Science, Just Science

20 November 2008

Stanford Medicine Magazine: Something Fishy Is Going On

Filed under: News,Science — Kyuuketsuki @ 2:09 pm

Research On Sticklebacks Blows Anti-Evolution Arguments Out Of The Water

by
AMY ADAMS

More than 10,000 years ago glaciers covered the land, and a 4-inch, heavily armoured fish called the threespine stickleback cruised the ocean waters, gobbling up larvae and other prey. These fish were ubiquitous coastal denizens throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

Then something potentially tragic happened — the ice age ended and glaciers began to recede. Groups of sticklebacks swam up newly formed streams and became stranded in the many freshwater lakes that sprang up in the trail of the ebbing glaciers. The fish, once suited for an ocean environment, had to adapt or die.

Sticklebacks competed for food and mates and struggled to avoid predators and parasites in their new environments. These forces shaped which fish survived and reproduced. In lakes with quick predators, the smallest, sleekest sticklebacks prevailed. In other environments, slower, bottom-dwelling sticklebacks were best able to avoid predators. Still other populations developed bright colours, new ways of feeding or the ability to cope with more or less salt in the water. In all, sticklebacks became so diverse that naturalists originally divided them into 40 different species.

Some adaptations were particularly remarkable — some fish populations lost entire fins, completely rearranged their jaws, doubled their number of teeth or shed their armoured plates. Creationists might say that God gave those sticklebacks the tools they needed to survive. Most biologists say, What a gorgeous example of evolution at work.

[Read The Rest Of The Article Here]

James “Kyuuketsuki” Rocks (UK Tech Portal)

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17 November 2008

A Letter To A Creationist Nation

Filed under: Creationism & Intelligent Design,Science — Kyuuketsuki @ 11:37 am

OK,

So it wasn’t a letter to a creationist nation but from one Karl Gibberson, a physicist and Christian, to creationist Ken Ham. Here’s some excerpts …

“One of the most painful experiences of my life was abandoning my belief in young earth creationism. I had been raised in a wonderful Baptist church that was fundamentalist but, as it was on the edge of a potato field in rural New Brunswick, Canada, it lacked the hard political edge that makes American fundamentalism so unappealing. It was a great place to grow up, to learn to love God, and I have nothing but fond memories of the believers with whom I worshipped as a child.”

And …

There were several reasons I abandoned creationism. And now, years later, I am convinced that creationism poses insurmountable problems for anyone who would defend creationism today. I would like to mention a few general concerns and then some specifics to make my point.

Creationists have to “explain away” a gigantic mountain range of evidence that the scientific community has accumulated in the past century. Neither the scientific community nor the scientific data is is on their side. They have to believe that God created a profoundly deceptive world, with countless markers inexplicably pointing to evolution, even though that was not how things originated. This makes no sense. Creationists, who are almost always Biblical literalists, also have to come up with eccentric and strained readings of the Bible to accommodate its many references to ancient near eastern cosmologies. The Bible speaks of a solid dome in the heavens (Genesis 1:6) holding back the waters to take one example. The Bible refers to the earth as “immoveable,” to take another (Psalm 93:1). The alternate readings of these passages by the creationists are not faithful to the text and twist the original Hebrew in ways that would make it unrecognizable to the writer. I don’t think creationists are as faithful to the Biblical text as they claim.

The most disturbing claim of the creationists, however, is their accusation that the scientific community is engaged in a vast conspiracy to trick the public into thinking that evolution is well supported. I believed this when I came to college but, as I pursued my degrees in physics, I realized that this could not possibly be true. Science is ruthlessly honest and done by bright, often maverick, intellectuals who would never sign on to a conspiracy to suppress the truth. As a fully trained scientist, now with a Ph. D in physics and publications in research journals, I can attest to the high level of integrity of the scientific community and its methods. Heroic efforts are made to ensure that bias and carelessness do not creep into scientific research. When you say, in your book The Lie: Evolution, that scientists cannot be trusted because they are “biased” and “not objective,” you are devaluing the work of so many honest and unsung heroes. Scientists are “truth-seekers,” which is why they have discovered so many useful and interesting things about the natural world–from curing smallpox, to landing a man on the moon, to establishing that epilepsy is not caused by demon possession. Scientists may not be perfectly objective, but this is hardly a license to set aside those parts of science that you don’t like. Medical doctors are certainly not perfect, but we put our lives in their hands when we go to the hospital. The question is not “What absolute guides do we have, that will lead us to certain truth?” The question is: “What is the most likely road to whatever truth we are capable of grasping?”

I am pained to see how the creationists tar the entire scientific community with this brush of bias, for they smear the work of a great many Christian believers like Francis Collins, Ken Miller, and John Polkinghorne, who have made their peace with evolution without compromising their Christian faith. These three scientists are friends of mine and I can attest to the vitality of their faith.

And finally …

To be a creationist requires distorting the ancient text of the Bible–God’s revelation in Scripture–to camouflage the obvious references to an obsolete cosmology. And it requires distorting the data from science–God’s revelation in nature–to camouflage the mountain of data supporting evolution. Why not accept the world at face value and let it speak for itself? And why not let the Bible be what it most clearly is–a collection of inspired texts from the ancient world, and not a textbook of modern science?

In embracing evolution my view of the natural world has been deeply enriched, for I have become a part of that world. I write these words from a home office looking out into a New England forest. The leaves have donned their autumn splendor and many are joining the birds in the air, in preparation for winter. Deer, wild turkey, raccoons, squirrels, and countless other species live in those woods, and occasionally come to visit and nibble on my landscape. How awesome to think that I share a history with these life forms and that, to varying degrees, I am related to them. I am humbled to think that God’s creative work is of such grand coherence and scope that the universe is one gigantic narrative of creation. This seems far richer than my former creationist view that the universe is a collection of separately created things. And, to top it off, God created us with minds capable of unpacking the whole amazing story.

Why would any Christian find it hard to believe that evolution was God’s way of creating?

[Read The Entire Article Here]

Even as an atheist I found that quite, quite inspiring and, to be honest, if I were ever to return to the Christain fold again (and I think it unlikely) this kind of view is how I would have to mold myself.

James “Kyuuketsuki” Rocks (UK Tech Portal)

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