duplicating things has spread from /. spread from /. to the times...

  • False. (Score:5, Funny)

    by 4of12 (97621) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @01:13PM (#5344750) Homepage Journal

    It is a fertile hybrid which cannot breed with either of its parent species.

    This is not all that impressive.

    I know a whole bunch of people that are in exactly that same category.

  • by Ashurbanipal (578639) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @01:14PM (#5344767)
    I guess it does hit the important point, that the York Groundsel has been identified as a species. But other than that, it's a pretty sloppy piece of science reporting.

    For example,
    the first new species to have been naturally created in Britain for more than 50 years.
    Yeah, right. There are probably dozens if not thousands more; the only way to prove this statement is to catalog every single living organism in Britain. It may be the first new species known to have been created by unintentional hybridisation.
    The discovery of the York groundsel shows that species are created as well as made extinct, and that Charles Darwin was right and the Creationists are wrong.
    It shows nothing of the sort. There are many flavors of creationism, and some believe that creation is ongoing through divinely ordained natural processes such as hybridisation. Further, Charles Darwin believed that women were mentally inferior to men - how exactly does this new plant species prove or disprove that part of his belief system?
    The creation of new species can takes thousands of years, making it too slow for science to detect.
    No, new species typically are created in a single breeding cycle. Think about it, does the first member of a new species stay in the womb for millenia? The generally accepted doctrine of "Punk Eke" or punctuated equilibrium (for which the late S.J. Gould can claim half of the credit) states that species evolve in rapid bursts due to strong environmental pressures such as geologic upheavals, overpopulation, human destructiveness, population isolation or mass extinction events, etc. etc. etc.. This bit about "creation of new species taking thousands of years" is straight out of Darwin, and it's one of the things that this discovery could be said to disprove.
    Hybrids are normally sterile, and cannot breed and die out.
    No, hybrids are often sterile, and many of those that are not often de-hybridise and revert to parent forms in the wild. Nonetheless, fertile hybrids abound.

    Most "scientific" articles written for non-scientists sacrifice some precision for accessibility. But this article has more false statements than real information, by a rather large margin.
  • by Mazzaroth (519229) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @05:37PM (#5347329) Homepage
    I wonder what would be the next Creationist's intervention in this imaginary dialogue I just created...

    What do you think?

    Creationist: God created everything 8000 years ago.

    Scientist: A lot of evidences indicate that the Universe is a lot older. Astrophysicists and Cosmologist, armed with giant telescopes, estimiate the universe is 13 billion years old. Geologist are saying Earth is about 4.5 billion years. Paleontologists have dinosaurs's bones 200 millions years old. All physical and verifiable evidences prooves you wrong - the universe is older than 8000 years.

    Creationnist: God simply created the universe and everything already old and ongoing. Everything have been created 8000 years ago. He created the stars already old, the bones in the rocks, everything.

    Scientist: If everything has been created already old like you say, how do you differenciate between the real old (your 8000 years) and the faked old (my 13 billion years)? Since I am sure God did not do any mistake, the faked old is probably perfect. How can you proove then that everything has been created 8000 years ago and why would God deceive us that way?

    Creationnist: The real old is 8000 years because it is written in the Bible. It is written that God created the Universe in 6 days. If you add the numbers up (with the generations describe in the Bible and so on), you reach about 8000 years. Why would God do such thing? It is impossible for us to know.

    Scientist: Let me use your reasonning. How about this then: God created everything 10 seconds ago. Everything have been created already old and olgoing - our conversation and our memories included. Even the Bible have just been created 10 second ago with the intent to make you believe everything have been created 8000 years ago. The Universe have also been created 10 seconds ago with the intention to make me believe everything has been created 13 billion years ago.

    Creationnist: How can you proove this?

    Scientist: I can't. In my reasonning, God is perfect and created everything perfectly. There is no difference between the faked and the real. I simply just got a revelation.
    You see, the problem with such a reasonning is that everything become arbitrary. We are the puppets of a God that deceives us into believing whatever He wishes so. We can then believe everything we wish (or got 'revealed'). The only common ground become the faked reality, the one where Astrophysicists, Cosmologists, Paleontologists and so on agrees on - 13 billion years Universe. The faked reality then become the only real one...
  • How many people saw this little gem:

    "It is a very rare event -- it is only known to have happened five times in the last hundred years" Dr Abbott said. It has happened twice before in the UK -- the Spartina anglica was discovered in Southampton 100 years ago, and the Welsh groundsel, discovered in 1948. "

    The "It" is not explicitly defined in the text, but it appears to refer to a new species occuring: one which cannot breed with it's parent species. (Or to be more precise, a new genetic mutant occuring which, by not being able to breed with its parents, yet being able to breed with like mutants, qualifies as a new species.)

    So this is not the first new species (?) to have evolved recently. Apparently, there is some evidence that 4 (or 5?) other species have come into existance recently - and 3 of 5 (or 3 of 6 - sorry the article is vague on this point) have occured in England. One would assume this is because lots of people stare at plants in England, and that the flora species are well known. But imagine the potential for large numbers of species to be evolving all over the world all the time.

    A simple calculation could proceede as follows:
    * Assume we found all new species in England. 3 per 100 years. The land area of England is 12.7x10^6 hectares.

    The total land of Earth (which is productive) is about 3278x10^6 hectares (source:http://www.upstarts.net.au/site/ideas/syst em_crash/system_crash_resources.html)

    Now multiply the rate (3/100 years) by the fraction of surface area of the Earth England occupies and we get: 7.7 species per year.

    Two notes:
    (1) there are *large* numbers of species going extinct per year (estimates range from 10,000 to 100,000 per year! Source: http://www.whole-systems.org/extinctions.html)
    (2 ) this calculation assumes a uniform creation of new species all over the (productive) land area of Earth. One would assume areas with more speciation would experience more growth.
  • How can they be certain that this plant has not been around for long time and it just got noticed?

    • Nothing can be certain, there is allways doupt in everything (I think therefore I am, etc etc etc).

      How can they be certain that this plant has not been around for long time and it just got noticed?

      Because there have been very intelligent people running around england catalogging every single thing they saw and cross-referencing them for hundreds of year now. Making detailed drawings, collecting samples, etc.
      The guy checked these records, and found no trace of this plant, but found 2 other plants similar to it (lets call them plant a) and plant b)) the guy did genetic tests and proved that this plant was an hybrid of plant a) and plant b). Further tests showed that the new plant cannot reproduce with either plant a) or b), but it is sucessfully reproducing on its on.

      Now, the question becomes: How can we be certain that the plant exists at all? Or that you yourself exist (you might be a fictionnal character used to troll slashdot, or a figment of my deranged imagination, a drug induced hallucination, a dream, etc...go watch Fight Club). Hell, how do I know /. is real? It might just be an elaborate hoax designed to cover up DDOS attacks...
      I could go on.
  • http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/encycli cals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_12081950_humani-generi s_en.html

    A quick google search for the terms "evolution" and "species" on the site "vatican.va" turned up this link. My favorite part is where they try to equate evolution with communism. :)

Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself. -- A.H. Weiler

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