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Posts Tagged ‘intelligent design’

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For the last few minutes of Darwin Day, check out these AronRa videos taking down some bad creationist arguments. Wait, that’s a redundancy. There are no good creationist arguments!

Part I on Ida:

Part II:

The guy who pretends to be AronRa might be a tool and a half.

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Some points:

1. I am a lumper in taxonomy. I am not a creationist. There are good reasons why coyotes are considered separate species from wolves and dog. And foxes can’t interbreed with dogs at all. The species barrier is one of those natural barriers, but not all dog/coyote or wolf/coyote hybrids are fertile. That tells you that you have a separate species.

2. The kid with the glasses at the end thinks Adam and Eve were white and black had to have evolved from them.And thus, evolution “doesn’t make sense.” Yes, white people have different skin color and few other differences between the raises, but we are very genetically similar as a species. Further, it is possible that dark skin evolved twice in the human species: Once with modern African and once with people who became, among others, the Melanesians and Australian native people. It is very racist to assume that all people are derived from Caucasians.

3. This is Dayton, Tennessee, where the Scopes Monkey Trial was held. Their views on science haven’t evolved very much. At least they can teach evolution now.

Still don’t have to believe it though!

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He takes down Ray Comfort’s nonsense.  Comfort has no clue.

He also argues that Lycaon pictus ought to be in the genus Canis, for exactly the same reason I feel it should be. It and the dhole are more closely related to the other species of the genus Canis than the black-backed jackal and side-striped jackal are. Xenocyon lycoanoides, the extinct ancestor of the African wild dog, should also be part of this very important genus in the dog family.  (See the dog phylogenetic tree).

He is a little off on the origins of the dog. The East Asian theory of dog origins seems to have been falsified through the genome-wide study that utilitized SNP chip technology found that dogs had greater genetic similarity with Middle Eastern wolves, which suggests that the Middle Eastern wolves, not the East Asian wolves, are the main ancestors of domestic dogs.

Epicyon and the Amphicyonids make an appearance in this video, as to the “dog-bears” (Hemicyonids).

The Caniformia suborder of Carnivora has the most diverse species. Not only does it have domestic dogs, which have greater diversity in head morphology than the whole order Carnivora combined, it includes the smallest member of the order (the least weasel) and the largest (the southern elephant seal). Yes, Carnivora includes the seals, walruses, and seal lions, which are now classified within the Caniformia suborder.

Red pandas are fascinating because of their status as a “living fossil.’

And giant pandas are bears with fused chromosomes.  The two animals evolved their bamboo diet and their very similar s specialized wrist that acts like a thumb in parallel with with each other. Their common ancestor in the basal Caniformia didn’t have that thumb wrist or the specialized bamboo diet. Because both of these animals are derived from meat-eating Carnivora ancestors, they have not developed the ability to digest cellulose, so they have to eat tons of bamboo to survive. If these animals had been designed, one would think the designer would have put in some digestive bacteria in them to help them digest cellulose.

Please note that hyenas are missing from the Caniform cladistics video. Simple reason:  Hyenas are not in Caniformia. They are in the other big suborder of Carnivora, Feliformia.  Yes. Hyenas have a closer common ancestor with cats than with dogs.

This is a very good video.

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Part 2. (on Youtube, where you can find the rest)

The size and position of recurrent (inferior) laryngeal nerve is the death knell for ID.

I’m sorry.

Our is similarly positioned (and poorly “designed”), but ours isn’t redirected 15 feet as it is in the giraffe.

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Dinosaur Adventure Land in Pensacola, Florida, is where people use do go to lose their rationality. It was run by "Dr." Kent Hovind, a noted tax cheat, conspiracy theorist, and creation scientist. Such places are very harmful to science, reason, and the functioning of a free and open society.

Dinosaur Adventure Land in Pensacola, Florida, is where people used to go to lose their rationality. It was run by "Dr." Kent Hovind, a noted tax cheat, conspiracy theorist, and creation "scientist." Such places are very harmful to science, reason, and the functioning of a free and open society.

What follows may be is controversial. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I’ve noticed that some of the debate about creationism has fallen into a free speech argument. Now, I am fine with free speech. In fact, I live in a country that guarantees me the right to free speech and free expression, as it is expressed in the First Amendment to our constitution. That same amendment also allows for the free exercise of religion, which is another good thing.

But just because I respect the right of certain people to propagate creationist views, does not mean that I am going to let creationists spout off without any comment. You see, free speech works both ways. They have a right to say nonsense, and I have a right to call them out on it.

Now in the United States, we have a legal tradition of separation of church and state. It is not in the constitution, but it is a very long-standing legal tradition. With that tradition, the state cannot promote religious views with its institutions. I personally don’t have anything wrong with that.

However, creationists have a problem with it. You see, because our federal government and state governments cannot promote religion in state schools, creationism cannot be taught there.

Now, wait, doesn’t that violate the First Amendment? No.

You see, creationism is based upon a religious worldview. To teach it is to tacitly promote a religion, and the purpose of science classes is to teach science.

Creationism is not science.

Why?

Well, here’s the deal.

Creationism is based upon certain a priori assumptions. Young earth creationism assumes that the earth is only 6,000 years old, and intelligent design assumes that a super-natural being created it all. Now, neither of these assumptions is scientific.

The former assumption has been proven wrong through so many scientific studies that we can say it has been falsified. If we are too follow Sir Karl Popper’s classical definition, science asks questions that can be falsified– that is, they can be proven to be wrong. If the preponderance of the evidence says that the earth is not 6,000 years old, then that entire theory is simply not correct. It has been falsified.

We cannot teach “science” that has been falsified.

The latter assumption cannot be proven true or false. Science is based upon what is called empirical evidence– evidence that can be seen or tested. Supernatural beings are by definition impossible to see or test. That’s simply not a scientific question. It is a religious question. Indeed, to teach such a theory is to actually promote a particular religious worldview. However, such questions should be open for discussion should an instructor want to entertain them. It might help students get a better grasp on what science actually is.

Any discipline that wishes to have standing with the scientific community must fully accept scientific precepts. It must understand what scientific questions actually are. Now, when I go to Popper’s definition of science, I do recognize that some sciences don’t actually get to that level. Most social sciences are woefully lost when it comes to developing falsifiable theories. I think that cryptozoology has some of these problems. However, it has them no more than most social sciences do. How does one define a rational person in economics? How does one falsify that theory? It’s exactly the same problem that cryptozoology has– how do you falsify the existence of a certain species?

Creationism and intelligent design aren’t even in the same area as those disciplines. Both have these huge a prioris that actually stifle critical inquiry for rather obvious reasons.

Now, what’s this problem you have with religion?

Well, I don’t have a problem with religion. Do not confuse me with Bill Maher or Richard Dawkins. I think religion can be a good thing if it is meant to set an ethical code. Now by this, I think that religion has to do the following things before it can be considered useful for an ethical code:

1. It must be based upon basic human rights. This includes rights for nonbelievers, for women, and for those with different sexual orientations.

2. It must respect other religions. The fundamental basis of the religion cannot be to wipe out other religions.

3. It must not force its believers to not accept logic and reason.

4. It must not desire to control the government.

5. Its fundamental ethical code must be based upon the principle of reciprocity–  I won’t do to you what I wouldn’t have done to me. It a very important ethical concept for human society, regardless of religion.

Now, what applies most here is number 3, and here, I have some experience.

I have seen what happens when charlatans promote creationism and use all sorts of “evidence” to prove their theories. Now, these creationists would seem harmless enough, but once they get people to doubt the basic principles of science and logic, it doesn’t take long until people start to doubt all sorts of scientific findings.

As many of you may know, the United States population is unusually scientifically illiterate. This problem is made worse when people start to doubt scientific principles, especially the need for evidence and objectivity.

One of my real problems with the world in which we live is the embrace of post-modernist philosophy– which is categorized by a subjective understanding of the world. Now, subjective understanding is based upon the principle that different people experience different things, and thus, their understanding of things differs from person to person. I agree that this exists to a certain extent.

However, there are objective truths for which there is evidence, but because we have accepted that all things are subjective, we cannot fully explain what the evidence is. And because of the rise of this post-modernism, the spin-meister, the marketing guru, and the charlatan have risen to very high prominence in our society.

In it is that milieu that our creationism and intelligent design argument gets even worse. Now, people believe whatever their minster says, whatever politician they like says, and whatever they think is right. It doesn’t matter that many of those things could be wrong. They follow anyway, and because of this, you wind up having real problems maintaining a free and democratic society.

People put their faith in all sorts of things without looking for the evidence, and thus, these people who promulgate these views wind up with nearly absolute power.

Now, that’s bad for democracy.

But it’s even worse for the planet and humanity.

Now that you’ve got people doubting scientists and all sorts experts who are providing evidence that counters whatever the “leaders” say, it doesn’t take long before people start believing strange things. Saddam Hussein had WMD, and that was believed without much evidence being provided. Evidence that countered that belief did exist. It was ignored, because the “leaders” said that he did have them.

Science is telling us that the world is in several ecological messes– the worst of which is climate change. However, the “leaders” say that global warming either isn’t happening or that it is a natural occurrence. The leaders have made people doubt science. Any evidence that is brought before them is conveniently ignored.

And it all starts with getting people to doubt what science says about the origins of life and how species have evolved.

If you don’t believe me, just look at what has happened in the US. You can’t tell me that people who used logic and reason would have allowed this to happen, would you?  It happened because people doubted evidence, reason, and rationality, and they put their faith in what their “leaders” told them.

So creationism isn’t just a quaint activity. It is a stepping point on the way of taking away reason and rationality– the best guarantor of a free and open society. Once your reason and rationality is gone, you cannot live in a democratic society. Someone else will be making the decisions for you.

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