Tag Archives: evolution

Take That, Atheists!

It’s amazing there are any skeptics left with ‘evidence’ like this pouring in from all over. According to Chuck Missler, if evolutionary theory stood up, jars of peanut butter would occasionally contain new life when you opened them.

Oh. My freakin’ gourd! That’s the kind of profound misunderstanding of evolution we’re dealing with. And when I say, “we’re dealing with,” I mean this is the kind of stuff being peddled to people who understand even less about evolution.

Orangutan Spear Hunter

This is just hella-cool!

An Orangutan has been seen attempting to spear fish with a pole in Borneo on the island of Kaja. This is the first time an orangutan has been seen using a tool to hunt.

This individual had seen locals fishing with spears on the Gohong River.

Although the method required too much skill for him to master, he was later able to improvise by using the pole to catch fish already trapped in the locals’ fishing lines.

Via: Daily Mail.

Even Creationists Thumb Down Expelled

Reason To Believe, an old-earth creation science ministry has been going out of its way to distance itself from Ben Stein’s Expelled and has issued a statement against the film and its claims.

In Reasons To Believe’s interaction with professional scientists, scientific institutions, universities, and publishers of scientific journals we have encountered no significant evidence of censorship, blackballing, or disrespect. As we have persisted in publicly presenting our testable creation model in the context of the scientific method, we have witnessed an increasing openness on the part of unbelieving scientists to offer their honest and respectful critique.

Our main concern about EXPELLED is that it paints a distorted picture. It certainly doesn’t match our experience. Sadly, it may do more to alienate than to engage the scientific community, and that can only harm our mission.

– Hugh Ross, Fazale Rana, Jeff Zweerink, David Rogstad, and Kenneth Samples

You know you’ve made a high quality, documentary when people on your own side say you’re full of it.

Via: Post-Darwinist

Dawkins Responds To Misguided Jew

The coming aftermath of Ben Stein’s disgusting excuse for a documentary Expelled is shown crystal clear in the form of a letter received by Michael Shermer sent by an angry Jewish filmgoer.

Now I truly understand who you atheists and darwinists really are! You people believe that it was okay for my great-grandparents to die in the Holocaust! How disgusting. Your past article about the Holocaust was just window dressing. We Jews will fight to keep people like you out of the United States!

Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins felt compelled to respond to the Jewish individual in an open letter in hopes of clearing up his misguided anger towards scientists and atheists. Anger created by the misinformation portrayed in Ben Stein’s Expelled film that incorrectly links Darwin to Hitler.

Things began to make sense once I saw the movie and I am just appalled. I have learned a lot from Ben Stein, a Jewish brother, who has opened my eyes up a bit.

I fear there are more ‘Jewish brothers’ out there who have been twisted by Stein’s film into thinking the same way. Make it a point to show these twisted minds the light.

Via: Richard Dawkins

More Quick Evolving Lizards

In just 36 years since being relocated by biologists from their home island of Pod Kopiste, in the South Adriatic Sea, to the neighboring island of Pod Mrcaru, a population of Italian wall lizards (Podarcis sicula) have undergone rapid evolutionary change in both physical appearance and internal structure.

Striking differences in head size and shape, increased bite strength and the development of new structures in the lizard’s digestive tracts were noted after only 36 years, which is an extremely short time scale,” says Duncan Irschick, a professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “These physical changes have occurred side-by-side with dramatic changes in population density and social structure.”

Because the lizard’s diet has changes to roughly two-thirds plant food, they’ve evolved longer and wider heads than their Pod Kopiste counterparts. Most interesting though is the changes in their digestive tract as a result of having to eat mostly plant food. They’ve developed fermentation chambers in their gut so microbes can break down harder to digest parts of plants.

Examination of the lizard’s digestive tracts revealed something even more surprising. Eating more plants caused the development of new structures called cecal valves, designed to slow the passage of food by creating fermentation chambers in the gut, where microbes can break down the difficult to digest portion of plants. Cecal valves … have never been reported for this species, including the source population on Pod Kopiste.

“These structures actually occur in less than 1 percent of all known species of scaled reptiles,” says Irschick. “Our data shows that evolution of novel structures can occur on extremely short time scales.”

Via: Science Daily
Image Credit: Anthony Herrel of the University of Antwerp

Darwin’s Personal Writings Go Public

Cambridge University Library is releasing some 20,000 items and 90,000 images belonging to the very private Charles Darwin on darwin-online.org.uk.

This release makes his private papers, mountains of notes, experiments, and research behind his world-changing publications available to the world for free,” said John van Wyhe, director of the project.

“His publications have always been available in the public sphere – but these papers have until now only been accessible to scholars.”

As happy as I am to see these get released to the public (and in digital form to boot!), I’m leery of how creationists are probably already prowling through these journal pages mining for quotes they can take out of context and use against evolution in their usual dishonest method. They do it all the time.

Creationist IDiots aside, I am still very happy about this public release. It will be nice to have access to his diary pages and field notes and really see how the evidence was built up piece-by-piece, fact-by-fact, until the case made itself.

Via: Reuters

The Fact Of Evolution

Creationists love to blather on about how evolution is just a theory. It’s a great little sound byte that crops up almost everywhere evolution is doubted, tainted or otherwise misunderstood. The problem is how it undermines and misrepresents the meaning of a scientific theory, a testable (and well tested) explanation of the facts that also makes specific falsifiable scientific predictions.

In truth, evolution is both a fact and a theory. Let me explain this using gravity as an example.

There is the observable fact we call ‘gravity’ – Things fall when you drop them. Then we have an ever-changing theory of gravity we use to explain those observed facts. Our current theory started with Newton and was later added to by Einstein. Regardless of what theory we use or where that theory stands, it doesn’t change the fact that things fall when you drop them. 

Now let’s change ‘gravity’ to ‘evolution’.

There is the observable fact we call ‘evolution’ – Species evolve over time. Then we have an ever-changing theory of evolution we use to explain those observed facts. Our current theory started with Darwin’s theory of Evolution by Natural Selection and has since been added to and changed by thousands of scientists over the years. Regardless of what theory we use or where that theory stands, it doesn’t change the fact that species evolve over time.

This is one of the reasons I loved it when Carl Sagan noted in his Cosmos series, “Evolution is a fact. It really happened.” Evolution did really happen. Species evolved over time. It’s observable. It’s a fact. And the best theory we have to date to explain these observed facts is evolution by natural selection.

Micro-evolution vs. Macro-evolution.

Now, a lot of creationists like to meet halfway by saying they accept micro-evolution but not macro-evolution. I don’t differentiate between the two, but just to explain – Micro-evolution is used when talking about small changes within a single species. Macro-evolution is used when talking about a single species becoming two separate species. In truth, there is only one kind of evolution. Accepting micro-evolution but not macro-evolution (indeed, even acknowledging a difference between the two) is usually employed as a method for religious people to make room for God in their otherwise purely scientific and reasonable view of nature. This is the God of the Gaps dilemma many religious people face. As evidence from various areas of science fills in the remaining gaps, God (or the need for a god) gets smaller and smaller until there are no gaps left for him to inhabit.

This is when many religious people fall back on what Stephen Jay Gould called NOMA or Non-Overlapping Magisterium that says;

The net, or magisterium, of science covers the empirical realm: what is the universe made of (fact) and why does it work this way (theory). The magisterium of religion extends over questions of ultimate meaning and moral value. These two magesteria do not overlap…

As Richard Dawkins points out in his book The God Delusion, “This sounds terrific – right up until you give it a moment’s thought.” After all, by what means does religion gain insight into life’s ultimate meanings and moral values? But that’s a question for another post.

Recommended Reading:
An Evolution Primer for Creationists by Skeptoid
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

The Scattering Begins

Yessir, they’re already scattering over the “cease & desist” order sent from XVIVO regarding the blatant plagiarism of their Inner Life of the Cell video in Ben Stein’s soon-to-be-released Expelled movie. Uncommon Descent has the first post. You can watch them jump through semantic loops in the comments. The excuses go on and get more absurd the further you read… “Who owns the copyright?”, “Credit vs. Copyright”, “Big science has to come up with something to sue Expelled over so it might as well be a cell animation” … Then, there’s this quote from Jonathan Wells,

Expelled does NOT use the Harvard animation. The producers paid a professional to create a new animation that is more accurate than the Harvard one (based on current knowledge of cellular processes). Any similarities between the Expelled animation and the Harvard one are due to the fact that both animations depict many of the same processes.

Ahem…

… More accurate? Need I mention the copying of errors again? They never admit it when they’re wrong.

EXPELLED: Plagiarism Allowed

There’s just not enough controversy (r)evolving around the creationist propaganda film Expelled is there? Well, here’s yet another example of the dishonest tactics being employed by the filmmakers.

A while back there was a bit of a stir over the Discovery (no linkage for you) Institute’s illegitimate use of a magnificent video created by XVIVO on behalf of Harvard University’s Biovisions called The Inner Life of the Cell (watch here).

After realizing they can’t take copyrighted material, strip it of its credits, and narration and stick in their own creationism-filled nonsense, I guess these morons decided the next best thing was to have some crap video team remake the Harvard video, scene-by-scene, and then put their creationism-filled narration on top of it. And that’s exactly what they did. Here’s an image of the offending scene side-by-side with the original Harvard scene.

The film Expelled contains this scene-by-scene duplication of the Biovisions masterpiece and as usual for the creadesign proponentists, they left a few transitional fossils in their wake. ERV points out in her recent presentation at the Oklahoma Americans United for the Separation of Church and State conference there are at least a dozen different ways a paramecium can move across a microtubule and how odd it is that the Expelled video uses the exact same visualization of motion as the Harvard video. It’s even been pointed out by some bloggers within the science community that the motion depicted in the original video isn’t even a good example of actual molecule movement and cellular activity. So, just like in High School, the proof that they copied is in the copying of errors as well as the facts.

It’s pretty clear to myself and many others that the filmmakers behind Expelled have not a shred of honesty running in their veins. I’m unsure as to how much legal action was pursued after the original copyright infringement, but ERV is moving against this blatant example of video plagiarism with a little letter. I’m sure they’ll backpedal and divert attention like always but it will still be fun to watch them scatter for answers. Probably more fun that watching Expelled itself.

Via: ERV