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48% of Americans Reject Evolution 1856

MSNBC has up an article discussing the results of a Newsweek poll on faith and religion among members of the US populace. Given the straightforward question, 'Is evolution well-supported by evidence and widely accepted within the scientific community?', some 48% of Americans said 'No'. Furthermore, 34% of college graduates said they accept the Biblical story of creation as fact. An alarmingly high number of individuals responded that they believe the earth is only 10,000 years old, and that a deity created our species in its present form at the start of that period.
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48% of Americans Reject Evolution

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  • by Freexe ( 717562 ) * <serrkr@tznvy.pbz> on Saturday March 31, 2007 @04:57PM (#18558771) Homepage
    According to your own source - no


    A study published in Science, compared attitudes about evolution from the United States, 32 European countries (including Turkey) and Japan. The only country where acceptance of evolution was lower than in the United States was Turkey (25%). Public acceptance of evolution is most prevalent in Iceland, Denmark and Sweden at 80% of the population. play/img_display.php?pic=060810_evo_rank_02.jpg&ca p=A+chart+showing+public+acceptance+of+evolution+i n+34+countries.+The+United+States+ranked+near+the+ bottom%2C+beat+only+by+Turkey.+Credit%3A+Science []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 31, 2007 @05:08PM (#18558931)
    The mean does not necessarily equal the median. For example, a great majority of people have more than the average number of arms and legs.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 31, 2007 @05:13PM (#18558993)
    Quite correct. I worked on some polls for Rutgers a few years back and it was interesting how one could 'load' a response simply by changing the inflection of ones voice while asking the question. Of course I am talking about phone polls or face to face but I expect a written poll could likewise be swayed.
  • by cjsm ( 804001 ) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @05:24PM (#18559135)
    The fundamentalists distort the bible to come up with their 5000 year theory. For starters, in Peter's Epistle, 3:8 it says to God a thousand years is but a day and a days is a thousand years. That indicates the days in Genisis for the creation are metaphorical, and are at least a thousand years. But Peter was just giving an example, and he could have easily have said to God a million years is but a day, or a billion years is but a day. You can't put human perceptions on God's perception of time.

    Furthmore, the Bible is full of parables, symbology, and methaphor. Jesus himself often used parables to describe even realtivley simple things, because the people of the time were unable to grasp much of his teachings. Since Jesus used parables to decribe realively simple things, it is likely the case, in fact certain that God used parables to describe the creation. Do you think primitive tribesmen would have been able to grasp something as complicated as the creation? No, they couldn't, therefore God used parables. When Jesus used parables, he was giving us a lesson on understanding the word of God.

    It might also be said that time, in prophecy, is frequently given in symbolic terms. That is, expressed in unconvential means because the time itself is meant symbolically. In Daniel 8, 2,300 evenings and mornings is given as time until the time of the end; seventy sevens is given in Daniel 9 to mean the same thing. A time, times, and half a time is an expression used for the length of time of the reign of the Beast. Jesus's forty days in the desert is linked to the Jews forty years wandering in the desert under Moses. Since time is used symbolically so frequently in the Bible, it is plausible that the days for creation in Genisis are sybmolic.

    When it comes to interpeting the Bible, fundmentalists can't see the forest for the trees.
  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @05:27PM (#18559183)
    IIRC the "stances" are actually the creation of Daniel Dennett, and came out of his study of the development and structure of consciousness. Not that Dawkins would've raised them without crediting Dennett, of course. Incidentially he wrote "Darwin's Dangerous Idea": like everyone studying the hard problems in biology and anthropology, evolution is central to his work.
  • by Iron Condor ( 964856 ) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @05:28PM (#18559205)

    Only 51% of physical scientists believe in any form of Darwinian evolution.

    This is a lie.

    You are a liar.

  • by coopex ( 873732 ) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @05:30PM (#18559241) Journal
    Uh, too bad evolution is about how life is changing, and completely unrelated to how life started, but keep on with your small minded worldview and ignorance, you're sure to make the history books (as a laughingstock).
  • by VJ42 ( 860241 ) * on Saturday March 31, 2007 @05:37PM (#18559333)

    Anyone not a complete idiot would be atheist.
    "God does not play dice" - Albert Einstein
  • by Fordiman ( 689627 ) <fordiman AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday March 31, 2007 @05:40PM (#18559381) Homepage Journal
    Correction: GPP is a manipulative liar. Which is why he shouldn't get too many responses. The only appropriate response to such behavior is blankly-staring disbelief.
  • by BKX ( 5066 ) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @05:45PM (#18559443) Journal
    Alright troll, I'll bite.

    Only 51% of physical scientists...

    Only 98% of statistics are made up on the spot by people who are full of shit.

    ...just CREATE LIFE IN THE LAB and that will fix it.

    Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. We've shown that every prerequisite for life can be synthesized by processes known to happen on Earth prior to life. The only thing we haven't done in the lab is wait the million years for them to get together and start fucking...yet.

    Furthermore, and this is part that we really have you nailed on, Darwinian evolution doesn't necessarily preclude God creating Earth or the first life. Instead, it just describes a mechanism by which life can adapt to changing circumstances. And we've demonstrated this in the lab thousands of times over. (Cancer rats, fruit flies, albino psylocybe cubensis mushrooms) In fact, humanity has been playing with evolution of lesser species for thousands of years. Did you ever wonder why bunny rabbits only exists in people's houses? (Hint: It's because monks bred them from wild rabbits until they became a new species, incapable of surviving in the wild. Evolution works even when we're controlling the circumstances.)

    Embryology as a whole cannot be made to fit ANY part of evolution.

    We came from apes. Apes came from monkeys. Monkeys came from lemurs. Lemurs came from rodents. Rodents came from some earlier mammal. That mammal came from reptiles. Reptiles came from amphibians. Amphibians came from fish. And so on. In fact, the biggest evidence of this IS embryology. Do some research on it some time. There's a reason human embryos have a tail, and are indistinguishable from nearly every other land dwelling embryo for quite a large amount of it's development.
  • by thryllkill ( 52874 ) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @05:49PM (#18559503) Homepage Journal
    Nice try, but that is a horrible mis-quote.

    Einstein said once, "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."

    Read all about it here [].
  • by jgrahn ( 181062 ) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @05:54PM (#18559577)

    Maybe, but this denial of evolution is a US-only phenomena.

    Not really. I have several Jesus freak and/or Pentecostalist acquaintances who believe the earth is 4,000 years old (4,015 by now; I haven't met them in a while). And I'm in Sweden, which is supposed to be one of the most secularized countries on the planet.

    But yes, the US figures are staggering.

  • by SpinyNorman ( 33776 ) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @06:02PM (#18559689)
    I believe you are confused, evolution doesn't even attempt to answer the question of genesis. It only attempts to answer how we got from single cell life form to what we are today. How that single celled life form was "created" is not answered by evolution. The origin of life is a different question than the question of how organisms develop and evolve over time.

    The origin of the earliest forms of "life" (simple single "cells", pre-DNA, pre_RNA) is surely one of the easiet things to answer - this is nothing more than self-sustaining chemical reactions occuring in a lipid bubble (maybe naturally occuring - oily froth by the sea shore, or maybe the fatty polymers being a product of the chemical reactions that occured inside them). I think what confuses non-scientists is how chemistry became life, since they don't realize it's just a matter of definition... at the point where your chemistry has become capable of feeding (consuming more chemicals from the enviroment), reproduction (large bubble of chemical soup splits into to), etc, then we assign the label of "life" to it... The real early "breakthru" was the formation of complex chemicals such as RNA or even simpler precursors (catalysts to begin with) that caused these early chemical soups to start to become self-defining.
  • by tim620 ( 1052986 ) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @06:11PM (#18559803)
    Actually, if you had been watching the news about evangelicals (besides the whole Ted Haggard thing) you would know that more and more evangelicals are also becoming environmentalists. Many believe that global warming is happening and they are standing side by side with the Sierra Club (and others) to help fix environmental problems. Many are conservative evangelicals that also believe in creationism, etc.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 31, 2007 @06:19PM (#18559911)
    Evolution is not the same as Abiogenisis. You see the 48% of people the article is talking about? You're one of them. Congratulations.
  • by Eric Pierce ( 636318 ) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @06:22PM (#18559935)
    Did anyone read the actual poll response in question?

    "Do you think the scientific theory of evolution is well-supported by evidence and widely accepted within the scientific community?"
    48% = Well-supported
    39% = Not well-supported
    13% = Don't Know

    39% not 48%. Zonk, you're fired.
  • by DrFalkyn ( 102068 ) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @06:22PM (#18559941)

    The origin of the earliest forms of "life" (simple single "cells", pre-DNA, pre_RNA) is surely one of the easiet things to answer - this is nothing more than self-sustaining chemical reactions occuring in a lipid bubble (maybe naturally occuring - oily froth by the sea shore, or maybe the fatty polymers being a product of the chemical reactions that occured inside them). I

    Ahh, no its not. There are some good guesses, and they've been able to discover things like short sequences of RNA that can catalyze their own reproduction, but (natural) abiogenesis is by no means a solved problem. The simplest organism that can reproduce on its own (not without a host organism like a virus) is a prokaryotic bacteria, but even there you still have millions and millions of base pairs of DNA, which could not come randomly together by chance.

  • by SEMW ( 967629 ) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @06:25PM (#18559971)
    Quite apart from the problems with your implication that evolution implies lack of "faith in a higher power" and vice versa, your last statement:

    What I believe in cannot be proved correct scientifically, therefore it cannot be proven wrong scientifically.
    simply does not logically follow. It is perfectly possible to have a proposition that can never be conclusively proven, but can be conclusively disproven (for example, in mathamatics, an unproveable conjecture about the natural numbers that a single counterexample could disprove). There also exist propositions that can never be conclusively disproven, but can be conclusively proven; and others which can neither be conclusively proven nor disproven, and ones which can be both. Knowledge alone of whether something can be proven tells you nothing about whether that thing can be disproven.
  • by glwtta ( 532858 ) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @06:46PM (#18560239) Homepage
    There are actually two versions of Genesis, the old Hebrew one where God is not a single being but Ilohim (which is plural and I may have spelled it wrong).

    "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing..." and all that.

    There is no such thing as a Christian version of Genesis, both of the traditions you refer to are in the Hebrew Bible (and they are by no means the only ones, just the most prominent in that part). The word "Elohim" is morphologically plural, but most of the time is used as a singular (ie takes singular verbs and adjectives) for God; sometimes it is used in a plural sense as a general word for "gods" (note the lower case) - eg, "You will have no other gods beside me." It's true that the "Elohist" and "Jahvist" authors/redactors have fairly different conceptions of God (one is more anthropomorphic, for example), but both do talk about a single God. There are some remnants of the earlier Near Eastern concept of a "Divine Council" or "Celestial Host" headed by the supreme god El in the Elohist, and the religion of the time was certainly not monotheistic in our understanding, but the subordinate gods/celestial beings are completely irrelevant in Genesis.

    Those who try to take the Bible literally do have an extremely difficult time of it, not the least of the reasons is the question of what exactly is "the Bible". As an example, when the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint disagree, which do you trust? The much earlier Greek translation or the Jewish tradition which was largely oral for a long period of time? Especially when many of the differences are almost certainly deliberate edits, which happen to be inline with the exegesis of one group, or the other.
  • by CNeb96 ( 60366 ) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @06:53PM (#18560307)
    >>Uh, too bad evolution is about how life is changing, and completely unrelated to how life started

    He is referring to Chemical Evolution []

    "The second use of chemical evolution or chemosynthesis is as a hypothesis to explain how life might possibly have developed or evolved from non-life (see abiogenesis). Various experiments have been made to show certain aspects of this process, the first ones were done by Stanley L. Miller in the 1950s. For that they are now called Miller experiments. However only very basic organic building blocks were obtained. The challenge is getting complex molecules organized consistently."
  • by shaitand ( 626655 ) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @06:59PM (#18560395) Journal
    'the question evolution fails to answer and which makes it counterintuitive is "Where/How/When did it all start"'

    Evolution makes no claims about the origin of life. It could have been done by the Christian god when he created life. He might have done it via evolution. Contrary to what preachers would tell the ignorant followers who don't read and interpret the bible for themselves there is no conflict between evolution and creation.

    'Thats natural selection, Creationists do not dispute that fit creatures(created things) survive and unfit creatures don't.'

    Maybe you do. Most have already decided they don't believe in evolution so when you break it into the pieces they are forced to admit, like natural selection they refuse logical debate. Natural selection is 99% of evolution. The other 1% is how new genes (and therefore traits) come into being. That is the part that is debated by scientists. Scientists have no doubt that Evolution occurs the only question is how the new traits come into being. If people evolve to have purple eyes where did the purple eye gene come from? I believe that things aren't that simple, there are multiple answers. One obvious answer is that new changes in genes are called mutations and those mutations occur under radiation. Since those mutations are random most mutations are worthless, natural selection then takes over to determine if they will be passed on.

    Its really hard to dispute this when humans share common ancestral genetic code with rats. In the same way we can use DNA to determine if you are related to someone, we have used DNA to show that all humans are related to rats (and many other diverse lifeforms). That means we all evolved from a common ancestor.

  • by boaworm ( 180781 ) <> on Saturday March 31, 2007 @07:20PM (#18560635) Homepage Journal
    - "History is a set of lies agreed upon." - Napoleon Bonaparte

    - "History is the lie commonly agreed upon," - Voltaire

    If the vast majority believes something for long enough, it becomes the truth.

    And btw..

    "The Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, insofar as it inquiries into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter."

    - Pope Pius XII
  • Only 39% (whew!) (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kelson ( 129150 ) * on Saturday March 31, 2007 @07:26PM (#18560689) Homepage Journal

    You have to click through a few links to get to it, but the actual poll [] states:

    13. Do you think the scientific theory of evolution is well-supported by evidence and widely accepted within the scientific community?

    Well-supported: 48%
    Not well-supported: 39%
    Don't Know: 13%

    It looks like the submitter got mixed up with the two stats that were both 48%.

    Disclaimer: This quote has been modified from the original version. It has been reformatted to fit within Slashdot's HTML limits.

  • by skeftomai ( 1057866 ) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @07:49PM (#18560993)

    We came from apes. Apes came from monkeys. Monkeys came from lemurs. Lemurs came from rodents. Rodents came from some earlier mammal. That mammal came from reptiles. Reptiles came from amphibians. Amphibians came from fish. And so on. In fact, the biggest evidence of this IS embryology. Do some research on it some time. There's a reason human embryos have a tail, and are indistinguishable from nearly every other land dwelling embryo for quite a large amount of it's development.

    Correction...the theory goes that we did NOT come from apes but from a common ancestor...from wikipedia []:

    Since the time of Carolus Linnaeus, the great apes were considered the closest relatives of human beings, based on morphological similarity. In the 19th century, it was speculated that their closest living relatives were chimpanzees and gorillas, and based on the natural range of these creatures, it was surmised humans share a common ancestor with other African apes and that fossils of these ancestors would ultimately be found in Africa.

    Also see 2.html [].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 31, 2007 @07:53PM (#18561039)

    We came from apes. Apes came from monkeys. Monkeys came from lemurs. Lemurs came from rodents. Rodents came from some earlier mammal. That mammal came from reptiles. Reptiles came from amphibians. Amphibians came from fish.
    Ok it's pedantic but the evolutionary biologist in me needs to point it out, this isn't really correct. We didn't come from apes we are apes or at least primates. We, along with the other members of the Hominidae (chimps, gorillas, etc.), are decended from a common ancestor. The Hominidae along with the Old and New World Monkeys have an ancestor in common, that ancestor was possibly more monkey-like than ape-like but it wasn't exactly either.

    It's a nice, bite-sized lie to think it went bacteria, fish, amphibian, reptile, mammal and culminated in the towering pinnacle of evolution that is exemplified by the lesser spotted slashdot reader but it's not truly correct, the phylogeny of life is a little more complex (a lot more if you start getting into horizontal gene transfere within the Archaea).

    Sure some reptile-like creatures became bird-like (maybe with a dinosaur bit in between) but the reptile-like creatures kept evolving too, evolution isn't a one way path from simplest to most complex it's about the best fit for any given niche.

    So in summation, yes I've made my point badly, no I can't make it clearer at this time, no evolution isn't a race and if it is we didn't win (we aren't even the latest result), and yes you are a kind of monkey, sort of.
  • by cheater512 ( 783349 ) <> on Saturday March 31, 2007 @08:09PM (#18561207) Homepage
    Of course love is made up of matter. Its a combination of molecules in your brain.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 31, 2007 @09:27PM (#18561969)
    Humans did NOT come from apes. Apes and Humans had a common ancestor. This is an apparently subtle but important difference.

    What you probably meant is that no current living ape looks much like our ancestor from say, seven million years ago. That's probably true, but it doesn't mean it wasn't an ape. Not only did we come from apes, we *are* apes. Our common ancestor with chimpanzees lived before our common ancestor with gorillas, so chimpanzees are actually more closely related to us than are gorillas.

    This means that there is no sensible biologically-based way to define the word "ape" that excludes us. Saying we are not apes would be like saying that birds ought to be defined as any feathered flying thing other than an eagle. An eagle and a hawk have a lot more in common than either do to a pigeon.

    The fact I cited above about chimpanzees and humans has been proven by DNA evidence; if you dispute that, you might as well forfeit the use of DNA evidence as a diagnostic tool for any purpose.
  • by Manchot ( 847225 ) on Saturday March 31, 2007 @09:51PM (#18562239)
    If you believe in something, then at least stand by it. If you can't or won't stand by it, then why do you believe in it?

    The Catholic Church has never believed in a literal interpretation of the Bible. As the entity which basically created it, why should it? It would be like me writing down an instruction manual for a product and then claiming that whatever the manual says must be true, even if I know parts to be false. No, the Church's main source of "divine knowledge" comes from the papal lineage, and has done so since it was founded.
  • by NMerriam ( 15122 ) <> on Saturday March 31, 2007 @09:58PM (#18562311) Homepage

    I don't understand how evolution can be either proven OR disproven, as it deals with things that happened in the past and that therefore aren't now observable or falsifiable.

    Evolution, like all scientific theories, makes statements that can be used as predictors for future discoveries, even though the process in question happened in the past.

    If evolution says that some specific sequence of events is impossible, then finding any evidence that those events occurred would instantly disprove the theory. There are numerous things that could be discovered at any moment that would call into question the most fundamental aspects of evolution, yet in nearly two centuries no evidence of the sort has been found.

    Conversely, evolution says that many things pretty much must have happened a certain way to get from point A to point B, and that is prediction. It has in fact happened that scientists have had fossil A and fossil C, but no luck in finding the presumed to exist fossil B. By using the principles of evolution they've determined where the most likely place to find fossil B was -- and found it!

    It should also be noted that evolution predicted (in fact REQUIRED) the existence of DNA (or something similar) a century before it was actually found -- indeed, when evolution was first discussed the very lack of something like DNA was one of the biggest criticisms against it. The notion that ALL life on Earth including plants and animals shared some fundamental building block that was completely unknown, eons old yet randomly changeable for no discernible reason, was considered absurd by many. Watson and Crick did more to confirm the accuracy of evolution than almost any other group in the 20th century.
  • Re:America the Great (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mark_MF-WN ( 678030 ) on Sunday April 01, 2007 @01:30AM (#18563969)
    The "deity litmus test" does prove something: it proves that a group of people reject empiricism and will believe in mythology -- no matter how many of the claims in that mythology are categorically false.

    We're not talking about whether people believe in some arbitrary omnipotent being. We're talking about people believing specifically in the Christian God. A god who supposedly said things like: "Ask, and it shall be given you." This is clearly an outright lie. So anyone who believes that the bible is anything other than fiction is believing something that they KNOW is untrue. That directly contradicts scientific thinking. "Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you." Another statement that Christians believe, even though Christians are routinely killed by natural causes, by each other, by non-Christians, by animals, etc.

    Let's review:

    • Americans are terrified that terrorists are out to get them, despite the fact that terrorism kills fewer Americans each year than the flu, fewer than cancer, fewer than suicide, fewer than murder, fewer than automobile accidents, fewer than natural disasters, etc. That pretty much makes Americans irrational cowards. So much for the "home of the brave".
    • Only a handful of Islamic Theocracies have people that are in less acceptance of evolution than America; not to mention the way Americans disbelieve scientists about every other subject as well. The universe is 13.2 billion years old? Of course not! The grand canyon proves the Genesis story! So much for advanced.
    • America has one of the highest murder rates in the industrialized world. So much for being anything other than a society of monsters.
    • America rather consistently loses wars against third-world countries. Very impressive, and definitely great. Then they criticize the rest of the world for not being stupid enough to get on board for the big defeat. So America is simultaneously weak (for losing), stupid (for going to war in the first place), and petty (for getting mad at nations run by rational, literate people).
    • Anti-illectualism: almost unheard of outside of the United States and Islamic Theocracies.
    What's remarkable in all of this is how closely America resembled places like Iran. The same obsession with imaginary enemies, quite comparable religion fundamentalism, a disrespect for rationalism of any kind, the idolization of leaders based on their charisma rather than their actual decision making skills, and a tendency to cling desperately to "moral" principles that have been clearly shown to make life worse for everyone.
  • by Copid ( 137416 ) on Sunday April 01, 2007 @04:19AM (#18564851)

    Here's the flaw in evolution - the great anti-designer theory - you quote exactly what other evolutionists state, the whole concept of *usefulness*. Tell me, how does dirt make a decision? How did the first few molecules of stuff decide that one feature was more desirable than another. If a cell splits and produces some kind of variant DNA (not new genes of information mind you, no one has been able to explain how that could happen yet), how does "it" decide that the new DNA is better than the previous DNA? What is "it"? How did "it" decide? In a purely random manner, "its" decision making process should be completely random. If I flip a coin 10,000 or 1 billion times, I will invariably end up with about 50% heads and 50% tails, therefore not making any progress in any direction - try it, you CAN reproduce this fact.
    Simple answer: Selection is the result of different survivability of the two traits. If, for example, the cells live in a junk yard and one of the two child cells acquires a gene that allows it to "eat" nylon, then it's going to do a lot better than its sibling as it has a bunch of food available to it with very little competition for it. That cell reproduces like mad and suddenly you have a small population with a nylonase where one did not exist before.

    Of course we can stray into irreducible complexity, but you evolutionists don't like to discuss that since you just state that if you work backwards just enough in the smallest of increments over billions of years you might be able to work around this sticky problem. Not! You still end up with some kind of inherent designer doing some kind of decision making about what is the next best *useful* iteration - dirt doesn't have brains!
    IC isn't exactly the strongest of ideas to begin with (for example, there's no meaningful way to show that a structure is irreducibly complex), but it does have one fatal flaw: Even if it's not possible to take away a part of a system without destroying it, it's likely very possible to add a part and then take away one of the original parts without destroying the system. One might say that an arch is irreducibly complex because removing a stone from it makes it collapse. Does it follow that an arch can't be built? No. It simply ignores the fact that the precursor to the arch had more "stuff" attached to it (supports and scaffolding) than we see now. The arch didn't go from N-1 stones to N stones, because with N-1 stones it would have collapsed. It went from N-1 stones + supports to N stones + supports to N stones with no supports, creating the "irreducibly complex" structure we see today.

    There is also the problem of the Second Law of Thermodynamics and as well the scientific principle that all things tend to degrade over time - completely opposite of the evolutionary logic. Funny though that the first two things mentioned are observable and reproducible, the latter is not.
    I weep for the future of physics if this is the common understanding of the second law of thermodynamics. Please explain this to me: How does evolution violate the second law of thermodynamics but a seed growing into a tree not violate the law? What is the difference between the two. Bonus points if you use math or actually quote the second law in a meaningful way.
  • by misanthrope101 ( 253915 ) on Sunday April 01, 2007 @04:33AM (#18564905)
    Scientific theories are unseated when a better explanation of the facts comes along, one that is better at predicting outcomes and so on. I think skeptics vastly underestimate the size of the mountain of evidence supporting evolution, and vastly overestimate the validity of the claims made by creationist, ID, or Fixed Earth [] type sites.

    That being said, your argument is a common one. The problem is that the evidence we have supports evolutionary theory, the counterclaims made by evolution skeptics (the bombadier beetle, and so on) were answered years or even decades ago. If other evidence came up, scientists would look at it. Evolutionary theory is constantly being revised, in that we are learning more about sexual selection, types of speciation, rates of change, and so on--it's quite an interesting field, even to a layman.

    Then you have a lot of noise from the predominantly (though not exclusively) religiously-motivated community who say that evolution isn't really science because common descent and so on isn't being challenged in the science journals. Even Behe, the ID bigwig, accepts common descent, because the evidence is so overwhelming. What skeptics want is a complete grounds-up reappraisal of common descent, natural selection, and so on, in spite of the fact that no data calls those things into question.

    The religious "skeptics" will never accept evolution, and for that matter will never accept methodological materialism, because they want their bible-based explanation taught as science. So much of the "skepticism" is just a PR campaign, as per the well-known Wedge Strategy [].

  • Re:America the Great (Score:3, Informative)

    by EsbenMoseHansen ( 731150 ) on Sunday April 01, 2007 @05:36AM (#18565175) Homepage

    I was curious about the murder rates, so I looked it up with google.

    First, are you in one of those countries that has a major political party with the word "Christian" in the name?

    Yes, but they didn't make the low limit (4%) last election, for the 2nd time in a row, I think. (Sorry couldn't resist)

    Highest murder rates: Has such a study been done on the aggregate of the EU?

    From around 2000, US seems to be about 6 per 100000 [], EU about 1.6 per 100000 [].

    Individual states in the US compare favorably to nations in Europe, or neutrally. And how do you correlate this data vs for example the Srebrenica massacre?

    Srebrenica is in Bosnia, which has not been and is not a member of EU.

  • by miro f ( 944325 ) on Sunday April 01, 2007 @08:04AM (#18565803)

    There is also the problem of the Second Law of Thermodynamics and as well the scientific principle that all things tend to degrade over time - completely opposite of the evolutionary logic. Funny though that the first two things mentioned are observable and reproducible, the latter is not.

    I really don't understand where this thinking comes from. The Second Law of Thermodynamics is one of the most accepted laws in science. If a theory contradicts the second law, then the theory is wrong. Nothing short of absolutely empirical proof that the laws of thermodynamics is wrong will make anyone even look twice at such a theory.

    The fact that Evolution is still a well accepted theory would then mean one of three things

    1) Scientists haven't noticed that it contradicts the second law of thermodynamics
    2) Scientists know that it does, but there's a huge conspiracy hiding the fact
    3) Evolution doesn't contradict the second law of thermodynamics.

    Given that 1 is plain ridiculous, and while many people believe 2, it would be difficult to shut every scientist who knows a little bit up, then the solution to this problem must be 3.

    People who bring up this argument instantly show they have no idea what they are talking about (luckily you did it right at the end, so a lazy reader might think you have a clue). Although the previous poster gave you a challenge, I would prefer bring some more education into the world so that people will stop trotting out this useless and wrong argument, and find a different wrong argument to bring up.

    The laws of thermodynamics are thus (simplified):

    0) two objects that are in contact will exchange thermal energy until they are in equilibrium
    1) energy can't be created or destroyed
    2) entropy (energy lost has heat) will always go up no matter what (amount of order will always decrease)
    3) as temperature approaches 0, entropy approaches a constant

    now looking at these four laws, I can find something that 'invalidates' them:

    0) a fridge. it's colder than outside and always remains so
    1) coal/oil. Energy is being created... Where does it come from?
    2) plant growing will be more ordered after as before
    3) (ok I have no idea here)

    well, those laws are looking pretty silly no? What people always fail to notice (or conveniently ignore) is that the laws of thermodynamics only apply to a closed system. That is, one with no outside influence. A fridge is allowed to hold back thermodynamics because we are pouring energy into it from our power plants. The oil/coal is allowed to be burned in those power plants because they came from the plants that have grown. And the plants can grow because there is an influx of energy that is (as we should all now know), the Sun.

    This same energy source is what allows for evolution. It is the energy from the Sun that allows simple things to become more complex things, thus not defying the second law of thermodynamics even though Intelligent Design pushers would love it to be true. So next time you're trying to discredit evolution, you might want to try a different argument
  • by d_i_r_t_y ( 156112 ) on Sunday April 01, 2007 @01:17PM (#18567491) Homepage Journal
    Macro and micro evolution is very real. the differences are profound. so far to date, we have only found evidence of micro evolution and even though bacteria evolve at a much higher rate, they don't produce new species of bacteria.

    I have a PhD in Biochemistry/Molecular biology and you don't know what the hell you're talking about. New species of bacteria are created on a daily basis all around the world for research & industrial purposes; we just don't assign new species names to them, because 'species', to a scientist, implies it has arisen by natural evolution.

    Of all the things that man has discovered through the scientific method, none of them is more certain than Evolution - it is supported by so many different techniques and observations that on evidence, you'd be better off trying to discredit the existence of gravity than discredit evolution. That's why we teach it in schools; it's accepted fact.
  • by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Sunday April 01, 2007 @07:18PM (#18569289) Homepage
    genetic algorithms. I might like to explore that a bit. Any idea where I could start?

    And actually I really should have thought to answer that question in my post. If I'm gonna suggest people go look at something, I should point where :)

    Wikipedia has a very good article on Genetic algorithms. [] Aside from an overview of the subject, it lists 24 reference books plus links to 21 websites on it.

    A Google search on the exact phrase "introduction to genetic algorithms". [] Over a hundred thousand hits.... and that's just pages specifically on introduction to genetic algorithms.

    I'd like to add in another particularly interesting link here - the Talk Origins FAQ on Genetic algorithms. [] It doesn't teach how to program them, but it does give an overview and has extensive discussion on them in relation to biological evolution, it raises and addresses the various arguments anti-evolutionists attempt to use to claim that digital genetic algorithms don't really work or that they some how "cheat" or that the huge success and amazing creative power of digital genetic algorithms for some reason or another do not reflect and support evolution in biology. However I think one of the best parts there is a great list of incredibly impressive examples of real world application and success of genetic algorithms, such as a checkers playing genetic algorithm that achieved expert play level. There was another example that even blew me away... a genetic algorithm where the individuals only has 250 bits of DNA, and which proceeded to create and encode 625 bits worth of genes to simultaneously solve multiple problems. Yes - 625 bits worth of valuable useful new information encoded in 250 bits. It sounds impossible, but actually humans and other species often do the same trick. You do it by overlapping the genes in the DNA, sometimes even encoding one gene forwards in the DNA and another gene reading in the backwards direction across the exact same DNA. That is exactly the sort of insanely impossible problem that evolution excels at. For all of the programmers reading this, imagine trying to write software that did one thing when you executed the code forwards, but which ran a completely different program and solved a completely different problem when you reversed the bytes ran the code in the opposite direction. It's an insanely complex problem that you just cannot intelligently design it... but evolutionary algorithms don't worry about designing things. They do a random search for pieces that just happen to be better (or less worse) than the other random crap, and then stepwise stitching together pieces that get you closer to a solution and random tweaks that just happen to get you closer to a solution. You get can crazy complex solutions that don't follow any logic or reason, they just simply happen to work. Each generation you get crazy random garbage that just happens to work better than the last generation's crazy random garbage. For some problems you can analyze the evolved solution and see clearly how it works and be amazed at the genius simplicity, and for other problems you may evolve an absolutely incomprehensible scramble of disconnected illogical gobbly-gook with the inexplicable property that it simply happens to work. It can come up with an antenna with kinks and angels pointing in all sorts or chaotic random directions with absolutely no reason or logic to the random tangle of twisted metal pointing all over the place... and that evolved antenna will simply have the inexplicable property that it "just happens to work" incredibly efficiently at sending and receiving certain frequencies and certain polarizations of radio in specific directions or in specific ranges of directions or in all directions - whatever the natural selection rule was that's what
  • by mobydobius ( 237311 ) on Sunday April 01, 2007 @08:47PM (#18569679) Homepage
    Einstein gave us a deeper understanding of gravity that applied even more universally than Newton's law, but it didn't invalidate Newton's law. It's still the best formulation to use for non-relatavistic, massive bodies.

    Yes it did invalidate Newton's laws. Einstein's relativity completely invalidated the newtonian view of gravity. Sure, its used still, but in every case, Einstein's predictions about what a couple of bodies will do, no matter how massive, is more accurate than Newton's.

    Kudos to Newton for having the best description for so long, but it turns out he was completely wrong. And when someone comes up with a unified theory that predicts things better than Einstein's relativity and whatever is current in the quantum world, at the same time, then those will be completely wrong.

    And that is how science works.

  • by Phil Karn ( 14620 ) <> on Sunday April 01, 2007 @09:17PM (#18569809) Homepage
    Not only is the distinction between "microevolution" and "macroevolution" entirely artificial, but those terms are entirely creationist in origin. They have no scientific meaning.

    In mainstream biology there is only one form of evolution. Mainstream biologists never the terms "microevolution" and "macroevolution" except to refute the creationists in their own language.

    Creationists devised those terms in a desperate attempt to reconcile the overwhelming empirical evidence for evolution with religious dogma claiming that God created all the various "kinds" of plants and animals in their present forms. ("Kinds" is another purely biblical term that has no use in mainstream biology.) Creationists could no longer deny clear examples of evolution such as the development of bacterial antibiotic resistance or human sickle-cell trait (an evolutionary adaptation to malaria), so they try to pretend that these constitute a "micro" form of evolution that is somehow fundamentally different from the way that evolution produces new species ("macroevolution").

    Evolution is a slow process that has acted on earth for billions of years. The evolutionary changes one can see during the span of a single human lifetime are necessarily small, but they are no different in principle from the much larger changes that occur over much longer periods of time. In other words, "macroevolution" is nothing more than "microevolution" plus long periods of time, and the creationists cannot plausibly argue otherwise.

  • by JustinY2K ( 1082955 ) on Sunday April 01, 2007 @09:20PM (#18569825)
    Your statement on when the Bible was formed is erroneous. Christ died in about 30 AD, and the first books appeared some ten years later. The last book was written probably around 80-90 AD. By the early 100's, the early Christians were circulating two books that they called "The Gospel," which included the four gospels, and "The Apostle," which had the writings of Paul plus the letters of Peter, Jude, etc. The point is that the Bible as we have it today was complete in its entirety before 120 AD. The Roman councils on the subject just left everything as it had already been for some time. The manuscripts that we have from the time match those that we have today, with minor variations for different spellings of the same name, that kind of thing.

    If you want to insult a great number of people, which you apparently do, go ahead and call Jesus a Muslim prophet. However, if you want to enjoy an actual discussion on the subject like a mature adult, you might want to refrain from such bigoted comments.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.