OPEN DISCUSSION NOVEMBER 2019

Nov 1, 2019

This thread has been created for discussion on themes relevant to Reason and Science for which there are not currently any dedicated threads.

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OPEN DISCUSSION AUGUST 2019

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72 comments on “OPEN DISCUSSION NOVEMBER 2019

  • The November open discussion thread is now open.

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  • I’m perplexed by the increasing number of dental practitioners who cite a 1970’s American anthropologist called Cirrucini. He wrote in am American orthodontic journal where he described his anthropological observations of villagers, over 2-3 generations of aboriginal Indians, living in rural poverty, but with normal dental occlusions… his observations were to compare established villagers to those that had migrated to Indian cities (being in India and not the Americas). He noted those who left for cities would develop malocclusions, similar to the multi-generational citizens of the same cities, and within a short number of generations.

    His view was that malocclusions occurred due to small jaws… and he proposed that it was a soft diet, and smaller muscles, that was inducing in people the nature of small jaws and the resultant malocclusion. 

    There is an idea in orthodontics that dental crowding was not seen in Australian aborigines as they ate tough meat, like kangaroos. This idea was first proposed by Percy Raymond Begg (an Australian orthodontist) in the 1950’s as a reason for impacted wisdom teeth and geberal dental crowding. It also supposed that Australian aborigines were an ancient or primitive form of humans, and that modern civilised humans had naturally smaller jaws due to our modern soft diets.

    Both Cirrucini and Begg’s mixed explanations support that it is “recent” evolution that has caused the modern prevalence of small jaws.

    Theirs is a very frustrating argument to refute… especially as there are many peer reviewed writings that support the idea that “modern soft diets make jaws smaller or weaker or less developed”, and which leads to crowded teeth and small jaws, and the “western look” and this dental press seems to rationalise this belief of recent evolution as an argument towards supporting a vaguely defined science called “epigenetics”.

    But to me, these arguments are little more than Lamarkism… and are not Darwinian at all… not in the sense that Darwin discriminated between modern unnatural selection, being breeding… vs natural selection, being what I interpret to be the true meaning of natural genetics-based evolution.

    But these people scream they are not promoting Lamarkism… or effectively “adaptive design”.  They call their arguments “epigenetics”… whatever that means. Meaning there is no fixed scientific consensus or meaning to this word.

    I wonder if Professor Dawkins has any considered point of view on the debate of soft diet, supported by some mysterious scientific idea of epigenetics, as causal for small jaws… or if he considers that there is a more rational view of the incidence or evolutionary purpose or presence of small jaws…

    I propose that small jaws are caused by neoteny… which is more a paleo anthropological explanation… meaning that post agriculture human husbandry for traits of sexual neoteny leads to small jaws in western civilisation…

    I think anthropology and paleo-anthropology are two distinct fields. Paleo-anthropology being exceedingly scientific and true.

    Why I ask this mostly… is that dentistry, and particularly orthodontics, is dominated by conservative people who seem in the majority to be conservative religious folk… and it amazes me that a large number of dentists believe not only in Jesus and religion… but have a fundamental belief in creation… and modern anthropology seems bewitched or touched by a sense of Christian missionary to it.

    I note that a large number of dentists and orthodontists, suggest that epigenetics is a rational science that supports that recent human evolution is possible… in that genetics can be modified and inherited in a couple or few generations, of fundamental anatomical traits… viz soft diet induces chemical changes, that affects genetic transcription that can be inherited in one or two generations, therefore being a scientifically sound explanation for small jaws arising in post industrial western society. 

    I note that there are also many universities in the US that are proud of their conservative and religious origins… and I wonder if a number of dental schools there do not themselves promote epigenetics research as an alternative to pure genetics or evolution research… and that these fringe sciences essentially “publish” a revised form of Lamarkism and recent evolution as a means of further supporting their belief that earth is only 6000 years old or so.

    But there is increasingly so much of this… pseudoscience… creeping in… and replacing logic, or good sense.

    It is stealing the idea of Darwin away from university science… into areas of areas of  fringe science such as dentistry or orthodontic research.

    It seems… almost… conspiratorial… and I apologise for writing these views if it so appears.

  • His view was that malocclusions occurred due to small jaws… and he proposed that it was a soft diet, and smaller muscles, that was inducing in people the nature of small jaws and the resultant malocclusion.
    There is an idea in orthodontics that dental crowding was not seen in Australian aborigines as they ate tough meat, like kangaroos. This idea was first proposed by Percy Raymond Begg (an Australian orthodontist) in the 1950’s as a reason for impacted wisdom teeth and geberal dental crowding. It also supposed that Australian aborigines were an ancient or primitive form of humans, and that modern civilised humans had naturally smaller jaws due to our modern soft diets.
    Both Cirrucini and Begg’s mixed explanations support that it is “recent” evolution that has caused the modern prevalence of small jaws.

     

    So you are thinking that their migration being quickly followed by smaller jaws in the subsequent generations is to do with breeding with the new native small-jaw population (unnatural selection), and NOT diet-adaptive lamarkian epigenetics or short-term fast evolution.

    I had always previously thought that the people exploring or researching this topic were claiming that not-exercising the jaw or facial muscles lead to stunted muscle and bone development, like a failure to reach full potential/failure to reach full (epigenetic) expression of developmental and growth genes. But from what you are saying this is a bigger story about (i) people confusing lamarkism with epigenetics, (ii) a common (and probably self-propagating) culture of conservative religiousness in dentists who operate at some interface of science and practical implementation, and finally (iii) of researchers seeing a phenomenon happen in human populations and then assuming the causes for it and leaving it at that. Like you said- one can’t propose any valuable conclusions or theories until there are cause-effect studies! That is a running theme in nutrition science as well. Much theory, a lot of personal bias-driven dogma, and a lack of hard causal proof, or even reliable data/data processing. But when a relatively small community of professionals are discussing and publishing ideas within their given area (one which might have already evolved into a value-based echochamber), it’s rare that ideas are challenged appropriately.
     

  • I think the ideas and persuasions surrounding how a soft diet leads to small jaws are very elaborate.

    The first difficulty with the ideas they propose is in understanding when a small jaw starts.

    Children naturally have small jaws of course… in a practical sense,  small jaws only become apparent as crowded adult teeth erupt. So the soft diet, or lack of jaw exercise must be existing for some time prior to adult or paediatric dental development; in order to eventually express as a small adult or adolescent jaw…

    This means the soft diet event occurred before the baby teeth even erupted … the implication being that the small jaws develop from a soft diet during the neonatal period… which of course is entirely & naturally a milk based or purée period anyway.

    The second major problem… is that the Ciruccuni or Begg argument that a normally tough or paleolithic diet would have lead to a normal sized jaw… means, if true, that if you had Shitzu puppies (which are bred to have undersized jaws), and fed them bones and tough meat from birth… then they would develop normal jaws… which is I think… very hard to believe.

    it also means that all you need to do is to rub your poodle puppy ragged… and all that exercise will turn it into a Great Dane.

    The counter argument by the supporters of Cirrucini is that it is a soft diet in the adult… that epigenetically induces a change in the ovum DNA that then expresses itself as small jaws in the direct and third generation offspring…  but there is no scientific epigenetic studies that support that idea… just extrapolative statements from vague sources… and just an approximately1980 paper by Cirrucini that documents the anthropological observations he made in rural-to-city Indian people of small jaw transition.

    Anyway… these issues I raise seem academic or benign anyway… unless you consider that there are innumerable small children and naive parents… who may find themselves being dentally treated by those who believe this nonsense… and have teeth removed, and wear growth inducing splints, or have treatments that are based on these ideas. All without any fundamental scientifically sound therapeutic effect.

    And the worst thing is… the “echochamber” phenomenon you so eloquently coined… means that there is both suppression of real investigative science as to discovery of real epidemiology or causation of small jaws… or crowded teeth or bad bites…

    and worse of all

    There is a seeming entrenchment of legitimacy, at least in dental or orthodontic science, in this absolutely spurious notion of anti-Darwin epigenetic BS… little better than a reinvented Lamarckism.

     

  • After reading the above thread, I think we place too much value on primary research. There are two basic issues with evolution, that stunts sciences ability to use objective reason and progress: 1. Evolution is treated as scientific law, even though it is still only a theory. 2. People who call themselves scientists have turned this argument into a religious dogma for atheism. Just these two observations create a bias built into the system. Until people can acknowledge that the theory itself may flawed, or incorrect, you will never be able to see beyond the limits of your own biases.  Any intellectual or philosophical debate about human development is moot. To consolidate my point, an interesting study about how research becomes flawed, as is published below: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1182327/

  • DrWilliam # 5:  First of all, I urge you to realize that when scientists use the word “theory,” the meaning of the word is not “hypothesis.”  A simple search of “Scientific theory” yields the following:  “A scientific theory is an explanation of an aspect of the natural world that can be repeatedly tested and verified in accordance with the scientific method, using accepted protocols of observation, measurement, and evaulation of results.  … Established scientific theories have withstood rigorous scrutiny and embody scientific knowledge.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_theory).

    Secondly, atheism is not a religion.  I consider myself an atheist because I find no evidence – none whatsoever – that anything supernatural exists.  There are no gods, angles, ghosts, Santa Claus, Easter bunny, et. cet.    

    Thirdly, the theory of evolution is not flawed or incorrect.  Although it may be refined from time to time, it is the best scientific explanation for life.  In support of this statement, I would refer you to a discussion between Professor Dawkins and George Coyne, S.J. (https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-itm-001&hsimp=yhs-001&hspart=itm&p=Dawkins+Coyne#id=1&vid=72cde02c2bb498e4d82fc2effae673ef&action=click),  Professor Coyne had recently retired as director of the Vatican Observatory and head of the observatory’s research group (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Coyne).  In my opinion, for what it’s worth, both Professor Dawkins, and Professor Coyne, are knowledgeable experts from whom we can learn and on whose opinions we can rely.       

  • You start by saying there are 2, 2! basic, basic! issues with evolution, and then go on to say nothing at all about evolution.

    Perhaps you’d like to take issue with something specific from the actual theory of evolution.  You might consider finding fault with at least 1 of the evidences used to support the theory.

    We know there are problems with research.  Everyone starts with that assumption.  All sciences have research issues.  I have a professor who claims that when he ran the experiments of a prominent scientist –Nobel winner– the results were different, his mentor made similar claims and has been feuding with the leading scientist for years.  Science is messy.  It is not the cute little method we were taught as youngsters.

    So, to be taken seriously after claiming evolution has issues, you need to demonstrate that you know more than that science in general has issues, and instead define problems with some specific research from evolution.

    Give us the issues!

     

     

     

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  •  I think we place too much value on primary research. There are two basic issues with evolution, that stunts sciences ability to use objective reason and progress: 1. Evolution is treated as scientific law, even though it is still only a theory. 2. People who call themselves scientists have turned this argument into a religious dogma for atheism.

    Dear Dr William. Respectfully.

    My post was to elucidate that some university faculties… use the emperium and general world community expectation… that science, and peer review… is scientific, and without a personal bias that is neither atheistic or religious.

    My view… my opinion… is that these University faculties, and supported by specifically religiously-aligned  segments of professional groups as a whole, are very deliberately skewing a promotion of science… and calling it science… even publishing as science… to push a religious fundamentalism of alternate-Darwin rhetoric.

    There are medical professionals who fundamentally do not believe in evolution. Who do not believe in the very fundamentals of Darwin’s ideas… and this lack of fundamental scientific belief, stunts their capacity to practice or research the effective science of medicine. And these beliefs define treatments, and dangerously expose the broad community base to the release of irrational treatments that are given currency by creation-leaning pseudo-scientific publication…

    In dentistry, a different profession, there is also this very real widespread belief that all modern human evolution… that traits that exists between human races, is all due to recent human evolution… underpinned by epigenetics… and that it has all occurred within 8,000 years since god created Adam and Eve. This belief exists popularly amongst dentists, and in particular orthodontics…

    but not all orthodontists… and not all dentists.

    i say this because I exist in both professions… I am both a medical doctor and a dentist…  and I meet doctors who say they do not believe in evolution… and I meet dentists who say they do not fundamentally believe in Darwinian evolution…

    and I meet orthodontists who do not believe in evolution… and I am personally amazed that many more orthodontists do not believe in Darwinian evolution at all.

    I am saying that many orthodontists believe in recent evolution… and they believe in an idea of epigenetics… and they believe a version of how life can differentiate in just a few thousand years… which was also once called Lamarckism. although they have never heard of Lamarck.

    I am saying that two prominent university based professional groups (modern anthropology and orthodontics) are thus divided into evolutionists… based on a Watson & Crick idea of DNA… and epigeneticists… which is based on… nothing that I can find… and both equally publish these alternate doctrines in scientific press…

    they are orthodontic … and modern anthropological publications.

    Not all orthodontists or anthropologists think in terms of epigeneticists… but the viewpoint of these alternate non-Darwin groups influence how the more Darwinian evolutionary models are interpreted… These people are all in the same room… they are all arguing simultaneously.

    the echochamber effect.

    thus epigenetics is somehow believed to actually exist… or there is such a variety of descriptions of the term, that one may use the word one way… for instance legitimately to describe cellular activities that acts outside of or secondary to the primary genomic activity… and then to use this fundamental term and twist it to support modern evolution… for instance saying  “epigenetics” is inheritable and defined by recent ancestral behaviours and thus explanatory of how humans can quickly and fundamentally evolve differences.

    so in this echochamber… a peculiar symbiotic and undefinable cohesion of ideas occurs…

    An interesting reflection of what I am saying of this widespread conflict of professional ideas, is found in this review by Proffit and Ackerman (who are very reputable American orthodontists) reviewing a book by an orthodontist and modern anthropologist.

    https://www.toportho.org/think-pieces/jaws-dr-proffit-and-dr-ackerman-review-a-sensationalist-book

    epigenticists believe that small jaws are due to an epigenrically inherited trait defined by eating soft foods since civilisation… and they promote eating heavy grains to promote jaw growth and using orthodontic splints to grow epigentically acquired small jaws.

    evolutionisrs believe that small jaws are primarily genetic and it supports removing teeth and placing braces or performing corrective jaw surgery. being that the genetics cannot be influenced at all by behavioural or therapeutic change.

    the difference of ideas affects how neonates with small jaws may eventually develop life threatening sleep apnoea.

    So Dr William. Respectfully. What is your background and what is your point of view?

    Is a fundamental belief in creation, fundamentally defining how professional university based science… is being defined?

    and do you think this fundamental error creep of creationist ideals into university based professional science may negatively affect the health of all of us?

     

     

  • 1) DrWilliam: The theory of evolution as proposed by Charles Darwin emerged as a theory and he had some clues about: how does it work?, now science has answered that question, it has uncovered the hidden mechanisms inside our bodies that can explain astonishing transformations and the origin of all species. Evolution is a fact, more reading and studying is needed to understand it, I recommend you to do so.

    2) Going back to the topic of this month, I agree with Paul Coceancig that world-wide in all dental schools, and Orthodontic post-graduate courses it is taught that the jaws of Homo Sapiens have suffered a decrease in their size due to the industrialization, softening of foods or even the invention of fire or cooking, based in some “research” and some ideas made by some antrhopologists like Corruccini, and even the paleoantrhopologist Daniel Lieberman who sees a direct relationship in between the cooking of food, the invention of fire and the decrease in our Jaw Size. I am going to say a fact: The ancestors of all of the 7.6 Billion of Homo Sapiens who inhabit Earth invented fire, this means that 100% of the 7.6 Billion of our species were exposed to the invention of fire… this would mean that 100% of us should have some kind of decrease in our jaw size…. and this is not true, otherwise 100% of the world-population would have wisdom teeth impacted, dental crowding and malocclusions, so fire is not the cause of the decrease in size of our jaws, the only fact about fire is that it helped Homo Sapiens 200,000 years ago to chew easier and digest better raw meat irrespectively of their jaw size period.

    Direct evidence of genetic control can be seen in the remarkable similarity of the facial proportions and jaws of identical twins, in whom minor deviations in jaw width appear in a mirror image. It also is seen in the large but internally-consistent differences between aboriginal groups. Examples are the large and protrusive mandibles of Melanesian islanders, which have not changed although their diet has; the same is true for the X-occlusion (buccal crossbite) of Australian aboriginals. In short, even if you conclude that dental crowding is largely due to environmental influences, there is good evidence of genetic influence on both jaw size and jaw relationships.

    We have to understand that breeding also has occurred in Homo Sapiens and this breeding has made a mixed of genes, and traits. And if this particular trait (small jaw) is sexually successful enough will be passed to future generations irrespectively of the toughness of the food they eat.

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  • DrWilliam says:
    After reading the above thread, I think we place too much value on primary research. There are two basic issues with evolution, that stunts sciences ability to use objective reason and progress:

    The primary research on evolution is, and has been,  published in tens of thousands of peer-reviewed science papers in numerous scientific journals during the last 150 years!

    https://www.omicsonline.org/evolutionary-biology-journals-conferences-list.php

    As per available reports about 148 journals, 86 Conferences, 42 workshops are presently dedicated exclusively to Evolutionary Biology and about 21,876 articles are being published on the current trends in Evolutionary Biology.

    The people publishing in scientific journals are certainly NOT amateur ideologists or some internet clique, “calling themselves scientists”!  They are high-level working biologists and geneticists!

    1. Evolution is treated as scientific law, even though it is still only a theory.

    That on-going evolution happens as an observable fact, is established beyond all reasonable doubt, and is the central feature of modern biology and genetics.

    https://www.livescience.com/21491-what-is-a-scientific-theory-definition-of-theory.html

    If enough evidence accumulates to support a hypothesis, it moves to the next step — known as a theory — in the scientific method and becomes accepted as a valid explanation of a phenomenon. . . . .  . . . a scientific theory is the framework for observations and facts. Theories may change, or the way that they are interpreted may change, but the facts themselves don’t change.

    The claim that scientific theories “are only a theory”, makes no statement on the subject, other than to show that the claimant is using the vernacular definition of “theory”, does not know what as scientific theory is!

    2. People who call themselves scientists have turned this argument into a religious dogma for atheism.

    If science debunks religious claims, that simply shows that the religious claims are not consistent with reality.

    The people publishing in scientific journals are certainly NOT amateur ideologists “calling themselves scientists”!  They are high-level working biologists and geneticists who use rigorous scientific methods!

    ” Objective reasoning” from evidence, is a PROCESS of scientific methodology.

    It is not a self awarded badge which can be stuck as a label on to self-deluding personal opinions, based on indoctrinated preconceptions.

    Claims that science is some sort of atheist conspiracy, or that science which debunks someone’s personal religions  notions, is some sort of “religious dogma”, is simply a psychological projection of their own unevidenced religious thinking from doctrinaire preconceptions, on to scientists.

    https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Psychological_projection

    Projection is the psychological phenomenon where someone denies some aspect of their behavior or attitudes and assumes instead that others are doing or thinking so.

    Another common forum for projection is in internet arguments, where it is usually pathetically obvious to everyone except the projector.[2] In that context, the phenomenon may be called mirror-imaging.

    Science follows the evidence to rational conclusions, whereas religion starts from dogmatic preconceptions,  thinking in circles asserting “faith” in those preconceptions and concocting apologetics, –  mentally blocking out, disparaging,  or disputing, the  evidence which challenges them.

  • What annoys me with the religious “evolution is wrong” is that they don’t offer an alternative explanation (besides “god did it”). Sure, current evolutionary science could be wrong (spoiler: it’s not) but it is the best explanation we have. IF you figure out a better explanation, that answers all the questions that the current science answers AND other un-solved problems as well, THEN we can talk about replacing the current theory. Until then, go away. Report abuse

  • Hi Team,

    I do see repeatedly said that only a creator could produce a protein because the probability of the correct chain of amino acids forming a protein is something like 10^164. And there are many proteins. The probability is so ridiculously low that it makes such an occurrence virtually impossible.

    Its been likened the likelyhood of a car being assembled as a tornado passes through a junk yard.

    What is the probability of a a protein being created in the lifetime of the earth? And how does science explain the creation of a protein if it is so improbable?

    Or do we just have to accept it is as it is?

    Thank for any insight.

    JD Report abuse

  • JayDee #12. “What is the probability of a a protein being created in the lifetime of the earth? And how does science explain the creation of a protein if it is so improbable? … Or do we just have to accept it is as it is?”

     
    My understanding is that one of the mysteries left to be solved is how organic matter arose from inorganic matter. I’m willing to bet a dollar to a hole in a donut that when the answer is discovered, it will be a natural solution.  We will have no need of a god of the gaps hypothesis. I think it’s a safe prediction that a supernatural wizard will never be found. Report abuse

  • Centauri says:

    Just because something is unlikely, it doesn’t mean that a highly, highly, highly unlikely supernatural fairy in the sky made it happen.

    It does not even seem unlikely!

    Just because some incredulous people have discovered that geological timescales and marine biology involve big numbers, that does not entitle them to cherry pick one side of an equation, make up some numbers for it, and ignore all the other factors involved in the calculations which they are too incompetent to even recognise or measure.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_microorganism
    . . . . microorganisms in the oceans include viruses, prokaryotes (Bacteria and Archaea), and protists.
    Bacteria and viruses are the most abundant, with a teaspoon (~5 mL) of seawater containing between about 1 million to 5 million bacteria, and 5 and 50 million viruses.

    I think that anyone competent in marine biology would question the ability of evolution denying creationists to

    a.) calculate the number of micro-organisms in the global oceans at various times.
    b.) calculate the number of generations of replication copying in those global oceans during  2 to 3 billion years of single cell and virus evolution.
    c.) calculate the number of mutations or horizontal exchanges of genetic material, during those 2 to 3 billion years before multicellular life evolved!

    BTW. Once land was colonised, there are similarly high levels of bacteria density in soils.

    Once the early stages following abiogenesis progress as far as LUCA, the evidence is even clearer!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_microorganism
    Microorganisms are very diverse. They can be single-celled[1] or multicellular and include all bacteria and archaea and most protozoa, as well as some species of fungi, algae, and certain microscopic animals, such as rotifers
    In July 2016, scientists reported identifying a set of 355 genes from the last universal common ancestor (LUCA) of all life, including microorganisms, living on Earth.

  • Jay Dee

     

    We have not understood the protein solution space at all well until the recent research work of Professor Andreas Wagner and his team in Switzerland. We used to think proteins were unique in their capacities. Rhodopsin is the photosensitive protein in retinas, say. But because we now understand that microbiology at this level is better explained in terms of nanomachinery, that proteins comprise holding plates and sockets, chopper blades on springs powered by heat, we can see that there are millions of similar physical arrangements in proteins that may serve the same function, sometimes better, sometimes worse. Further this richness of the solution space is spread across its entirety and because of the laws of physical chemistry are organised in crossing paths. This greatly increases the chances of a fruitful encounter from where an existing  protein happens to be. Further still these pathways explain why pleiotropic (multifunction) genes can evolve with low risk, preserving functions whilst improving or creating others.

    “Arrival of the Fittest” Andreas Wagner, for more details.

    The other thing to understand is how proteins seem to have evolved in an hypothesis called RNA World. In this RNA is both the recipe for itself but also the functional material like the protein, unlike the later DNA/protein teamwork.

    RNA can exist in tiny fragments dependent on other sometimes bigger fragments for its reproduction. The size of these fragments (quite unlike the cells packing DNA) is not well defined at all and the viability because of this poorly governed entity was marginal. Mutations were orders of magnitude higher and viability much lower. Simulations show that they developed a trick, using the tiny fragments to help enhance the viability of the bigger raggedy entities. Evolving simple functional elements, the survivors of which can co-opt different survivors transforms the ease with which complexity can rapidly accrue.

    The model of the junkyard random assembly of a functional protein is false in very many ways. Even if it happened what would it do and why? How would it do it again? The evolution of the precursor fabricating machinery and need is what this image fails to address. Report abuse

  • My pleasure, Michael. I really do think his team’s work is profound.

    If Intelligent Designers had any sense they would switch tack from Irreducible Complexity and instead double down on the designed-ness of physics for life…. puddles fit the holes they are in. But they never will.

    What is often forgotten is that there is s period linking abiogenesis (that may well involve an emergent chemical evolution of sorts) to LUCA , the last (identifiable) universal common ancestor. “Identifiable” is an important understanding here. Only once there is the neat and defined lipid package carrying that fixed recipe of DNA, can we even talk about a specific evolutionary heritage. But that doesn’t mean evolutionary processes didn’t occur in that transition.

    There are few good popular books in this area yet. I’m about to read/review “Life from an RNA World,” by Professor Michael Yarus. It is now 8 years old and possibly in need of an update. The simulation work on RNA I described was from various papers from around that time .I’ll keep you posted. Report abuse

  • There was an interesting item in the Apple news application this morning, from Daily Mail about the Pope of Rome. The story, written by Amelia Wynne, claims:

    “Eugenio Scalfari, 95, a frequent papal interviewer, said his long-term friend Pope Francis does not believe a key Catholic doctrine that Jesus returned in the flesh after his crucifixion. … The bombshell claims were on the front page of Italy’s La Repubblica this week, which Scalfari founded, as well as the introduction of his new book.”

    When I read the  story, my thought was that if it’s true (the Vatican issued a denial), than it’s a significant and welcome indication of secularization.  If the Pope himself can’t accept a core doctrine of the religion, why should people continue their membership?  If that portion of the creed can be taken cum grano salis, what other doctrines are open to question?  It’s time that the articles of faith are finally be seen for what they really are — prescientific myth!

     
    Maybe his holiness should be introduced to the clergy project. Report abuse

  • Michael 100 says:

    from Daily Mail about the Pope of Rome. (the Vatican issued a denial),

    I would not take ANYTHING seriously which is claimed to be news in the Daily mail Michael!

    https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Daily_Mail

    The Daily Mail is to the UK what the New York Post is to the United States, and what the Drudge Report is to the Internet: to wit, gossipy tabloid “journalism” for those who cannot digest serious news, with a flippantly wingnut editorial stance.

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  • Thanks Alan. I mentioned the source specifically so that if it was not credible, someone would say something. I see the Daily Mail from time to time on Apple News, but this is the first headline that caught my eye.  I won’t make the same mistake twice!! Report abuse

  • There’s something I’d very much like an answer from Dr. Dawkins as he’s a scientist and an atheist. I’m IRreligious and consider ALL religion as nonsense. However, I dobelieve that Jesus was the wisest man and scientist that ever lived in the history of the world and the definition of God attributed to him in the Gospel of John, Chapter 4, verse 24: God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in tr Report abuse

  • There’s something I’d very much like an answer from Dr. Dawkins as he’s a scientist and an atheist. I’m IRreligious and consider ALL religion as nonsense. However, I dobelieve that Jesus was the wisest man and scientist that ever lived in the history of the world and the definition of God attributed to him in the Gospel of John, Chapter 4, verse 24: God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must….. Some devotees to science and reason you lot are! And I’m IRreligious! Bah! Report abuse

  • Hi, Lloyd. Welcome.

     

    “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

    John 4:24 KJV

    What do you take this to mean? Particularly “worship him” “in spirit” and “in truth”?

    Assume I am a scientist also. How am I like Jesus in this regard? Report abuse

  • Lloyd Dettering says:

    I’m IRreligious and consider ALL religion as nonsense.

    So why would you believe a book of mythology written decades or centuries after the supposed events it claims to narrate?

    However, I do believe that Jesus was the wisest man and scientist that ever lived in the history of the world and the definition of God attributed to him in the Gospel of John, Chapter 4, verse 24: God is a Spirit:

    Bear in mind that apart from stories from the mythology of the New Testaments, as edited by the Roman bishops in the 4th. century, there is barely any evidence of a character by the name of Jesus even existing! –  Let alone any accounts of anything he supposedly said or did.

    The various dogmas, doctrines, and versions of the gospels,  were decided by Roman bishops at  Nicaea in 325 AD and 339 or 340 AD.

    There is an article on this link in “US Catholic” magazine, on ” Who decided which books made it into the Bible!.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athanasius_of_Alexandria

    Athanasius’ career. In 325, at the age of 27, Athanasius began his leading role against the Arians as a deacon and assistant to Bishop Alexander of Alexandria during the First Council of Nicaea. Roman emperor Constantine the Great had convened the council in May–August 325 to address the Arian position that the Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth, is of a distinct substance from the Father.

    While there are many misconceptions which have been circulated by wishful thinking preachers, most competent  theologians do not dispute the history.

    https://www.uscatholic.org/church/2012/03/who-decided-which-books-made-it-bible

    For all of these reasons, Athanasius was invested in settling the canon of scripture: which books might be counted as the “Word of God”—and which, at best, were just good words.
    It would have been helpful to him if the apostles had sat down one dull night in the first century and decided this themselves: “Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are in. Gospels of Thomas and Judas—out!”
    It would also have been impossible, since many New Testament texts weren’t written until after that first generation of church leaders had died.

    http://gnosis.org/library/marygosp.htm

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Judas

    https://www.livescience.com/28506-gospel-judas-ink-authenticity.html

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_Dead_Sea_Scrolls

    http://gnosis.org/naghamm/nhl.html

    I hopes this helps to clear up any misunderstandings.

  • Lloyd Dettering # 23.  You write that you “… believe that Jesus was the wisest man and scientist that ever lived in the history of the world…”  You are certainly entitled to believe what you want, but, since you stated it here, would you be so kind as to explain the basis of that belief. 

    Assuming for the sake of argument that Jesus was a real person, how does he qualify as a wise scientist?  Can you point to a single scientific pronouncement made by him, or attributed to him?  Did he explain that the sun is the center of the solar system, and the solar system is a part of a galaxy, and our galaxy is a part of a vast cosmos?  Did Jesus explain the origin of species, or the process of evolution?  Did Jesus explain that disease is caused by germs and viruses, or was it his opinion that disease could be cured by casting out demons and the laying on of hands – is that scientific?  Did Jesus propound one mathematical theorem?
     

    I don’t mean to be insulting to you, but if you have some reason to believe that Jesus was a wise scientist – the wisest in the history of the world, please share it with us because up to now it has escaped my notice. Report abuse

  • First off, please forgive me for not reading this entire thread. I am just curious more than anything. However, I do believe in evolution. Humans, as we have known ourselves to be, are some of the most advanced species on Earth. Just as well, we may not be the most tolerant or “fit” for the planet. I truly believe that life began from a single-celled organism that slowly adapted to the Earth’s atmosphere. It was pure survival mechanism- as we have also adapted to. I find it unfortunate that we have evolved to the point where we know we will parish. Which is why religion was created. We, as humans, cannot fathom death. Report abuse

  • Hi lizardking. Welcome.

    Glad you approve of evolution as a reliable account for our DNA driven history, though the story of DNA’s emergence is yet another story currently being uncovered. And very interesting it is too!

    I think religion’s emergence is likewise not so straight forward, as it served many changing ends, just like the DNA mutating organism, experiencing new selection pressures and exploiting new opportunities. I think the mortality/salvation from death issue was not so key, myself. I think folk religion’s were accounts of deep history and a world of invisible agents were invoked by fireside story tellers to explain the inexplicable. An element of coercion entered by invoking the approval and disapproval of dead ancestors, and indeed their own disapproval, these typically elderly narrators, after their own death. (Old folk suddenly grew in the archeological record around 40,000BCE  by some 400%. Ritual burial became more pronounced. Maybe they found a voice with the emergence of a more sophisticated language of tenses and abstract ideas?).

    Religion discovered its coercive, political powers

    Today religion, having lost its explanatory edge to science buttressed by evidence, tends to fade away UNLESS kept alive by self-serving exploiters who need its simple narratives of moral dogma to secure both money and power.

    Very few Christians are comforted about their own death. In my experience my atheist friends seem less panicked by it. The prospect of hell, nakedly coercive, neatly subverted any existential salve.

      Report abuse

  • Lizardking:  Like you, I have an insatiable curiosity about evolution and this site is an excellent source of information about evolution and other scientific topics. There are a lot of good books on the subject, some of the best written by Professor Dawkins.

    Regarding religion/death, I’m reminded of Steven Hawking’s observation that heaven is a story to comfort those who are afraid of the dark. The following is from The Washington Post:

    ‘He (Hawking) also explained throughout his life his thoughts on a possible afterlife, saying, “I believe the simplest explanation is, there is no God. No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization that there probably is no heaven and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe and for that, I am extremely grateful.”  In 2011, his comments to the Guardian explained his stance further: “There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.””

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/03/14/im-not-afraid-what-stephen-hawking-said-about-god-his-atheism-and-his-own-death/
     

  • #28  I think folk religion’s were accounts of deep history and a world of invisible agents were invoked by fireside story tellers to explain the inexplicable. An element of coercion entered by invoking the approval and disapproval of dead ancestors….

     

    I think a related aspect which accounts for the  emergence of religions lies in the powerful ability of such shared mythologies to bind people in larger tribal groups, contributing to a shared identity beyond local communities.

  • Just finished reading Fields of Blood by Karen Armstrong. She mentions Richard Dawkins in her current book. I really enjoy her research and thought her book History of God (1990 I think) was very revealing as to how the perspective of a God has changed as humans have changed, especially in the last 5000 years or so. Anyway, her recent book, Fields of Blood, was an attempt to say that religion gets too much blame for violence and war and she had some very interesting research and points to back up her main thesis. However, at almost each point where another human institution or development is carrying some part of the blame, religion is infused or joined somehow as a partner in the war/violence that is being perpetrated. Seemed her thesis or main point of the book was strained at times to not blame religion. Many great points and research along the way as far as historical illumination. She mentions Dawkins as a reference to how some today blame religion far too much. Paraphrasing her reference, Many of that view find religion, which they regard as a byword for irrationality, to be the ultimate cause. One of the most prominent is Richard Dawkins, who has argued that “only religious faith is a strong enough force to motivate such utter madness (terrorism) in otherwise sane people.” She goes on to say that is an oversimplification springing from a misunderstanding of both religion and terrorism. Going further she states that as “secular bias of modernity”. Just found it interesting that she would mention Richard Dawkins. I did learn much more historical detail on warfare/violence/religion relationship. Report abuse

  • Hi Pete

    She mentions Dawkins as a reference to how some today blame religion far too much. 

    She may have a point. A while back, Phil pointed out that ideologies such as libertarianism could be just as dogmatic as religion. If we didn’t have religion, another ideology would quickly fill the slot.

    Still, right now she’d be hard pressed to find a worse culprit. Report abuse

  • @phil rimmer- extremely insightful, my friend. Are you saying that perhaps our early ancestors adaptation to communicate with one another and their inability to understand their environment may have brought about the first stories of a God? I’m not nearly as educated in terms of our ancestral history, I’m basing my atheistic view on pure science and rationalism. I would have to agree that religion is based on coercion and power. It is a form of control based on fear. While I obviously do not believe in a one true god or supreme intelligence, I often find myself rebelling against any religious practice. I also don’t consider myself a satanist (part of the folklore), but I believe most who are part of the temple in the US are trying to bring this folklore to light. The biggest problem is, they are choosing to exploit religion rather than basing their beliefs on science. Professor Dawkins is criticized which goes to show the coercion in the system is real.

    Report abuse

  • Hi lizardking.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    If you are referring to Lucien Greaves and the Satanic Temple, he is keen to point to his organisation’s literary basis in Milton rather than the bible. It is very much an intellectual challenge to the idea of God, posing questions of the very morality seemingly apparent, and having zero ritual associated with it.

    Its other aspect may be the satyric appearance of a religion (in the mould of the Flying Spaghetti Monster).

    Religion mostly survives because it is useful to those folk for whom it is a manipulative tool. Its a short circuit for knowledge of ourselves and the world.

    Cheers

    Phil Report abuse

  • phil #34
    “Religion mostly survives because it is useful to those folk for whom it is a manipulative tool.”
    well illustrated by that washington post article on trump

    and his evangelical constituency (in rdf news) Report abuse

  • Hopefully I can jump in here before the end of month… Looking for people who would disagree with me but hopefully without throwing shade on one another 🙂

    My chief statement is this:  The word ‘science’ is a Latin word meaning ‘knowledge’ or ‘to know’ or ‘to apply knowledge’.
    Take your pick, but for the purposes of my questions its all the same to me.

    My questions to most here are as follows:

    1. No one speaking from within the Satanic temple is a reputable speaker on the topic of God or His being, for obvious reasons of bias. No one aligning themselves with the title of ‘satan’ meaning ‘opposer’ as one who is against the almighty God written of in holy texts, is from a scientific standpoint a credible or trustworthy source of understanding or knowledge to whether or not that Almighty God exists. Why is this disregarded by atheists who claim to be staunch unbelievers of Gods existence? And if God existence, then by proxy also disbelievers in satan, and by proxy all of satans followers? This seems evident to me, but perhaps i’m missing something.

    2. A mere statement of “there is no God” does not prove there is no God simply by making the statement. How can the claim be made then that those who have faith in God are guilty of a circular reasoning if it is employed also by the accusers?

    3. If you have a bias towards a belief, due to physical conditions you were either born with or are afflicted by and choose to view life through the lens of your condition: How can you from a scientific standpoint see truth and make statements of fact outside of the lense you refuse to remove, so that you might see clearly?

    4. How does one navigate through the path of knowledge founded in truth, as opposed to the broad path of knowledge which is untrue and fictitious? I guess my real question: If your source of knowledge is derived through your corruptible senses, then why would you trust your senses in teaching you what is good, if texts concur across all religions that there is a force above your senses which we ought to live by, which dictates all the laws which are in motion, and all the principles which govern this universe?????

    5. My understanding is that the one who is called Christ referred to the dominion of this ‘force’ as “Gods Kingdom”, and that it was “near at hand”. Or in other texts it is referred to being “within you”. Please shed your understanding on what this may have meant:
    A. If indeed you believe this was even written at all,
    B. Whether you believe this was a religious ploy conjured by the powers of the time of Christ, or
    C. If it goes against ‘pure science’, and if so i’m keen to hear your perspective on how.

    I don’t know how I got to this forum lol, but I was searching for somewhere where I know that people are practicing critical thinking.
    This being in light of the fact that many who trust in a God no longer practice it, after choosing faith over sensory reason with an inability to combine the two using knowledge. < That's not a dig at religious groups, just my experience but my lenses may be shady… Report abuse

  • To Be says:

    I don’t know how I got to this forum lol, but I was searching for somewhere where I know that people are practicing critical thinking.

    This is a good site to find people with experience in, and expertise in rational critical thinking.

    This being in light of the fact that many who trust in a God no longer practice it, after choosing faith over sensory reason with an inability to combine the two using knowledge.

     

    The problem in “trusting in God” is that this is a feature of cultural indoctrination in thinking from the preconceptions of the religion of the culture people were raised in.

    choosing faith over sensory reason with an inability to combine the two using knowledge.

    Faith and scientific methodology and rational critical thinking, are diametrically opposite processes.

    Faith requires acceptance of preconceived  beliefs on trust in the preacher, and without evidence or testing of the assertions.

    Science requires objective observations, and then rationally following the evidence to conclusions.  Circular thinking from preconceptions is a big NO NO in science.  The two processes are incompatible and cannot be “combined”, so attempts at “combination, can only produce cognitive dissonance and fudged confusion.

    The term “sensory reason” is an oxymoron of self-contradiction.

    Objective science does not include emotional responses in logical processes of induction and deduction.  Doing so involves wishful thinking which perverts the resulting conclusions.

    The evidence of comparing religions, and the evidence from modern neuroscience, shows that gods exist as god-delusions indoctrinated into human brains.
    Most of the past and present religions of the world, have defined gods- other than their own, as not existing. That means that there has been a majority view that any one particular god does not exist.
    Objective observations confirm that no god from an isolated time or geographical location, has ever manifested itself elsewhere on the planet!
    There were no Inca gods in ancient Greece, and no Roman gods or Abrahamic gods in the pre-Colombian Americas.
    We can therefore reasonably conclude, that these gods were delusions indoctrinated into the brains of the inhabitants of those local cultures.
    We can also look at studies in neuroscience and neuropsychology, which are scanning brains to show areas associated with religious activities.
    It is already well known, that various medical conditions such as epilepsy or strokes, sleep depravation, stress, and psychoactive drugs, can generate illusions, and delusions or hallucinations, claimed to be religious “revelations”!

    My chief statement is this:  The word ‘science’ is a Latin word meaning ‘knowledge’ or ‘to know’ or ‘to apply knowledge’.

    Historically, science did have an more general meaning, and what we now call science was described as “Natural Philosophy”.   It was only in the 1900s that the term “scientist” in its modern sense was invented, and that with the increasing scope of the subjects, the work on the various specialisms separated into different areas of study, different research facilities, and specialist teaching courses.

    Perhaps a clear explanation can be found in Richard Dawkins’ best selling book “The God Delusion”!

     

      Report abuse

  • No one speaking from within the Satanic temple is a reputable speaker on the topic of God or His being, for obvious reasons of bias.

     

    No one, speaking from within a religious sect, brought up, en-cultured into that sect and still remaining, is a reputable speaker on the topic of God  or His being for obvious reasons.

    Those within the Satanic Temple (once more…. a literary based conceit taking its cue from Milton*) are often ex-theist and perhaps most capable of an informed and less emotional view.

     

    *William Blake, fervent Christian and stern critic of most religion was a Milton fan and wrote,

     “The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels & God, and at liberty when of Devils & Hell, is because he was a true Poet and of the Devil’s party without knowing it.” Report abuse

  • To Be

    . No one speaking from within the Satanic temple is a reputable speaker on the topic of God or His being, for obvious reasons of bias. 

    Alan has responded to some of your points in the comment above but you’ve made other points that caught my attention.

    Your quote above, from number one, makes me curious as to how you know so much about the members of the Satanic Temple. Perhaps you’ve read extensive interviews of the members that I have not but can you explain how you know that they have no member who is a reputable speaker?

    I advise you to look into this further before making such a strong statement. Are you aware of the fact that there are many atheists and agnostics and members of other groups who have been brought up in various denominations of Christianity who have spent many years studying the Bible and historic records of the life of Jesus? (That part didn’t take long…)

    Is it so farfetched to think that they may have a member or two who could ace a test of Biblical knowledge? What if the entire Satanic Temple beat out our average Christians on their knowledge of Christianity in general? Since I don’t believe these statistics exist, shouldn’t you refrain from the declaration that they are so biased that they can’t be trusted to speak on the topic of God.

    In your opinion, what qualifications are necessary to speak on the topic of God in an unbiased way? Belief in God? Moral purity? Are you, yourself an unbiased speaker on the topic of God? Where in the world can we find an individual who would be an unbiased speaker on the topic of God? Who is this person?

    No one aligning themselves with the title of ‘satan’ meaning ‘opposer’ as one who is against the almighty God written of in holy texts, is from a scientific standpoint a credible or trustworthy source of understanding or knowledge to whether or not that Almighty God exists.

    But, To Be! How is the Satanist any more or less unreliable than the devout Christian?!! I think you’re really getting yourself into an uproar over the Satanists.

    Why is this disregarded by atheists who claim to be staunch unbelievers of Gods existence?

    Because, just speaking for myself here, I just don’t find them to be particularly threatening in any way, unless I’m ignorant of any bad actions that they might engage in as a group under the banner of Satanic hellfire. In fact, I’d be interested to attend an event and converse with the members to learn more about their ideas and goals. I’m open to the possibility that I’ll disagree with them on some points, agree with them on others and find an interesting assortment of individuals that have come together as fellow travelers.

    What is important for your purposes here is that atheists just don’t recognize any particular group as being unbiased, trustworthy authorities on the existence of God. No Satantist or Christian, Muslim, Jew, Astrologer, Druid, Hindu or anyone else on this earth now or in the past is even close to a reliable, credible source of knowledge regarding the existence of God.

    I don’t believe in God because there is not one single shred of evidence that would lead me to do that. I’m perfectly satisfied with that position for the present time. If evidence of God’s existence is presented for my consideration then I’ll be very happy to consider it but until that day, the members of the Satantic temple are not threatening to me/us in any way that I can see.

    And if God existence, then by proxy also disbelievers in satan, and by proxy all of satans followers? 

    Err..you lost me on this one.

      Report abuse

  • To Be.

    4. How does one navigate through the path of knowledge founded in truth, as opposed to the broad path of knowledge which is untrue and fictitious? 

    Start with complete investigation of the scientific method and how it is employed. Then take a class or two in statistics. Learn about logical fallacies so you won’t use them yourself and will recognize when they are used for nefarious purpose by others. Then you’ll have a solid foundation for navigating all paths of knowledge.

     If your source of knowledge is derived through your corruptible senses, then why would you trust your senses in teaching you what is good, if texts concur across all religions that there is a force above your senses which we ought to live by, which dictates all the laws which are in motion, and all the principles which govern this universe?????

    I only trust my senses somewhat. I always remind myself how fallible my brain is at analyzing incoming data. Very fallible! I am often mistaken and fooled.

    There are texts across religions and ideologies that intend to instruct me as to what is good, this is true as you say. Some of these texts present the idea that there is an omniscient, omnipotent being that controls our entire existence and who is involved in my life to one degree or another. These religious texts (most) are  quite ancient and in fact offer no evidence whatsoever for their claims. I will also state that their authors have an obvious dearth of knowledge concerning ethics and humanist values. This is a great disappointment to the modern mind and one wonders how a supernatural being of such import had such an appreciation of primitive cruelty.

    Given the choice, which I do have luckily, I choose to trust my own senses with strict reservations and to apply my knowledge of ethics and humanism to reconcile the most savage of my instincts with our newer better hopes of emphasizing the better angels of our nature. Report abuse

  • To be # 37. I agree totally with what Has been said above.  I would just add the following thought(s):

    In your paragraph 2, you state:  “A mere statement of “there is no God” does not prove there is no God simply by making the statement…” First of all, I have always understood the burden is on those claim the positive side of a proposition, in this case that there is one or more gods who live in a supernatural realm. I submit there is no evidence to support such an idea. If you know of some evidence that does support it, please produce is so that it can be examined and accepted or refuted — is that to much to ask?  Secondly, the claims of the existence of God(s) existence have been examined in a scientific manner by physicist Victor Stenger, and all claims are conclusively refuted. I don’t think Stenger engages in “circular” reasoning.

     
    Please consider the remarks that have been made in response to your post and accept our challenge as we have accepted yours.  If we are wrong, show us the error of our ways.   Report abuse

  • There is a summary of the position of the Satanic Temple here:-

    https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/The_Satanic_Temple

    The Satanic Temple is an atheistic organization, and does not believe in a literal Satan, though some of its members are theistic Satanists.

    They have a set of seven fundamental tenets founded on ideas of secular humanism, freedom and reason and are listed below.

    See the link for further details – although I quite like this one:

    Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.

  • “The problem in “trusting in God” is that this is a feature of cultural indoctrination in thinking from the preconceptions of the religion of the culture people were raised in.”

    And yet the sciences are based on the same notion: that “preconceptions” give birth to newly conceived ideas and theories in the ‘scientific’ world. My understanding of combining both faith and reason are not that they diametrically oppose one another, but reason through the senses must fall under a different set of laws than the law of faith. To make the statement that “faith is dumb” or “faith is blind” is not a scientific statement at all, merely an indicator that the person who made the statement is speaking from ignorance.

    Faith requires acceptance of preconceived  beliefs on trust in the preacher, and without evidence or testing of the assertions.

    Where does that definition of faith come from? Certainly not from the “holy texts” themselves. Of which explain that faith can clearly be reasoned from the world that surrounds us, with the only thing stopping us being blindness because of the lens we see the world through. I’m paraphrasing obviously and there’s more to it, but hopefully I made sense?

    I advise you to look into this further before making such a strong statement. Are you aware of the fact that there are many atheists and agnostics and members of other groups who have been brought up in various denominations of Christianity who have spent many years studying the Bible and historic records of the life of Jesus? (That part didn’t take long…)

    The fact that they are literally part of a sect which opposes God (and “the God of all Truth” at that!), should be a clear indicator that if you take on the beliefs of those in the sect, then you yourself would be falling in their same deception. How is it those who subject themself to the scientific method of reason can call themselves true scientists while aligning with those who practice deceit in every form, and being “Gods unto themselves”? Just remember that the faith of “Satanists” is to oppose primarily all other Gods other than themself. And that is at the grunt level of the religion. The higher up you go in Satanism, the more deceit is practiced. Saying otherwise would be disingenuous to the truth of who “satan” is depicted to be throughout all of history. No credible scientist should practice such things.

    And I do make the statement boldly as one who both served in forms of satanism, and have friends who were in the sect and practiced the ritualism aspect of it… Those who marked themself with “666” which is the number of man recorded in the book named “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”, and engaged in the deceptive practices of the religion.

    We all know that a statement of faith does not play out how it is written or spoken about always, as many of you will have the gripe against Christians and other religious people who as their statement of faith “seek the God of all Truth” and are supposed to practice “lovingkindness” and “patience” with all men. If those who are seeking these things stumble often through hypocrisy and human error, so that they fall short of their beloved ideals, how much darker are the stumblings of those who serve only to bolster themselves as gods over the Earth. Therefore the statements of faith of the religion of “Satanism” can in no wise be taken seriously from the standpoint of reason. One would need to engage in a level of faith in order to believe the statements of such people, whether consciously or not. < this is my belief.

    Again, i’m not preaching on this one, just questioning – with my own line of reasoning – the ability to believe anything someone would say who is a Satanist. Show me my own indoctinations, for if I am blind to them then it should be reasonable to see if you can point it out to me.

    *William Blake, fervent Christian and stern critic of most religion was a Milton fan and wrote,
     “The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels & God, and at liberty when of Devils & Hell, is because he was a true Poet and of the Devil’s party without knowing it.”

    So how is this a statement of scientific reason, if it only bolsters the statement that “broad is the path of destruction, and there are many on it”. All it is stating is that many are following the devil. That’s not very scientific according to a-theistic standards.

    Start with complete investigation of the scientific method and how it is employed. Then take a class or two in statistics. Learn about logical fallacies so you won’t use them yourself and will recognize when they are used for nefarious purpose by others. Then you’ll have a solid foundation for navigating all paths of knowledge.

    This may take some time, but I will take a look in to the complete study of logical fallacies. Thank you. The nefarious purposes of others is something all men should be watchful for I agree. So far this is my favourite statement in this thread.

    I don’t believe in God because there is not one single shred of evidence that would lead me to do that. I’m perfectly satisfied with that position for the present time. If evidence of God’s existence is presented for my consideration then I’ll be very happy to consider it but until that day, the members of the Satantic temple are not threatening to me/us in any way that I can see.

    I daresay most atheists, if they were to receive the evidence of Gods existence, would deny it to uphold their worldview in the same dumb way that Christians deny plain evidence when explaining reality of the world around them. Is this statement too staunch? It’s not an attack on atheism per sé, but rather the state of ignorance most people choose to live in because it is more comfortable to live in your current understanding then questioning what you think you know.

    Given the choice, which I do have luckily, I choose to trust my own senses with strict reservations and to apply my knowledge of ethics and humanism to reconcile the most savage of my instincts with our newer better hopes of emphasizing the better angels of our nature.

    Can you elaborate on that last part? Where does this hope come from? Evolution of the human psyche? And if so, where did that evolution stem from? Because that savageness of instinct is a greater rewarder to the individual human psyche from a traditional perspective, over the collective effort of the group. The only time is falls short is when a person is not Alpha or Beta of the pack.

    If you know of some evidence that does support it, please produce is so that it can be examined and accepted or refuted — is that to much to ask?

    The evidence FOR MYSELF is in the person of Jesus Christ. Not of Paul who was an “apostle” or of the prophets in the old testament or in any other holy book (of which I do not begrudge as separate as most Christians do) This evidence I offer up, as the character and nature of God in the form of a man. Jesus Christ spoke against the religious leaders of his day, as many of you do. However he did not align himself with the faith of satanists as some of you are happy doing.

    All Jesus’ message was is that Gods kingdom is within you, and that humanity had to change the way they thought lest they be subject to deception. I believe for the 2nd half of my statement that many in the scientific world would agree with Jesus statement, but being a-religious they don’t want to agree with it because they would have to accept Jesus as being true in some way.

    Please consider the remarks that have been made in response to your post and accept our challenge as we have accepted yours.  If we are wrong, show us the error of our ways.  

    I’m not here to show anyone the error of their ways. I think its evident to each individual what is truth, and what is error through sound reasoning. If my own reasoning is whacky, then being amongst those who supposedly practice critical thinking should fix that 😉 Report abuse

  • He (Hawking) also explained throughout his life his thoughts on a possible afterlife, saying, “I believe the simplest explanation is, there is no God. No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization that there probably is no heaven and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe and for that, I am extremely grateful.” 

    “There is no God”
    “We have one life to appreciate the grand design”

    Good work Hawking. Even though he denied God, he was still grateful for the design of His creation.

    Let me be clear, to “deny God” is the same thing as “denying Gods existence”.

    No attack on Hawking, he clearly had a great mind. Too great for God even. Report abuse

  •  

    Faith requires acceptance of preconceived  beliefs on trust in the preacher, and without evidence or testing of the assertions.

    To Be says:

    Where does that definition of faith come from? Certainly not from the “holy texts” themselves.

     

    The “Holy Texts” were written by preachers! The connection should be obvious.

    “Faith” is : Belief without evidence or proof.

    Many Christians don’t even know that none the four canonical gospels were written by the named authors, none were written within decades of claimed events, and that they were edited by the Roman bishops in the 4th century.

    They just believe whatever they have been told by preachers, or accept the printed “gospel” titles, without checking historical evidence.  This is very uncritical thinking.

     

    Of which explain that faith can clearly be reasoned from the world that surrounds us,

     

    Faith in preconceived conclusions only generates circular reasoning reproducing the believers’  indoctrinated preconceived  images which they project on to the world.

     

    with the only thing stopping us being blindness because of the lens we see the world through.

     

    Indeed so! None -believers in a particular religion lack the rose-coloured filter spectacles which indoctrination fits to converts.

    Without the lens of religious belief and the simplistic pseudo-answer of “god-did-it”, a clearer and more objective understanding of the mechanisms can be achieved.
    There were no Mayan gods in ancient Egypt, and no Ancient Greek gods in the Americas.
    All the gods were in the heads of the people who believed in them in isolated localities, so it is reasonable to believe that all of these gods are actually god-delusions.
    So looking over the evidence:
    A god is a delusion in an individual brain, {which may be a version memetically transmitted to it by indoctrination}, which then projects itself in grandiose manner, on to the material universe, for the purpose of impressing and controlling its human host.
    It is not a physical entity which has any input into the material universe, apart from any activities the human host(s) are manipulated into performing.
    Consequently any physical input into the universe by each god-delusion, is restricted to the small area within the influence of the host, on a small patch of one planet.
    Most such god-delusions are strongly and aggressively self-replicating, self aggrandising, and self-propagating, as a top requirement for their human hosts.
    Many are also very defensive of their hosts perception of their existence and ruthless against any rival god-delusions which might replace them.
    The god-delusion image and its activities, are INTERNALLY projected on to the believer’s world view, like a cinema image projected on to a screen.
    Generally the credit for most, or all, favourable events, is attributed to the god-delusion.
    The versions of the the “films”, are very variable, and often the plots conflict with those of other rival religion’s “films”, but the basic projection mechanism is the same.
    Indeed the memetically replicated sequels often significantly branch away from earlier versions, as new features or requirements are evolved and added, – hence the diversity of sects, cults, and denominations.
    The MEMETICS of god-delusion and doctrine replication, can be seen in the evolving and branching of many religions.
     

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_denomination#/media/File:Schisms_and_their_Councils.svg

     
    Science can certainly study the cultural transmission of religious beliefs and their uses (and abuses), in manipulating populations.
    Modern research in neuroscience is also identifying the areas of human brains which are activated by god imaging activity, while psychology is studying the cognitive dissonance which conflicting  “faith-beliefs” cause.

     

     

      Report abuse

  • From #44

    “So how is this a statement of scientific reason, if it only bolsters the statement that “broad is the path of destruction, and there are many on it”. All it is stating is that many are following the devil. That’s not very scientific according to a-theistic standards”

    Your take on the Satanic Temple is misbegotten. “Scientific” is wrong. Their stance is more literary as I said, and based on Milton’s Satan.

    No-one is following the devil. The devil is a literary device. This is how a fervent Christian can be an admirer of another (fervent Christian) whilst calling him of the devil. You would do well to be likewise more literary than literal. Report abuse

  • To be, you write:  “I think it’s evident to each individual what is truth, and what is error through sound reasoning.”  For me truth is established through the scientific method wherein  hypotheses are tested, results are evaluated and retested, and discarded if found to be unsupported by facts.  Are you possibly referring to “opinion”?  As Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said:  “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” 

    You write that, for you, the evidence for god is the person of Jesus Christ.  Let’s assume that Jesus was a real person, I think modern scholarship raises serious questions about what his, and his movement’s, message was.  Was his message about the coming “kingdom of god” spiritual, or was it code for opposition to Roman rule, or perhaps it was opposition to the priests who were in charge of the temple in Jerusalem.  Speculation on my part here, but I encourage you to explore the scholarship of Bart Ehrman, Richard Carrier, and Robert Price, to name only three reputable scholars on this subject. Carrier, and I think Price, question the existence of the person of Jesus, and all three would agree that legends and myths arouse about “Jesus” in the decades before the gospels were written, not to mention that there are no    original manuscripts or even copies of copies of the originals.  Likewise, did Jesus, even in the edited texts, claim to be divine? In any event, my opinion is that Jesus is pretty week evidence for the existence of a supernatural being. 

    You write:  “… most atheists, if they were to receive the evidence of Gods existence, would deny it to uphold their worldview…”. Victor Stenger would disagree with that statement. Many times he wrote that if the slightest evidence is ever found, an army of grant writers is waiting in the wings to fund research projects. By the way, I should have included the names of some of Victor Stenger’s books, which I think you might enjoy.  Two that I’ve read are: 1) God and the Folly of Faith; and 2) God the Failed Hypothesis, How Science Shows that God does Not Exist.  There are others, available at fine book stores everywhere.  

     
    I think you may be confused about what I mean about atheism.  My disbelief in the gods, including the Abrahamic God, includes disbelief in devils and demons, Santa Claus, Easter bunny, garden fairies etc, etc., they are all the products of mythology, all originating before the age of science.  Keep in mind that the tenets of religion were formulated long before people knew that the earth is a planet that revolves around the sun.  There is nothing beyond the natural world, and the natural would is full of wonder to keep us amazed for our entire life.  In the 21st century, in the scientific age and the Age of Enlightenment, there is no need of any ancient mythology.    Report abuse

  • To be #44, I hope you’re having a good time testing your ideas and making me test mine in a public forum. The reason I write again is that something you wrote jumped out at me as I reread your post. You wrote that most atheists…would deny evidence of god’s existence.  I’m curious about the basis of what MOST atheists think.  Perhaps you know of some survey or statistical study, or scholarly article to support your use of the word MOST. Notice that I only speak for myself.  I have no clue if my ideas are representative of what others think.  That’s why I like to point to the work of scholars to support what I say.  If others disagree with me, I welcome criticism which helps me to know what I’m talking about.

    One last thought for tonight: if you are interested in some reading about atheism, I might suggest Carl Sagan’s Demon Haunted World.  Likewise, grab a copy of Professor Dawkins’ The God Delusion.  You won’t be disappointed in either book (although I don’t have hard evidence to support this last statement). Report abuse

  • @To Be #44-

    I, as well as several others agree that The Satanic Temple (TST) are not follower of the actual ‘Satan’ or ‘Devil’ according to Christian doctrine. They are simply urging people to think rationally, and base their beliefs on scientific principal. Do you believe we are living in a world where religion has guided humans, and without it we would be sinful and egotistical, unable to control our primal urges. There are those out there exactly like that who believe we are experiencing a “Holy War”…eschatologist belief is that Christ will return soon.

    I am simply posing the question “how”? How could a man, no matter who you believe he was, die, return from the dead, and wait in a space which we cannot touch with human senses until just before we need him. I assure you, if there is a god we have been waiting millennia for him and he’s one sick deity. Christianity is one of the many popular religions, and I was brought up to believe or follow. As my parents were, as their parents were, as their parents were…I’m breaking the cycle of religious dogma. Peace and love. Report abuse

  • Oh, and @To Be…no one has been able to prove or disapprove “faith” in the context you speak of. I would definitely not trust our feeble minds to believe or prove something greater than ourselves. I believe life is cyclical…there were species on Earth before us. Time is something we aren’t capable of coming to grips with in terms of millions, or billions of years.

    I’m not saying this out of hatred or distaste for mankind, I just believe we shouldn’t allow the ego to dictate our lives. We have had many great humans to walk this Earth that understood this. In the US, we have become egotistical, prideful Christians who believe power is everything. I’m American, btw. I suppose based on location I should follow the one and only Jesus, correct?
    “We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.”-RD
     

      Report abuse

  • I will leave this conversation, with my final statement being thank you, @To Be. You are offering an alternative view, and I say that because this is a Richard Dawkins site. A man who amongst many of us, has refuted Christianity.

    I enjoy contemplating this topic, as I believe this a evolutionary gift/curse that has been given to us. The ability to question why we are here is a natural process of the human psyche. I must side with science and fact, simply because it makes the most sense to me. If anything, I believe god or the creation of the universe is something beyond our ability to truly understand at this time, so I disagree with everything you’ve said. Your perspective seems to come from a place of purity, but it is misguided and born out of coercion.

    Once again, I appreciate your viewpoint, but it’s for the fact that it allows the free thinkers to rage on. We may not change the world during our time here. However, we will change the way religion will be viewed one freed mind at a time.

    Love always,

    The Lizard King Report abuse

  • The reason I write again is that something you wrote jumped out at me as I reread your post. You wrote that most atheists…would deny evidence of god’s existence.  I’m curious about the basis of what MOST atheists think.

    Please forgive me. It was a statement made out of personal experience rather than tested studies.

    I’m still learning in a way to not get over emotional when speaking about faith, but it seems quite difficult since it’s something held in the heart which I believe is far separated from human reason. I know however i’m being perfected in this matter and it is indeed possible to combine the two.

    Also I understand that there has been a level of indoctrination (of which can not be classified as being completely evil) which I have to break free from to see TRUTH clearly. The facts will all fall in to alignment once truth is established.

    No-one is following the devil. The devil is a literary device. This is how a fervent Christian can be an admirer of another (fervent Christian) whilst calling him of the devil. You would do well to be likewise more literary than literal.

    As I said previously, I hold the belief that no one who studied history to see how people referred to Satan can truthfully say that  “no-one is following the devil”. Have you ever been part of a satanic ritual? Have you ever seen human and animal blood spilled whilst offering up sacrifices to the spirit of the opposer of the almighty God? Have you ever spent all night with people who were claiming to be in contact with the spirit realm? If yes to any of these questions, then you would know for yourself that these people are not joking around and they fully believe they are in communications with satanic entities.

    Now whether or not you feel they are deluded for believing so is another story. But the proof is in the pudding regarding these practices. They occur. People actually worship satanic entities.

    Let’s assume that Jesus was a real person, I think modern scholarship raises serious questions about what his, and his movement’s, message was. 

    I don’t need to “assume” Jesus was a real person, any more than I need to assume that Caesar Augustus, Buddha, Gandhi, Hitler, Hawking, Tutankhamen etc. were real people. The historical figure of Jesus is the most written about figure in all of human history, none of it by his own hand. To play games with recorded documents in order to make the person a fallacy would be senseless and against science, unless those tampering had ulterior motives??? I know some will say “yes well that’s what happened at council of Nicea etc etc. rhetoric…….  however that’s not what i’m asking about… I’m aware of the false doctrines created at Nicea, 3 Gods out of 1, pagan sun god worship among other things.  What I was referring to regarding  ulterior motives was that people would attempt to disprove the existence of the Christ and God and thus create a faction of people who had a “safe space” they could retreat to in their souls/minds where they no longer wanted to face a reality that a perfect God exists in the face of their own shortcomings. Thats getting in to morality though which I don’t believe science in the atheistic world view makes a lot of room for.

    I think you may be confused about what I mean about atheism.  My disbelief in the gods, including the Abrahamic God, includes disbelief in devils and demons, Santa Claus, Easter bunny, garden fairies etc, etc., they are all the products of mythology, all originating before the age of science. 

    You think science came after all these beliefs? If science is truly the application and testing of knowledge, then  science has been around since as long as man has been able to critically think. e.g. Mankind didn’t build the pyramids with such precision simply through the employment of slave labour who slapped some stones together. Surely mankind has not condescended in to believing that up until our most recent generations, that humans has not been able to employ critical thinking?? The levels of technology may have varied throughout history, but I doubt 2000 years of history is going to bring about enough change through the model of evolutionary theory to form a faculty as strong as critical thinking. Can you share a source where a scientist who is accepted on both the atheistic and theistic camps has stated such a thing?
    By the way, I will check out those authors, so thank you Michael!

    The “Holy Texts” were written by preachers! The connection should be obvious.
    “Faith” is : Belief without evidence or proof.
    Many Christians don’t even know that none the four canonical gospels were written by the named authors, none were written within decades of claimed events, and that they were edited by the Roman bishops in the 4th century.
    They just believe whatever they have been told by preachers, or accept the printed “gospel” titles, without checking historical evidence.  This is very uncritical thinking.

    The book of Hebrews in the new testament says that “faith is the substance of things you hope for, the evidence of things you have not yet seen.”. It is not without substance or proof. It is itself the proof, not of the existence of a thing (since humans/mammals in general, tend to be observers before they transition to being practitioners). But rather the evidence in that person that they are testifying to something as being true through their life lived.

    I think Faith is a highly misunderstood topic. In order to know what faith is you would need to function in it as a practitioner rather than an observer. For example, it took a leap of faith for many ex-christians before they worked up the courage to leap away from the idea of God. But they needed to make that leap in order to practice a different way of life. Until that leap of faith was taken, they may have not been able explain what the thought processes were of one who disbelieves in God. Not saying this is categorically true, only my own observation again.

    I will look in to the titles of these books. There is soooo much to question, EVERYTHING literally comes up to scrutiny through this way of thinking.

    This is actually quite enjoyable. And I’m finding myself challenged to not be overly dogmatic (even if it’s evident to you lot that I am to a degree, thank you all for engaging with me!). Report abuse

  • I will leave this conversation, with my final statement being thank you, @To Be. You are offering an alternative view, and I say that because this is a Richard Dawkins site. A man who amongst many of us, has refuted Christianity.
    I enjoy contemplating this topic, as I believe this a evolutionary gift/curse that has been given to us. The ability to question why we are here is a natural process of the human psyche. I must side with science and fact, simply because it makes the most sense to me. If anything, I believe god or the creation of the universe is something beyond our ability to truly understand at this time, so I disagree with everything you’ve said. Your perspective seems to come from a place of purity, but it is misguided and born out of coercion.
    Once again, I appreciate your viewpoint, but it’s for the fact that it allows the free thinkers to rage on. We may not change the world during our time here. However, we will change the way religion will be viewed one freed mind at a time.
    Love always,
    The Lizard King

    It’s the coerciveness of my own beliefs which i’m seeking to break free of to live in true love in this life. But I can not against my own conscience deny the One I know to have freed me from the clutches of worldly vices.

    Much love!! Report abuse

  • Sigh. #53

    Being very, very explicit…

    No one within Lucien Greaves’ organisation is literally following Satan. Like Milton and Blake it is a way to critique the Christian religion’s manifold expressions.

    Get back on those SSRIs ASAP. Report abuse

  • To Be, #44

    Can you elaborate on that last part? Where does this hope come from?Evolution of the human psyche? And if so, where did that evolution stem from? Because that savageness of instinct is a greater rewarder to the individual human psyche from a traditional perspective, over the collective effort of the group. The only time is falls short is when a person is not Alpha or Beta of the pack.

    Where does this hope come from? A very interesting and important question. Better minds than mine offer a reply. I’d like to share one response given by Steven Pinker, a man with too many accolades to list in this small space. In his book, Enlightenment Now, Pinker explains that during a book talk he was asked the question “Why should I live?” His response to the question is one that I believe will address your own question – Where does hope come from. It’s a response that doesn’t invoke a supernatural deity nor his possibly mythological son as the source of human existence and the origin of our morality.

    In the very act of asking that question, you are seeking reasons for your convictions, and so you are committed to reason as the means to discover and justify what is important to you. And there are so many reasons to live!

    As a sentient being, you have the potential to flourish. You can refine your faculty of reason itself by learning and debating. You can seek explanations of the natural world through science, and insight into the human condition through the arts and humanities. You can make the most of your capacity for pleasure and satisfaction, which allowed your ancestors to thrive and thereby allowed you to exist. You can appreciate the beauty  and richness of the natural and cultural world. As heir to billions of years of life perpetuating itself, you can perpetuate life in turn. You have been endowed with a sense of sympathy– the ability to like, love, respect, help and show kindness – and you can enjoy the gift of mutual benevolence with friends, family, and colleagues.

    And because reason tells you that none of this is particular to you, you have the responsibility to provide to others what you expect for yourself. You can foster the welfare of other sentient beings by enhancing life, health, knowledge, freedom, abundance, safety, beauty, and peace. History shows that when we sympathize with others and apply our ingenuity to improving the human condition, we can make progress in doing so, and you can help to continue that progress.

    From:

    Enlightenment Now, The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, by Steven Pinker. Part 1, page 3.

    To Be, your question in the reproduced quotation block above is too wide in scope for an internet comment to answer. There is so much fascinating material to read out there that will keep you busy for many a day. The more you read on the topics of reason, science, humanism and progress, the more material we will have in common to discuss. That’s what we do here on this website. You might be interested to read through some of our old threads here but I do strongly encourage you to read whole books on these topics to establish a comprehensive understanding of each that only a book can provide.

    I realize that the assertion I’ll make – that we don’t need God/Jesus to be good people with exemplary morals and values and we don’t need God/Jesus to overcome our selfish and cruel instincts, must be alarming and repugnant to a true believer, but it’s one that is now held by many good people in the world. I hope you have the courage and means to investigate this assertion and join a thrilling conversation with us.

    Sapere aude Report abuse

  • On a different subject …

    For goodness’ sake, this is literally insane.

    Ohio bill orders doctors to ‘reimplant ectopic pregnancy’ or face ‘abortion murder’ charges

    Ohio introduces one of the most extreme bills to date for a procedure that does not exist in medical science

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/nov/29/ohio-extreme-abortion-bill-reimplant-ectopic-pregnancy

    Ideology really does shrivel the brain, doesn’t it? Not to mention the moral conscience. Report abuse

  • The “Holy Texts” were written by preachers! The connection should be obvious.
    “Faith” is : Belief without evidence or proof.

    They just believe whatever they have been told by preachers, or accept the printed “gospel” titles, without checking historical evidence.  This is very uncritical thinking.

    To Besays: @ 53

    The book of Hebrews in the new testament says that “faith is the substance of things you hope for, the evidence of things you have not yet seen.”.

    This comes back to the uncritical circular thinking that the book of stories says so, so it must be true (Welcome to belief in Harry Potter and Hogwarts!).   Hoping something is true, is only evidence of wishful thinking!

    It is not without substance or proof. It is itself the proof, not of the existence of a thing

    An ancient prophet can assert whatever fallacious  nonsense he likes, but that does not make it so. Asserted mythology is only proof of story telling.

    (since humans/mammals in general, tend to be observers before they transition to being practitioners). But rather the evidence in that person that they are testifying to something as being true through their life lived.

    The evidence in a person who asserts unsupported stories are “evidence”, is only evidence of self-delusion, not evidence of any material facts – regardless of if they let it dominate their lives.  A person cannot be a credible witness to events where they were not present, and where have no researched indirect material evidence to offer!

    As I showed in earlier comments, (particularly @46) there is a huge and contradictory diversity of beliefs about the same issues when “faith” is used as a substitute for material evidence.  This confirms that the views based on faith, are specific to the images in the mind of the individual believer.

    I think Faith is a highly misunderstood topic. In order to know what faith is you would need to function in it as a practitioner rather than an observer.

    Not really!  This is just a special pleading.  People’s actions on beliefs based in “faith” have been observed and analysed for generations.

    It is rather like a claim that a doctor cannot understand drug addiction, unless he is a drug addict.

    There are also medical explanations for instances which are claimed to be “religious revelations”!

    https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003258.htm

    There are plenty of statements from faith-based organisations and from psychological studies, which make the clear distinction between the reliability of decisions based on evidence and science, and the consistent failure and inaccuracy of decisions based on “faith”, when both are viewed with the benefit of hindsight!

    Many atheists do very well understand the difficulty those inside religious bubbles have in trying to understand the wider world view, and the objective rational thinking,  which transcends all religions, and is prepared to study all cultures.

    Every one of the thousands of religions is proclaimed to be “THE RIGHT ONE” by its followers.  Enduring god-delusions, have evolved to keep their human host brains from recognising their illusory nature and escaping from domination by them.

    Any of the numerous gods of antiquity which failed in this defensive process, are now extinct. Report abuse

  • This might be slightly off topic but I was explaining  the perfect logic of natural selection and genetic evolution to someone recently and was astounded by the proposition that our DNA has alien influence and the Sumerian and Mayan history was traced to support an alien intelligence beyond which we would have been nothing more than our cousins.

    how else could they pyramid have been built

    or Stonehenge

    any thought on this anti evolution theory would be appreciated Report abuse

  • Kishan Singh says:

    any thought on this anti evolution theory would be appreciated

    Conspiracy theorists and science deniers,  just make up stuff and cherry-pick a few well known historical monuments, events, or pseudoscience claims, to try to add some credibility to their  fanciful notions and wild speculations, which are based on ignorance of biology, genetics and the Earth’s actual history.

    It is a strategy of trying to “blind people with complex (pseudo)science” to con them, and exploit their lack of understanding of complex science or history.

    the proposition that our DNA has alien influence and the Sumerian and Mayan history was traced to support an alien intelligence

    It’s all garbage and incredulity!  There is no such DNA evidence or it would be in the scientific journals.  The Mayan civilisation came many centuries after the Sumerians and Egyptians with very different pyramid designs.

    It is unduly flattering to even describe such nonsense as “a theory”!  It does not even rate as a hypothesis! Report abuse

  • Welcome, Kishan.

    Unfortunately it is quite common for people to propose either supernatural or alien claims for things that we simply don’t yet know for sure. But if you think about it, just because we don’t yet know something, doesn’t mean there isn’t a perfectly natural explanation for it. For most of human history, humans didn’t know that the Earth goes round the sun (rather than the other way round); or why there were seasons; or how the huge range of species on Earth came into being; or why there were earthquakes or volcanoes, and so they made up stories to try to explain all those things. But now we do know. And so far absolutely nothing that used to be a mystery but has now been explained has required reference to the supernatural or aliens.

    We may not know for sure how either Stonehenge or the Giza Pyramids were constructed, but – quite apart from simple common sense – there is every reason to believe they didn’t require alien intervention! I can absolutely guarantee that Sumerian and Mayan history has NOT been traced to support an alien intelligence. The search for alien intelligence is a perfectly legitimate scientific endeavour and it would be a rash person who would categorically rule out the possibility of its existence. But so far there has been no evidence of it whatsoever.

    This is what Wikipedia has to say about Stonehenge:

    There is little or no direct evidence revealing the construction techniques used by the Stonehenge builders. Over the years, various authors have suggested that supernatural or anachronistic methods were used, usually asserting that the stones were impossible to move otherwise due to their massive size. However, conventional techniques, using Neolithic technology as basic as shear legs, have been demonstrably effective at moving and placing stones of a similar size.[citation needed]How the stones could be transported by a prehistoric people without the aid of the wheel or a pulley system is not known. The most common theory of how prehistoric people moved megaliths has them creating a track of logs which the large stones were rolled along.[40]Another megalith transport theory involves the use of a type of sleigh running on a track greased with animal fat.[40]Such an experiment with a sleigh carrying a 40-ton slab of stone was successful near Stonehenge in 1995. A team of more than 100 workers managed to push and pull the slab along the 18-mile (29 km) journey from Marlborough Downs.[40]

    And this is the link to Wiki on the construction of the Giza Pyramid complex: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giza_pyramid_complex#Construction

    You’ll see that there is not only a hypothesis about how the construction could have been achieved (by mere humans!), but also evidence of a large workers’ village close to the complex.

    There are lots of things we tend to forget (or just not to realise in the first place) when thinking about apparently “impossible” feats of construction in the ancient world.

    The first is slavery. Rulers of states such as Ancient Egypt had vast numbers of slaves at their disposal – you’ll see from the Wiki article that the Ancient Greek historian Herodotus reported being told by priests that 400,000 men worked on the pyramids for 20 years. The evidence points to a smaller, though still huge, number, working on them for 30 years.

    When Greek historian Herodotus visited Giza in 450 BC, he was told by Egyptian priests that “the Great Pyramid had taken 400,000 men 20 years to build, working in three-month shifts 100,000 men at a time.” Evidence from the tombs indicates that a workforce of 10,000 laborers working in three-month shifts took around 30 years to build a pyramid.[3]

    There was such a huge, tied workforce available that rulers didn’t need to worry about them working themselves to death or dying through accidents or exhaustion. Health and safety hadn’t been invented. Workers’ rights hadn’t been invented. Time off hadn’t been invented. Work on the pyramids would have borne very little resemblance to construction projects today.

    The second is timescale. These days we expect even big projects to be completed within a year or two at most, but in the ancient world it was quite common for high status projects to be completed over generations, not just years. Even the cathedrals of medieval Europe took generations to build. Huge numbers of people labouring over very long periods of time can achieve wonders.

    The third is that the ancient world actually did have an impressive array of technology. Not as advanced as ours, obviously, but they had the basics (ramps; pumps; levers), and these enabled them to achieve really quite startling engineering feats. Here’s another Wiki article that includes information on Ancient Egypt and the pyramids: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_technology#Egypt

    Next time someone tries to convince you that aliens were involved in something, the response you need is “Show me the evidence.” And as you know, uncorroborated guesses, suppositions, hunches are not evidence. Nor is “Well, I don’t see how humans could have done it.” Experts who have spent their lives actually researching how humans could have done it have evidence-supported hypotheses, even if some questions still remain to be answered conclusively – for now!

  • Still, I’m interested in how evolution has been able to create the perfect interaction of plants and bees? The bee has something to eat, and the flowers have bees that pollinate them. How did it happen? They cannot live without each other … Report abuse

  • Dear Alan and Marco

    I’m new to this site but I have been a simple thinker since I was 10, I’m 56 now. I’ve discovered Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens only about three years ago and I am invigorated by such lucid logic which supports my own learnings and reading over time. Of course Hitchens was man of incredible knowledge and wit and the world is certainly a poorer place without him.

    I thank you guys for the effort in responding to my queries, much appreciated.

    The universe is incredible and is my source of true inspiration to live a life of humility.

    Dear Chrystyna

    Your example of the bee and the flower is a perfect balance created by nature to propagate itself, given enough time and generations, nature adapts to find ways of evolving as a function of the environmental changes that are present…. everything we see is just an amazing beauty and we are a part of this beauty on earth

     

     

      Report abuse

  • Great question, Chrystyna. #63

    Nearly always the answer to these sorts of questions comes from imagining some process that is similar, but without the critical apparent paradox or complexity, that could possibly have preceded it.

    In fact the transition in question came about following the transition from sea plants to land plants. In the sea plants, after they had evolved sexual reproduction and stopped being mere clones of their progenitor plants, male and female gametes are released into the water from male and female plants where they chance encounter each other fuse, become zygotes and grow into gendered offspring with usefully blended DNA.

    The wind dispersal method was evolved from those first land based plants that skirted water and initially used waterborne dispersal to reproduce. Wind dispersal then evolved, only later becoming assisted by insects after they crawled onto the land. These first insects evolved from being mere leaf eaters, say, and accidentally carried gametes nearly ready for release on their “hairy” legs to neighbour plants. This assistance was enhanced as plants evolved into concentrated, topical sugar producers. Sugars are a natural production in plant leaves and evolution often particularises and concentrates such skills, leading insects further into the area that maximises reproduction, then adding colour signalling with leaves as flowers, sacrificing photosynthetic utility for  this expensive, so periodic, signalling.

    There is a parallel in this concentrating process. The first mammals fed off adapted sebacious glands which exuded the usual mix of water cholesterol and oils onto the skin to be lapped off by young. These glands slowly coalesced into the teats of mammaries. (The converging plumbing behind still shows the the last stages of this.)

     

    Here’s a bit more…

     

    https://science.jrank.org/pages/5390/Pollination-Evolution-pollination.html

  • Hi Chrystyna

    The key thing to understand is that, while pollination through bees and other flying insects is by far the most efficient route to reproduction for plants, it’s not the only one. Before bees came on the scene, plants had to rely on the wind to carry their pollen. This was a much more hit-and-miss affair, which was why there were far fewer plant species before intentional pollinators came on the scene. But even now, some plants still depend on the wind, not insects, to transport their pollen.

    There’s a nice, clear explanation here:
    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-beguiling-history-of-bees-excerpt/

  • Regarding bees:  When I was younger, I kept 50 or so hives of bees and I worked with a friend who had an equal number.  I learned that bee’s compound eyes perceive light differently than ours do. For example, when we look at a daisy we see a white flower, but the bee sees an auroral display of color, sort of a neon sign which signifies nectar, when the bee stops in for the sweet liquid, the pollen sticks to her legs and back, bees eat pollen as well as the nectar.  When she visits the next daisy, she picks up some more pollen and drops some off.  In effect, the flower advertises for the bee to “eat here”, and the price of the free lunch of nectar and pollen is the flowers are fertilized. Unlike other insects, bees like to work a single type of flower at a time.  That’s why you can buy clover honey or some other variety— that’s all the bees were working when the honey was produced, and why bees are so valuable to agriculture. When I had bee hives, I came to realize, probably speculate would be a better word, that the bees and flowers evolved together. As one flourished, so did the other.  Does this make any sense? Report abuse

  • phil rimmer says:
    Great question, Chrystyna. #63

    Nearly always the answer to these sorts of questions comes from imagining some process that is similar, but without the critical apparent paradox or complexity, that could possibly have preceded it.

    In fact the transition in question came about following the transition from sea plants to land plants. In the sea plants, after they had evolved sexual reproduction and stopped being mere clones of their progenitor plants, male and female gametes are released into the water from male and female plants where they chance encounter each other fuse, become zygotes and grow into gendered offspring with usefully blended DNA.

    The early colonising plants were spore bearing.

    The wind dispersal method was evolved from those first land based plants that skirted water and initially used waterborne dispersal to reproduce.

    We should remember that following from the spore bearing liverworts mosses and ferns, confers such a cycads were wind pollinated.

    Wind dispersal then evolved, only later becoming assisted by insects after they crawled onto the land.

    Indeed, as the plants evolved land dwelling forms, the following marine invertebrates evolved into insects.

    These first insects evolved from being mere leaf eaters, say, and accidentally carried gametes nearly ready for release on their “hairy” legs to neighbour plants.

    There are also pollen eaters and flower eaters, which can spread some of the pollen, just as some insects today are robbers of nectar which cut into the flower and don’t pollinate it.

    There are now also mammals, such as mice, monkeys and bats, together with birds  which are also both flower eaters and pollinators, showing the opportunist nature of evolution.

    One interesting evolved and evolving feature, is the matching of flowers colours to the visual spectrum of pollinators. (Bird pollinated flowers tend to be red – many insect pollinated flowers are very bright in ultraviolet.) Report abuse

  • My remark in #68 about bee vision sparked my curiosity and memories so I did a little digging.  In Bee Culture, The Magazine of American Beekeeping, https://www.beeculture.com/bees-see-matters/, I found a good article about bee eye sight.  The article notes a bee’s ability to see polarized light which they can use for navigation, even when the sun is not shining.  The article also notes bees’ ability to see ultraviolet light: 

    “Bees don’t see the same flower color that we do. The UV patterns on the petals of a flower can be compared to the landing deck of an aircraft carrier. Those patterns guide the bee to land at the nectar source. It also explains how bees are able to select a particular species of flower from a field of white flowers. Bees aren’t just seeing white flowers. They’re seeing flowers with distinct UV markers. In fact, bees will head to the UV-absorbing area of a flower first. It is their bullseye. And, just because a flower is ugly to us, doesn’t mean that it’s ugly to a bee. Recent studies have shown that weeds are more successful than other plants because they’re more attractive to the pollinators. Beauty is in the eye of the “bee-holder.””

  • Hi Alan

    The early colonising plants were spore bearing.

     

    True, but the theory goes that the very earliest of course had to be water borne still hence the reference to water/land margins. The link has some details.

    I’m trying to envisage here the evolutionary transitions and their viability. Report abuse

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