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Christian Churches Celebrate Darwin's Birthday 1225

kthejoker writes "Today is the 197th anniversary of the great biologist Charles Darwin's birth. In response, some 450 Christian churches are celebrating Darwin's birth, saying, 'Darwin`s theory of biological evolution is compatible with faith and that Christians have no need to choose between religion and science.' There's also an interesting perspective on Darwinism and Christianity in the San Jose Mercury News."
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Christian Churches Celebrate Darwin's Birthday

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 12, 2006 @07:25PM (#14701850)
    Why is it that if you are against Darwin you are against science?

    Darwinism, an interesting and plausible hypothesis, does not constitute all of science.
  • by Sky Cry ( 872584 ) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @07:33PM (#14701881)

    One could always believe that evolution is just a tool in God's hands. That way it's possible to believe in intelligent design without denying facts, that Earth is older than a few thousands years, etc.

    Religion is about believing, science is about knowing. They are not mutually exclusive.

  • by plunge ( 27239 ) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @07:36PM (#14701902)
    Many people don't really know anything about who he was or what he thought or how it applies to modern biology.

    The guy was:
    1) A careful and thoughtful scientist who spent countless hours studying tihngs most people would find incrediby boring. Darwin spent EIGHT YEARS studying BARNACLES.
    2) Fairly shy.
    3) A Christian for most of his life, and only an agnostic in later life (which had more to do historically with death in the family than with evolution, just ike Lincoln's rediscovering of Christianity)

    The guy is/was NOT:
    1) a guy who's ideas are a dogma. What Darwin thought is historically important in the development of evolution, but has no bearing on what and where that theory will lead.
    2) 100% right about a LOT of things. He not only got the patterns of heredity completely wrong (he thought it was analog: by trait blending, when it was really digital), but was embarassingly forced to admit it when people with better arguments pointed out that blending was in contradiction with the evidence.
    3) Someone that thought fossils had proved his case. To Darwin, fossils showed mainly the fact that past life was very different from present life: hence that most of species that existed in the past no longer existed in his day. This was one of the chief inspirations for his idea. The current creationist obsession with fossils overlooks the fact that Darwin put forward his theory, and was considered to be correct, long before we had anything like the fantastically rich fossil record of today. Darwin predicted that future fossils would all confirm his theory, but he NEVER expected that we'd find anywhere as many as we have, or that an entirely unimaginable field (genetics) would someday come to exist and provide an indepedent second check on the fossil record, allowing us to figure out actual lineages.

    Darwin also didn't propose that the origins of life were part of evolution. The most he ever said on the subject was that maybe life had started in some warm little pool somewhere... in a private letter. He didn't publish this idea as scientific work.

    There are so many misconceptions about the man that this otherwise fairly reserved guy is just buried under layers of legend. He was neither an exceptional genius and phropet, nor was he arrogant, careless about jumping to conclusions, or an atheist. He was a bright, studious man who worked hard, amassed tons of evidence, and hit upon a stunningly innovative realization about how evolution could have occured (one which was as much due to the new discoveries in geology and biology of his time as to his own thinking: as is obvious from the fact that no one in the history of earth had thought of it before... and then suddenly two guys did indepedently around the same time). He's worth remembering and learning about, not worshiping or demonizing.
  • by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @07:39PM (#14701916) Homepage
    How about the idiots who, for example, think Bush is comparable to Hitler? That's just as stupid as not believing in evolution, or believing the earth is flat, or whatever. We're surrounded every day by idiots who believe in bizarre things.

    Well, Gandhi is comparable to Hitler. I'd say he compares rather favourably, of course, but comparable, still.
  • Re:Totally wrong (Score:2, Insightful)

    by plunge ( 27239 ) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @07:39PM (#14701917)
    Harris is wrong simply because disregarding large portions of the text or interpreting other parts as metaphorical is perfectly legitimate as a belief system. How can he possibly argue otherwise? Who is he to say on what someone's faith should be built upon? Especially when for most religious moderates, their "faith" is primarily about values and life lessons and human feelings, not dogmas.
  • As a christian... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SisyphusShrugged ( 728028 ) <.moc.draregi. .ta. .em.> on Sunday February 12, 2006 @07:39PM (#14701921) Homepage
    I am a christian and a scientist, one who does not find the belief in a cunctipotent deity incompatible with understanding and accepting scientific discoveries, To tell the truth more I learn about cosmology (singularities, string theory, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principal, and other crazy ideas) and evolution the more my belief in God is reinforced. To me the individuals who hinder scientific progress in the name of God are reserving a place for themselves in the afterlife (by which I mean, a not very nice one! or maybe they will come back as a worm in the next life!)
  • by ockegheim ( 808089 ) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @07:39PM (#14701924)
    Flamebait but so true...
  • Smart move... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Afecks ( 899057 ) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @07:40PM (#14701931)
    I see this as an attempt to prevent religion from becomming irrelevant. Smart christians know they can't force people to pick religion over science because science will always win in the long run. So instead they've twisted their views so that religion can encompass science. Pretty smart move for them but it will only slow the inevitable death of religion.

    It would be so nice if we could just be good to each other without fear of reprisal from some imaginary father-figure. Being a good person by your own decision is much more noble than doing it because you were told to.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 12, 2006 @07:42PM (#14701940)
    Religion is about believing, science is about knowing. They are not mutually exclusive.

    Actually, they are. Belief without proof is the antithesis of the scientific method and all the principles of science. To embrace science and faith is doublethink.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 12, 2006 @07:43PM (#14701950)
    "Christians have no need to choose between religion and science."

    I beg to differ. The premise of religion is to accept that certain things are mysterious and cannot be investigated, or that certain things are true whether there is evidence for them or not.

    The premise of science is that everything should be investigated, and that things are accepted as generally true only after evidence emerges for them, and that new evidence can change our perceptions of what is true.

  • by CyricZ ( 887944 ) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @07:46PM (#14701962)
    Some of the most vocal opponents of the current American regime are those who actually fought in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and other conflicts. They know the true horrors of war, and many of them know the actual smell of fascism. You can call them idiots of you want. However, I'll listen to them when they start putting out warnings.

    You speak of discussing events one did not witness. Just like that man and his children may not have witnessed macroevolution, I take it you did not witness World War II. While I was young at the time, I did. I remember leaving London during the Blitz. It is hypocritical and ignorant for you to suggest that those who experienced it firsthand are incorrect when they correctly point out history repeating itself.

  • by Eightyford ( 893696 ) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @07:48PM (#14701968) Homepage
    Is that what he really wants to be teaching the kids? To doubt what they can't see for themselves?

    Actually, yes. We schould teach our children to doubt and question absolutely everything. To me, the need for a continuous search for answers is one of the greatest attributes a person can have.
  • 450 out of.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 12, 2006 @07:49PM (#14701979)
    In response, some 450 Christian churches are celebrating Darwin's birth

    So that takes covers my little town, now what about the other 200,000 churches?

  • Re:Meanwhile... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Stephan Schulz ( 948 ) <schulz@eprover.org> on Sunday February 12, 2006 @07:51PM (#14701983) Homepage
    When are we going to put our foot down on this Muslim scourge?
    Well, there are roughly one billion Muslims quitely going along and living there lives. Maybe a few thousand are rioting, and no doubt quite a few are real assholes about this issue. But to condem the whole faith for the acts of a few is both stupid and unproductive. Islam is not sigificantly better or worse than "Christianity" (and about as diverse).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 12, 2006 @07:55PM (#14701999)
    "What I find amusing about that article I liked above, though, is the guy is teaching kids to doubt evolution on the basis that they weren't there to see it. Is that what he really wants to be teaching the kids? To doubt what they can't see for themselves? :D"

    Absoultely. It's called empericism and is the very basis of science. You can't claim any valdity of a purposed hypothesis until you have observable data that, at the very least, lends credence to that hypothesis. If you don't understand that data and what it means you shouldn't be making a claim one way or the other.

    Kids should doubt evolution until they understand the data behind it. When they do understand the data behind it then they can draw their own conclusions.

    What's really sad about the whole thing isn't creationist claiming evolutionary theory is wrong, it's creationists (some, not all) having a better grasp of the data behind evolution than your average person. It's the same way some atheists have a better grasp of theology than your average person. However, neither of them use the same methods of the paradigimes they critize. Atheists don't look at theology with the mehtodoligies of faith and creationists drag the methodology of faith along with the empericism. *shrug* everyone does it to some degree or another... just if you're going to critizie a viewpoint with it's own methodology then you shouldn't drag your own into it.

    just thinking aloud. Not so much a reply.
  • by hunterx11 ( 778171 ) <hunterx11@gma i l . com> on Sunday February 12, 2006 @08:03PM (#14702035) Homepage Journal
    Because in order to discredit evolutionary theory, those who oppose it attempt to undermine science, reason, and even empirical observation as bases of belief. The heliocentric model of the solar system isn't all of science, either, but no one who honestly believes in science disbelieves it.
  • by tengennewseditor ( 949731 ) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @08:03PM (#14702037)
    Those questions are asking you to reconcile dogmatic fundamentalist interpretations of the bible with evolution.

    But yes, fundamentalist christians that are also evolutionists have some pretty hairy questions to answer...

  • by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @08:03PM (#14702040)
    Why is it that if you are against Darwin you are against science?

    Well, of course in principle it doesn't automatically mean that.

    However, evolution is one of the most well-established theories that science has to offer. It is supported by evidence extremely well and is validated by hundreds of new observations every day. And if you publicly come out against it and in favor of some alternative theory for which the only evidence is a religious text, chances are pretty damn good that you are incapable of holding a logical thought in your head to begin with.

    Now maybe that's an unfair assessment to make about you, but to make a more accurate one requires too much time and energy to expend on every evolution-basher out there. Life is too short, and there are too many of them (especially in the United States of America) to interview every single one as to his feelings about science in general. And it's a simple fact that people who publicly oppose evolution tend to be quite vocal in not only bashing scientists as a group, but bashing science in general as an inferior source of knowledge as compared to religion- an apples to oranges comparison if there ever was one.

    If I were some omniscient being with all the time and resources in the world to examine the innermost thoughts of every creationist and intelligent designer, perhaps I'd be able to develop a more accurate opinion. As a human being with limited years on this earth, please forgive me if I take a short cut and make what is a pretty accurate generalization to save time. If you are against Darwin, you are probably against science. You may think you're pro-science, but usually what that means is that you're pro-technology and view your toys as validation of the superiority of your culture and by extension the correctness of its religious views. Individuals opposed to Darwinism on the merits of the theory itself (and who may offer alternative theories equally unpalatable from religious viewpoints) are actually quite rare.
  • by St. Arbirix ( 218306 ) <matthew.townsend@g m a i l . c om> on Sunday February 12, 2006 @08:07PM (#14702064) Homepage Journal
    Actually, yes. We schould teach our children to doubt and question absolutely everything. To me, the need for a continuous search for answers is one of the greatest attributes a person can have.

    I think such absolute skepticism is impossible to maintain in the face of how much there is in the world to understand. Very few people are in any position to vouch for the authenticity of much of the scientific experimentation that goes on. Another great attribute of humanity is the ability to pool a mass of knowledge much greater than any one individual could possibly hope to grasp on their own.
  • by Eightyford ( 893696 ) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @08:15PM (#14702101) Homepage
    I think such absolute skepticism is impossible to maintain in the face of how much there is in the world to understand. Very few people are in any position to vouch for the authenticity of much of the scientific experimentation that goes on. Another great attribute of humanity is the ability to pool a mass of knowledge much greater than any one individual could possibly hope to grasp on their own.

    I agree with you for the most part, except for the abslute skepticism. I don't take anything as fact. I just look at everything as a probability. For example, I think the odds that some form of evolution is correct is about a million to one, based on my life experiences (which include what I read on slashdot, see on television, and hear in conversation). I'm still skeptical of evolution though. I don't know that it's true, but I'm pretty sure that it is.
  • Re:Meanwhile... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Bing Tsher E ( 943915 ) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @08:18PM (#14702127) Journal
    Agreed, but it's important to shine a good bright light on the 'few thousand who are rioting' for several reasons:

    1. They are the equivalent of the Jim Swaggart nutcase christians in this country.
    2. The most 'explosive' cartoons in the collection they are distributing all over the Muslim world to inflame people are the most blasphemous, but were never distributed and probably not even produced by any European cartoonists.

    So if a bright enough light is shined on these creeps, the mainstream followers of Islam should see them as blasphemers who actually were the originators and distributors of the worse cartoons and put them to death. Or turn away from them in distaste, which is a form of hell the nutcases REALLY won't be able to deal with.

    There's nothing that will drive a bunch of zealots to fury more than a majority populace who doesn't take them seriously. That's true all over the world.

  • by Fished ( 574624 ) <amphigory@NOsPam.gmail.com> on Sunday February 12, 2006 @08:19PM (#14702128)
    As a minister formally of the Southern Baptist convention, I can tell you that there are a lot of Christians standing up to fundamentalism. The problem is that they don't tend to get the press. Instead, the press latches on to controversy (e.g. Pat Robertson's all-too-regular hoof-in-mouth disease) and, due to their largely secular bias, have created a caricature of American religion in the form of the religious right.
  • Re:Totally wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

    by plunge ( 27239 ) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @08:23PM (#14702148)
    I have read it. I bought it when it first came out. I believe I even saw him give a talk at the Center for Inquiry. But I disagree with him. What you just said has almost nothing to do with what I said. I said that it is legitimate to be a theist and not read the Bible literally: to even think that it is grossly imperfect and misguided at times. What you said was that it is not necessary to believe to have good values. I completely agree. And I never said anything against that idea! I just think that the idea that theists who are not fundamentalists are "bad theists" is flawed.
  • by rjshields ( 719665 ) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @08:29PM (#14702182)
    Religion is about believing, science is about knowing. They are not mutually exclusive.
    Science is based on consensus of opinion and may change over time. The two *are* mutually exclusive as religion implies faith over consensus of opinion. Religion requires total belief (faith) in the subject, which does not allow for debate. If science proves reigion to be wrong, there is no room for manoeuvre on behalf of the religious since religion purports to be truth.
  • by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @08:30PM (#14702185)
    How about the idiots who, for example, think Bush is comparable to Hitler?

    When was it decided that it's just too offensive to compare any contemporary politician to Hitler? It's considered a below-the-belt insult.

    This just floors me. You'd think we'd want to compare everyone to Hitler all the time. We can't afford to have that happen again.

    We're determined to learn nothing, it seems.
  • by LordLucless ( 582312 ) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @08:33PM (#14702195)
    When evolutionary theory was first published, it caused an immense reaction in religious circles. The reason for this was that evolution was the first explanation of a way life may have come about without resorting to a divine being. It gave all those people who didn't want to believe in God a logical alternative.

    Since then, people have come to say that evolution has "killed" God, or "disproved" Christianity. These comments fail to understand exactly why science tends not to like religion. One of the basic tenets of science is that for something to be scientific, it has to be falsifiable. Because religion's basic premise is the existence of an omnipotent force not governed by physical laws, it is by definition unfalsifiable. That does not mean it is scientifically false, or scientifically true, it means that science cannot be applied to religion. Religion cannot be scientifically proven or disproven. Every objection a scientist raises to religion could be countered by "But God could temporarily suspend that natural law, and act in violation of it".

    Creationism is logical, in that it is internally consistent. If you accept the basic premise of a divine being, then it follows on logically that that being could then create life. Evolution was radical, not because it contradicted this, but because it created a logical alternative that did not involve God. It's not a replacement for creationism, it's a scientific explanation, much as creationism is a religious explanation.

    Saying that, the very notion of evolution changes over time. Darwin originally didn't comment on abiogensis - his theory was about environmental conditions causing changes in organisms in such a way that diversity was created. His theory took as a premise the existance of life before the evolutionary process begins.

    Even now, there are various components to evolution that some people believe and some don't. Some believe in the "punctuated equilibrium" model. Some don't. Some believe in "macro" evolution, some don't. Some believe in abiogenesis. Some don't. Some theists argue for "directed" evolution. Some argue that animal diversity evolved from a few common ancestors, as per Darwin, but that man was created directly by God, outside of evolutionary forces.

    Saying "I believe in evolution" is almost as meaningless these days as saying "I believe in Christianity". There are so many different theories, sub-theories, movements, interpretations and denominations that just saying "evolution" doesn't actually describe much.
  • by Pantero Blanco ( 792776 ) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @08:33PM (#14702198)
    If anything, Christianity is more like Linux:

    1. It has a kernel (belief in Jesus and God) and you can put different forms on top of that (barring a few that go against the license), leading to different branches and forks.

    2. Most of its followers are friendly, though there are a few loud zealots who give the rest a bad name.

    3. It sprouted from an older, less "open", religion, many of the followers of which are still around today.
  • and... *GULP* (Score:4, Insightful)

    by xant ( 99438 ) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @08:37PM (#14702212) Homepage
    They probably have never seen *god* either; a rational response to this argument would be to disbelieve both evolution and creationism and all religion, to go live in a cave and eat berries and reject the notion of all civilization, including its mythology.

    The logical outcome of his argument doesn't matter though. This stuff works on children only because children haven't been taught critical thinking; they've been taught to listen to authority. (Then it continues to work because adults haven't been taught critical thinking either.) And that's exactly what this guy wants. The specific argument doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is that someone in a position of authority said it, and the people who believe it don't have the tools to defend themselves from authoritative statements.
  • by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) * on Sunday February 12, 2006 @08:39PM (#14702221) Homepage Journal
    1) If God knows all causality, then he could have brought about everything into being originally AND have it, from science's view BE random and undetermined. The two are not mutally exclusive when God is the best pool player of all time, setting up the most elaborate shot of all time.

    God as a conman. Good one.

  • by Bacon Bits ( 926911 ) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @08:47PM (#14702267)
    True enough, but it is obvious that science has limitations.

    1. Science can only be reasonably applied the things that can be observed.
    2. Science can only be meaningfully applied to things that can be measured and repeated.
    3. Science can only be absolutely applied to things that can be understood by humans.

    To presume that all knowledge and all truth must necessarily be confined by the above set of restrictions is ludicrous. And, of course, completely unprovable. If you honestly believe that science and humanity are capable of understanding and knowing everything, then you have trapped yourself by faith in science. That is, welcome to your pseudoreligion.

    Ultimately, science is all about answers. Religion is all about questions.
  • by plunge ( 27239 ) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @08:49PM (#14702275)
    "There's no need for scientific evidence to know, for example, that you're in love or feeling depressed."

    But these are feelings. "Feeling" that you are in love is automatically true, becaues feeling is just an expression of an experience. But "feeling" that a truth claim is accurate is not the same thing as it being true.
  • by zootm ( 850416 ) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @08:53PM (#14702289)

    Actually, yes. We schould teach our children to doubt and question absolutely everything.

    Agreed — the thing is, though, that arguing against science with religion doesn't work on a rational level. Religion is a belief, the questions that can be asked of it are distinct to those of science — this debate gets messy because people are pitting two disparate systems against one another. Science does not aim to disprove religion, so arguing against religion with science doesn't work (except with extremely anal literal interpretations, where the parts that are decided are fairly mundane). Religion does not aim to prove itself, being based on faith, so arguing against science with it leads to problems from their contrasting bases.

  • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Sunday February 12, 2006 @08:57PM (#14702323) Homepage Journal
    There are plenty observations made "each day" that contradict evolutionary theories.

    Name some. Before you post, please check talk.origins and the NCSE website to see debunkings of your claims; I can almost guarantee that any of the observations you're thinking of do not contradict evolution in the slightest, and have already been explained in short, simple sentences and words of few syllables so that even creationists can understand them.

    There are also many established scientists who don't support it too.

    No, there aren't. There are very, very few, and almost none of them are biologists. And their arguments are the same easily debunked nonsense, repeated over and over in increasingly obfuscatory language; they haven't brought anything new to the table in decades.

    The theory of evolution is an attempt to find an absolute in a relativistic universe, it doesn't exist. It is based off age-old beliefs in simple cause and effect, and projecting those flawed beliefs over the span of millions of years. The universe does not operate this way. With our modern knowledge of relativism and quantum mechanics, evolution should be debunked.

    Congratulations, you've managed to combine two of the most common types pseudo-scientific quackery (creationism and profound misinterpretation of quantum physics) into a single post! I suggest you stick to fare like "What the Bleep Do We Know?" -- it should be more at your level.
  • by Christianfreak ( 100697 ) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @09:01PM (#14702343) Homepage Journal
    If you say something to yourself similar to, "Obviously that part was allegory," then you have no leg to stand on. Either every single thing in it is literal (and the earth has four corners) or everything must be interpreted. Once everything must be interpreted, you cannot claim any sort of non-relativism.

    That's ridiculous! The Bible comes from a large number authors all who were in different time periods and different cultural contexts. And often we don't have the full context available to us.

    For instance the story of Jonah is believed by biblical scholors to be a story that was told as an allegory. One of the reasons is because there's no other evidence that such a man even existed. The creation story is similar, there were no witnesses to the event, a primative culture with no modern scientific background drew upon existing stories to create their own. Notice that the creation stories of several civilizations at the time are very similar.

    The Bible is first and foremost a guide on how to have a relationship with God and those parts are pretty clear IMHO. That's where the absolutes lie.

    Which bible do you read, and why?

    Any Bible that was translated from the original Greek and Hebrew which, believe it or not (for the "the Bible's been redone dozens of times!" camp) is most translations.

    Do you think the Romans (who cannonized the Bible with their selected bishops in 313) were answering the call of God or politics?

    I'm sure it was probably both.

    Why do you go to church on Sunday instead of the Sabbath, or Saturday? Why do most of the Christian holidays coincide exactly with pagan holidays that are centuries older?

    Same answer for both, they were Pagan traditions originally and used by the Catholic church. I've never really understood why in this day and time it even matters.

    If you're a Trinitarian, are non-trinitarians going to hell? What if you aren't baptised?

    Well I've read the Bible several times and I've never seen where it says non-trinitarians or people who aren't baptised are going to hell.

    Why do you think there are so many sects of Christianity if the bible is so crystal clear?

    I think there are lots of reasons, the rebellion against corruption, the twisting of scripture to gain power, just the ability to nit-pick. Ultimately religions are made up of people and people are far from perfect.
  • Well, at a certain point you have to start addressing the problem. I think we're at that point.

    Well put.

    The notion that you can just ignore these nutjobs can lead to even bigger problems down the road. It is when average, everyday people fail allow spurious debates to take hold that the majority becomes hostage to a dimwitted but aggressive minority. Hostility to intellectualism has been with America since its founding, but when it becomes so pervasive that the nonsensical hurling of insults becomes a substitute for debate, the reasonable majority loses its ability to influence politics. I think we've already entered a very dangerous era, where style (angry rhetoric, appeals to symbology, character assassination) has far outstripped substance in the arena of public debate.

    When is the last time you saw two people on television actually debate an idea for a full 40 minutes? I'm talking about locking intellectual horns and attempting to prove the merits of an idea to an audience through skillfully argued logic. No dodging the question, no shoehorning a question into a pre-generated answer. I think such debates are non-existent now because we have allowed them to become extinct. We allow the issues to be turned into lowest common denominator mudwrestling that shows how little we respect ourselves as citizens. We have not demanded a better process, one that pushes better ideas to the fore. So we wind up with a process that is driven by one liners and photos of politicians going duck hunting.

  • by Derosian ( 943622 ) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @09:04PM (#14702359) Homepage Journal
    What most people fail to realize is that Darwin supported the idea of Microevolution, not Macroevolution. The idea that creatures could just suddenly change from one specia to the next is laughable. Christianity, in general, supports the idea of microevolution. On top of this, I would like to ask that people start clarifying what they mean when they say Evolution, becuase it is becoming rather bothersome, seeing all this talk of how evolution can be proven and is a fact, and not clarifying of which you are speaking. In science, 'fact' can only mean 'confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.' I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms. -Stephen Jay Gould
  • by Dimensio ( 311070 ) <darkstar AT iglou DOT com> on Sunday February 12, 2006 @09:40PM (#14702563)
    Let me remind you that as widely-known and understood as evolution is, even Darwin himself admitted that the theory could be debunked if it could be proven that a system could not exist in an "intermediate" state such as that which evolution requires:

    And thus far no such system has been observed. All theories are potentially falsifiable -- an explanation that has no falsification criteria is not scientific. Evolution stands strong for many reasons, including the total failure of any potential falsifying observations to come about despite ample opportunity.
  • by hunterx11 ( 778171 ) <hunterx11@gma i l . com> on Sunday February 12, 2006 @09:47PM (#14702601) Homepage Journal
    Scientists don't support Darwin; they support evolutionary theory. In fact, Darwin's idea that evolution is gradual has been largely replaced by punctuated equilibria based on evidence. Scientists don't simply look for things to reinforce existing theory, but instead they seek to expand and revise it constantly. This is the sort of thing creationists don't want; they start from a given premise and discard all evidence that doesn't agree with it. You basically took an argument against creationism, replaced the word "creationist" with "scientist", and expect people to lend credence to your nonsense because you admit to uncertainty.
  • by professionalfurryele ( 877225 ) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @10:00PM (#14702667)
    The whole point here is that everyone doesn't have the 'same amount of bias'. You cant fake a line on a chart, you cant fake a regression, and you cant fake fossil records (at least not without getting caught eventually).
    Scientists go out of thier way to ensure that Creationists are not considered scientists because they are not scientists. You say most of what creationists say is junk, I would go a step further, I would say almost all of it is junk. You claim creationists explanation is feasible, and self-consistent. Of course it is, it is untestable. You say it is supported by evidence. There is no such evidence. At least no evidence that could distinguish creationism from a real scientific theory.
    You mention it is decently supported. I'm afraid that is simply a work of fiction. Almost every trained biologist supports the theory of evolution. For the most part it is engineers, computer scientists, and the like (people who make little contact the emperical biological science at a research level) who are creationists. These people are not qualified on the subject, and even if they were, an overwhelming majority still support evolution as the best theory we have to explain the origin of the species.
    I'm afraid your position, though moderate, is still wrong. The overwhelming evidence is that evolution is the correct theory to explain the origin of life back to the first replicator. It is incomplete, but any explanation which replaces it will contain most of the current theory of evolution as a subset of itself. In fact it will probably contain so much of the current theory it will be called evolution on account of it being based on identicle or near identicle premises.
    I appreciate that you are trying hard to be a moderator, a go between between scientists and the antiscientists, but the bottom line is that science cannot negotiate, because it is a method not a people. And the cold hard facts are that the method supports evolution, not creationism, and unless creationists come up with some real evidence supporting creationism, instead of simply pointing out the gaps that are not yet filled in in evolution, evolution will remain one of the key theories underpinning the biological sciences. It is not a choice to be more diplomatic, there is nothing to be more diplomatic about.
  • by Cl1mh4224rd ( 265427 ) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @10:05PM (#14702695)
    No, it's not impossible to maintain, and I'm of the opinion that no amount of skepticism is enough.
    Absolute skepticism is arrogance, or at least an utter lack of trust in the experiences and knowledge of others.

    You hear something from a friend, but you're skeptical, so you go look it up. You find ten other people that agree with what your friend said, but you're skeptical of them. Where does it end?

    When people say absolute skepticism is impossible to maintain, they're not lying; it is impossible. Eventually you have to give in to trust.
  • Those christians (and radical muslims etc) will be in their own dark age. The rest of us will do alright.

    Unless they manage to take the rest of us out with them in their infighting.

  • by radtea ( 464814 ) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @10:30PM (#14702837)
    I think such absolute skepticism is impossible to maintain in the face of how much there is in the world to understand.

    The general principle should be not "to doubt and question everything", but to be willing to doubt and question anything.

    It is simply silly to actually doubt and question everything. It would be a huge and pointless mental burden.

    But the willingness to question anything seems to me to be an essential attribute of a civilized, rational person. I know damned well I don't have all the answers, but it seems to me insane to suggest that there are some questions that ought not to be asked.

    The opposite of this view is religion. All religions place some questions beyond the pale. Christians are not allowed to question the divinity of Jesus. Jews are not allowed to question their special relationship with God. Muslims are not allowed to question the unity of God. None of them are allowed to question the existence of God in the form of any serious doubt.

    This kind of willful epistemological blindness will always be opposed to science, which holds that we should be willing to ask any meaningful question.
  • by hunterx11 ( 778171 ) <hunterx11@gma i l . com> on Sunday February 12, 2006 @10:59PM (#14702973) Homepage Journal
    Ideally this would be true; however, scientists as of late have become so tied to evolution in any form that they simply are not abiding by this any longer.

    I hear that these days, engineers assume that gravity exists when they design bridges without even testing it for themselves. It's shocking, especially when you consider that lives are at stake, yet they still allow their biases to color their work.

  • by HrothgarReborn ( 740385 ) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @11:02PM (#14702987)
    I agree. As St Paul said:
    Prove all things and hold fast to that which is true.
    1 Thessalonians 5:21

    That is the foundation of both science and any religion worth believing in. Any world view that shackles God from revealing more information about who we are and where we came from is incapable of surviving in our modern world and will attract only the most zealous and irrational elements until it sputters out. Religion has been forced to reinvent itself to cope with the knowledge that science brings. If a religion is true, new knowledge should be welcomed as a new supplement to revealed truth. Apparent contradictions should be attributed to mans inability to understand the knowledge previously given. I for one am glad we live in this time when so much knowledge is available rather than those primitive times when the creation stories of Genesis were first formed. Perhaps faith was simpler then when people could comfortably think of God molding man from clay and did not have fossil records to trouble his mind, but they miss the incredible wonder we can feel today as we realize just how complex the process really was and what remarkable creatures we really are.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 12, 2006 @11:28PM (#14703097)
    "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." - Albert Einstein
    "Science, Philosophy and Religion: a Symposium." - Albert Einstein

    Can I get an amen to that? ;-)
  • Re:Totally wrong (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Garse Janacek ( 554329 ) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @11:49PM (#14703201)
    Actually, though it would shock a lot of modern fundamentalists, it seems evident that a significant minority (though I believe still a minority) of the church fathers interpreted the creation story in Genesis as non-literal, long before there was a solid scientific reason to doubt it.

    Certainly in order to reconcile a Biblically grounded faith with modern science, one needs to interpret some passages as metaphorical, but this does not mean that the choice about what is and is not metaphorical is somehow "arbitrary" -- it simply means we need to be careful in determining what the author of the text was trying to communicate (and since the entirety of the Bible was written long before modernism or the scientific method, the authors were rarely trying to communicate scientific ideas or natural history).

    Christian (and Islamic and Judaeic) dogma inevitably and logically results in fundamentalism and rejection of all secular (ie, rational) thought...

    This only follows from your assumptions about how one needs to interpret scripture. Since many (though sadly not all) of the people who actually have faith and are thus compelled to interpret scripture in an applied way disagree with those assumptions, your conclusions about the inevitable results don't follow.

  • Re:Totally wrong (Score:2, Insightful)

    by femto ( 459605 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @12:05AM (#14703285) Homepage
    > Christian (and Islamic and Judaeic) dogma inevitably and logically results in fundamentalism and rejection of all secular (ie, rational) thought and belief. To think otherwise is to ignore the very scripture one claims to believe in.

    Only if you base your entire religious belief on the scripture. Fundamentalists are generally "bible based".

    Catholicism, the major form of Christianity (as in it has the most followers), doesn't draw its authority from the scripture. It draws its authority from the "Church", which traces its succession directly back to Jesus. The "Church" is the body of people who follow the teachings of Christ and is headed by the Pope (though even some Catholics reject the Pope's authority). The Church wrote the scriptures (based on what Jesus said to the first Church members) with inspiration from God. It hardly seems logical for a Church to draw authority from a document that didn't exist when it was founded!

    Rather the teachings of the Catholic Church are based on the traditions of the Catholic Church, which have been passed through the millenia from person to person. At an early stage many of these traditions were recorded as scriptures, so forming an important (but not the only) part of the Church's thinking.

    To use a crap computer analogy (this is slashdot after all), a fundamentalist believes that one can 'cold boot' a Chuch from a bible. Catholics contend that it is impossible to 'cold boot' off the bible as the complete message is passed from Christ via the members of the Church.

    The way I think of the tradition of the Catholic Church is to compare with the dreamtime stories of the Australian aboriginies. These stories have been passed down by word of mouth through the millenia. As I understand it their learning and accurate recital is important to the Aboriginies. Consequently the stories (and their accurate reproduction) have well outlived their source and are as accurate as the written word (after all they are not subject to typographical errors and there is massive redundancy in the transmission system).

    As you can imagine, many non-Catholic Christians reject the above (it's the reason they choose not to be Catholics). It's interesting to note that in fundamentalist bookshops it is possible to find books on how to convert a Catholic to 'Chistianity'.

    To finish off, the major Christian religions are not exclusively based on scripture, and so not deterministically locked into the fundamentalist "anti-science" position you postulate. Rather they are driven through God acting through PEOPLE. People tend to have human reactions to individual situations. At the level of the individual religious organisations are generally very compassionate. We are dealing with people here though so there are plenty of exceptions. Bad things do happen at the institutional level (such as the inquisition) but over (glacial) time such insanity gets recognised by enough PEOPLE in the Church and gets stopped.

    I'm not writing this rant to shove any views down your throat or say to anyone that they should become a Catholic. Just to point out that your initial assumption that "the scripture is the be all and end all" is not accepted by the majority of Chistians. Christians follow the teachins of Christ, which is not identical to the bible!

    (Sorry, not, if I've offended some fundamentalists by using the term Christian to refer to a follower of Christ rather than a bible basher.)

  • by Bender0x7D1 ( 536254 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @12:59AM (#14703514)
    Something to keep in mind is that each "generation" can be as short as the single division of a cell. In addition, don't underestimate the power of individual cells/organisms/creatures/animals to act in a parallel manner. There are insects (termites) that lay 7000 eggs a day, providing 7000 opportunities for some sort of evolutionary event. Looking at the aphid, in a single season, if all offspring lived to reproduce, there would be 1,560,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (1.56x10^24) offspring. Reference here [msstate.edu].

    Multiply that by the total number of insects (including different species) and this is a lot of opportunities for mutations and evolutionary activity. Also, keep in mind things like viruses and bacteria that reproduce in even greater numbers.

    I don't claim that this makes evolution any less amazing, but a billion+ years and all the parallelization possible from all types of life makes for an incredible amount of computation. Enough, perhaps to even determine the question to life, the universe and everything.
  • by scotch ( 102596 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @12:59AM (#14703515) Homepage
    It's sort of like the fact that The Truth is that recycling paper uses more energy and creates more pollution than harvesting virgin trees and using them for paper.

    Where did you get your info about recycling paper? A quick google turned up this:

    Recycling paper saves energy, water, space at landfills, and disposal fees. The paper industry saves about 20 percent of the energy required to make paper and paperboard from fresh lumber. Recycling paper also saves about 50 percent of the water required to produce paper from fresh lumber and alleviates the shortage of space at landfills. When waste paper is recycled instead of buried, each ton of waste paper saves the charge to municipalities for dumping, often called the tipping fee.
    -- https://energy.navy.mil/awareness/365newfacts/365e wfacts10.html [navy.mil]

    though of course I'm not an expert - your claim about recycled paper just sounds like one of those myths going around that have no basis in fact. References?

  • by Coryoth ( 254751 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @01:40AM (#14703663) Homepage Journal
    I know that humans were just the design we ended up with, not the goal,
    but.. think in terms of the creation of a creature as much more "fit" [from evolutionary perspsective] as a human to an ape.

    I think the real question is "more 'fit' for what?", and until we have some semblance of an answer to that I think your concerns are awfully speculative. We really have no idea of what pressures or constraints led to humans developing. In contrast your example of and F16 from a Sopwith Camel there are some very well defined implicit constraints and specifications as to purpose and what constitutes "fitness" in this case. What led to humans may have been some fairly loose and easily satsified constraints with some of the particulars that we take for "fitness" simply being aberrations where the process spun on in an unconstrained direction.

    Could evolutionary algorithms solve the Sopwith Camel to F16 problem in the required time? Maybe not. Evolution/Life doesn't always manage to solve the problems with which it is presented, particularly when the constraints are excessive. History is littered with examples of evolution failing to develop a satisfactory solution in time: it's called extinction. So even if humans are a remarkable solution to an incredibly difficult problem it may well be that we are just one of those few cases where an answer did turn up in the requisite time out of millions more cases where it didn't.

  • by dangitman ( 862676 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @01:47AM (#14703688)
    1. Al Qaeda is not from Iraq. In fact, Al Qaeda is probably a creation of the US, whose actual existence has been exaggerated.

    2. Normal Iraqi people are not members of Al Qaeda. But they are the people being detained.

    3. The idea of a "war" against such an amorphous and vague group is ridiculous. They should be targets of law enforcement. War is about nation-states and armies fighting one another. "War on Terror" is a misnomer.

    4. If we are at war with Al Qaeda, then why doesn't the US treat them by Geneva conventions, and other standards for treating POWs? But the administration has denied that they are prisoners of war - they are "enemy combatants" - therefore, there must be no war, if they are not POWs.

  • by maxume ( 22995 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @01:50AM (#14703695)
    There are a couple of things that you are either skipping for brevity or ignoring. In case you are ignoring them:

      There are what, ~25,000 genes in the Human genome, made up of about 3 billion base pairs(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_genome [wikipedia.org]).

    I'm no expert on genetic algorithms, but I am willing to guess that you weren't working with anywhere near 25,000 variables per individual or that you did silly things like generate non working solutions(radical mutations) and the like. Did your system include a mechanism that coding for an individuals dna to control how genes were combined with each other, some of which might be intermixed with genes? How sophisticated was your recombination?

    The evaluation for fitness in nature(natural selection) is an incredible process. It basically awards efficiency in energy gathering and conversion(survival and propogation depend directly on this). The interesting part is that bad genes can survive for much longer than would seem reasonable. See sickle-cell anemia. It's caused by a bad gene, but the mutation makes recessive carrier more resistant to malaria. How is a G-A method going to account for a situation like that?

    Much of the cellular machinery in higher order mammals is also present in bacteria. The mammals get all the evolution that the bacteria did for free. Evolution is a continual struggle for resources. Multicellular organisms evolved because they are able to take advantage of certain resources more efficiently than a single cell, things like eating single cells and whatnot.

    This leads to the sopwith camel->F16, how many parameters are you going to use and what mechanism is going to evaluate fitness? Those factors are going to be at least as important as the number of individuals and generations. If your fitness algorith doesn't say 'I want an F16', it isn't going to get one.
  • by TemporalBeing ( 803363 ) <`bm_witness' `at' `yahoo.com'> on Monday February 13, 2006 @01:53AM (#14703708) Homepage Journal
    Lots of dumb christians completely reject scientific principles in favour of their holy book. I find it pretty hard to take when my "peers" will look me right in the eye and try to discredit my post-secondary astronomy education, saying that the universe is only several thousand years old.
    Truth is, even with the Bible we can't say how old the universe is. Sure, we know it was created in 6 days, and we know there have been approximately 3600 years (Jewish calendar) plus another 2000 (Gregorian calendar) since the fall in Genesis 3. (1 year Jewish calendar equals 360 days - so 3600 Jewish Years = 3652.5 Gregorian years ;totaling roughly 5652.5). Any how...we don't know how many days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries, millenia, etc. that Adam & Eve were in the Garden of Eden between Genesis 2 and Genesis 3. Most people want to do the "it happened the next day" thing; but I find that hard to believe, especially as the "curse on women" uses the terminology of "increase" in relation to birthing pains. (How could Eve know that it had increased if she didn't already know what it was?!!)

    So that alone is not reason to discredit you. However, astrological dating is flawed; and the proofs used to validate it are too. We're just getting in data now showing that things aren't like we thought they were out in space, and the model's don't add up to what we thought either.

    If ID people have their way, Geology would not exist. Forget about Biology.
    Not true. They wouldn't have it the way it is now - being so religiously intent on proving evolution true as to ignore the truth. (That doesn't mean I agree with ID. I may be a creationist, but I don't agree with ID.)
    You have to realize that there is a large percentage of christians who are unwittingly pushing towards another dark age.
    What's to say that we aren't already in one? A "dark age" only exists because of a lack of knowledge or a lack of accepting knowledge. Either one could be argued from any stand point on this issue today. Evolutionists refuse to accept that a God could have created; while Creationists refuse to accept that God did not create and it all came about by chance. Well...I guess in many respects that fact that we are having the debate shows that we're not in one; but if either party were to win outright without the community showing it by evidence, then yes, we would enter a dark age. Just remember, there are a lot of "scientists" out there that are purporting evolution that would like it to, though they don't exactly realize it.
  • by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @02:22AM (#14703811)
    1. Al Qaeda is not from Iraq. In fact, Al Qaeda is probably a creation of the US, whose actual existence has been exaggerated.

    Al Qaeda is a world-wide organization with a presence in Iraq. It trained tens of thousands of terrorists in camps in Afghanistan while it was ruled by the Taliban. Your information is faulty.

    2. Normal Iraqi people are not members of Al Qaeda. But they are the people being detained.

    Al Qaeda is operating in Iraq, along with various Islamic extremists, tribal militias, Iranian agents, and dead-enders from the Baathist regime. They hide among the population which is turning against them. Ordinary people are turning them in.

    3. The idea of a "war" against such an amorphous and vague group is ridiculous.

    War on Al Qaeda is about the same as war on pirates in centuries past, or various guerilla groups. Nothing silly about it at all.

    They should be targets of law enforcement.

    Al Qaeda and associates have become a large enough problem that they are no longer a simple law enforcement problem. It is now often falls in the paramilitary or military problem scale.

    War is about nation-states and armies fighting one another. "War on Terror" is a misnomer.

    There is an entire range of conflict that encompasses war. It isn't just nation state vs nation state.

    War on Terror is shorthand, not misnomer.

    4. If we are at war with Al Qaeda, then why doesn't the US treat them by Geneva conventions, and other standards for treating POWs? But the administration has denied that they are prisoners of war - they are "enemy combatants" - therefore, there must be no war, if they are not POWs.

    In order to qualify for the protections of a Prisoner of War under the Geneva Conventions you must meet certain standards. Al Qaeda and company violate the standards and therefore don't qualify for the protections and priviledges.

    ...therefore, there must be no war, if they are not POWs

    Faulty logic, and quite silly.

    Might I suggest that you actually read the Geneva Conventions?

  • by Dimensio ( 311070 ) <darkstar AT iglou DOT com> on Monday February 13, 2006 @02:23AM (#14703816)
    My point is simply that evolution does not cover all of the bases

    What bases? Evolution covers a specific phenomenon in biology. Scientific theories are like that -- they keep their scope limited to a set of events. Abiogenesis is not a part of evolution because how the first life came to exist has no bearing on the evolution of that life after it exists.

    and if this was not a forum where religion was essentially banned from discussion, I would use it to fill in the missing gaps.

    The lack of explanation for life origins is not a "gap" in evolution, it's simply a matter outside of the scope of the theory. Evolution also does not address the ultimate origin of matter, the formation of planets or stars or how a manual transmission operates. Those aren't "gaps" in the theory, those are issues that the theory does not try to address.
  • by dancpsu ( 822623 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @02:48AM (#14703933) Journal
    Creation scientists do not deny evolution exists. They simply call it "microevolution" and claim that there are boundaries that cannot be crossed between different "kinds" of creature populations. You can show a creature evolving like fruitflies and bacteria and they say it remains within the same "kind", and that there is no common ancestry outside a creature's "kind" (other than God zapping it to life). That is where the debate lies.
  • by theLOUDroom ( 556455 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @02:50AM (#14703941)
    I think such absolute skepticism is impossible to maintain in the face of how much there is in the world to understand.


    You go on to talk about pooling knowedge, but skepticism doesn't prevent me from learning or sharing ideas.

    I think it's a much better viewpoint to consider nothing sacred. Maybe Newton was right, maybe he wasn't. Einstein, learned Newtons ideas, but he maintained his own skepticism about them.

    Believing in anything 100% is a bad idea. It means no matter the evidence to the contrary, you will continue to believe your original stupid idea.
    IMO, it's the fundamental difference between religion and science.
  • by tm2b ( 42473 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @03:05AM (#14703989) Journal
    Nobody should be allowed to comment on religion and science without first reading and understanding the late Stephen Jay Gould's essay, Nonoverlapping Magisteria [stephenjaygould.org] (aka, NOMA).

    It's very clear that when religion goes head to head with science, religion loses - because science is defined by what works . NOMA articulates the boundaries that intelligent, thoughtful people can use, between the realms where science is valid and where religion is valid.
  • by drgonzo59 ( 747139 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @03:05AM (#14703996)
    As far as charismatic goes he is not that much further along than Hitler. Or rather, Hitler was fairly charismatic for his time. You have to keep in mind that you are looking back at Hitler after all he has done, and you grew up to associate his mustache and his haircut with "evil" and "monster" but for his contemporaries he was rather charming -- someone would need to be to rise to power that quickly, even in Germany...
  • by As_I_Please ( 471684 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @03:09AM (#14704013)
    Is there really a well-defined line between living and non-living things?

    Not really. Viruses are borderline, but to those who study them, that distinction is rather academic. Anyway, I guess it depends on whether you consider a molecule that catalyzes the formation of other molecules like it to be alive.

    Evolution also explains the creation of "life" from "non-life".

    No, it doesn't. Abiogenesis seeks to explain the emergence of life from non-life and is still largely hypothetical in its details, though experiments are forthcoming to test these hypotheses.

    even evolutionists kind of hold back when they argue with creationists because they know that getting the general public to go with the idea of there being no "soul" is impossible.

    Only an ignorant asshole would say that science "proves" that there is no such thing as a soul. The concept of a soul is as much outside the purview of science as economics is outside the scope of evolution. In fact, creationists try to make this same link in order to scare Christians into believing that evolution contradicts God. I think the people who wrote this letter [uwosh.edu] and the 10,000 undersigned clergy would agree with me.

    Nothing but FUD and I'm getting sick of it.
  • by PenguiN42 ( 86863 ) <taylork@a[ ].mit.edu ['lum' in gap]> on Monday February 13, 2006 @03:23AM (#14704069) Journal
    1) There's a big difference between not assuming gravity exists as a general principle and going out and measuring the slight variance in gravity being produced at certain points on the earth.

    2) You really aught to provide some evidence of mainstream scientific researchers doing their work with the attitudes you describe, or your post can be safely discarded.

    3) Creationists more rational than the parent poster? arguable but irrelevant. More rational than actual scientists? Not even close. It's easy to be skeptical of everything and claim you're being "rational" -- it's much harder to actually understand the theories and evidence at hand in a deep and thorough manner.
  • by PenguiN42 ( 86863 ) <taylork@a[ ].mit.edu ['lum' in gap]> on Monday February 13, 2006 @03:36AM (#14704125) Journal
    The major problem here is that you seem to overestimate how much "improved' humans are over apes. Our genomes are incredibly similar. When you look at the biological structures involved, humans are really just slight adjustments to what an ape already has DNA to encode -- Larger brains, less hair, different bone alignment.

    Your analogy of sopwith camel to F16 is more like the evolution of an anphibian to a human -- many structures are completely revised and the overall complexity is much larger, though some fundamental principles remain the same.
  • Ape to human? NO! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pingveno ( 708857 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @03:54AM (#14704196)

    "Apes evolved into modern humans"

    No, humans and the rest of the Homininae subfamily share a common ancestor. We didn't evolve from modern apes anymore than we evolved from a sitka spruce. Take a look at the Wikipedia article on apes [wikipedia.org] for more information. Frankly, I find it hard to believe that a person who does not seem to understand this basic fact has expertise in the area of evolutionary theory.

    Please don't take this as a personal attack; misunderstanding of the concept of common ancestors is just a pet pieve of mine.

  • Re:'Bout Time... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FidelCatsro ( 861135 ) * <fidelcatsro@gmail.cOPENBSDom minus bsd> on Monday February 13, 2006 @03:57AM (#14704206) Journal
    My position on this is,
    G-d being outside time and Space , beyond the universe so to speak , is unknowable.
    So you separate Science which is of the knowable , with that which is wholly unknowable . The minute you try to mix the two you just get into a lot of problems that really need not be there.
  • by thisoneguy ( 684246 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @04:18AM (#14704275)
    The reason some christians oppose evolution is that it relegates god's role in the development of life and in the development of man to the further reaches of biochemistry, to the presumed primordial soup in which the first self-replicating molecule complexes arose.

    They are rightly concerned that this is the thin edge of the wedge: already god's role in cosmology is very distant, so much so that his involvement in it appears as implausible as humankind's presence in the cosmos is insignificant.

    If they were to grant the truth of evolution, god is displaced of most his role in Life too, and suffers another large demotion in the scope of things he can reasonably be seen to be in charge of.

    Furthermore, the ascent of science is a problem for all religions that require one to go on faith (which is nothing be belief in the incredible, in the absence of any substantiating evidence). This is because the advancing armies of science, with its seemingly pig-headed insistence on evidence, have beat the cr*p out of other belief systems that don't rest on evidence (astrology, faith healing, soothsaying etc. etc.), and they fear that religion, the granddaddy of unsubstantiated belief systems, will suffer the same fate.

    The sad (from their perspective) truth is that they are right. The best they can do at the moment, as many on slashdot seem to do, is to tacitly concede the demotion in god's role that Darwin ushered in, issuing platitudes like "religion and science can learn from each other, and indeed, support each other." Which, of course, is rubbish -- science, in the main, has nothing to learn from religion.

    For those of us who do believe in evolution, we know that we have a far stronger force than an imagined and imaginary god on our side: evidence. The only way we can win this one is if we keep insisting that only way to resolve conflicting belief systems is by evidence, and by educating the other side on the evidence well enough that they come to the same conclusions the rest of us have.

    And as for the implication that this has on god's role in the scheme of thing, well, god help them.

  • by dangitman ( 862676 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @05:54AM (#14704552)
    Here is a start. Or this. Try going to news.google.com and search on iraq + al qaeda, or al-Zarqawi. Its not hard to find.

    All I see in those links are allegations by the new Iraqi army, or the US administration. Neither of these are trustworthy sources. Anyone can claim they are Al Qaeda. Doesn't make it so.

    By whom? I don't think the US is doing this. There was the rogue bunch of soldiers at Abu Gharaib, but most of them are already in jail for their crimes

    Actually all the evidence points to this not being rogue elements, but a systematic plan, ordered from above. Even if they were rogues, that doesn't mean the torture did not happen. Only a fraction of the torture evidence has been released to the public.

    If it were just a few "bad apples," then why is the administration arguing about the definition of torture, and the right to torture?

    Yes, there is, that is where the term "unlawful combatant" or enemy combatant comes in. You have to obey the law of war and the treaty to qualify for the special protections and privileges of the treaty. Al Qaeda and company regularly commit war crimes, and fail the tests in Convention III, article 4, paragraph 2:

    So, they are civilian criminals, who should be treated under civilian law. And what of those who are imprisoned, but are NOT Al Qaeda members? You cannot possibly tell me that thousands of Iraqis have suddenly become members of Al Qaeda, when Al Qaeda never even existed in Iraq before the war.

    To try and prove that there isn't a war because some prisoners do not qualify for the special protections of prisoner of war status under the Geneva Conventions is silly.

    "Special protections"? In many ways, POWs get less protection than civilians.

    In any case, how does this apply to iraqi civilians who aren't terrorists? Why aren't they getting civilian protections? Even if the torture victims were all Al Qaeda members, how does this justify torture? What is the purpose of denying any human rights to prisoners, whether they are civilian or enemies?

  • by halivar ( 535827 ) <bfelger@gm a i l . c om> on Monday February 13, 2006 @09:44AM (#14705286)
    If anything, Christianity is more like Linux:

    Except Christianity comes with a user guide, and my grandmother understands it.
  • Re:Sin and Hell (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Sean Hederman ( 870482 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @10:16AM (#14705446) Homepage
    But that's the point isn't it? If I die, and meet God face to face, and He tells me that he's sent even a single soul to eternal torment, no matter what the circumstances, then I'll deny Him. A guaranteed chance to escape an immoral punishment does not make the punishment any less immoral.
  • by copponex ( 13876 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @02:05PM (#14708402) Homepage
    The Bible is first and foremost a guide on how to have a relationship with God and those parts are pretty clear IMHO. That's where the absolutes lie.

    Those are where YOU believe the absolutes are. I'm just saying that the entire bible is subject to interpretation, so it is impossible for anyone to claim that the bible is 100% anything.
    Same answer for both, they were Pagan traditions originally and used by the Catholic church. I've never really understood why in this day and time it even matters.

    People who claim to be Christian like to pretend that they have "the truth" and everyone else has nothing, but it's easy for anyone outside of their psychosis to see that Christianity is just a guess, just as all other cults and religions are. This is perfectly illustrated by the wholesale plagiarism of pagan religions by Roman Christians to keep things a little more orderly.

    You sound reasonable. Some of the others who "follow Christ" are far far worse than any terrorist, because they act like animals despite their good education and luxurious living conditions. The kill'em all, let God sort'em out mentality is the most ridiculous and horrifying thought since fascism.
  • by copponex ( 13876 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @02:37PM (#14708838) Homepage
    Christianity is a mixing of early pagan religion (Mithras, Osiris, Zoroastrianism, Dionysus, etc) and hebrew theology. Therefore, any Christian cannot claim any absolute truth over any other religion, as all religions are by definition a non-falsifiable guess at the meaning and nature of the universe.

    When I say non-relativism, I mean that you cannot claim the bible is 100% true, or false, or anything, because it's simply what the Roman authority in 313 believed should be a part of the bible. That is a very simple and straightforward fact, one of many you can find in the Roman Catholic Encyclopedia (which is the most honest work that organization has ever produced). The fact the literature contains hyperbole is quite beside the point. All literature is subject to interpretation, so anyone claims that they have divined the absolute truth from any written document is a liar.

    My argument was probably far too lowbrow for your "Googling skills," so please forgive my obvious ignorance. I guess a more learned person would just consider the bible as fact before considering the source of it. Or would that just better suit your argument?
  • by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @06:44AM (#14714709) Homepage
    For instance, "We don't know why there is a lack of the transitional forms

    WHAT lack of transitional forms? The entire fossil record is practically nothing BUT transistional forms.

    It's like claiming organic chemistry is flawed because we don't know why there's a lack of hydrogen-bearing compounds. The entire realm of organical molecules it practically nothing BUT hydrogen bearing compounds.

    Have you every looked at a science textbook? Have you ever been in a museum? (science museum, not art museum of course)

    How can you possibly claim there is a lack of transitional forms?

    [Punctuated Equlibrium] likely can't be proven either.

    Again, just because you are not familiar with the field does not mean it does not exist. Not only has punctuated equlibrium been "prooven", I have personally experimented with the process of evolution and I have personally witnessed that PE is an inherent behavior exhibited in evolutionary systems. Over time a population builds up an increasing library of non-fatal mutations. The population as a whole may reamin fairly stable as this diversity accumulates. Then at some point - either by a change in envoirnmental pressures or due to some critical mutation breakthrough - the entire population undergoes a fairly rapid shift as the critical newly beneficial mitation(s) overtake the population, and apowerful combinatorical search goes on in that population searching for other mutations in that accumulated library of diversity, a search for other mutations that combine with or support or improve the critical mutations suddenly sweeping the population. In particular this is also a search for latent library mutations which can "repair" or compensate for any harmful side effects associated with the new critical development. Any new positive mutation is quite likely to be "crude" and to include problems or defects. A crab with a mutated claw may be able to use it to get at a new food source - but it is still likely misshapen disfunctional mutated claw. So a rapid search goes on through that accumulated library of variation to find other mutations that can combine with it - additional mutations that will (A) improve the new mutant ability to get that new food source even better and (B) repair the shape and function of that newly mishapen claw.

    And during that rapid lurch to seize on that critical new mutation, and during that fairly rapid search for additional mutations to support and combine with and complment and repair that new critical mutation, there is a greatly increased extinction rate among the other individuals of the population, and a greatly increased extrinction rate for all of the other mutations and variations in that population. And the signifigance there is that the diversity gets depeleted. You get no evolution when there is no diversity. So the natural effect after such a shift is a depletion of diversity and a depletion of evolutionary fuel and a depletion of evolutionary change. You have a relatively rapid (punctuated) change in a cluster of several "micro mutations" and then you tend to get a "quiet period" (equlibrium) during which the population builds up a fresh library of diversity.

    It is facinating to experiment with the evolution process and to watch how a population sometimes undergoes a fairly slow and steady change improving in some direction, and how sometimes a rare critical mutation will arise, or a combination of mutations will combine into some breakthrough development, and to see how the population will rapidly sieze on it and use the other mutations to further develop it. Facinating to measure the diversity levels and to watch how they rise during the "quite periods" and how the diversity gets depleted during the occational lurches.

    Of course you're probably wondering how I could have done these experiments and how I could have personally measured and observed these things. Well of course it would take a Very Long Time to run experiments and observations across thousands or tens of thousa

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