On Politeness and Accusations

A recent post by the blogger Insanity Bytes 22 (IB) makes the rather fun implication that atheists are a political force that is partaking in discrimination against Christians. IB also does a rather splendid job of maligning atheists with acts of child abuse. If you are a respectable reader, you will of course go to IB’s post (‘The Cruelty of Atheists’) to confirm that it makes such an accusation. Go on, have a quick read. I’ll wait…

… Right, now you’re up to speed. You may have noticed the accusations, you may not have. So let me explain why I think the accusation and maligning is very real and very present in the post. The title is a very important start, but not the point. IB talks of people who psychologically abused her as a child. In context, it seems they are her parents although she never says. They may not be her parents: they could be other guardians or simply neighbours or other adults that had access to her home (family friends of some sort). However, I’ll continue in my assumption that they are her parents (it seems most reasonable for now). IB had good reason not to call them her parents: they didn’t fill their role as parents, so they may be parents in terms of biology. Given a horrible story like the one she offers, I’m sure you understand her want to to distance herself from her parents. I still will call them her parents, but only in a biological sense (unless she explicitly requests me to change my word choice).

We can see that IB has indeed been careful in the way she described her parents. And yet, she felt it proper to settle on the descriptor of “atheists”. She could have chosen to describe them in terms of being her parents (with a small disclaimer saying it’s only in the biological sense), alcoholics, or people with mental health problems. So her choice of descriptor is suspicious.

The post rather abruptly, yet seamlessly, changes from being her personal story to a commentary of the politicisation of atheism (i.e. secularism, although never uses the word). I also found this a jarring fact. Her story is an emotional and deeply personal one, and yet she has decided to give it an agenda. She is, of course, welcome to do that; it is her story. But if she is willing to reduce her story, publicly, to an issue of ruthless pragmatism she should permit us the same. Her political commentary on atheism is that it “actively engaging in bigotry against Christians”.

The atheists in the comments thread wanted to know whether IB was sincere in her word choice, accusation of bigotry and maligning with child abuse. She refused to state, clarify, expand upon or apologise for remarks. She was given ample opportunity to state that she meant atheists could be cruel; they are perfectly capable of being bad people. That claim is true. Atheists are no more incapable of cruelty than anyone else. Perhaps she never clarified her post to that end because that would be justifying that this accusation―that atheists cannot be cruel―has ever been made. Or perhaps she knows that once that angle has been illuminated, atheists might wish to point out the institutionalised abuse religion fosters, or that religious organisations have supported. There would have been an argument about which population supports the abuse of children the most.

The comments section was then filled with atheists (and person named Higharka, whose religious position isn’t clear) asking for IB to clarify. A small group of bloggers jumped to IB’s unneeded defense. I, and other atheists, were immediately accused of being insensitive and the details of our questions and challenges were ignored. Disagreements were shared, but remarkably few insults were fired off. Despite this, the small group of bloggers jumping to IB’s defense feigned hypersensitivity and claimed that the expression of disagreements was evidence indeed of the ‘the cruelty of atheists’. IB claims to have been called a “milch-cow”, which she wasn’t. It was offered as a possibility and as a question: “Or are you such a religious milch-cow that you cannot abide an ally in faith being legitimately criticized…?”

No one seemed gushing with false platitudes, but the atheists I read all certainly started off polite enough. No one was as rude. Most negative language was aimed particular and identified actions or decisions. IB’s crew refused to see this and accused the atheist community of being rude. This brings up the question of what politeness is to look like? To patronise IB by being tolerant of her bad reasoning and immature accusations seems to be her definition of polite. Anything short of patronising acceptance and bowing down to her passive aggressive and her direct insults she (and her crew) deem rude. Whereas the in the comments a different implied definition of politeness and rudeness compelled the atheists. Rudeness is when you lay unwarranted negativity on the person. IB’s definition stifles the free intellectual market and allows her to make her unwarranted claims. The atheists definition allowed them to address unwarranted negativity laid upon them, thus creating a fair “polite” environment; all negativity must be warranted or withdrawn to be called polite. The atheists stuck to this definition, and it is the definition I support (although, you can challenge it if you wish).

Accusations are, of course, a type of negativity. IB may have initially thought her accusations (and therefore her negativity) was warranted; that she had made no error in reasoning by associating the action of her parents with all atheists. Thus, she may have believed she was not being rude. The moment the error in her extreme and false extrapolation was pointed out her choices were to recant and apologise or to accept the label of rude. She chose neither. IB and her crew decided to continue in their rudeness.

Their rudeness came in the form of a barrage of unwarranted accusations. The accusations were that atheists’ accusations of the religious being retarded, deluded and not safe to be around children were ubiquitous. I was told that atheists I praise frequently make such personal and generalising accusations i.e. IB and her crew were accusing atheists of being rude. I don’t recall seeing such a thing from an atheist I hold in high regard. (I do recall seeing many events that can be spun this way: accusations of ‘if you really believe X then you are not fit to be around children, or are denying the evidence and being unreasonable. But that is far from the same thing.) The accusations of ubiquity are useful here; the accuser should be capable to provide an example. Yet they fought hard against needing to provide evidence, doing what Potholer54 says they’d do in his video ‘How to argue with assholes’ (negative language, but he defines the groups very well): I was told that I obviously know of these accusations and that I should do my homework. I was very suspicious of people not being able to substantiate things they claim are ubiquitous.

ColourStorm (spelling corrected for the UK) was one such accuser and has invested a good amount of time looking for evidence of such an accusation. His need to look so hard immediately undoes the accusation of ubiquity. He quoted me, which is never a good idea. The idea of misrepresenting someone to themselves immediately demonstrates your dishonesty and not your point. So he scoured further and eventually found a comment at the bottom of thread on another blogger’s (yet he refused a link, I had to do that footwork myself to verify the evidence). He was right that this was someone that I praise. It was a rare comment (not ubiquitous) and was aimed a very small and selective group of people and, I think, warranted. It wasn’t sensitive, but it wasn’t rude.

Comments were closed on that post, and another post aimed at me specifically on the issue. But this raises a point for on how to engage. I have become very confused about the politeness required. It’s an amazing double standard (triple standard, if you note how agitated IB, the person with a double standard, gets about double standards) how quickly people will cut off a conversation and the free market of ideas if they can. The intentional perception of rudeness is an intentional excuse, I imagine, to protect their ideas from criticism. To accuse a person without evidence or when the accusation is patently false is to be bearing false witness against your neighbour. How can the intellectual market function with such a pronounced and entrenched victim narrative? Should atheists have to tread so lightly as not to make a comment a person can take offence to, even when they are trying to take offence?

205 thoughts on “On Politeness and Accusations”

  1. This is such a good post.
    I read her post and saw a comment from her crew ( i like that word) saying guys were insensitive. At that time all the people who had commented were sympathetic and asked only for clarification.
    I think there is a problem and it is with her supporters

    1. Thanks for the complement.
      She is also s problem (in terms of a good conversation), but she’s not the worst of them.
      I’m not sure how i feel talking about etiquette instead of an actual issue, then the fact it’s an issue in its own right just became apparent.

      1. Ay, caramba! Intellectually, you guys are like a couple of fat white hunters who spend more time at the local bar talking about the latest crippled buck they shot in a game preserve than they do ranging through the Australian outback with handmade bows and arrows. To hear you guys talk, you’re down in the trenches, doing the dirtiest, hardest work. In reality, you’re just another clique of people with similar beliefs who gets off on mocking outsiders and congratulating one another on being special and brilliant.

        You have all day to take easy shots at American Christian fish-in-the-barrel, and you’ll agree that they’re (1) insane, (2) ignorant, (3) insulting, and (4) not worth talking to. But you much prefer arguing with, or talking about, people like that, than you do people like me.

        Bring it on. Stop deleting my comments and running in fear. Otherwise, what you really want is not “atheist enquiry,” but “picking on easy targets.” You’re as cowardly as Richard Dawkins–willing to debate the occasional rural evangelical pastor, but not to go at it with a mathematician who can point out the biggest flaws in his belief system.

      2. Interesting. What comment have you left here that i have deleted?
        What makes you think i only debate American Christians?
        Why are you comparing IB to the occasional risk pastor or eat to shoot at fish on the barrel?
        Lastly, do you not think a 200 content thread where no one made any progress because everything was blocked with some ridiculous accusation of insensitivity and cruelty might warrant a discussion?
        Find me the mathematician in WordPress and I’ll debate them. But i can’t find them.

      3. Let us complete your hunter analogy. You think we’re sat around the table talking about shooting a crippled buck, which means you think IB is the crippled buck. I don’t know that, I’ve never encountered her actual apologetics. All I’ve encountered is her self-destructive attempts at self-defence.
        I think of it more like sitting around the table bemused by the “crippled buck” (your words, not mine) thinking its bullet proof and lamenting the absence of anything more inspiring.
        If you think you are that something more inspiring and want a debate, be my guest. Do you have a motion in mind?

        (Lastly, atheism isn’t a belief system. It’s not an epistemology. It’s not a world view. It’s a conclusion, which one has reached through their belief system, epistemology or world view. I am currently having a disagreement with another atheist about whether atheism is a lack of belief, or the positive belief that no gods exist. You haven’t even asked me for my position. So how can you know that a mathematician has found out “the biggest flaw in [my] belief system”?)

      4. Higharka, I haven’t had the opportunity to meet white hunters, when we went hunting, which was long ago we had spears and a search dog. All I remember from the experience was I would go back home extremely tired. We never once tried killing ducks, lame or otherwise.

        The world is wide. I hardly meet Christians from America. I write about religion in general. What’s your beef though? Are we not allowed to say so and so is such and such?

      5. Higharka, I’m unclear what your criticism is.

        Are you suggesting that New Atheists only criticize those ‘sophisticated’ supporters of religion, you know, the ones like Karen Armstrong whose god is the real god behind the god most people believe in? Or perhaps you’re referring to the supporters of the Tillach-ian kind of nebulous and shape-shifting god that supposedly exists in some ground-of-being, or maybe you’re referring to believers like WL Craig who are unwillingness to correct mathematical and scientific misunderstandings in their premises used repeatedly (and to effect) to sway audiences in faux-debates? Maybe you’re referring to the supporters of pseudo-religious beliefs (commonly called ‘woo’) represented by the likes of Chopra et al?

        Maybe you don’t get what New Atheism is all about. It’s about challenging and criticizing the method used in religious thinking to arrive at such bigotry demonstrated by insanitybytes22. That means spending time and effort on such sites where the real believers hang out, where those who actually use their religious assumptions, assertions, and attributions to try to convince others that such bigotry is not just valued but promoted as an indication of piety. It is exactly on such sites where religion comes to die because the agnostic reader can see for him- or herself why religion poisons everything, why it is a delusion, why we need to break the spell, why we need an end to faith. And this seems to work to effect… as so many de-converted religious believers and ex-pastors and priests and seminary students tell us.

        But you, apparently know better, and feel self-assured enough to tell us that, ‘Yer doin it rong’, that people like John and allallt and Ark and I are going after only the low hanging fruit, so to speak, rather than address the more sane, the more educated, the more polite, the more influential believers.

        Perhaps (although I sincerely doubt) you’ve noticed that most of those who feel they belong in that elevated category don’t allow comments on their sites or won’t pursue challenges to their assumptions, assertions, and attributions. In fact, and in the name of ‘civility’ that apparently accompanies ‘proper’ respect on many of these sites, offering criticism is very often met by excessive moderation and banning. This seems to be the most common tactic employed by these ‘sophisticated’ believers to deal with challenges. But I don’t see you stepping up and asking these magnificent representatives of theology to please allow unfettered commentary. No, it’s you who assume that the fault for picking on such low hanging fruit must belong to the New Atheists and then assign to them motivations that suit your assumptions and confirm in your own mind what the real problem is, namely, those uppity atheists who do criticize religious belief where it is most malignantly expressed.

        Nice piece of rationalizing, higharka. Yes, I’m almost sure a discussion of math will justify why religious belief used to harm real people in real life isn’t real religious belief in action.

      6. Hey buddy, I’ve already been shut down by the magnificent representatives of theology and atheism. I’ll happily do it again. What they most want to do, it seems, is ban and insult one another, while avoiding people like me.

        It’s interesting how often atheists are willing to attack the stock image they have of Christians–say, people like IB and her readership–rather than people who can offer a challenge to their preferred belief system using that own belief system’s logic against it.

        Ergo IB regularly gets visits by people like John Zande, who challenge her beliefs, pick something she said to make fun of, then scurry back home with their trophy to enjoy talking about how stupid Christians are. And then it happens again, and again, and again–Christians bouncing around stories of how stupid atheists are, atheists doing the same with Christians.

        What gets neglected in all of this is people whose end goal isn’t to solidify clan boundaries using an Other. The ultimate harm is to you guys, whose recycled pro- and anti-arguments give you a sense of belonging to the debate, but only within certain carefully proscribed boundaries.

        Oooh, who will get elected, Labour or Tory or Liberal? It’s exciting to point out whoever made a flub that week, but no matter what happens, the LME will continue raping the Congo. So the argument really is missing the point.

        (And yes, as an atheist, math is your natural enemy. When/if Allallt allows me linking privileges, I’ll send you to some of my earlier essays on the subject.)

      7. Because you have failed to notice, let me point out what people like John Z are actually doing: first he criticizes specific claims and not the people making them. He then provides evidence to justify the criticism. What usually follows from those blessed by John’s appearance is an attack against the character of atheists like John Z who dare to pop into the lovefest of ignorance and introduce something (usually) scholarly and academic. That’s what John Z does.

        To the character attack he must then undergo, he then often responds with honesty: that the people doing so really are ignorant, really are dedicated to retarding their knowledge acquisition, really are acting disrespectfully to wards what’s true and accurate, really are giving morons and idiots a serious run for their money.

        Of course, people like John Z really are held by theists to a different standard of behavior and a different standard of what constitutes correct tone.He is then vilified.

        This seems to be standard operating procedure on far too many theist sites. What we don’t see happen are other theists stepping up to the plate, taking responsibility for moving the goalposts, and fixing these endemic problems. What we don’t see are theists learning why poor arguments and bad reasoning are the foundations of certain faith-based claims. What we do see again and again is a garrison mentality to protect and defend these poor arguments and bad reasoning and a rallying to these walls by other theists (and the mandatory sanctimonious faitheists, apologists, and accommodationists of all stripes who feel the need to tell New Atheists why they’re doing it wrong even when made aware of the growing body of evidence that such challenges do, in fact, work to inspire religious de-conversions versus no evidence that the faitheists mewling ways are equivalently effective).

        You try to present the New Atheist methods in a negative light by producing what you think are certain poor motivations and certain poor tactics that you presume are only used against poor religious beliefs. Like most sophisticated believers (Ooo…. math!) you presume to know too much. Rather than ask John Z about the specific claims he criticizes and examine the specific evidence he uses in an intellectually honest way, you create only what best suits your assumptions, assertions, presumptions, and beliefs while hiding behind a nebulous syncretic version not reflected as the religious beliefs most commonly expressed and to effect in the general population (you know, the very claims people like John Z address to those people actually making them!) and think yourself some white knight for doing so… a faitheist white knight who just so happens to be quite willing to vilify New Atheists not on the content of their character but by the colour of their non belief skin you apply to them.

      8. Allalt, the last couple posts I submitted here vanished. If it wasn’t you, fine–accusation withdrawn–but I’m otherwise able to comment on WordPress. Even that last post went through.

        Anyhoo, John wasn’t able to handle a Socratic dialogue on the subject; when you showed up at the external Christian site we’ve both visited, I hoped you might be able to carry the burden.

        Here’s a question to restart the subject: is it possible that some people could have senses that you and others do not? Example:

        Imagine that you are a human being born on Earth who possesses the senses of sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste. Imagine that you were kidnapped by a hexapedal alien civilization that had no sense of hearing, and these aliens produced loud screeches when they walked, the said screeches originating from a series of gills located on their squiddish lower appendages, which vented shrieks of hot gas whenever they processed calories to move. Every time one of them walked close to you, you were hit with sound waves so powerful that you clutched your ears in pain and fell to the floor. You developed headaches. Alien doctors determined that you were clearly insane, for feeling the presence of something that was not there.

        Despite their inability to hear, they were a brilliant race. Within weeks they had adjusted their advanced visual computer programs to translate the movements of your mouth into their native sign language, and you became able to talk to them. Using…continued here.

      9. Higharka, I know you are selective on who you respond but no beef there. Reading your comment posted at 11:01, the impression one gets is you see yourself as exceptional and everyone else who disagrees with you or anyone else is doing it wrong.
        It matters least to me what your beliefs or lack thereof are. But to be dismissive of others because you can come up with allegories or analogies and speculation of otherworldly does not in anyway make you so special.
        So as tildeb asked, what is it you are against? Is it a personal issue with some atheists or is the contents of their writing?

  2. JOHN ZANDE says:
    November 25, 2014 at 11:32 pm
    You’re welcome, but I’m not insulting you. You on the other hand, to put it bluntly, are insulting yourself, and every person who has ever striven to advance the human condition. You simply have no excuse for your ignorance. None. Your Creationist position represents a retardation of our species, a disease of choice, and that is why I am adamant in hoping you have no contact whatsoever with children.—-

    You did well ALLt to try to do a little damage control by posting a comment to this remark; even you know how absurd it is. And you also know that ALL my remarks regarding these inane comments were accurate.

    But you are mistaken that I ‘spent a good amount of time looking for sources,’ (to paraphrase) as it took no effort. As you can see by the comment above, I selected one that was innocuous compared to what you replied to, for the sake of being decent.

    There are literally countless others, even worse, which speaks to the character or lack thereof. .

    (by the way, John, nice Akubra hat)

    1. Well, ColourStorm, your initial refusal to post a comment that confirms to your accusation, and then the time delay before you did post one, and then the comments’ lack of confirming to the nature of your accusation does suggest you spent that time researching.
      The quote you post from John is about the position of creationists, which is a denial of all the processes of the enlightenment. Retardation is an apt description of this; it goes against our ecological niche.
      I don’t know if you got my sense of exacerbation, but i will ignore claims of ubiquitous rude atheist behaviour if the claim is not accompanied by verifiable evidence.

  3. Alltalltee (no need to change spellling 😉

    I have no desire to malign anybody, that’s why the ‘delay.’ You kept pressing, pressing, so i gave u something. If you note, my reference to you was mild compared to what you replied to. There are countless others that are seconds away.

    As to your downplaying of the comment because of the ‘context,’ of creation, sorry, you are mistaken. There is history with cement footprints that show the vitriol from certain quarters.

    You should know also to be fair, that personally, I have gone on record saying that as far as the age of the universe is in general, and the earth in particular, I DO NOT KNOW, and neither do you. Which makes the reply of ‘stay away from children’ even more absurd.

    I only mention this because people like to paint others with the same brush. If my honesty is ignorant, so be it.

    1. It’s not about context, it’s about content. John was (i think defendably) saying that the position of creationism is a retardation of our species (and i assume he means with regard to defining our species by enlightenment values).
      As for your ignorant to the address of the universe, do you mean you don’t know with certainty or that you can’t draw any intelligible conclusions? Because i take issue with both.

      1. Oh my conclusions are intelligent, of course; they begin with The Director of Intelligence, God Himself 😉

        just don’t have the birthday nailed down.

      2. That wasn’t the question, though. You said you don’t know the age if the universe, and u asked if it’s a case of not being able to make any intelligible conclusions or just a case of lacking absolute certainty. With regard to the age of the universe or earth.

      3. (Psst, ColorStorm–don’t tell anyone I helped you, but “[T]he Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters” means you’re supposed to answer such questions by saying that the universe is infinite, or, if you prefer dramatics, “Forever.”)

  4. Allallt, I think you’ve done a good job summarizing that event. I took issue with her claim that all atheists are cruel and that she intentionally misrepresents atheism to make it seem like a causal factor. She stuck to her point that she believes atheists are cruel and that atheism causes this cruelty and there this belief makes it so. That’s when I charged her with bigotry and went further to describe this bigotry in many offending terms. I pointed out that defending bigotry by intentionally bearing false witness describes the current quality of one’s character, and to this point she was particularly annoyed, blaming the tone to be evidence for the very cruelty she assigned to all atheists. Of course, she utterly fails to comprehend the circularity of her dysfunctional reasoning.

    What disappointed me about the exchange was how many of her crew rallied not to defend what’s true, not to promote love and understanding in the name of Christ, not to support what’s morally defensible, not to recognize the two-tiered ethical standards these theists felt they deserved by divine fiat, but to fully endorse such bigotry with unthinking knee-jerk, jackbooted endorsement… presumably because (I surmise) they simply don’t like the object of the bigotry, namely atheists as a group.

    In spite of my attempts to point to the historical record of what beneficence such bigoted thinking produces – slavery, apartheid, holocausts – to no effect, I made the milch-cow reference to a particularly dense commenter who failed to comprehend anything other than support for the original bigoted thesis… but then popped in repeatedly to wail in moral anguish about anyone who dared to criticize this thesis to be hateful people deserving of bigotry! The irony slayed me and, again, no one from the crew took her to task for this disreputable and childish tactic.

    I will say again how the toxic bile spewed by such a religious blogger as insanitybytes22 and her supportive and admiring commenting crew of regular contributors is a cause to be widely quoted and used in demonstration for those believers who like to pretend that religious motivation for bigotry against atheists is imaginary and low key. It’s real. And if believers themselves aren’t going to criticize fellow believers for deplorable and disgusting vileness in attitude against others by group association, then the least we atheist bloggers can do is step in and criticize those who go along with it.

    Thanks, allallt, for doing your part and for anyone else who gave it a shot.

    1. I got the impression early on that there was no being through, but i hoped some refer would acknowledge my point.
      Higharka was pretty cool, otherwise i quickly lost hope of seeing anyone trying to understand.

    2. tildeb,

      This one hates to bring anecdotes into it, but if you can trust this one for a moment, try this:

      As someone who’s spent many years being insulted by Christians–not just Anglo-American ones, but the Chinese and southeast Asian ones–I must say that IB qualifies, by comparison, as incredibly rational and open-minded. There is certainly a great difference between her and her readership, but I hope you’ll be able to distinguish between them and IB.

      Within the false dichotomy our masters have created between religious people and non-religious people as a 21st century replacement for racial tensions, IB ranks as the nicer, more accommodating kind of religious person. I have hopes that Allallt might be the respective version of that for atheists.

      I know they didn’t set the perfect example over there, but consider the way the response worked. They did frequently address the issues in your post, and they didn’t insult you with the instant ferocity that some people do. I think there’s hope there–hope that, by patience, forgiveness, and careful explanation, you two groups could forge a bond that transcends the divide between instigators like Richard Dawkins, who want nonacceptance, and a pointless culture war based on zealotry this distracting new culture war to continue.

      You guys are the real people of Earth, here. Don’t retreat into separate blogs to simply enjoy the discussion of how idiotic outsiders are. Keep looking, and one by one, you’ll find that the similarities that bond you are profound, while the differences you have are largely window dressing.

      1. I repeatedly wrote on ib’s site with different commentators how similar in almost everything we are. I pointed out the exception to this similarity – religious belief – that they make for a specific god, that we share the non belief in all other gods that does not imbed the same ‘cruelty’ into them for claiming that non belief, that doesn’t imbed into them some imaginary ‘hatred’ of those other gods. In other words, I am the one making the attempt to demonstrate that the standards they set for me as a non believer in their god are quite a bit different than the standards used for their own non belief in other gods. Again, all of this fell on ears that will not hear, eyes that will not see, minds that remain dedicated to exercising religiously inspired bigotry.

        Whereas you seem willing to go along to get along, I understand just how pernicious are the effects from such accommodationism, how this willingness to tolerate nice bigotry from nice people who do so politely is no different in principle than allowing this same bigotry to flourish so that it can grow to the most extreme versions and then acted upon to great tragedies and injustices.

        I happen to be a very principled person and so I will confront such bigotry and expose it for the pernicious influence it is in order to try to bring about changes through reasonable, rational, yet critical dialogue. The time to have the greatest effect is when the bigotry is small and just starting out. Every theist who wants to misrepresent atheists must come to understand that he or she will be challenged each and every time they try to pull this shit…. because that’s what it is: spewing shit. Going along with it for whatever reasons, apologizing for it for whatever reasons, allowing it to go uncriticized for whatever reasons, is a failure of character. And – obviously – more theists need to understand what role they are playing in Burke’s astute observation that all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. And that aptly applies to any theist willing to tolerate such bigotry as insanitybytes22 practices.

  5. Oh, and to be clear, ColorStorm is one of those lovely Christian people of high moral standards going along… and defending bigotry in the name of his god.

  6. Allalt, the last couple posts I submitted here vanished. If it wasn’t you, fine–accusation withdrawn–but I’m otherwise able to comment on WordPress. Even that last post went through.

    Anyhoo, John wasn’t able to handle a Socratic dialogue on the subject; when you showed up at the external Christian site we’ve both visited, I hoped you might be able to carry the burden.

    Here’s a question to restart the subject: is it possible that some people could have senses that you and others do not? Example:

    Imagine that you are a human being born on Earth who possesses the senses of sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste. Imagine that you were kidnapped by a hexapedal alien civilization that had no sense of hearing, and these aliens produced loud screeches when they walked, the said screeches originating from a series of gills located on their squiddish lower appendages, which vented shrieks of hot gas whenever they processed calories to move. Every time one of them walked close to you, you were hit with sound waves so powerful that you clutched your ears in pain and fell to the floor. You developed headaches. Alien doctors determined that you were clearly insane, for feeling the presence of something that was not there.

    Despite their inability to hear, they were a brilliant race. Within weeks they had adjusted their advanced visual computer programs to translate the movements of your mouth into their native sign language, and you became able to talk to them. Using…continued here.

    1. I don’t know how you left your comment, it is clearly a link to your post on another site, which is cut off half way through with the words “continued here”. If that is a simple copy/paste with a hyperlink, then I don’t understand. However, if it is some other mechanism then that may be the problem. I certainly can’t find any reason for the problems

  7. (Allalt, my comment from a couple minutes ago isn’t showing up–do you have a “moderation” thing going on, or is something else eating what I submit?)

    1. I apologise. For some reason your comments weren’t coming up for moderation, just going straight to the spam box. I am having a look at my filters to see why that might have happened to see if I can stop it happening again.

  8. Interesting; that one went through. Reposting:

    Allalt, the last couple posts I submitted here vanished. If it wasn’t you, fine–accusation withdrawn–but I’m otherwise able to comment on WordPress. Even that last post went through.

    Anyhoo, John wasn’t able to handle a Socratic dialogue on the subject; when you showed up at the external Christian site we’ve both visited, I hoped you might be able to carry the burden.

    Here’s a question to restart the subject: is it possible that some people could have senses that you and others do not? Example:

    Imagine that you are a human being born on Earth who possesses the senses of sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste. Imagine that you were kidnapped by a hexapedal alien civilization that had no sense of hearing, and these aliens produced loud screeches when they walked, the said screeches originating from a series of gills located on their squiddish lower appendages, which vented shrieks of hot gas whenever they processed calories to move. Every time one of them walked close to you, you were hit with sound waves so powerful that you clutched your ears in pain and fell to the floor. You developed headaches. Alien doctors determined that you were clearly insane, for feeling the presence of something that was not there.

    Despite their inability to hear, they were a brilliant race. Within weeks they had adjusted their advanced visual computer programs to translate the movements of your mouth into their native sign language, and you became able to talk to them. Using…continued here.

    1. I don’t like the question “it is possible?” This is a slight deviation, but I shall address that first (I will come to your question). I don’t like the question of what is possible because to a sufficiently ignorant person all things are possible. What you are asking is whether, given what I know, it is possible.
      Knowing there are species which can sense more of the electromagnetic spectrum than humans, and the the breadth of human hearing diminishes with age, I am tentatively going to say that yes, it is possible.

      However, I take issue with your alien species example. Sound is demonstrable. What we call ‘loud base sounds’ are actually waves of air (not electromagnetic, nothing to do with light) intense enough to be sense by touch; it can literally and palpably hit you. You can use paper to demonstrate this on a more sensitive level. (I know you likely know this, it’s the kind of physics you learn when you’re about 11). The discovery of that fact would allow the advanced alien race to develop technology that mimic the ear: sonar, ultrasound… turning the wave into a different information output.
      That would confirm the external stimulus, and the nature of the ear (especially if watched under functional imagining) would confirm that it responds to an external stimulus. There is a falsifiable or demonstrable element to the claim of sound, even to the deaf.

      I know it’s never good to make guesses about where a Socratic seminar is going, but are you going to suggest the religious have an extra functioning organ?

      1. Thanks for fixing that; the dependent variable here seems to be the html link included at the bottom. WordPress must have a punitive attitude toward posts with links.

        The metaphor can go in lots of directions, including the easiest one, where the aliens are blind, so they have no reasonable way to test what “sight” or “color” would be like to another person (yes, there are ways you can test color by feel, but those wouldn’t be considered reasonable here). Or, the aliens could be close-minded about the feel of sound because, to them, that’s just the way the air feels during storms. They could believe that the sensation is caused by the weather, for example, as alien scientists have known for generations. For them, testing such hypotheses would be our equivalent of testing whether or not mountains are heavy.

        …and yet, yes, I can imagine all sorts of wonderful scenarios where the aliens, if open-minded enough, become able to test for the existence of sound. But I can also imagine them stubbornly refusing, for centuries in a row, to even consider the possibility as a serious line of inquiry. Consider, for example, who financed the French Empire, then the British Empire, and then the American Empire. There’s an obvious connection there that crosses several hundred years, and which continues today as new wars are born, and yet, we’ve managed to keep the topic out of the realm of serious discussion this entire time. It’s rather staggeringly indicative of our willingness to believe unpleasant things.

        Moving on, this one is pleased to see your rational Socratic prediction. Yes, what if “the religious” have an extra functioning organ? Or rather, some as-yet-misunderstood confluence of bodily structures that allows them to perceive things others cannot (because we could search for missing organs, but we still don’t understand the organs we have very well)?

        Why, then, there’s no way to tell if they are feeling something or not. Maybe, if some guy hears God telling him something, it’s because he’s correctly more aware than the rest of us, rather than insanely more aware.

        Presuming this possibility, then–to which you’ve Socratically conceded, e.g., “It is possible that others can sense what I cannot”–our next consideration is human history. Over the bulk of human history, the majority of humanity seems to have held a belief in some form of supernatural explanation for the world. From aboriginal Americans to the Mongols, from aboriginal Australians to the Celts, highly organized societies have based themselves around the idea of spirits, deities, et cetera.

        So, the follow up question is: has almost all humanity been so completely wrong and so completely dumb for nearly all the time it has existed?

        Your options here are, essentially, threefold:

        1) You can conclude that yes, everyone is or has been that dumb;

        2) You can conclude that, actually, the amount of written spiritual material we have from civilizations spanning the world gives the mistaken perception that the “supernatural” really was important. You can say it was all make-believe, and that people were larping, rather than actually believing, when they praised the gods for developing fire, or agriculture, or animal husbandry, or whatever other advancement you prefer;

        3) You can conclude that everyone was that dumb, but despite that weight, they managed (along with the help of a quiet group of non-believers who remained quiet due to fear of persecution by the baboonish religious idiots surrounding them) to still develop technology and advance.

        If you have one of those, or something else, go for it.

      2. Speculation regarding the religious organ and sense input require evidence before they are taken seriously. Especially since the sense organ becomes increasingly “deaf” since the advent of methods of evolution. (Biological teleology being bypassed by the theory.)

        If I may, I would like to replace the word “dumb” with mistaken. There are sufficiently plenty of scientists and my friends who are religious and patently not dumb. Just mistaken.
        I would argue that everyone is mistaken! Everyone favours answers to ignorance and they are thus compelled by arguments from ignorance. In the absence of knowledge or explanation, especially when the problem seems profound (harvest, weather, luck, biological diversity, purpose etc), people are willing to posit and propagate profound-sounding non-answers like Gods. (I try very hard to guard against that type of reasoning, but I have caught myself doing it before.)
        Gods then become prevalent, because so much was unknown, and culture assimilates them in tradition to give humans the sensation of power (if we pray, we can influence the weather).

      3. Those kinds of critiques of God (if we pray, we can cure diseases/influence the weather) are so easily done, just like critiquing astrology only by looking at horoscopic astrology.

        In response to your argument that everyone is mistaken, I’d disagree with you, and say that everyone favors ignorance to answers, because answers cause thought, which is difficult. That’s just semantics, though; we’re really making the same point. Most Christians’ “answers” to existential questions are willful ignorance, just as are most atheists’. Having an answer means hard work, hard thought, and then the continued willingness to accept later disproval. Someone I knew once made the same point as ours, only he called it “simple answers,” which may be more accurate than either “answers” or “ignorance.”

        If you’re allowing links, here’s a description of the process that results in your current search: The Problem With Adults.

      4. My critique was a speculation about how religion started, not a comment as to its truth.
        I’m unsure what existential answers you think atheists have that are willful ignorance, but welcome examples.
        I won’t be using “simple answers” in place of “ignorance”, simple answer are the goal.
        I’m not sure of the relevance of the link. Can you summarise your point so that i can read it in the appropriate context?

      5. Perhaps you might enjoy a quick perusal of my blog, read some of the things i seek answers for. It might help you set your comments in a clearer context. Like the other commenters here, I’m not sure what you’re getting at.

      6. Modern atheism is an evolution of the scientistic religions that Dostoyevsky warned of; yet another pyramid scheme foisted on the masses by creditor-priests seeking to justify the false meritocracy of modern society.

        Allallt: “[S]imple answer[s] are the goal.”

        How sad! Easy answers to vast existential questions that have confused mankind for centuries–is that really what you want out of all this?

        Allallt: “I’m unsure what existential answers you think atheists have that are willful ignorance, but welcome examples.”

        The most profoundly dangerous narrative elites have presented in their preparation for industrialized warfare is capitalist-style biological evolution. Do you believe in that, and in dark matter and black holes?

      7. You’ve equated atheism to science.
        You’ve equated simple to easy.
        You’ve equated atheism to evolution.
        You’ve equated the description of biological evolution to a prescription of Darwinian economics.
        You’ve equated economics to existential questions.

        Am I supposed to take this comment seriously?

      8. Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the correlation between the British Empire’s popularization of a meritocratic take on Darwin’s research and the Gilded Age, along with the nationalistic wars and eugenicist movements of the late 18th and early 19th centuries…?

        The modern debt economies, and the lives of billions of people, are tied to the economic and spiritual answers which market-style evolution has justified to our governments. Existential questions, for the majority of humanity on the planet now, are tied quite literally to the arcane decisions of economists regarding who will have food, who will have shelter, and who will have life.

        Be glad that you are such a pampered Briton that you can consider economics and existence to be separate issues.

      9. What does a propagandaist’s interpretation of Darwinian evolution have to do with atheism?
        I’m happy to engage in these sorts conversations, but somewhere else and not in this context.

      10. Allallt: “What does a propagandaist’s interpretation of Darwinian evolution have to do with atheism?”

        Western notions of community often depended on attitudes about communal responsibility, human purpose, and natural resources, which attitudes stood in the way of permitting business cost externalization and wealth centralization as they were to occur during industrialism. You would have called many versions of those attitudes “religious.”

        In order to crush those things, and mold the world into the form of horror it has now become, scientism was propagated. Where once, horrible versions of creationism justified a hierarchy of lords, now, horrible versions of meritocratic evolution justify a hierarchy of capitalists.

        You think that, because you resist religion, you’re somehow battling evil, because forms of religion were used to justify the old hierarchies. In fact, all you’re doing is justifying the new hierarchies by picking on people who still cling to vestiges of an inherent human dignity that transcends something that can be bought and sold and charted by today’s creditor-priests.

        If you don’t feel that the topic of modern atheism’s biggest faith belongs here, then tell me where you’d like to discuss it. You’re welcome to look here: Lightform Evolution.

      11. This isn’t atheism’s problem. That is the issue. This has precisely nothing to do with atheism. You are positing a belief to take religion’s place in social function, but that’s not atheism; that’s what ever it is you’re positing.
        I’m not going to discuss social or economic Darwinism with anyone who thinks it’s an element of atheism: it’s a disingenuous context and demonstrates your aversion to represent your opponent honestly.

      12. I’m sorry, Allallt; I incorrectly assumed that you believed in evolution. Are you a creationist? (If you’re a creationist but also an atheist, how in the world does that work out??)

      13. I am very close to losing my temper with you.
        I don’t believe in evolution, I understand why it is an apt description of biological diversity; I understand why it is true. (I make the clarification in case you think it’s a dogma thing).
        That has absolutely nothing to do with atheism.
        That has nothing to do with social Darwinism.

      14. Here’s what i propose:
        (1) you write a post that clearly outlines your points, which i assume to be:
        (a) evolution is defining of atheism
        (b) the description of biological evolution is also a social and economic prescription.
        (c) this has happened
        (d) the British empire was founded on it
        (e) social and economic Darwinism are meritocracies
        (f) meritocracies are bad
        (g) such behaviour never existed in religious communities (hence all this being defining of atheism)
        (h) atheism contains some of these claims on faith.
        (2) Once written, i will comment and the discussion can go from there.

      15. Allallt,

        I’m sorry for having upset you by answering your question poorly. Earlier, you asked me, “What does a propagandaist’s interpretation of Darwinian evolution have to do with atheism?” So I discussed evolution more.

        Now, we both know that atheism has no formal figurehead, like a pope, or formal set of beliefs, like a Bible, so each and every atheist in the world could believe different things from other atheists. You can’t speak definitively on behalf of all other atheists, just as all other atheists can’t speak definitively as to your own personal beliefs. However, there are certain similarities between atheists living in post-industrial economies in the year 2014, just as there are between Christians doing the same.

        One of those similarities on the part of atheists is a belief in what they call evolution, e.g., a process of randomized mutations during the reproduction of species that, through comparative mortality rates, generally improves the evolutionary fitness of successor organisms. Just as most people who say they are “Christian” believe that an entity with supernatural powers, named some variation of “Christ,” visited Earth in the vicinity of 0 C.E., most people who say they are “atheist” believe in some version of this randomized, biological, Darwinian evolution.

        (You seem to have indicated that you are semantically offended by the word “belief,” and would prefer that it not be used regarding you and evolution. You seem to feel that evolution “is true” (which sounds like “belief” to me), but you seem to have taken issue with me when I said that you “believed” in evolution. I will try to avoid any form of the verb “to believe,” but if I slip up and mention that you believe evolution, please forgive me the typographical error.)

        There exists a connection between modern atheism and modern evolutionary theory. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but there is still a connection. In the instant case, you have said that (1) you self-identify as an atheist, and (2) you feel that evolution is true. Ergo even if I am incorrect in assuming that most atheists believe in evolution, I am not falsely stereotyping you–you have said that you hold a conviction that evolution is “true,” so the correlation here is verified from the primary source, e.g., you. So we’re fairly discussing your opinions.

        Onto your challenges.

        Allallt: (a) evolution is defining of atheism

        As I said above, there is a massive correlation between self-identification as atheist and self-identification as believing in the currently-popular take on the theory of evolution. In your case, you’ve admitted the correlation.

        Why is evolution defining of atheism? Because we appear to live in a complex world surrounded by complex self-aware organisms. How did it come to exist? That’s one of the most fundamental questions we can ask about our world. “It came to exist through a random set of evolutionary changes” is the only answer available once you eliminate all gods and/or aspects of the supernatural. Atheism requires evolution, as a philosophy, because evolution says, “It just happened,” and in the absence of a belief in some kind of unseen spiritual/deistic force, randomized biological evolution is the only way to explain the existence of the universe.

        That is how evolution is defining of atheism.

        Evolution may be defining of Catholicism, too, at some point, after the Vatican Science Council and the Pope decided to endorse it. However, it will still be defining of atheism, even if all/most Catholics eventually adopt it.

        Allallt: (b) the description of biological evolution is also a social and economic prescription.

        If the universe was created randomly, by a struggle for survival, and things which now exist only exist because they were “the fittest” in a cosmological struggle for survival of the fittest, the implications for social and economic policy are profound. The primary nature of existence is one of brutal competition, mass extinction, and the achievement of life and power as a result of being superior to unfit molecular arrangements.

        Asking, “How does biological evolution relate to social policy?” is a rather silly question, isn’t it? It’s like a Christian asking, “How does Christ relate to social policy?” Well, to the latter question, we have an easy answer: if an omnipotent, omniscient entity created the entire universe and knows every single thing you ever do or think, and that entity has decided what is right and wrong, and threatens to eternally torture those who don’t obey that entity’s will, then everyone who doesn’t want to be eternally tortured must structure their society as that entity has proscribed.

        Ergo if the biblical God is real, you damn well better follow His commandments (literally!). It’s not just role-playing if you believe God really cares about (a) abortions, or (b) spreading the faith to the faithless, or (c) whom you have sex with. It’s not even life and death. It’s bigger than life and death.

        Similarly, it’s ridiculous to claim that a conviction that biological evolution is “true” has no implications for social and economic policy.

        Allallt: (c) this has happened

        (What is the “this” here? The relationship between evolution and the development of modern markets?)

        Allallt: (d) the British empire was founded on it

        Wow. Surely you’ve studied mercantilism?

        Why was it acceptable to murder the Celtic tribes, rape their women and children, and set up shop on the resulting graveyard? Easy: because that’s the way the world worked, to the Britons. Weaker populations were meant to be wiped out and replaced by superior genes, and whoever wins the war is, by definition, the best. Aboriginal Africans, Americans, Australians, Indians, Chinese, and much of the rest of the world fell prey to this same Anglo philosophy–that material strength meant superiority.

        As the fast lion eats the lame gazelle, so did the Britons economically rationalize their centuries of unspeakable murder.

        Allallt: (e) social and economic Darwinism are meritocracies

        If both a billionaire and a pauper want a fast car, a mansion, and three girlfriends, which one gets them? Why, the hard-working billionaire, of course.

        Similarly, if a fast lion and a slow lion are chasing the gazelle, who brings it down and gets the choicest meat? Why, the fast lion, of course.

        Do you not see a connection?

        Allallt: (f) meritocracies are bad

        Some meritocracies could be good, some could be bad. Do you have any specific ones in mind?

        Allallt: (g) such behaviour never existed in religious communities (hence all this being defining of atheism)

        Such behavior has existed, and continues to exist, in many religious communities, for hundreds of years.

        Both Muslims and Christians are bipedal. One of the defining characteristics of a Muslim is a bipedal organic frame. However, that does not mean that the same characteristic cannot also define Christians.

        Allallt: (h) atheism contains some of these claims on faith.

        Some self-identified atheists are kind and sweet, and don’t advocate for either meritocracies or callous behavior. Just like some self-identified Jews don’t advocate genocide even though the Torah does, some atheists don’t advocate for letting the poor starve even though evolutionary theory does.

        And yet, Christianity and Judaism are both strongly associated with genocide, because the Bible is riddled with positive presentations of genocide.

      16. Wow. Who knew?

        Higharcha so clearly, so rationally, explains why all the therapies, applications, and technologies based on evolutionary biology that work for everyone everywhere all the time are really nothing more than a global conspiracy in action!


        Good thing he’s so rational or I might entertain doubts.

        But I am amazed at the keen perception, the sophistication higharcha uses to see reveal this grossly misplaced ‘belief’ so many of us non believers have meekly accepted… you know the non believers so easily deluded into ‘believing’ in a demonstrable mechanism of change to life over time AND who have some inexplicable intellectual difficulty justifying the much more rational belief in Oogity Boogity exercising POOF!ism.

        I think he’s really onto something here…. but no doubt he will be EXPELLED! from sites dedicated to being part of and promoting this global conspiracy.

        I’m outraged… on his behalf that he isn’t awarded some major prize for this breakthrough. But pop-science being the tyrannical master it is, and all…

      17. tildeb, there is such a thing as evolution, but it is an integrative process, not a randomized one. Mathematically, it is all but impossible for life on Earth to have evolved, in a few dozen billion years, as it has, if these changes were based only on the random mutation of cells. Rather, the planet’s own coding guides the evolution of mutually beneficial cellular arrangements.

        For example, how would honeybees have evolved to rely on flower nectar without flowers having simultaneously evolved to rely on honeybees for pollination? Neither could have, on their own. The Earth’s integrative ecology is the more rational, scientific conclusion.

        Neither of the creditor-priests’ favored conclusions, either creationism or capitalist evolution, can explain how such complex integrated systems arose in merely a few billion years.

        This issue is laid out in more detail in Lightform Evolution, and in its successor posts, we address some of the challenges raised by capitalist-evolutionists, including vigorous internet proponents like yourself, as well as wealthy and powerful Anglos like Gould and Dawkins.

      18. The fact that you don’t understand coevolution doesn’t prove a thing. Your blog post does not explain mathematical disproofs of natural evolution.
        If you think biological evolution doesn’t make mathematical sense, I encourage you to research metabiology:

        Your blind assertions are not appreciated. If you don’t have evidence to present in support of arguments like this, go away.

      19. First of all, let me explain what you are doing that is fraying my temper. You present yourself with this ingratiating tone and smiley demeanour as if you are going to have an open, reasonable conversation.. Yet, that is not what you are doing at all. And it’s not an honest mistake, because I have pointed out your error more than once.
        You are making efforts to tell me what I believe, or should believe to identify as an atheist. Not only are you making wild and unwarranted leaps of reasoning, by making claims that biological evolution and natural selection are (or should be) a moral code (which is just wrong) but you’re also doing something I don’t do: I let people explain their own beliefs. This conversation isn’t open. It is you sticking to your mistaken caricature of atheism.
        Secondly, let me explain why I wanted to avoid the word “belief” in my last comment: I was getting the feeling you were using it wrongly. You’re depicting atheism as a belief system with tenets of faith and dogma. In that context, “belief” is an ambiguous word.
        The correlation between atheism and evolution could be due to many things and isn’t relevant to a conversation about atheism at all. Firstly, there are also many religious people who understand and accept evolution. Evolution is not defining of atheism. There are many epidemiologies that, when applied consistently, will lead to acceptance of evolution and nonacceptance of claims of Gods. There are empiricism, critical realism, inductivism, methodological naturalism, science and a whole host of others that don’t start with a presupposition of God. It is not that atheism contains evolution at all. It’s also the best answer scientifically. But you present it as a false dichotomy. Do some research: there were theories before Darwin that excluded God. The reason you don’t know about them is because they don’t stand up to criticism and no one is still emotionally involved in them.
        Also, evolution is not a philosophy. This isn’t a semantic concern: the acceptance of evolution doesn’t function as a philosophy. Evolution is a conclusion. It’s not a starting point, it’s an end point. That may be the confusion.
        I think the question “how does biological evolution relate to social policy?” is a very stupid question, but for exactly the opposite reason you think it stupid. Christ’s relationship to social policy is explicit: he mandates social policy; he explicitly says what you should and should not do. Biological evolution is an evidenced description what happens naturally. There is no step from there to “what should we manage?” or “how we should run our society”. You are saying the best theory we have for diversity of species of Earth should also be your social structure and so far you have no explained why that is necessary and clearly explicated why it is not preferable.

        By the way, the very idea of a defining characteristic is that it cannot be shared with others. Else, it is not a defining characteristic, but just a characteristic. And it’s important.
        A defining characteristic of tribal-based religions (the Abrahamics most definitely included) is the commands compelling people to war and heinous actions against those in any out-tribe, mandated by the Creator of the universe, and subverting any sense of morality you may have had by promising peace in an afterlife. You don’t see that in atheism. You don’t even see that in evolution (and I state again, one does not define the other; neither does one contain the other).
        Perhaps you could research psychological evolution, the evolutionary theories behind morality by game theory or even just observe how other pack animals behave… evolution can’t mandate anything, and it fosters community.
        British colonialism in India started in the 16th Century, predating evolutionary theory. (Alexander the Great colonised India in about 326BC, so that wasn’t motivated by evolutionary theory either).
        Darwin published his book in 1858, so the European Scramble for Africa happened after its publication. But I don’t see any documents where one person said that evolution defines their right to do this.

        Unless you give a clear account of the step between the description of biological evolution and the social prescription of callous economic or social Darwinism, this discussion is over.

      20. Allallt: “You are making efforts to tell me what I believe…”

        You’re telling me what I’m making efforts to do, but that’s not what I’m making efforts to do. What I was actually doing was making efforts to answer your question(s), i.e., I discussed evolution’s relationship to atheism because you asked me to do so. It’s really just fine if you want to discuss evolution itself in another thread–I linked to my board so that you could discuss evolution there, if you wanted to keep evolution separate from atheism. But you do seem to be interested in discussing evolution here, given the vigorous defense you’ve been making here of capitalist-style evolution.

        Market-style evolution and natural selection are, inherently, a moral code, in the same way that nihilism is a moral code. By postulating the absence of any meaning whatsoever, mercantilist philosophy decrees that all moral codes–from Jainism to Buddhism to Christianity to Hindu–are social constructs, and have no inherent connection to the nature of reality. Ergo in a random universe, there are no moral codes. Life is a brief Hobbesian struggle, and death is the result of inferiority.

        Mercantilist evolution postulates a universe of randomized mutations during reproduction, the results of which mutations receive harsh punishment from nature in the form of death/extinction whenever the results aren’t “better” than market competitors. Even were this process efficient, and even were the universe actually an atomized, impartial entity, mercantilist evolution mandates an absence of any more powerful pattern behind life or existence. The capitalist’s preferred version of evolution is a justification of moral relativism, because proofs of randomized mutation are proofs that there is no meaning.

        Ergo if George W. Bush killed everyone in the world tomorrow, then cloned eight billion versions of himself, he would be a successful organism. If he populated all galaxies with more clones of himself, eliminating all other life in his wake, he would be the most successful organism. There would be nothing right or wrong about what he would have done, because there is no right and wrong–all of the George W. Bush clones would believe they had been right, and everyone else who felt differently would be extinct forever. That is the story we tell ourselves when we fantasize about our triumph over the dinosaurs, our genocide of the neanderthal, and our murder of various aboriginal populations around the globe: might makes right.

        The British Empire did not begin its colonialism in India. Britain only exists because of colonialism. What we now call “Britain” is the result of Imperial Roman cartels that crossed the Channel and invaded the British isles as part of Rome’s own colonialism. When your forebears had finished murdering the Celts, and raping their own seed into the Celts’ daughters, they set up shop and carried on until the present day.

        As you may know, English is the only known language that has terms like “Welsh” to identify people from England itself as foreigners. The foul rapists who invaded the islands used the imperial term “Walha” to identify the local Welsh peoples as “foreigners,” as a way of excluding them from the land that had been stolen out from under their feet. English settlers would later do a similar thing in America, calling people with aboriginal American blood “illegal immigrants.”

        (And of course, the British are all putting up millions of cameras and wetting their pants in fear at the thought that Muslims might immigrate to “their” country.)

        “Evolutionary theory” did not begin with Darwin. Nor would Darwin recognize the perversion of his work made by the robber barons of the industrial age. For time immemorial, there have been people who argued that “might makes right” and “the ends justify the means.” That is mercantilist evolution’s argument: that Those Which Thrive Are Better. It is the same argument offered by Christians who believe that God rewards inherent goodness with worldly wealth. Moreover, it is the easy way for a lord-worshiping culture, still steeped in the rank foulness of a hideously inbred nobility, to rationalize its own existence atop the bodies of so many millions of murdered children.

        Like America, which is still haunted by what it did to the Iroquois, Britain is riding a wave of Celtic blood a thousand years old. It is no wonder that the idea “survival of the fittest” helps them feel so good about what they have done; so proud of their gunpowder and bayonets, as they join forces to murder Arabs and threaten Russia over the last few drops of oil they can see.

        You really should consider reading some of the essays dealing with the math of mercantilist evolution v. lightform evolution. I know some of the numbers are pretty big, but since even modestly-sized organisms have billions or trillions of cells, the numbers have to be large in order to adequately address the equations involved. Here’s the follow-up to the first article, in which we deal more specifically with Gould and Dawkins: Math, Market, & Lightwaves.

        (The first essay I linked discusses evolutionary math vis-à-vis a 5-trillion-celled organism, but the above link is more general, so you’re always welcome to start there and work your way backward.)

      21. Market-style evolution and natural selection are, inherently, a moral code,…

        No, they’re not. They are not a moral code whatsoever when you substitute the meaning of the term ‘evolution’ understood in the broadest sense to be changes to life over time by unguided natural processes.

        Let’s revisit your claim. You state that market-style changes to life over time by unguided natural processes and natural selection are, inherently, a moral code. And where is this moral code coming from in natural processes? No where. Reality does not indicate any guidance or intention whatsoever to these changes. There is only a response to environmental and genetic pressures that either work to increase the population (fitness) or do not. No intention, no guidance whatsoever.

        To get around this thorny problem of reality’s lack of cooperation with providing you with compelling evidence for your thesis, you then include the notion of absence to be intentional (You say ” …in the same way that nihilism is a moral code. By postulating the absence of any meaning whatsoever, mercantilist philosophy decrees that all moral codes–from Jainism to Buddhism to Christianity to Hindu–are social constructs, and have no inherent connection to the nature of reality.”)

        The problem is that you conflate what is ‘unguided’ and ‘natural’ to be the same as an intentional absence. Why is this a problem? Because as soon as you introduce the idea of some kind of intention, some kind of guidance brought to bear, you’re no longer describing evolution using its scientific understanding of how life changes over time. You’re redefining it to match what you want it to say and not what it does say.

      22. tildeb, it’s possible that, in a random world, conscious entities could come up with a moral code, or with a lot of moral codes. People could become freemasons, or golfers, or develop rules for football, in a random world.

        There is a difference, though, between a moral code that is relative–that is just made-up–and a moral code that is, theoretically, “correct” and/or objective. Mercantilist evolution is a moral code in the sense that it negates the possibility of any moral code having a meaning greater than a relative meaning.

        For example, is absolute zero hot? No; it’s the very definition of “not hot.” However, absolute zero deals with the issue of heat. In the same way, mercantilist evolution, if true, would deal with the issue of moral codes, supplanting and making impossible any potential objective moral code.

        john zande, flowering plants can pollinate without bees, but their relationship is integral to the ecosystem we have now. Have you heard that bees are in danger of dying off these days, perhaps due to pesticides or genetically engineered crops? Have you heard that their loss might cause major damage to vegetation in many areas of the globe? Flowering plants can pollinate without bees, just like humans can live with less vitamin D, but the results are not optimal.

        For financial parasites, who produce nothing of value and have decided to leech off the labor of others, it seems natural to conclude that random stuff happens, and clever organisms simply take advantage of it. Those who actually labor, though, are sometimes able to see how nothing they do is possible without a delicate, highly complex arrangement of billions of other organisms acting in concert to produce even simple results.

        Claiming that random, mercantilist evolution is correct is the brainless, arrogant equivalent of the son of an investment banker believing that he worked his way to the top of the world because he was so smart and clever and self-starting, while all those starving African children are worthless and inferior individuals.

        For billions of years, matter has been harmonizing itself into more and more complex and sustainable shapes. It has only been during the past few thousand years that proto-conscious Earthlings have begun to decide that everything happened randomly, and that they existed not because they were part of a supercluster, a galaxy, a solar system, and a planet, but because they were rugged, heroic, objectivist individuals who were able to survive despite the universe’s hostility to life.

        (*sigh* Fucking capitalists.)

      23. First of all, let us assume you are correct that the relationship between evolution and “survival of the fittest” morality is necessary and unavoidable. If this were the case, tough! Evolution is a demonstrable fact, so you’d just have to suck up the horrible moral consequences.
        But, that link is only implied by the nihilism of religion. Only by starting with the position that all things are worth nothing without God can one get to all things are worthless in a naturally evolving system. That is your philosophical position, and you’re using the perceived horror of it to suggest an integrated evolving system, inclusive of a God. That’s unreasonable.
        The fact that you are not willing to even acknowledge that a philosophy can exist that doesn’t have this religious nihilism I am ceasing communication. It is no longer a conversation, but you repeating one position.

      24. My dear Allallt,

        Capitalist evolution is a theory that attempts to explain a fossil record of progressively more complex organisms. The random mutations of evolution haven’t been observed. We’ve observed, say, red flowers and white flowers producing pink flowers, and we’ve observed recessive traits, like blue eyes in a brown-eye population, appearing generations later, but we haven’t observed the sudden appearance of purple eyes.

        Have you looked at the discussions of statistics and mathematics that I discussed in my linked posts? Over a hundred years after the popularity of mercantilist evolution, the great paragons of the British Empire, Dawkins and Gould, have begun to acknowledge the mathematical improbability of their belief system–and this, as I said, after more than a hundred years of pop-biologists flatly denying the mathematical negative proofs.

        When even the greatest, most popular adherents are beginning to backpedal, can that not be motivation for you to re-examine the evidence?

        If you’re unable to consider the mathematics and really big numbers involved in this discussion, then let me refer you to my earlier post, in which I suggested that you were afraid to learn about new things. Please, don’t limit yourself to giggling and snorting at creationists–evolution is a much more complex process than simply giving up, mocking the religious, and concluding, “Well, it’s just random.” I know that it’s difficult, but these concepts certainly merit your investigation, as a living being on our planet.

        Evidence: fossils exist.

        Creationist’s explanation: An invisible cloud man made them. I’m here because Invisible Cloud Man thinks I’m special.

        Capitalist’s explanation: They just sort of happened. I’m here because I just sort of happened to be the descendant of the very best. Best of the best, really.

        Scientist’s explanation: They resulted from a process of matter coalescing into progressively more efficient energy conduits, as demonstrated by the recurrence of interactive relationships between seemingly discrete organisms across a vast biosphere.

        There’s nothing to be afraid of. You’ll probably leave this discussion trying to ignore everything I’ve shared with you, but perhaps, years from now, when you try to reflect on how organisms with fifty trillion cells could have possibly developed to constantly occupy and breathe a complex cocktail of gases and pressures and magnetism produced by this particular planet, with only 4-6 billion years to do so, you’ll realize that “it happened through random luck” is a simpleton’s wishful answer.

        (It’s difficult to have your faith challenged, isn’t it? Surely all those books your teachers instructed you in as a child couldn’t be wrong, could they?)

      25. I don’t know why you are insisting on calling biological evolution “capitalist evolution”.
        I don’t know what you mean by mutations of evolution. If you mean mutations, then I don’t know why you don’t think variation is an example of that.
        I don’t know if you’ve heard of the E. coli experiment, or experiments with fruit flies, although your comment would suggest you are ignorant to these observations of mutation.
        I can’t figure out why you think the fossil record is the only evidence of biological evolution.
        I don’t what you think mercantilist evolution is, but your description is simply not in line with any description of biological evolution.
        I read one of the links and it was tripe and doesn’t include any maths. Just discussion that claims large numbers an improbability. I doesn’t even cite any reliable sources. It also talks about probability as if evolution mad to follow a very particular path, so you’re talking about the probability against any one things happening. But that’s not the mechanism. The mechanism is one of anything useful happening.
        You have not offered, linked to or even mentioned a mathematical disproof.
        The greatest adherent of evolution are not back pedalling, and (as always) I challenge you to provide a reliable link to the contrary.
        Saying evolution is complex, or that biology is complex, is not a point. It doesn’t help you.
        I’m sick of giving a platform to talk bollocks. You started by saying that the account of biological history and diversity is necessarily an ethical standard. Instead of demonstrating that point, you just asserted it over and over. Now you’re saying that you doubt the natural process of evolution, but your idea of maths, stats and evidence is a rambling post of nonsense.
        Now, you failed my last challenge quite miserably. I asked you to explain the necessary relationship between biological evolution and a moral standard and you argued (badly) that it could be used as a moral standard, but that is not the same as being necessary.
        So, here’s my new challenge: substantiate you claims or I’m not replying to you. If you won’t/can’t substantiate your claims then you’re simply using my blog as a platform for your obscure dogma.

      26. Allallt: I don’t know why you are insisting on calling biological evolution “capitalist evolution”.

        Because evolution is true. Evolution happens. Evolution is an observable, verifiable fact, and we can observe anything from galactic superclusters to geological records on our own planet to provide evolution with evidentiary support.

        In the same way that war is now called “peacekeeping intervention,” or some other such nonsense, the term “evolution” has been co-opted by the capitalists who popularized their “Invisible Hand of the free marketplace” version of it. Ergo when discussing evolution, we have to distinguish the evidence-based method (integrative systematic change) from the social-policy-justifying method (random changes eliminate the weak; survival verifies the superiority of the strong).

        Allallt: I don’t know what you mean by mutations of evolution. If you mean mutations, then I don’t know why you don’t think variation is an example of that. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the E. coli experiment, or experiments with fruit flies, although your comment would suggest you are ignorant to these observations of mutation.

        Those experiments are similar to breeding dogs for certain traits, or Darwin’s own work with plants on Tierra del Fuego, or the “development” of antibiotic-resistant strains of disease today. By eliminating certain members of a group, then allowing others to reproduce, you can highlight strains that only (or mostly) possess the originally desired traits.

        That isn’t random mutation, though–that is the hand of God, deliberately selecting and breeding-for those traits. The actual useful mutations of cells during the reproductive process have not been observed in the laboratory. Scientists can inject organisms with different genetic strands, or just chemicals, and spur different kinds of development, but that’s outside intervention, not proof of “random” changes that turn out to be beneficial.

        (You really should consider reading the selections on math again! The math is really easily spelled out, so it’s not at all like having to take calculus again. What part of the 9.426890448883242e+153 example for Alexandra’s ammonia lungs didn’t make sense to you?)

        As to moral standards, you seem to be failing to grasp the potential difference between an absolute moral standard, and a moral standard that any one person decides they like. Let’s say that we have two people, Sam and Eugene.

        Now, Sam is a pacifist. He decides that never hurting anyone is what defines morality.

        Eugene is a sociopath. He decides that morality is always bettering himself by killing people and taking their things.

        Which one’s morals are more valid?

      27. Higharka, you are making a persistent mistake and that mistake is confusing the conversation to the point that it cannot take off. We are not having a conversation (I don’t know if you’ve noticed). What is happening is I am asking you what you’re talking about and your progressing all by yourself without clarifying anything. Here are the reasons I am not engaging you.

        (1) What link and confusion do you assert there is between biological evolution and economic or social structures, other than some analogous mechanism? From the very outset of this conversation you have been set on aligning evolution with social and economic prescriptions. They are not prescriptions I have mentioned; they are not something I allude to; they are not something that is relevant to the truth of evolution.
        (2) You don’t give the impression that you know what you’re talking about. You flip between social, moral and economic prescriptions–referring to each of them as evolution–and evaluate them equally. But each is massively different. The mechanisms of natural selection don’t have to, and empirically don’t, inform morality; successful economic systems should be the persistent ones (I can’t see how you can argue that weak economic systems should be allowed to prosper; who is supposed to support the unsustainable economic systems?). You can’t flip between these issues without making the conversation impossible.
        (3) Objective morality. This has precisely nothing to do with evolution. And you being uncomfortable with not being able to distinguish between Sam and Eugene’s moral outlooks does nothing to validate your speculation that the universe can distinguish. “Oh, isn’t this an uncomfortable situation?” is not an argument; it’s a complaint.
        (4) You don’t understand evolution. You went on a confused rant about how ecosystems can’t evolve without guidance because they’re interdependent. It’s an entirely nonsense claims. Every now and then you have used words that allude to maths (but I haven’t seen you use maths yet) talking of probability as if you’ve forgotten about the “natural selection” part of… “natural selection”. You talk of mutations and probability without talking of biochemistry of natural selection. The maths you allude to (but never use) is so incomplete as to be meaningless.

        So, here’s what I want you to do: Pick one topic (not a group of nebulously related topics); have a look around to see whether I discuss that topic anywhere on my blog; do an appropriate level of research; leave a rebutting comment on the relevant post. Please stop wasting my time with your current chosen method of discussion.
        (If you have maths, actual maths, link to it. But, be warned, I am highly doubtful that your maths without citations and referencing will be complete enough to demonstrate evolution is unnatural.)

      28. Allallt: (1) What link and confusion do you assert there is between biological evolution and economic or social structures, other than some analogous mechanism?

        There is a connection between physical reality and human behavior. You believe that you, and other humans, exist because of a process of random cellular mutation. This belief about how the world works–through random, meaningless occurrences–informs your beliefs on other topics.

        Some people believe that this is not the case. They believe that an all powerful entity created humans directly. This belief about how the world works–through the decrees of an omnipotent creator–informs their beliefs on other topics.

        For you to claim that your beliefs are not influenced by your beliefs is ludicrous. It’s akin to a Muslim saying, “Eating pork is wrong because God says so, however, it is ridiculous for you to claim that I feel this way just because of my religious beliefs.”

        By stating that you believe that the random movement of matter has caused the existence of the universe we perceive, you have made a very powerful claim about the fundamental nature of reality. You point to a progressively more complex fossil record, and conclude, “It all happened randomly,” because you have faith in random change. You’ve never seen random change, but you’ve read some holy texts from an educated caste of priests who have assured you that the world is based upon immutable principles of random change, so you have drawn conclusions about things that happened billions of years ago in accordance with these beliefs. You think that if I read some of the books of your bible again, I will be swayed–but I’m not going to be, because I make my decisions based on observable evidence, rather than spiritual texts.

        For a Muslim following the Qur’an, eating pork is wrong. Djinn exist. Muhammad is the last prophet of the only God. Accordingly, every single thing now in existence was created by Allah.

        For a modern westerner following Anglo-American evolutionary theory, every single thing now in existence was created by random, unguided chance. The molecular structures that we know now were not ordained by a higher power, nor do they serve a purpose–they’re simply an analogized expression of efficiency. Ergo, the universe contains no deeper meaning than randomness. All of existence is random chance, sputtering mutation, and nothing more than a sequence of chemical reactions.

        The philosophical implications of this are, necessarily, profound. By believing in the corporate media’s consensus about “evolution,” you close off a belief in any number of other possibilities regarding how the universe came into being. To believe in this kind of evolution is an affirmation that the fundamental nature of existence is the random movement of matter-structures, e.g., there is no higher power than random chance.

        As the Judeo-Christian religions are the cause of anti-sexual behavior in innumerable guises, pop-evolution is the cause of postmodern nihilism. Because pop-evolution declares that there is no guiding force in the universe save efficiency, it is inextricably linked to the callous, terrible philosophies of modern rent-seeking, finance, and genocide. Pop-evolution is the holy text of neoliberal economics, humanitarian warfare, corporate externalizing, and the police state. With no gods left save efficiency, every man is a number–a hunk of genetic material whom the universe will judge based upon their reproductive success and use of natural resources during life.

        Under pop-evolution, the homeless person who starves in the street deserves to starve. Like the extinction of “lesser” species, a hungry child who dies in poverty is meant to die because of her genetic inferiority, because she has been naturally-selected to fail, in order that those with better DNA may survive.

        Whereas, by contrast, a creature like Prince Harry or Tony Blair is, by virtue of their evolutionary success in having been born into the top of society, a superior organism.

      29. Nossa, I had no idea this thread had taken off as it had. Subbing now.

        But let me take Higharka on one point.

        For example, how would honeybees have evolved to rely on flower nectar without flowers having simultaneously evolved to rely on honeybees for pollination? Neither could have, on their own. The Earth’s integrative ecology is the more rational, scientific conclusion.

        Are you suggesting bees are the only way plants pollinate? Are you suggesting wind has never carried a single male gamete cross an expanse to a potential mate? Are you suggesting grazing animals haven’t brushed up against a fortuitously positioned anther and carried the pollen away? Are you suggesting that nectar might not have been a poison developed by a plant to dissuade certain insects from consuming the flower, yet to another (like a bee) it was found to be delectable? That’s quite a claim. Are you trying to define aesthetics? If so, then perhaps you should consider the fact that we are presenting consuming the waste product of another organism: oxygen. We are consuming their faeces. Does this fact fit in with a universal definition of aesthetics?

        This is why you drive people crazy, Higharka. Such comments deserve ridicule, not because you’re trying to establish some base for your beliefs, as flawed (or perhaps accurate) as those beliefs might be, but because you present yourself as some obtuse, condescending high-arse. I think I summed it up nicely a while ago after a long, long, long thread with you, by saying:

        You’re a tremendously odd person. Ordinarily I like odd. Generally I seek out the peculiar and happily embrace the uncommon, but your oddness has no charm. It’s bland, colourless, confusing, and rather gloomy in a wet, tiresome, and unappealing way.

  9. K, tried again to confirm. For some reason, it’s eating the comments I post unless they’re really short. Let me know if it’s something you can fix.

  10. When one considers atheist mass murderers like Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, and Che Guevara it becomes clear that unabashed, unattenuated atheism is a crime against humanity.

    And when an actual eye witness to the atheist horror tells her tale, other atheist fanatics try to convince everyone that she’s trying to confuse the issue with the facts.

    The poor girl is obviously mentally ill and deranged after all.

    1. You cannot define atheism in such a way as to make it a motivating factor; you can, however, define the individual dogma of each of the people you just named as a motivating factor. Grouping them by atheism is no more significant than grouping then as male or “non-American”.
      Who said IB is deranged?

      1. Alla,

        But atheism is, indeed, a motivating factor for cruelty and mass murder.

        While atheists are utopians who think human nature is intrinsically good, our Western Tradition, history and experience show that human nature is prone to evil and corruption.

        The purpose of religion is to attenuate man’s tendency toward evil and corruption.

        On the other hand, atheism does absolutely nothing to address this tendency in man.

        Atheism leads to evil and corruption unbound among men.

      2. That’s a real leap in reasoning. Especially in your religious worldview where man’s nature is created.
        It’s also a patent omission of witch hunts and inquisitions. What did religion attenuate there?
        Lastly, atheism wouldn’t be a motivator in the scenario you developed. The motivator would be human nature.
        The motivator as i see it is the individual dogma of each individual you named. You haven’t addressed that.
        I suspect, based on or previous conversations, that you will say you have addressed it. But i assure you haven’t. You have attempted to explicate why you feel atheism could be a motivator for cruelty, but haven’t mentioned the dogma of the people you named.

      3. Alla,

        But it isn’t a “real leap in reasoning.”

        If man has a tendency toward evil and religion addresses and atheism does not, then it is totally reasonable to conclude that atheism leaves mankind at the mercy of his own nature.

      4. Ah, yes. That is the logical conclusion of your premises. But that is different from being a motivator. In your description, atheism is permissive, not motivating.
        And that’s not quite right, because atheism isn’t a stating point. Atheism is a response to a question. Atheism is only permissive in so fast as it doesn’t directly address issues of morality. You need a world view, which atheism isn’t.

      5. Alla,

        Belief systems don’t have motives, human beings have motives.

        Religion points men toward what it defines as good.

        Atheism leaves each man to decide what is good.

        Under atheism then, justice will eventually become the advantage of the strong (tyranny).

      6. Alla,

        Atheism is a starting philosophy.

        In fact, almost all atheists think exactly the same, have the same beliefs and worldview.

        The homogeneous nature of atheism makes religious conformity pale by comparison.

      7. Alla,

        To be an atheist one must accept that everything just happened all by itself.

        That is a starting position.

        The theist starting position is that the universe had a first cause and that first cause was God.

      8. No, one does not have to accept that. Neither is it defining of atheism. One can omit all claims to knowledge about the beginning, or claim there was no beginning. That would still be atheism.

      9. Alla,

        To claim that there was no beginning is a rejection of what modern science has already proven.

        The rejection of science is also a starting position sense it also means the rejection of reason and the laws of nature.

      10. Why did you turn “omit” into “reject”? They are very different. But neither would be a starting position. And rejection of science is also not defining of atheism.

      11. Alla,

        Your comments and the facts (my comments) prove that atheism is both a starting position and a rejection of science.

        Atheism is also a philosophy of denial, which you also demonstrate quite clearly.

        You would deny that the sky is blue if that fact proved the existence of God.

        (Now, the atheist usually goes into total gibberish mode and argues and that the sky isn’t really blue).

      12. Alla,

        I’m not arguing religious faith, I’m arguing reason.

        In my comments, I have not stated one article of religious faith.

        Again you prove that atheists don’t have any idea what reason is, thus the outright rejection of science.

      13. You’re arguing religion. You argued that religion attenuates moral decision making. You’re comparing that to atheism.
        SOM, i have had to explain this to you too many times: our conversation is recorded above. I don’t know what you hope to achieve by misrepresenting it.
        Unless you have something interesting, honest and substantiated to say, i an not replying to you.

      14. Alla,

        My statement about religion is a fact, not faith.

        Now, you’re denying a simple, almost obvious fact and you don’t even realize it.

        Thus, the ravages of atheism upon the mind of man.

      15. You said you weren’t talking about religion. Your defence now is that you weren’t talking about faith.
        It’s been worthless talking to you, SOM. Good bye.

  11. Allallt: (4) You don’t understand evolution. You went on a confused rant about how ecosystems can’t evolve without guidance because they’re interdependent. It’s an entirely nonsense claims. Every now and then you have used words that allude to maths (but I haven’t seen you use maths yet) talking of probability as if you’ve forgotten about the “natural selection” part of… “natural selection”.

    This shows me that you didn’t yet manage to get all the way through Lightform Evolution. Let me go ahead into one of the mathematical examples discussed in the section on “Alexandra’s ammonia lungs.”

    Lung Development Word Problem, Introduction

    Alexandra (you’ll remember from the link) is a hypothetical species which goes from being an ocean-dwelling predecessor to a land-dwelling creature of the present day. Although the hypothetical species “Alexandra” is an entire species, we’ll refer to her using a singular pronoun for purposes of simplicity.

    Alexandra is composed of five trillion cells, or 5,000,000,000,000 cells. Somewhere in-between her years as an ocean-dwelling creature and a land-dwelling creature, she developed lungs that were able to respirate air instead of ocean water. In order for that to happen, she had to develop exclusively air-breathing lungs.

    The fossil record tells us that life on Earth has existed for about 3.8 billion years, but we’ll be generous, and allow for 4 billion years of time for Alexandria’s evolution to take place. That’s 4,000,000,000 years. The other variable involved, you’ll remember, is 5,000,000,000,000 cells.

    As you have pointed out, in accordance with the principles of the randomized take on evolution that is popular in Earth 2014, it’s not the cells themselves that evolve, but rather, the DNA which guides the development of those cells. Nonetheless, that is five trillion pieces of genetic code that need to be affected, in order to transform those lungs, over four billion years, from ocean-respirating lungs to air-respirating lungs.

    Lung Development Word Problem, Aside on Complexity

    Note how incredibly generous we’re being, here, to pop-evolution. The fossil record shows about 3.8 billion years of time from the earliest microorganisms to the present day. We’re not only giving Alexandra 4 billion years to evolve only a single internal organ, we’re also letting her start off, from the beginning, as a highly complex 5-trillion-celled organism, rather than starting as a single-celled organism. So when you see how unlikely her chances are at evolving just one organ in the allotted 4 billion years, you can magnify that unlikelihood more than a millionfold to see how unlikely it is that she could go from single-celled to air-breathing in that same span of time!

    Lung Development Word Problem, Breakdown of Variables

    Alexandra’s ocean-breathing state: 5,000,000,000,000 cells.

    Time allotted for the development of air-breathing lungs: 4,000,000,000 years.

    Those variables aren’t enough to help us figure out the likelihood of Alexandra’s evolution. We’d need to know a few other things. Firstly, we’d need to know the rate at which randomized mutations to Alexandra’s DNA occur, and we’d also need to know the level of chemical complexity required to fine-tune those lungs so that they can breathe Earth’s atmosphere.

    Given the complexity of chemicals available on Earth, and the possible combinations thereto (which are discussed in the full post in more detail, if you’re able to go back and give another try at reading it), the chemical complexity spectrum that would be tested by natural selection is 98!. This is a factorial; if you don’t remember how those work, go here: Introduction to Factorials in Mathematics.

    The factorial 98! is 9.426890448883242e+153. If you’re not familiar with that kind of mathematical notation, which is larger than a googol and a half. If you don’t remember how large a googol is, here’s a reminder: One googol.

    Spelled out all the way, the chemical complexity spectrum to which Alexandra would be subjected to by random evolution is the following number:

    9,426,890,448,883,242,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000

    The last variable we’d need to know for this probability would be the rate at which cells mutate. Out of the DNA designs for the approximately five trillion cells in Alexandra’s adult body, how many of them will “randomly mutate” during each reproduction, such that we might eventually evolve Alexandra from ocean-breathing to air-breathing?

    This variable is called the mutation rate, or the rate at which observable changes occur in a DNA sequence during reproduction. Pop-biologists have conceded that the mutation rate is somewhere around 0.008% (8 thousands of one percent); if you’d like to do more research on the subject, a good introduction would be any edition of Molecular Biology of the Cell. Here’s a link to the free summary, which discusses, briefly, e. coli and human reproductive rates: Molecular Biology of the Cell.

    Summing Up the Variables

    Let’s recap. The variables we have available are:

    Alexandra’s ocean-breathing state: 5,000,000,000,000 cells subject to potential change.

    Time allotted for the development of air-breathing lungs: 4,000,000,000 years during which the potential change can occur.

    Chemical complexity spectrum to which Alexandra’s evolution will be subjected: 9,426,890,448,883,242,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000-large spread.

    Rate at which Alexandra’s cells mutate: 0.008%.

    Lastly, we need to know how often Alexandra reproduces each year, in order to know how many times she can reproduce during the 4 billion years available to her. Let’s be incredibly, incredibly generous, and say that she reproduces one hundred times a year. For a bacterial organism, or a fruit fly, that isn’t generous, but for a complex, five-trillion-celled creature, that is quite generous. One hundred times a year–one hundred potential chances during each year for her to evolve from ocean-breathing lungs to air-breathing lungs.

    Doing the Math

    Now that we’ve set up our variables, we can do the problem. Here’s how it looks in word form:

    [Alexandra’s total number of cells, or five trillion] multiplied by [the average rate at which her cells mutate during reproduction, or 0.008%] multiplied by [the average number of times she successfully reproduces, in a year, organisms which are healthy enough to go on to reproduce themselves, or 100], multiplied by [the total time she has available to evolve just one organ to go from ocean-breathing to air-breathing].

    In short form:

    Five trillion times point zero zero eight percent times 100 times four billion.

    Here are just the numbers:

    5,000,000,000,000 x 0.008% x 100 x 4,000,000,000 = ______ ?

    And the answer is, if you’ll get out your calculator to check my work:


    Again, if you don’t use that kind of mathematical notation regularly, that expression means “1.6 followed by 22 zeroes,” or 160,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, which we can represent verbally as “160 septillion.”

    What that result means is that, by the end of a 4 billion year study period, in which nothing interrupts Alexandra’s reproductive process, and she continues to successfully reproduce reproductively-successful organisms at a rate of one hundred per year, she’ll have 160 septillion chances to mutate cellular provisions in her DNA in such a way as to (potentially) develop air-breathing lungs.

    The Likelihood of Alexandra’s Success

    160 septillion seems like a big number, doesn’t it? But remember–the chemical complexity spectrum she faces. That’s a much bigger number. 160 septillion may be 1.6e+22, but the chemical complexity spectrum is 9.426890448883242e+153. That is much bigger.

    To obtain the likelihood of Alexandra’s success during the 4 billion year time period, we take her chances–160 septillion–and divide them by the denominator of 9,426,890,448,883,242,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000.

    That’s a mouthful, which is why mathematical notation is so helpful. The problem is really just a fraction, which looks like so:

    (1.6e+22) / (9.426890448883242e+153)

    We can easily eliminate the “22” from both the numerator and the denominator, leaving behind:

    (1.6) / (9.426890448883242e+131)

    Can you see Alexandra’s problems now? 1.6 divided by over a googol. The percentage chance of an organism developing, through random mutation and natural selection, even a single internal organ during four billion years is incredibly tiny. Here’s her chance of success; the chance of even one organism managing to evolve an atmosphere-respirating lung from an ocean-respirating lung:


    If the mathematical notation is unclear, here’s what it looks like as a standard percentage:


    That’s it. That’s the percentage chance of a single organism developing an air-respirating lung.

    That is why “random” evolution is so ridiculous. If life had not four billion, but four hundred billion years to evolve, the percentage chance would be 1.697272296390741e-129, or:


    If Alexandra had four hundred billion years to evolve, and she successfully reproduced a million times a year, the chance would be 1.697272296390741e-122, or:


    How many more ridiculous fantasies should we make up in an attempt to save the idiotic faith of pop-evolution? We’ve already eliminate from consideration Alexandra’s trachea; the design of her red blood cells; her scales, her spine, her digestive and rectal functions, and many, many thousands of other changes that would have to happen, in coordination with her lung changes, to make the lung evolution successful. What else can we do to make that impossibly tiny probability above look better?

    Okay, so Alexandra reproduces a million times a year, and we’ve multiplied by a factor of one hundred the amount of time she had to evolve even one organ. What else can we do? Let’s be even more stupidly generous. Let’s say that Alexandra successfully reproduces one billion times per year. No, ten billion. No, a hundred billion! We’ll say that Alexandra grows at such an astounding rate that, each year, there are a hundred billion new Alexandras, zero of which die off, and for every year thereafter, there are another hundred billion.

    We’ll also assume, as we have been throughout, that not a single Alexandra regressively mutates, i.e., that none of the evolutionary mutations regress Alexandra back toward the ocean-breathing stage, and that once a positive change has been made, it stays, unaltered, forever. (Otherwise, we’d have to reduce Alexandra’s chances even further, assuming that some of those hundred billion offspring each year might begin developing “backward,” thereby ruining their chances at contributing to future air-breathing success.)

    Okay, so a hundred billion successful reproductions a year. Our number is still incredibly small. Alexandra’s chances are now 1.697272296390741e-117, or:


    Allallt: You talk of mutations and probability without talking of biochemistry of natural selection. The maths you allude to (but never use) is so incomplete as to be meaningless.

    You’re quite right. Even though 9.426890448883242e+153 is a relatively large number in Earthly biochemical terms, it’s actually far too generous to pop-evolution to use such a small number of potential mutations. For purposes of simplicity, I’ve been unduly generous to Anglo-American evolutionary theory, because I’ve only considered the “lung” organ itself, rather than all the associated changes to air-breathing apparatus–mouth, esophagus, etc.–that Alexandra would also have to simultaneously develop in order to make the lungs worth anything. Realistically, Alexandra’s chances at obtaining air-respirating lungs through natural selection are much, much lower than we’ve expressed here.

    Even so, the failure of pop-evolution to satisfy such a generous requirement is not “meaningless.” Rather, it shows us just how wildly improbable and truly insane such a theory would be, to claim that such sophistication could have developed randomly in only 4 billion years.

    Be at peace. There is a fossil record. There has been a gradual, ongoing process of evolution on your planet, and in your universe. To better understand this process, don’t suspend your intellect and place your faith in a caste of Wise Men who tell you that everything occurred randomly. Instead, be an independent thinker. Use the science of mathematics to help you gain a better understanding of how evolution could have occurred. It would be a terrible shame if you stopped at, “It just happened randomly, because the great thinkers of my era say so!”

    1. Oh, my apologies! I just realized that WordPress extended the large numbers out into the background on the right of the page. If you highlight the numbers starting from the left, you can see them against the wallpaper pattern.

      (If you see a line of zeroes stretching off the post, that’s what happened. I thought it would move them down to the next line, but apparently, WordPress doesn’t do that. Again, sorry; I’ll add my own line breaks into large numbers in the future.)

    2. Higharka, following is a quick for quiz. Please provide quick fire answers:
      (1) does evolution happen in the individual (e.g. i evolve in my life time) or inter-generationally (i.e. from parent to offspring)?

      1. Question 2: for evolution to take place, where does a mutation have to be? In all the cells of the organ that is adapting (e.g. All the cells of a liver or lung) or in a gamete (e.g. In a sperm or egg cell)?

      2. Allallt,

        I’m aware that some creationists, who have tried to invalidate pop-evolution, have expressed the belief that evolution occurs within an “evolving” organism, rather than within the DNA during the reproductive process. I don’t think that’s the case. Even if I did believe that, though, it would be irrelevant as to the mathematics we’ve discussed above. I could also believe that the aurora borealis is caused by necromancers, and although it might be funny to mock me for that, it wouldn’t be relevant to the discussion at hand.

        Is what you really want out of this to get pleasure from mocking me for being stupid? Or are you interested in learning something about how complex organisms could’ve evolved with such incredible rapidity–3.8 billion years from single-celled organisms to homo sapiens?

        I know that it can be difficult to challenge long-held beliefs in what your society’s Learned Men have told you to be true, but I encourage you to learn more about math yourself, so that you can evaluate their claims on your own, and develop your own lines of inquiry.

        For the past ten thousand years, humans have been coming up with different stories about how they came to exist. Thousands of belief systems have dominated different parts of the planet at different times. How many of them were right?

        Now, it’s 2014. After ten thousand years of humanity’s silly storytelling, what makes you so narcissistically convinced that the Learned Men of Your Era are so correct, in contrast to all the others who’ve come before?

    3. I’m sorry, but I have to jump in here to address this nonsense.

      Alexandra is composed of five trillion cells, or 5,000,000,000,000 cells. Somewhere in-between her years as an ocean-dwelling creature and a land-dwelling creature, she developed lungs that were able to respirate air instead of ocean water. In order for that to happen, she had to develop exclusively air-breathing lungs.

      Firstly, in the ocean or on land, Alexandra breathes only oxygen. The mechanism by which she extracts the oxygen from her environment changes only slightly, but process remains exactly the same. The specialisation of the cell has already occurred.

      Now the juicy bit. The number of cells is entirely meaningless. A dinosaur had tens of trillions more cells than a human… because it was bigger. X number of lung cells means simply x number is required to perform the physiological task for the size of the creature. Every lung cells is, however, exactly the same. If it is then needed in greater numbers there is no problem because the template is there… It’s just a matter of replication.

      Your math, therefore, is based on a fallacy.

      1. I was trying to get there Socratically. This is why i say higharka hasn’t used maths; it’s random numbers fitted into basic arithmetic.

      2. It shouldn’t be to difficult. If Highark plays along he should realised that a mutation need only appear once: in a gamete. Then, if higharka decides to be sincere, we can discuss how–despite his maths–the famous ‘E coli in limited glucose’ experiment observed increases in allele frequency of efficient glucose metabolism, followed by two mutations leading to an entirely new, factorially more efficient glucose metabolism… In a human lifetime.

      3. Allallt,

        If you’re unsure of how many cells are in the average human body, just check google! 50 trillion is a common figure, and there are many organisms, both ocean-dwelling and surface-dwelling, that have about 10% of the cells that humans have. I know that the numbers involved are very large, but you shouldn’t let that discourage you from checking up. A “trillion” is big, but you can easily verify the concepts involved, so that it doesn’t seem like “fuzzy math” to you.

        (If you can’t find a good link yourself about the number of cells in the average human, or the average catfish, etc., let me know and I will google one for you.)

      4. John,

        Lung cells ending up in the brain, or in a clot in the bloodstream, is bad. The organism’s DNA provides not only for what type of cells will be created in order to construct the new organ, but where those cells will be placed in the organ.

        Spatial placement coordination is as important a function of DNA as cellular construction sequences. A bunch of extra neurons in the right part of your head might make you smarter, whereas a bunch of extra neurons growing out of your knee might not help very much.

        My Alexandra example is extraordinarily generous to the concept of “random” evolution, not only for the reasons listed above, but also because the example doesn’t take into account spatial coordination. We’ve assumed, to make the math simpler for you guys, that all of the mutations occurred in the correct place.

        In a random environment, though, those mutations would not always occur in the correct place. An otherwise properly-mutated lung cell could occur inside Alexandra’s eye, inside her brain, stuck too the outside of her flippers–and there, it would be little better than a tumor. We’ve completely eliminated that possibility from consideration; if we included it, mercantilist evolution would look even less feasible.

      5. That’s an interesting perspective, John. Do you know what medical science calls it when cells reproduce as much as they like, without paying heed to the DNA’s directives as to number?

        The answer is cancer. When your beliefs, John Zande, are put into play on the cellular level–“The number of cells is entirely meaningless.”–the result is a tumor: a potentially fatal mass of cells that expands, often harming the host organism, drawing resources away from the body while interfering with the operation of other organisms.

        Why do humans range in height from, oh, 4 feet tall to 8 feet tall? Because the number of cells is entirely meaningful. Our DNA is like a blueprint for our adult forms, determining our approximate size. This is why homo sapiens do not regularly produce children who are 50 feet tall. The number of cells very much matters. And any evolutionary change has to take that into account.

  12. As an aside from evolution, let’s take note of something: the cowardice of the atheists here. This post began with a discussion of “politeness and accusations,” and when questioned, I began explaining the evolutionary process to you guys.

    I gave you several outside links to essays where evolution was the subject at hand. However, you’ve consistently been afraid to venture outside of your board to discuss the subject. Instead, what’s more important to you has been staying here, in the warm glow of your own campfires, to look smart in front of your peers. You’re afraid to leave your own neighborhood to pursue the issues themselves; far more important to you is the feeling of communal superiority.

    (If anyone’s reading this who can understand the mathematics, or who is just beginning to understand the faith-based nature of randomized, mercantilist evolution, you may feel free to post anonymously on my board, so that you can learn more about how evolution works without revealing to any of your peers that you are deviating from the party line.)

      1. Which one?

        (I won’t be back on the internet for hours, but whichever one it is, I’ll answer it then. I rather like your bullies’ chorus of demands, in the sense that it will help passers-by better understand the dynamic of this situation–thank you both.)

      2. At least no one will be of the impression that this is a conversation. This is you being as obtuse as you can to avoid questions. That is transparent to any passerby. It is also apparent that you’re not addressing evolution. You’re addressing your either mistaken or strawman rendition of evolution; your own personal fiction. You bemoan us not engaging with your bullshit and now I’ve agreed to engage it you’re ignoring me and maintaining your condescending social hunter narrative.
        Another social faux pas: you are accusing John and I of bringing up evolution and refusing to move on, but you brought it up, not me. I just went back to the thread to check.
        None of this is the conversation we’re having; that is just the distraction you’re spreading so that you don’t have to address the nonsense you’re calling evolution. So, I’ve noticed and won’t be discussing it with you again. Now it has been brought explicitly to your attention, you should feel a bit more self conscious about continue to distract and rabbit hole the conversation.
        The question again, though…
        Question 2: for evolution to take place, where does a mutation have to be? In all the cells of the organ that is adapting (e.g. All the cells of a liver or lung) or in a gamete (e.g. In a sperm or egg cell)?

      3. Aaaaand, I’m back! And there are comments. Cool!

        “Where does a mutation have to be” is a bit of a mistake in phrasing on your part. It looks like you’re trying to discuss mutations that occur within the (generally) sequestered strains of heritable DNA, such as germ-line systems, rather than somatic systems, which are not directly involved in the reproductive process; ergo, a mutation to the cells of your outer ear is far less likely to be passed on than a mutation affecting the ovum.

        What you’re missing at this intermediate level of understanding (even of pop-biology) is that somatic mutations can still affect the reproductive process, depending on whether they’re being tracked properly. For example, the unusual lump on someone’s outer ear may appear to be somatic, when actually, it turns out generations later to have been caused by a previously-unrecognized alteration in a tiny part of the ovum which covered the development of that organism’s ear-shape.

        As we discussed with regards John’s earlier error about placement, the DNA can’t just contain information about the production of an organism’s skin cells; it has to, additionally, be quite specific about where to place those skin cells on the organism. DNA includes information about the composition of the skin cells, as well as the placement of those skin cells.

        If the DNA did not do this, then babies would regularly be born with epidermal aberrations, such as twice-as-thick skin on their left side, and zero skin on their right side (or other similar examples of mistakes in placement). Other organs, in the same way, could end up in the wrong place in offspring, such as a heart growing from the roof of a mouth, or a foot growing out of the shoulder, if the DNA were not blueprinting the entire thing.

        Evolution does occur, guys, but it occurs in tandem with the environment. The responsive changes between animals and habitats are actually on the cutting edge of pop-bioscience even now in Earth 2014.

        There isn’t any need to be afraid of the interconnected nature of the world, anymore than there is to avoid thinking about numbers with more than nine zeroes after them. Harry Potter and the robber barons of the Gilded Age both love the idea that bloodlines determine merit–and for Britons, it will certainly be difficult for you to move past such ideas–but if you’re able to perceive the relationship between this planet and yourselves, you will find a more enduring happiness than the callous short-term pride of believing yourself “a superior organism.”

      4. Question 2 (reworded – i said these questions are quick fire): In what type of cell does a genetic mutation need to be present to be heritable?

      5. I already answered this: a germ-line cell. (If you’re only familiar with the term “gamete,” yes, the mutation should be present in a gamete.)

        Brush up on your Latin! “Germ-line” cells are reproductive cells, such as gametes, which are involved in the passing-on of traits to offspring. Think of the meaning of the word “germinate.”

      6. Alla,

        The germ cells, sperm and egg pass mutations to offspring. Those mutations are thus, inherited by offspring and future generations.

        Other mutations that are not passed through inheritance occur throughout the lifetime of an individual and occur in what are called somatic cells.

        Somatic cells are skin cells, bone cells, lung cells, blood cells, liver cells, etc..

      7. Allallt,

        When you say, “[I]n how many cells does a mutations have to occur,” are you still looking for a cell-type answer, or a numerical value?

        E.g., if I were to tell you, “One tiny sequence of DNA is enough, as long as that sequence survives the reproduction process and creates the trait in offspring,” is that a fine answer? Or are you looking for something like, “At least ten mutations have to occur,” or “At least fifty mutations have to occur”?

      8. Hey there, John,

        Why do atheists always reduce discussions to absurdity with silly questions?

        Nevertheless, I’ll lay out your diplodocus problem and then leave the atheist to do the math.

        After all, leaving the brute labor to the geniuses is only fair, no?

        Average weight of your average diplodocus = 15 metric tons *

        Average number of cells per gram of tissue = 1,000,000,000 **

        1 kilogram = 1000 grams; 1 metric ton = 1000 kilograms

        1,000,000,000 cells/gram x 1000 grams/kilogram x 1000 kilograms/ton x 15 ton = ? cells

        * http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/dinosaurs/dinos/Diplodocus.shtml
        ** http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/2001/press.html

        (Hint: 15 followed by 15 zeros)

      9. Thanks SOM. You’ll have to scroll up through the thread to see why this number is pertinent in proving Higharka’s magic math dead wrong. It’s why she won’t answer, because she already knows how wrong she is…

      10. Hi SoM. The questions are Socratic; there is something wrong with Higharka’s model and the questions are meant to let lead them to notice that. John is right, though: Higharka’s refusal to answer does suggest they’re aware of the fault but didn’t presented it sincerely in the first place. It is only a suggestion, though; Higharka has ample opportunity for defence or rectification.

      11. Alla,

        There is nothing Socratic about any of your means or methods.

        You’re an atheist.

        That means you reject the very method of reasoning developed by Socrates and his progeny, Plato and Aristotle.

        If you really understood Socrates you would not, could not be an atheist.

        For just as the atheist pilfers the name of science to justify atheism which is provably irrational, so you the atheist attempt to cloak absurdity in the name of a famous Western philosopher.

        Atheists are modern day sophists. Socrates detested the sophists of his day.

      12. There is nothing Socratic about any of your means or methods. You’re an atheist.

        There is nothing rational about your comment. You’re an idiot.

      13. Tildeb,

        If you had a rational argument, you would make it.

        Instead the atheist resorts of abuse.

        When the atheist regime assumes power, the abuse turns to mass murder and ruthless oppression.

        I answered the absolutely stupid question,

        “How many cells in a diplodocus?”

        to demonstrate that even when one of the atheist’s stupid questions gets answered the result is still obfuscation, denial, more stupidity, never clarity or the pursuit of truth.

        Thank you for proving my point.

        Inducing the atheist to demonstrate her own irrationality, brutality and rejection of reason is yet another example of the Socratic method in action.

      14. Telling us the conclusion you reached is not you using the Socratic method. You need us to reach it. And we’re having the conversation with Higharka. What would you think of a person who butted into someone else’s conversation and then mocked the participants for not inviting them in half way through?

      15. It is this kind of content-free rant that makes me ponder your intent. You seem averse to explaining anything.
        I can borrow Socrates’ method without sharing his beliefs. Socrates was considered part of the sophist movement at the time… You obviously have freedom to explain yourself… If take it if i were you.

      16. Alla,

        An atheist “borrowing” Socrates is like a necromancer borrowing Catholicism.

        Never the twains shall meet.

        That you my statement of facts, “content free” shows the utter inability of the atheist to think rationally.

        I have merely stated what is well known.

        I always state what is well known.

        That way when the atheist rebukes the facts the true nature of is irrationality becomes evident.

        That’s the Socratic method in actions.

      17. Well done. You ignored your opportunity to explain yourself.
        What i was doing with Higharka was tge Socratic method. If you don’t understand that, that’s your problem. The rest of your comment makes no sense. Care to explain? Or are you going to go on pretending that being understood is not partly your responsibility?

      18. Alla,

        It is common for atheists to derail a conversation that is not going their way by asking stupid questions.

        You always do that with me and my response is always the same: I don’t do stupid.

        Evidently, Higharka doesn’t do stupid either but is too polite to say so.

      19. What you don’t do explanation. What you do isn’t even sophistry. It’s vacuous comments which you refuse to defend. You then call your refusal to defend yourself ‘stating the obvious’ or common knowledge or some other bullshit dodge. You have never progressed a conversation with me, ever. And your performance isn’t even in front of your own audience; here we all see right through it.

      20. Goodness, you boys have been busy while I’ve been away!

        SoM’s estimate for a diplodocus seems reasonable to me. Go ahead and ask your follow-up.

      21. No follow-up, just pointing out where your math is wrong.

        You said: The other variable involved… is 5,000,000,000,000 cells.

        As I have already pointed out, that is a meaningless number. It is not a “variable” that can be applied to the chances or regularity of mutations. The largest Blue Whale today has 100 quadrillion cells. Quite the number, yes? Diplodocus’s had many, many more. Cells are easy. Get the template and it’s just a game of replication to meet the need. Big lungs, small lungs, it doesn’t matter.

        And I remind you, you then said that is five trillion pieces of genetic code that need to be affected, in order to transform those lungs, over four billion years, from ocean-respirating lungs to air-respirating lungs.

        Errrum, no. Dead, dead, dead wrong. The mutation need only occur in one cell: the germ cell, as Allallt is driving you to admit, and as alveoli’s perform pretty much as gills do, we see that the genetic shift is not that great at all. The animal is still breathing oxygen, as it always has. How long it takes that particular mutation to pass to an entire population (to reach critical mass, should it be beneficial) is dependent on a number of factors, but all of them combined don’t even come within a trillion light year horizon of the numbers you’re trying to suggest.

        So, care to re-think your math, minus, for starters, the 5,000,000,000,000 “variable”?

      22. John,

        Even in one germ cell, the odds that are being referred to in this conversation are staggering.

        Biotechnology and research into genetics, molecular biology, pharmaceuticals are woven together in a field called bioinformatics.

        Bioinformatics amounts to organizing the oceans and oceans of data concerning genes, genomes and any and all aspects of proteins (of which there are gazillions, each a specialized tool).

        Bioinformatics creates software accessible databases that allow researchers to form some sort of coherence out of all the information in living systems.

        Additionally, all the combinations of nucleotides and their associated codons and anti-codons that code for proteins are nearly endless.*

        And genes that code for the lungs, don’t necessarily code for any other part of the body.

        And the coding necessary just to get a pair of lungs or a pair of eyeballs and all the other associated body parts and functions is stupendously complex and needs to happen in coordination, all at the same time.

        Consequently, Higharka’s point is well taken.

        * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Translation_(biology)

      23. John,

        You’re correct that many different cells can be made from the “template” in the DNA. Good show! What you’re not understanding, though, is that there are many different types of cells in the body. These cells generally correspond to a number of complex systems in the body. For example: the cardiovascular system, or the nervous system.

        Within these “systems” (that’s actually the proper term to use, so remember it), there are subdivisions of smaller systems, such as the limbic system within the nervous system. With those sub-systems, there are sometimes other sub-sub-systems, and within those components, at a lower scale, we reach the cells themselves. (DNA also encodes the designs for intra-cellular components, as well as their placement, but we’ll keep things simple and stick to just the level of “the cell,” for now.)

        Now, you’re correct that those cells are made from a “template” (that’s an acceptable term for us to use here) in the DNA. However, the production of the type of cell is only one of the pieces of information that the DNA includes regarding that cell.
        The DNA templates for the nervous system include the cells that make up the different sub-systems and other materials found inside various parts of the nervous system.

        This includes cell placement, which is why the total mass of the organism is of great importance in considering cellular sequence mutation. For example, the nervous system includes:

        1) Glial cells;

        2) Myelinated nerve cells and myelinated axons;

        3) Neuropil;

        4) Capillary endothelial cells.

        Now, the glial cells appear in both white matter and gray matter, where they help to process cognitive functions. However, they need to be very specifically located in order to achieve this task. A bicycle, for example, can help a person travel faster–but only if that person is on the bicycle. If the bicycle is located a mile away, the bicycle cannot be used to help that person travel faster.

        An organism’s DNA provides information relevant to the growth of the proper kind of cell–such as the capillary endothelial cells that appear in cerebrospinal fluid–but also to the proper placement of that cell within the organism. The result of this is that cerebrospinal fluid tends to appear in the spine, cushioning the brain inside the skull, and other appropriate places–but not in sacs growing from your toenails. Whereas cerebrospinal fluid is vital for life inside your spine and your brain-case, it could be deadly if it were being produced in other areas of your body–such as your bone marrow, your heart, or your lungs. Or your kidneys, or your liver, or your appendix, etc.

        These adjustments to positioning are delicate things to manage, because even a single inch of deviation can mean the difference between cerebrospinal fluid passing through the vertebrae, or filling the chest cavity and killing the organism.

        Every mutation which happens to a germ-line during reproduction, therefore, in order to produce a successful offspring, has to include information for the proper positioning of the cell. Not only would a lung cell sequence have to mutate so as to begin producing certain kinds of new cells, it would have to mutate so as to position those new cells in the proper places.

        Smaller, simpler organisms can evolve faster as a result of this. That is why the evolution of, say, e.coli, is much easier to study than the evolution of, say, elephants. Or diplodocuses.

        I know it seems like a wonderfully simple, elegant explanation for you to think, “All it takes is a small change in the DNA!” In actuality, the DNA contains much, more more information than “how to make cells.” It specifies where to make them, as we’ve discussed in more detail here. It also specifies when to make them. E.g., certain hormones appear during infancy, during childhood, during puberty, at menopause, etc. A vast amount of information is included in those sequences.

        When that information goes wrong in certain ways, we call it cancer. I apologize for not more thoroughly explaining the example earlier; I’d assumed you had more experience with physiological systems, their subdivisions, and how (and when!) they relate to cellular reproduction both during species’ reproduction and any given specimen’s lifetime.

      24. I just marvel at much better informed you are than thousands of working biologists who apply the principles of evolution in their work and continue to produce applications, therapies, and technologies that work for everyone everywhere all the time. They are such fools! Don’t they realize the maths tell them they are on the wrong track?

        You need to get on this right away, and start the necessary re-education and de-conversion from the insidious power of pop-evolution to explain to all of them why the central pillar of modern biology they work with daily is just… wrong. These poor doctors of biology have all been duped! But you’re here to set them all straight.

        Phew. That was a close one!

      25. This is what i call text book knowledge. It’s a pejorative i used to describe students who could almost word-perfect replicate a text book, but don’t understand the content enough to apply it. I used it mainly on Chinese students because their education system does tend to be geared towards replication. (I once had a student successfully write out the mark scheme to a mock exam.)
        All the information for all the systems are in the DNA. The DNA is in every cell. There isn’t limbic system DNA in the limbic system cells; there is the complete genome in every cell (with the occasional mutation). As you’ve already pointed out, yourself, heritable mutations occur in the germ cells or gametes.

      26. Allallt, you’ve stated something that is both true and irrelevant to the point–something that you might call “textbook knowledge” if it were delivered from other mouths.

        It is a longstanding Anglo-American stereotype to be a pasty-faced, anglicized inbred Celt-raper, who “helps” the lesser Mongoloid peoples of the world, and in so doing, concludes that Mongoloids are good “only at repetition, not at ingenuity.” I’m disappointed to see you appearing to validate such stereotypes.

        Yes, the complete genome is in cells–but within that complete genome is a set of placement information for such cells, including differentiation between cells from different systems. That information has to mutate in elegant coordination with the information about cellular structure; otherwise, the mutation could have fatal consequences–making the chance of randomly successful mutations even smaller than the minuscule fractions we discussed above.

        Note how you are demonstrating faith in your approach to this topic: when presented with mathematical evidence that makes your preferred belief system appear to be irrational, do you begin investigating other possibilities? No. Instead, you are willing to go to any imaginable length in order to continue producing a narrative whereby your preferred beliefs remain true.

        You think you’re brilliant for dissecting irrational Christian faith, while in actuality, you are exhibiting the same type of faith yourself. The difference is, it’s 2014 instead of 1814, so you feel quite validated by popular culture for pigheadedly coming up with rationale after rationale for the beliefs you were taught as a child.

        There’s really nothing to be afraid of in learning more about evolution. With more investigation, you can come to understand that, just as cells derive in part from the genetic coding within parts of an integrated system such as an organism’s body, so too do seemingly “independent” organisms like humans derive in part from the coding within parts of an integrated system such as Terra. The proof is there, in the fossil record and in mathematical science, that evolution is progressive and systematically coordinated. Be strong enough to see beyond the arguments of the late 19th century eugenicists and capitalists who established the tenets of your current faith.

      27. You haven’t presented maths. You don’t get this: to present maths of the type you’re attempting to present you must offer your assumptions (because this isn’t just arithmetic, it comes with assumptions) which you haven’t. We have attempted to unpick your assumptions and one spears to be that a mutation must occur in every cell. That’s patently nonsense. The assumption now seems to be that a mutation must be accompanied by precise mutations addressing changes in location and development of the mutation. That assumption expresses an ignorance of embryology, which i encourage you to research to better inform your basal assumptions.
        In this respect maths can be used to explore possibilities based on assumptions or consequences based on evidence (e.g. if A and B are truth, what are the mathematical consequences?). If the assumptions are violated our the evidence turns out not to be robust then the maths falls apart. Your maths catastrophically falls apart for these reasons. We are not using a faith method to ignore you, we recognise bullshit when we see it.

      28. Higharka, you are now talking about specialisation, but I remind you, you were not in your original comment, and that is why your magic math is off. Let me remind you or your comment:

        that is five trillion pieces of genetic code that need to be affected, in order to transform those lungs, over four billion years, from ocean-respirating lungs to air-respirating lungs.

        Dead wrong, and yet now you go off on another diversionary ramble, never quite capable of admitting that you are wrong. Why is that? Too proud, perhaps? You see, what you were really trying to say was that mutations occur in one chromosomal package within the DNA strand. If that occurs within the germ cell then it will be passed on. If beneficial, it will be favoured and sometimes slowly, sometimes rapidly, the monopoly of the newly minted elite will become the pedestrian tool of the herd. That is evolution, Higharka, and Allallt was correct in saying that you don’t understand it. Your dodgy math (which you refuse to admit is wrong, let alone update to better reflect “reality”) proves that. You live in a fantasy world that is only maintained by hilarious falsehoods, fleet-footed dancing, and mind-jarringly boring screeds.

      29. I know, Galt, I know–you think that a rising tide lifts all boats, and you think that your genetic superiority will eventually be passed on to all of the other lesser races, as your superior semen works its way into a dominant position based on your misguided Darwin fetish. But trickle-down economics doesn’t work, either, and it’s only ever shown itself to be a tool that elites use to justify their “strenuous mental labor” being worth more than the lifetimes of hard work by all of the primitives they’ve colonized at bayonet-point.

        Time doesn’t favor you, though. There are billions of other people on this planet. They already know that your nasty little island–with so few people, so few natural resources, so little hard work being done, and so many big mouths talking constantly–does not deserve to have such a large treasure horde of the wealth stolen from other civilizations during those few hundred years when you had gunpowder and they didn’t.

        Do you ever worry that the Zulu might come calling at your door in your old age? Or do you think it will be Putin who collects first?

      30. Thanks for perfectly demonstrating my last sentence. And to repeat:

        You live in a fantasy world that is only maintained by hilarious falsehoods, fleet-footed dancing, and mind-jarringly boring screeds

      31. John,

        There have been many sheltered slaveholders like you throughout history, who laughed at the idea that their privilege was built upon the labor of Irishmen or Africans, and who mocked as “fantasy” the idea that those peoples would ever gain a degree of freedom. Like you, they came laden with atrociously improbable “scientific theories” proving that different races were “superior” to others based upon higher-quality “blood” or “genetics.” And all the Wise Men of their day agreed with them.

        Your terrible system of discrimination will fade into the past, and future scientists will look back on your kind as the equivalent of a mob threatening Galileo for challenging orthodox cosmology.

        How hideous it is, that you call it “a fantasy world,” when someone speaks of the hundreds of millions of impoverished, starving people that your inbred island has immiserated through hundreds of years of the same racist, condescending genocide and colonialism as you’re now using. You may think of it as fantasy, as you cower beneath the Crown’s network of security cameras, but to billions of human beings on the rest of this planet, the injustice is day-to-day reality.

        They, and their grandchildren, will not forget what you have done. Your methodology of preferred bloodlines reeks of the same festering corpses and bloated hypocrisy that it always has.

      32. The mud slinging is back again. Can’t win an argument? Your evidence looking a little shakey? Accuse the opposition of racism. It’s diversionary, it’s slick, and no one wants to associate with them.
        Higharka, who only heard of my blog through a conversation where they accused atheists of being rude, is partaking in the kind of behaviour that leads to atheists being the most distrusted demographic in America. And so far the badge of self consciousness has been refused to be worn.
        I, of course, don’t mind writing this comment which does not relate to the truth of natural biological evolution. This is because Higharka is no longer writing their “criticism” (and i do use the word loosely) of natural biological evolution or defence of supernatural biological evolution.

      33. If you don’t mind, Higharka, back to our Socratic seminar: do you agree that for a mutation to be heritable it need only be a single mutation in a single germ cell?

      34. Okay, we now agree that a mutation need only occur in one cell to be heritable.
        Now to Alexandra… Would you be happy to assume Alexandra is one individual in a species with many individuals?

      35. (Both the original post on Lightform evolution, as well as the more detailed response here, indicated that the term “Alexandra” could refer either to Alexandra the species, or any given specimen of Alexandra.)

      36. Wouldn’t the maths be different though? Let us assume a population not susceptible to the founder effect: approximately 500,000. Would we not now be looking for 1 mutation in 1 germ cell of the entire population?
        How does this effect your maths?

      37. Allallt: “Wouldn’t the maths be different though? Let us assume a population not susceptible to the founder effect: approximately 500,000. Would we not now be looking for 1 mutation in 1 germ cell of the entire population?
        How does this effect your maths?”

        The math took that into account. The probabilities that this one raised originally subjected the total 5 trillion cells to the rigors of the equation because the end result–that infinitesimally small fraction–was the probability of one cell mutating its way toward the lung change we were testing for. Every single cell, not just germ-line cells, was offered the chance, in order to make randomized evolution seem more likely than it really is, and still, the probability is essentially zero.

        If we subjected that equation to germ-line cells, we’d have to multiply the tiny result by the small fraction of germ-line cells that were part of any given mutating Alexandra, therefore lowering it even further. 1.697272296390741e-131 would become 1.697272296390741e-145, or something even smaller, depending on how many somatic cells Alexandra had relative to germ-line cells.

        That’s why the example above is considerably more generous to randomized mutation than the real world would have been. Not only would it have to be a germ-line cell that mutated, but it would have to be the right part of said germ-line cell, meaning that within that tiny number (1.697272296390741e-131), we’d have to next determine the product of said number and the microscopic chances of the mutation hitting the part of the code that effected germ-line cell planning within that same cell.

        So, out of five trillion cells, we’d zoom our microscope in further, and look through the septillions of pieces of differentiated genetic information inside said germ-line-cell’s code, further shrinking the chance that a random mutation would affect the right part of it.

        (Another thing to consider, which is gone into in more detail in the later posts in the Lightform Evolution series, is that, even if that one organism did successfully mutate at such ridiculously low chances, the remaining 499,999 organisms would have been, in the meantime, mating and surviving successfully in the same environment. Ergo as a group, their chances of survival would be higher than those of the aberrant individual, even if the individual had a slight physical/intellectual advantage. Consider, for example, how long you might survive and how successfully you might reproduce as an outspoken western educator in a country living under Shari’a law.)

      38. I would like to add the following regarding the odds of life evolving at random:

        A single cilium on a paramecium has 200 working parts.

        So the chances of 200 working parts all coming together at the same time, in the precise way required, would be 200! : 1.

        That’s 200 factorial: 200 x 199 x 198 x 197…x 1.

        There isn’t enough time in the universe for those odds to work out.

      39. You’re simply not feeding evidence based numbers into your maths.
        E coli developed an entirely new metabolism for glucose in a human life time. The evidence undermines the ideas you’re attempting to discuss.

      40. tildeb,

        Are you really trying to use the bandwagon method to convince me of something?

        Let’s see how that works out with spirituality:

        “I just marvel at much better informed you are than billions of practicing Hindus, Christians, and Muslims who apply the principles of prayer in their daily lives and continue to produce grace, churches, and spiritual warmth for believers everywhere. They are such fools! Don’t they realize the logic tells them they are on the wrong track?

        You need to get on this right away, and start the necessary re-education and de-conversion from the insidious power of the church to explain to all of them why the central pillar of belief they work with daily is just… wrong. These poor practitioners of religion have all been duped! But you’re here to set them all straight.”

        For many years, tildeb–for a very, very long time–different religions dominated the planet. The most powerful men; the greatest thinkers; the rulers, scribes, professors, and builders, could be cited as a group to disprove someone by sheer force.

        Yet somehow, you feel that in your time, things are different. You think that your Wise Men are the ones who–in contrast to the rest of history–are actually correct in their ideas. What gives you this staggering certitude? What makes you so convinced that the preferred belief system of your time period is so right, after so many thousands of years of mistakes?

        The bandwagon method is not impressive. People like you used it against Galileo, as you have used it against science, logic, and free thought throughout all of history.

        You fail, though–because I am not going to believe something simply because large numbers of other people believe it. Big business may be able to sweep the majority up into its preferred faith, but I will continue instead to use my own rational and observational skills to figure things out.

        (Another issue you need to consider, tildeb, is that disagreeing with the party line on evolution ends careers and revokes academic degrees. Therefore, 100% of successful biologists–as defined by major universities and powerful corporations–will express strong beliefs in capitalist evolution. Any biologist who says otherwise is kicked out of study programs, barred from journals and teaching, and treated as a kook. Obtaining a position of respect within the sciences is an achievement that can only be reached after kissing the ass of the status quo. So of course all the formalized degree-holders agree with the party platform–their attainment of status is proof of that belief. So it’s a tautology to say that “all scientists believe what I believe.”

        You really should stick to evidence, rather than pointing to your generation’s Wise Men, when formulating opinions.)

      41. Tildeb made reference to real and tangible progress: technology and medicine. He is not using the argument that a lot of people believe it. He is using the argument that it is true enough to continually produce medicines, technologies and predictions. It has real world application, and its principles are consistently repeatable.
        Please cite a person who has their academic career ended for producing reliable evidence contrary to natural biological evolution.

      42. H, you kind of skipped the important bit that reveals why your analogy that evolution is like a religion is false… you know, the bit (that is not just dissimilar but opposite to the ‘bandwagon’ argument you presume I’m making) about this explanatory model that PRODUCES applications, therapies, and technologies that work for everyone everywhere all the time. THIS is what you’re overlooking and fail to account for in your rush to wave away this central pillar of modern biology with your maths. THIS is what evolutionary biologists produce. THIS is what I find convincing. THIS is reality’s arbitration of the model. THIS is everything you don’t have in your little corner of delusion. So you just make shit up and pretend you alone have the secret key to The Truth (TM) through your maths. Guess what, Higharka: in comparison, you’ve got nothing but conspiratorial thinking… which is why you also have to make up new terms as you head down your rabbit hole to fill out your thesis that evolution is false… because reality isn’t your ally.


        But the maths couldn’t possibly be misleading, could they…?

      43. tildeb,

        You seem to have missed this one’s earlier response. In addition to pointing out your use of the bandwagon method of persuasion, this one discussed how the useful products produced by modern biologists and chemists have nothing to do with randomized evolutionary theory.

        See the post at December 31, 2014 at 12:40 pm.

      44. Can’t find it, higharka. There is no comment from you on my system time stamped to 12:40 PM Dec 31st on this thread.

        As for all the applications, therapies and technologies that seem to work for everyone everywhere all the time based on this explanatory model that is one of the central pillars of modern biology, I’m sure your alternative explanation does at least as well explaining the evidence available to us, provides us with an equivalently predictable, testable, and repeatable model that indicates an alternative mechanism at work. At the very least. Surely you’ve got at least these bare bones upon which you can take the stand you do.

        So where’s your counter model and where’s the equivalent evidence that not only supplies why the current model seems to work so well but advances our understanding of how reality actually operates differently (to which we have access) to the evolutionary model? Your maths fail to provide this alternative, but I’m sure you’ve got it tucked away somewhere, don’t you? After all, you seem pretty sure the evolutionary model is wrong (in spite of overwhelming evidence in its support) and we’ve all been duped into thinking the products derived from the explanatory model demonstrate the explanatory value of the theory.

        Surely the Nobel that deservedly would be yours when you triumphantly produce this alternative model and the mechanism by which it operates would be worth your time and effort…

        Until then, you’re just doing what John has so aptly described…living in a fantasy world that is only maintained by hilarious falsehoods, fleet-footed dancing, and mind-jarringly boring screeds. To borrow a phrase, show me the money!

      45. You’re confusing direct, purposeful genetic manipulation with random mutations and natural selection. When Monsanto alters a genome to produce a desired result, that is an affirmation of coordinated evolution–it shows how humans and corn can adjust themselves to accomplish different things together.

        That kind of biotechnology has nothing to do with the purported tenets of the capitalist evolutionary religion. Yes, most of the people practicing in those fields believe in evolution, but if Steve Jobs was a Buddhist, does that mean that your iPhone wouldn’t exist without Buddhism? No–it’s a coincidental relationship. Buddhism might’ve had a lot to do with Steve Jobs’ day to day life–the lives of many people at Apple, even–but it had nothing to do with the actual designing or building of the iPhone (other than that it may have been the religion of many of the factory workers that committed suicide to escape Jobs’ tyranny).

        Today’s biotech scientists and chemists don’t “use” random mutations and natural selection to create products. Rather, they act as creators, intentionally altering the development of species and substances to obtain a desired end result.

        They do this because the only way to obtain something useful inside of trillions of years is by thinking about it and working on it, rather than waiting for it to happen “randomly.” Just as the Catholic Church was able to reconcile peace and charity with empires, genocide, and colonialism, while still pretending to stand for peace and love, corporate science is willing to put aside its principles of random mutations in the pursuit of direct-intervention. Religions may claim lofty dogmas, but when it comes to money, they’re willing to stick with what works–so the Vatican supported the mass murder of foreign children, and science non-randomly intervenes in the genetic code. And all the while, they offer soothing hymns about the foundations of their faith–peace, love, and undirected mutation.

        …or did you really believe that, after a hundred years of nuclear fallout, depleted uranium, depleted ozone, starving children, free trade, world wars, SUVs, and insider securities trading, evolution is the one thing that the world’s most powerful corporations are right about?

  13. First, SoM states that There is nothing Socratic about any of your means or methods.

    Why is there nothing Socratic? SoM explains: You’re an atheist

    Because one is an atheist, you see, according to SoM one cannot use any means or method that is rational.

    In response to correctly and accurately being identified as an idiot, SoM complains that If you had a rational argument, you would make it. Instead the atheist resorts of abuse.

    But by fiat, SoM has already ruled out any means or method for the atheist to be rational. Duh. And when called on being an idiot for making such a baseless claim when there is nothing but contrary evidence against the claim, he snivels and whines that that correct use of the term ‘idiot’ applied to him is abuse.

    Oh, poor widdle SoM is suffewing so from those meanies he calls iwwational.

    of course, insisting that all atheists are irrational isn’t in any way an equivalent abuse by him. No siree! When SoM calls people names unencumbered by rationality, it’s in defense of what’s true, you see. When any one dares oppose such statements, only then is it abusive.

    How very convenient for SoM.

    SoM, your moniker shouldn’t be Silence of Mind; it should Absence of Mind because whenever you try to engage it, you fail to find any.

    1. tildeb,

      Atheism is a postmodern philosophy and thus a rejection of what is commonly known as the Western Heritage.

      Since Socrates is fundamental to the Western Heritage there is no way for an atheist to employ the Socratic method.

      I learned that at graduate school, not because the professors told me what to think but because the course work offered a compare and contrast learning opportunity concerning traditional, modern and postmodern worldviews.

      Atheists are sophists and thus say anything they need to, any way they need to, in their application of rhetoric (argumentation).

      Common atheist sophistry is pilfering the traditions and acheivements of modern science which are Christian in origin or associating one’s sophistry with a famous Western philosopher as Allallt is want to do.

      1. Most of us call what follows kindergarten elementary school. You seem to think this is equivalent to grad school. I have difficulty imagining any other level you might be referring to.

        SoM, you demonstrate time and again that you don’t, can’t, or won’t think well enough to get accepted into an academic graduate school (and not a theological facsimile of a real one). Your ramblings here about atheism as a post modern philosophy is a case in point. Since when was your disbelief in a fairy or fairies suddenly a ‘philosophy’ and not a reasonable conclusion from a lack of evidence? I know you like to have different goal posts for those of us who hold your god to an equivalent standard as you yourself hold towards fairies, but that willingness by you to hold radically different standards for atheists is an indication of your brain’s dysfunction caused by accepting your religious delusions as valuable and useful when they are anything but. Your religious delusion is not an academically justified historical reflection on the role Socrates has played in Western philosophy.

        Although no doubt it’s startling news to you, atheism rejects belief in a god or gods. That’s it. That’s the sum of its philosophical underpinnings. Most atheists tend to not believe because they have no compelling reasons to do so… which by the strangest of coincidences is exactly the same standard you use for most claims that you don’t believe are true. The difference is that you don’t have some Absence of Mind person insisting that your non belief in fairies carries with it a philosophy that turns you into a gibbering idiot and your character into vileness. For that, only us atheists have you.

        Oh joy.

        As for this mystical ‘Western Heritage’ atheists supposedly reject, let me assure you that I too have used the Socratic method as part of a multi-faceted teaching approach… as have many that hold theistic beliefs. How can this be? Well, the fact that you seem to have difficulty grasping Allalt’s point that anyone can use the Socratic method without sharing his beliefs demonstrates yet again how you rely on a brain that has remarkable difficulty grasping even simple ideas. As an observation to the quality of your ‘grad’ program, I want you to know that you would never have even completed First Year in my post secondary institution with such pronounced academic difficulty as you show repeatedly in your comments. My classmates would have torn you to intellectual shreds in seminars long before any teacher became involved having to deal with your inability to understand even basic ideas combined with the ego you show that is required to assume that this disability doesn’t matter when it comes to learning. It does matter. It brings you and your mind to screeching halt. The silence you hear is not a gift from god but the lack of intellectual processes the rest of us take for granted. You don’t need a soapbox for your vile pronouncements about atheists, SoM… you need a wheelchair for your disabled mind and a fair bit of therapy to try to get it working again.

      2. tildeb,

        Like I said before, if you had an argument you would make it.

        Your personal attack against me is a well-known logical fallacy with a well known name.

        But since you are atheist, logical fallacy is about all you can muster in lieu of an argument, along with your abuse, of course.

        Again, thank you for proving my point about atheists.

        I say it, then atheists prove me right time and time again.

  14. tildeb,

    Here’s my cut-and-pasted view of the 12:40 thread.


    Posted by higharka on December 31, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    You’re confusing direct, purposeful genetic manipulation with random mutations and natural selection. When Monsanto alters a genome to produce a desired result, that is an affirmation of coordinated evolution–it shows how humans and corn can adjust themselves to accomplish different things together.

    That kind of biotechnology has nothing to do with the purported tenets of the capitalist evolutionary religion. Yes, most of the people practicing in those fields believe in evolution, but if Steve Jobs was a Buddhist, does that mean that your iPhone wouldn’t exist without Buddhism? No–it’s a coincidental relationship. Buddhism might’ve had a lot to do with Steve Jobs’ day to day life–the lives of many people at Apple, even–but it had nothing to do with the actual designing or building of the iPhone (other than that it may have been the religion of many of the factory workers that committed suicide to escape Jobs’ tyranny).

    Today’s biotech scientists and chemists don’t “use” random mutations and natural selection to create products. Rather, they act as creators, intentionally altering the development of species and substances to obtain a desired end result.

    They do this because the only way to obtain something useful inside of trillions of years is by thinking about it and working on it, rather than waiting for it to happen “randomly.” Just as the Catholic Church was able to reconcile peace and charity with empires, genocide, and colonialism, while still pretending to stand for peace and love, corporate science is willing to put aside its principles of random mutations in the pursuit of direct-intervention. Religions may claim lofty dogmas, but when it comes to money, they’re willing to stick with what works–so the Vatican supported the mass murder of foreign children, and science non-randomly intervenes in the genetic code. And all the while, they offer soothing hymns about the foundations of their faith–peace, love, and undirected mutation.

    …or did you really believe that, after a hundred years of nuclear fallout, depleted uranium, depleted ozone, starving children, free trade, world wars, SUVs, and insider securities trading, evolution is the one thing that the world’s most powerful corporations are right about?


    (Allallt, if tildeb figures out where the original post was, you can delete this copy of it to keep the thread clean.)

    1. Yes, I see it. It comes up as a different time for me. Go figure. And yes, I did read this.

      I think the problem arises from what you consider ‘random’ genetic changes. What we’re really looking at is scaffolding changes over time and we have plenty of evidence for this… such as a long dead simian virus in your DNA that damaged a section of DNA of a common ancestor. It makes no sense to suggest this ‘random mutation’ was incorporated by some intelligent designing agency but it makes perfect sense within the evolutionary model that the great apes and we should share this identical alteration. A common ancestor seems to this job quite adequately. A common designer does not.

      Common descent is the hallmark of the evolutionary model. You are focusing solely on natural selection and doubting that random changes could produce speciation. Perhaps you forget that natural selection is only one of several mechanisms. That’s why a recent study was able to backtrack genetic changes to map an entire vertebrate genome that successfully predicted, tested, and verified that birds shared a nearest common ancestor with crocodiles!

      The key here is to understand the power of genetics to correctly identify and verify these evolutionary links. From this basis, we have all kinds of applications, therapies, and technologies that work for everyone everywhere all the time… and in such aligned subjects with geology for mining and resource extraction, biogeography for pharmaceuticals, biochemistry for medicine, paleobiology for disease therapies, crop sciences for the farming industry, animal husbandry for food production, and the list goes on and on. That’s why Theodosius Dobzhansky accurately noted that, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” Your maths aside, you’ve got nothing in comparison to the tremendous explanatory value of evolutionary theory as a guiding principle in biology that continues to work. Your allusions to genetic tampering is based on this very theory! That’s why it works to change heritable traits… because common ancestry is explained by evolution and we find it in action at the genetic level. Small changes here can and do provide maps for us to follow, maps that offer us insights into cellular biology. changes over time within and between related genomes that indicate when and how these changes occurred. On this basis we can make predictions about related species that yield ongoing and productive knowledge. The amount of verification is not countered by such weak notions as you maths because the evidence is right there. The products come from it. They work. Yourmaths do not counter this brute evidence, which is why one must be intellectually deaf, dumb, and blind to think your calculations render all of this evolutionary explanation null and void. Consider just for a moment how many mutations occur throughout the biosphere each and every day. Trillions. Your maths do not counter this constant stream of change over time; instead, you start at the wrong end and calculate into large numbers that only give the appearance of unlikelihood without dealing with the actual probability of 1. And the analogy for the problem you suffer from is with a winning lottery ticket… calculating backwards and coming up with some astronomical number that give the appearance of reducing the probability close to zero. The problem you’re overlooking is that you are the winning lottery ticket. The proof is right in front of your busy little brain trying vainly and hopelessly to get around reality. The probability of evolution being true is P=1. That’s the correct starting point.

      1. tildeb: “The probability of evolution being true is P=1. That’s the correct starting point.”

        Thank you for your honesty. That is a statement of faith. You’re like a Christian saying, “The probability of God existing is P=1. That’s the correct starting point.” You prefer to use inductive reasoning, where you start from a conclusion that you accept as true, and search for evidence to support it, while disregarding evidence that disproves it.

        (In my case, I prefer to use deductive reasoning, where I start by observing evidence, and draw conclusions based upon those observations. Yes, that sometimes leads to conclusions that I don’t prefer, but it gets me correct answers more often than using inductive reasoning.

        Actual science means nothing to you, because the scientific process is meant to hypothesize, then support or disprove theories. In your case, you’ve already decided what you must believe, therefore you are immune to argument.

        This is such an amusing time period. There are time periods when religiosity is denied, such as when people point to the sun and say, “Look–Ra!” They feel that they have evidence, so “faith” isn’t admitted.

        Later, when the sun is understood to be burning gas, those who cling to religion wear their faith proudly, declaring, “I believe even though there is evidence to the contrary!” They’re happy to be defined by illogic.

        Now, in the post-industrial age, you’re adopting both tactics. You say, “Faith is stupid!” at the same time as you say, “I hold an unshakable belief in an idea I like!” How idiotically quixotic; how ironically proletarian, the ways in which faith now manifests itself.

        It’s almost post-bohemian, or transcendent: “Faith without faith! Join us in the religion that is not a religion! Vote for the politician who promises to get the politics out of politics!”

        What a mesmerizing vertigo you’ve been placed into by your pride in this era’s exorcists.

      2. I call bullshit on you higharka. The starting point I mention FOR YOU is not because of my faith but because every single piece of evidence supports the explanatory model and from the model’s testing reveals it to be verified over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and so on. Evolution is true (P=1) BECAUSE that’s the only sane conclusion to reach when all is said and done. It’s not faith that has deduced the knowledge value of the model, you dit; it’s appreciating why the model has been elevated to the status of theory. I respect that conclusion. You do not. You’re the smartest guy in the room you presume and take that imaginary soapbox of your own delusion to tell everyone why this establishment over more than a century of hard work by tens of thousands of working biologists testing and questioning the explanatory model is wrong. But you forget to deal with all the evidence compounded into the making of it as a theory and put aside the request I made to offer your alternative that not only accounts for the same ground already covered by the evolutionary explanation but provides us with whatever new mechanisms you must have to challenge this theory.

        You’ve got exactly nothing but bullshit.

        Using this model as a starting point as I’ve suggested to you, every endeavor yields products that work for everyone everywhere all the time. The probability of one has been earned. It has been established. The winning lottery ticket has PAID OUT, you dolt. That’s why P=1.

        This pay out comes in the form of new knowledge, new avenues of inquiry, new products, new applications, new therapies you simply wave away in your colossal arrogance and deluded self-assurance. THESE PRODUCTS that work independent of thee and me and any beliefs we have about them are the final nail in your hypothesis’ coffin. You just don’t recognize that you’re an audience of one at your own hypotheses funeral. And your maths approach is a dead end not because I say so or I believe it must be so but because the explanatory value of the theory of evolution itself works all the time for everyone everywhere. That’s what your argument fails to address. That’s why your hypothesis contains only bullshit. You’ve got nothing but your own inflated sense of conspiratorial insight. Bully for you. But it stinks of hubris.

      3. You’re really not seeming to understand that all of the new “products” that are being developed are developed as a result of direct manipulation in the genetic code.

        Do you understand how direct, purposeful manipulation of the genetic code is entirely different from random mutation of the genetic code?

        Have you actually been inside a biochemistry lab, and watched a team of frazzled postdocs trying to figure out, mostly through trial and error, how to alter some plant’s traits so that it will be marginally more resistant to some kind of insect? That’s what evolution looks like, these days. Leave the plants on their own, and they don’t make enough money.

        You should give Candide a read sometime. You’re acting much like the character Pangloss, who suggests that the world is a model of efficiency because eyeglasses exist which fit onto human noses. Voltaire uses that metaphor to point out the ridiculousness of faiths like mercantilist evolution–because of course, eyeglasses exist not because of some random spiritual pattern, but because humans purposefully designed such products to fit in place over human noses.

        As Candide concluded to that venerable philosopher, “That is very well put…but we must cultivate our garden.”

      4. all of the new “products” that are being developed are developed as a result of direct manipulation in the genetic code.

        No, higharka. This claim you continue to pull out of your ass is factually wrong, so wrong that it isn’t even wrong. You don’t understand.

        Let me slow that down for you:

        You. Do. Not. Understand.

        You think you do but if you’d just open your tightly clenched beady little conspiratorial eyes you might find that reality deserves to make some imprint on you. Until then, you’re full of bullshit.

        An undersea oil drilling company doesn’t fucking work on changing some genetic code, you dimwit. It uses the geological information gathered and applies the paleogeographic model that is very much based on evolution worked backwards into specific pockets of deep time to vastly increase the odds of making not just new finds but in the most accessible places. Using this model saves the company billions of dollars. If this model didn’t regularly and consistently work, they wouldn’t use it, you moron. But they do. They use it because it just so happens to work… in spite of your maths that you’ve deluded yourself into elevating over and above what reality arbitrates as a meaningful and valuable explanatory model. A model, to be absolutely clear, that works.

        Until you can wrap your little pointy head around how evolutionary theory is actually applied in so many different yet fruitful ways in the real world, you’re stuck staring at the interior of your own colon and thinking the vista is breathtaking. It’ not. It just stinks.

        You haven’t a clue about how reality works to support evolutionary theory thousands of ways but are so dimwitted and dull of mind that you can’t even pull your head out of your own ass long enough to actually <i.understand this scope… so convinced are you by your maths that what actually works in the real world supposedly shouldn’t… except by some vast conspiracy. Yet this need for a global conspiracy raises no red flags in your vacuous mind. That’s a hint, by the way…

        In place of reality that you absolutely refuse to even look at, you’ve created a Never-Never Land in your ass and think yourself insightful into how this magical kingdom works sans evolution. That method makes you an idiot. And a very deluded one if its rationalization requires a global conspiracy. Better clues rarely found.

        Drop the conspiratorial bullshit, put away your calculator, and start learning why reality insists that evolution is an explanatory model that works regardless of your maths. Now how can that be?

        Where is your alternative model? Where’s your alternative mechanism? Stop spouting bullshit and start producing evidence for your replacement explanatory model. Until then, all you’ve got is bullshit.

      5. Using geology to find oil has nothing to do with capitalist evolution–even if you insert a stylistic period after each word in any given sentence.

        Evolution happened, and the fossil record proves that. What you are missing is that evolution happened without random mutations. The fossil record is evidence of this: it shows a clear progression, spanning 3.8 billion years on this planet, of single-celled organisms to humans, and it will later show continued development beyond that.

        There are some creationists who would point to dinosaur bones and say, “See! Demons! This proves that the Bible is true!” And, like you, they would feel that “the fossil record” proved their faith. They would also think that geological evidence of ancient volcano eruptions proves that God punished Sodom and Gomorrah.

        That doesn’t mean that they’re scientists, though. It means that they’re using inductive reasoning to cherry-pick evidence which can support parts of their preferred belief system.

        In your case, you’ve used Earth’s fossil record of progressive evolution to support your capitalist, ethnosupremacist “random chance” theory. Just because you’ve pointed at something related to science, though, does not mean that your theory is correct, anymore than dinosaur bones prove that early humans fought balrogs and cave trolls in the shallow seas of the Middle East.

        (For any other travelers out there, lightspring, isn’t it painful watching these people use the term “evolution” to describe this currently-preferred version of their origin story? I know, I know. <3)

        tildeb, if random mutations caused evolution, then the fossil record would show many, many dead ends. In fact, in accordance with the principles of "natural selection," it would show far more dead ends than it does predecessors. Were it to take billions of extinctions in order to successfully create a new species, then the fossil record would show fossilized fish that had evolved air-breathing lungs but not legs, and then died out; it would show fossilized fish that had evolved legs but not air-breathing lungs, and then died out; it would show fossilized fish that had evolved lungs that could only halfway breathe air, and were still in the middle of the evolutionary process.

        But the observable evidence on this planet here does not show any of that. Instead, it shows a systematic progression of organisms that have evolved, seemingly inexorably, toward the present state of the planet.

        To claim that you evolved as a rugged individual overcoming the odds of nature is like a bratty little preteen claiming that he can make his own way in the world just because he learned to tie his own shoes and fix his own cold cereal. That little uninformed child would like to believe he’s responsible for his own success–and he certainly played a part in it–however, he’s forgotten about the parents who fed him, cleaned him, comforted him, and sheltered him for twelve years.

        Similarly, you’ve completely forgotten about how you’re an extension of Terra, Sol, Milky Way, Laniakea, and universe. It wasn’t “random” that you became a bipedal hunk of self-aware meat prepared, upon birth, to breathe Earth air and remain intact inside Earth’s atmospheric pressure and stay in sync with Earth’s magnetic field.

        There is no loss of pride, there. We’re all derived from those underlying principles.

      6. tildeb, if random mutations caused evolution, then the fossil record would show many, many dead ends. In fact, in accordance with the principles of “natural selection,” it would show far more dead ends than it does predecessors.

        Higharka, do you have any idea what the chances are against any animal being fossilised? You like really big numbers, so do some research…. You might be impressed.

        the fossil record would show fossilized fish that had evolved air-breathing lungs but not legs, and then died out

        Are you serious? You think fully-functional lungs happened in one complete shift, and then there were, in one generation, millions upon millions upon millions upon millions upon millions upon millions of individuals from which one might have been fortunate enough to have died in the precise environment to be fossilised? Is your next question going to ask why you’ve never seen a cow turning into a whale, or a lizard with wings?

        Come on, you like really big numbers, so you should be able to grasp this small matter rather easily.

        I’m sorry Higharka, but you’re either too stupid to be taken seriously, or you are, in fact, performing a brilliant act of Creationist parody here. Which one is it?

      7. I’m going to paraphrase a thought experiment from Richard Dawkins. Imagine a multidimensional lattice: at any given point there is an animal and heading off in each direction from that animal in another, slightly varied animal. All of those slightly varied animals are in a similar condition – an array of slightly different animals on vertices off of them. If you were to navigate around that space you would reach an animal ever more different to the animal you started with. This is what mutations, changes in allele frequency and variation do.
        It is fair to say that any cluster of animals (i.e. one central animals are all the ones immediately next to it) can be ranked in suitability to their environment. But, if the central animal is well suited to the environment, it is also fair to say that all the immediately adjacent animals are well suited to the environment as well. (But don’t forget they can be ranked.)
        Big mutations, ones that take several steps in a single generation are highly unlikely to be ones that are better suited to the environment (although, it is possible). Small mutations are the safest ones, becoming an immediately adjacent animal. Natural selection then means that individual breeding success is directly proportional to its suitability to its environment.
        Some level of variation or mutation happens at every breeding event, which is why we don’t look like our parents and even asexual reproducers don’t create exact clones.
        Your example of specialised gills becoming specialised lungs in a single generation is a bullshit depiction of how evolution works.Individual steps take place.

      8. Higharka

        In light of where this conversation is going (ie. you making claims that are being smacked down at every turn), why don’t you do what Tildeb has suggested and give us your hypothesis. For the sake of everyone’s attention and patience (which is already frayed because of your on-going barrage of bullshit) could you honour our Great Lord Brevity (peace be upon His streamlined form) and keep it really, really, really short.

        So, what is it you believe? I don’t think you’re a creationist, but you are verging on it, I feel. I might be wrong. You tell me. It seems you believe in Intelligent Design, so tell us about this. What is the “Intelligence” (is it a personality?) you think exists, is it omnipowerful, and what is its concept of what Aquinas called the best result when considering Gods plan?

        Forget the math, just deal with the hypothesis, and if you do that we might all start to get a handle on what it is you’re actually trying to establish.

        But again, please honour Brevity, the One True God that deserves all respect.

      9. You admit evolution happens. Your complaint is against only the central mechanism by which this is explained – natural selection – but I suspect probably not in how allele frequencies really do change over time by inheritance, which is very well supported by empirical data. Your complaint seems to me to be about speciation and the idea that, over time, small changes produce new lineages that cannot interbreed with other related lineages yet still culminate in complex biology. To this complaint I have offered the science of genetics that reveals obvious common ancestry within the explanatory model we call evolution.

        Of course, you don’t address this powerful evidence nor offer any other explanation for it. You just keep returning to the same old tired bit about maths that substitute a thought experiment – single cell evolution by randomized natural selection only (and I’ve already pointed out it’s not a random series but scaffolded and that there are also other natural mechanisms at work you simply ignore) to complex critters is just too darn unlikely and so it can’t possibly be true – as criticism of the model in its entirety. You’ve received much criticism for this yet don;t address it coherently.

        So lay it out: what is your alternative explanatory model that includes the necessary mechanism(s) to explain how life changes over time yet preserves the genetic inheritance of common ancestry?

        I think you’ve avoided answering this question because you’ve got nothing.

        I know you refuse to admit natural selection is explanatory so go to it. Tell us what is the right mechanism that drives this change over time? You pretend such an alternative exists – and that people are duped through misplaced faith by priestly evolutionists busy supporting global business interests, yada, yada, yada – so (because your maths tell you that natural selection must be wrong),… rubber meet road: how do you know of this alternative? Show or tell us where you gather your support with equivalently strong evidence adduced from reality, please. Not your maths… reality. And don’t forget, your alternative also is burdened by having to account for how well the theory of evolution has produced (think Genetics) and continues to produce new knowledge.

        The world awaits your scientific enlightenment.

      10. In case you missed it, this one responded to John Zande’s demand one internet cafe ago. If you can’t find the post based on time stamp, do a search for the phrase, “How Evolution Works,” and you’ll see a summary.

        tildeb: “To this complaint I have offered the science of genetics that reveals obvious common ancestry within the explanatory model we call evolution.”

        This is equivalent to you saying, “Sunsets are beautiful, therefore God exists.”

        Sunsets are beautiful. And evolution does happen. What you have faith in, though, is not evolution, but that the mutations are random.

        You keep citing the fossil record as proof of your religion, just like some people cite sunsets as proof of God, but neither premise supports the faith-based “conclusion.” Rather, sunsets are often colorful for reasons of atmospheric gases–not because an invisible cloud man painted them–and a fossil record exists because progressively more complex organisms have evolved on this planet–not because, as Michael Crichton put it, a tornado hit a junkyard and turned all the parts into a working 747.

  15. Oh, hello, guys. I’m afraid this one spent the day with work and family. At least it made us all happy–it brought me my own kind of satisfaction, and as we saw from John Zande, it brought him his own kind of satisfaction.

    I’ve provided you guys with several links discussing how evolution works, but I understand that they’re not located on a blog run by one of your Anglophile friends, so it may be difficult for you to click the links, read them, and comment there. You don’t need to be afraid, as I won’t treat you like you’ve treated me.

    Still, I know that would be difficult for some of you, so after I satisfy filial and financial requirements tomorrow, this one will return here to provide a more detailed explanation, and continue the discussion. If I am run over by the subway later this morning, I shall die happy knowing that my failure to return will be construed by John, until the end of his days, as self-affirming evidence of my intellectual cowardice.

    (Observers, take note of the way that John consistently tries to polarize the discussion by attaching sound bytes to my perspectives. Even if you believe in “Intelligent Design”–which I do not, because the evidence does not support it–you can tell from my words that I am not advocating Intelligent Design. And yet, John desperately needs to call it that, because he’s terrified that someone out there, or he himself, might pay attention merely to what I am actually saying, instead of taking the discussion as an opportunity to self-reaffirm the ego by choosing a side in a verbal religious battle prearranged by corporate media, e.g., evolution versus intelligent design. What projective intelligence such a subject possesses is useless except inasmuch as such subject’s emotional intelligence allows her/him to investigate actual phenomenon. E.g., High Arka represents the outside world, John possesses sturdy limbs and abundant caloric resources, and yet, agoraphobia prevents him exiting the house. Projective neural capacity consistently shows itself subject to the psiapin overlay.)

    1. Blah, blah, blah… Just give us your hypothesis (Intelligent Design, or not) in a brief and coherent manner, something which till now appears almost beyond your capabilities.

      1. John,

        One of the nice things about the internet is the ability to link. This parallels the earlier ability to, say, do reading alone, then discuss a book later on with your friends. For example, if we were discussing Plato’s Republic, and you hadn’t read it, it would be impractical for you to ask me to recite it aloud to you.

        (Again, I understand the difficulties you face in going to a place where atheists are not the moderators and the majority, but I know you can do it. I’ve seen you show up on religious forums, so you do possess that level of courage.)

        This one will provide a summary here, akin to something you might receive as a child in a more developed culture. Please, though, don’t be afraid to read some of my more detailed essays elsewhere. If you’re concerned about commenting because you feel that this one might use the environment to treat you the way you’ve treated me, you don’t need to be. You can keep your comments here, if just reading anonymously elsewhere is all you’re comfortable with right now.

        (I’ll be using simplified Terran terms in the summary below.)

        How Evolution Works

        Evolution is the growth of light. The constant pressure of light to expand creates laws of physical reality to provide a place for expansion to occur. Light’s pressure on physical reality creates rifts that express themselves as matter, similar to the way in which cracks may appear in an earthen dam which happens to hold back a river. As cracks may spread in a dam against the pressure of a rising river, rifts caused by light begin to expand, producing larger and more concentrated accumulations of matter which are more efficient at channeling light.

        * * *

        Now, John, what this means from your perspective is that material structures are constantly under pressure to grow more conducive to light’s pressure. As a result, vacuum (laws of physical reality) occurs, followed by the appearance of simple matter in places inside that vacuum. Matter is pressured to constantly arrange itself into more efficient shapes for energy transfer. Dispersed pieces of matter coalesce into atoms, which coalesce into clouds, which condense into stars, and planets, et cetera, at each stage producing more complicated (per scale) structures which accumulate and transfer more energy.

        You’ll read this and think, “Magic! Heresy!” But there’s nothing magical about it–it’s no more or less magical than gravity. Gravity doesn’t “pull” apples from trees to the ground because of magic. Similarly, electromagnetism (light) doesn’t “make” people in the magical, lovey-dovey sense you’re thinking of now, as you sneer at this one. It’s just growing, the way it does, and nebulae and superclusters hold and transfer more energy than empty space, just as, per mass, simple Stage Four human nervous systems hold and transfer more energy than stars.

      2. Evolution is the growth of light.

        Umm… no it’s not. Evolution is the change to life over time. ‘Light” plays no part in the term’s definition. You’re just attributing to the term what you want it to mean.

        The constant pressure of light to expand creates laws of physical reality to provide a place for expansion to occur.

        Radioactive pressure is a tough subject because it involves several steps to causally link momentum to photons. The important part to remember is that for every photon emitted that may cause an increase in energy to a particle when it crashes into something and transfers its momentum also means there is an equal loss of momentum from the emitter. The notion that this process is necessarily one of ‘releasing’ pressure due to ‘light’ is exactly backwards.

        All the rest of this mental masturbation is based on unsupported supposition as to causal effect, namely, that this ‘expansion of light’ (I guess it just comes this way) causes the laws we use to describe physical forces. How does it cause these laws? Well, apparently by ‘expansion’. By what mechanism does ‘light’ suddenly ‘expand’ if the laws that reveal the mechanism are created by the expansion?

        And what on earth does all of this gibberish and woo have to do with changes to heritable traits and allele frequencies? Light causes these, too? By what mechanism?

        Look, haigharka, you’ve got nothing here but the liberal use of a typical trick usually done by sociologists, namely, making up new terms to describe what appears to be related phenomena as if the term itself brought something new and clarifying into being. If so, I just don’t see it. It sounds to me like Chopra-esque quantum woo.

      3. tildeb,

        The corporate scientists disagree with you–they have stated, rather unequivocally, that all things evolve–galaxies, planets, culture, et cetera. You may still be on the bandwagon from a few decades ago.

        Here’s an article which touches on that subject from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. They’re one of the most prominent voices for elite-preferred cosmology, and over time, they’ve been a driving force behind the plan to apply their principles of randomized matter movement to all aspects of human society.

        I’m using the term evolution more correctly than you, though your use is more culturally relevant. Imagine that you are in prehistoric times, living among a tribe of humans, and you find them using fresh human feces to dress their wounds. To them, that is “medicine,” and occasionally, some of them survive wounds, proving that their medicine is strong. To you, “medicine” means something else–but when you try to explain that, you find yourself an outsider, surrounded by a group consensus, with evidence of its own potency.

        You asked me to discuss evolution, so I did. Now, I understand that you don’t currently possess the technology to measure certain phenomenon, so it’s certainly reasonable of you to consider electromagnetism as “just this thing that happens with energy, that we can sometimes predict and control, but never ultimately understand.” You don’t have to think of evolution as having something to do with light.

        What you can do, though, with the evidence you have available here, is begin the process of discovering more about how evolution works. You do this by noting the mathematical impossibility of random mutations, observing a fossil record of progressively more complex material structures which serve as increasingly powerful conduits for energy transfer, and then concluding, “There must be some as-yet-unknown phenomenon which integrates all material structures, and which causes Terran biological evolution to occur in conjunction with Terra’s environment.”

        The latter conclusion is, indeed, all you can reasonably make with the scientific method here on Earth. You don’t have to believe me about light until you have the means of verifying it yourself–and you shouldn’t believe me just because I say it! Investigate the matter yourselves for as long as you need! Just don’t let your Objectivist religions cause you to stop making inquiries, when the evidence of environmental coordination is staring you in the face.

      4. Yes, yes, yes, everyone and their brother uses the term ‘evolution’ to simply mean ‘change’. But that’s not what we’ve been talking about. You know it’s not what we’ve been talking about. So you pretend it is. You’re dishonest.

        You’re being purposefully obtuse to suggest otherwise. But that’s preferable to you, isn’t it? I’ve been asking over and over for you to explain your alternative hypothesis how life changes over time because you insist your maths reveal natural selection cannot possibly be the major mechanism, and you give me bullshit about ‘light’ by the miraculous mechanism of ‘expansion’.


        I criticize this notion because it’s empty of knowledge value and you do not demonstrate the necessary causal link between ‘expansion’ and ‘light; instead you spew bullshit about me following “Objectivist religions” – whatever the fuck THAT may mean in your selectively redefined language , “corporate scientists” – because they are supposedly qualitatively different than those who do science with no corporate interests – and just so conveniently forget that I’m asking you these questions specifically about biology for fuck’s sake.

        Your response is intentionally disingenuous.

        You obfuscate with a astrophysics paper on cosmological changes, and then have the temerity to suggest I must go forth and educate myself about these electromagnetic processes before I will be able to attain the exalted status you currently hold to quite rightly dismiss natural selection.

        Fuck off, you twit.

      5. tildeb,

        I’m sorry to have offended you. I didn’t link to an astrophysics center article because the term was applied only to cosmology, but because it discussed how the principles of biological evolution could be applied, and are being applied, to larger structures within the universe than our current conception of “life” (e.g., relatively minuscule material structures on one particular planet). What we call “evolution” does encompass all things, and even those whose faith is randomized mutations are conceding that.

        That particular institution at Harvard is not the only place using “evolution” thusly. Check out this New York Times article on cultural evolution.

        (A much more intelligently written perspective on cultural evolution is offered by Carcinisation here.)

        Here are Richerson and Boyd at U.C. Davis on gene-culture co-evolution; their paper has ample internal citations that you could follow up on.

        You may walk away from this discussion upset, but I hope that, in time, you will revisit the topic with an open mind.

      6. To be absolutely clear, You left this discussion as soon you were asked politely for two fundamental requirements: 1) to provide and alternative hypothesis to evolution (scientifically understood in the biological sciences as one of its central pillars) that you could show (with evidence from reality) accounted for all the technologies, therapies, and applications that work today, (in other words, a reasonable alternative) AND link this alternative to what we see today by means of a mechanism.

        You provided neither.

        You went on a binge of conspiratorial nutcrackery insulting me with all kinds of accusations about my slavish religiosity to the ‘priests’ of ‘pop-evolution’ and innuendos that I have been willingly duped because of some supposed ignorance. Having politely tolerated this bullshit in the hopes of finding out what this alternative you thought so highly of might be and the mechanism you supposedly knew something about that powered its causal effects, you finally come up with ‘light’ by the mechanism of expansion… a nonsensical, unreasonable, pile of rubbish that does not meet even the basic requirements to challenge the biological theory of evolution. It’s simply bullshit.. not because I say so, but because this ‘hypothesis’ is empty of any equivalent knowledge value. You do not showhow ‘light’ causes changes to heritable traits suitable to fitness in different environments nor demonstrate how this alternative mechanism of ‘expansion alters allele frequencies in populations. That lack of evidence is not my doing and it’s an indication of what you’re really promoting: bullshit hidden behind maths.

        My frustration is that I have wasted my time and my effort in these exchanges with you. I leave no better informed about anything than I did before engaging you. My loss.

      7. Wow. I spend a week on the northern Sao Paulo beaches, staring out at beauty unparalleled in this world, and I get home to see this: the growth of light. I could delve into it, but I see Tildeb has already summarised this barrage of Deepak Chopra nonsense perfectly as:

        a nonsensical, unreasonable, pile of rubbish that does not meet even the basic requirements to challenge the biological theory of evolution. It’s simply bullshit.. not because I say so, but because this ‘hypothesis’ is empty of any equivalent knowledge value. You do not show how ‘light’ causes changes to heritable traits suitable to fitness in different environments nor demonstrate how this alternative mechanism of ‘expansion alters allele frequencies in populations. That lack of evidence is not my doing and it’s an indication of what you’re really promoting: bullshit hidden behind maths.

      8. I’m glad you had a nice time on your expensive vacation, John. In the meantime, the children of the many peoples your predecessors raped, robbed, and murdered have continued to be bombed, starved, and left in crushing poverty. You may have noticed some of the luckier ones serving you drinks as you enjoyed the dividends of centuries of invasion and genocide.

        You’ve very clearly expressed that you disagree with me. Are you able to read the detail in my response to tildeb, and address the points I made directly? Or will you confine yourself to reminding everyone how white and how rich you are, and using Appeal to Majority to preen inside your own self-satisfaction?

        There are actual issues to be discussed, here. I already know that I’m stupid. I know I’m unliked. I know I’m illogical and unpopular and a stinky doody-doo. I know that my ignorance and stupidity is staggering to you. So you don’t need to mention all those things again! Try to focus on the issues being discussed, rather than on mocking the person who disagrees with you.

        The most powerful figures of Rome may have escaped to Britain when the barbarians came, but middle-managers like you are easily cast to the wolves when it’s time to change hegemons. You, you pitiful little Eichmann, had better hope that the status quo remains in place for the rest of your years, and that Africa waits until after your passing before coming to get its stuff back.

      9. I’ve never censored the comments on my blog, and i don’t intended to just for you. (Often people swing around torrents of unjustified abuse like the scathing dribble you just shared with the intent of making being blocked your trophy.) But i will say this: your focus on changing subject instead of defending your ideas or offering actual criticisms to evolution (your original goal) is seen as you admitting defeat.

        @John, obviously it’s your call but I’d advise no longer engaging this lunatic. I’m beginning to fell embarrassed for her.

      10. Allallt,

        The time zone of this hotel shows the following post: Posted by higharka on January 5, 2015 at 12:04 pm

        You may show a different date and time, depending on your time zone. If you examine that post, which occurred several days ago, you will see many points that John ignored in order to focus instead on discussing how nice his vacation was, and how stupid and unpopular I am.

        If you feel up to it, you are also welcome to address those points, as is anyone else reading here. You’ve all been too afraid to visit my own blog, but I have very few readers, so I think you’d find that you could form a majority consensus there, also. You could agree that you were all very white and very educated, and it would probably only be me disagreeing with you.

        If you’re not able to handle the arguments in the post I referenced above, then I’d be more happy to discuss the ways in which mercantilist evolution is part of the bigoted, racist screed that Britain used to justify its own martial superiority. Like the Torah, it is a disgusting, murderous faith that purports to explain why a “chosen” group of elites is sanctioned in their rule by the deepest laws of nature.

        John’s racism is very much a part of this discussion. Like some Muslims and Christians, his aversion to science and intolerance for people of other faiths is one of the nadirs of human behavior.

    2. Higharka, here’s a summary of the conversation we’ve had so far:
      Higharka: here is a claim that flies in the face modern science.
      Atheists: you are correct, your claim does fly in the face of modern science. Would you care to provide evidence?
      Higharka: no, i would not. I would like to offer an arbitrary collection of numbers with no evidential basis and call that evidence!
      Atheists: that’s not evidence and the assumption you appear to make to justify your maths show a misunderstanding of evolution.
      Higharka: you’re close minded, racist supremacists.
      Atheists: have you considered the implications of your maths, were it true? If it made sense it would revolutionalise biology and be worthy of a Nobel prize.
      Higharka: but… But… Maths!
      Atheists: evolutionary theory works as it is. Your maths uses arbitrary numbers the results of which are incompatible with the evidence.
      Higharka: you’re all mean! Meanies. Why can’t you move the conversation over to my blog, which i repeatedly refer to as external links and evidence. You’re closed minded, dogmatic thinking, biased Anglophiles who are scared of changing their environment!
      Atheists: there is a point, and we have now reached it, where it is not reasonable to give you the benefit of the doubt. Your failure to acknowledge our points, adapt to evidence or provide a mechanism with which we should replace or adapt the already fully functional and evidenced theory of evolution suggests you are deluded. Your reasoning is poor, steadfast and based in wishful thinking.
      Higharka: you’re mean! Mean! Mean! Mean! My blog! Maths! Numbers! You’re all idiots.

      Anyone who tags the comment thread will see this. Anyone who tags the comment thread will see you’ve been given smoke opportunity to rectify the issues in your argument. They will also see that you have repeatedly attempted to change the topic of conversation to dodge meeting your burden of proof (as well as misrepresented our arguments – like calling Tildeb’s argument one from popularity, when it was clearly about function).

      So your accusations fall in deaf ears not because we are too proud to acknowledge them, but because they are without basis.
      However, i do thank you for behaving this way here. It is under a part called “On politeness and accusations”. You exemplify my point brilliantly: you’re hypocritical and think you’re a victim here. Thank you.

      1. Allallt,

        As this one has told you many times before, she is not particularly impressed with the Wise Men of Your Particular Time Period. For the overwhelming majority of time between the birth of the first human and the day you downloaded your latest smartphone app, “modern science” has been wrong. Wise Men, century after century, have used groupthink to insult people who deviated from the majority belief system.

        “The gods exists!” cries Allallt of 6,000 B.C., pointing to the sun. “Look at one of them, shining so brightly in the sky!”

        You have told me that an invisible cloud man cares about what I do with my genitals, and you’ve claimed that the sky is covered by a firmament. When I’ve argued with you that things could be different, you and your friends insult me, telling me that I’m a moron for not understanding how great your culture is. After all, you’ve mastered the power of fire! You can make fires to warm people at night, thanks to the blessings of the god of the forest, and the god of tinder, and the god of sparks.

        Thousands of years later, you are filled with pride at your invention of “drought resistant corn” and “online social networks,” and you think that now, High Arka will surely be so impressed that she will put aside her rationality, ignore the evidence of progression in the fossil record, and believe in your new faith.

        This one is still not impressed. This one will continue thinking for herself, looking at the fossils scattered far and wide across Terra, and drawing conclusions based on those. No amount of Wise Men inventing bows and arrows, discovering gold, chanting anti-demonic runes over sick children who later become healthy, or patenting antidepressant medications, will turn this one into a zombie, so needful of reassuring conformity that she will believe whatever Wise Men say is true.

        You shouldn’t be so afraid of mathematics. It’s a pure science, a pure language, and one of the best things about it is how easy it is to test hypotheses individually. You can do it in your own flat, all by yourself, checking and re-checking your work to be sure the numbers are correct. Instead of relying on powerful academics to tell you the answers, you have the freedom as an individual to do math yourself.

        In addition, you might consider taking a course or two in basic statistics or probabilities, so that you can more easily learn what the phrase “the probability of x” refers to in the real world. Books on math are much less exciting than books on biology, because they don’t appear to be about cool things like animals, but actually, math bears a strong relationship to many of the things you see in the physical world around you. I know that you must understand this somewhat, but if you learned more about the mathematics of probabilities, it would help you be less dazzled by the very large and very small numbers involved in discussing planetary

        One needs a clear, objective outlook in order to be able to approach problems of this magnitude, and a better understanding of probability math would give you some of the tools to start in that direction.

        Primary Sources Versus Secondary Sources

        It would probably benefit many of you, also, to take a course, or independently study the concept of, scientific research. One of the core tenets of the scientific method is falsifiability: this means that if the fossil record shows a clear progression of specimen development over the course of billions of years, along with an utter dearth of evidence corresponding to your culture’s preferred theory, should cause a scientist to consider random mutation falsified by the evidence. A person of faith, though, continues believing what he wants in spite of the evidence.

        Primary sources are direct observations of events: say, you compiling numbers pertaining to the complexity of a piece of genetic code, and doing your own math to learn the results. Secondary sources are hearsay–a professor writing an article in a magazine about which theories are better and which are worse. Just as in a courtroom, hearsay is generally less valuable than firsthand experience, you should become comfortable investigating things yourself.

        (For example, have you ever been to a fossil dig site? Not the “image” of one that you saw in a movie, or in a picture in the paper, but an actual site?)

        You’re having a crisis of faith right now. You’re confronted with someone who reminds you of evidence you’ve long learned to fit into only your own narrative. Although you’re accustomed to arguing with other religious people, you’re not accustomed to arguing with the evidence, so you’ve become upset, like the others.

        It takes great emotional strength to overcome one’s own biases, and to be willing to accept evidence that contradicts what you want to be true, but you can find that strength within yourself if you want to.

        It will make you unpopular with the Wise Men of your age to disagree with them. You will be insulted and shunned by the other cavemen for not believing in the sun-god, but you will be closer to the truth. You will be years, perhaps centuries, ahead of the others in learning that the sun is a ball of burning gas, rather than a man riding a flaming chariot across the sky.

        Please consider looking at the fossil record again, and allowing yourself to see that the evidentiary record does not accord with what your culture has raised you to believe.

      2. I feel like you’re not understanding. Here’s the thing about maths: left side = right side. You’ve got bollocks on the left, therefore…?
        The numbers you feed into your maths have to represent reality. You’ve got your own speculation on the left, therefore…?
        You don’t have an argument until your maths is informed by evidence. Your left hand side is unevidenced bullshit, therefore…?

      3. Which part of the equations are confusing you? Is it:

        1) A reasonable number of cells in a hypothetical organism 1/10 the size of an average human? (Here, five trillion.)

        2) The average mutation rate of cells during the reproductive process? (0.008%)

        3) The chemical complexity of Earth’s current periodic table? (98!)

        4) The carbon dating of Earth’s currently discovered oldest single-celled organism? (3.8 billion years)

        All of these variables can be easily verified and understood by anyone with access to a library or the internet. Would you like assistance tracking down or figuring out any particular one of those?

      4. Look again at the maths for 2. 0.008% = 8 in 100,000 (that’s 1/12,500). There are two reproductive cells involved in sexual reproduction, meaning a 1/6,250 chance of a mutation in every fertilisation.
        In a population of 500,000 we expect to see 80 mutations every generation (of stable).
        And all that before we look at allele frequency, the predominant process.

      5. Your math is off–if every single member of the population reproduced simultaneously per generation, there wouldn’t be a probability of only 80 mutations ever generation, there’d be a probability of 4,000.

        But these are sexually reproducing organisms, ergo if we are fantasizing about a “perfect reproduction,” with 250,000 successful fertilizations that produce healthy offspring able to reproduce, we’d get half that, or 2,000. Which is much better odds for random mutation than the “80” you came up with.

        That 0.008% rate, by the way, isn’t the rate at which all cells mutate. That rate is much higher. The 0.008% rate is the official rate at which mutations “to meaningful portions of the genetic code” occur, e.g., germ-line cells and/or major systems, so the marketers of corporate biology have already taken your allele issues into account when making their case.

        Now, when a cell mutates–one of those 2,000 in a population of 500K with a 100% successful and simultaneous reproductive rate, for example–where is the mutation? As we’ve discussed, cells contains the full DNA blueprint, meaning they are encoded with complexity equivalent to, at least, the extent of the entire organism’s cellular details, including healthy reproductive rate, placement, energy storage and transfer, et cetera. Random mutations would have to affect not just “one cell,” but the right part of the DNA stored in that cell, in order to produce any kind of noticeable/meaningful effect, including a microscopic change to any particular organ.

        Imagine that I have a USB flash drive with 60GB of storage capability–a flash drive smaller than my pinkie finger. You could look at that small drive, and say, “To evolve, there only needs to be a change to such a single, small thing.” But that 60GB of data is quite a bit more complex than a mere pinkie finger. It could include, among many other things, the 3d design specifications for a thousand different varieties of pinkie finger.

        Any mutation to this code is a far more complex change than merely, “Changing one cell.” To change an organ from water-breathing to air-breathing involves altering the tiniest details in the equivalent of millions of lines of computer code. The result may be sub-microscopic, but that doesn’t mean all the complexity isn’t there.

      6. No, I’m not making any weird assumptions like the simultaneous reproduction of all the individuals of a species. Watch again:
        The probability of one germ involved in fertilisation being mutated is 0.008% (or, 1 in 12,500).
        There are two cells involved in fertilisation, so the probability of any germ cell involved in fertilisation being mutated is 0.016% (or 1 in 6,250).

        In any species that replaces its size every generation (i.e. the population size is stable over populations) we would expect to see 0.016% of that population to be from mutated germ cells.

        In a population of 500,000 that is 80 individuals per generation. That is immensely different to the number you came up with. Your number would never have a mutation come up in all the humans that ever lived. However, my number, with the correct arithmetic would see 114,000,000 individuals from mutated germ cells in replacing our current generation (not to talk of population increase).

        You clearly also don’t understand the implications of a mutation to the genetic code in a germ cell. Let us say the mutation happens in a germ cell to the allele that effects hair colour. What do you think would happen? Because, as it happens, that is where blonde hair came from (http://news.discovery.com/human/genetics/blonde-hair-gene-identified-140602.htm).
        Changes in the DNA of the germ cell will lead to changes in the DNA in the offspring.

        Next, do you remember that thought experiment I gave you from Dawkins: a space to navigate full of individuals? You see, it was the small mutations that accumulated that lead to a transition like the gill to a lung. If you try to make a mutation of that magnitude all at once, the odds against the mutation happening in the right direction are vanishingly small.

        Lastly, allele frequency. Seriously, all mutations aside any population with a sufficiently deep gene pool will see significant change in the phenotype of their individuals over generations just by changes to the bell curve.
        Add to the gene pool the constantly added depth of mutations and… well I don’t see how you’ve calculated your number.

      7. Here follows an example of flawed reasoning:

        Observation 1: Some people have blond hair.
        Observation 2: Some genes result in blond hair.
        Conclusion: Therefore, God exists.

        Do you see how the conclusion does not follow from the premise? Even if God existed, and had designed the gene for blond hair, the above argument is not sound. Instead, what has happened is that people with faith in God have decided that they will use any observable evidence as a way to justify their faith, simply by ascribing everything they see to the works of their preferred force.

        Let’s look at another example of a bad argument:

        Observation 1: Some people have blond hair.
        Observation 2: Some genes result in blond hair.
        Conclusion: Therefore, blond hair occurred randomly.

        This argument is flawed in the exact same way as the first one. The fact that humans have mapped some portions of the genetic code has nothing to do with whether or not what occurred did so randomly. You enjoy having faith in the idea that it happened randomly, and I can respect that as your religious belief. When it’s time to do science, though, you have no evidence to demonstrate that the mutations were random. Instead, you have overwhelming evidence indicating that the mutations were a process integrated with Earth’s environment, resulting in progressively more complex creatures attuned to the ecosystems in which they live.

        This is true whether or not your favorite anglo-capitalist evangelical says so on television. Appeal to Evidence is an aspect of drawing a logical conclusion, whereas Appeal to Authority is an attempt to belay judgment in favor of letting Wise Men tell you what to think.

        Allallt: “[I]t was the small mutations that accumulated that lead to a transition like the gill to a lung.”

        You’re correct! Now, try to understand how this would have happened under a rubric of random evolution. Would the gills have turned into lungs immediately? No! Did a supreme Creator specifically command the fish to evolve lungs? No! Did the fish decide on their own to evolve lungs in order to explore the land? No!

        As you said, the transition from gills to lungs occurred through an accumulation of small mutations.

        Now, if you’d been able to get all the way through my originally-linked post on Lightform Evolution, you would know that Terran atmosphere isn’t raw oxygen, nor is it as simple a chemical compound as water. In fact, it includes many different types of chemicals (google “periodic table” for a good chart).

        Given, then, that the fish is not trying to develop air-breathing lungs, and that the transition occurs randomly, we know that “small lung mutations” are as likely to occur as the random mutations of other organs. For example, we have a fish swimming along through the sea, breathing water through its gills (“water breathing lungs,” if you prefer, as I used for simplicity in the original post). During reproduction, some of these fish begin to produce microscopic cellular masses in their bodily cavities.

        How many of these masses will there be, across the entire population of the species? Of those masses, how many of them will be the beginnings of lungs designed to respirate Terran air, and how many of them will be the beginnings of lungs designed to respirate alternative chemical compounds? (Again, do a search on “periodic table,” and look at how many potential chemical compounds exist on Earth. There are quite a few!)

        Now, as you’ve said, our example fish doesn’t get its lungs right away. It takes a lot of small mutations. This means that, during the time between Point A (has only gills) and Point Z (has air-breathing lungs), there is a long period where generation after generation of our specimen is producing a large, useless mass inside its body cavity. This mass has zero use to the specimen, because it is not yet able to breathe air. And yet, somehow, this worthless tumor inside the fish does not kill it off. Somehow, the fish manages to continue reproducing, thousands or millions of times, until that tiny cluster of mutated, microscopic cells, has mutated all the way into a fully-functioning air-breathing lung(s).

        Clearly, that “in-between” fish survived all that time. It reproduced. And it did so so effectively that it managed to survive even in waters where all the fish who hadn’t begun developing those worthless bodily-masses (the Point A fish, who hadn’t yet begun developing lungs, which would be the majority of the non-mutated population) were not able to drive it to extinction.

        So, the Point Z fish crawls out onto land. This would be a very small percentage of the Point Y population, of course, since the random mutations would affect a tiny minority of the Point Y population.

        Ergo all the other stages of mutative progression–from Point B to Point Y–still exist in the waters. They die off, and they have a much bigger probability of appearing in the fossil record than Point Z fish, during the inter-generational span where the gills-to-lungs mutation occurred.

        So why don’t we ever see large deposits of any kind of animal that has a “half developed lung,” or its equivalent? Easy–because there were no random mutations. Randomness is a belief system that you use to feel that you have explained difficult questions in your life, just as you might ascribe thunder to the tantrums of a storm god.

        And this is only for the creatures that are on track for an air-breathing lung. What about creatures who randomly mutate lungs which are meant to respirate other substances, whether gaseous or liquid? (Again, see the “periodic table” for an example of how many different substances, and combinations thereto, that there are available for processing.) Clearly, these creatures can survive with giant, partially-mutated ammonia-respirating lungs, since other fish can survive with giant, partially-mutated air-respirating lungs. So why doesn’t any evidence of this appear in the fossil record?

        These mutations are random, too. Not only should far more of that species have randomly developed lungs meant to process different kinds of substances without dying off–just like the air-breathing ones were able to survive before the otherwise-worthless lungs became workable, and a benefit–the other fish should have also developed other random things, like chunks of bone, clusters of incomplete kidneys, or other, still-more-fabulous organs that we’ve never before seen. If this were a random roll on mutations, the chance of randomly producing a lung attuned to breathe Terran air is utterly, completely minuscule. Mathematically impossible. A ridiculous, fantastical conclusion.

        And yet, you want to believe it. You want very, very badly to believe it, even though the fossil record provides zero evidence of your beliefs. None of the “mistakes” are out there, even though they should outnumber by more than a trillionfold the successful transitionary species between single-celled organisms and bipedal great apes. You have no evidence to support your claims–only evidence that shows a progression–yet your emotional stability, your faith, demands that you believe it all happened “randomly.”

        Creationists shrug and say, “God.” Dazzled by numbers they think are big, like “a billion,” they make up an easy answer in the form of an invisible cloud man. You do the same in order to believe what you feel you need to believe.

        Randomized evolution postulates the survival of the fittest–the selection, by impartial nature, of superior traits. Well, let’s say you have two fish side by side: one fish is strong, healthy, horny, and ready to eat and reproduce. It can swim fast to escape predators, it can slow its metabolism when food runs low, and if it is fast and strong enough, it may be able to mate this year.

        The other fish is exactly the same, except for one small difference: it has half of a useless organ stuck inside its body–the early stages of a random evolution that might later become an air-breathing lung. This cluster of worthless cells demands more calories, adds more weight, and changes the shape of the fish’s exterior.

        Which fish reproduces more successfully? Which one dies off?

        Well, if you believe 2015 Earth’s pop-evolution, the first one dies off. And the one with the big, worthless, energy-draining tumor in its chest somehow survives for several more generations, until it produces offspring that have the “complete lung,” which crawl out onto land and manage to survive.

        What a load of horse shit. The commandments of randomized evolution invalidate themselves, because they would require that any organisms developing a mutation that would later be positive would be, in the interim, less fit and less likely to mate and succeed. And yet, the precepts of the faith require that those very “mistakes” do manage to succeed, driving to extinction their more-fit predecessors.

        You won’t like hearing this, but arguing with people of faith is the same, no matter what they call their religion. Watching your emotional incapability to engage the fossil record feels almost identical to watching Creationists do the same thing when I argue with them.

        Wouldn’t you rather transition to an evidence-based, rational way of thinking, instead of putting aside your judgment to believe in the Wise Men of your era?

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