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  1. Check out this Paul and please, please reply to it.
    http://www.hebrides-news.com/evolution_dispute_17913.html

    If you would be interested in a public debate with this man I would happily organise it for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t debate creationists. It gives them a platform, reinforces their self-importance, and looks better on their CVs than mine (I know, I am not the first to say all this). I have replied to the Rev Blunt’s letter as follows, and would appreciate knowing if Hebrides News publishes it:

      To pretend that biological evolution has to include an explanation of the origins of life is at best mistaken, at worst dishonest. Consider that before the 1950s, we did not know the origin of atoms. Nonetheless, atomic theory had been the central concept of chemistry since before the 1820s. Similarly, we do not know the origins of life, but evolution has been the central concept of biology since before the 1870s.

      No one doubts that most mutations are harmful. A few of them do increase fitness. Harmful mutations are bred out, while fitness-enhancing mutations spread. It’s really that simple. Indeed, the whole of plant and animal breeding is one vast demonstration of evolution, albeit evolution directed by us rather than by the pressures of the natural environment. The Rev Blunt admits the occurrence of evolution under the pressure of artificial selection. How then can he claim that it is in principle impossible under natural selection, or that evolution has never been verified?

      Museums are full of intermediate forms, if not the great-great-grandparents of living species, then at any rate their great-uncles. If the Rev cares to visit http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12052-009-0135-2 (free article) he will find a whole series of intermediates between land mammals and present-day whales. If he visits the Smithsonian museum’s site at http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/human-fossils/species, he will find out about over a dozen extinct species intermediate between apes and modern humans. If evolution is not true, why were these intermediates ever created?

      The age of the Earth is dated at over 4 billion years using some half-dozen different radiometric techniques. These the Rev Blunt will find explained, by an evangelical Christian, at “Radiometric Dating – A Christian Perspective”, http://www.asa3.org/ASA/resources/wiens.html. We have known since 1928 that radioactive decay rates depend on the general laws of physics. If these had been different 4 billion years ago, the rocks wouldn’t have formed in the first place. If they had been almost 1000 fold faster in the past, as Young Earth creationists must claim, the rocks would have been melted by the heat produced.

      I conclude by pointing out that the fossil record clearly shows that whales are descended from land mammals. Yet Genesis states that whales were created on Day 5, and land mammals on Day 6. One of two things follows. Either Genesis is not, and was never meant to be, a science textbook. Or God has deliberately deceived us by creating a highly detailed but totally misleading fossil record.

      This is a choice that each of us has to make in our own way. There are no alternatives.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A fine response. I would only add that those who selectively breed or consume plants and animals provide the ‘natural environment pressures’ that steer the development of those species. The strangeness of humans is part of the natural environment as much as the predators that steer the development of the patterns on the wings of butterflies, or the insects that define the colouring of wild flowers.

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  3. A few comments:

    Of course, one can always point out differences in an argument from analogy. Atomic theory is not a theory of origins. It is not unreasonable to look to something like evolution going on in the origins of life. And there are people who are willing to speculate on the origins of life.

    Most mutations have no appreciable effect.

    Creationists noways accept the reality of small-scale evolution, even to the natural origin of species and genera or so. This does not commit them to a theory of other origins (no more than it commits “evolutionists” to a theory of origins of life).

    Young Earth Creationism demands that the physics of radioisotope dating operate at more than 100,000 times the measured rate (4 billion / 10 thousand = 400,000), not “almost 1000 fold faster”. (Did you mean to say “almost a million fold faster”?)

    Liked by 1 person


    • It is not unreasonable to look to something like evolution going on in the origins of life” I largely disagree. Evolution in the biological sense,whether random drift or selection-driven, is, technically, change in allele frequency, and it makes no sense to speak of evolution in this sense until you have a feature that can be inherited with variations. Indeed, “able to undergo Darwinian selection” has been proposed (by Jerry Joyce, no less, IIRC) as a definition of life.

      “And there are people who are willing to speculate on the origins of life.”Indeed. During the last part of my formal career, I was one of them.

      Which specific posting are yuo talking about? I need to correct that arithmetic

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My first observation isn’t a serious criticism, but it jumped out at me and leads to other points which might have more interest. And that is that sometimes genes have a two edged quality to them, very helpful in some situations and turning deadly in others. Sickle cell anemia, for example. Or another problem thought to very likely be similar, the genes for celiac disease are thought by some to have remained at a constant level because they also confer some immune advantages. I think you are probably aware of this sort of thing. What it brings up, though, is that it is very likely that the latter problem runs in my family and it affected my grandfather, father and me, and my grandfather started in with a religious belief that promised healing. Since this was well before doctors knew gluten caused chronic digestive problems in some people, this action is not too surprising, since at one point he thought he had a serious remission of another illness with this religious belief. However, I decided as a teenager that he had probably confused correlation with causation, after watching the beliefs fail over and over and over for myself and my father and mother, very painfully at times.
    And to make a long story shorter, that put me in a position of being alert to the danger of confusing correlation with causation. So when by chance several years later I read “Limits to Growth”, in 1979, and people told me the projections of the book were nothing to worry about, as we had found ways around limits before, so we would do it again, a sort of warning went off in my brain, though I didn’t connect the dots immediately. I did connect them eventually though, realizing that there was no observable relationship between what was found in the past and what might be found in the future. Looking for imaginary things doesn’t mean you will find them. And to see this, basically meant seeing that this civilization is based on a superstitious expectation about reality. And just saying this out loud to the wrong person led to losing my new job as an engineer. It tends to dump a large load of cognitive dissonance on people who understand what confusing correlation with causation means, and don’t want to accept the implication that they have superstitious beliefs at the foundation of their expectations and behavior and everything they have invested in. But what rational person would accept using vital resources at unsustainable rates if they didn’t think they could definitely find other ways to get vital resources? Of course, I can’t say that needed things won’t be found, but I’ve always thought it would be a lot wiser to bet lives on things only after you have found and carefully tested them.

    Well, 41 years later I can report that I haven’t found anyone willing to be rational about this, though I think it has shaken up quite a few.

    And truth can sometimes be stranger than fiction, as other things occurred to me as I thought more about this. Words of Jesus fit perfectly with what I was looking at, if you left out the stories of miracles, or saw them as metaphorical in some instances and probably completely made up in others. The advice that it is wise to count what you have to accomplish goals, whether building a tower or thinking how to deal with a potential enemy king and his army, fits with this perfectly. If a goal is having a sustainable society, then counting what you have, and not including imaginary things in the assets column, would be wise. But we haven’t done that. And as far as counting on a mystical being, there are words about it being questionable to love an unseen god but hate a seen brother. And followers talk about how faith without works is useless.

    All of this also fits with words about “the blind follow the blind and both fall in the ditch”. There is also the metaphor about “the house built on sand ends up destroyed when the storms come”. Build and grow your society on a superstitious belief in imaginary things being real assets, and it is all very likely to fall apart. Overshoot has ugly consequences.

    We are social animals who live by teamwork, we all have the naked body to experiment with on the subject if there are doubts. In a mild climate with no large predators around, you might survive as an individual but you are unlikely to reproduce behaving like a tiger. And even mild climates can have problems where having a larger group gives more stability. So, if you need a group to live, need a healthy social body as much as you need your individual body to be healthy, it makes sense to “love your neighbor as yourself”. But with thinking about health, “beware of those who come to you like wolves in sheep’s clothing”. Social groups can be infested with parasites the same as an individual body…

    And a lot of people back then very likely didn’t like hearing this any more than they like it now. Painting metaphorical stories as real miracles, could have been a way to divert attention from the secular issues here.

    But a healthy society shouldn’t be fighting with itself too much. Some competition can put the best talents in appropriate niches, might work out various other issues in helpful ways, but beyond that, competition isn’t helpful. Forcing people to do things they don’t want to do, doesn’t work as well as voluntary behavior. The “golden rule” comes to mind with that. If a group is in agreement on counting real things and someone wants to count imaginary things as real, well, if they want to be independent of your rules, so you give them independence to go and follow the rules they want, somewhere else. I wouldn’t say that using force is never an option, but I’d avoid it whenever possible. And if large numbers of people want to count on imaginary things, then warning them if they seem to be ignorant that they seem to be confusing correlation with causation, is also following the golden rule, but if they want to bet on superstition even after hearing this, that is up to them.

    Doubts about beliefs can make people into fanatics, and fanatics may kill themselves faster than they were already doing it. Makes all of this into a metaphorical “sword coming from the mouth.” Two edged, hits those with mystical beliefs, particularly “Christians”, though it can affect others as well, and in the other direction it hits those who claim to respect science but don’t seem to mind basing their lives on superstitious beliefs about the capabilities of science.

    “To them that have shall be given, to them that have not, all will be taken”. Looks like another way of saying “the fit survive”.

    Quite a bit more can be said about all this, but this gives the basic understanding.

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  5. No, not replying to any particular post. Just looking to communicate with people who look like they have some similar interests.

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