Creationists set the Tennessee clocks back 150 years

Both the Tennessee House and Senate have passed a bill that will allow teachers to teach creationism in the classroom. If Governor Haslam signs this into law, then Tennessee schoolchildren can legally undergo religious indoctrination in the classroom.

Here's more: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2012/03/22/tennessee-legislature-boldly-sets-the-science-clocks-back-150-years/

If you live in Tennessee and have a problem with this, I suggest contacting Governor Haslam: http://www.tn.gov/governor/contact.shtml
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157 comments
 
It's sad that these sorts of things are so prominent in US education.
Drop the creationism (as science), science denial, and meet the modern world in the wonderful realm of metric... your nation will be much better off.
 
Time for another letter.
#FlyingSpaghettiMonster
 
Well, no, not legally, given that the 14th Amendment will pick up the 1st Amendment and smack them upside the head with it.
 
Isn't big bang and string theory just another form of general cosmic creationism, not the usual specific or protestant biblical planet kind?
 
Congrats TN. You've just thrown away millions of your taxpayer dollars in legal fees when this is inevitably overturned in court. Edwards v. Aguilard should be required reading for these clowns.
 
+Rick Barrett No, because they can use some type of evidence, whether physical or mathematical, to support their statements. There's a big difference.
 
How long before this goes to court?
 
Mm you're dead right Brian -
 
Can't wait to hear how they plan on showing any sort of scientific evidence to this
 
Creationism has no business being taught as science or being taught at all in a Public School. Now if you want to expand the curriculum to include a History of Global Religion and not make any one religion the focus... I think that is a fine idea. But, certainly not as science.
 
Rick's a Christian troll with zero posts and no personal info. Just FYI.
 
+Robert N. Lee I figured as much. No one asks concern-troll questions like that without being a troll :)
 
Apparently the school district thinks it has too much money if it's got time and resources to burn defending this. The losers are the kids in the district.
 
When other states head for the future, Tennessee goes Stone Ages.
 
"Good morning class. We'll start by discussing Creationism. Ready? God or something. OK, that's it. Any questions? No? Good. Let's move on to science. Open your ponderously large textbooks to page 1 and we'll start learning."
 
Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. (Einstein)
 
Objectively discuss strengths and weaknesses of creationist beliefs, huh? Sounds like a great opportunity for teachers who respect the scientific method to attack the weaknesses of creationism head-on.
Brian M
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/me adds TN to the list of states from which he won't be hiring graduates. Sorry, but I need to be able to rapidly sort resumes and your questionable educational background makes a handy lint filter.
 
And people wonder why some states get the reputations they have.
 
I hope the governor vetoes this, but if not I would (if I were a school teacher) use this as an opportunity to explain to kids why creationism and ID are wrong. If they put religion in the classrooms, then it is also subject to criticism and scrutiny and they have to accept that. They can't have it both ways.
 
You know what... I'm ready to let Tennessee go. Let them teach creationism. Maybe it will draw in the people who want it taught in schools and everyone else can exit and let it be consumed by ignorance on its own. Then we won't have to deal with them any more.
 
This kind of ignorance has to be stood up against. This is what happens when atheists are silent. It is time to treat religion with the contempt, incredulity, and ridicule that it deserves. Just the fact that the abrahamic religions still exist in 2012 is a credit to how nice atheists are everywhere. Too nice. People who practice this stone age belief system should be treated like people who believe that Elvis is still alive.
 
Let's not forget Kentucky with the Creation Museum...
 
I lived in Nashville for 13 years and met my wife there. Sadly, there are just enough of these idiots to wreck the reputation of the entire state. Not everybody from Tennessee is a creationist, or for that matter even a Christian. OTOH, this is not a call to treat religion with contempt. +Tim Brooks , the fact that you call for treating religion with contempt proves that atheists are not nice everywhere. You want me to respect your belief that there is no god, you have to show respect for my belief that there are many gods and goddesses. Otherwise, you're just as bad a jerk as the creationists.
 
Mmm well excuse the philosophy question so simply put. In classical philosophy there are 2 notions of creation operative, and this even in the middle ages; one creation ex nihilo ie from zero of the cosmos, which is now occupied by the big bang position among general creationists in the science world; and the other, creation by means of continued sustenance against the general law of entropy, which is what Einstein held. So which is it we are discussing? Is it carte blance manufacture? Or continued sustenance? - Special creationism ie the old protestant biblical kind of say just the planet, interpreting such codexes as the bible very simply literally and wrongly of course; or general creationism, the modern notion of the big bang of the cosmos as a totality? The philosophy of both camps seems very divided and ideologised into rhetoric - some philosophy is needed here, and a little logic. According to original classical christianity, whatever science comes up with, in this debate, will always be acceptable, and can be read back into the symbolic rhetoric of the bible. Old biblicist christians deny science.
 
Well said Andrew Ragland. Respect people and their beliefs and real discussion can take place, otherwise it turns into a bar fight and no one wins.
 
Not surprising in a State that comes in at the bottom of the pack in per student funding nationwide. Education is not valued in TN. Is it any wonder this is the result you get?

Keep lowering funding for education across the country and we will soon all look like TN.
 
IMNSHO it comes down to this: Public schools should avoid religious teachings and stick to the provable facts. Religion is the domain of the churches and the families. If you want to teach your children that there is no god, or that there are many gods, or whatever, that's your business. If you want to teach my children that there is no god, or that there are many gods, or whatever, that's my business, and you'll stay out of it.
 
Rick Santorum and the like say that we keep religious people out of the public square. That is ridiculous. What we want is to keep all religion doctrines themselves out of the public square. People are free to believe them and free not to. That's very different.
 
Plus many +Andrew Ragland , there's a difference between refuting patantly absurd scripture literalism, and treating personal faith with contempt. I feel like this argument has happened on +Philip Plait 's threads before too.
 
+Andrew Ragland You do not quite understand atheism. Atheism is the lack of belief in a god or goddesses, not a belief in something. I respect anyone who believes anything - but do not ask me to respect anything anyone believes. Do you respect the belief that Elvis is still alive? There is more proof that Elvis is still alive than there is that your god or gods ever existed to begin with. Beliefs in fantasies and fairy tales, like your "gods and goddesses" can not, should not, and will not be respected. I respect you, I respect your right to believe what you want, but as far as your belief system, it has earned exactly as much respect as the proof you have to support your claim - none.
 
Tim I agree with you and as an atheist but living in Tennessee as an open atheist means your life is in danger.
 
Jeff, it would be nice if we could get that difference across to more people. I've had far too many atheists online be total dicks to me, and then when I asked them for civility, tell me, and I quote, "Pray about it, then go cry". Refuting scriptural literalism and being contemptuous of someone's beliefs are indeed two different things. I've seen a Christian minister take on a literalist, and tear apart the literalist's argument without ever being impolite or contemptuous. I know it's possible to tackle the subject without being a jerk. Far too many people just don't make the effort. It's easier to be dismissive and rude.
 
"stupid is stupid, faith does not make it smart" Robert Heinlein
 
+Shawn Grant That hurts so bad to hear. I do not know what to tell you. Get your jabs in where you can, stay safe, and avoid accidental vindication of religious beliefs.... Maybe I will move to Tennessee next.....
 
It is much easier to say Everything about every faith is crap than actually to study and refute specific things that are believed, I rarely hear atheists say anything about any faith is good or accurate.
 
I would like to, and shall, quote a poster a friend has, and address those comments to the Tennessee state congresscritters:

"You are the final result of billions of years of evolutionary success.
Fuckin act like it!"

*********************
 
Separation of Church and State are a necessity for a healthy multicultural society. Acceptance of people's beliefs is equally so. Public Schools should not teach religion neither should anyone attack the beliefs of others.
 
+Toby Samples there isnt anything good about faith (unless you want to control people, then it is useful)

There isnt anything accurate about faith, or it wouldn't be called faith, it would be called knowledge.

It is called faith because it is not knowledge.
 
No no, religion SHOULD be taught in schools. In a class about mythology.

Pretending it's science is wretched and this law is unconstitutional.
 
Exactly Tim Brooks. What a shame that superstition trumps science in some states.
 
Seems to me an inordinate amount of time gets wasted on this subject and has ever since I've been alive. I'm 54 and this doesn't go away. Nothing said here is new or even enlightening. People will believe what they want to, no matter what is taught in school.
 
+Tim Brooks Is there such a thing as love? Do you love your spouse, prove it me using empirical evidence...
 
+Roger Clark Should educational institutions attack a belief in astrology? alchemy? why not religion? It is all bullshit and it is bad for you. "Acceptance of peoples beliefs is required?" acceptance in what way? I accept that some people believe they were abducted by UFO's - that does not mean I should treat the belief with any level of respect.
 
How can that be legalize when the USA supports The Right To Education? This goes against the constitution.
 
+Toby Samples What you call love, a scientist would call a release of chemicals and reactions in the brain.

I agree with Tim. Faith is belief in the absence of reason and evidence. There's nothing good about that.
 
+Toby Samples How is asking for a definition even remotely close to saying there's no such thing? It only seems that way to you because you don't know how to define it.
 
+Toby Samples is right. Love is real therefore jebus rode a dinosaur to sign the constitution.
 
My point is just because something can't be proven by empirical evidence doesn't mean it's wrong.
 
If I am forced to learn the scientifically-absurd "evolution theory" as part of science in school, why not the supernatural "creation theory" for a change :)
 
+Toby Samples My point is that it's irresponsible to believe something that has absolutely no empirical evidence supporting that belief. And it is irresponsible and reckless to then introduce that unsupported belief into a school system.
 
+Tim Brooks how do you prove it using Science. Then maybe we can have a check before we get married to see if we really love our fiance.
 
+Tim Brooks Actually, you're just being unpleasant.
Let's get this ironed out.

Nobody here (but the troll) thinks creationism has any place in schools (outside of a nonindoctrinational, non denominational class on religion). Nobody here thinks anything dictated by any faith trumps scientific evidence. Some people here have personal spiritual beleifs which in no way conflict with our appreciation, respect, understanding and firm empirical beleif in the scientific method and the results it produces.

So nobody here deserves your vitriol. Save it for the ignorant and aggressive barbarians who allow blind literalist zealotry to guide them into harming the education of the children that they are responsible for.
 
@Tim Brooks tax benefits I guess is another good reason.
 
Introduction to various theological creationism beliefs 101. Solved. 
 
I really don't understand there is so much anger in this topic. Science is about understanding the world. That's what we all want to do. So why can't we have a civil conversation?
 
+Joff Leader Are you worried that I might be offending someones 'spiritual beliefs' by comparing a belief that 'elvis is still alive' to religion?
 
+Toby Samples Apparently the conversation is over, at least in TN. Are you saying people should not be outraged by this insertion of religious fantasies into the realities of our children? Although I do think this conversation has been fairly civil so far.
 
+Tim Brooks no, I'm finding your tone needlessly hostile and confrontational in a thread that was about something on which we all agree until it got derailed. You're just having a pop at people for no reason other than to make yourself feel superior, and I think maybe it got nastier when you realised you weren't in quite the echo chamber you thought you were.

The conversation has been mostly civil, yes, apart from you.
 
+Tim Brooks You engaged in repeated scattershot attacks on anyone who happens to hold a shred of religious or spiritual belief.

Read back over your own posts if you missed them :)
 
Glad I don't live in TN - just hope this doesn't set a precedent. Creationism should NEVER be taught in public schools. They can whatever they want in Catholic or other religiously sponsored private schools. But stay the hell out of public schools. If they start pushing creationism in either of my kids schools I'm yanking them and will FIND time and a way to make home schooling work for our family,
 
+Joff Leader Oh, well in that case, an apology is out of the question. Religious belief is what caused the problem presented by this post. Religious belief does deserve any respect whatsoever, as I said before.
 
Whenever this topic comes up, without stating my position on religion or science either way, the constitution holds provision for the separation of church and state. Period.

To my knowledge, many religions employ religious educational classes for children known colloquially as "Sunday School." If people feel strongly that their children require religious education, why can't establishing and funding such a thing privately through the church of their attendance be a viable option?
 
+Finn Ekberg Christiansen First, it was not suggested that they should teach evolution in sunday school, although that is a good suggestion. Secondly, Creationism can not be reconciled with science. There are two games in town when it comes to describing the origins of life on earth. There is the 'Theory of evolution' then there are 'Stories of creation'. They are not the same, they do not equal each other, and they have no business being reconciled.
 
My main problem with attempts to reconcile faith with science is the starting point. Science starts with, "I wonder how this works," and then proceeds to explore the subject matter. Faith starts with, "This is my belief," and then tries to shoehorn that belief into scientific understanding. I understand that to some degree that's how theories work, but theories generally have a stronger foundation than thousands of years of unsubstantiated beliefs.
 
+Garrett Mecca Reminds me of a quote, dont remember whose though - "Science says here is the evidence, lets find a conclusion that supports it. Religion says here is the conclusion, lets find evidence that supports it."
 
+Tim Brooks actually is Religion says here is the conclusion, believe in it and do not look for evidence :)
 
+Marco Calignano yes, of course, why would you need evidence if you have faith? To gain evidence would remove faith.
 
Next children will go to school in chariots pulled by horses and they'll read creationist book at candlelight!
 
The Amish culture is not a perversion of Christian doctrine, it is an expression.
 
How do creationists cope with extinction and with new species (like new virus) that were never seen before?
 
They use faith to cover their eyes and ignore observations so that their belief can be preserved.
 
+Tim Brooks So how did people come to exist, If it was through evolution why is it still considered a theory? Can we ever call it a fact?
 
You keep saying the word theory, I dont think it means what you think it means.
 
The fact that evolution happened is not in dispute by anyone with more than two brain cells. The theory of evolution does change over time, but that has nothing to do with the fact that it happened. Just as the theory of gravity changes over time, no one doubts the fact that gravity exists.
 
probably creationist have doubts about gravity, its creation is not mentioned anywhere :D
 
Evolution happened. I think the debate is about whether "natural selection" was the engine behind it. Since 'unnatural selection' works fine (we call it 'livestock breeding'), I do not see any problem with accepting 'natural selection', operating over millenia
 
So what your saying is that scientists are wrong about some things sometimes?
 
The theory of evolution is random variation followed by natural selection. Paul, what theory do you propose?
 
Of course we are wrong. Any scientific model is valid until new evidence comes along and we have to find a better model to try describe reality. That is also called scientific method.
 
Darwin's big theory was not that evolution happened, but that natural selection was the driving force. I have no problem with that.
 
+Paul Dickson another question is also how evolution works. Maybe just random mutation wouldn't statistically allow for a so rapid evolution
 
We can breed animals and plants over just a few decades. Why can't accidental mutation do the same thing operating over millions of years?
 
+Toby Samples Science is built on the principle of falsification. Scientific claims must be testable, verifiable, and falsifiable. Scientists ask to be proven wrong every time they make a scientific claim. That is the inherent unmentioned part of a scientific claim, where the scientists is saying "If I am wrong, will someone please show me I am wrong, and why".

No one has ever proved the theory of evolution wrong. It is a scientific theory which means it has 2 distinct properties.
A. It has never been refuted.
B. It has predictive value.

The theory of evolution gives us more predictive value, or information about the future that we would be unable to have without it, than almost any other theory man kind has created.
 
Nothing in science is 'proven'. The accepted theories just have not been 'disproven'. Newton's laws of physics were accepted as correct for hundreds of years, until our measurement tools got better.
 
Think of the DNA. Even a bacteria with really little genes has a lot of DNA. Random changes of each combination would take ages to produce another specie.
 
+Buddhini Samarasinghe Please help +Paul Dickson . But by my understanding a 'random mutation' would not provide the genetic propensity to create an entire population of a different species. I am not an evolutionary biologist, but I +'d one that might be able to help. I also recommend wikipedia.
 
Either a mutation improves the longevity of your genes, or it doesn't.
 
No, just because a mutation provides an advantage does not mean it will be a dominant gene.
 
You know, the only place I hear people trying to distinguish a difference between micro and macro evolution is by religious zealots who are unwilling to admit the fact that we did come from monkeys.
 
+Tim Brooks Thank you Tim for you explanation, I do think that is why you can't make a scientific claim about God existing either way. neither can you make a claim that God created anything. It cannot be proven in a scientific way. However we do continually find flaws in our scientific theories. I'm not saying they are all wrong, I just don't think we should be so arrogant to say that someone with two brain cells knows the truth.
 
+Finn Ekberg Christiansen You are unsure about the predictive information gained from the theory of evolution?

A central tenet in science is that a scientific theory is supposed to have predictive power, and verification of predictions are seen as an important and necessary support for the theory. The theory of evolution has provided such predictions . Four examples are:
Genetic information must be transmitted in a molecular way that will be almost exact but permit slight changes. Since this prediction was made, biologists have discovered the existence of DNA, which has a mutation rate of roughly 10−9 per nucleotide per cell division; this provides just such a mechanism.
Some DNA sequences are shared by very different organisms. It has been predicted by the theory of evolution that the differences in such DNA sequences between two organisms should roughly resemble both the biological difference between them according to their anatomy and the time that had passed since these two organisms have separated in the course of evolution, as seen in fossil evidence. The rate of accumulating such changes should be low for some sequences, namely those that code for critical RNA or proteins, and high for others that code for less critical RNA or proteins; but for every specific sequence, the rate of change should be roughly constant over time. These results have been experimentally confirmed. Two examples are DNA sequences coding for rRNA, which is highly conserved, and DNA sequences coding for fibrinopeptides (amino acid chains that are discarded during the formation of fibrin), which are highly non-conserved.
Prior to 2004, paleontologists had found fossils of amphibians with necks, ears, and four legs, in rock no older than 365 million years old. In rocks more than 385 million years old they could only find fish, without these amphibian characteristics. Evolutionary theory predicted that since amphibians evolved from fish, an intermediate form should be found in rock dated between 365 and 385 million years ago. Such an intermediate form should have many fish-like characteristics, conserved from 385 million years ago or more, but also have many amphibian characteristics as well. In 2004, an expedition to islands in the Canadian arctic searching specifically for this fossil form in rocks that were 375 million years old discovered fossils of Tiktaalik.
Evolutionary theory predicts that novel inventions can arise, while creationists predict that new "information" cannot arise, and that the Second Law of Thermodynamics only allows for "information" to be lost. In an ongoing experiment, Richard Lenski observed that some strains of E. coli evolved the ability to metabolize citrate after tens of thousands of generations.

More information can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_as_fact_and_theory#Predictive_power
 
+Paul Dickson Take the Dromedary: to live in the desert the dromedary eats a special kind of bush it take all the water out of it and store it in a pocket near its stomach and put all the energy (fat) in its hump. Now think of all the genes involved in it.
-its brain needs to find the right bush
-its stomach need to process the bush
-its body has to divide water from carbs(fat) and store them in two different place
-its genes has also to grow these two parts

now all this chain without even one block is useless how are the chances that using only random genetic mutation even one dromedary got all this in one generation? Really small!
 
+Finn Ekberg Christiansen Artificial Selection, like Natural Selection would be a means, not and end result. The difference between micro and macro evolution is supposedly the end result, in other words it was macro evolution if the end result can no longer breed with other animals with the older dna, or a new species. Micro evolution would be the end result of an animal who changed, but could still breed with the older version. Both micro and macro evolution have been proven.
 
Man, do I get sick of these same old appeals to ignorance, strawmen, and false equivalencies. If you can't understand evolution, you are willfully ignorant because it's simple. Descent with modification. Boom. Done. That's a fuckin' fact. If you can't accept that, I can't help you. You're a fucking moron. You might be a nice person, we could maybe chat about the weather and get along fine, but you're an idiot. Your superstition does not carry any weight. It's not equivalent. No one needs to treat it as such. Let's teach the kids how a cow licked Ymir out of the ice while we're at it.
 
+Paul Dickson "Nothing in science is 'proven'. The accepted theories just have not been 'disproven'. Newton's laws of physics were accepted as correct for hundreds of years, until our measurement tools got better".

Evolution is a proven scientific fact and yes, there is proof for evolution. Evolution works by natural selection. If evidence is discovered at some point in the future to disprove evolution, evidence that stands up to the rigors of the scientific method, then yes, at that point in time evolution would be disproven and we would have a new explanation for how life became the way it is. Until that happens, evolution is considered a proven, testable fact by the scientific community. I think you're misunderstanding the scientific method (i.e. your quote about Newton being proven wrong thanks to quantum mechanics and modern measurement tools).

+Tim Brooks I'm trying :)
 
Just to be clear I am not saying evolution is wrong. No, evolution it is the most valid theory (until new evidence of the contrary :)) What I am questioning is the way evolution came to be. It seems just random DNA recombination is a bit poor as solution. Maybe the environment around us influence which genes survive and which genes die or maybe even which mutation take place. I am just saying that random mutation could not be the only thing.
 
+Marco Calignano No one is saying random mutation is the only mechanism. Another problem is that when you say random, it evokes the picture of the 747 in a junkyard being assembled 'randomly' because of a tornado. It won't happen. But what if every 'wrong' combination was penalized and never went on to the next generation, and every 'not-so-wrong' combination was 'rewarded' by going on to the next generation? After several billion years, then yes, you could have a functional 747. I hesitate to use these metaphors because it implies that evolution is an active force that is watching the final result and tweaking it - penalizing the bad DNA combos, rewarding the good etc. Evolution is blind. It only seems this way because we have the luxury of hindsight.
 
Wow, way to go Tennessee. What a bunch of retards.
 
That makes me throw up. Also 3/13/1925 Tennessee passed this: 1925: The Tennessee General Assembly approved a bill prohibiting the teaching of the theory of evolution. (Gov. Austin Peay signed the measure on March 21.)
Who would of thought 87 years later Tennessee would be back to the same stuff
 
+Finn Ekberg Christiansen If I thought that the theory of evolution is what you think it is, I would have problems with it too. The problem here is only your understanding, not the theory itself. On a further note, predictive value is not just predicting what has already happened but as well as predicting the future as it actually will be, scientifically speaking. The predictive value we gain from the theory of evolution is why you will have a flu vaccine available next year.
 
+Finn Ekberg Christiansen It's considered a proven fact because the evidence is right there, in the DNA - if you compare human DNA with fly, worm, mouse, rabbit, you can see how some important genes are conserved (i.e. the DNA sequence is more or less preserved across the millions of years). The evidence is right there in the results of experiments like Lenski's. Is there any specific part of this evidence that you do not understand. which apparently causes you to doubt the fact that the entire scientific community regards evolution as proven? We don't just blindly believe, we have proof. We see the evidence. This is NOT the same as the creationists who thump their bible and say they also have proof, they also see evidence of god all around them. I think it's false to try and equate the two.
 
That is crazy +Finn Ekberg Christiansen. It is about 59F here today too, and we were also cheated out a real winter. It's no wonder scandanavians came to Minnesota. It's the same place. See? Everyone gets along when we talk about the weather. Just don't bring up global warming.
 
+Finn Ekberg Christiansen the most disturbing thing you said there - "One of my dreams is to have all relevant scientists (of both beliefs) to sit down and sincerely discuss the prevailing theory of evolution and evolution and their problems."

You dont have to dream - they did it when you werent looking. In fact they still get together every day, without you. Quite literally.
 
+Marco Calignano it's not just mutation. It's as well sexual recombination of genetic information (keeps the gene code more stable than mutation) and not too be forgotten natural selection. Natural selection means: If your gene-code doesn't allow you to be fit enough to survive or produce offspring, then your chances for producing offspring is drastically reduced. You could be more vulnerably to illnesses and die early or you could be too slow to escape the wild animal or you could be not intelligent enough to find an escape route. In all that cases your genes would not be passed on to the next generation. Of course you could be ugly and not find a mate which reduces the chances for offspring as well. On the other hand, if you're the smart, handsome and athletic guy who catches the wild animal and and get's all the beautiful and intelligent women, then you'll have success in reproducing, thus more of the successful kind of offspring like you will be part of the next generation than those unsuccessful ones.

actually one can implement all these things in a computer program (called genetic algorithm, evolutionary programming, etc.) and observe first hand the interplay between mutation, sexual recombination and selection. It's just great to watch. The "individuals" (expressions of gene codes) adapt to the constraints put into the system just as in real life.
 
+Finn Ekberg Christiansen The day an OB-GYN sits down to have a nice civil polite conversation with a man who is an expert in the 'stork theory of childbirth' will be the day a creationist and an evolutionary scientist will sit down to have that talk. Once again I repeat, you are making false comparisons. Creationism is not a science.
 
+Finn Ekberg Christiansen The DNA for certain important genes is preserved. Not every single strand of DNA. The important genes are preserved purely because they are important. Any mutations in those will be 'penalized' by being removed from the gene pool (the organism carrying that mutation won't survive, will be sterile etc). Preserving the important genes IS important for evolution. In my previous comment I clearly stated that this DNA preservation happens for important genes, not just the whole DNA sequence for the organisms taken as a whole.
 
+Finn Ekberg Christiansen Of course evolution is not unguided. It's guided by the laws of nature and by the constraints set by resources available to the individuals of the population and to the life-stock reducing factors like hunting individuals of another kind, diseases, mating-success and so forth.

Evolution is not just random throwing of a dice. Evolution is not just mutation. Evolution is mutation, crossover, selection, producing offspring. There are plenty of little example implementations to be found on the web:
http://www.glauserweb.ch/gentore.htm
http://www.rennard.org/alife/english/gavgb.html
http://www.generation5.org/content/2003/gahelloworld.asp

Indeed genetic algorithms have been found to find solutions to quite difficult problems where engineers have come up only with mediocre solutions. You just need enough time... just like in real life with evolution. But evolution had a couple of billion years of time so far and myriads of trial and error tests running.
 
+Michael Behe is a whack job nut case walking talking insane asylum pseudo science anti-intellectual science denying moron.
 
+Finn Ekberg Christiansen The one individual with the great mutation will bring this mutation to the next generation in a larger scale if it is more successful in reproducing than the others. That's it. If the individual with the great mutation is eaten at the second day by a bigger animal the oh so great mutation will die out immediately. It's just like that.

There is actually no single evidence around which would support something like creationism.

The fact that some details of evolution theory will be understood better in the future does not imply there is anything wrong with the current understanding and even less it implies, that something completely non-evidence based like creationism has any scientific value.

The best theory is the simplest theory which needs the least number of assumptions to descibe most of the findings.
Creationism needs too large assumptions and does not have any predictive power.
 
+Buddhini Samarasinghe +Peter Speckmayer The explanation you give are really simplistic. How are you sure that good genes go on on the next generation. Especially in reproduction a good gene of a parent has 50% chance to go to the offspring. So is no guarantee that good genes go on, they just have much more chance to. And all of this does not consider that the first life form on earth did not have any reproduction. Reproduction evolved later thanks to mutation. Plus if you talk about genetic algorithms (which I develop all the time) one of the best recombination algorithm is the Tournament selection which it gives different probability of mating base on the fitness, but does not exclude the lower fitness value.
 
+Marco Calignano Of course there is no guarantee that the good genes will go on. I'm sure hundreds of thousands of beneficial mutations are wiped out by catastrophic disasters like floods, asteroids etc. But you said it yourself, 'they just have much more chance to'. That's exactly it.

The first life forms, bacteria and protozoans mostly rely on asexual reproduction, as opposed to sexual. So it's inaccurate to say there was no reproduction. And with asexual reproduction, it's no longer a 50% chance, it's 100%.
 
+Buddhini Samarasinghe I didn't mean there is no reproduction, but there no exchange of genetic material during reproduction. That means if you want you offspring to be different from yourself you need mutation.
 
+Buddhini Samarasinghe I do not know if read the argument of the Dromedary I did before. But let's make another example. Let's take the bat. If a bat would get from evolution an organ to produce the sonar waves but it wouldn't get the organ to receive them it would probably die. The same is other way around. If for a very little chance the lucky bat would get both in the same mutation or recombination, but still didn't have the right brain part able to process the received signals it would still die. So Sonar system (transmitter plus receiver) and the brain able to process the signals has to appear in just one generation.
Only in this case the bat has really an advantage and these genes have a chance to be carried on. What are the chances?
 
+Marco Calignano I think your problem is that you're trying to imagine a bat that suddenly loses his ears - yes the bat would die. But that's not how the bat evolved those ears. This topic has been brought up before with the stone-arch analogy. A classical stone arch will collapse as soon as one removes either the keystone or one of the other stones. The support of scaffolding is necessary in building a stone arch, but once the arch is completed, the scaffolding can be safely removed. In a similar vein, a biochemical structure may have functioned as a scaffold in evolution before becoming dispensable and disappearing. That is, "Before the multitudinous components of present biochemistry could come to lean together they had to lean on something else" (Cairns-Smith 1986, p. 61). So no, the sonar system and the brain did NOT appear in just one generation.

Horizontal gene transfer is bacterial sex basically. It's the exchange of genetic information between 'adults'. Two unrelated bacterial cells can swap DNA with each other using circular bits of DNA known as plasmids. If you read the wiki link I posted in my comment that may help you understand it.
 
+Marco Calignano I am late to the conversation so I've only read your last two comments, but let me see if I can respond to these specifically.

1. What you're positing in your first comment is a suggestion of irreducible complexity. Unfortunately, there is no such thing. Existing traits can be modified to serve new purposes once other adaptations make it possible. In the case of bats, they already made sounds, they already had ears. A particular quirk was that their range of hearing shifted slightly (due to genetic drift) so that some of their vocal range exceeded their auditory range and was only audible to them following a dopler shift in the frequency of the echo. Even without specialized neural pathways to take advantage of this, it would still prove a helpful tool and, over time, their brains, ears and vocalizing structures adapted to better utilize the phenomenon.

2. No, horizontal gene transfer is not between parent and offspring (that is vertical gene transfer). Rather, can take up free DNA fragments from the environment and, if they contain the right sequences, incorporate them into their genome. They also have tiny rings of DNA that they can transfer from one another via conjugation.
 
+Buddhini Samarasinghe I understand your point and it is a good point which also +Justin Moore explains really well. I just have this thought in my head that maybe evolution is not only "mechanical" (just done with sexual reproduction and mutation or crossover) But maybe (especially for more evolved animals) the environment influence the reproduction and the mutation. (this is sure true for humans, let think of monogamy). Also my thought is also may the animal brain can release different hormones that change the way meiosis is done given favor to different genes in different time of it life. These are just thoughts of mine and I'd like to know if anyone else did some research on that.

Going back to the HGT (wikipedia is a bit scarce on this) what is the difference between it and the Lateral gene transfer?
 
+Marco Calignano But that is how evolution works - in a purely mechanical manner, at the level of DNA. Sure, the outside environment can cause changes in behaviour that can result in changes in how the genes are expressed (for example certain chemicals that act as electrophiles can cause cellular damage; if a cell senses these chemicals, it will activate a bunch of enzymes to 'protect' the cell from this damage). There are countless reactions and pathways like this in a cell. But at the fundamental level, it is all "only mechanical", despite you wanting it to be different :) Monogamy is a cultural phenomenon, but it's possible that there is an evolutionary basis to it; if strong monogamous partnerships are favourable to the raising of offspring, then that evolutionary tactic is rewarded by monogamous partners producing fitter offspring. In humans, monogamy and feelings of empathy are triggered by many hormones, oxytocin being one of the well-known examples.

HGT and LGT are the same thing. There is no difference. The first sentence of the wiki link I gave you states "Horizontal gene transfer (HGT), also lateral gene transfer (LGT) refers to the transfer of genetic material between organisms other than vertical gene transfer". It should therefore be clear that LGT and HGT are terms that are used interchangeably to mean the same process.
 
+Buddhini Samarasinghe Thanks for the discussion. You were very fair and not dismissal. Now I have to go to bed, even if I'd like to go on discussing.
My doubt still remains (and doubts are fundamental for research) Maybe there is something, that we do not know about, that changes the way DNA is recombined and transmitted to offspring.
Thanks again good night
 
+Marco Calignano You're welcome. I am happy to have discussions of this nature. I do not have the patience to engage in a discussion with someone who has already made up his/her mind and is coming from a position of willful ignorance and a refusal to understand facts. Many creationists are like this. I cannot explain a book to someone who does not admit the existence of an alphabet. Thank you for not being like that.

I am sorry to hear that you still have doubts about proven scientific facts for which there is ample evidence. I agree, doubts are fundamental to research, but in scientific research those doubts are harnessed in a positive manner, to ask more questions, to find more answers, to probe deeper into the world around us. The kind of doubt that results in doubting existing fact without proposing a better alternative (and god-did-it is not a better alternative) is not a step forward, it is several steps backwards.
 
+Marco Calignano I'm not entirely sure what you mean when you mention the environment's influence in a non-mechanical way. If you get a chance (when you're back online) maybe you could clarify.

According to natural selection, the environment is precisely the driving influence in evolution in that it selects which individuals in a population survive and thus which genes get passed on and which do not. Now, Lamarckism suggested that acquired traits could be passed on to offspring and that sounds a little like what you may be talking about, but that theory was discredited half a century before Darwin and is now known with certainty to be false.

Interestingly, you might be pleased to note that hormones and other endocrine/paracrine molecules do influence gene expression throughout the lifetime of an organism; these and other factors do influence the pattern of DNA methylation of gametes (a type of epigenetic heredity). However, that only affects the immediately successive generation and has no permanent effect on the genome. In any case, though, it is a thoroughly mechanical process.


If you still have some reservations, it may be helpful to keep in mind that no organism is more evolved than any other. All living organisms have an evolutionary history that is equally long and evolution is not directional in that the only product is survival. It happens that intelligence is a useful adaptation for humans, but it is not necessarily better, from an evolutionary perspective, than any other adaptation that has allowed species to survive. For example, ants, both by biomass and by population, vastly outnumber humans on Earth and thus ants are a substantially more successful species.
 
+Finn Ekberg Christiansen Upon reading through this thread, I came across something you wrote: "I...know what natural selection means. I for one have a hard time figuring out how one lucky creature with one lucky mutation can 'dominate a million comrades' into oblivion."

This statement makes it abundantly clear that you actually do not know what natural selection is. I don't mean this as an insult because most people actually don't understand it simply because it's never been explained to them accurately. Elsewhere you commit Hoyle's fallacy, reinforcing my suspicions that you might need a quick primer on the subject.

The answer to this question is natural selection. Let's set aside the fact that mutation is just one of several sources of variation and go with the scenario to which you show special incredulity. Though it should be made clear that the individual is not what "dominates a million comrades into oblivion," but rather a mutant gene that becomes more frequent in a population. That is to say, an individual does not evolve, a population does.

A "lucky" mutant allele (ie, a beneficial one), aids an individual's survival in his present environment. That individual out-competes his fellows and produces more offspring which have a fair chance of receiving the mutation. In successive generations the allele may still go extinct, but if it is not selected against it has the opportunity to become fixed within the population. The frequency of a beneficial allele will tend to increase at the expense of other alleles because individuals with that allele (again) out-compete those who do not and certain mutant alleles of exceptional benefit may become universal.

This isn't even taking into account the founder effect, sexual selection, genetic drift (as it relates to punctuated equilibrium theory), synapsis/recombination, dominance, epistasis, silent mutation or any of the other factors that affect allele frequencies and overall success.

Just so there's no confusion, this change in allele frequency is what we call evolution from the perspective of molecular genetics. This is not only how a species adapts but also how, over time, speciation may occur in conjunction with population isolation or with new environmental stresses.

If, after this explanation, you still "have a hard time figuring out" evolution/natural selection, I can only conclude that you are being willfully obstinate out of loyalty to your preconceived position. And that's perfectly fine, I'm all for people believing whatever they like. But if that is the case, you should probably stop offering that position as something deserving of any scientific recognition, because it isn't.

You also keep making references to "blind" evolution, which makes no sense. You seem to be buying into the idea that naturalistic evolutionary theory rests entirely on random events and this is not the case. This is where the whole natural selection thing I explained comes in. You may be using the term merely to contrast with the religious concept of "guided" evolution, but that's as superfluous a concept in light of natural selection as is the idea that a deity guides the motions of the planets around the sun in light of Newtonian physics. That is to say, even if it were true, it is untestable and must, by definition, describe a phenomenon in a way that exactly mirrors what science predicts. It is then useless except to reassure people in their religious convictions.
 
+Finn Ekberg Christiansen let's take simple procaryotic cells. Let's assume one cell with a reproduction rate of 10 in an hour and another one with a different gene code with a reproduction rate of 5 per hour. After 10 hours you'll have about 1000 times more cells of the first type compared to the latter type of cells.

You see: the better one easily outnumbers the not so good one.
 
+Buddhini Samarasinghe My doubt is gone thanks to +Justin Moore
and its explanation about hormones influencing DNA methylation. This, I didn't know before (Yeah I know something new) and this lifted my doubt. So environment influences evolution not only at a 'higher' level with selection but also a 'lower' level with hormones.
I am a computer scientist and engineer not a biologist so I do not know all the literature about evolution. Thank again for your time and patience
this discussion helped a lot. It even gave me new ideas for new Genetic Algorithms: the idea the environment can influence the crossover could really make a big change in the way crossover is implemented.
Ok sorry my mind is going to fast now... coming back.
Just forget the non-mechanical statements I guess I was a bit tired and I expressed myself wrong (English is also not my first language).
I never said I had doubts about evolution taking place. I just have doubts that we know everything there is to know about how it really works.
Like Gravitation Theory was good and worked well for people on heart after Newton and then come along Einstein and... Maybe one day we discover one mechanism that make us see evolution in a different way
With that said I thank you again and I hope to have more such discussions
 
+Marco Calignano I'm so glad I could help. Sounds like you have a lot on your mind right now, but if it is helpful for whatever you're working on you may need to keep in mind that DNA methylation is epigenetic and so cannot contribute to long-term heredity directly, though hypothetically I suppose that some sort of selective feedback (say, reduced sensitivity to environmental estrogens) is possible.

And you are most certainly correct that we don't know everything there is to know about evolution. If you're interested, you might want to look up the debate regarding gradualism vs. punctuated equilibrium theory.

Take care.
 
+Justin Moore For genetic algorithms does not matter exactly what in reality happens, in fact we create the environment where the genes evolved and we can decide which influence each mechanism has on the evolution. Thanks also for the other tip. Would be cool if you could maybe signal any NOT SO SPECIFIC literature to have an global idea for how DNA methylation works. I also hope you can give me also some advise for future question (wont' be too many do not worry)
Thanks again
 
+Marco Calignano It's kind of the frontier of genetic research right now, so most of the information floating around is very specific scholarly research. Even my old genetics textbook doesn't mention it. The Wikipedia article on it seems pretty competent, if a little vague. The reference links might be useful, though. Also try searching for "genetic imprinting," as that's what we call it when the methylation occurs in gametes.
 
+Marco Calignano and +Justin Moore check this out - http://www.nature.com/news/a-trip-to-the-gym-alters-dna-1.10176

Even something like exercise can change the methylation status of the genome in muscle cells. Methylation was thought to be a fairly static long term process but now we're finding out it's far more dynamic than that.

There are few reports of rapid demethylation in mammalian cells, and enzymes that can demethylate DNA have only been identified in the past year or so. There is, says Evans, “a rapid evolution in our understanding of the demethylation process. It is going to be different in six months if not three.” So this paper, he says, “is right in the middle of a very exciting area”. Although the mechanism is unknown, Zierath’s study “re-enforces the notion that DNA methylation is more dynamic than previously appreciated”, says Helen Blau, a cell biologist at Stanford University in California. “It provides another paradigm to study promoter demethylation,” she says.
 
"To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree."- Charles Darwin
 
Atheism- the belief that there was nothing & nothing happened to nothing & then nothing magically exploded for no reason creating everything & then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason which then turned into dinosaurs. And they mock our beliefs!
 
+Pradeep B I assume, because your posts are phrased in an inflammatory way despite the cordiality by all parties in the posts that had preceded yours, that you are merely a troll looking to generate drama. Nevertheless...

1. I always find it amazing that creationists are so unhesitantly willing to lie to push a point that they genuinely believe to be true. And yet that's exactly what is being done when you quote-mine someone. Wherever you found that quote by Darwin, they clearly left off the rest of the quote:

"Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real."

These gradations that Darwin refers to have since been demonstrated to exist and have been the subject of many hundreds of scientific papers. So not only are you distorting what Darwin said by taking his words out of context, you are ignoring the massive body of scientific evidence that is, in any case, more relevant.

2. If the above example of armchair apologetics didn't sufficiently demonstrate your profound intellectual laziness, then such laziness is certainly evidenced by the fact that your understanding of both atheism and natural cosmology (which you have conflated) have been gleaned from a bumper sticker.
 
+Justin Moore I did not mean to be inflammatory to hurt anyone. If it is so, I sincerely apologise for that. I am not a religious person and neither belong to any western/eastern religious groups, but I confess I am spiritual (new testament believer) on my own. Thanks for letting me know the full quote of Darwin (I wasn't aware of it). The other post on atheist was a joke that I found recently in some other social networking post, Sorry for that too. But the message (other than the last line, I agree is not polite) in that generates a simple and basic question: What is the whole purpose of all the life, matter, elements etc that has evolved over time? Why did it happen and where will it end? I am not against evolution, but against a "purposeless-evolution theory" As you mentioned about the natural cosmology, How did it come in to existence in the first place and for what reason? (Please do not mistake my questions as a mocking your belief/intelligence, but rather I would like to learn from your knowledge). What you may refer natural cosmology or cosmic energy, I believe that some more powerful, very living energy, which I call it GOD, is controlling and balancing the cosmology. And I do not know what is He and or His reason of existence. All I know that we (humans), matter, space has came into existence (created or evolved doesn't matter) by His will. Science sees only the body (particles) and energy as substance, but spirituality teaches that there are body (particle) + energy + spirit (like a energy with intelligence called soul in other words). Soul is part of the cosmic energy and has true-conscience - (not a mere brain chemicals)- as a gift right from our infancy (There might be many scientific experimental proofs to prove that infants choose rights over wrongs). It is only after we learn our environment we become rational creatures. If we keep cheating our true-conscience, then the cosmic energy will destroy you (your soul) after your physical body perishes on earth. Rest of the solutions/messages are there in the new testament (not in some cult-religious church/group) and it is not forced on anybody nor it is mandatory. Because GOD is the respector of our "Free-will", anything otherwise should be influenced from the incentive-based corrupt nature of man.
One question: Define death? is it possible for any amount of intelligence to revert a clinically dead body to life? If we had not had a soul (ruled out in science), science could /can bring any living from clinically dead to life!
Cheers.
 
The following philosophy has similar analogy with the atheist's and theist's view about the spiritual living GOD.

(This is just a philosophy and do not beat me on the biology)
For a fully matured infant inside a mother's womb, which cannot believe anywhere remotely that it will one day have to live in a air medium and breath air through its nose to its lungs, will eat solid food using its mouth, will be capable of producing a same being as him/her self, etc. but on higher note, it will be difficult to believe that him/her self is residing inside a human body and to a greater extent, it is very difficult to believe that he/her has a living Father outside his/her fluid world. To confirm all its disbelief, it has to be born and see it for him/herself. And for any infant who choose to believe in the above things that are about to happen in due time, it is nothing but the Faith which keeps him/her going until it is born!
Likewise for any human who disagrees about the living GOD, he/her him/herself will witness it after his/her death!
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