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1297 posts

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  # 329987 14-May-2010 01:02
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fab: If you look at the theory of evolution with a purely scientific mindset and using facts proven by science, you will find that there are so many gaps in it (and gaps that even Darwin admitted to) that it's not possible...in my opinion. Yours may differ :)


These "gaps" as you describe them, are why religion is prominent, why it began, why it continues, why all we atheists, of which I have always counted myself one, will never see it disappear.

The majority of people, the religious, see a gap in our understanding, and think "oh noes, we don't understand this, but everything has to have a reason, so.... GOD DID IT", and then they are happy with this, it resolves their internal conflict, the fear they have for not knowing.

Atheists, scientists, see a gap in our understanding and think "oh, I don't know how that works... well, I know how it started, and I know how it ended, I'm ok with the fact that I don't know the middle bit yet, I'm sure we'll work it out".

It's not just evolution.  

  Theist: "what happens when you die, ARGH, I don't know, it can't be nothing, that hurts my brain, so... we all go to heaven, that sounds nice"
  Atheist: "what happens when you die, nothing, you cease to be, that is all"

  Theist: "what was before the big bang, ARGH, I don't know, so... GOD made the universe!"
  Atheist:  "what was before the big bang, not really sure, maybe nothing, maybe a big crunch from a previous big bang and on through infinity, I'm sure we'll work it out sometime, but right now, we don't completely know"

At some point science does progress to "fill in all the gaps", and then the religious say "ohhh, yea" and accept it, they move their "point of unknowing" backwards slightly so that, ok God wasn't DIRECTLY responsible for that, but he must be responsible for this bit before that which we don't know then
 
  Theist: "that big booming noise and flashing lights in the sky, I don't know what that is, it must be GOD, he must be really angry, Maude, light the pyre, we need to burn more Witches!" 
  Atheist: "hmm, I wonder what that is, I don't know yet, but I'm sure we can find out" 
 
In fact, we are starting to see this in religion vs. evolution now quite a lot, with various religions (even Catholicism) accepting that evolution is, yea, pretty much a given, but NOW saying "well, yea, the evolutionary process seems to be pretty well shown in evidence now, but how did all those cells get there to begin with, I don't know, so, it must be GOD!"

Another 50 years, maybe 100, and the religious goal posts may be moved back further yet.  But there is always a point FURTHER than they can be moved, and will be moved, because it is the nature of the majority of humans to be fearful, or unable to comprehend the unknown, and fill this "hole" with God in order to maintain their hold upon the world.

Atheists will never "get rid of" religion, and nor should we bother trying, it is a fundamental way of thinking for the majority of the worlds population, just as long as atheists, scientists, are not deprived of the ability to seek the answers for the questions that theists answer with "it must be god".  

I see theists as, somewhat, deprived, poor, disabled people who atheists can help, not by "showing them the error of their ways" or "convincing them to discard religion", but by putting in the work and eventually providing to them the REAL explanations for the phenomena they don't yet understand, one by one.  But they will probably always be theists.




---
James Sleeman
I sell lots of stuff for electronic enthusiasts...


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  # 329990 14-May-2010 01:15
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One more thing.

There are some things which we, humans, may well never be able to know or understand, things we are unable to comprehend.

A cat can not comprehend calculus, it is far beyond it's capabilities, one can probably assume that the understanding of the physics involved which produce lightning and thunder are also quite beyond a cat's ability for intellectual pursuit (currently).

It follows that there are some things that humans are incapable of understanding, that are, quite simply, far beyond our abilities to know. That doesn't mean the answer is God. It means the answer is unknown.





---
James Sleeman
I sell lots of stuff for electronic enthusiasts...


 
 
 
 


fab

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  # 330037 14-May-2010 10:16
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Ah you see, so many of you guys are putting God into your thinking. Remove that part of your thinking and concentrate on proving evolution.
I am at work, so not time right now to come up with instant holes in the theory of evolution, but here's one that's always bugged me re evolution - my own thought, not from anyone else (not that no one else has thought of it of course).
If Darwin used natural selection as a basis of his theories, why have we got male and female? Why, when the slime crawled out of the pond and eventually turned into fish/animal/monkey/man, do we have male and female? Wouldn't the first creatures have been asexual? And if so, if natural selection was at work, why that then evolve into male and female? An asexual creature seems to me to be much more simple and effective and male and female so much more complicated.

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  # 330043 14-May-2010 10:33
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fab: Ah you see, so many of you guys are putting God into your thinking. Remove that part of your thinking and concentrate on proving evolution.
I am at work, so not time right now to come up with instant holes in the theory of evolution, but here's one that's always bugged me re evolution - my own thought, not from anyone else (not that no one else has thought of it of course).
If Darwin used natural selection as a basis of his theories, why have we got male and female? Why, when the slime crawled out of the pond and eventually turned into fish/animal/monkey/man, do we have male and female? Wouldn't the first creatures have been asexual? And if so, if natural selection was at work, why that then evolve into male and female? An asexual creature seems to me to be much more simple and effective and male and female so much more complicated.


Basically, sexual reproduction improves the spread of beneficial mutations, as well as imporves resistance to bad mutations.

Consider 2 populations – one where individuals reproduced asexually, and one where they reproduced by sharing genetic information (mostly this happens in the form of male/female, but not always)

 

Now lets say there is a beneficial mutation in the first population. This will take a long time to disseminate throughout the rest of the population since adults without it can still easily reproduce by themselves.

 

The population that shares info though will, on average, produce more because the other sex will favour the individuals with the beneficial mutation over the ones without it – and so reproduce with them more.

The opposite also happens with bad mutations.  They are diluted much quicker than in asexual selection because the opposite sex will not want to mate with individuals with the bad mutation.

 

You might ask “well why not have 3 or more sexes then – get the selection through even faster”.  That might be true,  but also consider than one downside of sexual selection is that you have to find a mate.  When you only need to find one mate the benefits to the population outweigh those costs,  but when you need to find 2 or more mates,  the benefits generally do not (law of dimishing returns basically)



Just as I predicted,  your question (and summary of answer) can be found here

http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB350.html


Claim CB350:
Sex is too complex for its origin to be explained by evolution. Males and females would have to evolve independently, and any incompatibility in any of the physical, chemical, or behavioral components would have caused extinction. Furthermore, evolutionary theory predicts that asexual reproduction would be favored because asexual species can reproduce faster.
Source:
Brown, Walt, 1995. In the Beginning: Compelling evidence for creation and the Flood. Phoenix, AZ: Center for Scientific Creation, pp. 14-15.
Response:


  1. The variety of life cycles is very great. It is not simply a matter of being sexual or asexual. There are many intermediate stages. A gradual origin, with each step favored by natural selection, is possible (Kondrashov 1997). The earliest steps involve single-celled organisms exchanging genetic information; they need not be distinct sexes. Males and females most emphatically would not evolve independently. Sex, by definition, depends on both male and female acting together. As sex evolved, there would have been some incompatibilities causing sterility (just as there are today), but these would affect individuals, not whole populations, and the genes that cause such incompatibility would rapidly be selected against.




  2. Many hypotheses have been proposed for the evolutionary advantage of sex (Barton and Charlesworth 1998). There is good experimental support for some of these, including resistance to deleterious mutation load (Davies et al. 1999; Paland and Lynch 2006) and more rapid adaptation in a rapidly changing environment, especially to acquire resistance to parasites (Sá Martins 2000).



References:


  1. Barton, N. H. and B. Charlesworth, 1998. Why sex and recombination? Science 281: 1986-1990.



  2. Davies, E. K., A. D. Peters and P. D. Keightley, 1999. High frequency of cryptic deleterious mutations in Caenorhabditis elegans. Science 285: 1748-1751.



  3. Kondrashov, Alexey S., 1997. Evolutionary genetics of life cycles. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 28: 391-435.



  4. Paland, Susanne and Michael Lynch. 2006. Transitions to asexuality result in excess amino acid substitutions. Science 311: 990-992. See also: Nielsen, Rasmus. 2006. Why sex? Science 311: 960-961.



  5. Sá Martins, J. S., 2000. Simulated coevolution in a mutating ecology. Physical Review E 61(3): R2212-R2215.



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  # 330044 14-May-2010 10:36
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I also wonder if the necessety of two sexes has something to do with increasing chances of survival - sure having asexual creatures spawning offspring would create more of the creature in question - howevever when you look at the entire animal kingdom, you find many species with a mum/dad sort of scenario. Mum keeps the eggs wam while daddy goes looking for worms, that sort of thing.

/just thinking aloud here :)




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  # 330050 14-May-2010 10:57
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fab ,

you can also read much more about it here.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_sexual_reproduction

and in particular here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_sexual_reproduction#Origin_of_sexual_reproduction

but I'm guessing you alreayd have since, as you say, you have done a lot of research already, and this is one of the prominant questions.
seems odd that you couldn't find an answer for it though in all the research you have done.
I found it striaght away googling for "evolution of sexual reproduction."



Now I'm not saying this is the case for you, but in my experience when someone says they have researched evolution and found lots of holes that disprove it, what they really mean is that they have read lots of creationist propaganda and never actually researched evolution from sources that actually understand it. I have never come accross a 'killer question' that does not have an answer.


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  # 330053 14-May-2010 11:20
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fab: 
If Darwin used natural selection as a basis of his theories, why have we got male and female? Why, when the slime 


Because it produces an advantage as described above (particularly in terms of genetic diversity), or it produces no significant disadvantage, or that's just the way the random cookie of chance crumbled.

You might as well say (and so many creationists do) "if evolution is real and we evolved from apes, why are there still apes, there see I run rings around you logically, take that science".  

As for your request of taking God out of the equation, well, what then is your alternative hypothesis if you claim that evolution is "wrong" and on what basis do you support it.  There is abundant evidence for the theory of evolution, but it can potentially be disproven (unlike creation), if you can come up with an alternative theory and provide the evidence to support that.  Until then, why is there reason to dismiss evolution as "wrong" as you  do.

It is understood that the core of the earth is probably a solid sphere of an alloy of iron-nickel.  Nobody has been to the core of the earth, this theory is based on research and evidence as far as we can tell, it could be wrong, it could be disproven, we have no direct observation of it (unlike evolution!)  

There is a possibility that the core of the earth is REALLY cheese, I have no evidence to support it, but it could be true.  Why should I not then point at the gaps in our understanding of the core of the earth and say "there,  see, you're wrong, it MUST be cheese".

It's one thing to say "I don't think you are right, and here is my better explanation ..." and another to say "you're wrong, because you just are".  




---
James Sleeman
I sell lots of stuff for electronic enthusiasts...


 
 
 
 


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  # 330057 14-May-2010 11:26
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Wait, the core of the Earth is CHEESE?!? When did this happen?

fab

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  # 330122 14-May-2010 14:08
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I'm just going to throw a quick couple of things here as like you guys, I work and this can get time consuming.

"but I'm guessing you alreayd have since, as you say, you have done a lot of research already, and this is one of the prominant questions.
seems odd that you couldn't find an answer for it though in all the research you have done. I found it striaght away googling for "evolution of sexual reproduction."

Yes I have done lots of research - hence my end result. I just had not research this particular topic, it was one of those things at the back of my mind.

I love Wikipedia, but that doesn't mean I believe all that's on there - it's just so easy to edit it with your own opinion.


"You might as well say (and so many creationists do) "if evolution is real and we evolved from apes, why are there still apes, there see I run rings around you logically, take that science".
Nope - I don't say that. I can see there are still apes, I don't have a problem with that.


"It's one thing to say "I don't think you are right, and here is my better explanation ..." and another to say "you're wrong, because you just are".
I would love nothing more than to retire right now and talk/write on this sujbect (and no I'm not being sarcastic) but I have a family, job etc...time is already short and to spend what is realistically hours and hours debating something like this is just not feasible for me. This isn't me copping out - just the hard facts.

Here's another quick example I stumble on - and no, I haven't researched it.
How, if scientists are finding dinosaur bones that are supposedly tens of millions of years old, do some of them still have blood cells, let alone exist at all? 60-odd million years is a lonnnnggg time for a bone to not disintergrate under any sort of conditions? And yes I am more than happy to look at any suggestions for the support of this, I am not closed minded :)


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  # 330139 14-May-2010 14:38
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fab: 
Here's another quick example I stumble on - and no, I haven't researched it.
How, if scientists are finding dinosaur bones that are supposedly tens of millions of years old, do some of them still have blood cells, let alone exist at all? 60-odd million years is a lonnnnggg time for a bone to not disintergrate under any sort of conditions? And yes I am more than happy to look at any suggestions for the support of this, I am not closed minded :)


60 Million? That isn't long at all. 

Try 3.45 Billion for the oldest fossil found. 

How do they not disintegrate? They become fossils via a process called fossilisation. 

The following are some of the ways fossils are formed; Freezing, mummification, imprints (for tracks etc), petrification (for trees etc), amber (insects trapped inside).

A tomato will go off if you leave it on the bench, and eventually it will be eaten / decompose until no trace of it remains.

A can of tomatoes will last for a very long time. That is because the canning process removes all bacteria, and places the tomatoes in an air tight lock. The hard metal outer of the can protects the tomatoes from bacteria and stops it being eaten by an animal (unless the animal learns to operate a can opener - then it makes a nice lentil soup with the tomatoes.)

This is (kind of - and simplified) what happens to a fossil. An animal dies. Due to were it falls, it is possible (and fairly rare) for it end up in a scenario where their body is not eaten, and is preserved in a airless state, preferably with some sort of outer rock protecting it. There is stays until some geeky guy digs it up. 

How do we know how old it is? By detecting the state of radioactive decay of certain atoms where we know their rate of decay well. This is called carbon dating. Maybe someone else can help out with that one. 

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  # 330162 14-May-2010 15:31
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I'm just waiting for someone to compare scientists to nazi's or religon to nazism so I can say OH SNAP GODWIN'S LAW.

.. oh wait

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  # 330165 14-May-2010 15:38
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sleemanj:
I see theists as, somewhat, deprived, poor, disabled people who atheists can help, not by "showing them the error of their ways" or "convincing them to discard religion", but by putting in the work and eventually providing to them the REAL explanations for the phenomena they don't yet understand, one by one.  But they will probably always be theists.


What you often find is that the people you describe don't really want to know anyway. I've found a lack of curiosity is part and parcel of the theist mindset. That extends to their eyes glazing over when one attempts to explain why something may not be as they have previously assumed it is. 





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  # 330169 14-May-2010 15:43
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patatrat: 

.....

This is (kind of - and simplified) what happens to a fossil. An animal dies. Due to were it falls, it is possible (and fairly rare) for it end up in a scenario where their body is not eaten, and is preserved in a airless state, preferably with some sort of outer rock protecting it. There is stays until some geeky guy digs it up. 

How do we know how old it is? By detecting the state of radioactive decay of certain atoms where we know their rate of decay well. This is called carbon dating. Maybe someone else can help out with that one. 


That's more of a mummy.

A fossil is where minerals have slowly replaced the structures that used to be tissues or shells. The actual organic material is long ago gone....and the fossilized bone or shell is in fact a stone that looks exactly like the organism (or part thereof) that it replaced.

This is why fossils can be hundreds of millions of years old. They are now stones...and have been for virtually all of that span of time. But being stones.....they endure through time far longer than any formerly living tissues can. Conditions much be appropriate for a fossil to be formed in the first place. 

A fossil is a mold of the thing that used to be alive. They are relatively rare, compared to the trillions of life forms who died and completely decomposed. But the huge span of time means that despite their relative rarity, there are still many, many fossils from all ages and eras sufficiently distant for time to compose a fossil. 
 




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  # 330176 14-May-2010 15:56
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fab: Ah you see, so many of you guys are putting God into your thinking. Remove that part of your thinking and concentrate on proving evolution.
I am at work, so not time right now to come up with instant holes in the theory of evolution, but here's one that's always bugged me re evolution - my own thought, not from anyone else (not that no one else has thought of it of course).
If Darwin used natural selection as a basis of his theories, why have we got male and female? Why, when the slime crawled out of the pond and eventually turned into fish/animal/monkey/man, do we have male and female? Wouldn't the first creatures have been asexual? And if so, if natural selection was at work, why that then evolve into male and female? An asexual creature seems to me to be much more simple and effective and male and female so much more complicated.


There seems to be confusion.

We don't need to know the answer to this question to remain confident that natural selection (combined with random mutations in DNA - successful and unsuccessful) is operating and shapes the development of organisms thorough generations, over time.

"Why" is a question we can try to find the answer to. That's science. If we don't know, we can look into it and we may discover the "why". 

Organisms that go through several hundred generations / year clearly do evolve. We, on the other hand, will take much longer to evolve as we require 7,300 (365 generations x 20 ) years to go through the same number of generations of a bacterium that reproduces every 24 hours would in just one year.  

Given we have only really employed the scientific method effectively for perhaps the last 5 generations, there a LOT we do not know. 

But for me, tossing my ignorance in the God basket is no answer to anything....unless I'm feeling sad, small and lonely in a great big universe I know little about. 






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  # 330181 14-May-2010 16:29
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The last few posts are, for me, getting closer to a point..... And that is that we have as human folk been trying to solve our own evolutionary riddle, be it through theistic or atheistic debate, for only a very small window of time.
And in that time line of human existence we've spent most of it not really worried about the details of how we got there but more worrying about how we should be getting on with it.

At one level we are debating a human evolutionary history based on fragments of foundations and bones and parts of documents..... We're focused on a very few millennium.
On another we are defining the shapes of dinosaurs and their diets and habits based upon fractions of an ear bone. Millions of millennia.
Further away we try to to define points along the evolutionary line of the known universe... eons.

And foolishly, perhaps, we try to tie all these time-lines to a single point that we can bang a nail into and point the finger at and say "Told you so!", no matter what side of the debate we are on.

We will, quite probably, never have all the information to be able to prove definitively that either road was more correct.... indeed there is every likely-hood there is validity along each path, or perhaps that they were at some point intertwined.

But as the time and histories we do know have taught us, it does not matter how things are recorded or written when they happen, it is how we interpret that information when we decide it has some use to us at a future date... be that decades or centuries or epochs later.

Perhaps the greatest failing of people is that we don't readily accept that we don't know what we don't know..... because if we acknowledged the infinity of learning how many of us could be bothered to start (or finish) any of it at all?

Soo doggedly the theists work backwards from their answers determined to define their proofs, whilst equally determined people continue to uncover pieces of a jigsaw and place them in the clusters that may interconnect enough to define a portion of a picture so that they too have an answer.

And somewhere in the middle live the most of us who choose where we wish to sit in the room. A room which is defined by the differences and conflicts of our cultures and time.


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