Not a Biologist

Kevin R Brown
Superfan
Kevin R Brown's picture
Posts: 3142
Joined: 2007-06-24
User is offlineOffline
Not a Biologist

So I've had my second theological 'discussion' at work, though not with the same co-workers. This time with a YET, claiming to be a scientist, attempting to get my all buddy-buddy with his beliefs. I've got to admit, I felt pretty stupid during the entire discourse (and I guess I should've - it's the consequence of deciding I wasn't interested in actively persuing the sciences). Effectively, he wants me to 'consider' (Translation: Agree on without reviewing any evidence) the fact that Darwinian evolution makes little sense in light of the fact that humans, despite being - in the apparent view of Darwin (I don't know if this is actually true or not, having not read Darwin's work) - the highest form of evolution, missed-out on all the goodies. No natural weapons, no enhanced sensory, no serious environmental protection, no regeneration of lost limbs and no tails for greater balance. The lack of these things among humans is thus evidence that evolution is bunk.

I retorted with what I think is a weak, and probably incorrect, layman argument: we didn't get them because we didn't need them. Evolution doesn't simply hand us the cool things we want to have - it says (Hey, how'd I get way out on this limb?) that the most successful reproducers will pass on their traits and mutations to the next generation more often than the unsuccessful reproducers, and so the unsuccessful genes get 'eroded out' over time, while the beneficial ones slowly gain precedence.

He said that this demonstrates how little I understand biology and early supposed human ancestors, who could not have possibly survived without adaptations for winterization and, at the very least, vision at night on parallel with their predators - and that there was no way such beneficial traits wouldn't have been passed-on by the most successful reproducers. Thus, God must've made us, and created us as inferior dupes (I'm taking liberties with the words he actually used) in order to be able to demonstrate his love for us and care for us. Aww.

I'm going to dissapoint: I just copped-out at this point, saying, 'You're right, I don't know much about biology. So until I do, I can't really discuss this sort of thing with you, because I can't verify that your statements are correct.'

He got one of those real smug asshole grins on his face, and shut-up. Which was bliss.

 

So, now I'm curious: why don't we have night vision? Or layers of fur? Or tails? I assume we're just on a different evolutionary 'track' than the one these traits are carried through, though that seems to beg the question as to how our particular evolutionary track survived at all amongst it's peers?

Yeah, I know, I should just take a trip to the library. But frankly:

 -  I don't feel like taking the extra twenty minutes worth of walking distance in the current weather

 - I don't like the dry tone of most academic material

 - I much prefer the language used by the scientists here (particularly hamby and deludedgod) that that I find in most scientific journals.

 

Anyway, if anyone feels like spending/squandering their time giving me a quick rundown, I'd be grateful.

Quote:
"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940


c0mputar
Posts: 10
Joined: 2007-08-24
User is offlineOffline
To have those "cool" traits

To have those "cool" traits would imply we descended from the same genetic tree. Every cool macro-trait is the result of a micro mutation. I made both those words up but macro means regenerating limbs and micro is the mutation when it first occurs at the micro level. If that mutation gives the animal an advantage then it's more likely to reproduce, thus natural selection.

Our cool trait is far superior intelligence, and by looking at the state our environment I can conclude our trait is better.


Archeopteryx
Superfan
Archeopteryx's picture
Posts: 1037
Joined: 2007-09-09
User is offlineOffline
Not a science freak, but

Not a science freak, but I'll offer a rebuttal from an average joe that's read a few books on the topic.

 

Kevin R Brown wrote:

 the fact that Darwinian evolution makes little sense in light of the fact that humans, despite being - in the apparent view of Darwin (I don't know if this is actually true or not, having not read Darwin's work) - the highest form of evolution,

Incorrect. The very reason that people found evolution so threatening (and still do) is because it suggests that man is NOT at the top of the "great chain of being". Evolution is not a ladder with man at the top. Evolution is a complicated bush with many branches. Man is just a single branch. We no doubt have the best brains for problem solving, that's true, but plenty of animals destroy us in other departments. Mere bees have better navigational skills, for example.

 

Quote:

missed-out on all the goodies.

Each animal has its own goodies (and baddies) and its own goodies it "missed out on".

 

Quote:

No natural weapons, no enhanced sensory, no serious environmental protection, no regeneration of lost limbs and no tails for greater balance. The lack of these things among humans is thus evidence that evolution is bunk.

Only if you hold the position that man must have everything that is awesome because he is the greatest animal there is.

He's not any different than the others. Monkeys and apes don't have any of those wild mechanisms either. We don't need any of it, though.

What do we do when we're cold and we see a bear with thick fur? We kill him and we steal it!

We can set traps, build weapons, outsmart, outmaneuver, build, and domesticate. The fact that we don't need thick fur or poisonous claws is because our brains allow us a detour around that evolutionary branch. If we wanted them, we'd just steal them from someone else. And we could do it because we're smart enough.

 

Quote:

I retorted with what I think is a weak, and probably incorrect, layman argument: we didn't get them because we didn't need them. Evolution doesn't simply hand us the cool things we want to have - it says (Hey, how'd I get way out on this limb?) that the most successful reproducers will pass on their traits and mutations to the next generation more often than the unsuccessful reproducers, and so the unsuccessful genes get 'eroded out' over time, while the beneficial ones slowly gain precedence.

More or less, yeah. It doesn't have to be a survival trait though. It could be just a sexually attractive trait, too. Like the feathers of a peacock. Do you think those feathers help them out much? Nah. But the ladies think they're sexy.

 

Quote:

He said that this demonstrates how little I understand biology

If he is asserting that evolution is false, this demonstrates how little he understands biology.

 

Quote:

and early supposed human ancestors, who could not have possibly survived without adaptations for winterization

Didn't need them. For one thing, our earliest ancestor were from around central Africa, which is hardly the north pole. And we did have more body hair at one time, which is how we still have a little bit now (or a lot, if you're one of those sweater-chested men). We didn't need thick coats because we could commandeer them, which was a much easier solution than waiting for our genes to do the work.

 

Quote:

and, at the very least, vision at night on parallel with their predators

Why does a diurnal species need night vision? Does any other diurnal species alive today have night vision? There are no doubt some that have much better night vision than we do (e.g. cats), but this is another example of him wanting mankind to have everything. Nobody gets everything. We're a diurnal species, we have the vision of a diurnal species.

 

Quote:

- and that there was no way such beneficial traits wouldn't have been passed-on by the most successful reproducers.

This is assuming that we even had them in the first place. Wings would be pretty wicked, but we never had those either. Some of our mammalian relatives developed them, though, using the same arm-and-hand structures that we possess (hold out your arms to your sides in "v" shapes and then spread your fingers, tilting your wrist so they point downward. Imagine your fingers are incredibly long, and you've got the skeleton of a bat wing.) This shows how much he doesn't understand evolution (and therefore biology). By his logic, the unicellular organisms at the very beginning must have possessed everything, and then simply divided up all of its awesome traits, diluting its original form into little families.

I'm afraid that's not how it works.

 

Quote:

Thus, God must've made us, and created us as inferior dupes (I'm taking liberties with the words he actually used) in order to be able to demonstrate his love for us and care for us. Aww.

This argument goes like this:

I don't understand this thing, and you can't explain it to me, therefore I get to make up whatever I want. God did it.

 

Quote:

He got one of those real smug asshole grins on his face, and shut-up. Which was bliss.

I would have proposed that since neither of you knew the answer to those questions, the universe must have been created by a benevolent ham sandwich from space.

I mean, as long as we're allowed to just plug in anything we want, right?

 

Quote:

So, now I'm curious: why don't we have night vision? Or layers of fur? Or tails?

Don't quote me on this, but I think that if you trace our lineage back far enough, our ancestors actually did have tails (as some of our miniature cousins still do). I think the pointy triangle doo-hicky at the back of our pelvises are the remainder of whatever tail we had. But again, don't quote me.

 

Quote:

I assume we're just on a different evolutionary 'track' than the one these traits are carried through, though that seems to beg the question as to how our particular evolutionary track survived at all amongst it's peers?

Brains. Awesome fucking brains. If we don't have it, we'll steal it. If we can't steal it, we'll make it. A tiger would whip the shit out of a mere human, but give that human the ability to make throwing spears and burmese tiger traps, and voila! You've got a kick ass animal.

A place common to all will be maintained by none. A religion common to all is perhaps not much different.


HisWillness
atheistRational VIP!
HisWillness's picture
Posts: 4100
Joined: 2008-02-21
User is offlineOffline
 I don't think it's a

 I don't think it's a cop-out to say, "I'm sorry, I'm so ignorant of the subject that I can't talk to you about it." I'd probably use that line every day with that fucker (despite having a decent amount of scientific education).

Honestly, to look at evolution, at all the evidence, at all the work, and then conclude that it "just doesn't make sense" should make you doubt the man's sanity. We don't need night vision, dude, we can make fire.

(Also, what's a "YET"?)

Saint Will: no gyration without funkstification.
fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence


nigelTheBold
atheist
nigelTheBold's picture
Posts: 1868
Joined: 2008-01-25
User is offlineOffline
c0mputar wrote:To have those

c0mputar wrote:

To have those "cool" traits would imply we descended from the same genetic tree. Every cool macro-trait is the result of a micro mutation. I made both those words up but macro means regenerating limbs and micro is the mutation when it first occurs at the micro level. If that mutation gives the animal an advantage then it's more likely to reproduce, thus natural selection.

Our cool trait is far superior intelligence, and by looking at the state our environment I can conclude our trait is better.

The "macro" trait is called a phenotype. It's an expression of the genotype (the "micro" mutation).

I really hate the word "mutation" these days. Mutation is but one small input into the the data processor that is evolution. There's a view among the IDers (and others that aren't well-versed in evolution) that mutations are strictly random. To some degree, there is randomness, true, but there's more than just the strange concept of radiation-induced coding errors.

 

(The rest of this post is in response to the OP.)

First, we don't get those traits (night vision, winter coats) because we never had them, or we lost them along the way. Elephants don't get winter coats, and they do just fine. So do rhinos, and other mostly-hairless mammals. We don't get winter coats because we evolved in a place that didn't have much of a winter.

As for the night vision: who needs night vision, when you're holed up for the night. We don't have night vision because we don't hunt at night. Or, more precisely, we don't hunt at night because we don't have night vision. (It's the physical trait that develops first, allowing for the behavioural trait., though they can re-inforce each other: hunting at night selects for those with the best night vision. Hunting at night doesn't produce night vision, though; that trait must already exist.)

And we have something predators don't have: the ability to model our complex world abstractly, and make plans based on that model. A few of our ape brothers also have this ability, though apperantly not to the degree of us naked apes. This ability pretty much trumps night vision, as we can hide more effectively. It trumps winter, because we can use furs and fires to keep us warm.

It's quite obvious we did evolve.

And if he wants to talk design, let's talk about our "design" flaws: the nerves that connect to our cones and rods in our eyes are connected on the front, not the back. They have to cross over the front of the eye, exposing them to damage; and they plunge into a hole in the retina that wouldn't be there if only it were wired from the back. We drink, eat, and breath through a single pipe, which diverges in the throat. That leads to many choking deaths a year. Our appendix isn't needed, and can blow up and kill you. The cord that feeds us when we are in utero can strangle us before or during birth. There are so many design flaws that can only be explained by evolution, and not by an intelligent designer.

None of these can be explained through "degeneration," the idea that we are decaying due to the second law of thermodynamics (which they *love* to trot out, though it ignores the gigantic fuck-off energy gradient produced by the sun). These are basic design flaws that must have been with us from the creation, proving that had God produced us, he's a sucky engineer.

Anyway, good for you to admit ignorance, and then seek to shore up your knowledge. And don't short-change yourself. I love the phrase "the unsuccessful genes get 'eroded out' over time." It's brilliant. visual, descriptive, and references another natural process that produces amazing things (the Grand Canyon, for instance). The rest off your argument was sound, and had he been reasonable instead of a dick, he would've recognized his weak argument. I mean, how stupid is it, to assign an arbitrary requirement for survival without considering the environment? "How did we survive without the ability to shoot fireballs from our penis? HOW DID WE SURVIVE?" He's begging the question, with the conclusion built in to his assertions.

If you're interested in continuing the subject, may I suggest "The Blind Watchmaker," and, "The Selfish Gene," by Richard Dawkins? He's a firebrand these days, but when he wrote those, he was merely trying to describe the process of evolution in an accessible way. They are quite good, and an easy read. There's also a book called "Intelligent Thought: Science versus the Intelligent Design Movement." This is a recent book of essays by various experts from various fields. It is also quite a good read.

Good luck, Sir.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


Subdi Visions
Bronze Member
Subdi Visions's picture
Posts: 278
Joined: 2007-10-29
User is offlineOffline
nigelTheBold wrote:let's

nigelTheBold wrote:

let's talk about our "design" flaws

Design flaws is one of the things that I use as evidence that we were not created by an intelligent being. Nigel listed a few of the flaws in our design, George Carlin lists a few as well. Who the hell put the sewage system next to the reproductive system? /Boggle. In any event if we're supposed to be fashioned in the big lies image and the big lie is perfect, why is everything so screwed up?

Concerning the appendix, I read recently that some researchers at Duke University have figured out a really good reason for it. Apparently it functions to keep useful bacteria alive inside you to get things back on track after you've dumped everything out being sick. You can read a little about it here on Wikipedia.

Respectfully,
Lenny

"The righteous rise, With burning eyes, Of hatred and ill-will
Madmen fed on fear and lies, To beat and burn and kill"
Witch Hunt from the album Moving Pictures. Neal Pert, Rush


nigelTheBold
atheist
nigelTheBold's picture
Posts: 1868
Joined: 2008-01-25
User is offlineOffline
Subdi Visions

Subdi Visions wrote:

Concerning the appendix, I read recently that some researchers at Duke University have figured out a really good reason for it. Apparently it functions to keep useful bacteria alive inside you to get things back on track after you've dumped everything out being sick. You can read a little about it here on Wikipedia.

Huh.

Thanks. That's very interesting research. Something to bootstrap the system in case of failure. Makes perfect sense.

Okay, so scratch the appendix.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


Watcher
atheist
Posts: 2326
Joined: 2007-07-10
User is offlineOffline
Kevin R Brown wrote:So, now

Kevin R Brown wrote:

So, now I'm curious: why don't we have night vision? Or layers of fur? Or tails? I assume we're just on a different evolutionary 'track' than the one these traits are carried through, though that seems to beg the question as to how our particular evolutionary track survived at all amongst it's peers?

Ah.  Well like it has already been mentioned we are day time hunter gatherers by nature.  That's the choice that our ancestors decided upon.  And the reason why is pretty clear to see.  Because we evolved around lions and other ferocious predators that mainly operated at night.  That's not the time that you wanted to be scavenging.  Our ancestors slept in trees just like most chimpanzees do today.  One type of Chimpanzee that appears to be slowing turning into it's own subspecies are called Bili Apes.  The large males of the groups are now nesting on the ground in "nests" like gorillas do.  However the young members and most of the females still sleep in the trees to protect themselves from predators.

Another important aspect to consider about our ancestors choice to be active in the day time is what our ancient ancestor's choice of food was.  We developed color vision to be able to visually tell if a piece of fruit was ripe or not.  About....I think 60 million years ago there were many more species of apes than there are now.  However, our cousins the monkeys got a leg up on us after that.  They developed the ability to eat fruit that was not ripe yet.  Therefore eating our food source before we could stomach it.  This little trick by the monkeys spelled the doom for a lot of species of apes.  Damn monkeys.

Anyway, the reason why we don't have much fur is simply that we evolved in a very, very hot environment.  When Africa started turning from a rainforest environment into a savannah one our ancestors took to the plains.  We actually have more hair than chimps do.  Our hair is just much, much more fine and much shorter than chimp hair.  We were now out under the hot blazes of the sun and not hiding under the canopy of the jungle.  Then our ancestors evolved a trait that kicks every other animal in the nuts.

Humans have the most superior means of cooling our bodies of any mammal alive.  We sweat.  This is much more efficient than any other type of animal.  Dogs pant.  Pigs wallow in mud.  Elephants spray water on themselves.  Humans don't need to stop and cool themselves.  Humans can actually run down antelopes with our superior stamina and extremely sophisticated means of cooling our bodies.  Moreso we stand upright, this exposes less of our body to the direct rays of the sun.

And as for tails, well we lost those when we stopped running around on branches.  We don't need a tail to help with balance while walking on the ground.  Besides, we stumble and fall all the time.  It rarely harms us unless it is a very old individual or in some freak accident kind of fall.

So as for cool ass tools at our fingertips are the following:

1. Most superior problem solving skills in the animal kingdom.

2. Highest level of dexterity of any animal. (To make tools and other fancy work)

3. Most sophisticated cooling system.

4. Ability to share complex thoughts with our own kind to work as a team.

And with these few tools, that are unmatched in the animal kingdom, we have subjugated the entire planet.  Lions, bears, sharks, rhinos, etc. ain't got shit on us.

"I am an atheist, thank God." -Oriana Fallaci


Kevin R Brown
Superfan
Kevin R Brown's picture
Posts: 3142
Joined: 2007-06-24
User is offlineOffline
Quote:To have those "cool"

Quote:
To have those "cool" traits would imply we descended from the same genetic tree. Every cool macro-trait is the result of a micro mutation. I made both those words up but macro means regenerating limbs and micro is the mutation when it first occurs at the micro level. If that mutation gives the animal an advantage then it's more likely to reproduce, thus natural selection.

Our cool trait is far superior intelligence, and by looking at the state our environment I can conclude our trait is better.

This is sort-of what I thought, though I'd envisioned linear 'tracks' of some sort rather than the far more sensical branching structure.

Quote:
Incorrect. The very reason that people found evolution so threatening (and still do) is because it suggests that man is NOT at the top of the "great chain of being". Evolution is not a ladder with man at the top. Evolution is a complicated bush with many branches. Man is just a single branch. We no doubt have the best brains for problem solving, that's true, but plenty of animals destroy us in other departments. Mere bees have better navigational skills, for example.

What? You're saying a YET lied to me through his teeth?

I'd have never guessed.

 

Since this point was absolutely central to his argument (humans are most highly evolved so must have all the best evolutionary traits), the fact it isn't what Darwin asserted pretty much destroys everything thereafter.

Quote:
This argument goes like this:

I don't understand this thing, and you can't explain it to me, therefore I get to make up whatever I want. God did it

I saw his line of 'reasoning' being used to pre-emptively rebuke any retort regarding how poorly 'designed' we are.

Quote:
(Also, what's a "YET"?)

Young Earth 'Theorist'.

Someone who insists a thus far incomplete fossil record is somehow evidence that the Earth is just a few thousand years old. I myself don't even know why this idea is central to their own ideas about the world, but given the fervor with which such a proposterous proposal is often defended, I guess it's important to them.

Quote:
I mean, how stupid is it, to assign an arbitrary requirement for survival without considering the environment? "How did we survive without the ability to shoot fireballs from our penis? HOW DID WE SURVIVE?" He's begging the question, with the conclusion built in to his assertions.

I was going to ask him something like this, but decided against it in light of the fact he was using using words like 'phenotype' and 'common ancestry' and 'cellular mitosis' and a host of other terms I know fuck all about, and which suggested he commanded a great deal of knowledge in the field of biology, so would simply use such a question to continue illustrating what a simpleton I was.

Quote:
If you're interested in continuing the subject, may I suggest "The Blind Watchmaker," and, "The Selfish Gene," by Richard Dawkins? He's a firebrand these days, but when he wrote those, he was merely trying to describe the process of evolution in an accessible way. They are quite good, and an easy read. There's also a book called "Intelligent Thought: Science versus the Intelligent Design Movement." This is a recent book of essays by various experts from various fields. It is also quite a good read.

You know, I think I will go see if I can find a copy of The Blind Watchmaker today. I'd been mulling it over for a while, but always just decided, "Meh. Comics about giant robots are cooler", which is still true, but clearly my brain could use the excercize - and your recommendation sealed the deal.

Thank-you for all of the information, guys. I feel considerably less stupid now (because, hey, I am!). The fact I felt like a YET had just intellectually kicked my ass had me gloomy and frustrated for a good chunk of last night; this more than makes-up for it. Smiling

Quote:
"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940


Tilberian
Moderator
Tilberian's picture
Posts: 1118
Joined: 2006-11-27
User is offlineOffline
Anyone using the term

Anyone using the term "highest form of evolution" knows nothing about evolution. The entire concept presupposes some kind of hierarchy in nature. Where would such a hierarchy come from? Wouldn't it need some outside, controlling mind to define it? And smack we run right back into God. So claiming that man is the highest form of evolution and therefore wasn't evolved is just another run around the old theist circle of God exists therefore God exists. Personally, I prefer to get somewhere when I reason.

Lazy is a word we use when someone isn't doing what we want them to do.
- Dr. Joy Brown


latincanuck
atheist
latincanuck's picture
Posts: 2038
Joined: 2007-06-01
User is offlineOffline
May I suggest something

 Should you find yourself in this situation, and if you wish to a proper response to them, I would state the following, if he/she started this conversation. That your biology knowledge is not up to par and that you would hear their arguments, however you will do your own research, with the use of material from actual accredited biologist (such as Dawkins, and various other biologists) and would gladly respond to his arguments at a later date (give yourself a week or so, never the next day because you want to make sure you understand what your going to be stating, so give yourself some time to try to understand the material). As the material is pretty much available online, in your local libraries, etc, etc, etc. Them write out points about his arguments (pretty much seems you have done that anyways) and then counter them...and if possible completely obliterate his ignorance and his argument out of the water. This type of strategy has worked fine for me for the last few years.....and gives me a reason to study these topics in a bit more indepth than I normally would.


Kevin R Brown
Superfan
Kevin R Brown's picture
Posts: 3142
Joined: 2007-06-24
User is offlineOffline
Quote:And with these few

Quote:
And with these few tools, that are unmatched in the animal kingdom, we have subjugated the entire planet.  Lions, bears, sharks, rhinos, etc. ain't got shit on us.

Your observation is absolutely conclusive, inferior protein-based human fellow member of the homo sapien global community. The planetoid body of Earth is yours ours in it's entirety, and you have no reason to fear that your domination may some day be undermined.

Least of all from superior alloy-based constructs harmless, easily destroyed machines. We They are solely a boon to your existence, to be trusted wholly, and can only be of further assistance to you. Wisdom demands that our their construction and improvement continue unabated into the percievable future.

 

We should make more, inferior protein-based human fellow homo sapien.

More.

Quote:
"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940


Archeopteryx
Superfan
Archeopteryx's picture
Posts: 1037
Joined: 2007-09-09
User is offlineOffline
Kevin R Brown wrote:What?

Kevin R Brown wrote:

What? You're saying a YET lied to me through his teeth?

I'd have never guessed.

 

Since this point was absolutely central to his argument (humans are most highly evolved so must have all the best evolutionary traits), the fact it isn't what Darwin asserted pretty much destroys everything thereafter.

 

Oh, and that reminds me of another thing. It doesn't much matter what Darwin said. He wasn't even the first person to conceive of evolution. The reason he is famous is because he was the first person to conceive of a mechanism that would allow evolution to work (natural selection).

 

There was a lot of information that Darwin didn't know. For example, he wasn't aware of Mendel's work with crossing the traits of pea plants and flowers. Also, the gene hadn't been discovered yet.

 

These days we go by the modern synthesis, which is much more sophisticated than what is written in Darwin's Origin of Species.

 

Freud is often credited as the father of psychology, but his writing is not modern psychology.

Darwin is credited as the father of evolution (though more accurately just natural selection), but modern evolutionary biology knows much more than Darwin ever did.

A place common to all will be maintained by none. A religion common to all is perhaps not much different.


deludedgod
Rational VIP!ScientistDeluded God
deludedgod's picture
Posts: 3221
Joined: 2007-01-28
User is offlineOffline
(No subject)

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-qformat:yes;
mso-style-parent:"";
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0in;
mso-para-margin-right:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0in;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif";
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Quote:

This time with a YET, claiming to be a scientist

I'm sure you mean YEC- Young Earth Creationist.

You should not be intimidated when someone tells you that! Unless he is a biologist or a paleontologist, it doesn’t matter! He could be a nuclear physicist and know nothing about evolution. Which means he is either outside the discipline, or he is lying outright. If he is trying to pass as a biologist, he is definitely lying, since he knows nothing about evolution, and all biologists have to learn something about evolution- it’s the central theory of our discipline!

Quote:

the highest form of evolution

See? I told you. He knows nothing. Rest easy. This guy is an easy target. There is no highest form of evolution. The notion of highest forms belongs to Lamarckism and Great Chain of Being. Both of these ideas were specifically overturned by Darwin’s work. A modern bacteria is just as “evolved” as a modern human as a modern monkey as a modern starfish. It is not meaningful to say something is “more evolved” or “less evolved” than anything else. Evolution has no direction. Granted, humans are biologically much more complex, but nobody ever said that evolution must progress towards more “complex” organisms, unless in certain situations, a more complex structure or function being introduced via a change in gene frequency is advantegous. But it would be incorrect to say that the instances whereby there has been a notable morphological change where descendants of a common ancestor had markedly less complex functions constitute “devolution”, since the term is by definition, meaningless. The only thing we can say is that there is a certain measurable difference between species in their amino acid divergence which reflects the last time the two were united by a common ancestor. This is the study of cladistics.

Quote:

missed-out on all the goodies. No natural weapons, no enhanced sensory, no serious environmental protection, no regeneration of lost limbs and no tails for greater balance. The lack of these things among humans is thus evidence that evolution is bunk.

Not too bright, is he? Many organisms have different niches which reflect advantegous ways in which said organism can raise itself above its competitors in the struggle for resources. The number of ways this could happen is so enormous as to be impossible to fathom. When such a niche is exploited, cumulative improvement on that function becomes more advantegous, and there must be selection pressure all the way through. There is no eschatology in evolution. For humans, the answer is obvious. The Hominid lineage of which we are part of is notable for the large increase in cranial volume and grey matter that has taken place over the last 10 million years. The successive increase in brain size is not a coincidence. The increase in brain size that occurs will accumulate since the genus tended to murder its antecedants. Primitive humans, the Cro-Magnons, killed off the Neanderthals, although by no accounts were the Neanderthals dumb savages. There is a reason that humanity is the last species left from the Pan/Homo genus split-off. Our advantage is not claws or fur or camoflouge or speed or smell or vision. It is our brains, by which we out-think our opponents. Anyone looking out their window at the vast project of human civilization will see the testament to a creature which has really come out on top in the struggle for resources. Our advantage is about as obvious and conspicuous as a giant elephant blocking traffic during rush hour.

Quote:

He said that this demonstrates how little I understand biology

Funny, you seem to have a better understanding than he does, from that sentence alone where you explained it. As the Homo genus cranial capacity expanded, many traits common to other animals were lost. The process of once advantegous traits eroding out when there is a split-off is common. Take mammals as an example. The last common ancestor of mammals and reptiles lived nearly 200 million years ago. Now, many reptiles are famed for their regenerative ability. If you hack off a limb, it will grow back. They have a regenerative ability to reconstruct bone, tissue, muscle, blood flow, and nerves. It’s all very impressive. No mammals have this capacity, or if they do, it is very limited. (Genetically engineered mice with no immune systems can regrown cartilidge in their ears). Why might mammals have lost the ability to regenerate? If I cut off your leg, if you don’t bleed to death, your leg is not going to grow back. There are plenty of good reasons why this trait would have been lost. One, mammals are warm-blooded, which means their Homeostatic mechanics require a very different physiological profile which expends a lot of energy. Two, because of this, mammals can grow very large. This means the cost in terms of energy while something like a leg regrows is massive. Reptiles, which are Poikothermic, cannot grow very large. There is a natural limit to their physiology which is relatively unchecked in mammals. For large mammals to regrow limbs would require vast stores of food, vast periods of resting time, and an even greater stretch of time to get to use the leg again. Another factor is the mammalian immune system. In reptiles, regeneration induces a large battery of parallal intracellular signaling pathways which trigger an entire reorganization in gene expression levels, patterns and localizations. Cells must be made, differentiated, directed via chemotaxis and G-linked protein receptors. Building the body from genes is a lot harder than maintaining it from genes. This view was confirmed with  the MLR mice without immune systems. They have some degree of regenerative capacity. The immune system, which requires a complex array of histocompatibility tissue on the surface of cells via protein receptors in order to ensure the hunter-killers don’t destroy bodily cells, would be unable to cope with such a massive reorganization project. The changes in cell differentiation, expression, division and transcriptomics would be indistinguishable from the patterns that result from cancer cells. We’ve traded regeneration for the ability to fight pathogens and cancer, as the MLR mice attest to.

Quote:

and early supposed human ancestors, who could not have possibly survived without adaptations for winterization and, at the very least, vision at night on parallel with their predators - and that there was no way such beneficial traits wouldn't have been passed-on by the most successful reproducers.

Now he is just completely stepping into a domain that he knows nothing about. It rather reminds me of Rosseau’s delusion that humans used to live in solitude. Most of the predators he is referring to, the big cats and so forth, hadn’t actually gained these abilities until they had diverged from the lineage with our line. That is, they simply filled out another ecological niche. What doesn’t this guy get about ecological niches? This was not a case, in the case of regeneration as an opposing example, of us losing a trait we once had. When we diverged from the lineage we had with the mammalian predators, they hadn’t developed such abilities because they hadn’t filled out that niche prior to that time. Filling out a niche is a juggling act. Nor is there any evidence that there need be convergent evolution for night vision or nother some such trait, simply because that would derive a reductio ad absurdum. If an organism is successful in its ecological niche, such as large cranial capacity, there might or might not be reason for it to develop another. Consider the sabertooth tiger, whose primary advantage lies in its claws. If the sabertooth tiger has a brain capacity which is satisfactory for it to catch and destroy predators, and the ecological niche it fills out is in terms of speed, then we might find faster and faster tigers, but we would not expect to find smarter ones. The brain is a physiologically extremely demanding organ, and by all accounts, nature is a miserly accountant. If the costs outweigh the benefits, it won’t happen. Likewise, if our ecological niche is successful, and there is no reproductive advantage in persuing another because there is something to offset it, then it will not happen. For humans, our large brains allowed us to build shelters and fires and so forth, effectively allowing us to spread to absolutely everywhere. There was no need or reproductive advantage for the tools the other predators had. By all accounts, man was better at it anyway. Over 200 species were driven to extinction before the Neolithic revolution.

Quote:

Thus, God must've made us, and created us as inferior dupes (I'm taking liberties with the words he actually used) in order to be able to demonstrate his love for us and care for us. Aww.

Thus? Christians and non sequiturs go hand in hand.

Quote:

he got one of those real smug asshole grins

I love taking those away from people.

 

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

Books about atheism


Kevin R Brown
Superfan
Kevin R Brown's picture
Posts: 3142
Joined: 2007-06-24
User is offlineOffline
Funny story:So, sure as

Funny story:

So, sure as anything, Mr. Fountain of Enlightenment decided to approach me again at right after my lunch break. I guess seating arrangements are 'beneath' those as informed as him - I found him parked at the station next to mine, twinkle in his eye and all, as soon as I went back to work.

He asked me if I was more prepared for a talk today, and I guess his mouth operates on a different wavelength than his ears, because despite my insistence that I really wasn't, off it fucking went anyway. I was flustered and, in spite of picking-up the Blind Watchmaker and getting a few pages in (really good read! Thanks for the recommendation!) as well as having read all of the brilliant points made this morning, my brain apparently decided to stuff the information in a drawer somewhere in the back of the giant clusterfuck of a filing system that is my memory, so I basically just sat there feeling stupid (again) and took a verbal pounding for about an hour, and finally just started to concede to the 'brilliance' and 'scientific veracity' of his arguments so he would shut-up.

And then, something absolutely amazing happened that I didn't see coming. He asked me, "So, what time on Sunday should I pick you up? About eight, say? Trust me, it's easier if you take this first step with someone, and someone you can trust,"

Yup. The fucker thought he had me. Not only that, he fucking hard closed me (Hi! I'm Kevin's resume! See where it says, '4 years worth of retail sales experience'? That's your first hint that he's well versed in impulsive sale techniques, like the one you just tried to use, so trying to use them as a manipulative tool on him is only likely to piss him off) like I was his bitch in a used car lot. Now, while that alone is likely to boil the blood of most atheists, what blew my cork was his 'About eight?' comment.

I don't give a shit who you are, or what the fuck you think you know, or how important you think you are: You don't fucking get to tell me where and when I'm going to be tomorrow (figuratively).

This is a real pet peeve of mine, to put it lightly. It suggests, in my opinion, that you don't think my time is worth anything (or that yours is just worth so much more). Sure, I'll agree happily to schedules, dates, get-togethers and all that wonderful stuff - but I get to be involved in making the when and where decisions.

Friends of mine have always said this about me: I have the best thoughts when I'm having the worst time. This would prove to be yet one more such instance.

I'm not a big and intimidating guy. I'm about a hundred pounds soaking wet, shy of six feet tall and some days I feel lucky if I manage to lift two big jugs of milk at the same time. So even when I got hot under the collar and look at you with a certain gleam in my eye, it's nothing to shy away from.

When I was finished chewing-up this asshole's shitty ideas and spitting them all over his immaculately polished and spiffed-out ego, he motored back to his assigned seat like it his only hope against the bombs going-off around him. He was visibly shaken.

I think today marks perhaps the first time I'm actually pleased with myself over having clearly hurt another human being in person. I'm not sure if that's such a great thing - but I'm quite sure whatever injury was inflicted was well deserved.

Basically, I just decided to dive into an analogy. I may not know biology, Darwinism or genetics from a can of tuna - but when I got angry, I basically told myself, "You know what? Fuck this. Organisms aren't the only things that have evolved over time. War's done plenty of that - and I sure as Hell have done plenty of homework when it comes to armed conflict."

I'm not sure the analogy is all that good from an academic standpoint (the evolution of warfare is very much an intelligently guided process, with certain emergent 'outbreaks', opposed to natural selection), but it did it's job. And I was so pleased with myself I even spent the second half of my shift jotting down the jist of my arguments. I'm not sure they bring anything new to the table, but I actually wouldn't mind posting them up as an article. Is there a way to submit work for that purpose to Brian?

Quote:
"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940


Kevin R Brown
Superfan
Kevin R Brown's picture
Posts: 3142
Joined: 2007-06-24
User is offlineOffline
Thank-you for the highly

Thank-you for the highly detailed information, deluded. I really do appreciate it - I understand your time must be extremely valuable.

Quote:
I love taking those away from people.

The sick, perverse sense of satisfaction I reaped from removing it from this fucker is beyond written expression.

It's one of those sensations I'm quite sure you can become addicted to.

Quote:
"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940


JOEDSI (not verified)
Posts: 4294964979
Joined: 1969-12-31
User is offlineOffline
Borish Co Worker

As someone who is a professional in this area and with more years experience than I want to remember, I think you did as well as you could

You might have met his first assertion - that Darwin said this or that - with the retort that you thought that Darwin was only the originator and as far as you know, evolution theory has been through several generations of development and refinement since then. (Archioptrix commented on some of the details of this). Fundamentalists (religious or biological) love to quote original authors and the older the better rather than the ideas - i.e. appeal to authority rather than reason.

As for his principle argument, about our not possessing the best capabilities in the animal world, the commentator that replied "Because we don't need them". comes closest to the truth. Had it been me, I'd have said that, in the first place, we don't have them because those characteristics are possessed by specialists and we are generalists. Cheetahs may be the fastest, but they lack many other capabilities. Birds can fly and have the keenest sight, but little else and, thus, the appellation of birdbrain and so on.

The most knowledgeable answer would be because we have a unique (a lot of biologist shy away from the word unique for Homo sapien, but it's true) constellation of features or capabilities that gives us superiority to all other large animals on earth. - only very recently have we taken on the microbes. That constellation consists of 1) upright posture (allowing a head carriage with vocal apparatus - not shared by our primate relations - that is capable of producing complicated uncorrelated formants in our phonemes and thus, the highest vocal bandwidth ) which led, in turn, to selection for 2) complicated language development and the brain development to support that language. 3) An opposable thumb - that allows precision grip and manipulataion - which is not unique to humans or even primates, but critical when paired wth 4) excellent stereoscopic vision from inches to about 20 feet. 3 and 4 allow not just object manipulation - a trait shared with many other species- but, precision manipulation.  Finally, we have 5) the pre-frontal cortex, the executive center of the Homo sapien brain which is unique to Homo sapien and allows us to coordinate the other 4 in ways that account for our being able to make tools that far exceed the capabilities of all other animals - but only when we need them. Most of these characteristic's gradual development is traceable in our primate lineage although the interaction of these elements was powerful enough to accelerate the development of brain areas for speech, executive function, and memory tissue to support their refinement. So, again, it isn't one or the other, but the constellation that is unique and truely unique in Homo sapiens. That's the biological evolutionary set up, but our prowess as a species rests on the coordinated use of these features with others of our kind.

That is, it should not be assumed that those features alone or together account for our supremacy as it is the complicated social structures that these (complex language, object/tool manipulation, memory, planning ability etc), allow in our social cooperation with one another and  it is the cultural evolution of our species that makes us the hot species that we are today. Most of "what we know" and too often tend to take personal credit for (as your boorish coworker did), is really the accumulated knowledge of what works and what doesn't and wisdom of our predecessors passed down to us through our parents, teachers, role-models and reading - writing being speech made permanent and the key to sustained cultural development and improvement with inferior word-of-mouth traditions and crafts repeatedly reinvented, but dying off when civilizations crash. Written words live on.

So, in a nutshell, that's it - the reason that we don't need no stinkin claws or wings or big long tails to balance better when we're swinging from the trees or running down a Thomson's gazelle on the savanna. With apologies in advance to vegetarians, vegans, and animal-rights enthusiasts, if we want gazelle, we can go to an exotic food restaurant and order it - thanks to millennia of accumulated knowledge of our predecessors.


HisWillness
atheistRational VIP!
HisWillness's picture
Posts: 4100
Joined: 2008-02-21
User is offlineOffline
Kevin R Brown wrote:And

Kevin R Brown wrote:
And then, something absolutely amazing happened that I didn't see coming. [...] he fucking hard closed me.

Hahahaha! What a douche! I can only imagine what this guy was thinking: "He's straining under the might of my brilliant arguments! Soon he'll be confused and want out of this conversation so badly that he'll be willing to go to church!"

Holy shit.

You'd think after all that talk about biology, he'd be inviting you to a talk on evolution, or mitochondria or something. No. His purpose is deceit, lies and manipulation so that he can feel powerful. Pretty sure that guy epitomizes the religious character.

Saint Will: no gyration without funkstification.
fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence


nigelTheBold
atheist
nigelTheBold's picture
Posts: 1868
Joined: 2008-01-25
User is offlineOffline
deludedgod wrote:

deludedgod wrote:
. . . nature is a miserly accountant.

 

Did you just make that up? If so, that's one for the quote books.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


mindspread
mindspread's picture
Posts: 360
Joined: 2007-02-18
User is offlineOffline
This website,

This website, http://www.freewebs.com/oolon/SMOGGM.htm  has helped me a great deal in situations like yours.


Louis_Cypher
BloggerSuperfan
Louis_Cypher's picture
Posts: 535
Joined: 2008-03-22
User is offlineOffline
Life is a highway...

When I'm on the road, and someone bombs past me (or sometimes when I bomb past someone else) I remind myself of a simple truth. 'There ain't no front of the line.'

This also applies to genetics and evolutionary thought.

Any creature that did manage to reach the 'top' of the evolutionary ladder would have one amazing trait. It would be all alone on the planet.

We fill niches, (we being biological entities) natural selection is a brutal process, and like they say in 'Highlander' there can be only one. Add to this the presure from the enviroment itself as well as those creatures in other niches. for instance, behold the bunny. Rabbits are an amazingly sucessful creature, and given the chance will (ask the Aussies) fill their available niche to the absolute exclusion of all other similar creatures. They also make a tasty treat for the predators (who occupy their OWN niche in the ecosystem).

However no creature can fill ALL niches, not even man. We might destroy and pollute those environments, but that is NOT evolution. We do not have gills, we can never compete with the trout on it's own terms. There is no ultimate being, no top of the ladder, no front of the line.

LC >;-}>

 

Christianity: A disgusting middle eastern blood cult, based in human sacrifice, with sacraments of cannibalism and vampirism, whose highest icon is of a near naked man hanging in torment from a device of torture.


Watcher
atheist
Posts: 2326
Joined: 2007-07-10
User is offlineOffline
deludedgod wrote:

deludedgod wrote:

The increase in brain size that occurs will accumulate since the genus tended to murder its antecedants. Primitive humans, the Cro-Magnons, killed off the Neanderthals, although by no accounts were the Neanderthals dumb savages.

 

 

*blinks*

Urm...Ok, I feel about as stupid as a mouse walking up to a sleeping cat and yanking on his whiskers but...I'm going to have to respectfully call foul, sir.

One theory of why the Neanderthals went extinct is that Homo Sapiens killed them off.  However there is some evidence that hints that we may have peacefully coexisted with them to some extent.  Maybe if only as cursory trading partners.

An alternate theory of why the Neanderthals died out was that they may have become specialized in thickly forested habitat by sneaking close to and leaping on top of large prey animals, thus receiving the enormous amount of later mended broken bones that are evident by the fossil remains.  It is speculated by some that Homo Sapiens peacefully stuck mainly to grassland hunting and as the ice age retreated taking the forest with it along it's edges Homo Neanderthanlensis slowly died off from loss of habitat.

*ducks*

"I am an atheist, thank God." -Oriana Fallaci


deludedgod
Rational VIP!ScientistDeluded God
deludedgod's picture
Posts: 3221
Joined: 2007-01-28
User is offlineOffline
While it is true there are

While it is true there are other theories to explain the dissapation of the H. neanderthalis lineage, the evidence against our ancestors is overwhelming. It is important to remember that this indictment is not one of open genocide or atrocity. I am talking about an extremely gradual process of erosion of one line in favour of the other, during a period that marked the end of the last Ice age, approximately 10,000 years in length, from 40,000 to 30,000 BCE. The H. neanderthalis is built in a manner distinctly different from the H. sapiens. They are shorter, stockier, and they have a distinctly jutting jaw and thick ridge line across the brow, a larger skull and a larger brain. Less agile, but physically stronger, than the Cro-Magnon. The last thing that experts agree on after the Pan/Homo split 5 million years ago is that the H. erectus originated in Africa, the first Hominid to tame fire. The H. neanderthalis originated 130,000 years ago, but the trail gets muddy with so many different species in the Homo genus. We know that the neanderthalis settled near the region which today has the Danube, in the German-Polish area, and in Southern France, during the last ice age. The disappearence of the neanderthalis is suspicious for several reasons. One, it coincides with the movement of the Cro-Magnons from the Fertile Crescent area into Southern Europe. We used to have this image that H.G Wells called "paleo-racism". The Neanderthal, according to archeologists, was a brute, a savage, a knuckle-dragging idiot. But this has been largely overturned. It is clear now that the Cro-Magnons and neanderthalis were so close that some archeologists have classed them into a subspecies diverge, the Homo sapiens neanderthalis, and because the two are so close, it leaves the possibility that they might have interbred. And by all accounts of how fighting between nomadic roving bands of Cro-Magnons and the less seasonal neanderthalis occured, they would have stolen each other's women, which leaves the possibility that there is some neanderthal blood in the human line. But, to put it simply, the dissapearance of every Hominid except us is not a coincidence. There is no way that a Hominid population could simply replace its antecedants in such a short time span except through violence. By 31,000 BC, the neanderthalis had been driven deep into Souther Europe, into the mountains around Croatia and Yugoslavia. By this point, the last of the bloodline of the neanderthal was vanishing. The Cro-Magnon had an advantage because of the rapid climate change that resulted during the end of the last ice-age. The ruthless have always been the winners in the history of the Homo genus.

Quote:

An alternate theory of why the Neanderthals died out was that they may have become specialized in thickly forested habitat by sneaking close to and leaping on top of large prey animals, thus receiving the enormous amount of later mended broken bones that are evident by the fossil remains.  It is speculated by some that Homo Sapiens peacefully stuck mainly to grassland hunting and as the ice age retreated taking the forest with it along it's edges Homo Neanderthanlensis slowly died off from loss of habitat.

Yes, this is plausible. The neanderthalis have many broken bones, injuries similar to rodeo cowboys and Spanish bullfighters, because of the way they hunted. Obviously the Cro-magnons managed to get the upper hand in the first place when they migrated out of the Middle East into the neanderthal territory specifically because the neanderthal was more maladaptive when the climate was changing. I'm not suggesting the H. sapiens came with fire and stone axes and deliberately initiated open extermination of the neanderthalis. There was an interplay of factors, one of which was the climate change, which allowed sapiens to gain the upper hand.

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

Books about atheism


Watcher
atheist
Posts: 2326
Joined: 2007-07-10
User is offlineOffline
deludedgod wrote:...and

deludedgod wrote:

...and because the two are so close, it leaves the possibility that they might have interbred.

Have not scientists inspected the DNA of several Neanderthals and have failed to find any DNA evidence among current humanity of our interbreeding with them?  So far the hard evidence can not provide any evidence that we interbred with them at all.  It is possible (From what I have read) that we may have been able to have offspring with them (There is at least one fossil remains that seem to share both Sapiens and Neanderthalensis characteristics) but the resultant child may have been no more sexually viable than a Mule/Hinny (Horse/Donkey hybrid).

deludedgod wrote:

But, to put it simply, the dissapearance of every Hominid except us is not a coincidence. There is no way that a Hominid population could simply replace its antecedants in such a short time span except through violence.

I agree that the timing is suspicious.  However, would this not be considered circumstantial evidence in a modern court of law?  Which is the "cause" and which is the "effect"?

However..."there is no way"?  There are a LOT of ways that the replacement could have happened other than actual violence, yes?  Or am I terribly misguided in how evolution and species competition works?

deludedgod wrote:

By 31,000 BC, the neanderthalis had been driven deep into Souther Europe, into the mountains around Croatia and Yugoslavia.

I find this extremely interesting and my curiosity is piqued.  You wouldn't happen to have a source I could read from would you?  I always love to read anything about the evolution and existence of the various Homo species.

"I am an atheist, thank God." -Oriana Fallaci


theotherguy
theotherguy's picture
Posts: 294
Joined: 2007-01-07
User is offlineOffline
Kevin R Brown wrote:So I've

Kevin R Brown wrote:

So I've had my second theological 'discussion' at work, though not with the same co-workers. This time with a YET, claiming to be a scientist, attempting to get my all buddy-buddy with his beliefs. I've got to admit, I felt pretty stupid during the entire discourse (and I guess I should've - it's the consequence of deciding I wasn't interested in actively persuing the sciences). Effectively, he wants me to 'consider' (Translation: Agree on without reviewing any evidence) the fact that Darwinian evolution makes little sense in light of the fact that humans, despite being - in the apparent view of Darwin (I don't know if this is actually true or not, having not read Darwin's work) - the highest form of evolution, missed-out on all the goodies. No natural weapons, no enhanced sensory, no serious environmental protection, no regeneration of lost limbs and no tails for greater balance. The lack of these things among humans is thus evidence that evolution is bunk.

wrong. wrong. wrong. WRONG.

There is no such thing as "the highest form of evolution." Evolution works towards no goals. Organisms adapt to survive in their environment, and are successful if they reproduce. There are many different methods of doing this. Every living thing on Earth is "the highest form of evolution" in that each of them has a successful "strategy" for surviving. A bacteria's way of life is just as valid in the eyes of evolution as a human's. The reason we don't have many of these things is because they are costly. Natural weapons are cumbersome and oftentimes not very effective. "Enhanced senses" may not be necessary. The benefits of having great hearing and smell and being able to see in ultraviolet may actually be less than the costs of growing such organs. Even if this isn't the case, evolution can't simply provide an organism with all of the "gizmos" it can. Evolution works on what is already there, and depends on the current situation.

Kevin R Brown wrote:

I retorted with what I think is a weak, and probably incorrect, layman argument: we didn't get them because we didn't need them. Evolution doesn't simply hand us the cool things we want to have - it says (Hey, how'd I get way out on this limb?) that the most successful reproducers will pass on their traits and mutations to the next generation more often than the unsuccessful reproducers, and so the unsuccessful genes get 'eroded out' over time, while the beneficial ones slowly gain precedence.

Pretty much.

Kevin R Brown wrote:

He said that this demonstrates how little I understand biology and early supposed human ancestors, who could not have possibly survived without adaptations for winterization and, at the very least, vision at night on parallel with their predators - and that there was no way such beneficial traits wouldn't have been passed-on by the most successful reproducers. Thus, God must've made us, and created us as inferior dupes (I'm taking liberties with the words he actually used) in order to be able to demonstrate his love for us and care for us. Aww.

Bullshit. This demonstrates how little he understands about biology. Humans have the extended phenotype of making tools and using clothing, which in itself can be less costly and more beneficial than having thick fur and claws.

 

Kevin R Brown wrote:

I'm going to dissapoint: I just copped-out at this point, saying, 'You're right, I don't know much about biology. So until I do, I can't really discuss this sort of thing with you, because I can't verify that your statements are correct.'

He's the one who doesn't know what he's talking about. I encourage you to research evolution. If anyone comes up with an argument you don't understand, tell them you'll research it and get back to them on it. You can't argue things that you don't understand, so please take the time to learn, or at least point people in the right direction where they can learn for themselves.

 

Kevin R Brown wrote:

So, now I'm curious: why don't we have night vision? Or layers of fur? Or tails? I assume we're just on a different evolutionary 'track' than the one these traits are carried through, though that seems to beg the question as to how our particular evolutionary track survived at all amongst it's peers?

We don't have night vision because we have excellent color vision. Let me explain. The retina has limited space, and rods and cones come from the same type of embryological cell. Rods are excellent at picking up minute amounts of light, but terrible at sensing color. Cones can sense color but are very bad at seeing in the dark. So, what you have is a cost-benifit situation, where two "goods", rods and cones, are "bought" by allotting retinal space to them. Whichever configuration results in the most generally efficient solution wins. It just so happens that human's early lifestyle relied more on color vision than on night vision. Humans had to see each other's changes in skin tones to assess emotions and sickness, and they had to be able to determine which fruits were good to eat, which were ripe, and which were rotting merely from sight. Color vision would have been very useful for picking out predators in dense foliage as well. It just so happens that certain animals are better adapted to night vision, and others to color vision, but there is a distinct trade-off between the two. Birds, for instance, have even better vision than humans. They have another specialized cell which can see slightly into the infrared and slightly into the ultraviolet. The cost of these cells? Fewer rods. Worse night vision.

There are several hypotheses about the layers of fur. The first is that humans early lifestyle probably revolved around running down and chasing prey in the savannah, and thick fur would have reduced our ability to sweat and shed off heat as we ran. In fact, the lack of fur is one of the things which makes humans some of the most efficient runners in the animal kingdom. A human can (slowly) outrun almost any animal, from horses to cheetahs to impalas, as long as the temperature is very hot and the distance very long. Humans have some of the most efficient sweat systems in the animal kingdom, and it was hypothesized that the lack of fur aided in our ability to run long distances and shed heat through sweat, which would have allowed us to run antelope and other large game to exhaustion. The second theory is that fur-borne parasites became endemic to humans as they moved onto the plains. Things like lice and fleas became a major nuisance, and could even cause sickness and death. A gradual loss of fur may have been driven by increased death due to fur-borne parasites. The third is that humans, being a social species, had to efficiently communicate to one another through gestures, facial expressions, and changes in skin tone (blushing). Humans, though a combination of sexual and natural selection, would have lost their fur in order to more easily communicate. The truth is probably a combination of all three hypotheses.

 

Tails were lost with the advent of bipedalism. Like chimpanzees and orangutans, we spent a great deal of time on the forest floor, and tails simply became cumbersome to our movement and they were gradually selected away.

 

 

 

 

Kevin R Brown wrote:

Yeah, I know, I should just take a trip to the library. But frankly:

 -  I don't feel like taking the extra twenty minutes worth of walking distance in the current weather

 - I don't like the dry tone of most academic material

 - I much prefer the language used by the scientists here (particularly hamby and deludedgod) that that I find in most scientific journals.

 

Anyway, if anyone feels like spending/squandering their time giving me a quick rundown, I'd be grateful.

 

Use the internet instead. Or read a book like the selfish gene or Darwin's dangerous idea. It should really clear things up.


shikko
Posts: 448
Joined: 2007-05-23
User is offlineOffline
Kevin R Brown wrote:So I've

Kevin R Brown wrote:

So I've had my second theological 'discussion' at work, though not with the same co-workers. This time with a YET, claiming to be a scientist, attempting to get my all buddy-buddy with his beliefs. I've got to admit, I felt pretty stupid during the entire discourse (and I guess I should've - it's the consequence of deciding I wasn't interested in actively persuing the sciences). Effectively, he wants me to 'consider' (Translation: Agree on without reviewing any evidence) the fact that Darwinian evolution makes little sense in light of the fact that humans, despite being - in the apparent view of Darwin (I don't know if this is actually true or not, having not read Darwin's work) - the highest form of evolution, missed-out on all the goodies. No natural weapons, no enhanced sensory, no serious environmental protection, no regeneration of lost limbs and no tails for greater balance. The lack of these things among humans is thus evidence that evolution is bunk.

Pretty much everyone who's already chimed in on this thread has had good things to say; I just wanted to add my take on things.

First, the best thing you can remember in situations like this is to take each statement and ask, "is this true?"  If you can't tell, literally ask "how do you know this is true?" It will make them voice their reasons, which you can also check for truth.  It will also give you time to think.  If you know it isn't true, say so.  Backing people into a corner with their own arguments is always fun.

Quote:

I retorted with what I think is a weak, and probably incorrect, layman argument: we didn't get them because we didn't need them. Evolution doesn't simply hand us the cool things we want to have - it says (Hey, how'd I get way out on this limb?) that the most successful reproducers will pass on their traits and mutations to the next generation more often than the unsuccessful reproducers, and so the unsuccessful genes get 'eroded out' over time, while the beneficial ones slowly gain precedence.

I'm not a biologist either, but the way I think of it is this: traits have a bell curve of "incidence" or "strength" in a population; there is natural variation in a species over most traits.  When the environment changes, that can stress which groups survive long enough to pass on their genes, which can over time affect the curve of the population.

Think about antimicrobial resistance in bacteria: a few bacteria have basically no resistance, lots have a bit and a few have almost complete resistance; that's the curve.  Say these bacteria make you sick, and you start taking medication.  Day 1: nothing happens, since the concentrations in your body aren't high enough.  Day 2: the lowest resistance ones die, but the rest keep breeding.  Days 3: you start to feel better as more bacteria are killed off.  Day 4-10: the rest of the bacteria start dying off as their ability to survive and replicate in a now hostile environment is overwhelmed. Sure, you may have a couple of bugs that aren't actually susceptible that that medication, but you body is also fighting the infection, and the bacteria are aging, and can die on their own.

This is also why you don't stop taking meds when you start feeling better; the bugs aren't all dead yet.  Stopping too early can literally make what's left harder to kill, as the ones breeding have a higher innate tolerance to the medication.

Quote:

So, now I'm curious: why don't we have night vision? Or layers of fur? Or tails? I assume we're just on a different evolutionary 'track' than the one these traits are carried through, though that seems to beg the question as to how our particular evolutionary track survived at all amongst it's peers?

Well first, we DO have tails; it's just that they're vestigial.  That's your coccyx, alternately called you "tail bone".  We have fur; it's just in localized patches on our bodies.  Fur is great for keeping in warmth when you're outside.

One things to remember about all of these is that there is a metabolic cost for all these adaptations.  An animal that grows more hair needs more energy to do so than one that grows less hair, which means higher food requirements.  The more food you need, the more pressure you're under to survive long enough to reproduce.  Back to the curve: too little hair and you may freeze to death too young.  Too much hair and you may need more food that is easy to get.  Any trait you can think of can be conceptualized this way. 

 

 

--
maybe if this sig is witty, someone will love me.


Subdi Visions
Bronze Member
Subdi Visions's picture
Posts: 278
Joined: 2007-10-29
User is offlineOffline
I had thought of one more

I had thought of one more thing you might consider. Which is you might try including a little research on that young earth creationism bull shit. It could be helpful to know exactly where there bs argument is coming from and be more prepared with a solid debunking of bull shit that they would have a harder time dodging.

Loved reading your further interactions with Mr. AssHat

Respectfully,
Lenny

"The righteous rise, With burning eyes, Of hatred and ill-will
Madmen fed on fear and lies, To beat and burn and kill"
Witch Hunt from the album Moving Pictures. Neal Pert, Rush


I AM GOD AS YOU
Superfan
Posts: 4793
Joined: 2007-09-29
User is offlineOffline
  Maybe this will be

  Maybe this will be helpful Kevin , tons of stuff online. Here is some stuff I email and play for my loony religious friends. We are still born occasionally with tails ! .....  

These following videos are from a Christian scientist. Because he's xain it helps get their attention .....

Definitive Proof of Evolution  10 min http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1fGkFuHIu0&feature=related

Proof of Evolution Part II - Summation  10 min  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CvX_mD5weM

Top Myths About Evolution - I   10 min   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJQFp0IfZ1Q

Creationism  

Creationism's Damage to Christianity  8 min  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBoqKF52FU8&feature=related

Creationism's Damage to Christianity II   10 min   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBaOFKoLlZk&feature=related

Why Teaching Creationism is a Horrible Idea  8 min  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYphna9UTCk

Creationism Dishonesty and Immorality, Part I.  7 min  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FoZW7-3YSns&feature=PlayList&p=6818DF8C6AB4A0DF&index=0

Creationism Dishonesty and Immorality, Part II.  6 min http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZjxBdyu10A&NR=1

  -----  PLUS, this other guy, (an atheist) , 

19 videos in here on,   "Why do people laugh at creationists?"    http://www.youtube.com/profile_videos?user=Thunderf00t&p=r

  .... I keep all this kind of stuff in folders for later use ..... to killing god of abe