Evolution

All posts tagged Evolution

Conway’s Game of Life

“…one of the most fascinating aspects of The Game of Life is how it produces repeating patterns and patterns that move across the plane (referred to as gliders and spaceships). But with modern-day computers, we can process these steps effortlessly and see them before us near-instantaneously! As if that wasn’t mind-blowing enough, how about wrapping your brain around the resultant theory that there needn’t be a designer for complex systems to evolve, only a catalyst!

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Evolution Genesis and Revelations

I may have mentioned before that I used to be a devoutly religious Creationist. I earnestly believed that evolution was a trick Satan used to lead people away from Christ just as I was taught from an early age. I was so convinced that I refused to participate in any conversation that might attempt to change my mind, often resorting to frustrated tears when I could not verbalize why I believed as I did despite the scientific evidence. When pressed, I’d parrot those arguments that I’d heard righteous folk use, for instance, “if we evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” and I’d fall back on my Vacation Bible School education regarding The Missing Link. To my shame, I often resented people who would try to enlighten me. I believed they were agents of Satan trying to persuade me from the path of righteousness. Questioning the true word of God was forbidden. I believed this well into my mid-20s. Allow me, if you will, to tell you a brief but amusing story about this time in my life.

Tony, my first husband, returned home after a trip to our local Jellybean’s with a book he picked out for me. I initially thanked him, then I looked at the title – Evolution Genesis and Revelations by C. Leon Harris. I thought maybe reading this book would give me a little fuel for my argument next time someone tried to talk to me about evolution. It wasn’t until a couple days later when I sat down to read it that I realized I’d misinterpreted the title. On the side of the bright yellow binding were the words, “Evolution: Genesis and Revelations” but earlier I mistakenly read it as though it were punctuated with a comma – “Evolution, Genesis and Revelations.”

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Stumped, I flipped the book over to read the back panel. It began thus:

“In this comprehensive history of evolutionism, C. Leon Harris has combined primary source readings with clear, pertinent background information, to provide a solid basic understanding of the ways scientists have arrived at today’s views of evolution.”
Pissed, I marched the book right over to Tony. “Why would you give this to me?!” I demanded to know.
“I thought you might like to read it,” came his reply.
“But it’s about evolution…” I argued.
“Yeah, I know.”
“Why would I want a book about evolution?” I remember being really angry about it.
“I… I don’t know… I guess I just figured you might like to know more about it…” he stammered.
“About EVOLUTION?! I know all I need to know! It’s a lie! You know I am a Christian! This goes against everything I believe in! How could you bring this evil book into our house?”
I reminded him what the Bible said about him being the head of our household and that he was supposed to guide me and our children in the ways of the Lord. I refused to even look at the book. If memory serves, I attempted to throw it away, yet a couple days later, it ended up back on the bookshelf where it sat, untouched.

We eventually divorced in the years that followed, and I went on to find work in Detroit doing graphic design. One day, I had that old familiar argument with a coworker revolving around evidence for evolution. I was sadly uneducated and misinformed about many aspects of science and history, so it was an argument I lost. I went home that evening and decided to do some research with the full intention of going back the next week with some proof for my beliefs, or at least some evidence to refute his claims, which might in turn leave an opening for God to work in a way that would eventually change his mind so that he would not be lost to sin. Needless to say, things didn’t quite happen that way.

My weekend of Internet research became a lengthy quest that would go on for over a decade and would ultimately result in my acceptance of evolution despite my initial vow that nothing would sway me from my Creationist viewpoint. I’ll spare you the details of my personal journey, except to say that my education was a slow and painful process. At first, I rejected anything that was presented from the scientific community if it didn’t coincide with the Bible and kept what was left… it wasn’t much. In fact, even today, one would be hard pressed to find any argument for a young earth sans logical fallacies because they all come back to a matter of faith in the unprovable and untestable. What I did have were a few discussions from Creationists pointing me toward the concept that the widely accepted scientific method for carbon dating was in itself flawed. I researched and clung to this idea for a regrettably long time and would present it when given an opportunity in online forum discussions, only to have it respectfully shot down time and again with evidence – at the time, evidence I refuted because I didn’t fully comprehend. My ignorance was obvious to everyone but me.

In time, I came to accept that I didn’t know enough about the science behind the theory of evolution, and I felt as though God was challenging me to learn more in order to present a valid argument against it – and my prayer was that God would then work through me to win the lost souls of those misguided scientist types. That’s where this book comes back into the picture.

Just now, I walked over and pulled it from the shelf. Much to my chagrin, its bright blue lettering on a nearly neon yellow cover, once hideous in appearance to me, still proclaims: “EVOLUTION Genesis and Revelations” sans punctuation. There are markings inside that tell a story all their own. For instance, if you started at Chapter 1, Prescientific Concepts of the Origin of Species: Genesis, you’d find highlighted or underlined text and arrows that point to phrases and concepts I was prone to agree with at the time. The state of Tennessee prosecuting Thomas Scopes for teaching evolution in a public school was given as an example at one point and I remember thinking to myself, “see, I’m not so stupid for believing in Creation!” Underlined!

But then flip the pages a bit further and a pattern emerges. I highlighted text that confused and baffled me. I highlighted text that directly affronted my beliefs! And flip even further in, you’d find places where I noted text that required further study on my behalf. I wasn’t just going to take this guy’s word for it, was I? I didn’t quite like the implications and I didn’t get the technical jargon so early on, reading was laborious but I stuck with it.

Then, around Chapter 4, Born Again: the Revival of Science in the Renaissance, you might notice something truly remarkable… the annotations become fewer and fewer. No, it’s not because I stopped reading the book. It’s because I STARTED reading it! I was learning so much about history! I was coming to have a better understanding of and appreciation for the scientific method! By chapter eight when he goes into Neo-Darwinism, there are only dog-eared pages to mark spots of particular interest, I was too engrossed to care about locating a pen!

This book has been on my shelf for 17 years. I don’t read it, it’s outdated. Something I once considered Satan’s evil tool was merely words on pages explaining something I never before bothered to learn. It opened my mind, now I hunger for more! Over the last 10 years, I’ve applied myself to learning more about the fields of science that interest me and I no longer feel guilt or shame for abandoning those Creationist beliefs from my youth. It’s hard not to feel a tinge of resentment when I think about all those years I spent grasping for answers in the dark, clinging to my security blanket of faith!

I wouldn’t necessarily hold this one book fully accountable for my mindshift, nor would I say that evolution turned me into an atheist – that’s a much more complex story, one I’ll save for another day – but I WILL say that this book is one I’ll keep on the shelf as a gentle reminder to keep an open mind. For me, it symbolizes how people can and do change. I’m living proof. And like Paul Simon says, “Proof is the bottom line for everyone.”

“What if God wasn’t a god at all. What if all they could do for us was give us the chance of life and the rest was down to us? You don’t deny your parents just because they couldn’t give you everything do you? If someone saved you from drowning, effectively giving you life, would you thank them or ask them to push you back into the sea because they couldn’t make you immortal as well?”

Incredibly beautiful and inspiring. Everyone should see this at least once in their lifetime.

From the page: “More than half of adult Americans report they have had a spiritual experience that changed their lives. Now, scientists from universities like Harvard, Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins are using new technologies to analyze the brains of people who claim they have touched the spiritual — from Christians who speak in tongues to Buddhist monks to people who claim to have had near-death experiences. Hear what they have discovered in this controversial field, as the science of spirituality continues to evolve.”
via NPR

“Using a process called paleo-experimental evolution, Georgia Tech researchers have resurrected a 500-million-year-old gene from bacteria and inserted it into modern-day Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria. This bacterium has now been growing for more than 1,000 generations, giving the scientists a front row seat to observe evolution in action.”

via The Daily Galaxy

You may already know how I feel about germs and bacteria like E. coli – so it pains me to admit that as much as this article totally creeps me out, it also fascinates and amazes me. “Evolution in action.” Yay science!

Blood Falls

From the page:
Roughly two million years ago, the Taylor Glacier sealed beneath it a small body of water which contained an ancient community of microbes. Trapped below a thick layer of ice, they have remained there ever since, isolated inside a natural time capsule. Evolving independently of the rest of the living world, these microbes exist in a place with no light or free oxygen and little heat, and are essentially the definition of “primordial ooze.”

via Atlas Obscura – a collaborative compendium of amazing places that aren’t found in your average guidebook.

http://www.creationmuseum.org/

And then people wonder why American’s are so ignorant. GIVE US A SCIENCE MUSEUM! Our kids deserve better than to have this pseudo-science taught to them. So fed up with the lengths the religious zealots will go to in order to defend and propagate their lies. To call this place a museum is not only a joke but an affront to intelligence at worst, an abuse of the English language at best.

Fundamental Christians are too closed-minded to consider anything that doesn’t coincide fully with their religious text, so “science” is an area where they get to make stuff up in order to make it fit with what the Bible says. For a good example of this, here’s an interview with Creation Museum scientist, Dr.Georgia Purdom and skeptic Dr. Michael Shermer in which she explains that any data collected in the lab that conflicts with the Bible’s account of creation cannot be true and is thrown out. Proof that even “educated” Christian “scientists” are blind to truths and facts due to their literal interpretations of their “Answer Book”.

Morality: Created By Evolution or Religion?

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Morality is not something we get from religion. It’s something we’ve evolved to prolong our survival. I really wish more stories would be published on the subject. If the threat of damnation or the bribe of eternal life is required for you to do the right thing, I dare say you are not a truly moral person but a selfish one. Think about it.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40445249/ns/us_news-life/

When people take their kid’s to Disney World, the fairy tales are presented as fictional fairy tales. When people take their kids to Creationist attractions, the fairy tales are presented as fact. Where’s Northern Kentucky’s Science Museum? Evidently, 900 jobs and millions of visitors are more important than teaching our children about the 40+ valid radiometric dating methods scientists use to date rocks, or how to count the layers of polar ice caps to prove the age of the planet is older than 7K yrs.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/20/education/20teacher.html

From the page: “After an investigation, school officials notified Mr. Freshwater in June 2008 of their intent to fire him, but he asked for a pre-termination hearing, which has lasted more than a year and cost the school board more than a half-million dollars.
… Last June, he filed a federal lawsuit against the school board seeking $1 million in damages.”

This is a town of only 15,000!!