Book review 3) On the Origin of Species

Hi,
this time I will make a review of another book I just finished:

Book: The Illustrated Origin Of Species

Author: Charles Darwin (Richard E. Leakey)

Genre: Science

Pages: 220

Rating: 9/10


I started to read this book last week so I have completed it pretty quickly which is a bit suprising on my manners.

I decided to read it because my mum said that I should read it before I continue on Selfish Gene by Dawkins, so I know the basics of evolution. You probably heard about the original book: On the Origin of Species purely written by famous founder of evolution: Darwin.

This is sixth edition or so with foreword by Richard E. Leakey who is apparently paleoanthropologist and politician. Not only foreword but also several paragraphs in the book and also the illustrations are added by him. This version is shorter than the original.


The book is very good but still there are some things which I would change. There were some passages where the book was written too simply and sometimes you had to go once or twice over it. Also one or two chapters seem to be kind of weird since they start with paragraph saying that Darwin is wrong in this chapter because now we know that it is different. Those were sometimes a bit boring but I can understand that still at least it meets the “historical” value that Darwin himself wrote it.

What I found really interesting is that there were probably only few sentences where he mentioned God and Christianity, while you may remember that this book was and is often used as argument against creationism.

It simply seems that he is trying to avoid it. In one part where he talk about how cuckoo lays her eggs in nests of different birds and then the young throws brutally all the other eggs and youngs out of the nest because she needs more food, Darwin says that he does not think that God would create something so brutal and that it had to be because of uncompromising natural selection. He says the same thing about one kind of insect that lies his eggs into caterpillar which is then eaten from inside.

I really like the chapter about ants. Darwin explains their verious behaviors and I found very interesting those slaver ants. Also cool is the part where he writes that seeds can for example spread through mud that is sticked to birds leg. One of his friends even sent him a leg of a bird with dirt sticked to it to prove it!

If you want to get such an introduction as I did or you just admire Darwin, go on read the book, you will like it a lot!

Dragallur

 

Creationism vs Science: The concept of God

Hi,
today I want to write about the concept of God. While this has really really long history and I can not even imagine how many people already thought about this, I am going to write about it from my point of view. Mostly what I learned from the conversation which I mentioned earlier.


So what is going on here? Why God exists in human minds in the first place?

Religious person would say that it is because of God that we think about Him. I mean, it would be a great coincidence that most people throughtout the history would belive in God/Gods even if they never heard about the other culture. There are actually so many religions and all of them (as far as I know, which may not be so far) have some higher being who controls everything.

So either I must admit that there is God because it would be too random otherwise, or think of another argument, why would somebody invent religion and God?

I talked about this with my mum and she said that she thinks that religions appear because people need solution to their problems. With this I agree, take some person 2,500 years back. There are so many things in his life that she or he does not understand. The person is probably some kind of farmer as it usually happened back then and life runs for them while maybe even something interesting happens during those years, something they can not explain with their knowledge which is anyway basicly zero. Well but something actually can explain anything, it is the God. Such a farmer can say that God did it, suddenly he has no more troubles because if something he does not understand happens, he says that God did it and there is no problem with that because God is able to do anything. When some trouble comes then it is easily explained by God and you can pray so that it does not happen again, so religious people actually know so much more than the rest of us do, they have answers to anything.


While this is completely illogical from modern point of view, it seems to me to be a good reason for religions to exist and there are people who still believe in this concept of God, because anything can be explained by it. Take for example my argument against recent creation of Earth:

The fact that there are stars in various stages (proto stars, young stars, stars old as Sun, red giants and supernovas) proves that Universe is much older than 6,000 years old because all of those stages took at least tens of millions years to get to.

Simple as that, this argument seems to me really really strong but actually creationists are able to throw it down in particular way.

What they say to you is that some things were created by God in mature state. What this means is that 6,000 years back there was created: supernova, red giant and new stars as if they never needed to go through all those phases. There is no problem with this because God is ultimately powerful and He is able to do such thing.


What is wrong with this?

This is where falsifiability and testability comes.

When you say that there is God who created supernova so it did not need to “evolve” you will solve it but is it testable? No. You can not test such a thing and what should you think? Think that processes work as we see them now for all the time or that processes worked differently in the past and could even be created from nowhere. When we believe such a thing we add piece that is completely unncesary and it is based only on one ancient book called Bible in which it is written to be truth. So how do we know that it was not 1,000 years or 5 years or that even Universe could have been created last Thursday (this is called last thursdayism) we do not but if we believe in such a thing we wont get anywhere, again I am returning to what I wrote about in last post and that if we teach creationism as truth in schools (while I think that we should at least mention its concepts), we wont get anywhere.


So does God exist? We do not know, it is simple as that. We know that creationism is wrong as I will probably proof in some future posts but science just can not say anything about God. Maybe He exists but right now it does not really seem that He has some real effect on our life, if the effect is that we have a Bible than He is being pretty manipulative.

I will also get to arguments by people who say that God is true because they can feel His existence and also near death experiences, though it will probably take me some time since I do not want to have a lot of such stuff on my blog and I will return to some astronomy and a real science.

Dragallur

 

 

 

 

 

Creationism vs Science: Should we teach it in schools?

Hi,
yesterday I wrote kind of prologue to those series about science and creationism. I talked about looking on the other side and not just staying on your opinion. Now as I promised this post will be about the learning of creationism in schools. I also noticed that you guys actually commented on my post which I am very happy about, so thanks again!


It has already been few months but after having the discussion about creationism I remembered it again. In our biology class in autumn we were starting to learn about the life on Earth.

My teacher said that there is an evolution and there are also other version about how it happened, creationism for example. But she said that she wont be learning us about creationism and will left us with the knowledge about evolution (we learned just few basic stuff anyway).


Now when I think about it, this sounds to me kind of unfortunate[1]. Why? Because those people who wont happen to think about it in soon future will at some point get the information, but from what source? Will it be objective (not saying that teachers are always objective, but they should be)? Plus, creationism is such an important thing from the matter that so many people believe in it and in past 99% of people thought it to be true, so how should the class look like?

I think that the teacher should explain on what creationism stands. Seven day creation, how Earth is only 6,000 years old and the Great flood. Then she/he should let the students think about this. I think that on this you can so well show how argumentation work, for example student just can not say that he thinks that seven day creation is stupid. This could learn them a bit of critical thinking and argumentation, though there is one problem.

What if in the class were some people who actually belived in creation? I mean they were surely learned by their parents about creation. Of course it would be in their greatest “benefit” to tell them about evolution and why some things are simply made up about creation, but if I think about how groups of people think in classes maybe it would be kind of like showing all the other students who were taught about the “scientific way” that those two or three students are stupid. This seems to me how it could end and there would be no benefit in it at all, I can imagine how those kids could be kind of stressed if they should trust in evolution or creationism.

What to do with it? Well you could probably pretty much eliminate the problem if you would teach it in higher classes for older students when they are more self-confident and so on, but I do not have the right experience with teaching to really tell how it would end up, still I think that it is important to learn about creationism because then later when those people who did not ever bumped into such thing could easily “convert” to creationism, and as Mike M. quoted Bill Nye, it is not beneficial for the perspective of humanity to have people believing creationism because “nature and the universe can be dismissed by a few sentences translated into English from some ancient text, you’re not going to continue to innovate” (Thanks Mike.) And trust me, if you do not know anything about the facts that creationists are using it is extremely persuasive. And yes, large percentage of population, even adults just do not know about those things as far as I know [2]. This is because it was seemingly never important to them, this leads to distrust to science and people not supporting it. Take NASA for example, just because of landing on Moon, one of the most amazing achievments of humanity, it is by part of USA population hated, just because there appeared a group of people, who were able to create arguments, which are easy to understand, but they are not true at all. Those are for example flag flapping in the breeze or blast crater under module and so on, this is practicly the same case.

Thanks for reading, next time on those series I will probably “touch” God a little.

Dragallur

[1]Of course there is limited time in class so learning about creationism would take probably two classes, maybe three depending on the teacher.

[2]I must admit here that I do not have representative sample to tell such a thing but when I see my fellow classmates I am sure that they do not care about science at all. Plus I just found out about some people who think that Earth is flat, so thats it 😀 .

 

 

Creationism vs Science: The separation

Hi,
something like this was not here before. Why did I create such a series now? About week back I started discussion on blog of one Christian. I started with the question “Why can not I feel the existence of Him (the God)?” And then it started, I must say that it was rather peaceful conversation and very friendly and for now it is about 12 word pages with 12 font and normal space between lines, so quite filling. You can find the almost whole conversation here. If you clicked it and searched through you can see that the post itself is just a small part. Roughly there are arguments from the side of science (me) and creationism (her).


Why did I do such a discussion? Well I wanted to know what creationists really say, I talked once with Christian and it was for nothing since back then I knew so much less and I know that if I would suddenly erupt the conversation again it would look as that I am trying to convince her that there is no God, but I do not care much about what they think.

So we started and right now I think that I can make conclusion from the debate

1)It was indeed very interesting. I think that she already done a lot of research since she was able to put hers argument in high numbers. The problem here is that those arguments are kind of old or not understanding the whole concept, if you did not read the discussion here I will pick up some:

On this page there is a lot of them and if you understand just basics, you know that they do not disprove big bang at all:

For example they say that dark matter has not been prove, as I said, this is like 150 years back, because back then this was probably true but not today. It is so simple to look it up on the internet, just write: “Prove for dark matter” and you will get tens of thousands of pages. The problem is that people like to look just on their side of argument. Lets say that I believe in creationism, well I will go on pages like these: 1) 2) 3). All of them are about creation and science that apparently proves it as the pages say. Now there are very good arguments there, somebody who never heard about all the science stuff could so freakin easily believe in creation, I must admit that it so well written with only one side of argument that there is actually nothing else to do than to believe in it!

The problem rises immediately and it is the problem that most people on the world do. If you only look on your side of argument you will always gain evidence for you becoming more and more sure, but is this really what we should do?

As Barack Obama said, people in USA whether they are republicans or democrats tend to look only on the news for their side which makes the gap between both side bigger and bigger creating something what is called extremism (not that I am trying to say she is extremist, I do not even know how much she looked on the “science side”, so I know nothing).

So it does not really matter on what side you are on, what I think is that you should always look on the arguments on the other side and think about them so you know what they think, otherwise it leads just to bigger separation between democrats and republicans or creationists and evolutionists and so on.

This leads to what I will write about in next post in those series: Should we teach creationism alongside evolution?

Dragallur