What to tell students about evolution

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Greg Laden’s Blog has an excellent article, “Teachers Under Fire,” about resources for teaching evolution. I particularly like one of the comments from a former teacher in the United Kingdom:

The correct response to the intervention of any of the brainwashed is: “Either you are parrotting someone eles’s lies, or you are, yourself, lying.”

Point them at all the avilable resources, and remind them that at least 99.999% odf all biologists, and 99.9% of all scientists, on the basis of huge amounts of evidence, are convinced that evolution, as presently understood (and that bit is important) is the only available explanation that fits the known facts.

“If you have some previously-unknown facts that upset this view, we’d be VERY happy to hear them – but, be warned, we already know that every so-called “point” raised by the cretinists (including the DI) is false.”
—G. Tingey

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22 Responses to “What to tell students about evolution”

  1. Ronald Cote Says:

    Greg, where do you get the statistics that 99.999 % of scientists are evolutionists?? More fabricated numbers to plead your case? I am a scientist (biologist) who is also a creationist and as a non academician, have not found this to be the case at all. Your statement is a presumption based on the number of teachers who dare not admit to other beliefs because their paychecks and careers would be in jeopardy.
    Here are some unknown facts that should make you VERY happy:
    Evolutionists generally believe that modern humans existed about 500,000 years ago but estimates range from 100,000 to 500,000 years.
    In July of 1999, it was estimated that the world’s population of humans had reached six billion. The population in year 2004 has been estimated at 6.3 billion.
    Demographers have been able to develop mathematical formulas to explain many things. In terms of population, they have taken into account a variety of factors to arrive at an average world annual population growth rate. Factors include average life spans, number of child bearing years, average number of children per couple, mortality rates and other pertinent factors including actual annual population growth experienced over the past centuries. The statistical formula that was developed using all of these factors was .455% as an average annual population rate of growth.
    Using this proven and reliable statistic, and based on the claim of man appearing 500,000 years ago and also assuming the existence of only one man and one woman, the world population in 2004 would be the number 2.155 followed by 985 zeros. This is an incomprehensible number and obviously not true. One can conclude from this that man could not have appeared 500,000 years ago.
    Under a second scenario, using a conservative assumption that man appeared on earth 100,000 years ago and that the annual growth rate was only .1%, rather than the accepted .455%. Assuming also that there were only two humans, one man and one woman, the population in 2004 would be 5.38 followed by 41 zeroes. This still remains a figure hugely larger than what the world has actually experienced.
    Under a third scenario using 25,000 years since modern man appeared, and using an ultra conservative annual growth rate of only .1%, and again basing the figures on only one man and one woman, the total is 1.44 followed by 9 zeroes. This results in a number that is 24 times greater than our actual population and obviously grossly incorrect.
    A fourth scenario is to consider the biblical account of Noah’s Ark and a worldwide flood occurring 4,500 years ago, with eight survivors. Using the acknowledged accurate figure of .455% as the correct world annual population growth rate, the number computes to 6,300,000,000 as the population in 2004! This is exactly correct!!
    What we can conclude from these mathematical exercises is that modern man could not have appeared on planet earth 500,000, 100,000 or even 25,000 years ago and still produce the current population figures of today. In attempting to be extremely conservative by reducing the figures for annual growth rates and number of years for man to have been on earth still does not compute to current population.
    The only scenario that corresponds to the world’s actual population is that which relates to eight people, 4,500 years ago using the correct .455% figure!
    In the blogs that you reference, responses from teachers sound so pious, that they “want to teach good science” boo hoo, that creationists are such an impediment. If evolution was such a slam dunk what should be feared? Science is supposed to be the search for truth, but evols don’t want any alternatives that would expose their crumbling theory for the sham that it is.
    As a scientist/creationist, I want students to learn about evolution as a current controversy. I have yet to find an evol who would advocate teaching creationism so as to have a level playing field and provide them a real learning experience!

  2. monado Says:

    Ronald, evolution occurs in a population and you’d never get an initial population of 2 individuals. And, not surprisingly, individuals do not all breed up to their moximum possible. As a biologist, haven’t you heard of fertility rates? Infant mortality? Population booms and busts? Please stop grasping at straws.

  3. Ronald Cote Says:

    Monado, What a weak ignorant response! Is that your best shot? Those demographic statistics take all of these variables into the equations and are not my numbers but those prepared by professional demographers. Deny that!! And you deny that ,somehow, there never had to be a first evolved male and female?? Did humans just pop out of the woodwork all at once? And you talk about grasping at straws, you grasp at telephone poles! If that is the best you can do, better you should stick to something you know something about!

  4. Greg Laden Says:

    Ron:

    You’ve got to get your facts straight. One person is saying A, a different person is saying B, and you’re saying to only one of them “Hey, you said A and B”

    See?

  5. monado Says:

    Ron, you’re reminding me of that old joke about how many eggs a single fly can lay. (“And there’s no telling how many a married one would lay!”) The current fertility rate can’t be projected backward into a past without antibiotics, modern sewage systems, water purification, good food storage techniques, agriculture, domesticated animals and other benefits of civilization.

    And yes, I do say that there was a population that were almost human that eventually, over many thousands of years, became a population that was human – no isolated pair. Genetic analysis shows that even a million years after the initial species split, we could still crossbreed with our closest cousins, who evolved into chimpanzees. What branch of biology did you say you study? It sure isn’t evolution.

  6. Terry Trainor Says:

    99.999% of biologists believe in common descent via evolution?

    What an interesting figure!

    I happen to know FOUR biologists that are young-earth creationists.
    That means that if there are half a million biologists, I have been fortunate enough to meet four of the only five that doubt common descent!

    Then we add Ron, above –
    Then we add all those that write for Answers in Genesis, CRSQ and ICR –
    My gosh, there must be BILLIONS of biologists to make this figure correct!

    More likely, it is pulled out of thin air, like most Common Descent arguments. There is so little evidence for their belief that they are forced to manufacture more in order to appear credible.

    New arguments against Common Descent?
    Well, any argument that shows the earth is too young for all of this to have occured by natural means should work –
    How about the FACT that there is measurable C-14 in Diamonds?

  7. monado Says:

    How about the fact that chimpanzees have one less chromosome than we do, and it’s a fusion of our chromosomes 15 and 16?

  8. monado Says:

    Terry,
    As far as Carbon 14 goes, you wouldn’t expect any in diamond remaining from the initial organic substances. However, new Carbon 14 is produced by radiation (neutrons and alpha particles) emitted by uranium & thorium in the surrounding rocks. Studies of coal (the precursor of diamond) shows that the level of C-14 varies from negligible to quite a lot. It correlates with the natural radioactivity of the rocks surrounding the fossil fuels. This evidence suggests that the C-14 is created by local radioaction. You can check this out in the Radiocarbon journal.

  9. monado Says:

    Sorry, I meant to say “radiation.”

    I think Greg might have pulled the figure 99.999% from the large number of working scientists and educators who have no problem at all with evolution. Perhaps you just work in a small pocket of YECs, the way I once worked in a company where all the engineers were Polish.

    I’m thinking of the Steve Project, where only scientists named Steve are asked if they support evolution. Since only about 1% of scientists are named Steve, the 900 who have signed up represent about 90,000 scientists.

  10. Ronald Cote Says:

    Manudo,Your lack of logic is astonishing. A tidbit on diamonds is to go to the website Gemesis which is a company that makes gem quality diamonds in two days.As to DNA, the latest assessment is that a chimp’s DNA is 93.7% similar to humans. Humans have 30,000,000,000 base pairs. The difference of 6.3 is 189,000,000 base pair difference between chimp and man. Not exactly a match, is it? I understand that 50% of a banana’s DNA is similar to a human. An enterprising evol could make a case that we must have evolved from bananas! And manudo, I studied biology before it was censored and when all aspects of life were openly explored. I was schooled when a scientist was expected to search for truth, not prefiltered propaganda that supports only one side and disregards anything in opposition.
    Terry, it is certainly refreshing to get some support. Opponents of evolution remain silent and it’s getting lonely out there.

  11. timprosser Says:

    It must be hard to be an opponent of evolution with all that data stacked against you. I don’t know what motivates you, Ron, but it is a curiousity.
    While G. Tingey’s quote in Greg Laden’s blog was obviously speaking off-hand, and probably trolling for some conflicting responses, it seems you fell for it. Best regards …

  12. Ronald Cote Says:

    Tim, What data stacked against me? Evols are quick to mention how overwhelming is the evidence for evolution but none is ever offered. Please break this trend by providing some hard scientific evidence. Evols modus operandi is to deny anything that is in opposition, offer nothing but insignificant minutia and keep repeating the same mantra that evolution is fact. I too wonder what motivates you but can deduce that there seems to be more, like you, probably all atheists, who desperately needs an excuse for their disbelief in God. I am trolling for some conflicting response also, so why don’t you offer valid opposition to my comments on chimp DNA as an example?

  13. monado Says:

    Ron, what is your point about artificial diamonds? That’s completely irrelevant to whether or not diamonds or coal contain Carbon-14 caused by local radioactivity. I offered some hard scientific evidence and you blew it off with a remark that’s it’s so far out in left field it’s “not even wrong.”

    And what is your point about base pairs? Within broad limits, the number of base pairs between species is irrelevant. The figure of 97% similarity for for chimps is, as I understand it, based on an analysis of the amino acids in one protein, cytochrome-C. So it indicates that the species are closely related, since only 3% of the amino acids have changed. Those would be mostly in areas where a different amino acid has little effect on the shape of the molecule and thus on its function. You keep coming up with red herrings. It is noteworthy that genetic analysis creates the same tree of relationships that taxonomic differences does. There’s no reason to expect that if we were all “poofed” into existence. The joy of studying science is the joy of discovery. It has nothing to do with God or atheism to me. Trying to disprove God would be like worrying about how I could disprove Santa Claus. Anyway, you can’t prove a negative. All you can do is say, “no evidence yet.”

    First of all, you’ve bought into a false dichotomy. There’s no valid evidence for creationism – it has been refuted again and again. All you have are math tricks and rhetoric. If evolution is wrong as an explanation, you need to offer an alternate explanation, not just say, “You’re wrong, therefore we’re right!”

    Second, if you think there was a designer or creator, you should be doing research into how many there are, who they are, and what their methods were. There are hundreds of creation myths. Why fix on just one? Perhaps the earth is eternal, as it says in the Vedas.

    When a new species of mosquito evolved in the subways of London, do you think that it started with two mosquitos? No, there was a population of surface mosquitoes that gradually (over 150 years) evolved into a separate species – as a population.

    Why don’t you stop fixating on Carbon 14, which is good only for measurements under 50,000 years, and start looking at the long-term measurement of time, if you wish to understand the age of the earth?

    Thanks for saying I’m grasping at telephone poles. They’re better than straws when one is drowning. (That puts you into the same class with the fellow who screamed, “You guys think I know fuck-nothing! But I know fuck-all!)

  14. monado Says:

    Sorry, rented fingers. That should have been

    You blew it off with a remark that is so far out in left field that it’s not even wrong.

  15. timprosser Says:

    I keep running into evidence of natural selection every day. For instance, my doctor of the last 20 years has had more and more trouble finding an antibiotic that will work on children’s ear infections because, over time, the bacteria more resistant to the most commonly used antibiotic survived, while the less resistant ones were killed. Now the antibiotic he used to use successfully all the time works in only a minority of cases. As a result, when presented with an ear infection case, he has to decide whether to try the old antibiotic and hope it will work, with the risk that the patient will be back in 24-48 hours with even worse symptoms, or go directly to the second line antibiotic, which may work at once, except that, the more he uses it, the sooner the second line antibiotic becomes as ineffective as the first. He has a third line antibiotic that he tries to NEVER use, as he wants to save it for the most extreme cases.

    It seems clear to me that the bacteria are evolving to be resistant to antibiotics. I try to be open minded about what is known, and understand that our knowledge itself evolves as we work to learn more.

    I won’t discount anything, though, because something somebody wrote centuries ago conflicts with it. Thomas Kuhn, in “The Structure of Scientific Revolution”, wrote about astrology, which was once considered main stream science. He pointed out how, as proof of it was found lacking, it was gradually sidetracked out of the main stream until today it is regarded as not a part of science at all, though not for lack of a minority of adherents. We learned, and new information proved astrology not to be substantiated. I have no doubt that some parts of what we think we know today will go the same way, while others will remain, but that is the nature of knowledge.

    I can understand why people would want to have a diety to believe in, on an emotional/psychological level, and to hold responsible for everything, but in my entire life I have seen nothing to substantiate that, while evolution is evident all around me as an ongoing process.

    That’s my personal position, and I don’t mean to say it should be anyone else’s, but to say that evolution has no data to support, and “none is ever offered” flies in the face of fact. I just offered you some that is well known. If you require more detail, I suggest you go looking for it, as it is readily available. If that’s not good enough, then I can only assume that you are not willing to look, and have some other agenda that drives you to reject reason. In that case, I wish you the best of luck, and hope that you don’t make your life unnecessarily difficult through your beliefs.

  16. timprosser Says:

    BTW, Ron, the labeling of people as “evols” is not helpful. It seems to promote an “us versus them” mindset that is oddly defensive and adds nothing positive to the discussion. What are you trying to accomplish here?

  17. Ronald Cote Says:

    Tim, “evol” is the obvious abbreviation for evolutionist. It deters me from using the term ‘evil”. If it is offensive, I can only offer that offense, in this case, is in the eye of the beholder. In sharing my views on various blogs, I have been called every name in the book, so my skin is now quite thick. Insults still hurt but it comes with the territory, I guess. Just as Manado would attempt to discredit that I am a biologist with contributions to artificial heart and kidney programs for NIH and for NASA’s “backpack” worn by astronauts on the Apollo 13 mission to the moon. But denigration, denial, deception and lies remain an important component in the evolutionist arsenal.
    Monado, you just don’t get it, do you? My mention of diamonds was intended to make the point that evols use fossils, diamonds, stalactites, stalagmites and coal formation as evidence of the long periods of time required to produce them when all can, in actuality, be produced quickly given proper conditions.
    As to DNA, apparently the significance of !89,000,000 base pairs differences between chimp and human escapes you completely.
    Are the London mosquitoes still mosquitoes? If so what does this have to do with evolution? Species do and can develop resistances but this has nothing to do with evolution, only variation as governed by each organism’s gene pool. Your vulgarity only makes your ignorance more transparent. Keep on evolving, seems like you have a long way to go!

  18. monado Says:

    Factory production of diamonds does not occur in nature, so it’s irrelevant. The designers of the factory know that they are using special equipment to bring concentrated heat and pressure on a single point thus and mimicking processes that take much longer in nature. Who produces coal in days? What creates limestone stalagmites in days? The Creationist science fair trick of using some other substance is not relevant.

    You may be a biologist, but your speciality is outside evolution and you display not even the standard knowledge of it.

    Actually, truth is very important to real scientists, if they wish to retain their reputations. Truth, not rhetorical tricks.

    The mosquitoes are still mosquitoes, but they are a different species that has different victims and is not willing breed with the species that they developed from. Do you demand that they turn into cockroaches? The first step in evolution is individual variation, then varieties, then species, then greater and greater differences that might put the developing species into a different genus. That is what the theory (explanation) of evolution predicts.

  19. monado Says:

    OK, let’s look at base pairs. I thought that I addressed them by pointing out that the percentage estimate is for one molecule. It can not be scaled up to the entire genome without some justification. On the other hand, you can have a lot of little changes in each generation over six million years, so it wouldn’t be at all surprising if a 190 million changes occurred. Let’s do the math.

    However, a recent estimate is that the split is only four million years ago (Ref. 1). So let’s use that. A chimp generation is about ten years, so that suggests 40,000 generations to make the changes.

    1.9 x 10**8 changes (your figure)
    4.0 x 10**6 years
    1.0 x 10**1 per generation
    therefore
    4.0 x 10**5 generations

    That would imply

    (19/4.0) x (10**7 / 10**5)
    = 4.8 x 10**2 changes per generation
    …480 base-pair changes per generation.

    However, the population of chimp-human ancestors is estimated to be 65,000, give or take 30,000 (Ref. 1).
    …in a population of 65,000. So

    6.5 x 10**4 / 4.8 x 10**2
    = (65/48) (10**3 / 10**1)
    = 1.4 x 10**2

    6.5 x 10**4 / 4.8 x 10**2
    = (65/48) (10**3 / 10**1)
    = 1.4 x 10**2
    …one change for every 140 individuals per generation would have to spread into the population and be preserved.

    Now, that doesn’t sound so unlikely, does it?
    If I have made any errors, please correct them!

    ————–
    Ref. 1. “Genomic Relationships and Speciation Times of Human, Chimpanzee, and Gorilla Inferred from a Coalescent Hidden Markov Model” (Adapted) by Asger Hobolth, Ole F. Christensen, Thomas Mailund, and Mikkel H. Schierup.

  20. monado Says:

    P.S. the percentage similarity figure keeps creeping up. I originally used 97.3 rather than 93.7 because I thought you got it backwards; but the estimate now stands at over 98%. Which makes it all the easier to derive the needed changes in the available generations and population.

  21. Ronald Cote Says:

    Monado, more denial, your forte. The corrected estimate is 93.7, but even at 97.3, the base pair difference is 81,000,000 base pair difference.Still not close and quite a span to make up. Even a banana has 50% base pair similarity to humans.

  22. monado Says:

    You still haven’t answered: 50% of what? Are you surprised that bananas have similar DNA? They should: the basic biochemical mechanisms of life are the same. I realize that your education was probably over before the role of ATP was discovered, but there are popular books for people who want to keep up.

    All the arithmetic games in the world won’t disprove the observed fact of evolution, which was acknowledged by the science community in the 1700s. You’ve got 300 years of catching up to do. That takes you back to Linnaeus, whose observtions led him to give up the idea of fixity of species. He angered the Catholic Church by suggesting that plants reproduced by sex. The church has given up on that one.


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