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Thread: The Evolution Thread

  1. #11
    Supporter Madness's Avatar
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    Re: The Evolution Thread

    [quote author=B. de Corbin link=topic=635.msg9406#msg9406 date=1288740624]
    Did it suggest any possible explanations for it? That kind of thing is troubling.[/quote]

    I finally found the actual study instead of just blogs linking to it. There are no concrete conclusions drawn, but there is an interesting table of factors that effect the response (page 8). The bottom line: the more religious you are, the less you accept evolution. The more literate you are in genetics, the more you accept evolution. So it's kind of a tautology if you ask me.

    Here's the textual conclusions for why the US is different than Europe:

    First, the structure and beliefs of American fundamentalism historically differ from those of mainstream Protestantism in both the United States and Europe. The biblical literalist focus of fundamentalism in the United
    States sees Genesis as a true and accurate account of the creation of human life that supersedes any scientific finding or interpretation. In contrast, mainstream Protestant faiths in Europe (and their U.S. counterparts) have viewed Genesis as metaphorical and—like the Catholic Church—have not seen a major contradiction between their faith and the work of Darwin and other scientists.


    Second, the evolution issue has been politicized and incorporated into the current partisan division in the United States in a
    manner never seen in Europe or Japan. In the second half of the 20th century, the conservative wing of the Republican Party has adopted creationism as a part of a platform designed to consolidate their support in southern and Midwestern states—the “red” states. In the 1990s, the state Republican platforms in seven states included explicit demands for the
    teaching of “creation science” (1). There is no major political party in Europe or Japan that uses opposition to evolution as a part of its political platform.

    And, just out of curiosity (because I have to ask - It's SCIENCE! ), did it make any statements as to how the question was asked, and to what group?
    The main question was: "Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals." (true, false, unknown/not sure).

    One thing they were specifically testing was giving the question a clear black and white. In other polls, they were given 5 possible answers ranging in certainty. In those only 14% thought evolution was "definitely true."


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  2. #12
    PF God-Empress Juniper's Avatar
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    Re: The Evolution Thread

    I have stripped the non-useful posts in the hopes of getting an actual discussion going here.

    Please remember that this is in Academics and while it is not a debate, sources for your references are still encouraged.

    I realize that this is a broad subject without any direct focus, but please keep discussions within a reasonable range. If you feel that a particular part of this topic needs more attention, I encourage you to start a new topic for that purpose.

    Thank you.
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  3. #13
    sea witch thalassa's Avatar
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    Re: The Evolution Thread

    Wow, I go to vote, pick my kid up from school, go to work and have dinner at my grandma's and the joint explodes. WTF. Anyhoo...


    Theodosius Dobzhansky (famous biologist dude known for much work with fruit flies and the development of the Modern Synthesis--which is what bio-geeks call modern evolution) wrote that "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." And he is quite right, if one looks at the development of biology from natural history during the 1800's.

    But...what *is* evolution?

    Modern evolution is defined as "a change in allele frequencies over time" (from Evolutionary Analysis, Fifth Ed by Freeman and Herron) English this simply means that evolution is a change in the number of organisms in a population that express a particular genetic code over time. There are a series of mechanisms by which this evolution can occur...from random mutation (a possible origin of genetic differences in an organism) to sexual selection (how organisms choose mates).
    (further discussion on this topic)

    Then what about this Darwin guy?

    Charles Darwin proposed the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection, which created one of the original definitions of evolution (descent with modification) and offered a mechanism by which it occurred (natural selection, sometimes known as "selection of the fittest&quot. Charles Darwin is not the originator of the idea of evolution...or even the idea of natural selection, rather he was the first to articulate them in a organized and logical manner with a shit ton of evidence to back them up. Quite simply, Darwin was one of the first persons (and he shares his first published paper...having sat on the idea for 20 years...with the forgotten Alfred Russel Wallace) to treat the idea of Evolution to scientific empiricism. From a modern perspective, Darwin got a lot right. He also got a lot wrong (none of which negates evolution).

    Yeah...but evolution is just a theory.

    Well...yeah. It is "just" a theory--a scientific theory to be precise...which is a helluva lot different than "just a theory" in the common vernacular. As discussed in the Science vs Religion thread, scientific theories "are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts" (qtd from palentologist and evolutionary biologist Steven Jay Gould). They are supported by data and can be used to make predictions. Which takes us back to Dobzhansky...every single sub-discipline within the field of biology depends on evolution as a fact, or supports evolution as a theory (and sometimes both).

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  4. #14
    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: The Evolution Thread

    [quote author=Madness link=topic=635.msg9429#msg9429 date=1288742934]
    ...The bottom line: the more religious you are, the less you accept evolution. The more literate you are in genetics, the more you accept evolution. So it's kind of a tautology if you ask me....[/quote]

    [quote author=thalassa link=topic=635.msg9486#msg9486 date=1288753734]
    ..."Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." And he is quite right, if one looks at the development of biology from natural history during the 1800's. [/quote]

    Put these these two ideas together, and I think you get a good picture of the problem. Evolutionary theory has such enormous explanatory and predictive power that, on the one hand, if you reject it, you need some kind of Big Magic to fill the void, while on the other hand, if you believe in the Big Magic, your "evidence for belief" faces a serious challenge from the explanatory and predictive power of evolutionary theory.
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  5. #15
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    Re: The Evolution Thread

    Isn't Darwinism a religion? And don't they worship the devil?

    Sorry . . .

    To be constructive: I found this and I think that it explains evolution and the confusion surrounding it pretty well:

    I would post more, but I have to catch the bus in fifteen minutes.
    "Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children." - Khalil Gibran

  6. #16
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    Re: The Evolution Thread

    Because Finland wasn't represented in the picture above, I wanted to google it. I found out that 65% of Finns accept evolution as it is and about one third does think evolution theory is false. I find this rather interesting in a coutry where nine years of education is compulsory.. On the other hand when compared to Sweden and Denmark, Finnish people are more religious which might explain the difference. Also it's suggested in the article I found that the reason for the large group of people who don't believe in evolution could be the large elder population who haven't had education about evolution in their school years.

    This made me think about if the increasing amount of non-evolution-believing people in the US might also be a result of immigration? I don't have any reference to this but what I've understood is that immigrants coming to the US usually don't have very high education and/or are coming from more religious (and probably not se evolution centered) countries. I also assume that the amount of immigrants is quite big over there. Could that explain (partly) the increase in the numbers?

  7. #17
    Fundamentalist Dumuzi's Avatar
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    Re: The Evolution Thread

    I wanted to add something that might be relevant to this thread. (It's more related to religion and evolution than just evolution, so I hope it's OK to talk about here)

    I think the problem is that people often think that the idea of evolution and religion are mutually exclusive. So when such polls are made, it is very important to ask the right kind of questions.

    I will use an example outside of evolution.

    I believe that god has created me. I also believe that some time ago I was a zygote that started growing in number of cells and size, and started a process of 'evolution' where it started to grow organs and limbs and so on until I was born.

    So the science of embryology and the fact I believe god created me do not contradict each other. Embryology is just explaining the way god created me. With that said, people who wish to learn about embryology shouldn't have to learn about god. That belongs in another 'class' so to speak.

    The whole point of this post is that sometimes those polls are made so a person has to choose between two options that aren't really mutually exclusive.

    People often feel like the question is like, "Do you believe in evolution and so automatically disbelieve in god and if it happens to be a god you are totally going to go to burn in hell?"

    Do they not, then, ponder about the Qur‘an? Had it been from someone other than Allah, they would have found in it much discrepancy. [4:82]

  8. #18

    Re: The Evolution Thread

    I feel inclined to agree with Dumuzi on this subject.

    I have heard the same things: that believing in either God or Evolution automatically excludes the other, that it is not possible for the two to coexist in any one mind. I speak here as both an amatuer animal biologist and one who believes in a world/worlds outside the mundane physical.

    I believe that biological matters and all other scientific subjects can exist in harmony with religion. That cells, growth, natural selection, and all the rest are merely outward manifestations of what is Really Going On -- physical manifestations that we can understand as human beings, that we can measure and document, that we can percieve with our five physical senses. As such, I also believe that evolution may very well be a process created by the Divine (if you believe in the Divine) so that we may physically exist, and that the theories of evolution serve as a reminder to us that animals and plants and such are indeed on the same level as us and deserve respect as much as we do. Or that evolution is another clever illusion to give us a foundation from which we may wisely build ourselves and our civilization (yeah, it's kind of failed in most aspects). Or something. I'm not very good at discussing such matters.

    I apologize as this is the Academics forum and this post is merely my own opinion. But I couldn't not say anything.
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  9. #19
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    Re: The Evolution Thread

    I always find these arguments against evolution annoying because they are we go...

    Misconception 1) Evolution is only a theory
    Yes it is, but in the scientific community a theory is different than how it is viewed outside the scientific community. A scientific theory is an idea that had been back through experimentation, study, and multiple analysis, and has yet to be refuted. It's a fact because it explains changes that scientists KNOW occur (genetic changes in individuals, populations, etc). Scientists can even see these changes and measure them.

    Misconception 2) There are no missing links
    This has been a constant factor in this debate ever since Darwin came out with "The Origin of Species". Many people back then didn't thinkg that there were transitional fosil but you can see them in museums today. Such fossil specimens include Archaeopteryx, Tiktaalik, and Australopithecus just to start. There are many more.

    Misconception 3) It violates the second law of Thermodynamics
    The second law of thermodynamics states that entropy, increases in a closed system, making more complex systems more uniform. Therefore, some will state, evolution is impossible, because when an organism evolves it becomes more complex. What they don't realize though, is that Earth is not a closed system. Energy, in the form of sunlight comes from outside our planet, making this theory irrelevant to evolution.

    Misconception 4) Scientists don't agree on the idea
    Wrong. Scientists don't agree on the details. Just because scientists don't agree on the details doesn't mean the disagree on the theory. Scientists disagree on the details about everything, this allows for critical thinking and allows the formation of new ideas and getting rid of the old one involved in theory. This means nothing.

    Misconception 5) It can't create complex structures
    Often times, creationists will say that organisms are to complex to be evolve, therefore there had to have been a creator, or a "Watch Maker". However, scientists, time and time again, have identified intermediate structures again and again, such as with the eye, where groups of photo-sensitive cells, become light sensitive organs, and so on.

    I write up more if I can think of more.

  10. #20
    Sr. Member PharaohKatt's Avatar
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    Re: The Evolution Thread

    I'm not very knowledgeable about this subject, so I'll try not to sound like a total ignoramus asking this, but:

    One of the primary methods of evolution is Natural Selection. Given that humans, as a species, have started caring for people who would have otherwise died, given that people with genetic variations that would have been unfavourable in the wild are living and having children, have we changed the process of evolution?

    We're not exactly naturally selecting anymore. Are we still going to evolve, and if so will the rate of evolution be different than in the long ago?

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