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This Is Disturbing – Comic Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Posted by henry000 in anti-evolution, comic, creationism, Darwin, Darwinism, evolution, fundamentalism, God, violence.

I found this comic, courtesy of Digg. I don’t know about you, but I found it really disturbing… perhaps the artist is trying to reflect the anti-evolution sentiment rampant amongst the religous fundamentalists? By why such violence, why the use of girls?

I have a suspicion that the caption was added later by someone which has nothing to do with the drawing. I’d like to think that the drawing comes from some innocent children’s book…

“Trapping the Evolutionist”

Click here for the original file. Click on it to see its full size.

Darwinism and Its Discontents – Book Review Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Posted by henry000 in anti-creationism, anti-fundamentalism, anti-ID, Behe, biology, book review, Charles Darwin, Christianity, consilience, creationism, Darwin, Darwinism, Dawkins, evolution, genetics, geology, God, Gould, Haeckel, human evolution, philosophy, Piltdown Man, punctuated equilibrium, rationality, reason, religion, science, scientific theory.

I have been thinking about the ideas in this book for about four decades and have decided that the time has come to put them all together.

This is the opening sentence of Professor Michael Ruse’s latest book Darwinism and Its Discontents. Ruse is a well-known evolutionary philosopher and has been a great defender on Darwinism for a number of years. And with an opening statement like that, naturally I was thrilled to read what the discontents are all about, and if they matter at all.

The book is a defender of Darwinism and the fact of evolution from all sides of attacks, and is understandably light on refuting creationism of various flavours, so read this book to cement your understanding of Darwinism and evolution – I certainly learned a good deal from it.

Darwinism is defined as a particular theory in which evolution works. Its heart lies in the concept of natural selection, the chief causal process behind all organisms, and is the widely accepted evolutionary mechanism by the scientific community. However, it has always been under attack from various disciplines in social science, philosophy, religion, and even within science itself, and Ruse writes how these attacks are categorically mistaken.

Darwinism and Its Discontents Cover

The first chapter goes through the historical background of Darwinism. Ruse includes a number of notable historical figures ranging from people who did not have direct contribution to Darwinism such as Lyells and Malthus, to modern day scientists such as Fisher, Haldine and Wright. The conclusion of the chapter is right on spot – why was Darwin important? Because it was after him that a revolution happened – that life is a naturalistic, not a supernatural or God-inspired one.

The next few chapters are, I think, the highlights of the book as they outline what the fact of evolution is, its path, its cause and its limitations. Ruse presented the concept of consilience argument – that is, direct evidence supporting evolution from a myriad of fields of studies: palaeontology, biogeographical distribution, classification, morphology, embryology and so on. These chapters are essential in understanding the science of Darwinian theory of evolution – population genetics, adaptation, physical constraints on the phenotype, drift, and of course, natural selection, as well as a dash of Gould’s famous punctuated equilibrium theory.

The second half of the book then takes a different turn. It examines humans, the mistakes and dishonesty made in the history of evolutionary science (such as the Piltdown Man and Haeckel’s drawings) – and finally, Ruse looks at Darwinism from philosophical and religious point of views.

Overall I thought this book is very well balanced and not too technical for the layman; however it is definitely not an introductory level kind of book. If you are looking for the whole creationism vs. evolution debate then this is not an ideal book; conversely if you are looking for a book that covers a wide areas of Darwinian evolution – from past to present and across various disciplines, then this book is it.

Human Protein Evolution Retraced – at Atomic Level…! Saturday, August 18, 2007

Posted by henry000 in adaptation, Darwinism, evolution, human evolution, mutation, protein, science.

I think this is breaking-news stuff. Apparently for the very first time, scientists are able to track very precisely and at an “unprecedented detail” – in fact at atomic level to be exact – of the evolutionary path of an important human protein.

Here is the summary: using state-of-art computational and molecular technology, the ancestor of an important human protein was recreated in labs. These are then subjected to high tech particle physics analysis where the atomic structures of the protein through the past 450 millions of years were revealed.

Says one of the scientists involved:

“This is the ultimate level of detail,” Thornton said. “We were able to see exactly how evolution tinkered with the ancient structure to produce a new function that is crucial to our own bodies today. Nobody’s ever done that before.”

Specifically, only 7 mutations are required for the protein to evolve to its current structure, and the mutations are dependent on each other. As a scientist remarked, much to the dismay of anti-Darwinians,

“This study has refined our knowledge of evolution because it helps address the question of whether adaptation occurs through large or small effect mutations,” said Padilla. “This study shows that small changes may enable large adaptations to occur. These large adaptations may then by further refined by smaller adaptations.”

It is a short and not an overly technical article which is worth a read.

Darwinists’ Worst Nightmare – The Frightening Spectre of ID Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Posted by henry000 in anti-creationism, anti-evolution, anti-fundamentalism, anti-ID, creationism, Darwinism, evolution, Fred Hoyle, fundamentalism, intelligent design, natural selection, naturalism, rationality, reason, religion, science, scientists, straw-man.

Apparently the Intelligent Design movement has got the “Darwinists” scared, according to an article posted on an American right-wing extremist website (courtesy of the resourceful Darwininia).

While the title of the article “The frightening specter of Intelligent Design” sounds spectacularly frightening, it fails spectacularly to frighten anyone who knows something about ID. This is because the article is a simple repetition of the usual ID and creationism rhetorics.

So why are Darwinists scared? Because the progresses of science have rendered natural selection more and more unable to explain the complexity of life.

And this is pretty much the entire article offers – it mentions absolutely nothing, zero, nil, nada, on what these recent science progresses are.

And unlike many other more sophisticated ID arguments, the author displays all the hallmarks of basic creationism knowledge. The article starts with the main ID theme that life is too complex to be explainable by natural selection. This is where the ID argument (if there is one to start with) ends, and the good old dose of creationism takes over.

The author says that life is too complex to have come about by random chance – and he even brings up the really, really, really old and wrong Fred Hoyle chance calculation which I thought has been buried for good!

Then the scientific community is under attack with his straw-man argument:

But if design, conversely, is rational, why do so many scientists reject it? Because this is not an issue of science, but of religion. Their religion is that of materialism and naturalism, and they are under no illusions as to the implications of design.

Now this line of thinking exemplifies the frightening spectre of religious fundamentalism.