Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dennis On: "Would It Really Be So Bad?"


 
Would It Really Be So Bad?
 
I have no personal doubt that modern human beings are the current end result of a process millions of years in the making that brought us to where we are today. 
 
 
Most of us grew up innocently enough in the care of parents and institutions that simply could not believe that humans were the highest form of now hairless apes, that somewhere in the fairly recent past became more conscious of themselves than all the previous editions.  I grew up with Adam and Eve just as much as everyone else did and never thought to even question the story as literally true until I was much older.  In fact, soaking the in the profession of theology delayed waking up to the reality of human origins even more than it should have. I have kidded about "next time...University of Pennsylvania-Paleontology", but I am not really kidding.  Problem is, I have no guarantee of getting a next time, so I better us this time well. 
 
Not many critically thinking people believe the stories of the Bible, whether they be that of Adam and Eve , Noah and the Tower of Babel to be literally true.  They are myths and not even myths of original Hebrew origins.  It is easy when one lives in a very small box of limited scientific interests or curiosities  to think that in reality, most do not believe the Book of Genesis to be meant as science.   Oh we have the Creation Institute types.  One can find a Bibleland Park to keep the myths seem real or tour a replica of Noah's Ark, but it is all just good theatre. 
 
Church of God types or good fundamental Baptists simply cannot imagine that the Bible is not all they have been told it to be.  In many ways it is the Greatest Story Ever Sold.  But a story nonetheless. 
 
The people who do the hard work of science and follow it wherever it takes them letting the facts clarify and speak for themselves know that those who sit in their studys reading the Bible are not really qualified to undo the reality of discovery.  Most who refuse to believe in human evolution or evolution in general simply refuse to study the issue choosing rather to just say that they believe the Bible.  I remember debating Art Mokarrow and Ron Mosley in Dallas and mentioning Donald Prother's newest book on Evolution-What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters, having Mosley interrupt to announce that he "had that book."  I missed my chance to ask if he had "read that book," but I knew he had not.  I suspect he probably didn't even have it. 
 
It is really very threatening, evidently, for literalists to give up ground on what in years to come will be so undeniable they will look even more foolish than they do now.  Knowledge being increased is not all bad you know.   Beats ignorance being increased and in some places, ignorance is pulling ahead of knowledge out of sheer panic.
 
Personally, I don't mind being the current end result of human evolution.  I like being a hairless ape with intellect and consciousness which is a big step for sure.  
 
It is still hilarious to hear ministers here in the South cry out from their pulpits that "If I came from a monkey, why are there still monkeys around today!!!"  The audience laughs and the man does not know what kind of a fool he just made of himself nor do most of his audience.  Apes, Chimps and Orangs are our cousins and we share a common ancestor about 5 million years ago.  We are not descended from them.
 
I remember being a lecture where the creationist guru laughed that there were no Stegasaurus that had one horn, then two, then three.  I laughed back since the fossil record shows exactly that in stunning detail.  Fish really do into Amphibians as Tiktaalik shows us.  I had the awesome opportunity to hold the skull of this fish  with legs and flippers, gills and lungs, teeth  and the ability to live in shallow water and land in my hands.  Awesome. 
                    
 
Same feeling I got when i saw the original Neanderthal Skulls found on Mt.  Carmel in Israel at the Israeli Museum in Jerusalem.  Simply awesome.
 
In the long and short term, it doesn't really matter what we believe as beliefs are ...well...just beliefs.   Faith is what we tend to have before we get the facts and then the facts test faith and usually pull way ahead.  Personally,  I love my cousins..
 
..
 
 
 

26 comments:

Allen C. Dexter said...

Evolution is so obvious and now so well demonstrated and proven that opposing it is the height of folly. We still get the old saw about there being no missing links when fossils of missing links have been found all over the place. You pointed one out.

Faith is the biggest and most absurd thing reason faces. There is no reasoning with it.

Douglas Becker said...

It isn't not just only so bad -- it's terrible.

Devolution means our moral values have been left in the jungles and we call it progress.

Retired Prof said...

On another site I read a clever retort to the taunt "If man descended from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?"

If you descended from your grandparents, why do you have cousins?

Anonymous said...

Another person’s perception
During the past year I have experienced the response to death of two different people. One was a Christian (not COG) whose life had been traumatized by the death of a husband and the long period of dying of cancer. Throughout the long period of dying her confidence in the Christian never wavered. Even though there was agonizing pain much of the time there was a peace of mind and a lack of fear that was an encouragement to her mother (in her 80s) who shared her faith. She died peacefully and the Pastor (not COG) who performed the funeral did a beautiful job in showing how the reality of death can add meaning to life when there is a confidence in God.

The other person (who died this morning) was a person who had been robbed of his faith in God by one of those televangelists (not COG or other radicals) predicting the end time events. This is a personal acquaintance that told me that if what this preacher said did not happen he would quit believing in God and the bible. That was a year or so ago and his life deteriorated to the point that it was obvious that death was just a matter of time. This person became totally incapacitated and suffered with a pain that was so bad that no medication could relieve it. He would rant and rave at everyone, cussing his wife and daughters for not doing what he thought they should do, blaming them for all his problems. I cannot describe (nor would I want to) the reality of what he and his family have gone through for the past several months.

Is evolution true or false? What difference does it make? Has the universe existed for billions or trillions of years? What difference does it make? Is there a God or is god just a myth? Does it make a different what we believe? Yes it does when we are experiencing life! Those who believe in a God that is for us and not against us will have hope when this life fails to live up to their expectations and will have a hope in the potential of a life when this life is completed. Those who reject a belief in God can only hope that this life will be a good experience and not a lot of bad ones.
Enough said, AB

Anonymous said...

Speaking of science, an hour ago I finally received my PhD. Now I am smart enough to know that I don't know everything.


Paul R.

Anonymous said...

"Those who believe in a God that is for us and not against us will have hope when this life fails to live up to their expectations and will have a hope in the potential of a life when this life is completed."


I find it terribly depressing that people can find no joy in life without the promise of some DisneyLand in the Sky after they die.

" Those who reject a belief in God can only hope that this life will be a good experience and not a lot of bad ones."

I've never met anyone who hopes that life will be perfect. Most people I know assume that life will be both good and bad. In both circumstances I find plenty reason to live. I prefer to keep my eyes focused on this life than ignore this life (and humanity) while keeping my eyes on some magical afterlife.

Paul R.

Anonymous said...

"Is evolution true or false? What difference does it make? Has the universe existed for billions or trillions of years? What difference does it make? Is there a God or is god just a myth? Does it make a different what we believe? Yes it does when we are experiencing life!"

So as long as we choose a comforting delusion it doesn't matter? As long as something which isn't really so is held to be so because it feels better?

Can't imagine making much progress in knowledge in that kind of world.

Be hard to believe anyone on any topic who only believed things that were nice. IMHO

Anonymous said...

Douglas Becker said...
It isn't not just only so bad -- it's terrible. Devolution means our moral values have been left in the jungles and we call it progress."

Are you saying human evolution can't be true because if it was true we'd not have any moral values so therefore that proves it is not true? Huh?

Retired Prof said...

Congratulations, Paul R. Going to be hard to keep your humility now. A few days after my PhD was awarded, I said to my dissertation director, "I'm worried about something."

He asked, "What's that?"

"Sometimes I feel like it makes me better than other people."

He laughed and said, "That's the way it's SUPPOSED to make you feel!"

His joking tone indicated he knew the feeling is of course an illusion--like the feeling born-again Christians have that they are better than other people. In reality, everybody is just some guy.

Not to diminish your accomplishment. Your credentials will put you in interesting circumstances where you can exchange ideas with a wide range of fascinating people.

Anonymous said...

I am an agnostic. I believe that evolution as well as creation as explanations of how we came to be on this earth are both theories. As an agnostic I need proof that either man evolved or was created before I can consider either of these theories as fact. It may be that we may never know for sure how we came to be on this earth.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

There are several user-friendly texts on evolution that I used to educate myself when I approached the subject (since I had never been taught evolution in elementary, high school, or my undergraduate college experience). One of the best is Donald Prothero's "Evolution; What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters." I found that contrary to what I had been taught by the shamans (ministers), there is a plethora of concrete evidence for the evolution of all of life on earth. If you want to see for yourself, to find out if evolution is true or not, I would start with that book (the author is a Christian).

Paul R.

Anonymous said...

"Going to be hard to keep your humility now."

Not really. My problem is my lifelong self-deprecation and lack of self-worth. Plus, I am middle aged entering into the field of science surrounded by brilliant 20 year olds and middle aged men and women who were brilliant at 20 and are now even smarter. I will never approach those heights (due to lack of motivation and brain power). I am the dumbest person in the department- and that is fine with me. I like knowing that I am not the brightest person in the world. I have seen what happens to people who think that they are smart, and run into someone smarter. It crushes them.

The only thing that has changed is that while I am not smarter, I do think more logically now- the process of becoming a scientist teaches you how to think more rationally. Again, it isn't being smarter, but thinking differently. And anyone can do this. There are people with no education who are "smarter" than I am because they have more "common sense" and can think more objectively than I can.

So I don't worry about becoming arrogant. It's nice being the least smartest guy in the room. You don't have to prove yourself.

I do feel pride in that I have accomplished this, though. It took a long time and a lot of hard work. I would like to thank everyone on this forum who has paid taxes for the past 20 years, because you paid for my GI Bill that allowed me to get my undergrad degree, and you paid for my stipend and research materials during grad school.

Of course, I know that my PhD is worthless, for it is "man's" knowledge, and not God's wisdom. The only thing man's knowledge is useful for is building space craft and transplanting organs and other useless things.


Paul R.

Douglas Becker said...

Anonymous said...
Douglas Becker said...
It isn't not just only so bad -- it's terrible. Devolution means our moral values have been left in the jungles and we call it progress."

Are you saying human evolution can't be true because if it was true we'd not have any moral values so therefore that proves it is not true? Huh?


Or am I saying that evolution is true, but humans seem to have natural selection leaving humanity with some nasty survival skills?

Too subtle for anonymous to gain traction on meanings other than presets? Huh?

Anonymous said...

One question that always come to my mind is what is the starting point of evolution. It is illogical to start with nothing and since matter is ever-changing where is the starting point?

Sweetblood777 said...

Second -a+ttempt:

Why anyone would advocate or believe (a definition of faith),in evil-lotion,is beyond me.

I look at airplanes like the 747 and now the 380, and marvel how these huge machines can ever get off the ground.

They are machines designed by very intelligent minds that are obeying laws already in place. In fact, one of the first events that occur after a terrible crash of an airliner, is to find out what the pilot did wrong.

They compare his/her reactions to laws that exist that keeps their huge aircraft in the air.

This and many, many others, is conviction to that there is a most intelligent mind out there that has designed all that we currently see and can't yet see due to the fact that our technology hasn't yet reached to that level.

Believe in evolution, no way. The result would be total chaos.

WK

DennisCDiehl said...

Donald Prothero's book, Evolution-What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters, is one of the best. I went to his presentation and he is agnostic. His brother, I believe he said is a minister. He is a PhD of course, but has the view that those who say, "I am a Dr." usually know and those who know, do not need to promote themselves as "Dr."

His credentials are impeccable and has much to say about the ignorance of those in ministry who claim to be able to speak to issues of geology , paleontology and good science.

I'd recommend the book to anyone who really wants to see not if, but how evolution works.

Another great read is Your Inner Fish--The 350 Million Year Journey to the Human Body. Outstanding.

DennisCDiehl said...

Let me try that concept again ..lol

Prothero does not need to say he is a PhD to promote his views. While his credentials are impeccable, He finds those who promote their PhD status often don't really know near as much as they think.

He has no use for those who do not do the hard work of science and then declare the invalidity of it.

Anonymous said...

"Too subtle for anonymous to gain traction on meanings other than presets?"

I just did not understand what you were actually getting at. You tend to cloud your responses with cheek.

Anonymous said...

"Believe in evolution, no way. The result would be total chaos."

I don't believe in evolution, either, just as I don't believe in gravity.

But before you dismiss evolution, have you actually ever studied it on your own? And by that I mean reading, you know, science books and stuff, which is where evolution is discussed, unlike creationism which is discussed in ancient religious texts that also feature talking animals and people who come back from the dead.

Before you dismiss evolution out of hand, based on creationist talking points, you may want to do your own independent research and take a look at the scientific evidence (unlike creationism, which is not based on fact). I am not saying that you will accept evolution, but at least you will become well versed in evolution, and the evidence that is used to support instead of creationist talking points that attempt to correlate immutable metal parts with changing, evolving, biological systems.

Just saying.

Paul R.

Mish-Mash said...

Sweetblood777 said...
Second -a+ttempt:

Why anyone would advocate or believe (a definition of faith),in evil-lotion,is beyond me.

Mish-Mash Comment -
Yea, I don't believe in "EVIL - LOTION" either. It doesn't make your skin soft and makes you irritable. Now GOOD LOTION such as Nivea or Jergens will soothe the soul as well as itchy dry skin.

Anonymous said...

Believing in the Tooth Fairy helps so many children feel better and get through those painful experiences.

Does it matter if someone believes in the Tooth Fairy?

YES!!!
I LOVE YOU TOOTH FAIRY!!!

Anonymous said...

I thought that "EVIL-LOTION" was that knock-off 'Oil of Olay' from China that's sold at dollar stores and is full of toxic heavy metals.

Norm

Allen C. Dexter said...

"Before you dismiss evolution out of hand, based on creationist talking points, you may want to do your own independent research and take a look at the scientific evidence (unlike creationism, which is not based on fact). I am not saying that you will accept evolution, but at least you will become well versed in evolution, and the evidence that is used to support instead of creationist talking points that attempt to correlate immutable metal parts with changing, evolving, biological systems."

HWA used to point to his fine, expensive (what else would it be, we all paid for it) watch as proof against evolution. We were dumb enough to fall for it. There's quite a difference between metals and jewels and living, evolving tissue.

A lot of people alive today owe there existence to the fact that some ancestor had a gen mutation that allowed him or her to survive the plague. Others today are immune to HIV for the same reason.

It's great that living things are subject to mutation, while objects like a watch only mutate and evolve at the behest of those evolved entities.

Andrew said...

The thing about religion that just doesn't make sense in the context of the natural world, is why are humans supposed to have an afterlife, and why are animals, plants and bacteria not supposed to have one? Do Neanderthals get one? Australopithecenes? Homo Erectus? Chimpanzees? Where does god draw the line between who gets an afterlife and who doesn't?

If you suppose that Homo sapiens sapiens is the only species that has an afterlife, then you have to argue that we don't fit in the taxonomy of the rest of living things, and we're not part of the rest of the natural world, instead we're an artificial addition to it (which has always been the view of religious man.) But biology shows that we ARE, right down to the fundamental building blocks, completely indistinguishable from and totally congruous with, every other living thing on this planet.

It seems silly to argue that bacteria, plants, or animals have an afterlife, and it seems silly to argue that humans are not completely connected to the rest of nature, so it also seems silly to argue that humans have an afterlife. The picture painted by religion and the one painted by biology just don't fit together.

DennisCDiehl said...

"It seems silly to argue that bacteria, plants, or animals have an afterlife, and it seems silly to argue that humans are not completely connected to the rest of nature, so it also seems silly to argue that humans have an afterlife."

It is our being conscious sentinent beings. tjat is, aware that we are aware , where the conflict lies. We know we die. We can mull over the past and we can get anxious about the future. Religion addresses both these consciously aware tendencies.

Anonymous said...

"Religion addresses both these consciously aware tendencies."

By providing answers that have no evidence to support them, answers that if were not presented as religion, would be immediately identified as fairy tale and mythology.


Paul R.