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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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  • Shocking (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pr0nbot (313417) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @02:41PM (#15912605)
    That's pretty shocking. That 15% of any country would not believe in evolution I mean.
  • by joe 155 (937621) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @02:41PM (#15912612) Journal
    "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"

    You make an interesting point but maybe it is proving the counter point. If you asked me; is the following statement true 'humans developed ... from earlier species of animals.'? I would say "I don't know, but probably", would this put me down as an evolution denier? I think it is certainly the most plausable answer but I'm not going to say that it is FACT because it isn't, you even mention that when you use "fairly"...
    I would need to get a better break down of how responses were classified (but the article is subscription). But this could just be people who are not arrogant enough to think they have all the answers
  • by Kunta Kinte (323399) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @02:47PM (#15912672) Journal

    And according to this study 64% [cnn.com] of respondents believed that aliens have contacted humans.

    Many, many people all of the world do not 'get' science. It has nothing to do with religion. This happens all over the world.

  • For the record, I'm conservative, I voted Republican in 2000 and 2004. Yes, it's all my fault, let's move on.

    I'm against the idea of abortion but think it should be legal. I don't like flag burning, but I think an amendment against it is a silly idea. 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.

    All that said, I am also decidedly NON religious and think that Creationism and Intelligent Design are fairy tales for children. PLEASE do not color me and all the other conservative red stater's in with the religious right. They're not connecting with reality, and I feel bad for those people who continue to blindly follow the paths of organized religion (which has done OH SOOOO much good for the world over the last several years). <sp<sp>We don't ALL live in Je$u$land (perhaps geographically, but not mentally), and some of us choose to follow science, watch the Discovery Channel instead of Pat Robert$on, and sleep in on $unday morning rather than gathering to worship at the altar of Chri$t.

    Thus endeth my rant. Thanks for listening. Go Darwin.
  • by s20451 (410424) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @02:49PM (#15912703) Journal
    Devil's advocate.

    Your average non-scientist citizen is not likely to go and check all the sources to verify that, yes indeed, evolution is the most likely explanation for the diversity of species. So, to demand that this average citizen believe in evolution is to demand the same leap of faith as for that citizen to believe in creation. Either way, some "expert" is telling this citizen what to think about something s/he doesn't understand.

    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.
  • by tbone1 (309237) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @02:50PM (#15912705) Homepage
    It's certainly been around since 1620.

    One little-regarded fact is that the Pilgrims got to North America after the Jamestown colony started. The Pilgrims were such a pain in the gluteus that even the Dutch, the Dutch mind you, kicked them out. At the people of time Jamestown were leading a near subsistence living; the markets for cotton and tobacco would become important later. And here came a ship of fools whose beliefs were basically intolerant communists and religious radicals, bringing nothing to help the colony economically, and would expect to be fed. Oddly enough, when the Jamestown colonists heard this, they bribed the Mayflower captain to dump them off where all the cod fishing was going on up north.

    (For the record, I am descended from some of those Jamestown colonists.)

    And let's not forget the grand European tradition of sending their religious loons to North America; the results of this should be obvious.

  • by Jorgandar (450573) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @02:52PM (#15912736)
    You could conclude they're religious fanatics who refuse to accept current scientific understanding...

    But if I were asked this question, I may appear also in the 'no' or 'not sure' category. I find the lack of 'intermediate' species, (like fish who are starting to grow legs, or whatever) difficult for me to accept. I'm asking myself why these species are not common in nature. Does that mean I cannot accept scientific understanding, or does it mean I'm observent enough to have more questions?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @02:55PM (#15912790)
    Isn't evolution still based on a blind belief that someday in the past, life just magically began with a strike of lightning? Don't they still struggle to define what "life" is too?

    No. Evolution occurs regardless of whether life started with "a lightning strike" or a god creating it for kicks or anything else. No belief or opinion of any kind on the beginings of life is required to observe that evolution has occured, and continues to occur, once life does in fact exist.

    It's sad that this needs to be stated, again and again and again, in discussions with educated people (capable of reading and typing and everything!). Evolution does not depend on any particular origin of life. It is a process that occurs once life exists.
  • by LordKazan (558383) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:03PM (#15912919) Homepage Journal
    Wikipedia is your friend, biased language is not.

    there are a lot of chemical reactions where "life can arise from non-life" given the proper conditions, conditions which were present on *gasp* early earth!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis [wikipedia.org]

    Evolution describes how life changes, it has NOTHING to do with how life began.
  • evolution? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NineNine (235196) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:06PM (#15912969)
    Have you considered that perhaps it's not so much as a mental illness, but perhaps we're seeing an evolutionary split between homo sapiens that do have brains powerful enough to understand basic scientific principles, and cause/effect relationships, and homo sapiens that can't think any further than primitive "gods"? Sure, religions can certainly be defined by mental illness (talking to non-existent people/"gods"/saints/whatever, having firm beliefs in completely illogical and bizarre things, etc.).

    There are evolutionary theories regarding brain capacity in primates, so is it really that far fetched to think that we have old humans, and new, more intelligent humans at this point? Sure, we won't see any specization for thousands of years, if ever, but I can definitely see where this is one trait that can and will be emphasized through breeding (I would never consider marrying and breeding a religious person, for example.)
  • by btlzu2 (99039) * on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:09PM (#15913012) Homepage Journal
    i don't think so whatsoever. the good thing about science is it systematically corrects itself via peer review when contrary evidence arrives--even if "correction" means scrapping the whole thing. That's what WORKS about science.

    that said, when the entire fossil record we have supports evolution and predictions are made and proven true, I don't think I need to worry about semantics. It's fact.

    Some predictions made based on evolution:
    • Darwin predicted, based on homologies with African apes, that human ancestors arose in Africa. That prediction has been supported by fossil and genetic evidence (Ingman et al. 2000).
    • Theory predicted that organisms in heterogeneous and rapidly changing environments should have higher mutation rates. This has been found in the case of bacteria infecting the lungs of chronic cystic fibrosis patients (Oliver et al. 2000).
    • Predator-prey dynamics are altered in predictable ways by evolution of the prey (Yoshida et al. 2003).
    • Ernst Mayr predicted in 1954 that speciation should be accompanied with faster genetic evolution. A phylogenetic analysis has supported this prediction (Webster et al. 2003).
    • Several authors predicted characteristics of the ancestor of craniates. On the basis of a detailed study, they found the fossil Haikouella "fit these predictions closely" (Mallatt and Chen 2003).
    • Evolution predicts that different sets of character data should still give the same phylogenetic trees. This has been confirmed informally myriad times and quantitatively, with different protein sequences, by Penny et al. (1982).
    • Insect wings evolved from gills, with an intermediate stage of skimming on the water surface. Since the primitive surface-skimming condition is widespread among stoneflies, J. H. Marden predicted that stoneflies would likely retain other primitive traits, too. This prediction led to the discovery in stoneflies of functional hemocyanin, used for oxygen transport in other arthropods but never before found in insects (Hagner-Holler et al. 2004; Marden 2005).

  • by PaulBeelee (680895) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:13PM (#15913104) Homepage
    How are you against "the idea" of abortion but you think it should be legal? I mean, what does that mean? What about it are you against...? If you are against it, presumably you are against it because you believe its wrong, and the only way you can believe its wrong is if ou think its killing a human being, aka, murder. So, if you think its murder, how can you think it should be legal? Are you supposed to be some sort of ultra logical example of how Republicans aren't all neanderthals? Cause, if so, I am not seeing it, at least with you as the poster boy for logic or reason.
  • Re:Sigh (Score:2, Interesting)

    by schroedogg (596283) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:14PM (#15913114) Homepage
    I wish I had some MOD points because this is a very important observation. I've been monitoring sites like CNN, Fox News, BBC and others and it is amazing how some extremely important stories will be completely passed-over by one or the other sites because they do not support their agenda. About the only way a person can get any semblence of reasonable news coverage today is to monitor both liberal & conservative news sources plus include a healthy dose of blogs, which oftentimes get a lot closer to the truth if you can try to read them without your own political biases.
  • by hackstraw (262471) * on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:15PM (#15913131)
    Which is why my god is the Scientific Method, and my religion the study of our suroundings.

    My god is the philosophy of epistemology -- the study of what, if anything, we can know.

    Rumsfeld should be fired, but I love this quote:

    "There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know."

    -- Donald Rumsfeld

  • by tsm_sf (545316) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:18PM (#15913170) Journal
    Carl Sagan had a line about how people who think that evolution and creationism are incompatible don't really understand either.

    William Gibson had a line about people who don't know shit about anything, and hate the people who do.

    I've got a line in the water, because I'd rather fish than listen to dipshit fundies.
  • by StarkRG (888216) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [grkrats]> on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:33PM (#15913392)
    I'm not religeous, at all, so perhaps I just don't get it. Why can't evolution be the process in which whatever diety you believe in produced us? For that matter, why couldn't the big bang be It's process?

    Do you really think the "six days" were actually six twenty four hour periods? Couldn't it be six days as measured in some other way? Days on other planets are not 24 hours, so why would a day in Heaven (or wherever) be 24 hours? Couldn't six days actually be several billion years? Perhaps it was meant to be six awake-rest cycles but was interpreted wrong by the people who transcribed the different books of the bible.

    Another point to look at is are we pets or an experiment? When you set up a cage for a pet you put everything together and you keep it that way, you keep feeding it, and you keep the cage clean. In an experiment you set the initial state and then, for the most part, you leave it to whatever it'll do. To me, the latter seems to be the case...
  • by hobo sapiens (893427) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:36PM (#15913436) Journal
    I'd bet that the majority of people in the US believe in what they do because of ignorance and fear or changing. I am referring to creationists and evolutionists.

    Many who believe in creation do so not because they see the logic in attributing the order in nature to a designer (just as we would in any other circumstance) but because it's what their parents|churche$ taught them.

    Many people who accept evolution do so not because they see evidence thereof, but rather because it is taught as the "scientific" truth. This in spite of the very good points you make, of course.

    I will stick my Karma out there and agree with you. I'd add to your list a third point: the fact that nature's laws that scientists spend lifetimes unraveling show tremendous order. This implies a designer. It's not that things are too complex to understand therefore they must be miraculous. It's that in any other context when you see order and structure you credit that to a designer. Trouble is that so many in the scientific community have a religious (yes, I said it) objection to the notion of a creator. Yet, neither evolution nor creation is testable, so in that respect both are a matter of faith.

    Of course, it is with good reason that many people reject the position of the churches. They persecuted Galilleo for being right but against their obviously wrong scriptural interpretations. Belief in a creator (or the genesis account, for that matter, if correctly read) does not fly in the face of scientific fact. It only flies in the face of conclusions drawn by those in the scientific community who prefer the philosophical implications of a purely naturalistic origin of life rather than accept belief in a creator.
    --
    WAIT! Are you modding me down simply because you disagree with me?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:44PM (#15913539)

    I feel the OP gives an unfair attribution to US politics by describing science there as politicised.

    I am from a Scandinavian country, and research and public information here is extremely politicised. There is research that will get you permanently barred from the public good company, and several professors in humanist subjects have backgrounds as leading figures of political parties.

    The difference is simply down to what is acceptable and not. In my country, evolution is politically right to support (and good is that). What is however extremely unpolitically right to support is:

    - research that could possibly justify or explore genetic differences between people from different parts of the world
    - research that could possibly justify or explore genetic limitations in women
    - research that forecast demographic change
    - research that attempt to measure the economic or cultural impact of migration
    - research that is critical to migration in any way (it was affirmed at one point by a leading government figure, literally, "if the debate could possibly say that migration is not good, then we are not going to have a debate")
    - research that in any way could indicate any form of separation of people, for any reason what so ever (including separating prisoners from the population, and gifted students from nongifted, literally any form of separation) could have benefits

    If you state anything about the above subjects, wave goodbye to all future government funding, and enjoy being referred to as a basket case in the media for the rest of your life. That is why I cannot stomach seeing only the US derided as 'politicised' when my own country is similarly psychopatic.
  • by bvwj (473084) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @03:58PM (#15913735)
    Science is no threat to my faith. I can think of no significant scientific discovery that hasn't boltstered my faith by revealing more of the complex design of our universe.

    To believe that the cosmos, life, and my soul all come from random interactions and as yet undiscovered scientific principles requires more blind faith in science than I have in my religion.
  • by paralaxcreations (981218) <`moc.snoitaercxalarap' `ta' `egroeg'> on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:01PM (#15913772) Homepage
    Despite how it sounds, I don't mean it racist. First of all, we didn't evolve from monkeys, apes, baboons, or anything along those lines...we evolved from a species SIMILAR to them. Which is also similar to us. So people need to stop saying that. Now that that's out of the way, I have never met a Creation-believing Christian I haven't been able to "flip" on evolution using the following logic, in a very calm manner. It works especially well if the other party is pregnant or the spouse of a pregnant woman. 0) You cannot attack the Christian's beliefs. Doing so just makes them not believe anything you say as they enter Zealot, and possibly Martyr-mode. 1) Determine the subject's race. If you want, just ask them. 2) Ask them the races of their birth parents. If they are mix-race, chances are if the first answer was "Irish-German" you'll get a response similar to "My mom is Irish, my dad is German" 3) If expecting a child, ask what race(s) their child will be. They'll probably look at you funny because you should know the answer. 4) Ask if they resemble anyone in their families, if they get any traits from another member of the family, what diseases run in the family, etc. When they answer, tell them "congratulations, you now understand the basic of genetics." This is quite possibly the toughest part of the flip, because it's not evolution that gives the Christian (well the one willing to think) reason to pause, but genetics. That genes are passed down from generation to generation, and that over time these genes mutate (which is why you asked about diseases). Simply passing your genes on is evolution on the most miniscule of scales. 5) If they're anemic, or know someone who is, this is great! Inform them of the malaryia-ridden areas of the world, and how those living in those areas evolved anemia to survive. Make sure they know that they didn't decide "crap we better become anemic or we'll all die!" but that only those in the area who weren't affected by malaryia survived, and the majority of those people were anemic, hence its existence today. That that is evolution on a tiny tiny tiny scale, but a little bit larger than simply passing your genes. Here is where we see "survival of the fittest." Make sure they know that "fittest" means "most fit to survive in the area at the time" and not "strongest"- because in this case, the inhabitants of the area got weaker to become more fit for survival. 6) Usually at this point they will realize that they agreed with evolution all along, but their church prevented them from admitting it. The thought that "God didn't make us the way we are now" is probably the largest hurdle for them to jump, but once they can see the cracks that we really aren't the same as we were when the bible was written, the fissures begin to grow. Usually they come to understand. It doesn't hurt to tell them that proof of evolution is not disproof of God. You can also inform them that nowhere in the bible does it say man and woman would always remain the same as when God made Adam and Eve. If that were the case, how come we all look so VASTLY different? Evolution shouldn't shatter their faith. I think, when properly educated on the matter while receptive to the idea, it can strengthen their faith. The real problem isn't the faith, it's the church's enforcement of it. The church, like any other institution, seeks power. And the more that is unknown, the more power they have. Faith isn't the enemy of science, but the Catholic church is damn close.
  • by Kunta Kinte (323399) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:02PM (#15913784) Journal

    They're not connecting with reality, and I feel bad for those people who continue to blindly follow the paths of organized religion (which has done OH SOOOO much good for the world over the last several years).

    Even the Pope agrees that the theory of evolution does not go against his religion. People continue fighting this battle of science versus religion on slashdot which is barely, if even, existant.

    Religion does much good to people today. It just doesn't make the news. Someone becoming a missionary and going to the jungles somewhere to teach a proverty stricken tribe how to avoid disease and get by economically doesn't make the news. I religious nut blowing himself up will make every headline within minutes.

    Question what you're being fed...

  • Re:Sigh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dR.fuZZo (187666) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:07PM (#15913825)

    Do you remember back in elementary school and then high school when you were taught critical thinking, logic, problem solving, and the scientific method as applied to making everyday decisions? Yeah, nobody else was taught any of that either.

    When I was in junior high, we actually had a course for half a semester called Critical Thinking. I thought it was a great course. Although, everyone else I knew expressed dislike for the class and it was cancelled the year after I left. Oh well.

  • by Seraphim_72 (622457) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:19PM (#15913969)
    Ah...medicinal uses of plants, smeltering, brewing, cultivation of plants, I am sure you can fill in the rest by applying the formula of: Did something very benificial(say, case hardening iron by pounding carbon into it with a hammer, or work hardening bronze) for no appearant reason (why would you continue to beat on something after it is in the shape you want it? That makes no sense) His hanta virus example wasn't really half bad. There are those that say that the jewish food laws of the old testament were actually just that, hundreds, if not a thousand years of work to figure out the facts, then explain them in a (ahem) paletteable way.

    Sera

  • by gi-tux (309771) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:20PM (#15913971) Homepage
    If religous zealots don't believe in Evolution, then why are they so worried about bird flu?
    And science zealots clump all religious people together so that they can just ignore religion. I for one have room for science and religion. Religion tells me where I came from and my purpose for being here. Science explains to me how things, including the things that God created, work. My Bible doesn't attempt to explain why the sun is necessary for life to exist on earth, it just tells me that God created it and saw that it was good. I happen to love certain aspects of science. What I dislike is people that seem to think that there isn't room for science and religion from either extreme.

    As to evolution, what you are talking about with the evolution of bird flu and the evolution of lower species to human are two different things. Certainly there are forms of evolution. After all Noah didn't carry two beagles, two German Shepherds, etc onto the ark, he carried two canines onto the ark and all the different breeds have evolved from those two canines by bringing out different traits via breeding (go forth and multiply as it is called in Genesis). The same is true with Bird Flu, it is still H5N? when it infects a person. However, there is no evidence of one species becoming another and that is what would have to happen for a lower form to evolve into a human.

    Why can't you accept the fact that there is a being greater than man? A being that has the power to create the universe in which we live. A being that set up the rules that we discover via science. That being is God, and he is the one that is responsible for us being here today.

  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:23PM (#15914016) Homepage Journal
    Science is a threat to faith.

    Whose? Not mine [honeypot.net].

    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.

    Some people undoubtedly have a tenuous hold on their faith and have gods that are only a scientific discovery away from irrelevence. Mine is not a "God of the gaps [wikipedia.org]", though. Science can tell me how he made the universe, but only he can tell me why he made it.

  • by rewinn (647614) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:25PM (#15914036) Homepage

    ... the greater acceptance of scientific explanations of human origins among Icelanders than among Americans does not seem to hamper their simultaneous belief in the supernatural.

    According to reports here [ismennt.is], here [icelandtouristboard.com] and here [nationalgeographic.com], the Icelanders may just be experienced at distinguishing elves from trolls.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:34PM (#15914128)
    Evolution is no threat to the Bible. It is a threat to a literal interpretation of the Bible, but it is no threat whatsoever to the veracity of the Bible. Personally, I believe that the Bible is 100% "true". I do NOT believe that the Bible is "literal".

    There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in Darwinian Evolution that counterdicts the Bible's creation allegory. Of course, when anyone tries to take an allegory literally, all kinds of problems arise, and Christians are, as a group, exceptional at taking allegory literally. I find it rather amusing that there is no perceived conflict between Judaism and Evolution given that Genesis is a foundation of both the Jewish Torah and the Christian Old Testament. Jewish theology seems to grasp the allegorical nature far better.
  • by Eccles (932) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:38PM (#15914167) Journal
    There's a widespread misunderstanding of evolution, mostly on the part of creationists, but even some of those who believe in evolution make this mistake.

    Understand this: evolution is not a linear process from "less-evolved" to "more-evolved."

    That is, just because one species evolves from another, that does not mean the new species is in some absolute sense "better." What it means is that the new species is better suited to its current environment.

    If a giant asteroid hit the earth tomorrow, or some massive radition burst hit the earth, it is possible that all human and mammalian life would be wiped out, and the earth left with little more than cockroaches and bacteria.

    In that scenario, humanity would be a branch that died out because it could not evolve fast enough for its changed environment. Mass extinctions have happened a number of times before in the history of the earth, with a large percentage of species being wiped out. The trilobite has no known living descendants, for example.

    Cockroaches would then evolve to be better suited to this new hellish world, though I doubt you would consider them more evolved. Their evolution would be dramatically different from how they would evolve without this cataclysmic event. In the eyes of evolution, neither evolutionary pattern is better in a general sense; each one was simply better suited for the environment in which it existed.

    So as for your question about humans and apes; if the apes were better suited for a particular environment, but not for others, they might split into two groups, one in the old evolutionary niche, and the other in a different environment which triggered changes in that group that led to the evolution of humanity.
  • Why Believe In God? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by humankind (704050) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @05:23PM (#15914623) Journal
    Why Do You Believe in God?
    Have you ever asked yourself
    I mean seriously asked yourself?

    Pierre Charron once noted that we are baptised or circumcised a Christian or a Jew, long before we are even aware we are a human.

    Is it any wonder then that, through early indoctrination while the critical mind is still developing, we almost without exception go on to inherit the precise religion of our parents or surrounding culture?
    No, of course not - its only natural. But that doesnt say much for the actual truth of that particular religion, does it?

    Don't be afraid to question:
    The Truth is never embarrassed by honest enquiry

    150 years ago: the abolition of slavery
    100 years ago: the emancipation of women
    50 years ago: inter-racial marriage
    Today: same-sex relationships

    Why is it that the church always has to be dragged kicking and screaming (by secular outrage) towards the tolerance and compassion that, ironically, it claims to hold a monopoly on?

    Morality

    Contrary to what your church may have told you, atheists do not automatically turn to hedonism and anarchy. In fact, those who suggest that a man must be ethically restrained by a religion reveal, quite frankly, just how deep-seated their own morals are.

    It is an easy target for the church to blame society's ills on man's inevitable shelving of the god myth. But the fact remains that there is a fraction of the immorality now than there was when the church had complete, unchallenged influence over every aspect of society.

    This was a time of Crusades, Inquisitions, and witch- and heretic burnings.
    It was a period known as the Dark Ages, and that they truly were both morally and intellectually.

    The Ten Commandments are woefully inadequate as a moral guide:

    The first four are blatant religious propaganda - basically a plug for the Hebrew God.
    The remaining six are dangerously held up as exhaustive and inspired by those who apparently haven't read them. For example, one wonders how 'lying' and 'envy' make the big list of don'ts, but not rape, torture, child abuse, racism, slavery. And surely nobody still seriously believes that black and white moral guidelines are of much use in a greyscale world. &Thou shalt not kill& - but what about in genuine self-defense? &Thou shalt not bear false witness & - but what about lying to the Nazi officer who asks if you are hiding Jews? True morality requires judging each case on its own merits, not just overlaying the same clumsy morality stencil on everything.

    Prayer

    To the critical mind, it seems that the proportion of prayers that are specifically answered do not deviate too far from what the simple law of averages would suggest.

    Having never prayed in my life, I can certainly attest to having a better than fair share of good fortune.

    Regardless, what never fails to surprise me is the egotism and arrogance of the Christian who, by praying for divine favour or intervention, actually calls doubt on the very wisdom of their god!

    Who told you that you were a sinner?

    Your church? But wait, don't fret! There's a magic cure, and your church just happens to have it! (Of course some might suggest that your church has merely cut you in order to sell you a band-aid.....)
    Did Adam and Eve sin?

    They disobeyed God by eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Right and Wrong). So, yes..... Right?

    Just one problem. How could Adam and Eve have been expected to comprehend the implications of their actions if, prior to their indiscretion, they had no concept of wrong, evil, punishment, suffering, pain, and death?

    Even if God had been successful in adequately explaining all of these concepts and the distinction between right and wrong to them beforehand, this means that he would have had to have given them knowledge of good and evil anyway, which turns this entire story into one big ridiculous farce.

    Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not
  • by Ath (643782) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @05:56PM (#15914946)
    Your counter-examples and explanations are without merit. You seem to confuse genetic changes across a species with individual changes within a single living organism that have environmental causes. While the theory of evolution postulates that changes within single organisms can actually determine whether that individual organism survives and manages to breed, thereby likely passing on any genetic disposition towards a certain trait and eventually into the species as a whole, I have never heard it used to explain every single anomaly in an organism.

    In regards to your point about whether religion determines someone's disposition to believe in evolution versus some other scientific theory (of which so-called Intelligent Design is not a scientific theory because it cannot be tested and verified - it is, by its very nature, non-verifiable), the mainstream religions all provide a literal explanation that says a supreme being created humans. It is a fundamental premise that is at odds with a scientific explanation of how humans came into being. There are, to be sure, plenty of people who have resolved this conflict by taking a less than literal approach to their own religious teachings. So to believe in evolution, it was their religious beliefs that had to be altered - not the other way around. Religion is pretty much self-admittedly not based on logic and rationality - it is based on faith. The two are largely irreconcilable on a logical basis unless one of them is adapted.

  • by Zaphod2016 (971897) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @06:26PM (#15915171) Homepage
    With 1,000+ comments already down, I doubt anyone will see this. However, I have an on-topic anecdote I think is worth sharing.

    The gf and I were walking on the beach yesterday when we came across a crab. We both noticed that it looked and moved like a spider, and so, wondered aloud if they (crabs and spiders) are related.

    They are. [wikipedia.org]

    Then we sat on the beach and watched the sky turn pink as the sun set. Somewhere in the sky I saw the face of God. Of course, it wasn't a literal face, but rather, some sort of symbology that was picked up and processed somewhere in my primordial brain.

    I felt loved.

    I accept that God is my creator, and I accept that [S]He might have used a methodology such as evolution to create me. If God is "intelligent", it might be argued that mine is an "intelligent design"- but that is an issue for Philosophy class, not Biology class; I know of no way to objectively test this hypothesis.

    But Godless science? What unmitigated nonsense! Einstein was godless? Newton was godless? It hurts my soul to see a force as powerful as God being whored to win elections. If Jesus does exist, and if he keeps a watchful eye on us (as his fanatics declare), I have to assume he is very disappointed in us right now.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @06:31PM (#15915203)
    i have to say, the typcial religious right fanatic offends my sensibilities as much as the next guy, but i have to take issue with your assertion that a literal reading of the bible and science are contrary to each other.

    do you know the bible literally uses figurative language to make a point - and does so all the time? think about it. the issue is that the bible is 100% accurate in its intent. the reality is that the intent of the bible isn't always clear.

    that's why i don't take a hard line on specifics incidents. not that god (think about the concept - a flood on earth is a piece of cake compared to creating systems and processes to create and manage the entirety of the physical existence) didn't rain down a flood. he well might have.

    at the end of the day, though, the MESSAGE is undisputable - bad things happen to people who do bad things and god will save those who try and do good things. now, the religious right will try and say that means they are saved and everyone goes to eternal hellfire, but they are confused on many, many levels.

    first, this life isn't the only time god can save people - read ezekiel 37 for the timing of the salvation of the "whole house of israel." it hasn't happened yet. second, the entire concept of hellfire is sadistic - god isn't like that. the right wingers misunderstand figurative fire for literal fire in lazarus and the rich man... think about, what person burning alive would ask for a drop of water for their tongue (dry mouth?) and be able to hold a coversation? try puuting your hand on a red hot stove and then proceed to have a normal conversation with someone. no, don't.

    i believe what can be proved. for example, i believe that humans acting out selfishly will eventually lead to harm for the vast majority. history has proved this out over and over and over.

    i believe in the portions of evolution that are actually proven. simple organisms showed up on earth first. check. survival of the fittest within a species. check.

    that the fossil record clearly shows a series of transitional fossils. not checked. the poster child of transitionary fossils is called into reasonable question by and evolutionst here:

    http://research.unc.edu/endeavors/spr97/bird.html [unc.edu]

    how can this be? b/c it hasn't been proven. it might be true. it might not. we don't know.

    there are so many questions that seem to defy the basic principles of macro-evolution.

    1. how did eyes develop before teeth strong enough to not decay and fall out? eating is related to survival, no? how did our teeth survive when we didn't brush them? why do they decay now?

    2. where are all the fossils that led to dinosaurs?

    3. how is a hybrid land / water ear (required for the transition to water or to land) advantageous while still in their primary environment?

    4. what law demands that transitional entities *must* go extinct? after all, none exist today, right?

    5. how are certain characteristics selected PRIOR to their being of value?

    6. why is the world we live in so discrete instead of the expected evolutionary continuum?

    yes, many of the self professed intellectual slashdot crowd will ad hominem their way into slamming people for believing the order and complexity of the world in which we live implies a creator.

    the problem is that a guy like albert einstein viewed the world as though it implied a creator, and i don't recall him as a particularly religious person with an axe to grind. rather, his genius saw the world and couldn't comprehend the beauty and order of the world and the laws that govern it without an intelligence to bring it to be.

    i'm sorry, but the ad hominem doesn't apply - and you diminish yourself when you go that route - unless you want to lay claim to superior intlligence and insight than albert einstein.

    http://w [ctinquiry.org]
  • by JanneM (7445) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @07:42PM (#15915607) Homepage
    Leave the pursuit of Truth for philosophy and religion.

    Religion has nothing whatsoever to do with truth, capital-T or not. The basis of religion is faith - ie. belief in the abscence of, and indeed in the face of, any evidence or support.

    Thos religious people trying so desperately to find evidence for their belief, to show that some contrary idea must be wrong no matter what, do not, in all probability actually have faith. Whether they came to their religion unthinkingly, via their parents, or converted from a desire to belong, to find answers, or just because all their neighbours did, they did not really have the unthinking, against-all-evidence accepting faith that is required (or if they had it, they lost it again after the first heady rush).

    They have, somewhere, a small voice insisting that their religion doesn't match reality, and that it doesn't seem supported by any evidence - that indeed the more we learned about the world, the less it seems to fit with what's being told in the pulpit. This seditious thinking horrifies them, and so they become loud, vocal and argumentative, tryign at every turn to discredit and distort anything and anybody perceived to threaten that which they wish oh so desperately to be true, but that they can't just accept on faith. These people are not trying to convince the rest of us; they are just trying to convince themselves.

    And yet, truth would destroy religion. If we got real, solid, uneqivocal proof of the reality of, say christianity, being correct, it would be destroyed. With a god as a matter of fact in the heavens, and with Jesus sitting in the branch office in Rome taking petitions and holding press conferences it'd cease to be a thing of wonder or comfort. We'd just have another repressive dictatorship, but a supernatural one this time. It would not longer be a religion since there is no longer anything there to believe in - you do not need to believe in something which is manifestly there, after all. It's be just another power messing up our lives, but this time something powerful enough that we can (and will) lay the responsibility for every messed up thing in the world at their feet. I'd give it all of six months before approval ratings of the most benevolent Jesus to zoom past Bush on the way down into the basement.

    And meanwhile, every attempt at connecting religion with science in the way these people are doing ends up weakening religion, just as the connection of religion to conservative politics does. Every time religion is pitted against science and ends up being wrong, that is one small blow against its credibility. Each time one of thosevocal religious people get caught dissembling or spouting hate it's another indication that the talk about religion inducing honesty and respect is just talk with no meaning. And the tighter religion is tied to any particular cause or political stance, the less all the people not espousing that stance feel welcome in that religion.

    Me, I welcome it. Tie religion hard enough to a specific, far-right set of politics, and the societal ubiquity of religion in the US may well take a body-blow when those policies crumble (and all political movements falter and wilt - or self-destruct more spectacularily - eventually).
  • by lotusburg (995629) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @09:19PM (#15916161)
    That Dawkins does not suffer fools gladly is well-known. That he shows convincingly that evolution is not only possible but demonstrable to an intelligent (not necessarily "well-educated") layperson is a tribute to his grasp of science. Read "The Blind Watchmaker", "The Selfish Gene", and then try to argue "faith". He may be a "zealot" in the sense of "inspired, enthusiatic" but not as "fanatical or dogmatic" like many religious folk I meet. Read him first, then think.
  • See this site (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bekeleven (986320) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @09:28PM (#15916198)
    http://www.creationtheory.org/ [creationtheory.org]

    It discusses such things as:
    The following figures are from a Gallup Poll taken of Americans on February 19-21, 2001:
    • Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process. 37%
    • Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process. 12%
    • God created human beings pretty much in their current form at one time within the last 10,000 years 45%
    • Other/Undecided 6%
  • Re:Not quite.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cold fjord (826450) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @10:41PM (#15916527)
    When I first saw your post, it was being moderated "insightful", not "funny". There clearly were people who weren't getting the joke, including moderators. History has repeatedly shown that on Slashdot there is a significant percentage of people who will believe just about any foolish idea about the United States or the current administration if it portrays them in a bad light, even when it is plainly contrary to evidence, common sense, and other people taking responsibility for it. You only have to look that the appalling nonsense over the 9/11 conspiracy [popularmechanics.com], blaming it on the US government, to get a taste of it. Clinton Derangement Syndrome was bad enough, Bush Derangement Syndrome is ever worse.

    As to my point, it was that the "science hostile" Bush administration (that has a plan for space flight to Mars [space.com]) is in fact monitoring and testing for the dangerous strains of bird flu, and that they aren't being so stupid as to deny mutation/evolution of it.

    Kudos on a +5 funny though.
  • by Metathias (995621) <metathias AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @11:44PM (#15916772)
    Yes your absolutly correct on your argument. In the New Testament II Peter 3:8, NIV "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day." This shows clearly when were looking in the bible things are not always face value. Now please distinguish that I am not trying to say that instead it was 7000 years in all of creation as some might think. Instead im simply saying that much of the old testament (referring to genesis and creation) is highly shrouded in mystery for many different reasons and deffinitly CANNOT be considered at all times for face value. Especially the first 5 books of the bible. The Pentateuch written by Moses. Where within we find many peices of information where improperly interpreted can lead to utterly useless findings. The seven days of creation are meant to be a symbolic representation of a series creationary periods. Leading up to the current human development phase.

    Heres how it goes.

    First day : According to judao<christian writing says that God created both the universe (IE the Heavens) and the earth. And the star that we revolve around. Now it is not exactly clear whether he created the earth and its star at the same time or after one another.

    Second day : We have the setup of the planet. (IE God divides the waters of the earth and creates the multiple layers of atmosphere. This ultimately concerns making the planet a somewhat habitable one (atleast for some kinds of life).

    Third day : Things dont progress so rapidly, but still keeping pace, just on a microcosmic scale. God further divides up the planet layers into not only the many atmospheres, but also land and sea (This is'nt to say those facets of the planet did not exist at all before this, but instead they were not revealed up until this point). Once more he begins the creation of plant life in all its seperate phylums (trees, grass, etc) deffinitly seperate and simultaneous evolution of plant life. This is to be the beginning of all life on the planet (We can yet again through inference take this to mean the creation of micro-organisms.

    Fourth day : This is an interesting day to study, because it is barely a creationary day. God further refines the state of the planets ecosystem, much like the second day he starts with the atmosphere, by clearing up the atmosphere he finally allows the sun and moon and stars to be seen. meaning the earth is'nt a soup of thick layers concealing the stary expanse anymore. This day also starts the beginning of the calender of existance. Meaning days before this could have been indeterminatly long.

    Fifth day : I find it interesting to note that at this point in creation the first animals according to genesis come from water and air not necessarily land. Though yet again by implication also land dwellers. (this clearly states according to judao christian concept, multiple species of animal of all kind developing seperately and at or almost at the same time(this is completely like the different kinds of plant life god created in the third day).

    Sixth day : This is a long day god creates the fullness of the body of land dwellers. Afterwards the creation of Humans. While the creation of the land dwellers is not so much different in concept than the plant life of the third day, or the fish & fowl of the fifth day. Humans are notable different in that god decides to not only create a species called man. He decides that this species unlike all others would be in his image. Image could be mean look physicly similar to the creator, or it could be a symbollic reference to the higher aspect of mans intellect undeveloped in any other species.

    Seventh on : this day God finally rests and all of the beginning works of creation are complete. this officially ends the active role of God in the creation of the universe. One could take to mean that Gods rest represents God putting himself into a inactive role or atleast, primarily inactive role in the planets further evolution. This allows
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @12:18AM (#15916891)
    AC,

    I have to say that you are the first Christian to respond to Evolution so intellectually and eloquently that I felt compelled to respond. While you have brought up some interesting points, most are misunderstandings of the Theory of Evolution.

    but i have to take issue with your assertion that a literal reading of the bible and science are contrary to each other.
    do you know the bible literally uses figurative language to make a point

    The fact that the bible uses figurative language precludes a literal reading (I agree that it is figurative btw). Unfortunately most ppl, atheists and fundamentalists included, won't acknowledge that.

    1. how did eyes develop before teeth strong enough to not decay and fall out? eating is related to survival, no? how did our teeth survive when we didn't brush them? why do they decay now?
    Evolution does not have a plan. The fact that a random mutation that was more beneficial to survival evolved later than other trivial features is irrelevant as long as the species survived long enough to receive this advantage. Second of all, teeth are not critical to eating. It allows us to extract the maximum energy from our food by breaking it down (easier digestion and absorption before excretion and allowing hardier food sources) but we could survive just as well on worms or pond scum sans teeth. Thirdly, humans evolved two sets of teeth (baby and adult) to combat this problem. By the time the second set fails, even without brushing humans are 30+, well on their way into the grave. Only in the last 100 yrs or so has the average lifespan increased to the point that we can outgrow our teeth. In any case, by the time we lose our teeth and potentially starve (impossible but let's assume) we've already passed on our faulty genes with rotting teeth. Had this fault preventing us from surviving long enough to reproduce, then yes, we probably would have better teeth.

    2. where are all the fossils that led to dinosaurs?
    Can't say for certain but most of what we call dinosaurs are over millions of years. For species like the T. Rex which came near the end there is probably some evidence but again I'm not an expert...

    3. how is a hybrid land / water ear (required for the transition to water or to land) advantageous while still in their primary environment?
    A mutation does not have to be initially advantageous for it to survive in a population. As long as it isn't destructive (inhibits survival, requires too much energy, etc). For example, an extra arm that was so crippled to be useless would soon (on an evolutionary scale) fall off as it requires too much energy to maintain (extra cells need more food). However, if it allowed me to say, run faster or grab more food which in turn allowed me to survive longer and have more children, then perhaps it might survive (cost vs benefit). A hybrid land/water ear, given that it is the same size as a normal ear and functions properly in the primary water environment would survive as it costs nothing to maintain (a 2 in 1 that works similar enough to the original that you don't miss it). When they moved to land, only those with the hybrid ear (be able to hear predators) would survive leading to air/water or air ears on the surface only.

    4. what law demands that transitional entities *must* go extinct? after all, none exist today, right?
    By definition. If they existed now they wouldn't exactly be transitional anymore. They'd be the final product. (If you're referring to a species branching off and the original continuing: speciation events are typically drastic enough and so long ago that the surviving species have evolved sufficiently different features to survive the event and adapt to its new environment that they are sufficiently different from the ancestor pre-branch that they wouldn't be transitional anymore)

    5. how are certain characteristics selected PRIOR to their being of value?
    They aren't. See 3.

    6. why is the
  • by Brett Johnson (649584) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @12:23AM (#15916911)
    > I've always wondered how they could have evolved from something like the sabre toothed cat.

    Actually, it is the other way around. Large, saber-tooth cats evolved separately several times throughout history from different base feline stocks. The domestic house cat likely derives from similar sized wild cats: http://ds.dial.pipex.com/agarman/blackfoo.htm/ [pipex.com]
  • by smash (1351) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @04:02AM (#15917485) Homepage Journal
    Sun revolving around the Earth?

    If i'm not mistaken (no sources, but I do recall reading as such a few years ago), science refuted that theory many many years before it was generally accepted to be false, but was censored by the religious powers of the day.

    Ah... here's a source: http://www.imahero.com/herohistory/galileo_herohis tory.htm [imahero.com]

    And another: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo#Church_contro versy [wikipedia.org]

    Don't accuse science of being wrong, but then turn a blind eye to the fact that religion has actively tried to suppress scientific knowledge (based on evidence determined via scientific method), simply because it does not agree with their stories.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @04:44AM (#15917577)
    You know, I hardly come to Slashdot anymore, hence posting AC. But when I see a headline like this polluting the RSS feeds and bookmark sites all over the Internet, it's getting to where I'd rather be seeing Drudge report or Fox News. At least they're SMART liars.

    First, the blatantly false headline, claiming to speak for all Americans. Next, the link goes to an insubstantiated blog which in turn links to an even smaller claim. Resulting in a net-legend based on bullshit. I didn't even have to look to confirm that Zonk approved it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @08:06AM (#15918286)
    I resent the fact that you attempt to castrate God. The quote you have pulled from Hebrews in no way addresses the mechanisms by which a creator may have chosen to create the creation. We don't know how creation occurred; we don't know how human's came to be; we don't know what "judgement" means on the context of the verse you pulled -- I don't have my annotated translation with me. Ancient Hebrew society was as much bound into social issues as theological issues. It is not out of the realm of possibility that the judgement also includes the eulogy by the people at the time of death. There is much you do not know -- get over it.

The algorithm for finding the longest path in a graph is NP-complete. For you systems people, that means it's *real slow*. -- Bart Miller

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