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Sign petition to ask President Obama to issue proclamation about Darwin Day

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on February 1, 2010

Please head over here and sign the request to President Obama to issue a proclamation recognizing Darwing Day, on February 12th, Darwin’s birthday.

Dear President Obama,

As an American who values scientific inquiry and integrity, I urge you to issue a presidential proclamation recognizing Darwin Day on February 12. Darwin Day is celebrated every year on the anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birthday in 1809, and is a day in which people gather together to commemorate his life and work. Charles Darwin was the first to propose the groundbreaking scientific theory of evolution by natural selection—a theory that has done more to unify and bring understanding to the life sciences than any other—and Darwin Day is a celebration of this discovery and of scientific progress.

I believe that issuing this proclamation will send a powerful message that scientific discovery and integrity in our society are top priorities—priorities that are needed now more than ever as extremists with narrow ideological agendas are attempting to undermine science in our schools.

Please stand with me and countless others who value science and discovery by issuing the following or a similar proclamation on Darwin Day.

Young Earth Creationism = Darwinism?

Posted in SkepticBlog by Skepdude on December 8, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT SKEPTICBLOG

DarwinEyes4

“News flash: skeptics hack the Answers in Genesis website!” Or, at least, that was the joke  Skeptic co-publisher Pat Linse made when I read her some pro-natural selection material from the young Earth creationist organization’s slick online portal.

For years, I’ve been surprised how rarely this is mentioned: young Earth creationists need Darwin to be right — and when you press them on it, they often agree that he was.

Doesn’t sound like the creationism you know? It’s not a hacker’s prank, and it’s not a radical re-thinking of creationism. It is, however, a nuance as important as it is surprising: creationist leaders share Darwin’s belief that species routinely change (and even originate) through mutation and natural selection.

Indeed, according to Answers In Genesis’ (AiG) current web feature “Top 10 Myths About Creation,” it’s a straw-man to suppose creationists think otherwise:

A popular caricature of creationists is that we teach the fixity of species (i.e., species don’t change). And since species obviously do change, evolutionists enjoy setting up this straw-man argument to win a debate that was never really there in the first place.

Lest we have doubt about what they mean when they insist that “species obviously do change,” the same AiG article clarifies,

Species changing via natural selection and mutations is perfectly in accord with what the Bible teaches.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT SKEPTICBLOG

In addition to the Holocaust, we’re responsible for this, too?

Posted in Pharyngula by Skepdude on February 26, 2009

Anytime something wrong happens, there is a Christian who will blame it on atheism and evolution. The latest is the case of the foolish woman who kept an adult chimpanzee as a pet, and got badly mauled for her trouble. This, of course, is Charles Darwin’s fault.

How is it that we live in a culture where people think it’s safe to have a chimpanzee as a pet? Where do people get the idea that we ought to take a wild animal and treat it like a human being? The chimp owner treated the animal like a son who ate at her table, slept in her house, and even drove her car.

Last week the world celebrated Darwin’s 200th birthday. Universities placed tributes to Darwinism on their home page (examples include Oxford and Cambridge) and major networks such as BBC ran extensive programs devoted to Darwin’s great contribution to the world.

Yet, ironically, this week we witness a brutal act that seems to logically follow from Darwin’s ideas. You may be wondering how I can possibly link Darwin to this atrocious event. But think about it, if humans are deeply related to chimps then why not expect them to act that way?

“…seems to logically follow…” — I don’t think that Mr McDowell understands that word “logic” very well.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “PHARYNGULA”

Intelligent Designers whine about Gallup Poll

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on February 12, 2009

After getting kicked in the sack by The Vatican, IDers seem to have been bitch slapped by Gallup as well. In the latest poll that asked the following question “Do you, personally, believe in the theory of evolution, do you not believe in evolution, or don’t you have an opinion either way?” the results came in like this:

gallup-evo-pollThis has the IDers up in arms and alarmed because the non-believers (or reality deniers as I like to refer to them, personally) are a full 14 percentage points behind those who believe in evolution. Obviously the reason must be that something is wrong with this poll; it’s the only logical explanation really.

Why don’t they ever ask about the specifics of the theory? For example: 1) Do you believe that all living things came from a universal single-celled common ancestor? 2) Do you believe that random mutation or random variation and natural selection explain the origin of all life and its complexity? 3) Do you believe that humans evolved from a primitive ape-like ancestor in the last several million years, and if so, does the Darwinian mechanism in question 2) explain how it happened?

Yeah, why don’t they aske leading question or incorrect questions that have a higher probability of getting the answer the IDers seek? That’s like complaining that a poll which asked the question “Do you believe in God?” does not really measure people’s belief because it does not ask if they also believe Psalm 137:9. “Happy shall he be that takes and dashes the little ones against the stones.”? And why not ask ficticious things as well, because that is what that whole bit about evolution explaining “the origin of all life” is really, for evolution explains how life evolved after it was originated, and claiming otherwise is a straw man argument.

The Gallup poll then goes on to discuss educational level and church attendance, and how this correlates with belief in “evolution.” As expected, those with more “education” are more likely to be true believers, and those who attend church weekly are less likely to be true believers. The conclusion is obviously that educated people can see the truth and wisdom of evolution, and those who attend church regularly are blinded by religion.

Here’s the graph they are talking about:

education-and-evo-belief-gallup-pollClearly there is a correlation between education level and belief in Evolution, but no one seems to be making the same conclusions the IDers are screaming and yelling about! We understand that correlation does not imply causation, and the IDers are seeing causation. A bit paranoid maybe? Here’s all the Gallup Poll says about this graph:

There is a strong relationship between education and belief in Darwin’s theory, as might be expected, ranging from 21% of those with high-school educations or less to 74% of those with postgraduate degrees.

Those with high-school educations or less are much more likely to have no opinion than are those who have more formal education. Still, among those with high-school educations or less who have an opinion on Darwin’s theory, more say they do not believe in evolution than say they believe in it. For all other groups, and in particular those who have at least a college degree, belief is significantly higher than nonbelief.

Now where are they getting that whole “educated people can see the truth and wisdom of evolution, and those who attend church regularly are blinded by religion.” nonsense from? Paranoia? Or anger because they actually think that specific causation is true? I don’t know! But they seem to know exactly what’s happening here:

But perhaps a major factor is that those with more education who never attend church have never been exposed to anything but pro-Darwin indoctrination in public schools and universities, as well as the mainstream media, and have never heard about any of the weaknesses of the theory. That was the case in my situation.

Guilty as charged! Our education system teaches only science and no religious dogma. We must own up to that fact guys; we are heavily biased towards reason and evidence.

Intelligent Design gets kicked in the nuts by the Vatican

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on February 12, 2009

The Vatican has officially accepted that Darwin was right. That’s right folks, the Vatican accepts evolution.

The Vatican has admitted that Charles Darwin was on the right track when he claimed that Man descended from apes.

A leading official declared yesterday that Darwin’s theory of evolution was compatible with Christian faith, and could even be traced to St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas. “In fact, what we mean by evolution is the world as created by God,” said Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Furthermore ID get’s a kick on the nutsack:

The Vatican also dealt the final blow to speculation that Pope Benedict XVI might be prepared to endorse the theory of Intelligent Design, whose advocates credit a “higher power” for the complexities of life.

Organisers of a papal-backed conference next month marking the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species said that at first it had even been proposed to ban Intelligent Design from the event, as “poor theology and poor science”. Intelligent Design would be discussed at the fringes of the conference at the Pontifical Gregorian University, but merely as a “cultural phenomenon”, rather than a scientific or theological issue, organisers said.

Three years ago advocates of Intelligent Design seized on the Pope’s reference to an “intelligent project” as proof that he favoured their views.

Wow, the Vatican thinks ID is poor theology on top of poor science, and you know what. For once I agree with the Vatican? It’s a miracle!

Skepquote of the day

Posted in Skepquote by Skepdude on February 9, 2009

Darwin knew a lot of biology: more than any of his contemporaries, more than a surprising number of his successors. From prolonged thought and study, he was able to intuit how evolution worked without having access to all the subsequent scientific knowledge that others required to be convinced of natural selection. He had the objectivity to put aside criteria with powerful emotional resonance, like the conviction that evolution should be purposeful. As a result, he saw deep into the strange workings of the evolutionary mechanism, an insight not really exceeded until a century after his great work of synthesis.

NYTimes

All of science owes debt to Darwin

Posted in News by Jeff Randall on February 9, 2009

[Originally posted at: The San Francisco Chronicle]

The shy young naturalist Charles Darwin, who voyaged around the world aboard HMS Beagle and became the bearded sage of rational scientific thought, is having a birthday this week – his 200th – and celebrations have already begun throughout the Bay Area, and indeed on every continent.

“No one,” says Kevin Padian, a Berkeley biologist and tracker of dinosaur evolution, “has influenced modern thought, modern science, and indeed our modern culture more than Darwin.

“His influence is everywhere, and science would be impossible without him.”

Every true scientist at work today is in fact a Darwinian.

They are decoders of the human genome, immunologists battling AIDS, stem cell researchers seeking tomorrow’s cures, anthropologists unearthing fossil hominids to define our human ancestry – even the “astrobiologists” seeking life on other planets while they study organisms living in extreme conditions on Earth.

[Read the rest of this post at: The San Francisco Chronicle]

Billboard Honoring Darwin, Urging “Evolve Beyond Belief” Posted in Grand Junction, Colo.

Posted in FFRF by Skepdude on February 9, 2009

Feb. 9, 2009

The bicentennial of the birthdate of science great Charles Darwin this Thursday is being honored in Grand Junction, Colo., with a billboard placed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, with help from its local members and Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers. The billboard just went up at 1713 U.S. Hwy 50 (facing south) early this week.

The year 2009 is also the 150th anniversary of the release of Origin of Species, Darwin’s seminal work on evolution.

The pleasing image reads: “Praise Darwin: Evolve Beyond Belief,” and employs a stained-glass window motif and features the iconic image of Charles Darwin, as well as the Foundation’s name and website, ffrf.org.

The Foundation, a national watchdog and the nation’s largest association of freethinkers (atheists and agnostics) has 13,600 members nationwide, and 400 members in Colorado.

The Foundation has also placed billboards “praising Darwin” this month in Dayton, Tenn., and Dover, Penn., homes of the most notorious classroom battles over the teaching of evolution.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT FFRF.

Darwin’s 200th anniversary: Lessons still to be learned

Posted in News by Jeff Randall on February 9, 2009

[Originally posted at: The Guardian]

The Daily Telegraph called him “the greatest naturalist of our time, perhaps all time”. For the Morning Post he was “the first biologist of his day”. The Times saluted the rapid victory of Charles Darwin‘s great idea and said that “the astonishing revelations of recent research in palaeontology have done still more to turn what 20 years ago was a brilliant speculation into an established and unquestionable truth”. The Manchester Guardian said that “few original thinkers have lived to see more completely the triumph of what is essential in their doctrine”. The St James’s Gazette predicted that England’s children would one day be taught to honour Darwin “as the greatest Englishman since Newton”.

These responses appeared in print on 21 April 1882, after the news of Darwin’s death at his home in Down, Kent. The writers were people who knew the Bible, and they addressed readers who had grown up in an overtly devout society. Many remembered the religious and scientific uproar following publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859. It argued, with detailed evidence, that life’s extraordinary variety had stemmed, over an enormous period of time, from a common ancestry, and that the mechanism was the operation of natural selection upon tiny variations in heredity.

But Darwin’s audience heard only part of the story. The clinching discovery of the biochemistry of genetic inheritance and therefore of random genetic mutation – the famous double helix of DNA – was not made until 1953. The mostly anonymous contributors who rushed to judgment that morning had before them only a fraction of the findings that now support the theory of evolution: a theory as confident as the predictions of Newtonian physics at speeds significantly lower than the velocity of light, as sure as the thesis that matter is composed of atoms. They could have been forgiven for their sometimes equivocal salutes.

[Read the rest of this post at: The Guardian]

Egnor in Forbes on Evolution

Posted in Neurologica by Skepdude on February 6, 2009

Our favorite creationist neurosurgeon, Michael Egnor, has published his ill-informed and logically-challenged opinions on evolution in a business journal. Darwin’s day is just around the corner (February 12th is the 200th anniversary of his birth and this year is the 150th anniversary of the publication of Origin of the Species), and so it’s a good time for a creationist smack down. As usual Egnor gets everything wrong. He clearly does not understand evolutionary theory, or simply does not care if his straw men are accurate or not as long as he gets to regurgitate the standard anti-evolution propaganda.

In his article he makes a number of wrong or misleading statements, some in question form. He substitues assertion for evidence, and fallacies for logic. His objections to evolution begin with this:

The fossil record shows sharp discontinuity between species, not the gradual transitions that Darwinism inherently predicts.

Wrong.  First, I must point out that Egnor insists on referring to evolutionary theory as “Darwinism.” As many others have pointed out before, this is a propaganda tactic to attempt to diminish evolutionary theory to the quaint ideas of one guy. It is also misleading, for the modern synthesis of evolutionary theory differs in significant ways from strict Darwinian theory.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “NEUROLOGICA”

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