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Is Evolution a Dangerous Idea? If so, why?

 
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Sat 20 Mar, 2010 09:23 am
@farmerman,
farmerman wrote:
A Too well educated laity is a bad thing for religions.


This is definitely true. For many fundamentalists, all the knowledge one needs, and all to which one should be exposed, is to be found in scripture. I once worked with a charismatic Christian woman, who had the strength of character not to attempt to impose her world view on the clients (it was a homeless families shelter), but whose every thought, word and deed was conditioned by her religious creed. (At any event, so she thought.) I came to work one day carrying some excellent books i had picked up in a used book store, and including Bede's Ecclesiastic History of England and a "double" biography of Charlemagne, which included Einhard's near contemporary biography and Nottker's hilarious account, complete with flying bishops and other religious nonsense. I had also picked up a copy of Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress. She asked what i had purchased, so i showed them to her. She immediately commented that there is no need to study anything other than scripture. I pointed out that when she was still a godless heathen, she had acquired a university education, and that it was well enough to say such things when her devotion to scripture was overlaid on a sound, catholic education (catholic with a small c). I then pointed out that Bede and the Nottker biography, as well as The Pilgrim's Progess were all religious in nature--and her response was something to the effect that Satan often clothed dangerous ideas in fair garments. She actually referred to dangerous ideas.

A great many religious people don't want any more education or information that can be found in the scripture of their choice.
saab
 
  2  
Reply Sat 20 Mar, 2010 09:39 am
@farmerman,
A Too well educated laity is a bad thing for religions.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If a too well educated laity is bad for religions I would like to know how religions have survied hundreds or thousands of years.
The church was in the middle ages the only place which had schools and there were lots of educated people, explorers, authors, artists, scientists, and I am sure not all of them were believers in everything the church preached.
Regardless of educated laity religions have survieved.

Or have I completely misunderstood what you said?
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  2  
Reply Sat 20 Mar, 2010 09:51 am
@Thomas,
Quote:
One more important feature of evolution is that it can, in principle, run on any kind of hardware. Given the conditions I just described, evolution just happens. Individuals in the population will continuously improve at surviving; some of them will grow astoundingly complex in the process. All this diversity and complexity can happen without any intention, any mind, any creator in charge. And it can happen to anything. Nothing about the algorithm requires that the individuals, the copying, the mutations, or the selection be biological.


Sorry Thomas, I must strongly argue with this.

Human evolution depends on a very specific set of hardware, called DNA. Human evolution works solely in DNA... and the way we have evolved is shaped by DNA. If you change the way DNA works (i.e. change which proteins are easier to encode) in even a small way, the result would change dramatically.

Evolution (the biological kind) is a very specific process that happens only in DNA. Any metaphor to sociological processes are shaky at best.
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Sat 20 Mar, 2010 09:55 am
@saab,
saab wrote:
Evolution is an immediate danger to Christianity, the world's most believed-in religion.
__________________________________________________

In Scandinavia and Germany where we have/had religous instructrions in even state schools we learn/learned about creation and in sience about evolution.

Scandinavia's and Germany's churches are also a lot emptier than America's. So on the face of it, acceptance of evolution may well have weakened Christianity, religious instruction notwithstanding.

***

I, too, have attended German schools, and the religion classes there. In elementary school, they were basically story-telling classes in which the teacher told us the story of Adam and Eve, Joseph and his brother, Daniel in the lions' pit, and, of course, the adventures of Jesus and his 12 friends. Now that I think of it, I don't remember our teachers ever commenting on the veracity of the story. My impression of the time was that they were basically fairy-tales like Snow White. Our teachers certainly didn't make any vigorous efforts to convince us otherwise.

In what Americans would call junior high, religion classes mostly turned into ethics classes that used selected episodes from the Bible for illustration. Some share of the curriculum was dedicated to comparative religion, and how Christians and Muslims could get along better in Germany.

Elementary or middle school, I have no complaints about my religion classes in Germany. But with hindsight, I find it conspicuous that they never touched this whole believing business. We never discussed whether Mary was a virgin or not. We never discussed the apocalypse. We did touch creation in the context of Adam and Eve, and the resurrection in the context of Jesus's adventures -- but our teachers never claimed that this stuff really happened.

Overall, my impression is that our religion classes may have helped perpetuate cultural traditions that were rooted in Christianity. But they didn't do much to sustain Christianity as a living faith.

Is that roughly consistent with your experience?
saab
 
  2  
Reply Sat 20 Mar, 2010 10:37 am
@Thomas,
I wonder if you are/were Catholic or Evangelisch. (there is no correct translation for this. Protestant is to wide)
I grew up in a pure Lutheran country and the Swedish Lutheran Church is very close to the Catholic Church.
I cannot remember exactly what was discussed or not, but we did learn about creation, Virgin Mary and Jesus died and rose for us.
As the Lutheran church is interested in symbols all this is taken more serious than in the German Evangelische - reformed church - where the pastors have very little or no interest in the symbols, the colors of the liturgical year etc.
The Lutheran churches have a crucifix and the Evangelische a cross.
Almost every Swedish church has a Statue of the Virgin Mary. Where I live we even have a church dedicated to Mary, her symbols are everywhere the colors are her symbolic colors.
Another church which has some Catholics who participate in the church service has now a special Statue of Virgin Mary by the entrance, so the Catholics can pray to her before leaving the church. This was a wish of the Catholics.
This would never happen in an Evanglische Kirche.
It is not unusual in our Lutheran Church to see people kneel when praying,
we make sign of the cross during service.
I think the basis of religious instructions were to support our believes in the Lutheran Church, depending on the teacher, show respect for religion and religious people and also non religious, we should take it seriously.
In Scandinavia we still call the pastor priest, in Sweden and Norway we have the apostolic succetion, which the Evanglische Kirche find completely absurd.

Sorry you now got to know more than you asked for.
rosborne979
 
  3  
Reply Sat 20 Mar, 2010 08:40 pm
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:

Quote:
One more important feature of evolution is that it can, in principle, run on any kind of hardware. Given the conditions I just described, evolution just happens. Individuals in the population will continuously improve at surviving; some of them will grow astoundingly complex in the process. All this diversity and complexity can happen without any intention, any mind, any creator in charge. And it can happen to anything. Nothing about the algorithm requires that the individuals, the copying, the mutations, or the selection be biological.


Sorry Thomas, I must strongly argue with this.

Human evolution depends on a very specific set of hardware, called DNA. Human evolution works solely in DNA... and the way we have evolved is shaped by DNA. If you change the way DNA works (i.e. change which proteins are easier to encode) in even a small way, the result would change dramatically.

Evolution (the biological kind) is a very specific process that happens only in DNA. Any metaphor to sociological processes are shaky at best.


I don't think Thomas in implying any type of social metaphor. I think he's referring to the basic principles of evolution which are unspecific to biology.

The core requirements for evolution are, Reproduction, Variation and Selection. These functions are primarily found in Biology, but are not theoretically limited to Biology. The best example is Genetic Programming to evolve new algorithms (this has already been done and is a hot endeavor in computer design).
Ionus
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Mar, 2010 08:47 pm
@farmerman,
Quote:
I have the evidence and the fossils,
Either you cant read or you just went mad. You have fossils from before the Big Bang ? Because I was saying the Big Bang was the creation event. All you can do is argue philosophy against religion as to the nature of things before the Big Bang.
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Mar, 2010 09:22 pm
@Ionus,
Assuming there was a creator to make the big bang is as presumptuous as anything I've read here. There is no cause to believe a Creator exists or existed, for there is not one speck of evidence of such. It's anthropomorphism or something like that to ascribe a purpose.
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Sat 20 Mar, 2010 09:25 pm
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:
Human evolution depends on a very specific set of hardware, called DNA.

If human evolution depends so critically on DNA, then how come Darwin understood so much about it? He knew nothing about DNA.

PS ... what Rosborne said.
Ionus
 
  2  
Reply Sat 20 Mar, 2010 09:42 pm
@edgarblythe,
I am not assuming anything. I am saying that a creator makes as much sense as any other philosophy of before the Big Bang because we will never know the answer. Therfore, the universe was created, we are just arguing by who or what.
ebrown p
 
  3  
Reply Sat 20 Mar, 2010 09:45 pm
@rosborne979,
Quote:
I don't think Thomas in implying any type of social metaphor. I think he's referring to the basic principles of evolution which are unspecific to biology.

The core requirements for evolution are, Reproduction, Variation and Selection. These functions are primarily found in Biology, but are not theoretically limited to Biology. The best example is Genetic Programming to evolve new algorithms (this has already been done and is a hot endeavor in computer design).


That is just the point. Evolution is a concept from biology. There are no meaningful "basic principles" from the biological concept of "Evolution" that are unspecific to biology.

Let's take the first of your "Core Requirements" of evolution-- Reproduction (another biological concept). The attempt to compare the "reproduction" of religious ideas with the process of sexual (or even asexual) reproduction of biology breaks down pretty quickly as a metaphor for anything. Biological reproduction is another specific process-- there are one or two parents. There is a clear definition of offspring-- and again there is a specific set of hardware (DNA).

My point is that biological evolution is a very poor metaphor for the other non-scientific uses of the word "evolution".

In the computer science "evolution", an intelligent designer sets up mathematical rules with a specific goal in mind. Genetic programming involves setting rules to randomly change a couple of parameters the Creator chooses based on His will; most of the software around genetic algorithms can not change itself.

Is this a good analogy for what is happening in biology?

0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Mar, 2010 09:47 pm
@Ionus,
It may seem like nitpicking, but, in my opinion, to say "created" assumes too much.
ebrown p
 
  2  
Reply Sat 20 Mar, 2010 09:48 pm
@Thomas,
Quote:

If human evolution depends so critically on DNA, then how come Darwin understood so much about it? He knew nothing about DNA.


This seems like a silly argument. We know a awful lot more about evolution now then Darwin did. Our modern understanding of DNA is an important reason for this.
Ionus
 
  2  
Reply Sat 20 Mar, 2010 09:50 pm
@edgarblythe,
No, I dont think you are nitpicking. That is a reasonable stance. It is just that we dont have a word that encompasses the meeting of different dimensions that result in a singularity from which everything in the universe originated. We have always called this event the creation. If you can give me another word I will consider using it.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Mar, 2010 10:00 pm
There are words to use. It is late and I am not ready to search them out tonight.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Sat 20 Mar, 2010 10:23 pm
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:
This seems like a silly argument. We know a awful lot more about evolution now then Darwin did. Our modern understanding of DNA is an important reason for this.

But the point is, if DNA is so important to understanding evolution, Darwin shouldn't have been able to understand it at all. And knowing DNA hasn't really helped us understand it that much better.

PS: Just because an argument seems silly to you, that doesn't necessarily make it silly.
ebrown p
 
  3  
Reply Sat 20 Mar, 2010 10:45 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas, let's not get sidetracked with arguments about Darwin understanding evolution.

My point is that Biological Evolution is a specific process involving DNA. Real evolution, a well-defined scientific process by which lifeforms change over generations, is a very weak metaphor for sociological or computer science concepts.

The sociological phenomena involve opinion leaders effecting changes in existing individuals. Someone with a new idea and access to media can cause social changes in peoples ideas-- the propagation of ideas and customs don't map at all well to biological concepts. Using biological evolution as a metaphor for social change is misleading at best.

Of course, any computer science phenomenon has a Creator (although I prefer to be called an "Intelligent Designer) who formulates a mathematical model with a specific goal in mind. Biological evolution is not a very good metaphor for this either.


Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Sat 20 Mar, 2010 11:00 pm
@ebrown p,
I continue to disagree with your notion that DNA is central to the concept of evolution. I also disagree that the elements I do consider central to it -- replication, variation, and selection -- can't be applied outside of biology. But don't see how I can state this view any better than I already have. Therefore, rather than going back an forth about it in perpetual motion, let's agree to disagree.
farmerman
 
  3  
Reply Sat 20 Mar, 2010 11:55 pm
@Thomas,
Evolution went on without DNA for a long time, several prokaryotes dont have any. With our growing understanding about epigenetics and what DNA actually does, it appears that it may not be the entire story in complex animals and plants.
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2010 12:04 am
@Thomas,
Quote:
But the point is, if DNA is so important to understanding evolution, Darwin shouldn't have been able to understand it at all. And knowing DNA hasn't really helped us understand it that much better.
That needsa to be said One more time. EVEN as we know about the vast structure of DNA in humans 22000 genes with over three BILLION single nucleotide points, the question remains. Does DNA effect evolution or does evolution affect the DNA? AS Gould and MAyr agreed upon, DNA is merely the bookkeeping pof evolution. Because most "fossil DNA' remains in an organisms genome well after it has evolved away from its parent form, why doesnt it affect the somatic cell structure of the derivwd form? The fact that genes are Turned on and off, yet remain in the genome and the enzyme which causes DNA to replicate is a somatic compound, Ive sided with the "bookkeeping hypothesis"
0 Replies
 
 

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