Category Archives: Evolution

Secularism? There’s an app for that.

Image of iPod touch
My access to atheism on the go

Recently, the house that I moved to received the internet, which meant (amongst other things) this to me- that my iPod touch would once again me app-able. I was extremely excited about this, as I had heard about an anti-Creationism app and had been eager to try it, but it wasn’t available in the Android store.

And now I have one.

“Creationist Claims Index” is an iPod and iPhone app that takes every Creationist claim that certainly I can think of and refutes it with scientific evidence and lots of cited sources. My favorite thing to do since I’ve acquired it has been to ask freethinking friends of mine what their favorite Creationist claim is and then read with them the refutation. (My own personal favorite? That the Second Law of Thermodynamics refutes Evolution. I now understand why that isn’t true not only thanks to this app, but thanks to the genius brain of my physicist boyfriend and his friends.)

In similar news, I have also downloaded an app in which I can listen to relaxing music and create a Zen rock garden. Because I like being contrary like that.

Advertisements

Daily Grind – 07/01/10

I thought that I should sporadically start sharing daily links to amazing news articles about science and religion, or whatever I see fit. Good to wake up and drink your coffee to (thus the name).

This Is Your Brain On Meditation: Mingyur Rinpoche Describes The Science Of Happiness

Mingyur underwent brain imaging scans to test the effects of meditation. The studies found that the brain changed significantly during meditation. “The result”, said Rinpoche, was that my gamma synchronicity was very high. They told me they had never seen this level of synchronicity before.” Gamma synchronicity is the synchronicity of gamma rhythms that represent different populations of neurons “working together” in a network, in order to carry out cognitive functions.

‘Sea monster’ whale fossil unearthed

“We immediately saw that it was a very large whale and when we looked closer we saw it was a giant sperm whale with huge teeth.”

The teeth were more than twice the length and diameter of those found in modern sperm whales and they were on the upper and lower jaws.

Most Efficient Quantum Memory for Light Developed

An Australian National University-led team has developed the most efficient quantum memory for light in the world, taking us closer to a future of super-fast computers and communication secured by the laws of physics.

What Makes Us Human? Studies of Chimp and Human DNA May Tell Us

The genetic codes of  and humans are 99 percent identical. Measured by differences in DNA, the chimp, Pan troglodytes, is the closest living relative to our own species, Homo sapiens. The comparison to an ape might make a few people squirm, but researchers now are happily comparing chimps and humans more closely than ever before.

North America’s First Peoples More Genetically Diverse Than Thought, Mitochondrial Genome Analysis Reveals

In a report published online in Genome Research, researchers have found that the diversity of the first Americans has been significantly underestimated, underscoring the importance of comprehensive sampling for accurate analysis of human migrations.

And finally, some food for thought:

Is it wrong for a Christian woman to wear trousers?

Essentially, modesty does not draw attention to the individual. As Christians we are in this world to point people to Christ. The Lord said that we are to let our light shine so that men may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven (Mt. 5:16). Clothing designed to attract attention to the person or a portion of the body, whether male or female, is inherently immodest.

I sense a future “Why I am going to hell” coming up…

Other Great Apes are our rebellious cousins (you know, the ones with the tattoos and silver back hair)

‘Lucy’s Grandfather’ Fossil Makes Humanity’s Ancestor Seem More Like Us | Wired Science | Wired.com.

While this article is revolutionary enough to suggest that Australopithecus afarensis was taller and stronger than scientists previously thought, the real shocking part of this article comes near the very end.

That raises the possibility that it’s the other Great Apes, rather than humans, whose bodies have evolved the most over the last few million years.

Big Man, with a rib cage shaped more like our own than that of a chimpanzee or gorilla, reinforces that notion.

“Chimps and gorillas are again the unusual form. Hominids and ourselves bear many primitive traits that haven’t been specialized like they have in gorillas,” said Lovejoy.

“The classic cartoon of the ape turning into the human doesn’t work at all.”

Am I the only person who was shocked by this? After all, this would change a lot of a Creationist argument against Evolution (“Well if we came from monkeys, then why are monkeys still here?” “Well actually, it’s apes and chimpanzees in particular that we’re close to, not monkeys, and also these came from species more like us than like them…” “… Well if we came from monkeys, then why are monkeys still here? HA! Got you there!”) as well as affect the classic model of human evolution.

Of course, it will just take finding more fossils to discover which model is more provable. But isn’t it an exciting thought?

That Is The Question

My very good friend (who has been extremely and tirelessly patient with me throughout my questioning process, answering everything the best way that she can, and for whom I am extremely thankful) sent me this video this morning, saying that it reminded her of me. I’m not sure which part reminded her of me: we once had a discussion where I asked why God won’t restore amputees if he performs other miracles; it could be the end when he urges the listeners to not give up on God. Whatever the reason, this video was good for me. It has reminded me of what I would be losing if I decided to turn against my faith and towards something new.

If I were to keep on with my faith (which would be different now, as I could never go back to my old beliefs) that God exists, there would be various advantages. When things happen that are less than desirable and confusing, then I imagine that I would have some sense of security that things will turn out alright in the end because God is taking care of me. I would have a feeling that something good is coming after death. Many of the friends who I have from church (or otherwise) would be able to connect with me on a spiritual level and probably would keep thinking of me in a certain way. Without God, there would literally be nothing after this life.

I’m just not yet convinced that all of these things can’t be replaced or even improved upon with the right attitude, an attitude common to most atheists that I know. When bad things happen, instead of thinking that they are for a bigger purpose, I would be able to properly mourn for whatever has happened and then move on by my own strength and the help of those around me. I would be more responsible to myself, in this way. Instead of thinking that there’s a heaven that I’m aiming for, I would know that every second that I am alive on this Earth counts immensely and I would have more of an attitude to enjoy life and to help others be able to enjoy their lives as well. And as for friends who would drop me because my views change, well. Isn’t there a saying about “those weren’t your real friends to begin with?”

There was one moment in which I did get scared because of my lack of current faith. I have Bipolar Disorder, and this lends itself to occasional adter-midnight, suicidal ramblings. I was deeply worried at the time about my ability to be a wife and a mother, and whether I would become a hindrance to my future husband and children. I started to say, “There is no purpose for this. There is no reason that I am this way beyond a genetic predisposition mixed with unfortunate circumstances mixed with nature telling me that I’m not one of the ‘fittest.'”

Clearly, this means that atheism would give no hope for me, right?

Well, in the time since I have been reading more, and now recognize that my internal, natural drive to survive is what I should be listening to (could this take the place of God?) and that I’m not losing in the race of survival of the fittest- I’m just helping to redefine what “fittest” means. While my mental disorder is a hindrance sometimes, it only gives me more motivation to overcome and do even greater things, probably more motivation than a mentally “fit” person has.

I’m not sure where I will end up months from now, as far as beliefs go. It is quite possible that I could learn more about other areas of Christianity in which the Bible isn’t taken so literally, and decide that this is a good middle-ground. It is quite possible that I could end up being either atheist or agnostic, and, from this, becoming a humanist and naturalist. Wherever I end up, I have faith in myself that it will be what is best for me, what is best suited for me, and it will be a natural selection.

(Har, har, har.)

Morality? Bullshit!

Penn and Teller: Bullshit! Creation Vs. Evolution

Around the 7:00 minute mark, the biggest proponent of Creationism in this video starts to explain that, without a belief in a “creator,” then human beings won’t feel responsible to anybody, and, if their actions aren’t responsible to a “creator,” then chaos will reign.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a study that shows that atheist or agnostic people are more violent than theists. In fact, I have never heard of a war being started by anti-theists against theists (of course, this is ignoring the group “We can find 1,000,000 people who DO believe in Evolution before June” on Facebook. Not that I am not a proud member; I just note that, at times, the majority of postings in any given day are specifically anti-theism in nature and not, instead, pro-Evolution) as opposed to the countless religious wars that have raged in human history. (In fact, go ahead and go to Google, type in “anti religious wars” and click “I’m Feeling Lucky.” This is nice and misleading, but hilarious nonetheless.)

So then where does morality come from? Is it from a “creator,” or is it something hard-wired into the human brain as an evolutionary adaptation?

From ScienceDaily.com, Revealing The Origins Of Morality — Good And Evil, Liberal And Conservative (May 18, 2007)

Haidt shows how evolutionary, neurological and social-psychological insights are being synthesized in support of three principles:

  1. Intuitive primacy, which says that human emotions and gut feelings generally drive our moral judgments.
  2. Moral thinking if for social doing, which says that we engage in moral reasoning not to figure out the truth, but to persuade other people of our virtue or to influence them to support us.
  3. Morality binds and builds, which says that morality and gossip were crucial for the evolution of human ultrasociality, which allows humans — but no other primates — to live in large and highly cooperative groups.

I am more apt to go with the ideas as given by Evolutionists. After all, this explains to me much better why different people have different sets of morals. (In particular, I like the idea that “Conservatives” and “Liberals” act on different moral sets- is this evolutionary? Was I born a liberal? I can’t help it, Dad!) Also, as Penn and Teller point out, the scientific approach starts with an observation and investigation (isn’t this kind of what I’m trying to do?) and finds a conclusion based on evidence, not based on the original hypothesis. This is in stark contrast to Intelligent Design, which begins with a book that may or may not be true, and ends with deciding that the book is definitely true based on little to no evidence.

Could morality come from a creator? Of course it could. Does it to some people? Yes, those that literally read their religious texts, find the rules, and follow them as closely as they surely can. But could it also be that religion is, in and of itself, a phenomenon that came to be from evolution? Of course it could.

But I need more evidence.

And for more fun: