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Earth Science

Debate Over Evolution Will Soon Be History, Says Leakey 1226

Posted by timothy
from the overlapping-domains dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "According to noted paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey, sometime in the next 15 to 30 years scientific discoveries about evolution will have accelerated to the point that 'even the skeptics can accept it.' 'If you don't like the word evolution, I don't care what you call it, but life has changed. You can lay out all the fossils that have been collected and establish lineages that even a fool could work up. So the question is why, how does this happen? It's not covered by Genesis. There's no explanation for this change going back 500 million years in any book I've read from the lips of any God.' Leakey began his work searching for fossils in the mid-1960s and his team unearthed a nearly complete 1.6-million-year-old skeleton in 1984 that became known as 'Turkana Boy,' the first known early human with long legs, short arms and a tall stature. At 67, Leakey conducts research with his wife, Meave, and daughter, Louise, and the family claims to have unearthed 'much of the existing fossil evidence for human evolution.' Leakey, an atheist, insists he has no animosity toward religion."
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Debate Over Evolution Will Soon Be History, Says Leakey

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  • Wishful thinking. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JustShootMe (122551) <rmiller@duskglow.com> on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @10:59AM (#40142433) Homepage Journal

    There is a group of people who do not care about the evidence - the Bible says so, so there it is. That's not going to change just because you amass more evidence.

    On the other hand, there are a group of people who believe in God who also believe evolution was the method God used to create all of the different kinds of life we see. That is not something you can prove or disprove, therefore it's not in the realm of science. In other words, you want people to keep their religions hands off science, great. Keep your scientific hands off God. They don't have to be mortal enemies.

  • Re:Don't bet on it. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @11:06AM (#40142547)

    Unfortunately most "science types" never understand faith. Creation is believed by faith. It will never be over, ever. Physics, anthropology, and all of science can never answer the one question: WHY? It can tell us how, where, when, etc. but faith and religion is much more than a pile of bones and a bigger pile of theories. It is called Meta-physics for a reason, it is beyond physics.

    And if I am sitting here enjoying my coffee in the great expanse of the Universe, due to a roll of the cosmic dice, holy cow! Now that takes alot of faith!

  • by DiscountBorg(TM) (1262102) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @11:12AM (#40142631)

    Growing up very religious in a small town, I really thought that I knew what evolution was, and why it was wrong. It seemed so silly to me that 'scientists' could believe in this conjecture,er 'theory' full of 'missing links'. Clearly it was a conspiracy by godless atheists (where I now seem to comfortably fit in) to drown out the 'Truth'.

    Then at age 18 I got the internet and began to discover that I never, in fact, had ever been taught what Evolution really was. I had been taught a fantasy, an imaginary concoction that nobody actually believed in. As we all have seen, Creationists create a straw man simplification of evolutionary theory and then attack the straw man, rather than attacking the real thing.

    So I set out with my newly acquired knowledge. Surely, I though, now that I know that we've only been taught a mistaken notion of what evolutionary theory is, I can convince some people. Boy oh boy was I ever wrong. The first responses I got was, quite literally, "how dare you accuse our religion of LYING to us. They wouldn't lie to us". And so forth. I learned a lot about logical fallacies. The straw man. The fallacious appeal to false authority (look, this 'scientist' says evolution is fake, therefore it is). The argument from ridicule ("Man was made from monkeys, what kind of nitwit believes that"). It was a fascinating and revealing time in my life, and the clear intellectual dishonesty I saw compelled me to change my life. Within a couple years I went from being a homophobic creationist to going out to queer parties, not because I was gay, but because I discovered many of my friends were queer, and hadn't told me for obvious reasons.

    I am reminded of this Salon article talking about how social conservatives basically assign a lot of emotion and identity to their belief. They think it is rude if others challenge their beliefs, yet they desire to push their beliefs on everyone else. http://www.salon.com/2012/02/24/the_ugly_delusions_of_the_educated_conservative/ [salon.com]

    In the end, you cannot convince people who do not want to challenge their presuppositions and assertions. What will happen in the future, is that we will continue to move on and embrace exciting new advances, technologies, medicines that stem from biology, while those who do not understand it will simply be left behind.

  • Interesting article I read on that this morning (written by a climate denialist, but on the topic of a legitimate study):

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/05/29/science_and_maths_knowledge_makes_you_sceptical/ [theregister.co.uk]

  • False Dichotomy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Penguinisto (415985) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @11:26AM (#40142869) Journal

    Very few (and let's face it, wacky) sects out there actually refuse to accept Darwin's theories of evolution these days, so I'm not really seeing the story here.

    Let me make that clearer still: Most Christian sects have no problems with Darwin or evolution, and the largest/original sect has never formally condemned it [telegraph.co.uk], even back when it was new and untested. That link also is an example of it being embraced by Christianity.

    Certainly, again, there are nuts who take the Bible waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too literally. But really... how many of them actually read Slashdot again? I mean, it's cool that Leakey is thinking that things will be easier to understand for the kids and all, but it's not like there's nothing really new you will ever dig up in the lineage of Homo Sapiens Sapiens that going to convince anyone not otherwise convinced by now.

    So, err, what was the point of this again? Outside of allowing posters to post various bigotries in a socially acceptable manner, I'm not seeing why the story should be given anything more than just a 'oh, okay - cool.' attitude. Mod me down all you like, because I know it'll come, but seriously - Evolution is a non-issue these days.

  • by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @11:30AM (#40142947)

    Wouldn't the ultimate expression of free will not only to break from God's purpose, but when he shows up kill him and thus ending His purpose?

  • Hebrew yôm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tepples (727027) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [selppet]> on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @11:36AM (#40143049) Homepage Journal

    Actually, it was my understanding that the Hebrew word that is translated into English as "day" in Genesis 1 is

    ...the word yôm (Strong's H3117).

    the same word that is used to refer to the period of time from sunset until the following sunset.

    Among other meanings. It can also refer to an indefinite period, much as English day can. Compare English "one of these days", "back in the day", etc. It has similar metaphorical meaning in Hebrew [oldearth.org], and what is described as happening on some creative "days" cannot happen in 24 hours [godandscience.org]. See also Genesis 2:4, where Moses refers to the six creative "days" as one "day" [watchtower.org], and 2 Peter 3:8, where Peter compares God's concept of a "day" to a millennium to indicate that God operates on a different timescale from humans.

  • Re:Don't bet on it. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by repapetilto (1219852) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @11:37AM (#40143073)

    Well the first stage during which arguments with scientific merit "dry up" is how science is supposed to work... If the people who discovered AGW had done the necessary experiments (check the sensors, assess alternative possibilities, etc) and kept the big mouths in their field controlled before it became a policy tool then we wouldn't have the issue we have today.

  • Re:False Dichotomy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Barsteward (969998) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @11:39AM (#40143103)
    "Most Christian sects have no problems with Darwin or evolution" - read up on the recent Republican candidates thoughts and quotes and then you'll rethink that statement

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_Santorum#Teaching_of_evolution_and_intelligent_design [wikipedia.org]
    Mitt Romney "“I believe that God designed the universe and created the universe, and I believe evolution is most likely the process he used to create the human body.”
  • Re:You wish. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @11:42AM (#40143169)

    Agreed. But I also imagine that there are people who could have seen Jesus perform miracles, and then seen him dead on a cross, and then seen him arise 3 days later. And they still wouldn't believe.

    As someone else in this conversation stated, you can find dogmatism on any side of a debate.

    That's why it's important that each of us consider all the facts carefully, when it really matters what we believe. Both sides tend to have smart people, average people, and crack-pots advocating for their position.

  • Re:Don't bet on it. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by muuh-gnu (894733) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @12:19PM (#40143757)

    It also doesnt make sense to try to reach them, once they've grown up in religion, they wont let it go for emotional and tribal reasons. It defines them as a community much stronger than their nationality does. It is sufficient to reach their kids, before they irreparably brainwash them.

    I dont think religious adults really believe any of this, they just dont want to let it go because they _know_ what a slippery slope it is. Like that librarian Jorge in "the name of the rose" who burnt books because they were dangerous to religion. I think many of them know that they're creating an artificial reality, they simply prefer it to real reality, like the people in "The Village".

    Theres no point in arguing evolution with them, they do not want to discuss it because that way they would above all confess to _each other_ that they all know that they've been pretending to each other all the time. For religious adults, theres simply too much emotional investment and pride and embarassment involved to simply give up faith. Accepting evolution will only work for kids, before their parents forcibly create a too strong emotional bonding between them and baby Jesus.

  • Re:Don't bet on it. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ceoyoyo (59147) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @12:23PM (#40143833)

    "Religion / spirituality doesn't speak to science. The set of questions that science can answer are not within the same realm."

    Nonsense. Many, maybe most, of the questions religion has claimed to answer were originally mysterious but have since been cleared up by science. That leaves some embarrassing claims for religion to initially violently support then quietly sweep under the rug. The origin of life on Earth is one of those things that's sort of in between the two phases. Most religions have accepted evolution but a few are still in the opposition phase. Fortunately in much of the modern world they have to settle for vehement instead of violent.

    I don't think most people have a problem with religion per se, they have a problem with the religious constantly pushing it on other people. If you want to quietly take solace in your faith when someone dies, go for it. But don't try to force children to be taught creationism.

    Some religions are better than others at facing their shrinking reality. Buddhism, for example:

    "If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change." -- Dalai Lama

  • by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @01:10PM (#40144579) Homepage

    Maybe it's different where you live but I don't perceive most religious people as scared. Most of them just want some sort of direction or purpose in life, something that gives meaning beyond eat, sleep, fuck and die. Someone to praise for the good things, pray for help with the bad things, that God has some sort of mission for them here on Earth not just an afterlife. And I don't mean that you have to go out and convert people, but to try living a life without sin and asking for forgiveness for your sins is a mission in itself. It's not that unlike sports, nobody tell me that in the greater meaning of things football "makes sense" - it's just an arbitrary set of rules we've turned into a game. But then we can play by those rules, we have some sort of measuring stick that says this was a good play and this was a bad play. Religion does that for your whole life, my life is now not just different than yours but it's now better than yours.

    Science is great but it's also empty, there's nothing in physics or chemistry or biology that give any sort of purpose to life. There's no values, no ethics, it can perfectly describe what a bullet will do if you pull the trigger but there's nothing telling you if you should or shouldn't do it. Okay you can say evolution "wants" you to reproduce but that's not really true, it doesn't care if you don't. Why should it or how could it, it's only a game of numbers. There's humanism but it really only covers your interaction with other human beings and it mostly boils down to reciprocity because nobody wants to be treated as less than average but there's really no penalty for taking advantage of others if you can. Religion tends to be divine both in matters of fact and matters of law, there's no "getting away with murder" with an omniscient God. Seeing human courts sometimes failing miserably, I can see the appeal I just can't buy into the fantasy.

Machines certainly can solve problems, store information, correlate, and play games -- but not with pleasure. -- Leo Rosten

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