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Secular Sunday: Miscellany

May 31, 2009

So Chapter 4 of CFAC apparently sets the stage for the rest of the book. Having read Chapter 4, I feel that I actually have to finish reading the book before I can continue addressing it. I don’t want to spend a bunch of time addressing the misconceptions, falsehoods and fabrications of Chapter 4 if they’re just going to be repeated and expanded upon in subsequent chapters. But I also don’t want to skip over them and discover that they don’t come up again and went unaddressed. So I’m just gonna have to buckle down and plow through the thing before continuing the dissection. 

In the meantime, a major scientific discovery took place a couple of weeks ago and went unmentioned here: scientists were able to get RNA to form by natural processes through fundamental chemistry — in other words, they’ve gotten a step closer to confirming abiogenesis as not only the plausible, but most probable explanation for the origin of life on this planet. 

I really don’t know what else to say about the article. It’s well-covered and responsibly reported — unlike the “missing link” that was being trumpeted all over the place, which while an important fossil was not as important as many articles like the one linked here made it out to be. 

“Researchers say proof of this transitional species finally confirms Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution”? Any researchers saying that are idiots. Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection has been confirmed countless times by countless fossils and findings. The entire field of modern medicine wouldn’t work unless evolution were a fact of life. So while this fossil is another piece of the puzzle, it doesn’t confirm evolution any more or less than the other millions of fossils we’ve found over the last century, and it’s certainly not the missing link between humans and other primates. It’s the missing link between primates, of which humans are one sort, and other mammalian creatures such as lemurs.

The so called “missing link” that the anti-evolutionist crowd demand science produce would be a younger fossil showing the biological moment at which, or right before, the family Hominidae branched off from the others of the primate order. However, this find is still significant because even though scientists did not know about this before, the theory of evolution predicted that such a thing did exist. This is why evolution is science and creationism, in all its forms including so-called design theory, is not. One can actually make verifiable predictions, whereas the other can only make post-dictions and say “this still doesn’t necessarily contradict us!”

Last bit of ephemera on this point, the article in New Scientist “Christians battle each other over evolution.” The Dishonesty Institute has launched a shiny new site and filled it with all the same rusty old arguments, but the interesting part is that they’ve dropped any pretense of reconciling science and religion. They have just flatly stated that you must either reject evolution, or reject religion (specifically Christianity).

This will probably come as news to a lot of liberal Christians — not to mention the Catholic Church — who accept evolution as a fact of life and not contradictory with their faith. As Bill Maher says “If you get [sick] and you don’t believe in evolution, you don’t get to take medicine. You have to pray it away.” 

But of course, all the people who complain about Big Science are perfectly happy to reap its benefits every day of the week. As long as they insist on this hypocrisy, I’ll have plenty to write about on Sundays (and maybe even other days of the week).

One Comment
  1. I am more inclined to believe that the reporters for the missing link stuff misquoted the researchers. (I will never understand how articles can use “quotes” for something the reporters or editors paraphrased. This happens everywhere.)

    A better formed and more responsible statement would have been something to the idea that the continuation fossil adds confirmation to evolution. An agenda-minded reporter would only have to make a simple modification to change everything. After that, all the crumb-snatcher reporters will run with it, echoing the same thing over and over again. (There are far too many times I have seen someone cite many different articles that all had the same source.) Then again, I make no mistake that I have paranoia issues, but I also feel that is a good thing in this day and age.

    As for retconning religion as science progresses, it worked for George Lucas. No?

    (IMHO. No. It didn’t work for George Lucas, either.) 😉

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