Evolution theory... any biology wonks out there?

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GrandTuringSedan
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17 Nov 2012, 5:30 pm

I am a slightly less techy aut. I have been perenially frustrated by the cultural bias against solid bio-theory in the united states. When I was in high school, I was taught about bio processes, bio structures, bio chem, etc. But, the unifying theory of biology was not given its proper place, namely to unify all these fields of study.
The problem seems to be faith-based anti-intellectualism. When people deny all evidence, what evidence can you give? In an age when we're trying to cure pandemics, cancer, etc. will we be forced to start actively denouncing and debunking the process and products of faith?



Fnord
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17 Nov 2012, 6:07 pm

Real evidence is prone to correction and revision. All evidence must forever be tested and hypotheses must be revised if the evidence for them is found to be lacking or non-existent. New hypotheses arise from the ashes of old ideas. From these hypotheses arise testable theories. Within these theories lie the seeds of our understanding. This is the heart and soul of science; we achieve our understanding through tedious and endless examination and re-examination of theory and evidence, and often our understanding changes when new evidence is introduced. It's as if science itself is continually on trial, with each successive generation of scientists taking its turn as judge and jury of previous generations. Thus, science is in a state of perpetual flux; it is self-correcting and ever changing.

Only in faith is everything certain and authoritative. Only in faith are evidence and understanding unnecessary. Only in faith are the rules carved in stone, remaining fixed and unchanging long after it becomes obvious that the rules no longer work -- if they ever did at all. People with with faith will always find some way of convincing themselves that they are the only ones that are right, and that anyone who relies on evidence and reason is not only wrong, but a threat that must be eliminated. Therefore, it is dangerous to have faith.


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ruveyn
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17 Nov 2012, 7:39 pm

GrandTuringSedan wrote:
I am a slightly less techy aut. I have been perenially frustrated by the cultural bias against solid bio-theory in the united states. When I was in high school, I was taught about bio processes, bio structures, bio chem, etc. But, the unifying theory of biology was not given its proper place, namely to unify all these fields of study.
The problem seems to be faith-based anti-intellectualism. When people deny all evidence, what evidence can you give? In an age when we're trying to cure pandemics, cancer, etc. will we be forced to start actively denouncing and debunking the process and products of faith?


The True Believers are out to wreck science and bring us back to the Middle Ages.

ruveyn



eric76
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17 Nov 2012, 7:41 pm

GrandTuringSedan wrote:
I am a slightly less techy aut. I have been perenially frustrated by the cultural bias against solid bio-theory in the united states. When I was in high school, I was taught about bio processes, bio structures, bio chem, etc. But, the unifying theory of biology was not given its proper place, namely to unify all these fields of study.
The problem seems to be faith-based anti-intellectualism. When people deny all evidence, what evidence can you give? In an age when we're trying to cure pandemics, cancer, etc. will we be forced to start actively denouncing and debunking the process and products of faith?


Where are you that there is such a cultural bias?

There are always personal biases one way or another in just about anything, I don't know where you see a cultural bias.

Sure there are people who let their religion bias their personal views on scientific matters, but to me that the number of highly religious people seem to be in decline. Most of the religious people I meet do not object to science, but there are still many who argue against evolution and some who argue that the Earth is only a few thousand years old. I would hardly call these cultural, though.

And, for what it's worth, going on a diatribe against people's faith is going to be useless, at best, and possibly quite counterproductive.



GrandTuringSedan
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17 Nov 2012, 10:17 pm

eric76 wrote:

Where are you that there is such a cultural bias?

There are always personal biases one way or another in just about anything, I don't know where you see a cultural bias.

Sure there are people who let their religion bias their personal views on scientific matters, but to me that the number of highly religious people seem to be in decline. Most of the religious people I meet do not object to science, but there are still many who argue against evolution and some who argue that the Earth is only a few thousand years old. I would hardly call these cultural, though.

And, for what it's worth, going on a diatribe against people's faith is going to be useless, at best, and possibly quite counterproductive.


I'm in the US where polls show that nearly half the country rejects the fact of evolution, the theory of evolution, and the teaching of evolutionary theory as the scientific consensus, exclusively on religious grounds. Religion is a cultural phenomenon. These people have their personal convictions, but they are organized, politicized, and well funded. How can you say a religious movement isn't cultural? Do you realize how many states and local school districts want to add the teaching of "Intelligent Design Theory" to their biology classes? They certainly don't want to do it on the basis of scientific merrit. They will lie shamelessly about anything and everything if they think it will confuse people into buying the false equivocation they are selling.

For what it's worth, debunking isn't a diatribe. Debunking is what you do when someone else makes a positive claim that is logically unsound or contradicts evidence. People who have a personal faith would not insist that the rest of society protect them from realizations to the contrary. Only people looking for religious power would do that. When they do, it's good to be able to educate people about the limits of what faith can say about natural reality. Not all assertions are created equally and not all deserve a seat at the table.



AardvarkGoodSwimmer
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17 Nov 2012, 10:57 pm

I have a question about evolution, which also applies to SETI:

How long did the transition from prokaryotic cells to eukaryotic cells take? (how many rolls of the dice so to speak)

And was it a relatively small number of medium steps or a lot of little steps?



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17 Nov 2012, 11:24 pm

AardvarkGoodSwimmer wrote:
I have a question about evolution, which also applies to SETI:

How long did the transition from prokaryotic cells to eukaryotic cells take? (how many rolls of the dice so to speak)

And was it a relatively small number of medium steps or a lot of little steps?


They dont know.
Bacteria monopolize the fossil record for three billion years.
Then eukariots appear 1.4 billion years ago.

Then muliticellular critters appear with the cambrian explosion at 600 my ago.

Most of the fossil record is only that last 600 million years of the earths 4.5 billion year history.

That long age of microbes is slowly yielding its secrets. But microbes dont leave very good fossils. So its still a wild frontier in paleontology.

Eukoryotes are the product of prokaryotic cells comming together in symbiotic cooperation. Not from prokaryotic cells "evolving into eukarytic cells"- the way (say) dinosaurs may have evolved into birds.

Probably it was small bacteria living as paracites inside big bacteria-then the paracites began to function as vital partners instead of paracites.

The organelles of eukaryotic cells- such as mitochondria, and chloroplasts are very similiar in both size and in structure to entire bacteria cells. So the suspicion is that that is what they were originally.

So- its as if your stomach lived as seperate organism, and your liver as another independant animal walking around, your pancreas lived in the wild as yet another animal, and your lungs as still another animal.

Then all of these animals got together and learned to function as organs in one body. Thats how prokaryotes became eukaryotes.

Its not quite the way that miocene horses evolved into pliocene horses say.



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17 Nov 2012, 11:27 pm

Fnord wrote:
Real evidence is prone to correction and revision. All evidence must forever be tested and hypotheses must be revised if the evidence for them is found to be lacking or non-existent. New hypotheses arise from the ashes of old ideas. From these hypotheses arise testable theories. Within these theories lie the seeds of our understanding. This is the heart and soul of science; we achieve our understanding through tedious and endless examination and re-examination of theory and evidence, and often our understanding changes when new evidence is introduced. It's as if science itself is continually on trial, with each successive generation of scientists taking its turn as judge and jury of previous generations. Thus, science is in a state of perpetual flux; it is self-correcting and ever changing.


That right there is why science works.


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eric76
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18 Nov 2012, 12:15 am

GrandTuringSedan wrote:
eric76 wrote:

Where are you that there is such a cultural bias?

There are always personal biases one way or another in just about anything, I don't know where you see a cultural bias.

Sure there are people who let their religion bias their personal views on scientific matters, but to me that the number of highly religious people seem to be in decline. Most of the religious people I meet do not object to science, but there are still many who argue against evolution and some who argue that the Earth is only a few thousand years old. I would hardly call these cultural, though.

And, for what it's worth, going on a diatribe against people's faith is going to be useless, at best, and possibly quite counterproductive.


For what it's worth, debunking isn't a diatribe.


Your original post on this thread is definitely a diatribe.

Quote:
Debunking is what you do when someone else makes a positive claim that is logically unsound or contradicts evidence.


I think that "debunking" also requires that the parties involved are rational and ready to listen to the truth. You can use all the logic you want with creationists but it doesn't amount to a debunking unless they are ready to accept a rational argument. When you then proceed to gripe about their religion and how they aren't rational, it becomes a diatribe.

Patience truly is a virtue.

Quote:
People who have a personal faith would not insist that the rest of society protect them from realizations to the contrary. Only people looking for religious power would do that. When they do, it's good to be able to educate people about the limits of what faith can say about natural reality. Not all assertions are created equally and not all deserve a seat at the table.


And that is certainly a very nonsensical diatribe. If parents wish their children to be taught according to their beliefs, it is none of your business. The best we can hope for is to keep it out of the classroom.



Fnord
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18 Nov 2012, 12:18 am

ruveyn wrote:
The True Believers are out to wreck science and bring us back to the Middle Ages. ruveyn

If all children would learn that it is alright to ask critical questions, then the outlook for religion would be very dark indeed.


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eric76
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18 Nov 2012, 12:20 am

Fnord wrote:
Only in faith is everything certain and authoritative. Only in faith are evidence and understanding unnecessary. Only in faith are the rules carved in stone, remaining fixed and unchanging long after it becomes obvious that the rules no longer work -- if they ever did at all. People with with faith will always find some way of convincing themselves that they are the only ones that are right, and that anyone who relies on evidence and reason is not only wrong, but a threat that must be eliminated. Therefore, it is dangerous to have faith.


What gets really tiresome is when people who try to use scientific claims to support their preconceived notions and fears.



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18 Nov 2012, 9:34 am

I disagree with the science vs. religion notion. Neither of them is fundamentally opposed to the other. A scientist may very well be religious, Einstein and Newton are often cited as examples.
The problem is not that religion teaches that science of any kind is unnecessary or wrong or anything, but that religion is used as a political tool for control. A group I was in had done some research on the subject back when I was in high school, for some science project. Looking into some famous cases, like Galileo's sentence, we saw that religion was usually only an excuse to further the goals of an institution. In the case of Galileo, it was the escalation of the dispute between him and the defenders of the geocentric model and Aristotelian physics, who sought to bring him down by any means necessary, like the connections some had to representatives of the Christian Church.
Christianity, in itself, or most any other religion, is not what is causing this conflict, but rather it is the institutions that are using religion to define what is right and what isn't (for the same purpose - control). I myself am an atheist, while members of my family have been involved in different religious currents (Christianity (Orthodox/Catholic), Islam, Hinduism), and I see this same thing in all of them. Maybe it's because I'm French, but I don't think that the situation in France is all that different from the one in the USA.
This does require more research to be sure of it, but I don't think it's right to rely on the assumption that religious people are idiots. I am convinced that the leaders of any religious movement are completely conscious of what they are doing.



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18 Nov 2012, 10:03 am

naturalplastic wrote:
. . . The organelles of eukaryotic cells- such as mitochondria, and chloroplasts are very similiar in both size and in structure to entire bacteria cells. So the suspicion is that that is what they were originally. . .

I have read this about chloroplasts and mitochondria. But the latest thinking is that this is also the case for smooth endoplasmic reticulum, rough endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus, microfilaments, and most (all?) the rest of eukaryotic cellular organelles?

I also have read that eukaryotic cells are generally MUCH BIGGER than prokaryotic cells.



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18 Nov 2012, 10:07 am

quux wrote:
I disagree with the science vs. religion notion. Neither of them is fundamentally opposed to the other. A scientist may very well be religious, Einstein and Newton are often cited as examples.
The problem is not that religion teaches that science of any kind is unnecessary or wrong or anything, but that religion is used as a political tool for control. A group I was in had done some research on the subject back when I was in high school, for some science project. Looking into some famous cases, like Galileo's sentence, we saw that religion was usually only an excuse to further the goals of an institution. In the case of Galileo, it was the escalation of the dispute between him and the defenders of the geocentric model and Aristotelian physics, who sought to bring him down by any means necessary, like the connections some had to representatives of the Christian Church.
Christianity, in itself, or most any other religion, is not what is causing this conflict, but rather it is the institutions that are using religion to define what is right and what isn't (for the same purpose - control). I myself am an atheist, while members of my family have been involved in different religious currents (Christianity (Orthodox/Catholic), Islam, Hinduism), and I see this same thing in all of them. Maybe it's because I'm French, but I don't think that the situation in France is all that different from the one in the USA.
This does require more research to be sure of it, but I don't think it's right to rely on the assumption that religious people are idiots. I am convinced that the leaders of any religious movement are completely conscious of what they are doing.


Religion is mostly nonsense. Science is not.

ruveyn



Evinceo
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18 Nov 2012, 4:32 pm

naturalplastic wrote:
Then all of these animals got together and learned to function as organs in one body. Thats how prokaryotes became eukaryotes.


For really interesting edge-cases of multicellularity, look at sea sponges (and their allies), slime molds (esp. compared to fungi), and Ediacaran Fauna (what ARE THEY?).