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Did Humans Evolve? No, Say Americans 2155

Posted by Zonk
from the i-do-not-think-that-word-means-what-you-think-it-means dept.
Stern Thinker writes "In a 2005 poll covering 33 countries, Americans are the least likely (except for Turkish respondents) to assert that 'humans developed ... from earlier species of animals.' Iceland, meanwhile, has an 85% acceptance rating for evolution." The blurb on the site for Science magazine is less circumspect about the findings: "The acceptance of evolution is lower in the United States than in Japan or Europe, largely because of widespread fundamentalism and the politicization of science in the United States."
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Did Humans Evolve? No, Say Americans

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  • by RunFatBoy.net (960072) * on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:33PM (#15912508)
    The current administration has been quite effective in keeping this issue in the public eye and billing it less as an issue of science and more of a threat to society. The issue has taken on the sentiment that if the concept of evolution becomes widely accepted then faith is voided and we enter moral decay (which is obviously wrong, thanks Bush). But it's definitely how a majority of Americans feel. Science threatens their faith.

    Jim
    http://www.runfatboy.net/ [runfatboy.net] -- Exercise for the rest of us.
  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:34PM (#15912516)
    ...the idea among Americans that humans didn't "evolve" from earlier forms of animals isn't new, and definitely hasn't changed markedly since 2000.

    I'd hope that would be obvious to most people. The figures are mostly unchanged for decades, so the assertion that this is because of "widespread fundamentalism" and the "politicization of science" seems to be somewhat of a politically motivated assertion in itself.

    Note that about one third of Americans reject the concept of evolution. It's unfortunate that even if people do want to have a religious or spiritual belief, they can't reconcile it with fairly firmly established scientific truth.

    Further note that "fundamentalist religions", as the study refers to them as, are also not new in the United States. A lot of people would like to think that these people have sprouted up from nowhere in the last 6 years, but that's simply not the case.
  • ugh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by btlzu2 (99039) * on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:36PM (#15912535) Homepage Journal
    in this day and age, we're still experiencing the same thing Copernicus faced 500 years ago. Will we EVER learn a thing?

    evolution is as much fact as the earth revolving around the sun. it doesn't take a genius to understand that--some basic damn education in school would help!!!

    [/outrage]
  • Sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:38PM (#15912565) Journal
    Yea yea, we suck. Who were the last people to accept Coninental Drift? Americans. We don't believe in global warming, we don't believe in evolution, but 50% still believe we found WMDs in Iraq. If we couldn't brain drain scientists from other countries, we'd probably still be living in caves.

    I just don't get it. What is the deal with people never changing their minds, or letting in new information? Most people aren't stupid...I'm sure the average person in Iceland isn't any smarter than the average american (Kansas excluded). It could just be the religious thing; a lot of european social democracies are much less religious than we are. I mean, I understand we're not a pro-intellectual country, but there is a huge difference between not rhapsodising about your elite scientific tradition, and being completely averse to new knowledge.

    You can't even blame it on modern schools...We have a tradition of this type of mental blindness going back more than a century.
  • by btlzu2 (99039) * on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:39PM (#15912571) Homepage Journal
    But, who knows...I guess I often think of something I heard someone say: "If humans evolved from apes...why are there still apes?"

    Simply because evolution doesn't work that way. Just because a mutation occurs and creates a branch in the evolutionary tree, doesn't necessarily mean that the ancestor must die. A balance can be achieved among the mutated branch and the original species.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:39PM (#15912575)
    > they can't reconcile it with fairly firmly established scientific truth.

    Evolution isn't a scientific truth. It's a theory.
  • Re:ugh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by s20451 (410424) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:41PM (#15912607) Journal
    Okay. Devil's advocate.

    Only a tiny minority of Americans will ever use the fact of human evolution in their lifetimes. Indeed, the vast majority of the American public will never deal with science directly in their working lives. So what difference does it make what they believe?
  • by p0tat03 (985078) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:41PM (#15912611)

    "Science threatens their faith"

    You say it as if it doesn't, but it does. Science inherently threatens any form of ill-founded blind belief, and seeks to find support and evidence for all ideas. While I say this is not inherently incompatible with faith in general, it seems to be incompatible with most people's faith.

  • Illness (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Cally (10873) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:42PM (#15912618) Homepage
    Belief in a supernatural being that created you and the rest of the world and now runs it is, without doubt, a species of mental illness. Or cf Goebell's famous comment about "the big lie". Dennett argues that non-human animals aren't properly conscious because they have no speech (simplifying /massively/). I'm getting more and more extreme in my old age but these days I'm starting to think that you and I (dear atheirst read) /are/ the post-humans; the majority of the human race (regardless of the US quotient) seem to be profoundly different from you and I.

    I've just read Chomsky's 'Imperial Ambitions', by the way, does it show? :)

  • by Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:44PM (#15912633) Homepage
    The issue has taken on the sentiment that if the concept of evolution becomes widely accepted then faith is voided and we enter moral decay (which is obviously wrong, thanks Bush).

    If that's the case, then it tells that most Americans are more likely to believe what they find desirable to believe, rather than the truth. That's a scary notion, when you consider that the USA has by far the largest military in the world, and that the overall actions of the USA are mostly driven by American public opinion.

  • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:44PM (#15912634) Homepage Journal
    Science threatens their faith.


    And if science threatens your faith, perhaps you ought to re-examine your beliefs. Science and religion don't have to be mutually exclusive things. It's really just a handful of overly-dogmatic religious sects (read: fundies) that need science to be wrong on evolution (and a number of other things, for that matter), in order for their religious beliefs to be right.

  • by btlzu2 (99039) * on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:44PM (#15912635) Homepage Journal
    So is relativity. It's still considered the best explanation of the dynamics of moving bodies.

    people love to get hung up on semantics that they really don't even understand. the truth is that the Theory of Evolution is as much fact as the notion that the earth revolves around the sun. there is no contradictory evidence and mountains of overwhelming supporting evidence.

    if there wasn't some unsubstantiated book that contradicted the concept of evolution, you'd believe it in a second, just as you believe the earth revolves around the sun.
  • by neonprimetime (528653) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:45PM (#15912645)
    I don't understand how it matters what people think?

    If evolution is the truth, then when you die you'll find out: You'll decay and turn back into dirt to help evolve the next super humans.
    If creation is the truth, then when you die you'll find out: You'll find out that when you die, life really isn't over, and you keep living.
    If something else is the truth, then when you die you'll find out.

    What does it matter what people think now, because thinking isn't going to change what happens.
  • by Cally (10873) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:47PM (#15912664) Homepage
    It's unfortunate that even if people do want to have a religious or spiritual belief, they can't reconcile it with fairly firmly established scientific truth.

    On the contrary, it's unfortunate that people have a religious or 'spiritual belief'. The rejection of reality for the teachings of the cult leaders is entirely self-consistent and internally logical. You're missing the point if you think that the particular flavour of hair-splitting rhetoric employed by one sect or another to reconcile reality with their particular flavour of insanity makes a difference. Know your enemy: ignorance and superstition.

  • Re:LOL@USA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Andy Gardner (850877) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:47PM (#15912666)
    Worst. Educational System. Ever.

    I think it's more like

    Best. Propaganda System. Ever.

  • Re:ugh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nizo (81281) * on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:47PM (#15912668) Homepage Journal
    Well, if people vote someone into office based mostly on the candidate's belief that evolution is false, then it would have a direct impact on the daily lives of all Americans. Now if everyone would simply vote for candidates based on relevent issues (like, oh I don't know, healthcare/education/etc) we would be fine.
  • by Dekortage (697532) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:48PM (#15912678) Homepage

    Judging from the list of countries [nytimes.com] where the poll was taken, they generally focused on "Western" nations and completely avoided many countries that would probably appear more fundamentalist than the U.S. or Turkey. Imagine the results if we tried the survey in Iran, Bangladesh, or most other so-called "Third World" countries.

    Oh wait, we're trying to show that we're the most clueless Western nation, not the most clueless nation overall. Sorry. I forgot that for a moment.

  • by manno (848709) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:49PM (#15912701)
    The thing that cheeses me off the most is that this is a theological issue. It's the age old argument of literal vs. interpreted reading of the bible. It's a theological argument that has been going on between sects of Christianity for centuries. Yet they have managed to make it into a political argument some how. The literal interpretation doesn't just go against the scientific community, but also the beliefs of other Christians like Roman Catholics. It simply doesn't belong on the political stage.
  • No, it wasn't. It was the evidence.
  • by grumpygrodyguy (603716) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:50PM (#15912711)
    Science threatens their faith.

    It's sad that most Christians base their faith on The Bible and not the teachings of Christ. This is the same problem Fundamentalist Muslims are suffering from...they confuse the Qur'an(and subsequent mistranslations and commentaries) with the spiritual message of Mohammed. Both Mohammed and Jesus promoted love, tolerance, forgiveness, and understanding. None of which is in conflict with science(the pursuit of truth).

    If the direct teachings of these prophets were the focus of religious organizations(instead of using scriptures to control their followers through fear), science would be embraced by the world religions rather than shunned by it.
  • Re:ugh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Yahweh Doesn't Exist (906833) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:51PM (#15912720)
    depend what those beliefs have on society.

    if you object to to evolution because it means humans aren't God's most special project hand-crafted from mud and ribs, then it's more likely you'll also come up with convoluted reasons to object to things that can help people e.g. no gene therapy because God injects your soul when a single cell splits.

    also, it's pretty bad when people cannot accept something as provenly true as evolution. for example consider the following: do these people who don't accept evolution also believe DNA evidence should not be used in criminal (e.g. rape) cases? what about paternity tests? it's the same science. the molecular evidence for evolution is so staggering, yet most debates only talk about fossil records because they are by their nature less precise and less complete and hence easier to attack.
  • by nizo (81281) * on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:51PM (#15912722) Homepage Journal
    Sadly some people like the taste of various primates. So far the advocates of the theories of Tastiness haven't made many inroads when it comes to having their views incorporated into general evolution however.
  • News for Nerds (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:51PM (#15912723) Homepage Journal
    You know those jocks that beat up nerds in highschool for being "too smart"? Those jocks are running America. And you are still the nerds.
  • by krell (896769) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:52PM (#15912729) Journal
    "It hasn't actually been proven, so it's not entirely ...."

    All the evidence supports it, and none contradicts it: it's a very strong explanatory framework. It's been pretty much proven. It is disingenous to use shades of the definition of "theory" to get around that evolution in the common meaning is fact. And yes, those who refuse to "abandon ideas" that have long since been proven false do not deserve any sort of respect for doing this. It is not very justifiable.
  • by kfg (145172) * on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:54PM (#15912769)
    I have a hard time thinking humans came from apes.

    Humans did not "come from" apes. Humans are apes.

    We only came from apes in the same sense that German Shepards came from dogs, something I'll hazard you don't even question.

    KFG
  • by EGSonikku (519478) <petersen,mobile&gmail,com> on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:55PM (#15912797)
    Evolution makes no claims as to the origin of life. It merly theorises what has happened to that life once it did start.
  • by p0tat03 (985078) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:56PM (#15912810)

    Your college science class must've failed to teach basic scientific method. The whole "lightning strike" thing is one of many theories about how life began, each with supporting and refuting evidence. The key here is that science acknowledges that it doesn't know what actually happened, readily accepts alternate theories, and when the leading theory is debunked it is celebrated and nobody gets burned at the stake.

    That's the difference between blind belief and educated belief. Educated believers are willing to be challenged, and accept anything that has sufficient evidence.

    Evolution on the other hand is an educated theory based on sound observation and evidence. Evolution does not define the origin of life, but rather it defines the phenomena that is readily observable whereby populations and species change over time. The exact mechanism of this process is arguable, though natural selection is the leading explanation, and has a extremely large amount of evidence in its defense.

  • Re:Sigh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by porcupine8 (816071) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:56PM (#15912811) Journal
    50% still believe we found WMDs in Iraq.

    *cough* Well, technically, we did. Scroll down to 2004. [wikipedia.org] Of course, a few canisters of nerve gas weren't really what most people were expecting out of the WMDs, but technically, they were there, and nerve gas counts as a WMD. In fact, sarin was one WMD that Iraq had specifically been told to destroy.

    I remember the day these were found. I happened to look at foxnews.com that day, because I was curious what they were saying about the war. And the sarin was on the front page. I couldn't find a *single reference* to it anywhere on CNN, even with a search. I'm not saying that Fox News isn't biased (because that would be a ridiculous thing to say), but it made me wary of CNN as well. I'm not sure I believe wholeheartedly in the whole liberal media bias thing, but I definitely take everything from BOTH sides with a bigger grain of salt now.

  • by rackhamh (217889) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:56PM (#15912813)
    No, evolution is based on the notion that one group of creatures evolved from another group of creatures, a notion that is supporpted by tangible evidence such as genetics, the fossil record, etc.

    You're referring to the question of the origin of life (i.e. the very first living organism), which is arguably a separate issue from that of evolution.
  • by Humming Frog (995557) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:58PM (#15912839)
    It matters because some people base their actions on their beliefs, and their actions affect others. If our government is run by people who think Evolution is false, they can make laws to outlaw it in schools (like the ones the US had in a not-so-distant past) and the quality of education declines. I have to care about what other people think, because what they think affects me, and it affects you too. Unless you think life as we know it doesn't matter too much, and so don't mind other people's beliefs negatively affecting your own life. Personally, I'd rather have people who share my belief in evolution run the education system so that my own quality of life doesn't suffer.
  • by MECC (8478) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:58PM (#15912842)
    A belief system that tries to preclude all others (you shall have no other gods) it seems will be threatened by any way of thinking that doesn't fit in its framework.

    "One religion to rule them all..."

  • I doubt it. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by krell (896769) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:58PM (#15912843) Journal
    There's a junk science fad on right now. I expect to be modded down severely for pointing out that the global warming idea is not supported by evidence, and it is a wonderful example of assumptions driving the data-collection.
  • Re:ugh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:58PM (#15912850) Journal
    Well, I mean if you're arguing that we should be a feudal society, where the elite understand the issues, and the masses wallow around in ingnorance with no say in things, fine.

    But if we're going to be a democracy, people need to have a basic understanding that the world is not about pixie dust and fairy tales. They need enough basic understanding to cast an intelligent vote, and to be able to recognize when someone's shoveling a pile of horseshit.

    Basically, that's why democracy sucks: people can't be bothered to be anything other than ignorant.
  • by drakaan (688386) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:58PM (#15912852) Homepage Journal
    Note that those two lines of thought are not mutually exclusive...

    You could die and decay and turn back into dirt while your soul keeps on living. The reason it matters what people think is because the idea that those two lines of thought *are* mutually exclusive drives a huge volume of unneccesary debate and distracts people from more productive things.

  • by PriceIke (751512) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:59PM (#15912855)

    Beliefs not based on logic cannot be swayed by logic.

    What a shame that so many people believe this is an either/or thing. It makes me sad. I thought most Americans were smarter than that.

  • Re:Bad example. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:00PM (#15912872) Homepage
    Each of which pre-dated the First Gulf War, and had not been maintained, making them useless for the function for which they were originally intended, the function that had us so scared that we invaded the country. They are not "partially diminished", they are "functionaly disabled non-weapons".

    The claim was that Saddam had continued his WMD programs after the first war and had continued to build and maintain an arsenal. Everyone knows he had one before the first war, and that he did a bad job of accounting for them, and nobody says or said this wasn't so.
    It is that claim which has been proven false, and the discovery of only old, unmaintaned, useless weapons actually reinforces the fact that the original claim was a lie.

    Saddam had no working chemical weapons when we invaded, that major motivation for the war was a sham and lie, and since you actually have the facts in front of you but choose to misinterpret them this shows that of the 50% who believe it to be true you are part of the sad subset who wants to believe that it is true.
  • by zerocool^ (112121) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:02PM (#15912899) Homepage Journal

    Which is why my god is the Scientific Method, and my religion the study of our suroundings.

    There's only two classifications of things in my religion.

    1.) Things we understand.
    2.) Things we don't understand yet.

    There isn't a "3.) Things we will never understand and aren't meant to understand, and must take on faith".

    ~X
  • by markhb (11721) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:02PM (#15912902) Journal
    I take your point about "What does it matter what people think now, because thinking isn't going to change what happens," but a belief that "...when you die, life really isn't over, and you keep living" doesn't necessarily require a belief in creationism or preclude an understanding and acceptance of evolution, nor does evolution require one to disbelieve in an afterlife.
  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:06PM (#15912974)
    How is what I said a troll?

    The fact of the matter is that there are MANY people who are trying to make things similar to this out to be some kind of a new occurrence, either implying our directly stating outright that this is something that has resulted from the current administration. I don't care how many fundamentalist idiots think they "have the ear" of the President. They simply don't.

    "Faith-based initiatives", as architected by the administration, is not necessarily a bad idea. I'm not for blurring the lines between "Church" and "State" at all. But to not recognize that there are religious people out there who can ALSO do a great deal of good in communities, and do even more good when provided with assistance similar to what other non-profits and similar organizations get, is ignorant. Do a lot of these people want to use them as some kind of evangelical platform? I'm sure they do. Can "slippery slopes" exist? Sure. But to completely discount any value of the work of people who also happen to be affiliated with any number of religious organizations, some almost completely benign in nature from an evangelical standpoint, is foolish.

    And as to the only other things I can even think of to which this might be referring:

    Intelligent design - has NO place whatsoever in any course material on biological sciences, except as perhaps to note that ID is in fact NOT "science", and is merely a philosophical idea at best. But does it have a place in the "classroom"? Absolutely. In a religious studies class, or perhaps a philosophy class. But not a science class. This administration's position on ID is effectively neutral, which does allow some backwards elements to push ID as a real scientific alternative in science classrooms, when it's not. But this isn't something that's come from the top levels of government.

    Human embryonic stem cell research - coming from the institution that currently licenses nearly ALL of the available US human embryonic stem cell lines, this is an important issue. But there's also nothing to say that human embryonic stem cells are a panacea, for anything. They are a hotbed because it involves destroying something that is technically "human life", from a scientific perspective, but is already part of a system that discards the embryos in the pursuit of a something that is societally accepted; namely, the creation of families. The problem is that there is not an endless supply, and it's all well and good to argue that they'd be thrown away anyway. Anyone who understands the basics of supply and demand knows that when research needs for new human embryonic stem cells exceeds supply, we have what I would hope would be a fairly hefty ethical dilemma on our hands: when, and at what stages, is it acceptable to end "human life" for the benefit of individuals or mankind at large? This question shouldn't be overlooked in the name of "research". Likewise, the intrinsic value of research and learning shouldn't be discounted for political goals.

    In sum, I wasn't trolling. Everyone seems eager to blame everything on the "current administration", even though the summary doesn't say it. I'm sure that most of the other comments here (which I haven't even read yet), will be reflective of that. It's not trolling to point out that ignorant people are nothing new, particularly in the US. I'm not saying some of the environments that are enabled by SOME in the Republican party aren't to blame for certain aspects of this.

    By the way, some people believe that the US (and indeed the West at large) needs to take a very aggressive foreign policy stance on things like militant Panislamic radicalism. Some people also believe that the problems in the mideast aren't a monster of the US's (or West's) creation exclusively, or even mostly. Some people understand that it's possible for a variety of conditions to exist such that a tyrannical, fascist philosophy will grow, like it has among some Islamic radicals similar to some beliefs in Christianity in the 11th century, and that the US i
  • by Enigma2175 (179646) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:06PM (#15912975) Homepage Journal
    Please show evidence of one species evolving into a new distinct species.


    Do you accept that mountains are upthrust through tectonic activity or do you dismiss this "theory" as well because it happens too slowly for you to personally observe? Evolutionary theory has not been around long enough to observe the creation of a new species in mammals, but new species of creatures that reproduce quickly - like bacteria - are quite common.

    For examples of a single species that is in the progress of evolution into multiple species take a look at some of the examples of Ring Species [wikipedia.org] on Wikipedia.
  • by MECC (8478) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:06PM (#15912977)
    I thought most Americans were smarter than that.

    You're thinking of Americans in the alternate-Cartman-with-beard-universe.

  • by Elemenope (905108) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:06PM (#15912978)

    it tells that most Americans are more likely to believe what they find desirable to believe, rather than the truth.

    Hey, buddy, that's everyone. The only thing that changes are the idiosyncrasies, the individual blind spots, usually about the things that we personally or culturally choose to care about. That my fellow countrymen happen to believe a particularly embarrassing one is unfortunate, but in the grand scheme of things is hardly the ultimate sin against 'Truth'. It is a telling fact that in every stage of human history, a large portion of people believed that they had stumbled (by revelation or inductive practices or some combination thereof) onto the basic paradigm that accurately describes truth. They were all, every single one of them, wrong. Why do we believe we are different than them, that this age we are lucky enough to live in is somehow different than all those others? One need not believe in relative truth (and I don't) to believe that for the actual amount of truth that we can be honestly confident to presently hold, our current beliefs might as well be treated relatively.

    I agree that it sucks for people who live in an age defined by the scientific enterprise to be lorded over militarily and economically by a scientifically stunted nation. But then so was Greece by Rome, and yet life (historically speaking) goes on.

    P.S. Don't ever believe, in this age of media and relative concentration of power that the actions of the US are driven by the opinions of its citizens at large. It's very much the other way around; citizens are the played, not the players. That should be the far more terrifying realization than that rural Kansas doesn't know jack about Evolution.

  • Re:Bad example. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:09PM (#15913015) Journal
    Clearly it does. Some moron modded him informative. =P

    This is the actual report saying no WMDs were found in Iraq [cia.gov].

    Damn liberal CIA. Always twisting the truth. Gotta listen to Fox News, because, you know, they're Fair and Balanced.
  • Re:Sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Random Utinni (208410) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:10PM (#15913047)
    The problem lies not with the people, as Americans are as smart as anyone else, but with the educational system. In the US, only those that get to college are taught to ask questions and challenge any preconceived notions that they have. Even then, not all colleges to an adequate job of it.

    Thus, the majority of the population that has a high school education at best has never been taught to change their minds. Instead, they are taught to learn material and repeat it. When what they are taught (at church, or on the TV/radio) that the world is 6000 years old, that global warming is a liberal hoax, or that we were divine creations dropped into the Garden of Eden, that's what they repeat. They were never told that they could question what they hear, nor that they should.

    You want to fix this problem? Be willing to pay higher property taxes, attend school board meetings, and push for changes to the curriculum that encourage curiosity and questioning... Then maintain the effort for a generation so that the kids who start with the program in kindergarden can progress through the system and go into politics.

    And you can blame it on modern schools... the problem is the definition of "modern". Schools have been focused on churning out industrial workers (factory-workers, etc.) for the last century. That's the "modern" model. Now that we're largely post-industrial, we notice the need for people who can reason and think, as opposed to people who only had to read, write, and do basic arithmetic. We need to take a long, hard look at what the current school curricula are designed to teach, and work from the ground up. Moreover, the more recent fixation on testing to academic standards only exacerbates the problem; we're telling schools that so long as kids can regurgitate information, they're okay.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:10PM (#15913050)
    Are you sure that it's really that unfortunate?

    How many people can really accept that their life is a meaningless collision of particles?

    If some people need a crutch to get them through the day - so long as they aren't jerks about it, why not?

    This is like the recurring thing on drugs and guns. If a small minority abuse their freedoms, should society take away those freedoms to protect the whole?

    If freedom to own weaponry and freedom of speech is important, surely freedom of religion should also be acceptable.
  • by Saeger (456549) <farrellj&gmail,com> on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:12PM (#15913080) Homepage
    #3 == a carrot for weak minds && a stick for the church.
  • by XenoRyet (824514) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:16PM (#15913140)
    The difference is that one is a philosophical theory, while the other is a scientific theory. One is physical, the other is metaphysical.

    This makes comparisons between the two theories particularly unhelpful, as they are both valid theories in their own arenas.

  • by meringuoid (568297) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:18PM (#15913180)
    I buy into what you're saying, but it seems to mean there must be fewer and fewer nitches for a new species to develop and become sucessful. Any intermediate species would not be as good at doing whatever (hunting, gathering, building shelter, whatever) as the established species, and would die out. Then evolution should essentialy stop at some point. Is that what happens?

    Only if the environment stays the same. Ice ages come and go, and mammoths evolve and then die out. Continents drift, and what was once a unified population of species A diverges on separate landmasses into species B and C. Deserts become forests, forests become plains. Sea levels drop and suddenly life on the mainland has to compete with the dangerous killer species that used to be trapped on the island. Species have to keep adapting to the changing environment.

    If the environment stays the same for a long time, though, then a species can go unchanged for millions of years. If what it has works well, why change? Some creatures - like crocodiles and sharks - are pretty much the same today as they were when they used to compete with dinosaurs. Their lifestyles haven't changed much, so on the whole they've just varied in size.

    As I understand it (IANABiologist) what really gives new ideas their chance is a mass extinction. The extinction of the dinosaurs (probably a result of a bloody great meteor) gave mammals their chance to fill the vacant niches. Similar wipeouts during the time of the dinosaurs wiped out the likes of Allosaurus and Stegosaurus and left room for T. Rex and Triceratops. Suddenly the competition is dead, and there's a new opportunity for life to exploit.

  • Threats to Faith (Score:5, Insightful)

    by meringuoid (568297) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:22PM (#15913231)
    This line of thought reminded me of a post I made a while back. I got quite condemnatory about the biblical inerrantists.

    To my mind, they're as much idolaters as any Bronze Age primitive bowing before a golden statue. Their idol isn't a graven image in stone or metal, but in paper and ink, and no less false for it. They worship the Bible, not God.

    Ah, here it is: Biblical Literalism Is Idolatry [slashdot.org].

  • Re:Illness (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kunta Kinte (323399) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:24PM (#15913266) Journal

    Belief in a supernatural being that created you and the rest of the world and now runs it is, without doubt, a species of mental illness.

    Meanwhile, people who disagree are saying that you, 'without doubt', are wrong. Calling them mentally ill, or any other insults does not strengthen your case. It just lowers the quality of the discussion.

    Why are they mentally ill?

    Personally, I believe the theory of evolution but I don't see how people that disagree with me should be considered 'sick' or 'backward'. Maybe they just have different way of seeing the world.

    but these days I'm starting to think that you and I (dear atheirst read) /are/ the post-humans; the majority of the human race (regardless of the US quotient) seem to be profoundly different from you and I.

    So you are more evolved than people that disagree with you, simply because of your views.

    That's a dangerous trend of thought.

  • by rthille (8526) <{gro.tagnar} {ta} {todhsals-bew}> on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:24PM (#15913269) Homepage Journal
    I'm pro abortion (limited), but I certainly believe that a fetus is alive. Just like a tapeworm. Or maybe not _just_ like a tapeworm, since the tapeworm is more independent, at least for the first months of the fetus's life. The question for me isn't whether the fetus is alive, it's whether it's viable. I believe a woman should be allowed to have the fetus removed from her body. If the fetus is viable, it should be taken out alive and given to someone who wants it, with the mother's rights terminated. Of course, the costs to save a pre-term baby can be huge, so finding someone with the desire and the money to 'take over care' of the fetus would be problematic for certain terms.
    In general, I feel that contraception is a much better solution than abortion, but I find it very odd that the 'religious right' are against contraception, abortion, or spending money to help the unfortunates who end up having their unwanted children raise them. To me that's immoral, creating suffering, crime and and enless cycle of unwanted.

    P.S. Ask me about the girl my wife and I are foster parents to. She the 5th child of some crack-head parents who had _all_ their kids taken away... :-(
  • Re:Not quite.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rackhamh (217889) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:27PM (#15913310)
    I'm a little confused by such a serious reply to a clearly non-serious post... still, I'm not quite sure what you're getting at here. The fact that two swans don't have the particular strain of virus that people are worried about doesn't seem like much of a factual smack-down, as it were...
  • by megaditto (982598) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:29PM (#15913335)
    The majority of Americans appear to not believe in Evolution. Fine! Six centuries ago, the majority of Itallians believed the Earth was flat.

    Guess what, science is not a democracy, voting agaist something matters shit.

    Oh, and one has to have crap for brains to believe the Evolution somehow conflicts with Christianity. Science/religion 'conflicts' were resolved many centuries ago, e.g. by St. Augustine.
  • Re:Sigh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Guido von Guido (548827) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:31PM (#15913363)
    Thirty seconds of googling finds mention of the sarin [cnn.com] shells [cnn.com] on CNN. I suspect they didn't get much play because the shells in question came from an old stockpile.

    Remember, before the war Iraq was supposed to have an active and advanced weapons program, and we knew exactly where it was.

  • Re:Sigh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ben there... (946946) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:33PM (#15913398) Journal
    From the MSNBC article [msn.com] that Wikipedia cites:

    Early indications suggest that two chemical components in the shell, which are designed to combine and create sarin during flight, did not mix properly or completely upon detonation, a U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Kimmitt, however, said a small amount of the nerve agent was released

    Field-test results could be in error
    Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the results were from a field test, which can be imperfect, and more analysis needed to be done. "We have to be careful," he told an audience in Washington Monday afternoon.

    Rumsfeld said it may take some time to determine precisely what the chemical was.

    Two former weapons inspectors -- Hans Blix and David Kay -- said the shell was likely a stray weapon that had been scavenged by militants and did not signify that Iraq had large stockpiles of such weapons.

    Kimmitt said he believed that insurgents who planted the explosive didn't know it contained the nerve agent.

    Everything after that is speculation about "What if there's more WMDs?!?", based on the premise that it actually was Sarin gas. It would be interesting to know whether it turned out to be Sarin or not, but that article sure doesn't say for certain.

    Also note that even if it was Sarin, the analyst in the video with that article said it was from the Iran-Iraq war. Blix said it was scavenged by insurgents, who likely had it stored away for over 2 decades, and also, the analysts said the insurgents likely didn't even know they had a Sarin-loaded weapon.
  • Re:Sigh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shajenko42 (627901) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:34PM (#15913409)
    Even the phrase "Weapons of Mass Destruction" is a clever ploy by Rove to equate biological and chemical weapons with nuclear weapons, when their destructive capability vastly differs. And it appears we've all swallowed that hook, line and sinker.
  • by Gablar (971731) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:37PM (#15913449) Journal

          Science is a threat to faith. God and religion are, imo, the product of the human fear to the unknown. We place god and religion in issues that we can't explain. Pain, disease, death and were we come from, were all the realm of god until science came along. The more we know of the world the more we can explain accuratly how it works. Everytime a discovery is made, God is displaced from his question answering place and accurate knowledge takes his place. That knowledge may or may not be something that we like, for example, descending from primates instead of being made by a God.

          Like it or not science is a threat to religion, even though is much closer to the "truth" than god or religion. Not everyone is comfortable knowing how and why something happened. Some people are more comfortable with "the will of god" than with reason. I think that's why is so important that accurate science is taught to children, technological stagnation awaits any civilization that has answered all the questions with God.
  • Re:demographics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by man_ls (248470) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:38PM (#15913465)
    We had a gentleman come to my university for a guest lecture about his life synthesis research...basically, he'd created from scratch a working "organism" complete with DNA and everything...Only truoble of course being, his cell was instructed just to replicate one protein over and over, and eventually it burst because he hadn't quite figured out how to make it get rid of said proteins.

    Still, he'd created a working cell with DNA and protein synthesis from scratch, and he'd hand-coded it, to do what he wanted.

    It's only a few (very difficult and expensive) steps from there to crafting customized fully-functional organisms that can, say, reproduce.
  • by cyborg_zx (893396) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:40PM (#15913489)
    You have to use the scientific method to cut away the parts of the meme that do nothing from the ones where the meat is.

    Yes, but what this basically says is that there are some interesting things that ancient people knew but they also came up with a load of crap. The problem is that some people hang onto the crap like it were gold.
  • by SpaceCadetTrav (641261) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:41PM (#15913501) Homepage
    You seem to have a blind faith that the human brain is capable of understanding every facet of the universe. Why is that?
  • by prodangle (552537) <matheson AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:42PM (#15913514) Homepage Journal
    Why don't these polls include an "I don't know, I don't have time to check the facts, and it really doesn't matter in my everyday life" option? I think that would be the best response for a thinking non-scientist.
    This poll did. I can't see the exact figures, but from the chart [nytimes.com] it looks like around 20% of americans chose that option. Countries nearer the top of the list, however, seemed to be a lot more confident about their selections.
  • by GreyPoopon (411036) <gpooponNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:49PM (#15913603)
    Like it or not science is a threat to religion, even though is much closer to the "truth" than god or religion.
    You seem to be confusing Fact and Truth. To intertwine Science with Truth would be a huge mistake. Leave the pursuit of Truth for philosophy and religion.

    Not everyone is comfortable knowing how and why something happened.
    Belief in one or more deities and the desire to know "how and why" are not mutually exclusive.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:52PM (#15913641)
    So, let's see...

    People who believe life started via creationism are stupid.

    People who believe life started in some sort of "scientific" way are smart.

    ...even though there's no hard evidence supporting either claim.

    Ok, I think I get it now - completely dismiss and ridicule any idea you disagree with.

    Right, got it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:54PM (#15913676)
    > I don't care about gay marraige, it shouldn't be banned, but before we allow it, we need to take a careful look at all the societal and economic consequences.

    Well actually all you have to do is look at the other countries in the world that have allowed it. They've actually been nothing but good effects, from increases in marriage across the board, to decreases in divorce, increased adoption, etc. That's not really much of a surprise, because it's encouraging love and committment even among those who are stereotyped as not being into such things.

    But either way, that thinking is not in tune with that of our founding fathers. You see, the burden of proof should be on those who are seeking to TAKE natural rights away (in this case, the right to unlimited contract), than on those seeking to EXERCISE those rights.
  • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:55PM (#15913685) Journal
    ....Okay....You're trolling, but I'll bite.

    Deduction is absolutely useless in the real world, because all the premises that could be used in deductive argument are arrived at through empirical observation. Empirical observation is 100% inductive, so therefore the premises can't be suggested to have anything like a truth value, because, as you astutely pointed out, just because something is true today doesn't mean it will be true tomorrow. The sun could go out, gravity could stop working, black could be come white, anything.

    So by deciding that induction is completely worthless, as you have, you seemed to have talked yourself into an ontological solipsim. I would like to know why you think this is a benefit to yourself or your argument?

    It's the standard move of the creationist, to attack induction, because, of course, that is the weak point of science. All our knowledge is based on the observable world. If that should change, we'd be wrong. Whereas all of the creationists knowledge is based on God, and God is the arch-conservative....He never ever ever changes. You can construct all manner of deductive arguments using God as a premise.

    Of course, if you're an athiest, all the same arguments can be constructed with purple unicorns.

    I keep thinking of ditching the .sig, but creationists keep making it relevant again. Produce one tiny piece of positive evidence for creationism, and I'll listen. But beating on evolution just makes your theory look even worse.

  • by deathy_epl+ccs (896747) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:57PM (#15913709)
    Educated believers are willing to be challenged, and accept anything that has sufficient evidence.

    I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree with you here. A very surprising number of scientists, today and throughout history, are just as unwilling to have their beliefs challenged as the fundamentalists. It expresses itself differently, but your statement is false when applied to as broad a group as you attempt to apply it to.

    However, it is fair to say that some scientists embrace challenges to their belief, but by the same token... I have met fundamentalists who were willing to embrace similar challenges.

    Science for some is just another flavor of religion. Once mankind gets involved with something that involves any kind of faith, even educated faith, then he will have a tendency toward irrational behavior when his faith is challenged.

  • by mOdQuArK! (87332) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:57PM (#15913716)
    If you've already evaluated a set of arguments & found them lacking in reason, then it's a waste of your own time to continue to give credence to a group of people who keep repeating those arguments, no matter how fervently & honestly they deliver the argument.

    In other words, sometimes the opponents _are_ "dipshit fundies", and the only rational course of action is to summarily dismiss them & their opinions.
  • by thatguywhoiam (524290) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @05:00PM (#15913757)
    Thank you for proving the point of the fucking article. Kudos.

    (yeah, I know this response is flamebait. I don't care. It needs saying.)

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @05:04PM (#15913801) Homepage Journal
    It's no troll - Urey-Miller tested a hypothesis. That makes it science. Even your wife should be able to explain that to you.

    You can be a scientist and believe in god, you can be a scientist and be wrong about anything, even in your own discipline. But when you don't understand that faith explains only things that can't be tested, you're not a scientist - you're playing a science game, even if you're good at it. Good at pretending that you accept logic, when you just like to flip it about to impress your less educated fellow believers.

    I don't pretend that there's evidence for the Creationism superstition, nor do I throw it out - I test it, if I can, or skeptically examine others' tests. Where is this Creation evidence you claim exists? Haeckel's embryo fraud was well over a century ago, and exposed by science. The people perpetuating it were treating his scientific props the way they were used to treating church props. The way that you treat logic like a prop.

    Pitting faith against science weakens faith, even before science proves it wrong - even when science sometimes proves it right. You just realize that so much of what churches once claimed monopoly in explaining can now be explained by science, which draws their power elsewhere.

    Faith has its place. It offers knowledge of phenomena we cannot test. Much of which is more important than practically all we cannot test. But which is much less reliable than fact, because we cannot test it. But faith must also yield to fact when fact is available. And we get fact by hypothesis and tests. You Creationists would throw that all away to believe in your favorite brand of infallible bible. You're free to do so, but don't expect to be taken seriously by people who reserve faith for where it is both important and necessary.
  • Science vs. Faith (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MythoBeast (54294) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @05:07PM (#15913836) Homepage Journal
    Many people of science have a hard time understanding why people of faith can't accept cold facts, and many people of faith aren't able to explain it. When it comes right down to it you have look at the very nature of religion to understand why there's a conflict.

    Religion is a competition of story telling. Almost everything in religion is a story that someone came up to explain poorly understood phenomena. They fill in the unknown parts with a good story, and the person with the best/most interesting/most appealing story becomes the shaman, and wins the right to tell people how to live their lives. Those who are adherents to the most popular story teller get similar rights via delegation and proximity, so they have good reason to provide their story with support.

    For those who are adherents to a popular story teller, science is nothing besides a competing story teller, no different than any other religion. Accepting and spreading the word of that other story teller is no better than the blasphemous suggestion that other religions have their good points, too. This results in the idea that one must dispute science as a matter of doctrine, otherwise your storyteller might lose popularity, and through that lose influence.

    Kinda like what's going on now.
  • Re:Illness (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BlueBlade (123303) <mafortier@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @05:15PM (#15913916)
    That statement boggles my mind every time I see it.

    What you're basically saying is, not believing in something in the absence of evidence is just as illogical as believing.

    So if I say "Santa Claus doesn't exist", based on the total absence of data proving his existance, does that make me an illogical non-santa-ist? Following your "logic", it would.

    The problem here, is that absence of belief is the neutral state. As long as you don't have any evidence for something existing, the correct (and default) attitude is absence of belief. I have no reason to believe there's an orange floating 2 feet above my head right now. Faced with such a statement, I would look up, see (or not) if there's indeed an orange floating there, and change my attitude correspondingly.

    Now, let's assume that someone would claim something that is non-observable by both of us. Say, there's an orange floating above my head, somewhere in space. Unless that person brings some kind of proof (hey I saw in in my telescope, come see for yourself!), the correct, logical attitude here is to say "there isn't an orange floating above my head somewhere in space". This statement isn't taking a negative position, it's the *lack* of a positive position.

    In the same way, someone claiming "There is no God" following a complete absence of proof isn't making any leap of faith. It's simply the neutral attitude. Atheism isn't a religion, any more than baldness is a hair color, or silence is a kind of sound.
  • by dR.fuZZo (187666) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @05:18PM (#15913948)

    I don't care about gay marraige, it shouldn't be banned, but before we allow it, we need to take a careful look at all the societal and economic consequences.

    This isn't building a highway, it's people's lives. Would you have told Abe Lincoln to make sure he fully understood all the societal and economic consequences before he delivered the Emancipation Proclamation? There's no way he could have known the full impact it would have. But, that doesn't matter, because it was the right thing to do. You don't do impact studies before you acknolwedge people's rights. You acknowledge and uphold people's rights because we (supposedly) live in a free society, and it is immoral to do otherwise.

  • by rainman_bc (735332) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @05:20PM (#15913974)
    You seem to be confusing Fact and Truth. To intertwine Science with Truth would be a huge mistake. Leave the pursuit of Truth for philosophy and religion.

    What???? Fact leads to Truth. Science finds facts that find truth to assertions.
  • Re:Sigh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @05:20PM (#15913976)

    Did it change big picture? -no ,dumb people stayed dumb people in regular schools ,and geniuses could make they way trough without those privileged schools either....

    Smart != educated. Dumb != uneducated. I don't care what a person's level of intelligence is, they should be taught useful skills and the ability to educate themselves about any topic they become interested in. Math, physics, the scientific method, logic, and problem solving are all learnable by a person of average or below average intelligence. I'm all for "magnet schools" for the gifted, but that does not mean we should neglect the education of everyone else, for exactly the reason the US now exemplifies. If you're never taught the skills needed to critically evaluate information and make logical decisions it is no wonder half the country believes things even when their sources of information now admit they were wrong. It is no wonder a third of the population disbelieves common scientific knowledge. They were never given the tools they needed to make reasonable decisions.

    Environment has a lot more to do with how someone turns out than you seem to imply. There are numerous twins studies and the like that show just how much of a difference environment makes (not that the majority of environment is in school.

  • by Nf1nk (443791) <nf1nkNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @05:21PM (#15913987) Homepage
    there comes a time in a debate when you realize that no matter how well you prove your point you have no hope of reaching your target.
    when you have hit this point you may as well stop arguing.
    one method of stopping the argument is to dismiss the target.
    A class of people not worth arguing with are fundamentalists, (any kind) they have little of worth to add to the debate and you have no hope of winning their hearts or mind. they are commonly called fundies.
    http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=dipshit [reference.com]
    I have foud a reference for dipshit
    dipshit Audio pronunciation of "dipshit" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (dpsht) Vulgar Slang
    n.

            A foolish or contemptible person.

    adj.

            Foolish or contemptible.

    failing to acknowlege the advances of science and a blind faith in an old book dispite mountains of evidence to is both foolish and contempible. thus the fundies are as a group also dipshits.
    it is correct to dismiss them as Dipshit Fundies.

    Although calling them fundies should be enough.
  • Re:Illness (Score:3, Insightful)

    by beeblebrox (16781) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @05:24PM (#15914022)

    Belief in a supernatural being that created you and the rest of the world and now runs it is, without doubt, a species of mental illness.

    Meanwhile, people who disagree are saying that you, 'without doubt', are wrong. Calling them mentally ill, or any other insults does not strengthen your case. It just lowers the quality of the discussion.

    Why are they mentally ill?

    People who refuse to apply Occam's razor [wikipedia.org] in favor of their literal interpretation of the bible, complete with an invisible bearded man in the sky, seem to me to fit some definition [wikipedia.org] of mental illness.

  • by kalirion (728907) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @05:31PM (#15914097)
    3. Godel things -- things we know are true but cannot prove.

    (Hard) Atheist: I know God does not exist, but cannot prove it to you.
    Religious person: I know God exists, but cannot prove it to you.
    Agnostic: I know it is impossible to know for certain whether or not God exists. But I also know that it is impossible to know anything for certain, including this bit of knowledge.
  • by JebusIsLord (566856) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @05:33PM (#15914119) Homepage
    No evidence that one species can evolve into another!? We've seen it happen! Some really cool examples, too... there is a volcanic island where nothing lives in the middle, only around the beach... a species of bird lives there which can reproduce with its neighbours all the way around the ring except in one spot, since the genetic difference between those two extremes are too great. (sorry about the vaguities here... i'm remembering this from school).

    There are populations of fish, for example that have been separated due to drought for a million years or so, then rejoined but have lost the ability to interbreed. This is a speciation event. I could go on.

    I didn't disagree with a word you said, until this. Show me a single person who is both an aetheist AND against evolution. The problem with religious people is that they have an agenda, and logic usually takes a back seat (you are an excellent example).
  • by humankind (704050) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @05:42PM (#15914209) Journal
    It's about time we all evolved.

    It's about time we drop religion. It's obsolete. It's a remnant from another time when man looked up at the sky and didn't see planets, stars, water vaper, and atmospheric events, but instead the "hammer of Thor" or "Ra", or the "firmament of heaven."

    Religion has value in society, but should be as far away from science as possible. Belief in supernatural is the quickest way to neuter the progress of mankind, and history has demonstrated this over and over, and over, and over and over.

    Print this [humanist.org.nz] and share it among your friends (also pdf version [humanist.org.nz]). Stick this [bsalert.com] on your car. Let's encourage others to evolve beyond the dark ages of cowering under the rock at the angry gods that are now called "weather."

  • You seem to have a blind faith that the human brain is capable of understanding every facet of the universe. Why is that?

    Because there is no practical way to differentiate between "something we don't understand yet", and "something we cannot understand". There isn't anything you can point to and say "that's forever incomprehensible". They used to say that about life and now we have molecular biology, for example.

    As Woody Allen pithily put it, "Is knowledge knowable? If not, how do we know this?"

    It makes absolutely no testable, measurable, detectable difference whatsoever. No profit of any kind is gained by assuming something is incomprehensible. If you assume something's incomprehensible, and don't try to understand it, you never will. If you assume something's comprehensible, you might eventually figure it out. In other words, the only possible test for incomprehensibility is to try to understand it. If at the end of forever you've failed, then you can tentatively conclude that maybe it's unknowable.

  • by rainman_bc (735332) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @05:47PM (#15914258)
    You seem to have a blind faith that the human brain is capable of understanding every facet of the universe. Why is that?

    First fallacy. You assume the the human brain need understand every facet of the universe. In fact, I'd argue that a single brain is probably incapable of understanding it all. But your fallacy is thinking that it's one brain that need understand it all.

    Second fallacy - you assume that every facet of the universe is not understandable. That's a circular argument you cannot prove either way. You can neither prove or disprove that every facet of the universable is not understandable. However you can say that we continue to understand at a growing pace.

    Seriously, it's humanity that understands things, not just a single human brain. HUGE difference.
  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @05:47PM (#15914262) Homepage
    Ring species are the best example that spring to mind -- a species develops and spreads around a natural barrier, like a mountain range, changing as it goes, until the diverging populations meet at the other end of the barrier. All along the ring, populations can interbreed, however at the point at which they meet the populations cannot.

    I think there's been something done in a lab with flies, creating non-cross-breedable mutations, but I'm not certain so I can't give you a cite.

    But the thing is, you're basically talking about the difference between micro-evolution (changes within a species) and macro- (creation of new species). If you accept micro-evolution, then it is only logical to also accept macro. If you take a population of one species, and separate it into two species with no contact with one another, then each of those populations will experience different mutations within itself, i.e. different paths of micro-evolution. Eventually these divergent paths will grow enough apart that were you to remove the barrier between the two populations that they would no longer be able to interbreed. Presto-chango, you've got macro-evolution, because macro-evolution is really just micro-evolution operating on separate populations.

    Otherwise you're saying that a species can change over time, but never enough that it would be unable to breed with one of its ancient ancestors or with members of the species that have also changed over time yet not shared changes.

  • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @05:48PM (#15914267) Journal
    Proof that mods don't read very well.

    You hold to a literal read of the bible. That can be deduced from the fact that you seem to believe the Noah myth, one of the most hilariously improbable bit of the bible.

    Then you move on and seem to suggest that when H5N becomes people flu, it has become a wholly new thing, rather than an old thing with a small change. This is strong creationism; doesn't even allow for microevolution.

    So don't lie and say that you're religious and you believe in science, because you don't. A literal read of the bible and a belief in science are impossible to reconcile, no matter if you believe all the science that is not contradicted in the bible.

    Just another damn ID fanatic, trying to cloak his fanatacism in science. The only thing your argument has going for it is that the amount of inbreeding that would have had to occur if your belief was the correct one would explain a hell of a lot about Kansas.
  • by zen-theorist (930637) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @05:48PM (#15914268)
    To intertwine Science with Truth would be a huge mistake.
    sure, except there is such a thing as scientific truth (not yet reconciled with universal truth, if it exists). so not a big mistake.
    Leave the pursuit of Truth for philosophy and religion.
    religious truth? there really is no such thing. or there are many of them. but there is only one scientific truth.
  • by CrazedWalrus (901897) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @05:49PM (#15914278) Journal
    "Insightful", indeed. There's very little insight to be had in your post, I'm afraid. Be careful focusing on six words and making a generalization. To ancient folks, and to some degree modern ones, which god you identify with determines which set of rules you follow.

    In many cases, "religious law" seems to have been "engineered" in a way. In other words, the reason for the law was not really religious in nature, it was pragmatic.

    Examples in health:

    Don't eat food XYZ. Why? Because God said so. In reality, they likely noticed that people who ate XYZ wound up getting sick or dieing of food poisoning more often. In reality, it was probably due to bacteria proliferating in certain types of food more than others. For them, it was wrath of their god. The result? Dietary laws.

    Circumcision has long been protested as "pointless mutilation", which it may well be. However, there's strong evidence that circumcision may save your life if you have sex with an HIV-positive person. I think the figure I heard was that you'd have 60% better chances if circumcised, due to a lower white blood cell count at the tip of your penis (white blood cells which are directly infected by HIV). Someone will correct me, I'm sure. Did ancient people have *anecdotal* evidence that suggested circumcision would prevent certain diseases? I don't know, but for such a large percentage, it seems plausible. They didn't have microscopes, but they weren't blind or stupid. They were simply misidentifying the causes of some very real observations.

    Apart from health, sociology was a big target (in fact, the stated target) of religious law. How do people treat each other? What rules define the interactions of people in a society? How do we attempt to avoid a "welfare class", "bankruptcy", a certain few owning most of the property, etc? (For just one example, think "Year of Jubilee" and imagine its economic impact).

    All I'm saying is that many of the religious laws were anything but. They were laws that were a response to issues of the day. Just like today, there were lots of pointless and stupid ones -- some probably downright harmful. How do you get people to obey the laws? Threaten death, jail, etc? Sure, and they did. What's a more pleasant way to do it? Tell them their god said so. That way you don't look like the bad guy for creating rules, and, what's more, people don't think they can get away with unseen crime when an omniscient god is the judge, jury, and executioner.

    So this is where people argue that "that was then, and this is now". Wrong. Human nature doesn't really change much over time. People are still basically greedy, hateful, lustful, kind, loving, and generous. They always have been, and always will be. The essence of religious law is the most time-tested way of dealing with the way we've been since we've been human. Do situations change? Would Moses have envisioned the internet and motor vehicles? No, of couse not. But he would have known what people would act like on the internet, and how they would drive. See? The *things* don't change the *people*. They just change the *object* of the desire, or the *cause* of the murdurous rage.

    Insisting on monotheism was, in a way, insisting that people follow a uniform code of conduct. They didn't want their carefully constructed legal system to be polluted by outside influences, which would generally prove destructive to Jewish society.

    On a more theological note, you quote the "you shall have no other gods". The actual passage is "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me." (Ten Commandments [wikipedia.org])

    Jewish tradition never said that there were no other "godlike" entities in the spiritual world. They just said that you shouldn't worship them in a higher precedence than the I AM. In fact, the Bible is chock full of stories about angels, demons, spirits, and precognition,
  • by dantheman82 (765429) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @05:55PM (#15914338) Homepage
    Speaking of poor logic, your examples tend to fall short in the very area you are trying to bolster:

    Genetic differences disallowing breeding between closely related sub-species of birds mean that the birds lost some genetic information that allowed them to breed. This in fact happens among humans where there is great pollution or other factors (chemicals, etc.) that effect reproductive abilities. So, this means that some of these birds cannot mate and produce offspring. That is not evolution in the sense of simple beings evolving into higher life forms but rather "devolution" or genetic loss of information and decay in the gene structure.

    The same goes for your population of fish. They "lost the ability to interbreed" which is a genetic loss of information - this happens all the time when you are subjected to a severe environment which hampers the ability to reproduce or move effectively, etc. This is not evolution in the sense of snail to ape to human.

    I know of people who are against Darwin's evolution and are agnostic and could produce their names if you so desire. Some members of the Intelligent Design movement are agnostics, for example. The fact is that all people have an agenda, and you demonstrated yours by putting all religious people into a nice stereotype - namely, "people with problems." For someone trying to defend logic, you really should have done a better job.
  • by g2devi (898503) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @06:12PM (#15914516)
    Nonsense.

    Science only inherently threatens any form of ill-founded *literal interpretation* of a religion's holy book. Most faiths of the world outside the US don't have such literal belief. They take their books as a mix of history, allegory, and moral rules and most assume that it's the inspired word of God and many assume infallibility of the books (if reality don't match the books, then your interpretation of the allegories are wrong). But those infallibility assumptions have more to do with morality than literal historical fact or literal scientific fact (which only have transitory value). To quote the bible (since that's what most americans believe in) "Give to Ceasar what is Ceasar's, and to God what is God's." (Translation, the world has demands, God has demands. Respect both and don't mix up the two.)

    The Greeks and Vikings didn't believe in literalism. Buddists don't. Hindu's don't. Muslims (outside of the Wahabbists) don't. Jews don't. Catholics didn't originally, then slipped into literalism around the time of Galileo and the dark ages, and then came back to sanity around the time of the 2nd Vatican Council.

    Science and non-literal faith aren't incompatible. They're complementary.
  • Here's an idea (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Sonnekki (978779) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @06:13PM (#15914524)
    Lets say God exists.
    Lets say God creates a program, in other words, our universe.
    Lets say that the program has rules which handle changes in the fundimental makeup of organisms.
    Lets say these changes, spread amongst a population, is what we like to call an evolution of the population, otherwise, its a mutation. (please correct me if i'm wrong)

    What I'm trying to understand is why its so hard to grasp that maybe God ran the program and let it go! Sure He may be working hard to 'roll the dice', but the fact is that everything is ruled by the laws of physics which was ALSO created by God, and interestingly enough, represented by equations. God created everything, right? We created 'science' in an attempt to explain everything. I think its safe to conclude that science describes the program, which God created separate from Himself. The Bible describes God. I also think its possible to admit that one can have faith in the existance of God and also know why things happen.
  • by Sloppy (14984) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @06:18PM (#15914581) Homepage Journal
    Why can't you accept the fact that there is a being greater than man?

    I will be able to accept it .. if there is ever to be a reason to even suspect it.

    Right now, the only reason some people suspect it, is that they read it in a book. The problem I have with that, is that I read another book that says the Elder Things made man as a horrible mistake, (but not as bad of a mistake as making Shoggoths!) At some point, you gotta forget all the books, and look at the real world. And when you do that, the greater beings don't show any hint that they're there. All I see are their cultists, shouting "Ia! Ia!" and telling me that the Stars Aren't Right today, but someday they will be. Alas, a cultist does not a Great Old One make.

  • Re:Illness (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BlueBlade (123303) <mafortier@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @06:27PM (#15914659)
    And disbelief is not absence of belief.

    You're the one who's introducing belief when there's none. My whole point was that, even with a negative statement such as "There is no God", there's no belief involved, unless, like you said, you make that statement in disregard of empirical evidence (at which point it becomes testable, and no longer a matter of belief).

    You are very right that absence of belief isn't disbelief, but that was the point I was trying to drive home. Faced with total absence of any evidence, the negative statement is the default one.

    For anyone to even take position about there being a God or not, someone, at some time, must have posited the question "Is there a God?". If there is no evidence whatsoever for the existance of a God, then the proper answer is "No", not "There might be, but I doubt it". For you to be able to say "There might be", there needs to be some evidence pointing this way. Otherwise, you're the one taking a position of belief. Basically, your position is "There isn't any evidence whatsoever for something to be true, but I still think it might be true". That's an illogical position.

    You seem to think that being an atheist implies some kind of active disbelief in the existance of God. It doesn't. In the absence of any evidence, absence of any kind of belief is the logical position. There isn't any logical reason to believe a God exists, by consequence "There is no God" isn't a belief. It's simply a lack thereof.

  • I think that you are vastly oversimplifying the mainstream "thinking Christian" (compatible with science) position. They are not mutually exclusive.

    The only way that you arrive at a situation where religion and science are incompatible is when you take one too literally, or the other too figuratively, or both. If you try to sit down with a Bible and actually figure out how many times the earth has gone around the sun since Adam and Eve walked out of Eden, and then attempt to force this date as some sort of an epoch for actual phenomena, you are of course bound to fail. Rejecting the Big Bang theory or cosmology in general because you insist that the world was created in 168 hours, is similarly ridiculous. I think it is only in the United States that these points of view have become significantly mainstream, and even then I'm not sure that I would say that they are representative of the official positions of many major churches (although they may be held by people who belong to churches whose official positions and doctrine are more well thought-out).

    Likewise, it is a mistake to try to extend any particular scientific discovery or theory past where it is designed to go. Trying to develop a moral philosophy from the interaction of various subatomic particles seems quite bizarre, and would probably produce a philosophy that had little bearing on actual life.

    There will always be room for religion in science, as there will always be an unknown. There will always be room for God, because there will always be the question of an ultimate Creator -- what happened before the first Bang? And there will always be room for faith more generally, as there will always be uncertainty.

    The problem that some religions have had, both today and in the past, is that they do not cope with the varying needs of people over time. Two thousand years ago, what people wanted from religion and God was an assurance that their crops would grow; today, people have different needs, perhaps more metaphysical than whether or not they'll starve during the winter, but acute spiritual needs nonetheless. It would be a sorry religion -- and a very sorry God -- that wasn't able to cope with that difference in needs (or, if you prefer, the different forms that the same universal spiritual needs take).
  • by dhasenan (758719) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @06:40PM (#15914794)
    It's possible to explain the current state of living species without evolution, and even part of the history.

    Losing the ability to interbreed, though, is not strictly a loss of genetic information. It could be a loss or a gain. It could be neither--good luck getting a shih tzu to breed with a Bernese mountain dog.

    Intelligent Design is not testable and makes no predictions, but other parts of the idea mentioned do. If the worldwide flood story were accurate, for instance, we'd have a relatively short period of existence followed by a catastrophic flood and then the present state, more or less. We'd expect a fossil record that supported that--a lot of layers of very similar fossils all together in the same areas. But we don't get that; instead, we get different types of fossils at different rock layers. That [stratigraphy] is one of the larger pieces of evidence against the flood theory.

    Of course, God could have planted the paleontological evidence to test our faith. That argument is perhaps valid but without merit; it boils down to Last Thursdayism (a theory that states the world was created last Thursday, but designed to appear older), which is untestable and unfruitful. The simplest and best conclusion to make is that the world is as it is; and since we get different distributions of fossils at different rock layers, they were laid down at different periods, meaning there was no worldwide flood to create them all.

    Now, the 'no additive evolution' theory can simply be falsified by the existence of complex structures today that did not exist in antiquity. Proving that a structure did not exist in antiquity is, however, impossible. On the other hand, 'genetic information' is an arbitrary term, a *human* term, so unless you provide a rigid definition, I can't argue theory or probability.
  • Your faith is weak (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OrangeTide (124937) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @06:44PM (#15914832) Homepage Journal
    your faith is weak if it cannot take on evolution without crumbling.

    Maybe people should become deists [wikipedia.org] if they want to believe in a god without having obvious conflicts with science. Or just live with the (very few) conflicts (by ignoring them)
  • by Thangodin (177516) <elentar@nOspam.sympatico.ca> on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @06:51PM (#15914903) Homepage
    Uh, no, what he said is that they have evolved into different species which can breed within the species but not with members of the other species. This is how we tell two species apart--they are no longer genetically compatible, and cannot interbreed.

    Richard Dawkins mentions the Herring Gull and the Lesser Black-backed Gull, which cannot interbreed and are therefore seperate species. Both exist in Europe. But if you follow the population of Herring Gulls westward around the north pole, to North America, Alaska, Siberia, and back to Europe, you encounter all the intermediate stages leading to the Black-backed Gull. In each area around this ring, the gulls in that area can interbreed with their neighbours. Only when you get to Europe do you have two seperate species.

    As for a lot of people being against evolution, the ID people created a petition of all the scientists who disagree with it. They have about 400 signatures so far, almost none of whom have any expertise in an area relevant to the subject. So the scientific community came up with the Steve list. Basically, you can sign it if your support evolution and your name is some variation of Steve. They have over 700 signatures so far. Since the number of scientists named Steve or something like it makes up about 1% of the scientific community, this represents about 70,000 scientists. They did it as a joke (ID is a joke, after all) but you get the point. Or at least, most people would.

    Your arguments are referred to as "God in the Gaps", only the gaps here are not in science, but in your own knowledge of it. Even Behe and Dembski don't try the missing link argument anymore, because it's a joke. The reason you don't see a snail evolve into a human is that it takes millions of years, and we haven't been around that long. But we still have the DNA from our earliest pregenitors, and our proximity with other animals along the evolutionary tree can be traced by establishing how much DNA we share. We share 98% of our DNA with chimpanzees. So, if God made us just the way we are, how come he built us out of spare chimp parts?
  • by 1lus10n (586635) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @06:53PM (#15914917) Journal
    Probably about the same time that you reject reality and substitute your own version (or one that comes forth from the pulpit).

    Tell me with a straight face that evolution as a theory is wrong. I have had muslims, christians and various sects of the aforementioned tell me that. We might not understand everything about evolution, but we understand enough and have enough examples to say that it has most certainly taken place. In some cases in very condensed periods of time. (harsh conditions)

    The problem of course is that most people cannot understand things that take generations to happen. It must be condensed into 30 minute blurbs with 12 minutes of garbage thrown in at random intervals. Weather I am talking about a religious service or a half hour TV show is an exercise I leave to the reader.

    I will stop judging religious people when they stop trying to rule my life and take away my rights, and teach children concepts that have been outdated for decades. I do not have time to split hairs about what individual religious people do what, they lump me in with liberals and I am not one. Why should I grant them a courtesy they do not grant me ?

    I also find it amusing how the same people make the statement that god allows people to live their lives and doesnt interfere, but all of a sudden he is changing the DNA of entire species ?? Sorry, pick a side and stick too it would ya ?
  • by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @06:53PM (#15914922)
    There are many specific examples in Wikipedia under Speciation [wikipedia.org].
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @07:05PM (#15915029) Homepage
    The majority of Americans appear to not believe in Evolution. Fine! Six centuries ago, the majority of Itallians believed the Earth was flat.

    Guess what, science is not a democracy, voting agaist something matters shit.

    People believing or not believing doesn't change the facts about evolution, that much is true.

    But when a sizeable portion of the population of what should be one of the most educated countries on Earth refuses to believe what should be clear fact, it's downright scary.

    Cheers
  • by AJWM (19027) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @07:09PM (#15915052) Homepage
    Who says that it's "a loss of genetic information" that prevents interbreeding? You know nothing about genetics, do you?

    By the way, chimps (and some other primates) have more chromosomes than humans, so we must have "lost genetic information" -- I guess by your theory, chimps are more highly evolved than humans?

    And who says that evolution is unidirectional? There's no such thing as "devolution", only evolution in a different direction.

    Some members of the Intelligent Design movement are agnostics, for example.

    No they're not. Liars or (self deluded) fools, perhaps, but not agnostic -- Intelligent Design must be taken on faith, just like Pastafarianism.
  • Except... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tacokill (531275) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @07:56PM (#15915336)
    Yes, I am sure that stat is right. But there is one fundamental difference here: The alien believers of the world aren't passing laws equating their alien-beliefs with non-believers.

    The same can not be said for evolution. Just look at what Kansas did. That's why it's on /. so much, and rightly so.
  • by denominateur (194939) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @08:16PM (#15915460) Homepage
    HUH????? Truth is a fundamental concept in science and math. For example all the algebraic manipulation you ever do with equations and inequalities rests on the fact that you've proven a fundamental concept is true and can be applied to transform that expression such that the expression still holds true.

    Math, yes certainly, physics/chemistry, certainly not. No matter how much you manipulate the "law" of gravity you're still dealing with numbers and not testing matter directly. The only truths in science are experiments, theories can be nothing but models. (and from what it seems, even general relativity has some rather ugly quirks) When considering modern theories the clear transition from model to reality becomes much more difficult to see because the descriptions are very fundamental. One should not forget however that string theory for example doesn't explain very much yet! (and probably never will)

    When dealing with science in general and physics in particular I think one should be very careful about one's approach to the "truth" of a theory (as it cannot be proven, only disproven) and not confuse the model with objective reality. I know that this discussion can go on, after all we measure only numbers, and our theories produce only numbers, therefore, in a materialistic sense, empirically speaking, if the theory allows us to predict measurements it is not just a model but a reproduction of reality. This however is impossible because it does not have the same properties as the "reality" that we're trying to analyse mathematically... and so the argument goes on ad infinitum and becomes too philosphical for science to even attempt to grasp yada yada.... From this point of view, entrusting too much belief into a mathematical description of reality might lead to the same religious fanaticism (in the sense that you defend the physical correctness of your model based solely on mathematical possibilities) with which "true believers" defend their faith even though there is no objective reason to do so (but fortunately for the religious types, there's also none against). It can be even claimed that theorists could be seen as being blinded by their belief in the mathematical nature of reality just as much as believers are blinded by their religious upbringing.
  • by Lijemo (740145) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @08:39PM (#15915594)

    Absolutely, you should be freed of the taboo that keeps you from eating the kids in your family. They are yours and you and your mate made them. If you don't subscribe to that view, you should still not have problems with those that hold that view.

    If the only thing keeping someone from "eating their kids" or some other heinous act is a religious prohibition, then the person in question is a psychopath, and should be treated as such.

    I am not a moral relativist. But true moral issues can be discussed, and their virtue seen, without invoking the supernatural, whether one beleives in a deity or dieties or not.

  • by Durandal64 (658649) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @09:07PM (#15915747)
    This is the problem with people who don't understand science. They see things as black and white. Science is about degrees of accuracy. Evolutionary theory is not wrong. It happens to be highly accurate, and that will simply never change. There are some things which is cannot explain, but that doesn't change the fact that there are mountains of things which it can explain. If a new theory comes along that explains everything evolution does and more, that theory will be superior, but evolution will not be wrong or invalidated. It will remain the highly accurate theory that it is today. Conceptually, it may be incorrect (in the description of the mechanism), but it will still be able to generate useful predictions.

    You might as well claim that all those mechanical engineers using Newtonian mechanics to make cars are "wrong", too, because as we all know, the theory of special relativity replaced Newton's laws of motion. But oh wait, it turns out that the differences between Newton's laws and relativity are insignificant below 0.6c.
  • by arodland (127775) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @09:29PM (#15915879)
    A god that slavishly follows a certain set of rules isn't omnipotent; he's predestined, and not the least bit interesting. You might say he "is" a physical law. But if the god could do something different the next time, then you don't have any repeatability.

    So anyway, yeah, that's a really silly argument.
  • Re:News for Nerds (Score:3, Insightful)

    by i41Overlord (829913) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @09:36PM (#15915927)
    Even people's favorite Democratic candidates were frat jocks.

    I don't think it's surprising, considering that the same personality that made them popular in school makes them popular with voters. Being an awkward recluse was never, and will never be a desirable feature.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @09:52PM (#15916019)
    "Once mankind gets involved with something that involves any kind of faith, even educated faith, then he will have a tendency toward irrational behavior when his faith is challenged."

    I see you've experienced arguing with an engineer. Your post touches on another core difference between science and religion.

      The scientific method is in a sense similar to the Internet, it routes around roadblocks. Individual scientists can maintain outmoded concepts and beliefs, Science simply moves on and leaves them behind. Were it so with religious differences.
  • by snowgirl (978879) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @10:22PM (#15916174) Journal
    Oh, Fundamentalist Christians will go to even bigger stupid arguments against reality than this.

    My favorite one is that there are men and women only, because in Genesis 1, it says God made "man and woman". As if that statement were inclusive of all permutations of gender (personal identification) and/or sex (biological identification). Because first of all, anyone who wants to tell me that there are only men and women, and nothing else out there, is neglecting scientific fact, which can be demonstrated with live appearances in some cases, of people with incredibly ambiguous genitalia: Reifenstein Syndrome. This is most apparent as the child is born with something that the doctors struggle to answer: "Is it a penis or an enlarged clitoris?" If one wants to declare it a penis, then they're conflicted with the fact that they have labial folds, and a urethra in the folds, and not through the penis, if one wants to declare it a clitoris, then they have to deal with the fact that the thing is huge, and hangs out of the labia, and well, kind of looks like a penis.

    Now, when you take the whole spectrum of Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, from that person with XY chromosomes came out as a female (with testicles!), to such a slight insensitivity that there's no telling that it had any impact at all, then you just have to wonder, what makes our gender/sex? It's certainly not our genes, so it must be something else, most apparently hormones: female in the absense of lots of testosterone, and male in the presense thereof.

    But then that raises the question, what if hormone levels varied during different stages of development? Could it not be easily possible that the hormone levels when developing the hands varied from when it was developing the genitalia? Proof of that already exists, in the ratio of the index finger to the ring finger. So, if not so between the hand and genitalia, why not the brain and the genitalia? Cows already provide evidence of this. If a cow and a bull are born as twins, the cow will have a virilized (masculine) brain, and attempt to mount other cows once it reaches sexual maturity, otherwise, it appears the same as any other cow.

    So, considering that you can demonstrate to them true and actual inarguable fact, they still insists that their interpretation and understanding of the Bible is infallable, it's natural to assume that anything that requires any amount of fill-in-the-blanks to accept would be dismissed just as readily.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @11:20PM (#15916433)
    If the direct teachings of these prophets were the focus of religious organizations(instead of using scriptures to control their followers through fear), science would be embraced by the world religions rather than shunned by it.


    Are you talking about Jesus' teaching before or after the resurrection? Oh, yeah, that part.... hmmm.... Seems like maybe you've missed a teensy-weensy part of the story. Or are you referring to the parts where he claims to be God?

    You sound just as ignorant of Christianity as you proclaim Christians to be of evolution. It's your perogative not to believe. But so often idiotic debates like this turn into nothing but Christian-bashing by people who *clearly* don't know any more about the Bible than the fundamentalists they rail on know about science. Take a little time to learn about science, religion, the arts.... Wow, there's a whole world of stuff out there, not all of which makes a lot of sense from a scientific point of view.

    And just for the record, I'm a Christian AND have a degree with high honors in physics and have worked on world-class astronomical satellites. I'm not the idiot you would paint me (as a member of the Christian faith) to be.

    And I can attest that science will never give you the peace of mind that a real relationship with Jesus Christ will during difficult times. Life falling apart? I hope you are able to find comfort in "Origin of the Species."

    I really will be praying for the whole lot of you! Whether you want me to or not! ;-)
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @11:44PM (#15916537) Homepage Journal
    Endless parade of people responding to this thread whose inability to understand science, and how theories like the Big Bang are not only not "blind belief", but testable in in the real present. Tests that yield results we use to do other things with the rest of the real world.

    Religion gives us the number of angels that would dance on the head of a pin, and bloody jihad/crusades.

    Give me the atheistic agenda, freedom and knowledge and stick your fake "respect for learning" up your blind, stupid ass.
  • by alienmole (15522) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @01:05AM (#15916838)
    Well, one interesting point we can take from a theory of an omnipotent God is that she chooses not to act in ways that would make it abundantly clear that she exists. If she was continually doing really obvious things which violate the repeatable physical laws we've discovered, we'd have noticed. Unfortunately, this approach to wielding ominpotence does tend to raise Occam's Razor - you don't need a god to explain the behavior of a universe that behaves quite reliable and predictable when observed carefully.

    One conclusion we might draw from this is that if there's a God, she's actively trying to trick us into not believing in her. Seems like a petty game for an omnipotent being to play, no matter how you spin it - you can talk about "tests of faith", for example, but the theory that there is a God is essentially unfalsifiable, which makes it pretty suspect from a scientific perspective. So I'd say yes, there are issues with an omnipotent God of the kind described by the major religions and science coexisting.
  • by 1u3hr (530656) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @01:14AM (#15916874)
    I've seen the evidence that supports my belief in God, but if you're too blind to even look for it, you will never find it.

    Interesting that equate "belief in creationism" to "belief in God". It's really only in America that Biblical literalism is so strong. Thus the survey results. Most other rational, but religious, people can see that much of the Bible is allegorical. One thing that the DaVinci Code, silly as it is mostly, got right is that the "scriptures" we have today are a result of centuries of selection and interpretation; not typed verbatim by God into His stone laptop.

  • by Thangodin (177516) <elentar@nOspam.sympatico.ca> on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @01:26AM (#15916923) Homepage
    It is true that the moment of destination of our soul to Hell or Heaven is predetermined, but the only way to learn that is to live a life, to make choices, you cannot live a life without making choices. So what we believe and we hope for that our final destination will be Jannah, not Jahannam. It is emotional thing. I just do not want to go to Hell, so in order to function normally I simply must to believe that I am good, that I deserve the ultimate Mercy. It is a survival thing.

    But the point still remains that the final decision of where you go is predetermined by God at birth. Your choices, according to this view, are an illusion. God creates some people with the certain intent of condemning them, and there is nothing they can do about it. This is profoundly cruel. I wouldn't do this to people, and I wouldn't even give busfare to, let alone bow down and worship, a God who did it. So how is it that I can be more compassionate, and therefore more perfect, than God?

    This is no small matter. To accept cruelty in God is to reserve judgment about all cruelty, on the grounds that it might be right, because God does it. This is not a moral absolute, but complete moral relativism. And this cuts right to the heart of the distinction between the traditions of Islam and those of Judaism, Christianity, Greek philosophy, and science. In Islam, what is Good is what God wills. In the others, the Good is determined by the law, which may be established by God but which binds God as well. Having laid down the law, God is not free to change his mind; he is subject to the same judgement as we all are. The law always stands; the laws of the church, of the courts, and of nature. This establishes a tradition of precedence which allows incremental gains, however slow and uncertain they may be. But without the stability of this idea of a law which binds all, you have individuals who claim to know the mind of God (a heresy in itself) who dispense with laws as they see fit--God can, after all, change his mind if he is not bound by any covenant. The society is stuck in an endless trap of feudalism, as one cult of personality is replaced by another, much the same way that kings suceeded each other. Since God never makes personal appearances, fatwas are pronounced on the whims of Imams whose qualifications may be sketchy at best. The people have only the Imams' claims that God is guiding them. This has held the nations of the Muslim world in a state of perpetual medieval chaos to this day--unable to make any headway, they remain the pawns in the games of great powers. And unfortunately, we have Fundamentalist Christians who would like to dispense with the tradition of law as well, in favour of their own interpretations of scripture. They're the ones who claim that Revelations calls for a liberal sprinkling of nukes in the Middle East. This is really not a world-view that you want to encourage. And I'm sorry if all of this offends you, but it's true, and there is simply no more polite way to put it.

    Religious beliefs can change as our understanding of God changes. In the story of Abraham, he wanders into the land of Moria to sacrifice his son, and desists when an angel tells him not to. Moria is greek for folly, and it was not Jehovah, but Moloch, who demanded the blood sacrifice of children. This is a story of the changing of the Gods--Abraham went up the mountain with Moloch, and came down with Jehovah. God does change, as our understanding of God does. If your God is cruel, you probably have him wrong, which means that you are worshipping a false God. This is not just a function of scripture, which is after all the work of human hands, however brilliant the inspiration--even Mohammed confessed that he sometimes got it wrong--but also a matter of interpretation, in this case yours and those instructing you.

    To say that we cannot understand or judge the imputed character of God is the same as saying that we must suspend our own moral judgement. This is what I meant when I said you had surrendered all moral
  • by foxxo (262627) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @09:19AM (#15918420) Homepage
    The most apparent flaw is that the theory of Evolution as I understand it proposes that living, conscious creatures were generated from inanimate matter.

    There is no distinction between "animate" and "inanimate" matter. All matter is just that and nothing more; a swirling mileu of particles in motion. The only difference between a cat and a rock is the complexity and frequency of those motions.
  • Re:Not quite.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dr. Manhattan (29720) <sorceror171@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @09:43AM (#15918663) Homepage
    this would be evidence that terrorism isn't really a threat to the country

    Terrorism isn't a threat to this country. Terrorists can cause upset and, sometimes, kill largish numbers of people. (Nowhere near as much as traffic accidents or obesity or cancer or workplace accidents, but somewhat significant.) They can't threaten the survival of the United States. Sure, it makes sense to take some precautions against it, but (for example) a wholesale restructuring of our legal system is disproportionate. (And largely ineffective anyway, and has too many bad side effects. Go read up on the Red Scare.)

  • by 1u3hr (530656) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @11:53PM (#15924654)
    There are over 5,400 orginal manuscript copies and they all correlate.

    They're COPIES. So I'd hope they do. So what? How many of the authors witnessed anything?

    That doesn't even factor in all the eye witnesses and outside (non-christian, non-jewish) historocity that validates the claims in the new testament.

    Bollocks. There isn't a single contemporary document mentioning Jesus. Including the gospels, which were written at least a century after. That's irrelevant though, we were discussing Genesis. Whether Jesus existed, whether he was divine, is a whole other debate and again you try to make them the same. They're not. I can believe in Jesus' teaching (which I do) without believing in Adam and Eve.

    Ahh, and where are all of the transitional forms that have lived and died over the last 30 million years?

    What's a "transitional form"? Except a buzzword used by creationists who think it's a zinger. How about you explain Homo erectus, Pithecanthropus, etc.

    "In fact, it is precisely because of these problems that more and more modern evolutionists are adopting a new theory known as Punctuated Equilibrium....

    Who are you quoting here? Someone who creates straw men, who puts words in the mouths of evolutionists and knocks them down. If you want to debate with evolutionists, quote a real one. Better yet, actually read, say, Richard Dawkins (or for that matter, Charles Darwin; he's quite readable).

    Make no mistake; America has a state sponsored religion that is indoctrinated in public schools...

    Bollocks again. TFA says the US has almost the highest proportion of creationists in the whole world. You're winning. Yet you still claim persecution. If it goes on, in a century the US will be a third-world theocracy.

  • by AJWM (19027) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @11:07PM (#15932129) Homepage
    And who made the laws and rules which the atoms follow

    Humans did -- meaning that the atoms just do what they do, and humans deduced from their behaviour the laws and rules that they follow. We might be wrong, those laws and rules might not hold under certain circumstances we haven't observed yet.

    Why do you think any supernatural body "decided" this stuff, or intentionally thought up these rules? If the rules for stacking sodium and chlorine atoms were a little different we could be having this discussion about why salt crystals are octohedral, or hexagonal prisms. (Or perhaps not having at all because life as we know it couldn't exist.)

    How come gravity is the weakest of known forces, yet holds the heavenly bodies in their orbits.

        Because gravity is monopolar, thus additive, unlike say magnetism. And if it weren't so weak, we'd probably all have collapsed into a black hole a long time ago. Consider the anthropic principle: the only reason you're here to ask these questions is because the values are what they are. (Don't fall into the common mistake that the values are what they are because we're here -- that's mistaking cause and effect. Because they are what they are, we're here to observe.) There may well be other universes with different values where life hasn't arisen or evolved intelligence to ask those questions. There may be other universes with different values where intelligent life already has the answers. Unless those values are mutable it doesn't make any difference to us in this universe.

    Where did the immense amount of information stored in your DNA originate?

    Same place the immense amount of information stored in the specific arrangement of grains of sand on a particular beach at a specific time originated. And before you say that's not information, try to duplicate that specific arrangement of sand grains by some random process.

    The human eye cannot be directly compared to a camera.

    Then why bring that comparison up in the first place?

    [more silly stuff about eyes]

    The human eye can't register single photons. That's why we have things like night-vision goggles and flashlights. And I guess you've never heard of snowblindness There are several different animal eye designs that don't put the layer of nerves over top of the sensor cells -- and they don't have a blind spot. The angular resolution of birds' eyes (particularly raptors) is about an order of magnitude better than that of human eyes. Some animals can see ultraviolet. Humans could too if their lense was replaced with something UV transparent. Pit vipers have a second pair of "eyes" that can see infrared. What was that again about the human eye being the pinnacle of design? Etc, etc.

    Come back when you've studied some physics, chemistry, information theory, and biology.

"Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." -- Bernard Berenson

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