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Posts Tagged ‘rules’

Humans by our very nature really don’t understand what random chance means, still let me provide an introduction to the topic. What set of numbers are more likely to win the lottery you can pick either 7 13 17 23 32 41 or 1 2 3 4 5 6? Ok you might try to catch me out here, but be honest the first set of numbers, at least to most people, would be considered to more likely be the winning lottery numbers even though both sets have an equal chance of winning. They are statistically equal in their likeliness although most people would pick the first set as a less risky and more likely to win than the second set of numbers. I was introduced to randomness by a lecturer who got the whole room to put 20 random dots on a blank piece of paper, being of course a lecturer in psychology the results were rather predictable, either the dots where all in one corner of the paper or pretty much equally spaced throughout the page. No one decided that randomness would result in all 20 dots being in the same position or that they could be clusters. In all humans have a hard time understanding what random really means, this is much like evolution in many ways.

evolution vs creationI recently got hold of a magazine named “Creation or Evolution” produced by the United Church of God, which has members across the world [EV/0511/1.1], although there are a lot of things which I object too I will pick the one I am most confused by. Overall the whole thing directs you to either the acceptance of either creation or the blind chance of lucky accidents which is cheerfully named ‘evolution’. I‘m sure I will talk about some of the other issues that came to me while reading this magazine at another time, still statements like Blind chance and this, which I will quote confused me greatly: “..upon thousands of lucky chance mutations happened coincidentally so that the lens [and the eye could work]..” Now I understand that it has been argued that the eye could have only come to existence if the whole thing came about at the same time, this is not the issue that I want to focus on really and since many scientists have already discussed this I will settle with talking about blind chance of evolution and natural selection. Natural selection has never been the same as blind chance. Chance is the idea that you gain something positive from random events or possible events that could occur; it is in effect the end result of randomness. Blind is also a puzzling word in this sense it is the unguided and unthought-of process that we happen to follow, there are no rules and whatever happens just happens. So according to the United Church of God evolution is the result of an unguided random process that just happened to produce the living things that we can see today, is that a true reflection of evolution?

Well the answer is a little no here – around half of all pregnancies in humans result in the natural abortion of the embryo or fetus which is the consequence of abnormalities, where maladaptive combinations or growth results in it simply not working. Extra or missing genetic material can also lead to natural abortion. The human body and indeed most other living things will not bare or produce young if there is not a strict following of the rules which allow for the normal growth of the embryo or fetus. Only smaller variations will result in successful birth of young, if there is something really wrong with the genetics then it will never end in successful reproduction. In this way the occurred changes must be more gradual and build up over time. Darwin never really discussed this quite like that, still this is not an unguided process, and the laws of nature provide the rules in which adaption must take place. This also means that randomness is excluded since abnormalities of genetic combination have to take place within this process. The conclusion here is that natural selection is not an unguided or random process.

Well the answer is a big no here – there is one big condition that exists within the theory of evolution, that is environment is the most important factor in the development of species, living things must be able to live and survive in the environment that they are born into otherwise they will not bare young and the species will die. Darwin called this process adaptive, this implies that there is some intelligence to the change which there is not; its more like the environment is changing & developing and the resulting effect are successful changes within a line of ancestors resulting in successful reproduction. This is how we got to the level of many species on earth; it’s the changing environment which includes things like the temperature, oxygen level and also the level of food available. The slow change is the creator of species and anything that counteracts successful living in a particular the environments means the likelihood of a successful survival is diminished. Since the environment governs natural selection, natural selection is therefore, not a random and unguided process. It has specific rules.

Let’s now turn to the building up process, I said before I don’t really want to discuss the eye so I will just give you an outline to how such things as eyes or anything else can build up over time. This from Richard Dawkins book the blind watchmaker, he provides an interesting and powerful analogy; let us take the case of a monkey through random chance being able to type the sentence ‘Methinks it is like a Weasel’, the odds of the monkey being able to do that successfully are so unlikely I can’t even count the zeros. Needless to say it is very unlikely to happen within 100 years of non-stop monkey typing. This is effectively what the United Church of God is suggesting and thus the argument of natural selection having odds for success which is far past me being able to write all the zeros down in my life time. Now let’s use the true non-random and guided process of evolution to suggest that every time the monkey gets a letter right, it works and therefore, it stays. So the first letter of ‘Methinks it is like a Weasel’ is M – since it’s a successful letter, it works in the sentence and the M stays; this is a 1in27 chance of the monkey hitting the M key (26 letters and the space bar). At some point the monkey will hit the second letter E since this is again successful it will also stay, the odds of that happening is 1in27 by 1in27. Each time the monkey gets a letter right it stays and the odds & necessary time for the whole sentence to be completed is reduced significantly, rather than millions of years perhaps a few weeks of non-stop monkey typing. This is how natural selection works by each successful change adding up over time to create an overall successful difference, each change being governed by rules of success.

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So when creationists argue that Coelacanth fish which was found recently although thought to be extinct 70 million years ago thus proving evolution is therefore wrong, we can simply argue that the main condition of evolution, being that of environmental change being the driving force, was not present for these populations of fish. Crocodiles are thought to be around 200 million years old overlapping with the dinosaurs that became extinct 65 million years ago. Why did the Coelacanth and Crocodiles survive all this time? The answer is once again this was not random chance. Both are suited for their environments, they are so well adapted that they have not changed, any change would be of negative effect and such variations are less suited so they have pretty much stayed the same. Random chance plays very little in the particulars of evolution and natural selection, so the conclusion that random or blind chance has anything to do with it is always a wrong assumption. We must reject this notion of blind chance!

A little more on this matter…

I’ve found a blog post that deals with some of the other issues that tends to pop up in regards to evolution, in particular the writer addressed some of the common anti-evolution ideas that are around. I like the idea that the blogger suggests that most creationists that become critics of evolution have never actually studied biology in any form. Great blog post read it here:

http://naontiotami.wordpress.com/2008/05/17/revolution-against-evolution-the-limits-of-microevolution/

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*Picture take from CartoonStock.com

Fundamental scientists or to change the meaning to the thing I was trying to say – the fundamental rules that knowledge collection must follow in order to be considered to be science. Plus for contrast I thought I would put in the Fundamental rules that religion seems to follow, of course this is a culturally biased perspective because I am writing it and I am biased. I have colour coded science and religion to make it easier to read, there are no hidden messages in the colours!

1. Validation – in other words its reliable, you could go out and test science for yourself – yes you could. Ok, you might not have all the stuff required to see if an atom bomb would really work but you could become an American citizen, join the army and plot the complete death of everything on the planet through such a bomb. It’s completely up to you! Religion well if you are told something enough maybe you could start to believe it. Of course, there is no burning bush that never seems to burn but that’s just a metaphor anyway. And yes, babies who died and where not baptised never used to go to heaven oh, until they decided to change that. And yes, treating black people as slaves justified by the bible that is just something we should not talk about because it might upset some Christians.

2. Wrongness – Science can always be wrong, even when it seems to be right it could be wrong. All that you need to go “Oi MATE THATS WRONG” is evidence and everyone will admit it. Not only will they admit you are right, they will also thank you for it because after all everyone is just looking for the truth anyway. Religion is always right and if you dare to suggest its wrong you will go to hell when you die, you bastard how DARE YOU. I HOPE YOU DIE! They tend to get a little irritable when you point out they are wrong, even if they are and we all know it!

3. Explaining the world – Science does at every attempt to explain the world, to show the smallest details to explaining the formation of the universe. It does not always get it right and there are areas where it does not explain a lot really, still the attempt to build knowledge is a noble one even if it’s often wrong, it tries to get it right. Religion tries to explain the world, its’ noble in its ability to show us the knowledge it holds is right and unchangeable. Of course all books of religion could only just about hold enough pages to write the DNA code of a fly, we should respect its concise nature. And if we ever need to know about something that’s not in those religious books, there is always some nutter that can pretty much guess what God would think about something even if they have to kind of make it up.

4. When it leaves you alone – You know the great thing about science is that it is everywhere and working all the time, still you know if you just want to go and watch a movie that’s GREAT! It won’t bother you too much and you can enjoy the movie without much thought other than that of your opinions about why High School Musical is so shit! Religion on the other hand, will never leave you alone, there is one benefit you never have to think for yourself – YAY. You won’t watch High School Musical without thinking, “Those girls better be waiting until they are married before having sex!”, or “Those girls are showing too much of their bodies, DEATH TO AMERICA”. You see you never get to the part in your thoughts where the shitness of the movie hits you. Even when you are dead you can’t get away which makes your whole existence EASY!

5. The question of Paradigms – What? It means when we move from one general understanding to a new understanding. Science moves from one set of knowledge to the next, the next one comes about when there is a sudden shift. This is caused by such great thinkers like Einstein who was not only a scientist, he was also a philosopher his ideas moved science because they were fundamentally new and effective. Religion kind of has that – No? Well yes, you see I will use the example of Mormons. Joseph Smith claimed he saw God, Jesus and angels and they told him Christians got it wrong and everyone went yay, let’s believe him even if there is no evidence that he is not just a crazy twat. So Einstein a person who allowed for a new types of science that enable things we use every day or Joseph Smith a racist who made up stuff. YOU DECIDE

I think that I presented both sides of the argument for both science and religion in a fair and frank way. What? I did.

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