Monthly Archives: April 2013

Understanding evolution

I can’t help myself – Conservapedia is my favorite site when I need a good laugh.  It’s like the proverbial car wreck you can’t look away from.  A link to a Vox Day post about evolution comes from the front page of “The Trustworthy Encyclopedia.”

I’m not sure if Vox Day is being deliberately obtuse or if they have a mental block similar to my own before I learned more about evolution.

The post gleefully quotes from Pharyngula as PZ Myers explains that evolution can’t really be called Darwinism any longer because

We aren’t using Darwin’s model anymore; he had no accurate notion of how inheritance worked, for instance — genes and alleles, the stuff of most modern theory, are not present anywhere in his works.

That makes perfect sense to me, but not to Vox Day.  Vox apparently thinks it’s the beginning of the end for evolution.

Today Darwin, tomorrow “natural selection”, and, sooner or later, the entire concept of one species coming into existence from another less evolved species through mutation and environmental pressures will be cast into the incinerator of scientific history.  It is merely a matter of time.

Vox operates with a typical Christian viewpoint, one that I held before I became more knowledgeable about evolution and science in general.  Christianity in particular operates under an ‘all or nothing’ set of rules when it comes to interpreting the Bible.  If one part of the Bible is disproved, then it can’t possibly be divinely inspired and the rest can be called into question.

Science does not work that way.  Science takes the bits that work and runs with them, building as more research is done.  Does that mean that scientists are perfect or get it right the first time?  Of course not – but that is a completely foreign concept to people like Vox Day.  They have to continue believing that the authors of the Bible got it right the first time and that is good for all time while I am willing to accept that science frequently doesn’t get it right the first time and is in a constant state of flux.

When I was a Christian my particular mental block went something like this: I couldn’t wrap my head around evolution because I thought that meant offspring would be genetically different than the parents.  That would make it impossible for that new life to mate because there would only be one.  What I didn’t understand was that populations evolve, not individuals.

I’m not certain where I heard this explanation, but it clarified things for me:  a given generation in a particular evolutionary chain would be able to successfully mate with the preceding and proceeding generations, but the members at the beginning of the chain wouldn’t be able to mate with those at the end of the chain.

So I’m willing to give Vox Day a little slack because I was once in the same boat and maybe one day the light bulb will light up for them as it did for me.

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Inspiration

I laid out my reasons for leaving Christianity some time ago, but I thought it might be useful to list some authors who gave me food for thought or continue to inspire me and some blogs I follow.  It turned into a longer list that I anticipated but even so it seems to be incomplete.  I’ll let it go as it stands and post other blogs or books or whatever that I find interesting as I remember or run into them.

The original seed of doubt was nurtured by Robert Cialdini‘s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.  The book showed me that people don’t act rationally and that the church employs all of the methods of persuasion mentioned in the book.

Libby Anne at Love, Joy, Feminism is consistently thought-provoking.

Even though I didn’t discover Douglas Adams‘ novels, articles and lectures until after his death, I think his views are pretty timeless and find them enlightening and humorous.  I highly recommend The Salmon of Doubt, a posthumous publication of his work.

Although I no longer remember how I first ran into PZ Myers’ Pharyngula blog, it continues to be interesting as both an atheist and lover of science.

Robert G. Ingersoll‘s work is from little further back in time.  I think I ran onto his work from Pharyngula, but I can’t be certain.  You can find a collection of his work at Librivox or Project Gutenberg, both Volume 1 and Volume 2.

Although she is taking a break to from blogging at the moment, I find Kacy at The Ex-Convert to be a very interesting read.  She has so many posts that you can find insightful posts that still resonate even if they aren’t current.

Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are another two that I admire.  I read Dawkins for his science books and Hitchens for his writing style and unique take on things.

Roger Ebert recently passed away, but I started reading his movie reviews some time ago and then moved to his blog posts, which were always though-provoking.

Skepchick has daily links that are interesting for those who are fascinated by science or skepticism.

I find Zeno at Halfway There provides good reading as a math professor on a variety of topics.

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Resurrection Sunday

After almost two years of dormancy, I finally have enough motivation to relaunch this blog.  I am working on a number of posts in the hopes that I’ll have enough of a backlog of drafts to keep writer’s block at bay.

Part of my motivation is not giving up on the blog and the other part is to counteract the claim that internet atheism is on the decline.

Although I didn’t really have a goal or focus to this blog, my subconscious was pushing me toward keeping the posts strictly in the realm of religion.  But then I found I had more thoughts to share on a wider variety of subjects.  So we’ll see where that takes us.

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