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In discussions related to religion, the topic of evolution often arises, and theists sometimes state that they do not "believe in" evolution. It is curious how often the topic arises considering it does nothing to support a religious position (even if evolution were a load of made up nonsense it would not imply the existence of God or gods). But so much disinformation is spread by religions to discredit evolution that a worrying number of people seem content to be ignorant of it. I despair every time someone claims not to have been "descended from monkeys". Humans are not descended from monkeys, though we have a common ancestor. Comments like that betray a deep level of ignorance, and a desire to view humans as being essentially different to other animals, motivated by pride and flying in the face of all evidence.

There is no excuse for ignorance. Education is only a threat to your beliefs if your beliefs are wrong, in which case you'd be better off without them. So I'd like to offer a starting point to get people thinking about evolution. I doubt that I can do justice to the topic, but anything's better than nothing.

Is evolution mere hypothesis, or is it proven? The answer to that depends on how much evidence you want to consider something proven. Consider the force of gravity. Do we have complete proof that it exists? Every time I drop an object it falls to the floor, but what does that prove?

It could be, for example, that objects are moved by random forces, which have given the impression of the existence of gravity by an incredibly unlikely chance. Being random, they may not necessarily continue to do so, so don't be surprised if things start flying around the room. However, the huge improbability of this makes it a poor explanation.

Or it could be that whenever I drop an object, God pulls it to the floor because He wants to. In which case, similarly, there is no reason to assume that he should continue to do so. He may change his mind at any moment. Likewise, this is a highly unlikely explanation because if God was merely exercising free will to move objects around it is unlikely that this would manifest itself in a behaviour so consistent as to appear to be a universal force with clear mathematically defined magnitude and direction. The other problem with that hypothesis is that it requires the existence of a god, which makes it a very complicated hypothesis indeed, and raises all sorts of awkward questions about how such a god could come to exist, why such a god would be doing what he is doing, the mechanisms by which he operates and so on.

So, the existence of gravity is not the only explanation for what we observe, but it is astronomically more likely than either of the above ones.

Evolution is supported in the same way, in that our observations are completely consistent with the theory. It's a tall order to give reasons why evolution is consistent with observation. The problem is knowing where to begin (and the other problem is knowing when to stop as this could be a very long post). We could start with the fact that our DNA structure is incredibly similar to that of all animals on this planet, as are larger structures like cells. Our skeletal formation, bodily functions and internal organs are incredibly similar to that of all mammals, allowing for deformation. Either that's one heck of a coincidence, or there's a suggestion of a common origin there. Based on this much alone, to suggest that human beings are not animals (since we have more developed brains) makes no more sense than a claim that a peacock cannot be a bird because it has such elaborate tail feathers.

And then there is the grouping of species at various levels which have differing degrees of commonality. All birds, for example, share common traits that differ from all mammals. But both share sets of common traits with, for example, all vertebrates. This is a clear indication of lineage, but we can look a lot deeper. We can trace lineage at the level of individual genes, and throughout the entire spectrum of living species the family tree is consistent.

Like the force of gravity, we can infer the process of evolution from the consistency of its results. But, unlike gravity, we can also observe and even interact with the underlying mechanisms that cause the process.

The process of mutation and genetic inheritance is undeniable. Humans have manipulated it successfully over millennia with selective breeding of plants and animals (including human beings). Nowadays we understand the mechanisms that cause this, in minute detail. We have also studied natural selection in the wild and how species adapt to change, and even branch off into new species. Evolution is happening, right now, all around us. That much is fact, proven to the greatest extent that anything can be. Unless our whole experience of life is some kind of fake illusion, or the whole thing is a big conspiracy, evolution happens.

Ah, but how do we know that evolution happened in the past as well? Nobody has yet envisaged a reasonable explanation of how we could have come to this point otherwise. Then there is the aforementioned commonality of physical traits and genes that caused them, the huge, well-established genetic map of species, which corresponds both geographically and chronologically with an extensive fossil record, which in itself gives us an amazingly complete picture, enabling us to trace our ancestry back millions of years. It all ties in together. There is a huge amount of data and it all fits.

Darwin understood evolution from observing the process and its effects on a medium scale. In Darwin's time, the theory was accepted by the scientific community despite flying in the face of religious belief (no small feat in those days). It was elegant, simple, and self-evident. Almost a hundred and fifty years later nobody has been able to pick a hole in it, and not for lack of trying. In that time we have come to understand so much more, far more information has been unearthed about present species, fossils, and the mechanisms of genetics (which are now understood on a molecular level). A vast amount of new information has come to light. And it all still fits.

But does that prove that we came to be this way by means of evolution? Of course not! God could have planted all the fossil evidence, arranged every living thing so as to look like it evolved, and even put all the processes in place so that evolution would have gotten us to this point, were it not for the fact that God actually put us here instead. He may be trying to fool us, just as he may be pulling objects to the floor to make us think gravity exists. The complete consistency of the data may all be just a big trick. But it's not very likely, is it?

Here I'll appeal for help from other braindenners, to provide links to websites or books for those who wish to find out how evolution works.

Here's one which seems to do a good job of taking it from first principles.

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Posted · Report post

Okay, so according to the second law of thermodynamics, the entropy, or unusable energy, of the universe is always increasing. So it would follow that the usable amount of energy is decreasing.

According to Dictionary.com, entropy is just the amount of thermal energy unavailable to do work. That doesn't render it useless. Until now, I've just used it to refer to chaos, and we've yet to cover this at school, so excuse me if I seem a bit fallacious. Because E = mc^2, entropy should easily be able to be converted in to some sort something. Energy is always available for using, and the more matter we have (planets, in this case), the more space there is for energy to be able to do its job. Ergo : A higher probability of planets that are suitable for evolution to occur on.

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All of you are assuming that evolution is happening and discrediting my arguments (you have no arguments, in order to have arguments you need to have a more extensive knowledge of the matter which you don't) because of that assumption (not an assumption - FACT!), which could be false (evidence support it!)(which, for those of you who are somewhat slow is what I think <ahttp://brainden.com/forum/uploads/emoticons/default_smile.png' alt=':)'> ) ??

Once again, you are assuming that evolution is the cause of life on this earth (we are not "assuming"; evolution IS the cause of life, in all of it's versatility, on planet Earth) and discrediting my argument. Spontaneous generation does not directly have to do with DNA, but with actual life. There have been many experiments on Spontaneous generation and it used to be thought true, but has been considered false for a long time. Even under highly favoriable circumstances, life has never just happened. But that is exactly what evolutionist (and yes I mean people who believe (I DO NOT believe in theory of evolution, same way I don't have to believe in gravity or the fact that Earth revolves around the Sun) in the theory of evolution) believe. that, given a bunch of time and some super favorable conditions, life happened.

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So you're saying that anyone who honestly wants to see God, can? 'Cos that's what it sounds like, and that definitely isn't true.

i was more making that the point that wants us to see him but he won't just throw himself in front of us because most people really would want him too. (and because it would prove satin right that god is unfair, but that's a whole different argument)

but i do believe if you really search with an open heart for god to reveal himself to you, he will.

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i was more making that the point that wants us to see him but he won't just throw himself in front of us because most people really would want him too. (and because it would prove satin right that god is unfair, but that's a whole different argument)

but i do believe if you really search with an open heart for god to reveal himself to you, he will.

Oh he did reveal himself to me once in a form of a Merciful Angel... <_<

I'm sure he revealed himself to many other openhearted people in various forms...

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Oh he did reveal himself to me once in a form of a Merciful Angel... <_<

I'm sure he revealed himself to many other openhearted people in various forms...

WOW you still believe in evolution after that

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WOW you still believe in evolution after that

BECAUSE EVOLUTION STILL EXISTS WHETHER GOD DOES OR NOT. And I *think* she was being sarcastic.

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I know she was being sarcastic and i also know what she meant by merciful angel.

i'd perfer if you made fun of my beliefs after yo tried them but oh well

oh and this is why i don't really like this kind of discussions. everyone is trying to prove they are right and not look for the best answer meaning we get know where. anyway you guys can go on discussing whatever without me.

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Izzy I hate to pick holes in your argument since we are fighting for the same cause, but "Planck time" wasn't some period of time of the universe - it's a unit of time, like a second or minute or year, but a very small unit of time

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planck_time

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Eh, I blame Victor Stenger for my mistake. I was looking at a diagram of his that looks sort of like this

entropy-expansion.gif,

but at the origin he wrote "Planck time". What I probably meant was "As time, measured in Planck time, increases, blah blah".

Thanks. ;) Better for you to realize my mistakes and correct them than someone we're arguing against. :P

Edited by Izzy
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Posted · Report post

how about... god is evolution?

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I know I'm supposed to be on holiday, but couldn't resist a last glance. Izzy has a good point vis-a-vis the existence of evolution being self-evident regardless of religious belief. DMS: I have given Christianity a very serious try, many years ago, and indeed for a while believed in it whole-heartedly. But never would I compromise my scientific principles of forming opinions based on evidence, rather than a desire to make the truth what you want it to be. You seem compelled to deny the fact of evolution since it threatens your beliefs. But being a self-evident fact supported by all available evidence, this requires a lot of ignorance or denial. The existence of evolution does not imply the non-existence of god, it only brings the accuracy of the bible into question. It appears that you choose to ignore all evidence because questioning the accuracy of a holy book is something you are not prepared to do.

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