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Religion, science denial, and our evolutionary roots!

Brian Morris specialises in secular politics and is the author of ‘Sacred to Secular’. Here he focuses on why science denial and religion are manifestations from our distant past — and how a growing rejection of empirical evidence feeds this troubling era of ‘post-truth’.

There is an evolutionary flaw we all share. It can drive some to become obsessively religious, and others to embrace conspiracy theories. And it leads traditionalists to resist any change to a more humane society.

Examples are numerous, but top-of-mind is Australia’s inability to legalise Marriage Equality and Voluntary Assisted Dying. Victoria is on the brink, but it’s taken over 30 attempts in all states to even get this close.

What is it that makes the devoutly religious — or inflexibly conservative — so adamant that their minority views must be imposed upon the majority? Why is science denial by climate sceptics and anti-Vaxxers so prevalent? And where do conspiracy theorists and pseudoscience devotees get their ‘alternative facts?’. The inconvenient truth is that all humans are prone to self-deception. But some more than others!

Fact check: Humankind is a highly irrational species!

Everyone has a predisposition to pick up and latch onto thoughts and ideas that have no basis in fact. Due to a range of evolutionary flaws we can easily be trapped into embracing any number of unfounded beliefs.

We marvel at the complexity of our brain – but we know that it lets us down. Constantly!  At the most basic level we are confused by the simplest things. We’re tricked by optical illusions, by a conjurer’s sleight of hand, and by mysterious sounds that wake us at night!  We’re not good at separating fact from fiction.

Without science, our awareness of the ‘natural world’ is pathetically limited. We hear only a microscopic bandwidth as audible sound — just 20 kilohertz — virtually nothing! And we’re able to see only a thin slither of the electromagnetic spectrum — detecting just 0.0035 percent of its entire range as visible light.

Humans are effectively blind to our material environment. Only through advances in science have we begun to understand our world and the universe — to discover the full electromagnetic scale; to “see” with X-rays and magnetic imaging; to explore the universe with radio telescopes; and to determine the elements and composition of distant planets using thermal and spectrographic analysis.

Knowledge in all fields of human endeavour have only become possible by adopting the ‘scientific method’ — rather than our irrational interpretations of what seems true. We can now take any hypothesis, test for its fallibility, submit it to the rigours of peer review, and gain ‘critical’ acceptance from the international scientific community. Only by that process can we establish ‘evidence’ and the veracity of certain ‘facts’.

But we fail to employ ‘critical thinking’ at a personal level

In our daily lives our cognition can betray us — we tend not to think critically, or even to use our basic powers of reason. We often form opinions that can become cemented as our own personal facts.

At that point, all our cognitive biases refuse to allow our beliefs to be challenged. We create a reality that ignores new evidence and defies logic. It becomes easy to construct our own “fake news”, or embrace some trendy pseudoscience that seems real! Very much like Donald Trump’s “alternative facts.”

Why do so many of us actually believe in homeopathy, crystal healing, astrology, clairvoyance, psychics who speak with the dead, ghosts, numerology, Japanese reiki, and all kinds of pseudoscientific woo-woo  — when scientific evidence shows clearly they have no basis in fact?

We treasure our ‘opinions’ on everything — on sport, politics, history, religion, climate change, and the full gamut of social topics. When beliefs become deeply ‘personalised’ we reject all contrary evidence. The most dramatic examples come from the vulnerable (and gullible) people trapped in countless mind-altering religious cults — shown vividly in Going Clear, a documentary on the totalitarian Church of Scientology.

We need to understand WHY we are inherently irrational

If we go back (briefly) to the Savannah of Southern Africa — several million years ago — we can begin to understand how our modern brain developed, and why our early ‘social and survival’ mechanisms can now be counterproductive.

We know that our ability to ‘reason’ is frequently flawed, and this relates back to our earliest hominid ancestors — from the Australopithecines of 4 million years ago, evolving through Home habilis, Homo erectus, and many other intermediaries to Homo sapiens – ourselves – around 200,000 years ago.

Our distant ancestors had a notably smaller brain case which housed a basic and less evolved limbic brain. We became ‘modern humans’ much later, when our brain had fully evolved to include large frontal and temporal lobes. This gave us the capacity to ‘visualise’ people and places, to imagine past and future events, to plan more efficiently, to use language effectively, and gain an ability to use logic and reason.

BUT we still retain the ‘primitive’ part of the brain that we shared with our earliest cousins. It includes the limbic brain — which incorporates the amygdala and hippocampus — responsible for highly “personalised” emotions and inherent defence and survival instincts. This academic article explains the limbic system.

How the limbic brain can subvert ‘reason’

Our earliest ancestors developed a broad range of survival skills which gave them a reactive defence against predators! Without that our species would not have survived, but it’s left us with a legacy which is often in conflict with the new and more highly evolved parts of our brain equipped for ‘critical thinking’. There’s a constant clash between an emotive and reactive limbic system and the rational prefrontal cortex.

Religion and pseudoscience are prone to this limbic influence

One limbic auto-defence mechanism is Hyperactive Agency Detection (HAD), as this Michael Shermer video explains. That rustle in the long grass — is that the wind, or a predator about to kill you? We still retain this survival system to detect ‘agency’ and danger today — it includes the ‘fight or flight’ response we all share. Is that loud bang a gunshot?  Do we stay or run? It’s part of our emotional reactive tendencies.

But HAD also allows us to imagine agencies where none exists. To see ‘natural’ events as ‘supernatural agents’. Our forebears would see earthquakes, lightening and thunder as powerful gods that need to be appeased. Was this a creator of our world who must be obeyed? Creationists and other religious fundamentalists today still use HAD to reassure themselves of their supernatural gods.

Religion is a By-Product of our survival mechanisms:  Many books on neuroscience and psychology explain how our innate social and survival skills can lead people to perceptions of the supernatural and to belief in gods. Perhaps the most concise text is from Dr J Anderson Thomson, ‘Why we believe in Gods.

And Thomson explains in a video how many of our survival traits have so easily been adapted to become religious “by-products” of natural brain function — in exactly the same way that reading, writing and music are simply by-products of neural activity.  We are not hard-wired to read and write! There are no such centres in the brain — they are adaptations we have acquired over time.  And nor are we hard-wired for religion — that is also a by-product of false limbic perceptions. As neuroscientific research explains:

“The amygdala–hippocampus complex and the inferior temporal lobe facilitate the human experience of mystical and religious experiences. It is through (these structures) that dreamlike states and visual and auditory hallucinations are experienced.

“Religious thoughts/beliefs about God make use of conventional neural circuitry. This means there probably is no ‘God spot’ in the brain. Instead, thoughts and feelings about God are mediated by the conventional ‘generic’ brain circuits that are also used for other but similar neural processes.

“The limbic system can therefore be seen as responsible for the emotional and mystical experiences of religion and as the controller of religious-inspired or religious-influenced actions, through its motivational drive on the prefrontal cortex.”

Beliefs embedded in the limbic brain become highly personalised — it’s the emotional nerve centre — and those personal beliefs help to identify who you are. Strong beliefs will be defended vigorously and any challenge can be seen as a personal attack.

We see this constantly in people who deny the Holocaust; those who reject clear evidence of climate change; of the Anti-Vaxxers; and those who swear by any of the pseudoscientific practices touted as cures for chronic illness — even though they have no basis in fact. The limbic system can suppress ‘reason’.

So it’s no surprise that denial of evidence is a key factor for the devoutly religious — especially Creationists — those who believe in a literal Bible. They hold as “God’s truth” the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah’s Flood, that the Earth is only 6,000 years old, and that human evolution is a hoax! And it’s staggering to know that 34 per cent of Australians believe these myths, according to the Guardian (poll at mid-article).

Social policy, religion and the limbic brain: And it’s primarily the highly religious who vehemently oppose contemporary social policy, with beliefs based on ancient scriptures.  Current issues include voluntary assisted dying, marriage equality, and abortion rights for women — they are all regarded as offences against “God’s law”.

This is borne out most recently by an article on the ABC’s Religion and Ethics website, titled: “Opposition to Assisted Dying in Australia is Largely Religious”. It states that of all Christian groups who oppose voluntary euthanasia it’s fundamentalists who are most offended. The percentages are: Catholics 9.8, Anglicans 7.5, Uniting Church 7.1, and Other Christian 26.5 — those predominantly from evangelical churches.

Fear is the greatest driver of religion — and particularly the fear of death — which is exacerbated by our ability to imagine and visualise our own demise.  It’s unsurprising that humans invented gods and heaven to counter this confronting thought — that we all cease to exist at death.

Two psychologists concisely articulate this theme in their challenging book, ‘the Worm at the Core — and why it is that the fear of death drives so much of human behaviour, and underpins supernatural belief.

Religion and science denial

Science has been responsible for the gradual rolling back of religious myth and superstition since the discoveries of Copernicus and Galileo. So it is hardly surprising that all religions have become so vehement in the practice of science denial — refined over many centuries.

In this exasperating era of post-truth and fake news it has become an obsession for conspiracy theorists, dishonest corporations, and the religiously unscrupulous to denigrate and repudiate any scientific evidence that challenge their collective and fictitious concepts of ‘reality’.

The five facets of science denialism are well explained in this academic journal and they apply equally to all corporate and conspiracy propaganda, including supernatural beliefs. All religion is a man-made construct, based on the human fallibility to be irrational — due to the evolutionary development of our limbic brain.

Science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson scolds the “cherry picking” of science, and dishonest denial of evidence. He says that “settled” science is indeed settle; it’s only the “bleeding edges” of new discovery that scientists argue over. Religion and the media focus only on this to conclude science knows nothing!

“This is a phoney attempt to discredit science, and it underpins this current era of “fake news”. We have played into the hands of those who feel threatened by scientific discovery — those conservatives who fear change, and that includes Islam, Christianity and particularly all evangelical religions.”

It’s time for scientists to fight back

Tyson is correct to say that the science community is culpable for the gradual rise of pseudoscience. With a handful of exceptions (himself include) few scientists will speak out against the growing ranks of deniers. And this includes the pseudoscience of Genesis, promoted as “scientific truth” to schoolchildren through hundreds of private religious schools run by evangelical churches — and funded from the public purse!

Professor Emma Johnston, a marine ecologist, is one of the few Australian scientists to raise her concerns in a recent SMH article. She says the science community must actively seek to influence public debate by pushing it towards evidence-based arguments … and by countering fake news and anti-intellectualism.

Mainstream media, too, has a responsibility to redress the misrepresentation of science. And it’s time it lifted its taboo to discuss ‘faith’ openly. Why religion is a man-made construct, and how its flawed origins are rooted in the primitive recesses of our limbic brain — and distorted by our innate survival mechanisms.

A voice must be given to pro-science advocates who can explain exactly why society will benefit from a better understanding of knowledge through ‘critical thinking’. How ‘misguided opinions’ become ‘personal facts’ — and why ordinary people defend irrational beliefs that have no basis in fact or evidence.

It is this evolutionary flaw — conflict between the rational frontal lobes and the emotionally defensive limbic system — that manifests as religion and pseudoscience: a denial of evidence and reason. And it’s the ‘false certainly’ of a pious minority who denigrate science — and thwart the overwhelming majority who support laws for voluntary assisted dying, equal marriage, and a raft of socially progressive policy.

About Brian Morris: World travel shaped Brian’s interest in social justice — wealth, poverty and religion in many countries. His book Sacred to Secular is critically acclaimed, including from the Richard Dawkins Foundation. It’s an analysis of Christianity, its origins and the harm it does. It’s a call for Australia to become fully secular. More information about Brian can be found on his website, Plain Reason.


105 comments

  1. Ken

    Once again Brian you have written a great article

  2. Matt

    Brian,

    I worked on complex systems in the 1990’s and later on Artificial Intelligence. I – like many other computer scientists – was fully enthralled with the evolutionary model. At that time – with the computation power of vast numbers of machines on the internet just emerging – there was a surge of interest in creating genetic algorithms and ‘breeding’; computer programs across vast numbers of machines. There were small successes that encouraged others (like me) into the field. But nothing significant came out of it. The reason – which was the motivation for my PhD research – is that while great in theory, in practice evolutionary genetics fails. It fails because before anything complex can be fully evolved – and critically – be assessed as useful, the structures are destroyed by cross-over or mututation. So if you are going to talk about blind faith, then please consider your own blind faith in a so-called scientific theory that cannot be empirically demonstrated or repeated. The essence of science is that experiments can be re-produced – i.e empirically tested – that has never happened in relation to evolution, and based on the experience of computer scientists, it never will happen. It is one thing to take an existing complex structure – which can be identified as useful – and to vary it. I.e breed a wide variety of different species – all with eyes, lungs brains etc. It is quite another thing to create these complex organs from scratch. Indeed, the vast jump from animal to human was recognised as a hole in the theory by Darwin – remember the famous ‘missing link’ – Darwin had the humility to acknowledge the problems with the theory – modern scientists walk away from science when they ignore these things – they become more like priests – but at least Christian priests have a consistent theology and a doctrine of revelation to back it up, evolutionary scientists have only their own conceit.

    This hole in your argument opens up questions about everything else you claim here.

    If you want to know about about false ideas that have been spread around – like medieval people thinking the world was flat – then please see C.S Lewis’ talk on Religion and Science here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJu0oYvi-cY

    Matt

  3. Pingback: Opinion: Religion, science denial, and our evolutionary roots! | Plain Reason

  4. townsvilleblog

    I have answered the poll question of the PM who has done the worst to our way of life to be Turnbull because Abbott did do the worst but he is still having the worst done because Turnbull continues Abbott’s work, even though he does not believe in what is being done, his puppet master Abbott still pulls the strings…

  5. Brian Morris

    Matt,

    You prove my point exactly, that your limbic brain is hard at work here. The computer analogy is a common ploy used as a strategic “red herring”. You finally get to the core of your religious beliefs — the denigration of science and repudiation of human evolution. You’re entitled to your “opinion” but it’s a minority one. Trying to justify your “reasoning” with C.S Lewis simply verifies my thesis. The video itself is a fraudulent use of the “Socratic Method” — which has been exposed and debunked many times previously. Your clearly haven’t read the article, nor any of the links!

    Brian

  6. guest

    Matt, if you think some god created the world and added living creatures, including humans, you have a whole lot of explaining to do. A “consistent theology and a doctrine of revelation” do not prove anything. “Doctrines” by their nature are devised by human beings. If a god created the world, we have a strange picture of what that god is – and it is a picture of cruelty in a “dog-eat-dog” world rather than a god of love of the kind supposedly depicted by a “doctrine of revelation”. There are numerous “consistent” theologies, none of them “rational” except for those who are willing to believe.

  7. Robert REYNOLDS

    Thank you for this well-argued essay Brian. However, for me personally, you are merely ‘preaching to the converted’. I totally accept your comments and conclusions as being logical, reasonable and rational. However, as I am sure you are aware, many, perhaps most, religious believers are, like Trump supporters, totally immune to, and unaffected by, any form of logic, reason and rationality.

    You certainly do not need a science degree, or indeed any other formal qualification to see that religious belief is nothing more than a form of self-delusion. I have a friend who I have known since we were 14 years of age. We are both now 69. He did not finish high-school. He realizes that religion is nothing more than a form of state-sanctioned insanity. I have two BSc. (Hons) degrees, one from the University of Melbourne with a major in biochemistry and the other from Monash University with a double major in physics and mathematics. I did my honors year in theoretical physics. I did not even need to pass grade 1 in primary school in order to be able to realize that religion is based on nothing more than ‘hocus-pocus’ and ‘mumbo-jumbo’ which is promulgated by modern day witch-doctors and warlocks. As my dad used to say, “The whole thing is too silly for words.” All that is required to see through this monumental religious ‘confidence trick’, is the ability to think clearly and rationally and to deal with empirical observations in a disinterested way. But as we also all know, reality can be very, very confronting.

    However Brian, having said all that, I still think that articles like yours are vitally important as they may sway those who are still capable of thinking reasonably. But, at the end of the day it is the behavior of religious people themselves who are the best at exposing religion for the sham that it is. For example, we have seen centuries of internecine conflict between Protestants and Catholics and Sunnis and Shiites. Pedophilia, together with many other forms of abuse, has been endemic in the Catholic Church for millennia. When this type of behavior is exposed to those in the community who are not strong religious believers then they often quite rightly, start to see religion for the contrivance that it is and then to comprehensively reject it.

  8. Matt

    Brian,

    So much for civil exchange! Insulting my brain (and by implication my intelligence) is not what passes for debate. Similarly, you generalise my statement, without addressing my point. I DO NOT REPUDIATE SCIENCE, but claims that cannot be verified by experiment cannot be called SCIENTIFIC, by definition:

    From: http://physics.ucr.edu/~wudka/Physics7/Notes_www/node6.html

    What is the “scientific method”?

    The scientific method is the best way yet discovered for winnowing the truth from lies and delusion. The simple version looks something like this:

    Observe some aspect of the universe.
    Invent a tentative description, called a hypothesis, that is consistent with what you have observed.
    Use the hypothesis to make predictions.
    Test those predictions by experiments or further observations and modify the hypothesis in the light of your results.
    Repeat steps 3 and 4 until there are no discrepancies between theory and experiment and/or observation.”

    Please provide evidence (i.e citations) supporting your claims regarding ‘the fraudulent use of the socractic method” and how these could possibly apply to C.S Lewis’s argument – a man no doubt much wiser and more educated than you are likely to be, particularly in relation to forms of argument.

    Matt

  9. economicreform

    It is important to distinguish between personal religious beliefs and organised religion. The finger of blame for a vast catalog of wars and human suffering – going back to antiquity – can be pointed at organised religion. Most religious organisations have a lot of blood on their hands.

  10. Matt

    By the way, I am not the only one who thinks that the Darwinian genetic process is flawed, here is another researcher who reached the same conclusion:

    From: https://lethain.com/genetic-programming-a-novel-failure/

    “For an algorithm whose primary weakness is quick and myopic optimization, this lack of progress is a strong indication of what we’ve already grown to suspect: the genetic algorithm simply cannot overcome the search aspect of this problem.

    This one example is far from sufficient justification, but I’ll go a bit further and suggest that genetic programming will only solve problems when you supply a detailed outline of the solution. Genetic algorithms can optimize a solution from supplied components, but genetic programming is inadequate to both discover and optimize a solution. This is a shame, as there is a level of elegance to the concept that is hard to dismiss.

    It isn’t hard to see how this idea could repeatedly lure scientists to bang their heads on the problem until they contorted their cortexes and algorithms enough to believe it worked. If only the results of genetic programming justified its conceptual beauty.”

    Are you going to dismiss this too as some sort of religious fundamentalism, or limbic brain failure? A true scientist looks at the evidence and modifies his theory if it doesn’t fit – he doesn’t start making ad-hominem attacks of those who present conclusions based on about the best possible experimental evidence there is of Darwinian evolution.

    Matt

  11. Michael Taylor

    Matt, I don’t think Brian was being insulting to you when he said “your limbic brain.” The article explains it all.

  12. kerri

    Less “fear of death” and more fear of after death I think is the problem with humans and the weapon of organised religion. The concept that after death there is nothing, is very difficult for the human brain.

  13. Harry

    Matt,

    Evolution is well established. Please (try) to refute this with substantial evidence. Is it the last word, are there more comprehensive theories? Doubtful and undoubtedly respectively- as true science is never fully settled but we have to go with the best evidence that fits the observed data.

  14. Matt

    Harry,

    It may be well established – many things are before more evidence leads to revisions -i.e Newtonian mechanics. But until it is proven, which evolution is not – then discussion and debate need to continue and shouting down people who present the results of experiments is not scientific, so please don’t pretend that it can be, and that I am the one being unreasonable here.

    As to the ‘substantial evidence’ that you require – I am sorry I don’t have it – I only have the evidence that I have, and it needs to be considered in its own light. I am not offering an alternative theory, but the evidence may be used to create one.

    Science does not necessarily produce entire new theories in one shot, complete with all supporting evidence. That is not how the world of scientific discovery works.

    Matt

  15. Robert REYNOLDS

    Matt, I was not going to dignify the excuses you are making for religious fundamentalism with a reply, but when you say,

    “But until it is proven, which evolution is not …..”

    cannot go without a response. Let me remind you Matt, that nothing is ever “proven” in science. Evidence can be gathered to support or to “disprove” a hypothesis, theory or even a law, but I will say again (in case you missed it the first time), that nothing is ever proven in science.

    Now Matt, the best evidence that is currently available at this time supports strongly the theory of evolution no matter how unpalatable that may be to you and the religious fundamentalist cranks. Quite properly, this theory is taught at senior levels at secondary school and at university.

  16. Matt

    Robert,

    I am not saying it shouldn’t be taught – but again – you are revertlng to the very argument that people here criticise religions for – the prevailing world-view or opinion cannot be challenged. In fact, the best evidence is only the best evidence until more comes along. I am saying more has come along – in the field of computer science – and in light of that we need to adapt our understanding. Are you suggesting that we accept our understanding is imperfect and ALSO refuse to consider new evidence? That is really is bizarre – I won’t say medieval – because they had more sense than that.

    Matt

  17. jimhaz

    While I don’t really get Matts point of view, I do think science wrongly discounted Lamarckism and understated the Baldwin effect.
    I have a problem with the speed of evolutionary change – mutation alone is too slow and far too unreliable to flow through to become the norm for an entire species.

    In my view the more advanced an animal is, particularly mammals, then what that animal does can affect the genetic material in small ways and this can be passed on to new generations. It is not mutations alone but chemical changes affecting how the genes react and merge during fertilization. The more advanced a creature the more this affect results in evolution as opposed to genetic mutation. I think the ape to human change was more a result of this than mutation.

    Wiki

    “Lamarck incorporated two ideas into his theory of evolution, in his day considered to be generally true. The first was the idea of use versus disuse; he theorized that individuals lose characteristics they do not require, or use, and develop characteristics that are useful. His second point was to argue that the acquired traits were heritable. Examples of what is traditionally called “Lamarckism” would include the idea that when giraffes stretch their necks to reach leaves high in trees, they strengthen and gradually lengthen their necks. These giraffes have offspring with slightly longer necks (also known as “soft inheritance”). Similarly, a blacksmith, through his work, strengthens the muscles in his arms, and thus his sons will have similar muscular development when they mature”

    “In evolutionary biology, the Baldwin effect describes the effect of learned behavior on evolution. In brief, James Mark Baldwin and others suggested during the eclipse of Darwinism in the late 19th century that an organism’s ability to learn new behaviors (e.g. to acclimatise to a new stressor) will affect its reproductive success and will therefore have an effect on the genetic makeup of its species through natural selection. Though this process appears similar to Lamarckian evolution, Lamarck proposed that living things inherited their parents’ acquired characteristics. The Baldwin effect has been independently proposed several times, and today it is generally recognized as part of the modern synthesis.

  18. Robert REYNOLDS

    Matt,

    the obvious answer in response to your comment that,

    “I am not saying it shouldn’t be taught – but again – you are revertlng to the very argument that people here criticise religions for – the prevailing world-view or opinion cannot be challenged.”

    is merely that in science any ‘prevailing world-view or opinion can always be challenged’. In fact Matt, if something, say string theory for example, cannot be tested, then its status as ‘real science’ will often be questioned.

    In science the more that ‘prevailing world views’ are challenged the better. Ever since the foundations of quantum mechanics were laid down in the early part of the twentieth century, it has been challenged on countless occasions but at no time has it ever been disproved. The fact that it has survived these tests and challenges so well has resulted in it being regarded as one of the most successful theories of all time. But that does not mean Matt that someone will not ‘knock a hole’ in it in the future.

    Now Matt, here is the part that I want you to pay close attention to.

    If you are going to disprove or debunk a hypothesis, theory or law in science then you had better come up with results and findings that are reproducible and credible or you will be treated with the contempt that you deserve. To try to debunk the Theory of Evolution with a fairy tale is as contemptible as it is risible. To suggest as you do, that the alternative to the Theory of Evolution lies with Creation Science is so absurd that it barely rates as a bad joke.

    In answer to your remark that,

    “Are you suggesting that we accept our understanding is imperfect and ALSO refuse to consider new evidence? ”

    I would say that yes, our, (humanity’s) understanding is imperfect and incomplete. Of course we consider new evidence, that is what science is all about. But that ‘new evidence’ must be scientifically credible. Scientists do not consider ancient fables and fantasies as credible ‘new evidence’.

  19. Matt

    Jimhaz,

    You are so right – Lamarkian genetics is definitely a new development – that is now pretty accepted by science – but anyone up until the last 10 years who considered this was regarded as a complete nuff-nuff, and would not be taken seriously by any scientist.

    An update on the research is provided here:

    http://www.alternativeinsight.com/Lamarck.html
    (think what you will about the site – check the citations)

    There is so much we have to learn about evolution, to close the book on it the way some people would like to do now, is crazy.

    Strangely enough – Larmarckian theory seems somewhat consistent with the idea that the son pays for the sins of the father, and the idea of original sin being something passed from father to son – as the Lamarckian argument is that behaviours of the parent are passed genetically to the offspring – and experiments now support that eg: a rat learns a maze, its offspring are mcuh better than random at solving the same maze -e ven though they have never seen it. A father is an alcholic … Just speculating here of course.

    Matt

  20. Warwick O'Neill

    “If you could reason with religious people, there would be no religious people.” Not sure who said it, but truer words have never been spoken.

  21. Nearly Normal Frederick

    There are of course various other kinds of science too which have been around for a very long time. Perhaps the best known is the case of China via the work of Joseph Needham and his master work Science & Civilization in China. One of the key elements of Chinese science and culture is its understanding of CHI and the subtle force fields that influence everyday happenings – manifest in Feng Shui, traditional chinese medicine and its associated chi-strenghening exercise to extend longevity, even perhaps immortality.

    Then there is the multi-faceted (and dimensional) example of Vedic science which has been practiced for thousands of years. Check out the Wiki entry. Extending from Vedic science is the science of Yogic Mysticism which again has been practiced and systematically described in many texts and schools for thousands of year. A related text is the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (The Yoga of Light)
    There is also the Science of Soul or Atma Vijnana – search the title.

    As for C S Lewis he was/ is a highly over-rated Christian propaganda hack. It is interesting to note that many of his fans are essentially dim-witted dingbats, quite right-wing in their politics, and very much at the know-nothing fundamentalist end of the Christian spectrum

  22. Harry

    Matt,

    As Robert Reynolds has pointed out science does not do “proven”. Nothing is EVER “proven”. But the current theory of evolution is the best explanation of the observed data we have until it is falsified.

    Creation science and its more recent revision, “intelligent design”, often make the accusation that evolution is not “proven” or that evolution is “only a theory”. A “theory” has very strong scientific status, very strong evidence as the best explanation for the observed data. Creationists either misrepresent the status of theories or they are ignorant of the scientific method. Perhaps you are thinking more of the status of hypotheses which are ideas or explanations that can be tested through study and experimentation.

    Definition of a scientific theory” a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. Such fact-supported theories are not “guesses” but reliable accounts of the real world.

  23. Matt

    Harry,

    Nothing is ever proven – no – and the evidence I am referring to does falsify much of what people believe about it. I am not criticising it on the basis of favouring Creationism – for all I know God could the create the world using evolution as well as any other way, so this is not a theological argument in that sense – what I am saying is that EXPERIMENT SHOWS IT DOES NOT WORK’ – now as much as you may hate the alternatives, unless YOU want to be some sort of science denier – not that different to climate change deniers – then show me experiments where something complex HAS been made using the processes of evolution – if the theory is so great – then DEMONSTRATE it – but you can’t – there is no human experiment to date to show it works – on the contrary all the experiments done so far show it DOESNT work!

    Nearly Normal Frederick,

    I am sure your generalisation about Lewis fans was based on systemic study and not simply a few anecdotal cases with your own prejudices mixed in.

  24. graham knight

    it may pay dividends to be paranoid and fearful ‘ because in the past we were not the top predator on the earth !
    so it would be foolish to think’ that it was always the wind ! that moved the tall grass and not a lion . best to be wrong and alive i guess ! as for Malcolm Tarbell i feel he just want’s to keep his job ‘ remember they stabbed the last three prime ministers in back !! if you want to know who’s got the power in this county ? follow the money ! could not be the churches !! l

  25. Robert REYNOLDS

    Hi Matt,

    I have just read your response to Harry. Listen Matt, just between you and me, (remember, keep this very quiet – do not tell a soul or they may ‘get in first’).

    What I suggest you do is to print off your (obviously very expert findings) on the falsity of The Theory of Evolution and send the manuscript off to Nature or Science of some other reputable journal for publication. I am sure that the respective editors will treat your paper with all the ‘respect’ that it deserves.

    Who knows Matt, we might be reading about you in all the media in the near future as the genius who disproved the Theory of Evolution. Wow, you will have Darwin turning in his grave. A Nobel Prize awaits you for sure. Think of all the fame and fortune that also awaits you. Someone might even award you a free Bible!

    So remember Matt, there is not a moment to be wasted. Do not let others beat you to the fame and fortune that is so rightly yours!!

  26. corvusboreus

    No quick laboratory experiment has thus far been able to exactly replicate the changes in morphology and increasing complexity of organisms that has been observed progressively occurring in fossil records over hundreds of millions of years.
    Apparently this means that the theory of evolution has been thoroughly debunked, and therefor the only possible explanation left is that the ever-changing diversity of life on Earth must all be down to direct creation and subsequent interventions by a humanoid deity with a penis, as described in a book that says plants preceded sunlight, and that the first human was sculpted from mud then magically animated about a week after the formation of the universe itself.

  27. Matt

    Robert,

    Well personally I could imagine nothing worse than winning a Nobel prize, and I prefer to avoid fame and fortune but you know what – it is probably only a matter of time before someone does exactly what you have suggested. Maybe if no one else does I should do it.

    Matt

  28. Robert REYNOLDS

    Absolutely Matt!! But remember, ‘He who hesitates is lost’.

    There is not a minute to waste!

  29. Matt

    Corvusboreus,

    Well I am not talking about a ‘quick laboratory experiment’ but the concerted efforts globally of some of the best computer science minds. No one doubts the increasing complexity of organisms over time, nor that record exits, but you are associating development over time with a particular process of creation of types – association is not causation, as any good statistician would know. That is a huge assumption you are resting on there.

    Look if you can look at fossil records and EXPLAIN how the development took place, in terms of specific processes, that can be simulated or replicated in nay significant way at all, then I will be satisfied. But if you just see changes over time and say that that is due to cross-over and mutation,, and NOTHING else, and no-one can replicate anything like it in experiment, then I say that your case is very shakey – and yes, it is a theory but YOU TRY and prove it! See HOW DAMN HARD IT IS to actually is to get random processes to produce something complex – you are all armchair experts – I SPENT 7+ years working on creating complex structures – and I teil you – it is damn difficult, and you have no idea of the complexity of managing evolving structures and the combinatory difficulties involved – and nor would probably most reviewers for Nature.

  30. Harry

    Matt, what is this “experiment” you claim that evolution by natural selection “does not work”? Evidence, proof even please. Explanations of “why it does not work” are needed.

  31. Matt

    Robert

    It is so easy to be a smart-arse, much harder to contribute something of substance rather than tired criticisms and cynicisms – which do nothing to address the questions I have raised.

    Matt

  32. corvusboreus

    Matt,
    I get you.
    Some people tried to simulate the evolutionary development of biological complexity over hundreds of millenia on a computer over a few years and failed, therefore it must all be down to the dick-god of the bible.

  33. Robert REYNOLDS

    Matt, really, do you expect me to take your comments seriously?

  34. Hugh Harris

    I’m intrigued by the selective skepticism towards evolution – this skepticism is almost always accompanied religious belief.

    Matt – what other articles of accepted science do you challenge?

  35. Matt

    Harry,

    Well that is the interesting thing – like other scientists computer scientists report their successes not their failures – it is only by working in the field that you realise the limitations. Do a search on scholar.google.com – you will see that nearly all the research on genetic algorithms took place in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s – virtually zero results after the mid 1990’s – probably nothing on google scholar since 2000. The reason is that after a decade of intense research everyone in the field realised that they don’t bloody work!

    Matt

  36. Matt

    Assassination by implication Hugh! What are you a therapist? I reject no other areas of established scientific knowledge – only the one I happen to have expertise in! Since you are so bloody clever can you support your statement: “this skepticism is almost always accompanied religious belief”? Or is that again just a bias of yours and evidence of your limited field of vision? It is the job of a good scientist to ‘challenge; the existing knowledge – do you think progress is made by accepting what ever anyone tells you is the truth? Your approach to science sounds more like religion to me.

  37. Matt

    CovusBoveus,

    “people tried to simulate the evolutionary development of biological complexity over hundreds of millenia on a computer over a few years and failed”

    Yes, so by definition until someone does the theory HAS NO REPEATABLE EVIDENCE!! What don’t you get about science versus speculation?

    Matt

  38. Möbius Ecko

    https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14094-bacteria-make-major-evolutionary-shift-in-the-lab/
    https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2014/02/evolution-in-real-time/
    https://io9.gizmodo.com/50-000-generations-of-bacteria-prove-that-evolution-nev-1466803805?IR=T
    http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/08/16/experimental-evolution-and-the-false-solace-of-theyre-still-bacteria/

    But I guess the religious response will be, “they’re still bacteria” as the last article premises, or “they’re only bacteria and not complex life forms.” So I gather when this retort is made the deity with a dick doesn’t work with all life forms, just cherry picked ones. The ones he didn’t have anything to do with just get on and evolve.

  39. Hugh Harris

    Matt

    Can you honestly say your religious faith has nothing to do with your desire to disprove evolution?

  40. corvusboreus

    Ok Matt, let’s take as given that computer simulations based on probability algorithms attempting to approximate all possible permutations failed to match the observed changes (or evolutions) in the forms of past and current biology on Earth, and that this ‘proves’ that random mutation (+ environmental selection pressures) cannot account for the complexity and diversity of life past and present, rather than possible explanations being, say, flaws and problems in the programming algorithm, or complex natural factors and processes being left out of the equations.

    Now it is your turn to offer substantive scientific evidence (eg field observations, lab experiment or successful algorithmic simulation) that the only remaining possible/probable answer to this question mark on how life gradually changes it’s form and function in response to it’s environment is not only divine in nature, but must be the invisible anthropomorphic male god of whom you speak.

  41. Matt

    Hugh,

    I have explained that a God could have created the various forms of life through evolution as well as any other means. It makes absolutely no difference to a belief in God. I have no desire to disprove evolution as such, I just want to point out that despite the best efforts of computer scientists it has been found incapable of creating complex structures. In short, IT DOES NOT WORK. If anyone can prove me wrong – go ahead, but as I say a decade of work by the best computing and mathematical minds could not make it work.

    And whilst this makes no difference to MY belief it leaves people like Brian on very unstable ground.

    Matt

  42. Matt

    Möbius Ecko

    Look carefully back over my comments – I said – as did the other computer scientist whose criticisms I included – we say effectively that if you have already complex organs you can create any number of different forms of life – that is not the problem, the problem is getting the complex organs – this genetic algorithms cannot do on their own. It is like saying your local computer shop cannot design and create a computer chip, or a USB disk drive, or a LCD monitor – but given these things, yes they can easily create any number of different combinations, quite easily. But that is not the hard part.

    Matt

  43. Möbius Ecko

    But bacteria aren’t complex, and in some cases in these experiments have evolved into more complex forms in response to their environment changing. This goes for other rapidly breeding life forms that may start out simple but branch out into more complex forms.

    The fruit fly is often used as a proof of genetic evolutionary changes, and experiments seem to prove this, but there are contrary scientific views as well.

    But look into that Darwin Then and Now website, a source for much of the anti-evolution data.

  44. Joseph Carli

    People believe in God because they fail to believe in themselves.

  45. Hugh Harris

    Matt

    I note you did not directly answer my question. That’s telling.
    You seem to be saying that because computer scientists cannot simulate an aspect of evolution, then…. evolution must be false. Can you not see the howling non sequitur in that argument?

    It does not follow.

  46. Ken

    I totally agree with you Hugh

  47. Matt

    Hugh,

    Ok, you are believing what you want to believe now. I have told you my motivation is scientific and it is. My faith does not depend on evolution being true or not. And if I did not know what I know I would not be posting in this forum or arguing this point. If you must know I thoroughly believed in evolution myself – until the penny dropped about this issue I have arguing. But you know – I just looked up Brian – an Advertising/PR man (https://www.plainreason.org/) so you can give yourself over to the convincing arguments of someone who has never done a jot of empirical research, and who is making a living out of promoting certain ideas, not to mention getting much fame and admiration in the process, or you can use your own common sense – whatever my motives – my point remains, A scientific theory without repeatability is just that – a theory. That is not my argument that is a statement of fact. My argument is that no-one has, and it seems no-one can, prove the theory – this you can take or leave according to your discernment.

    Matt

  48. Harry

    Matts views are apparently a variant of the “intelligent design” branch of creationism that argue that the complexity of certain organs such as the eye are such that they could not possibly evolve from simpler forms. Basically it is nonsense.

  49. Robert REYNOLDS

    Harry, I think that your assessment is ‘very close to the mark’. It is hard (for me at least) to know whether these cranks who believe (and believe so ardently) in ‘intelligent design’ and ‘creationism’. etc. should be pitied or condemned. One only hopes that, for the sake of the future of western secular civilization, that these religious cranks never become too influential. At the moment it is not the theist loonies of the Christian variety who I feel represent the greatest threat. But that is another story and one that you have to tread very carefully with.

  50. corvusboreus

    Today I have learned that all the observed incremental increases in complexity of organs in organisms, such as all the eye types, from the simple aperture vision of some simple invertebrates through to our own complex lense/retina array, do not, in fact, exist.
    I discovered that not only are we Homo sapiens not, in fact, a species of animal (I always thought we were a vertebrate animal of class Mammalia), but that preceding hominins, from Homo heidelburgensis all the way back to Australopithecus africanus (and beyond), can in in no way be construed as ‘missing links’ between ‘humans’ and the ‘animals’.
    I also learned that the failure of a computer simulation has totally discredited the theory of biological evolution, although sadly, no credible counter-theory has been forwarded.

  51. Matt

    CorvusBoreus,

    Ok, you show me the evidence of ” all the observed incremental increases in complexity of organs in organisms, such as all the eye types” and I will admit defeat.

    The eye is highly complex organism that requires a highly complex brain to be useful, where are all the ‘incremental developments’ up to an eye? Until you have a working eye, an eye is useless, what you have is a highly complex, useless seeming structure, which in computer simulations, are removed from the genetic pool – well before completion – because they demonstrate no value.

    So put your mouth where your money is – and as I have asked here before – demonstrate to me that evolution works for complex structures – show me the evidence of the incremental development of the human eye – if you cannot, then you have mere speculation and the conceit and anti-science thought processes of you and Harry and Robert will be obvious. It will show that you have taken on faith the claims of those who propose a theory which cannot be demonstrated.

    Matt

  52. Matt

    CorvuBoreaus,

    There is a lot information here to get you started – the story certainly looks convincing – until you actually try and demonstrate how the hell it happened! ie to come up with a repeatable experiment rather than just speculation. My point rests on the fundamental principle of science – repeatability – there are an infinite number of explanations for all sorts of phenomena.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_the_eye#Rate_of_evolution

    Matt

  53. Harry

    Matt

    The evolution of the eye is not a problem for the theory. Like other organs it began as a patch of light sensitive cells. There are many animals that still use the intermediate form of the eye. The process also holds for other “irreducible complexity” claims of the “Intelligent Design” branch of Creation pseudo science, such as organic motors exhibited by some bacteria.

    https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/01/1/l_011_01.html

    https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13663-evolution-myths-the-bacterial-flagellum-is-irreducibly-complex/

  54. Matt

    CorvusBoreaus,

    Let me retract everything else and leave this one challenge open:

    “I also learned that the failure of a computer simulation has totally discredited the theory of biological evolution, although sadly, no credible counter-theory has been forwarded.”

    If we really understand evolution as well as we do – and I am not saying necessarily that evolution per-se is not true, I am just saying if we fully understand it WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO REPLICATE IT.

    Until we can, and I think realistically computer simulations are the only viable way of doing this, then we cannot say our understanding is complete. And until we can many possibilities can be entertained.

    Matt

  55. Matt

    Harry,

    I am aware of the different levels of sight ability over time – and what you refer to is a plausable explanation, it is not a proof in the scientific sense. It admit I made a mistake in asking for evidence of change over time – that is not sufficient. A repeatable experiment is required.

    But even the most simple of those organisms is highly complex.

    Matt

  56. Matt

    Also CorvusBoreaus,

    in regard to: ” computer simulation has totally discredited the theory of biological evolution”

    I am not saying the theory is totally discredited at all – genetic algorithms do work – you can evolve new things, this aspect works fine. But what it depends on is having the right components available for recombinations – getting these is the problem.

    Matt

  57. jim

    Great post, but what if they use religion for their fiancial gain?, secure “employment” with rent free accomodation and always smiling sheeple, like the priests sermon “and now let us all pray for our PM Mal turnbill”.

    Great video Matt .https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJu0oYvi-cY

  58. Harry

    Matt,

    Could you please outline what process or agency is responsible for the diversity of life on earth and its increased complexity over billions of years since this planet was formed? Do you accept the earth is some 4.5Billion years old?

  59. Robert REYNOLDS

    Harry, I think that, with respect, you are wasting your time. If you are anticipating an answer that is coherent, credible and sensible, you will simply not get it. I have engaged with countless “Matts” over the decades. It is nothing more than a pointless waste of time. It is the same as being on a ‘road to nowhere’.

    I should say though Harry, it is the “Matts” of this world who persuade me the most in regard to being an atheist.

  60. Hugh Harris

    Matt

    Attacking the author does you no good. Where would you be without your ad hominem, red herrings and non sequiturs?

  61. guest

    Matt obviously does not want to consider the Theory of Evolution as an explanation for the existence of life on earth. He has another theory about how all the life, along with the Earth itself, was created by God.

    He rejects the Darwinian Theory of Evolution because it cannot be replicated by experiments by computer modelling. But then the existence of a god-cretaor cannot be proven by experiment or by computer modelling either.

    Matt is in a dilemma. He can either accept that the existence of a creator-god cannot be proven, or he continues to believe as a matter of faith, not as a proven fact.

    But I digress. I want to mention a matter which also questions science and treats some science as unproven faith. I mean those deniers who say Climate change is a scam. I mean people such as Maurice Newman and Ian Plimer writing in The Australian recently.

    Newman’s “Make the BOM accountable for climate numbers” takes up the idea that the BOM and IPCC have falsified climate readings in order to exaggerate climate numbers. It is an old story long refuted and debunked, but these people have the memories of elephants for false stories which are supposed to prove their point of view.

    An example of Newman’s fairy-story telling is this: “The manager of climate monitoring and prediction, Dr David Jones, claims ‘climate here is running so rampant that we do not need meteorological data to see it’? Tony Abbott’s observation of sea levels at Manly beach disagrees, but he adopts the same methodology.”

    Isn’t that a great joke – except Newman is serious.

    Plimer’s “Back the wind and we’ll be ruined” sounds a lot like Hanrahan on a bad day. Plimer claims that “97% of emissions are from natural processes such a ocean degrassing, volcanoes, natural chemical reactions and exhalation.” Plimer’s writing is full of generalisations, half truths and straight-out deception.

    He says the past shows climate change is normal – but he does not say when or how much. He boldly claims that “Instrumental temperature measurements over the past 150 years show no correlation between CO2 emissions and global warming.”

    Let us just think about what Plimer has said. According to him natural CO2 emissions have not made rises in temperature over the past 150 years yet there have been temperature rises and the atmospheric content of CO2 has risen as well – and all that is related.

    As Tony Eggleton says (2013), atmospheric CO2 has risen from the pre-industrial level of 280ppm to the unprecedented (in at least the past 24m years level of [now 400ppm] (p177)

    And as well, “At present the world is warming at the rate of one degree in 60 years: that is, 20 times faster than any previous sustained rate of temperature change.”

    How Newman and Plimercan display their ignorance in public is beyond belief!

  62. Harry

    Robert,

    I agree we are probably wasting intellectual energy.

  63. Robert REYNOLDS

    I do admire your perseverance thought, Harry!

  64. @RosemaryJ36

    I believe that I exist and that if even only a few people remember me after I die, then I shall, however briefly, have life after death. I believe that many people can only survive by placing their hopes in a living god and a better life after death. I believe that the scientific process is to explore how evidence compares with a hypothesis and that we shall never know completely how the world began but we can work really hard to destroy it if we let faith blind us to reality. Climate change is real and I am sad that I have great grandchildren whose lives will be adversely affected because we are doing too little, too late.

  65. corvusboreus

    Evolution is change (deviation from exact cycle).
    Biology is the study of lifeforms, aka structures deemed to be animate.
    Evolutionary biology is the study of the differing changes observed within and between existent and previous lifeforms..
    There is no ‘one true’ Theory Of Evolution’.

    Biology, as a science, leans heavily on Linneus, who gave us the system of species through KINGDOM classification.
    Mendel added his research on ‘hereditary markers’, the basis of modern genetic science.
    Lamarck proffered his research on the effects of adaptive and imitative behavior upon physiology and morphology (use it or lose it, see like do like), aka neuro-physio plasticity combining with behavioral mimicry. .
    Darwin added the idea of environmental factors influencing evolutionary trends through ‘natural selection’.

    The Spinoza legacy of magnifying lenses added complexity to the study of the smaller beings, and the field of micro-biology has shown the rapid rate at which bacteria and other microbia can transfer and adapt their habits and forms.
    Microbiology has also revealed the complex interactions that occur within the existences of lifeforms. Homo sapiens, on average, have over 4000 resident species of ‘gut flora’ alone.

    Paleontology (the study of old once-was life), in combination with geology, has added fascinating information regarding the various mass extinction cataclysms that have created huge ecological vacuums, and the rapid explosion of niche-filling biodiversity amongst the remaining lifeforms that usually occurs afterwards.

    This is the earliest physically evidenced lifeform that has been found thus far; .
    https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/03/oldest-life-earth-iron-fossils-canada-vents-science/

  66. Harquebus

    “See HOW DAMN HARD IT IS to actually is to get random processes to produce something complex”
    That’s why it took billions of years. We are here by luck alone.

  67. corvusboreus

    To go on…
    Before that science enters the realm of definition of true animation over mere self-replication of structure (eg the catalytic action of combined hydrogen and oxygen causing carbon (or calcium, iron etc) to grow in rel-replicating prismatic structures, and the tendency of elements to combine and form increasingly complex chains).

    That’s getting into the field of atomic structure and particle physics, the easy explanation of which requires a far greater level of education and understanding than me does possess, but the word I have found to best describe what seems to happen is ‘autopoiesis’, which basically translates to ‘operative systems of self-organisation causing increasing complexity of structure to be’.
    Combinations that fit tend to coalesce, which becomes the foundation for further complexity.

    That’s about where the ‘invisible hand’ of theological debate sits in relevance to discussion of observational science,,in the uncertainty of the inner workings at the level of the quantum,and the question of the precise limits to cosmic infinity.

    Meanwhile, in the field of evolutionary biology, the possible inclusion of an interventive deity would lie in a category marked ‘possible additional factors with insufficient evidence demonstrated to warrant serious inclusion’,
    .
    To include a deity in biology, It needs to be brought into a research laboratory for repeated disprovable experimentation, and in order to agree on calling it Him, incontrovertible evidence of sexual dimorphism towards the masculine needs to be repeatedly demonstrated.

    Then He could be asked about the exact extent of His role in ‘intelligently designing’ the mating habits of blood-sucking bedbugs.
    Chimitidae breed through the charming technique of ‘traumatic hypodermic insemination’, aka ‘grasp, puncture and squirt’, and often spread their seed by ‘second-hand’ proxy using members of the same-sex, via the same ‘grabby-stab-rape’ method..

  68. Harry

    Matt,

    If you are still out there, I have asked you:”Could you please outline what process or agency is responsible for the diversity of life on earth and its increased complexity over billions of years since this planet was formed? Do you accept the earth is some 4.5Billion years old?”

    I want to know your views. Did God create life ex nihilo and that there has been no evolution since that creation? Do you accept the notion of species?

  69. Matt

    Harry,

    I absolutely believe the earth is billions of years old. I don’t know what the missing element is – I told you my faith does not depend on it. From my perspective it could equally be natural or supernatural. All I am saying is that we can reproduce the variation aspect of evolution, but not the creative aspect. Thus we can do things like breed a poodle from a wolf, as animal breeders have been doing for centuries, but in all those cases the complex organs are already present.

    CorvusBoreaus,

    “Biology, as a science, leans heavily on Linneus, who gave us the system of species through KINGDOM classification.”

    Carl Linnaeus, also applied his scientific approach to documenting his theory of God’s justice at work. It was a kind of Karma like theory – that if you do something wrong, something bad happens to you. Over many years he documented many such events in his local community – they are in his book ‘Divine Nemesis” – I was interested enough to a borrow a copy – I think from the state library – one thing I recall was the recording of a man shooting someone on a frozen lake, then 2 years later he himself was shot on the the same lake. There were many stories like that – most supporting his theory – but some contradictory ones, which I think he also tried to explain within his theory. Of course, he couldn’t know everything about people’s lives – but he discovered quite a lot with his diligent research into the lives of those around him.

    You can read about it in the link below – what is certain though is that Linnaeus was a very religious man – as were most scientists up until the late 1900’s – Newton included:

    https://www.jstor.org/stable/232079?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

  70. Matt

    This gives a good summary of Carl Linnaeus’s work:

    https://www.britannica.com/biography/Carolus-Linnaeus

    Extract:

    “Linnaeus’s distinction between artificial and natural classifications of organisms, however, raised the question of the mechanism that allowed organisms to fall into natural hierarchies. He could only answer this question with regard to species: species, according to Linnaeus, were similar in form because they derived from the same parental pair created by God at the beginning of the world. Many of his contemporaries shared a similar species concept. One such notable personage was French naturalist Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon, who was engaged in a similar all-encompassing natural history project at the time—though Buffon doubted the existence of natural genera, orders, or classes. Linnaeus tried to explain the existence of these divisions within the context of hybridization; however, the question of natural hierarchies would not receive a satisfying answer until English naturalist Charles Darwin explained similarity by common descent in his Origin of Species (1859).”

  71. Matt

    Sorry – amendment to the post 2 above – I meant late 1800’s (19th Century)

  72. Harry

    Matt,

    You did not address my question: “Did God create life ex nihilo and that there has been no evolution since that creation?”

  73. darrel nay

    On the Origin of Species (or more completely, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life) – ‘evolutioists’ normally won’t quote the full title of the Darwin’s work, because they don’t like to point to the fact that Darwin was a eugenecist. Darwin was involved in the failed Wedgewood Experiment where a few ‘elites’ inter-bred until it became obvious that their ideas led to an explosion in birth defects – sick people.

  74. Matt

    Harry,

    Here is one possibility – as plausible as the plausible theory above:

    Maybe the creation of a ‘natural’ earth – capable of carrying a creature so weak and sensitive to conditions as man is requires multiple phases of creation – particularly if the deity does not want to reveal itself too obviously (as that would seriously diminish man’s free will) . Maybe you need a period of simple organisms – which are created then develop naturally, followed by a new creation of more sophisticated organisms which also adapt over time, then various of types of dinosaurs, etc – we cannot explain the sudden extinction of many periods of dinosaurs – we invent meteorites theories etc – but no-one really knows why suddenly a whole host of creatures go extinct, then quite different new ones come around. This theory is as likely as any. Let me take it further – just because there were people of some type around for hundreds of thousands of years (as I believe there have been), does not also prevent a deity from introducing a new race of people – at any stage – say, for example, around 6000 years ago.

    The magical thinking behind evolution is that time alone can be creative. A post by at least one person above resorts to this argument that ‘given enough time …’ .

    The thinking behind the ‘enough time’ theory is analogous to the idea of having enough monkeys typing for long enough and thus eventually producing a work of Shakespeare. Imagine I come sit a monkey down in front of you right now – it would be absolute miracle if it could produce one line of Shakespeare – let alone a whole work. The probability of it producing a whole work – is for all intents and purposes ZERO. If I come back in a million years, and put another monkey on a typewriter in front of you, the probability has not changed. What is impossible today, is impossible tomorrow – allowing an infinite number of tomorrows does not change anything. You may argue that there is a very low probability that a monkey could do this – yes, the probability is in fact so low that our entire universe could be born and die zillions of times and that event still never happen. This is the reality. Yet we are to believe that given enough time, a bunch of chemicals slopping around can organise themselves into life. Even if you have millions of computers producing random text, year after year – you will be lucky to get even one line of shakespeare – let alone something more complex. A entire paragraph is unthinkable – so when you get intelligently designed programs – deliberately skewed to trying to produce something more complex – and they fail, that is telling something about the difficulty of creating meaning from randomness. This why I say someone with no practical of experience of trying to do this sort of thing cannot get their head around how difficult it is, and what a huge act of faith it is to say ‘but given enough time miracles can happen’.

    If I point you to a dead planet, with no life, and you walk around and find a house, with doors, glass in the windows, furnishings inside, photos, TV etc – you would think this is impossible for nature to create out of blind processes – and it certainly is. Yet we have such houses around us everywhere -and these are nothing compared to the complexity of a human being, not to mention whole ecological systems – yet this is the work Shakepeare that evolution claims to be created by mere chance, through an indirect process of blind forces, starting with raw chemicals. Any one who has worked with randomness will find this hard to accept, no matter how many minute steps you break it into, and how many eons of time, or parallel processes you allow for these steps.

    Matt

  75. corvusboreus

    Matt,
    My last pair of summary missives were posted as general information in an attempt to clearly define some terms upon which a few other posters seemed a bit blurry, they were not an invitation to correspondence directed towards you.
    However, since you insist upon mis-spelledly addressing me….

    Linnaeus was religious???
    Next you’ll be telling me that Mendel was a monk, or that Darwin aspired to wear the cloth of the clergy!!!
    Spinoza expressed skepticism upon the idea of divinity, but the punitive religious edicts that he subsequently suffered might just give a clue as to one possible reason why, in times when religious institutions have a predominant societal influence (including control over matters of education), these forebears of modern science may have found it pragmatically convenient, if not socially necessary, to give a public nod to god.

    The statistical fact that, in the passing of time since, as science has stood upon their shoulders to see much further and clearer (using the glasses ground by Spinoza), and become a far more complex and advanced discipline, due to the evolution of scientific methodology and technology, and greater insights gained into the means and processes by which things actually function, the percentage of scientists professing religious belief has shrunk considerably, is … unsurprising.
    Heck, the holders of of scientific degrees probably outweigh societal norms in terms of percentages of agnostics and atheists.

    Linnaeus, Spinoza, Mendel, Lamarck, Darwin, Wallace, et-al,all made significant contributions and proffered explanatory theories on the possible hows and whys of the whats. back in their day, (with inevitable flaws in both theory and personal conduct). but, believe it or not, much of that which matters has been discovered, pondered and probed by other people in the centuries since.
    Heck, they’ve even done the unthinkable and split the ‘un-splitable’ atom.

    Anyways, apart from some blocks of gaping biological ignorance (eg Humans aren’t animals), much of it laboriously printed then subsequently retracted, and some swathes of cut-and-paste already-knows (with links to Brittanica/Wiki ‘already reads’), your only evidential citation regarding your ‘computer simulation of the evolution of everything” has been a link to a tech-geek blog-site that was entitled ‘irrationally exuberant’.
    Since you are obviously only here to preach your way of Jahweh (in which I have absolutely no interest), I cannot help you.
    Bye…

  76. Matt

    CovusBoveaus,

    Now you are demonstrating either complete ignorance or denial. Do a bit of basic research on Carl Linnaeus – you will see I am correct.

    Did you not see the link to the Journal Article I posted regarding Carl’s Divine Nemesis book?

    Matt

  77. corvusboreus

    Matt,
    I read your hypo-thesis on speculative alternative ‘explanations’ for mass-extinction events.
    I was very, very impressed.
    I suggest that you should call the Chicxulub crater ‘Gods Big Poke-print’ (GBP), and start referring to the cretaceous-tertiary layer, the world-wide, variant-depth deposits of charred sediment (+abnormally elevated irridium content), that which shrouds the fossilised remains of the ‘thunder-lizards’, as ‘Divine Dino-sleep Dust” (DDD).

    Ps, yeah, now I am just trolling.

  78. Kaye Lee

    Having studied genetics at university, I am astonished by the absolute tosh being sprayed around here. I know nothing about computer evolution or AI but I certainly know about genetics in flora and fauna and I can assure you that the scientific theory of genetics can be demonstrated and repeated.

    You say that we can’t assess genetic evolution because “the structures are destroyed by cross-over or mututation”. You obviously are unaware of the drosophila melanogaster which does NOT show meiotic recombination, making it an excellent organism to use in genetic studies.

    You might know something about computers Matt but you display great ignorance about the science of genetic evolution.

  79. Robert REYNOLDS

    Kaye, I know that we have had some sharp differences in the past (and we will probably have more in the future) but believe me I am with you 110% on this one!!

  80. Kaye Lee

    As for Lamarck, the giraffes necks didn’t stretch. Those who, by natural variation had longer necks, are more likely to survive and pass on their traits.

    Just like those moths in England that changed from white to black. As soot from industry coated the trees, white moths stood out and got eaten. Slightly darker moths were less likely to be eaten – they survived and passed on their genes so gradually the population got darker. When clean air laws were introduced, the lighter speckled variety made a resurgence.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-36424768

  81. paul walter

    Marvellous stuff, almost missed it. Going to share on FB.

    The one thing I question is is emphasis on the separateness (oppositional) aspect of the limbic and prefrontal systems, I’d wonder if one is not meant to work in tandem with the other as an overarching entity for more complete results?

    Yes. it means we are defined in and through limitation and this is but one chapter of an evolutionary process.

    I like understanding the true meaning of what a bite from that funnel web under the chair could mean, yes value and meaning.

    It is going to be a matter of refinement, since we can actually hear and see so little, also our reaction times will likely speed up. But it is not a bad and actually functional unit, considering the short time it has been in existence.

  82. Matt

    Kaye lee,

    Then please post up a reference so I can assess this for myself. I am not saying I have all the answers, I am just asking a simple and reasonable question which is why cant we reproduce genetic processes in full using computer simulations – I am open to any answers, I don’t make any claim to be an expert in biology, so if you or anyone else can answer the question, good. But no one has so far, they have simple attacked me for breaching some sort of science taboo – apparently there are some questions you cant ask!

    Matt

  83. guest

    Matt, perhaps you could try to prove the existence of god on a computer. It will surprise you that science can explain creation without reference to god. Talking about a creator-god only makes it all so much more complicated and explanation of god creating the universe only multiplies entities beyond necessity (Occam’s razor).

  84. guest

    darrel nay @Oct 25, 9:40 pm

    That Darwin (published 1859) was a eugenicist? No, but his half-cousin Francis Galton was, inventing the word in 1883.

    Eugenicism was raised again by the Nazis, but generally it waned in the C19th as being “a theory preferred by the morally superior”. (source: Wikipedia)

    As for the “Wedgewood experiment” – cannot find it. But if it is about genetic problems arising from the interbreeding of a small number of people, then all it proves is that the human race arising from two people (Adam and Eve) must suffer from huge genetic defects.

  85. Roger

    Lets narrow it a little. Everything can be known. It has taken time for us to know many things. We don’t know how life began or if there if a point to it. It seems to reason that if all can be known there is no magic. work to do yet, perhaps love is the only truth. I am willing to gamble that it is what you are interested in.

  86. Matt

    Guest,

    Yes, I have heard the Occams Razor argument – about 30 years ago. Perhaps you should watch the C.S Lewis video I posted at the top of this forum for another view on this? -Only if you are interested in another view of course. So many people today are absolutely certain that they already know everything.

    Matt

  87. Roger

    Hi Matt, it seems you are indefatigable. let it go. if you want a supreme being to be in charge you are welcome to that. enjoy it while you are alive. when you are gone i hope to heavens sake you have been a good boy.

  88. Kaye Lee

    Post up a reference to what Matt? Not sure what you are asking. I can’t comment on computer stuff – outside my expertise. Do you have a specific question about genetics? or evolution? or drosophila melanogaster? Where am I starting?

  89. Matt

    Kaye-Lee,

    Well you make some cryptic statement which you say implies proof that I am wrong – and I am supposed to accept this on your say-so? What sort of scientist would do that? I have said that genetics works – to a degree – but that we cannot demonstrate the creation of complex structures in repeatable experiment – if you have such evidence – please provide it?.If not don’t simply say that because it is outside my expertise it is no business of mine, as computing is no business of yours – is no one to make up their own mind? Am I to accept anything anyone says just on their authority? Really that is dangerous and ridiculous – if you send me your evidence I will seek the help of my friend – who also has a PhD, but in biotech, to understand it – if I am as incapable of understanding another discipline as you suggest.

    Matt

  90. Kaye Lee

    It seems to me that you are trying to disprove the theory of genetic evolution by saying you can’t make a computer replicate it. As I have said, that is way outside my area of expertise but a computer can only work with the information you give it and I don’t see how you can possibly program the effect that meiotic recombination and random gene mutations combined with environmental factors would have on survival.

    On the other hand, we have an extensive fossil record supporting evolution and increasingly accurate ways to date them. We can use molecular biology to compare our DNA with that of other primates and creatures in general. There is still some disagreement about our exact ancestry but it is not whether we evolved but when and where did we branch off. We understand about inbreeding and how that affects the expression of recessive genes in our phenotype. We understand about genetic recombination during meiosis and how that can lead to a novel set of genetic information in offspring that might make them more or less adapted to survival.

    The evidence is overwhelming – look it up for yourself. If you have a specific question I will try to answer it.

  91. guest

    Matt, CS Lewis published his argument in 1948 and soon after was roundly criticised by Elizabeth Anscombe. Lewis then claimed his argument was not meant to be rational. I suggest you read her criticism.(source:Wikipedia)

  92. Matt

    Kaye-Lee,

    You mentioned something specific – now you are backing away to talk about a whole body of literature. Please see my earlier posts as to what constitutes scientific proof. I think I will leave this discussion now, as just about everything that can be said has been said, and some things multiple times.

    Matt

  93. Matt

    Guest,

    Perhaps he was thinking along the lines of Chesterton:

    “The general fact is simple. Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. . . . The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits”

    Or even:

    “The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason.”

    Matt

  94. Zathras

    Without evidence, casting doubt on one theory doesn’t automatically prove another theory.

    When it comes to small evolutionary changes, we are demonstrably taller taller and have more nasal hair than our ancestors from only a few generations ago. This may be due to nutritional changes plus declining air quality or even somethings else, but it is as observable as skin colour, eye shape and other environmentally adaptive changes.

    The notion that all life on earth zapped into existence in a single blink, with fully formed creatures of all ages flying, swimming, crawling or decaying and light from distant stars already reaching us is as viable as Santa and his elves at the North Pole – an interesting story but not even a theory.

  95. guest

    Matt, that is weird stuff. Chesterton is someone I would like to know more about, but only as a clever wordsmith of his age. Time Magazine said of him: “Whenever possible Chesterton made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, allegories – first turning them inside out.” (Wikipedia)

    You should find out about “Chesterton’s Gate”.

  96. Matt

    Zathras,

    I am not pushing a theory – I was asked for another possible explanation and I gave it – I never claimed it was right, only that it was plausible. In general I am merely pointing out a problem with the current dominant theory – which is basically that it is only a theory.

    In relation to your comment – what possible evolutionary forces are pushing us to be taller? What is that an adaptation to? and even if it is an adaptation – how does it relate to my claim of not being able to conduct repeatable experiments – sorry but I think your examples add nothing to the argument.

    Matt

  97. Kaye Lee

    “You mentioned something specific – now you are backing away to talk about a whole body of literature.”

    Which specific thing do you want me to discuss? I mentioned a lot of things. I keep asking, you keep avoiding answering. Are you asking about drosophila?

    Have you been able to do computer modelling of Creationism that accounts for the fossil record and the methods of dating those fossils? Can you do a simulation that proves the existence of some supernatural being?

  98. corvusboreus

    Kaye Lee,
    Ever hear of pigeon chess?

  99. Matt

    Kaye Lee ,

    To take the argument back to a more obvious point – if we understand the development of life so well – then why cannot anyone create life? Not even the most basic, simplest organism. This failure to experimentally demonstrate the very first step of the evolutionary cycle surely suggests some modesty in our scientific claims of understanding how life started and then developed until now?

  100. Kaye Lee

    cb,

    Yes and I get your point.

    Matt,

    Chemists using hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen cyanide and ultraviolet light produced more than 50 nucleic acids—precursors to DNA and RNA molecules. But you are correct in saying we can’t mix together 6 drops of essence of terror and 5 drops of sinister sauce and out pops Milton, your brand new son. We have shown how the precursors can evolve but it then takes billions of years for these precursors to evolve into us.

    I reiterate, what is your proof for creationism?

  101. corvusboreus

    Kaye Lee,
    More seriously, regarding Lamarck;
    I gather the central ideas of Lamarcls theory were that habitual repetition of certain behaviors (particularly environmentally advantageous actions) could, over the lifespan of an individual, manifest small changes in their physio-morphology, that these changes could spread through populations by behavioral imitation, and that the effect could then be incrementally amplified through heredity over generations, eventually leading to significant alterations in the forms of species.
    Lamarck didn’t really cite plausible evidence to fully support his theory, nor show any existent biological process to enable such (he was writing during Napoleons time, before Brother Gregor’s research on the genes of beans), and his theory of ‘the inheritance of acquired characteristics’ has subsequently been relegated to a relatively peripheral status in the explanations of biological evolution over the more provable processes (genetics, environmental selection pressures).
    However, some recent findings in various life-science fields, such as neuro-physio plasticity and trans-generational epi-genetic inheritance, have given a degree of cardio-stimulation to some of Lamarcks central ideas.

    Ps, despite the persistence of general usage (often confusing and sometimes fraught with nuance), the term ‘race’ has long fallen from scientific favor as a biological term for describing differentiations within species.
    The only recognized zoological category (tri-nomial classification) below the species is the “sub-species”, whereas botanists, mycologists and microbiologists also get to play around with different ‘varieties’ and ‘forms’.

  102. Matt

    Kaye-Lee,

    Why cannot you just admit the facts – but you must always twist and turn. I stated that we cannot produce life, you come back with some chemistry mixed with a dose of bile. Whatever chemists can produce – and I am sure they doing this in a ‘primeval soup’ rather than a high tech lab, with everything specifically set up (NOT) – they have not yet produced life – I am not talking about any high life form – just something that lives – and not only lives, but can reproduce itself.

    Matt

  103. Zathras

    Matt

    My examples were just observable adaptations due to small environmental changes. If organisms can change even subtly over a comparatively short term (and not all changes need to be spectacular) then the scope for larger changes over millennia is viable.

    Perhaps it’s an inherent trait of life itself that determines any evolutionary process. It will adapt in any and every way possible to perpetuate itself, “doesn’t put all its eggs in one basket” and all forms of life that it creates to survive in all environments are driven by the same self-replicating need.

    I can’t imagine how any long term evolutionary process can be “proven” by laboratory experiments.

    The urge to rationalise and understand such a process is what spawns religions and myths and as to any “intelligence” behind it, who says we – who can’t imagine anything beyond 3 dimensions or fully grasp the notion of infinity – are even capable of comprehending it?

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