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Evolution

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Because life generally moves on towards what works and drops what doesn't. I never said anything about God trying to trick anyone.

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The Baptist Death Ray wrote:

: Because life generally moves on towards what works and drops what doesn't.

You evidently missed the point of my question. "Junk DNA" doesn't "work" or "not work" -- it's simply THERE. It's a mutation that produces no harmful effects, and is therefore not weeded out; but it also produces no positive effects, either. At some point, it simply entered the code, and thus, when the code was copied (and copied, and copied, and copied), it ended up in the DNA for both our species and at least one other species.

Then again, a quick glance at Wikipedia indicates I may be oversimplifying -- it could be that the "junk" genes DID serve a purpose once, for one of our ancestor species. But the basic idea remains; the DNA serves no known purpose now, but through it, we can chart how human beings are related to other species.

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My apologies -- I thought you were referring to DNA in general, temporarily adopting the voice of a "DNA skeptic", and then asking why humans shared so much DNA in common with other animals.

But note that the Wikipedia entry says that Junk DNA is DNA for which a use hasn't yet been *identified*, which means not only could it have served a purpose once, but it could even serve a purpose *now* -- we just haven't figured out what, yet:

Recent studies have, in fact, suggested functions for certain portions of what has been called junk DNA. The "junk" label is therefore recognized as something of a misnomer.

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Ya-har! Time to recite the liturgy: "Now thatsa spicey meatball..."

Avast!

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Who's calling who a creationist?

As so often happens on the Godbeat, language is everything and the problems start right there in the headline: "Teaching of Creationism Is Endorsed in New Survey." It turns out that this is the rare story in which it is possible to use the term "creationism" and have it mean something more than a slur. You betcha, there are real-life "creationists" in this poll and lots of them. . . . The problem, of course, is that Goodstein and her editors have only two words to use -- evolution and creationism -- and they have a number of other camps to describe, on both sides of the divide.

Terry Mattingly, GetReligion.org, September 4

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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In pasta we trust

Always one of Earth's smaller gods, the Flying Spaghetti Monster's time has clearly come. Maybe it didn't create the Earth, but ending this twaddle about Intelligent Design might just be within its powers.

Let's recap. Intelligent Design boils down to the notion that the unsolved mysteries of evolution -- gaps in the fossil record, and so on -- can only be explained by interference from God. A project of the Christian right, "ID" doesn't totally reject all the scientific research that's taught us what we know so far, but it declares that some evolutionary questions can never be understood. It's as if 2005 were the cutoff date for science. Are there still questions about evolution? Then it must have been God at work. . . .

Ivor Tossell, Globe and Mail, September 23

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Has anyone here read Kenneth R. Miller's Finding Darwin's God? I'm about 2/3 of the way through, and am finding it to be a highly readable, provocative and enlightening book. Miller is a cell biology prof at Brown University, as well as a theist, who has debated folks like Phillip Johnson and Henry Morris in the past.

So far, he has (rather successfully, IMO) demolished Henry Morris' young earth creationism, Phillip Johnson's ID, and Michael Behe's irreducible complexity - pointing out the grave scientific flaws in their reasoning (such as Morris' ludicrous use to the biblical flood narrative to try and explain the fossil record), as well as failures to keep up with current evolutionary literature (e.g., Behe's comments on the irreducible complexity of the mammalian clotting cascade fail to account for recent literature describing very plausible mechanisms for its evolution) and some duplicity in debating or glaring ignorance (Behe's apparent unawareness of the great variations in complexity of flagella in different organisms).

Miller also describes very interesting lab studies revealing bacterial mutations occurring at a rate much more rapidly than that demanded by the fossil record (4-7 orders of magnitude more quickly!). He convincingly describes how various anti-evolution hypotheses are actually detrimental to faith, while also candidly relating how scientific reductionism has unnecessarily alienated people of faith.

The bulk of the theological commentary is yet to come, but so far, this is a book I'd strongly recommend...

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Funny you should mention this, Andrew, I just finished reading this book this week. The philosophy/theology half of the book was by far the most interesting part, IMHO, I hope you enjoy it.

I was especially intrigued by the idea that quantum physics is the mechanism that allows for free will. I wasn't completely sold on it (I wish I had a chance to reread that section before I returned it to the library) but it's a fascinating idea that I'd like to see Miller (or a real phsycist?) discuss in more depth.

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Hey, PoW, I'm glad someone else on this board has read Miller's book. I found both the scientific and theological sections to be equally interesting, with the scientific section more cohesively argued, IMO.

OTOH, there were many very helpful insights in the latter half of the book. The analogy of the billiard players (i.e., which is more talented, the one who sinks all of the balls with one shot, or the one who requires 15 shots) has stuck with me as a great analogy as to why theistic evolution can be deemed more awe-inspiring than ID. The discussion about the importance of free will in our relationship with God, as mirrored also in the physical and evolutionary realm, was quite good, too.

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Hey, PoW, I'm glad someone else on this board has read Miller's book.  I found both the scientific and theological sections to be equally interesting, with the scientific section more cohesively argued, IMO. 

I think the first half of the book didn't appeal as much because I'm rather scientifically illiterate; when Miller started getting technical on evolution, my eyes started glazing over. In my case, he was already preaching to the converted, so that wasn't really a problem, but I think the relative density of his arguments could lose a lot of other non-scientifically-incined people. This is a weakness in the book if he's specifically trying to build an argument that will convince us laymen of evolution's existence.

OTOH, there were many very helpful insights in the latter half of the book.  The analogy of the billiard players (i.e., which is more talented, the one who sinks all of the balls with one shot, or the one who requires 15 shots) has stuck with me as a great analogy as to why theistic evolution can be deemed more awe-inspiring than ID.  The discussion about the importance of free will in our relationship with God, as mirrored also in the physical and evolutionary realm, was quite good, too.

That billiards line stood out me too, what an excellent analogy! The best thing about the book for me is that he actually tackled the philosophical implications of evolution for a believer. I'd never really seen someone who is both an evolutionist and a believer admit that there *are* implications before, so I appreciated his willingness to tackle this issue head-on, and the conclusions he came to were surprisingly inspiring.

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Didn't know where to put this but had to share it with someone, I find it hilarious -- a critique of evolution, maybe? :D

IPB Image

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"originally collected by legendary botanist Charles Darwin"

The Wikipedia says that's impossible.

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--content deleted--

Very straw man.

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Does anybody know if they've found dinosaur fossils on top of human fossils?

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Looks like this thread has trickled off, so you may not get an answer to your question. Surprisingly little appetite for that debate here?

Personally, I've been there, done that with this debate

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--content deleted--

Hmm, interesting. Hadn't considered this before. Have to go back and look at the passage again. That section of Job where God is browbeating Job is one of my favorite reads in the Bible.

Another thing I learned a few years back was that "dinosaur" wasn't in the dictionary (English, anyway) until the later 1800's. And, "dragon" seems to have been used in place of the same idea as a dinosaur before then.

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--content deleted--

OK, I've read this 4 times and I don't think I follow you. :-k It's probably me. I'm just regurgitating information as I recall it from a few years ago. I did learn that someone thought that "dinosaur" replaced "dragon" to some degree.

Sometimes I say things just to stretch other people's minds and perspective. I probably don't need to do that on A&F like I do in other settings; just habit ::blush::

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--content deleted--

Fascinating. The KJV translates "livyathan" as "their mourning" in Job 3:8. All the other passages listed here translate it as "leviathan", though.

You also find references to sea serpents -- or perhaps I should say THE sea serpent -- in passages like Job 26:12-13 ("By his power he churned up the sea; by his wisdom he cut Rahab to pieces. By his breath the skies became fair; his hand pierced the gliding serpent"; the KJV translates "rachab" as "the proud" in this passage) and Amos 9:3 ("Though they hide themselves on the top of Carmel, there I will hunt them down and seize them. Though they hide from me at the bottom of the sea, there I will command the serpent to bite them").

And you also find references to a serpent that lives in the sea and is so big it encircles the world in Norse mythologies, etc. So it would seem that this "Leviathan" to which Job refers was a general part of ancient Hebrew mythology (not unlike the three-tiered universe with windows in the heavens and an underworld populated by the dead, etc.) and is not intended to be a reference to any particular historical animal.

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What Peter said. Harvard Divinity School prof Jon D. Levenson, in his fascinating Creation and the Persistence of Evil, makes the persuasive case that OT critters like Leviathan are figures representing chaos and evil that are found throughout Ancient Near East mythology.

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What Peter said. Harvard Divinity School prof Jon D. Levenson, in his fascinating Creation and the Persistence of Evil, makes the persuasive case that OT critters like Leviathan are figures representing chaos and evil that are found throughout Ancient Near East mythology.

So, there is quite a contingent it seems that think of these as metaphorical and not literal. Hmm. Didn't know this. Haven't made any such study to find one way or the other myself, but never felt as though it was anything but literal. I don't remember if I read this passage critically before or after hearing the aforementioned suggestions that they were possibly dinosaur-like creatures . . . wish I could remember.

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This has been quite interesting to follow. The defeat isn't really a surprise of any kind, althought my reaction probably isn't "Hurray!" I don't know what to think of all of these things so mired in politics . . .

I personally am under the impression that the public school system would be much better off left to local leadership (that is, not tied to any federal funding, not tied to such strings). After someone pointed out that the current state of public education, with the federal government more or less overseeing it, was "unconstitutional," I actually read through the constitution and did find what they were referring to.

Of course, then the districts wouldn't be getting any money from U.S. govt. either. Tsk tsk. Here in AR, the state supreme court actually ruled the public schools unconstitutional just after we moved down here. What a mess, and what pervading ignorance flowed freely suggesting that best way to "fix" the schools was more money. Consolidation ensued as necessary — which is fine (although there were many hard feelings, particularly over the losing of mascots. Of all things . . . but also the losing of supervisory positions.) — and one school from way south in the state actually proposed, in all seriousness, that it consolidate with one of the wealthy schools from up here in NW Arkansas.

What a mess.

Back to, evolution, I personally don't care if it's taught in schools. But it must, and I think this has been pointed out already, be taught in the context of things science seeks out but cannot prove. And other theories should appropriately be taught alongside. Even if people think they've already made up their minds one way or another, the disagreement between ID/Creationists and Evolution is now historically important.

Edited by

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--content deleted--

I was speaking in the context of this thread (i.e., by what process did God bring the physical universe into being.).

Edit: clarification

Edited by

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--content deleted--

But gravity *can* be proven in the context of the scientific method. (ie. posit a hypothesis, test the hyposthesis and obtain repeatable, verifiable results which prove the hypothesis) Sorry, but gravity and evolution are worlds apart in that regard (as would any theory about past events which cannot be replicated and tested in the present. I would totally agree that gravity can be "proven" in a way that evolution (or creation) cannot.

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I think Alan's point was that "theory" has a different meaning in scientific terminology than in regular parlance--a theory is something scientists are more or less certain of. That's why even something as indisputable as gravity is still called a theory. (If scientists were uncertain about evolution, it'd be called a hypothesis.)

But gravity *can* be proven in the context of the scientific method. (ie. posit a hypothesis, test the hyposthesis and obtain repeatable, verifiable results which prove the hypothesis)

But sometimes basic laboratory testing is impossible. It doesn't mean you can't collect enough evidence to become confident that a hypothesis is correct.

For example, evolutionary theory makes certain predictions about what the fossil record, the comparative anatomy of different species, the geological distribution of species, and various other observable things would look like, if evolution is true. And testing has verified those predictions time and time again.

Sorry, but gravity and evolution are worlds apart in that regard. (as would any theory about past events which cannot be replicated and tested in the present.

If this were true, we'd have to toss out any criminal case with no direct witnesses.

This was discussed back on the last page, but I think it's worth once again plugging Kenneth Miller's book, Finding Darwin's God. It lays out the evidence for evolution very clearly and comprehensively, and does so from a Christian perspective. (Okay, his attitude towards creationists and IDers does come across as exasperated at times, but he's kinder than most scientists would be.)

Personally, I've become more and more adamently opposed to ID not becuse it's bad science, but because of what it's doing to Christianity. I think that everytime we deny evolution, what we are actually doing is telling anybody who is aware of the overwhelming evidence for evolution that the Church has nothing relevant or true to say to them.

I wish we could stop fighting the inevitable and start wrestling with the philosophical implications of evolution and what they mean for Christian theology. We should have been doing this as soon as it became clear that evolution wasn't going away (around the time of the Scopes monkey trial, say.) Instead, we look trapped in a backward, premodern outlook, and atheists go unchallenged when they argue that the non-existence of God is all but proven by evolution.

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Personally, I've become more and more adamently opposed to ID not becuse it's bad science, but because of what it's doing to Christianity. I think that everytime we deny evolution, what we are actually doing is telling anybody who is aware of the overwhelming evidence for evolution that the Church has nothing relevant or true to say to them.

I don't really like what the debate is "doing" to Xianity either, though I'm not sure our "doing" is defined the same way. What do you think it is "doing" to Xianity?

I can't agree with your second sentence, but can't say why in so many words as this point in time.

I wish we could stop fighting the inevitable and start wrestling with the philosophical implications of evolution and what they mean for Christian theology. We should have been doing this as soon as it became clear that evolution wasn't going away (around the time of the Scopes monkey trial, say.) Instead, we look trapped in a backward, premodern outlook, and atheists go unchallenged when they argue that the non-existence of God is all but proven by evolution.

What is it you are referring to, specifically, that is "inevitable?"

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