Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
3 Nov

Life, Rare and Fragile

earthA young planet sits in wobbly orbit, still a bit amorphous and unsure of its final shape. A gurgling, bubbling primordial soup simmers on the surface, stewing and brewing for millions upon millions of years as massive temperature fluctuations, atmospheric pressure shifts, and extended bouts of thunderous lightning mar the landscape. Radiation is a constant, steady force. Deep within the soup, a spark! The beginnings of life, the organic, single-celled compounds that will grow and reproduce and mutate into a hundred million fantastical forms, emerge. All the while, similar – yet totally different – conditions are occurring on other planets concurrently, but no spark is seemingly produced. Why is that?

Consider, for a moment, the plight of the modern feedlot cow, a species that evolution has “constructed” to subsist most effectively on open grassland with plenty of access to sun and the freedom to roam. Instead, we stuff it full of corn, jam it into a filthy muddy pen, and pump it full of medication. Is it any wonder corn-fed cows sicken and produce substandard meat as a rule?

Sometimes called the Hawaiian squirrel, the mongoose has overrun most of Hawaii’s islands and disrupted the wildlife. Originally a transplant meant to combat the hordes of rats decimating the cane fields in the 1880s, the Hawaiian mongoose has decimated the wild bird population by targeting its eggs and nests. A seemingly innocuous, rather small species of mammal was essentially enough to damage an entire ecological niche beyond repair. It being island-based made things even worse, because the native inhabitants lived in a totally insular world. The longer you go without outside influence, the bigger an impact any outside influence will have.

Or what of the young boy who captures a handful of fiddler crabs at the beach and decided he’ll keep them as pets? Is table salt added to sand and water a suitable environment? Or is every single mineral present in seawater also crucial for the fiddler crab’s survival? Calcium, magnesium, potassium, chlorine, and sulfate are all present in seawater, along with sodium, to form the crab’s natural habitat. Tap water with salt added doesn’t work; I know because I was once that young boy.

The sad, slow decline of the giant panda can also be attributed to a series of unfortunate environmental shifts. The first shift was whatever made pandas switch from an omnivorous, diverse diet to a bamboo-based one, with the most plausible theory being that they did it to avoid competition with other, more capable omnivores. Rather than die out (like many species might have), they simply moved onto the low hanging fruit – the endless, untouched forests of bamboo. Of course, this move set a course toward an evolutionary dead end, but that happens from time to time. They came to rely on a totally unnatural food source: bamboo. These are animals with the digestive system of a carnivore attempting to thrive on a diet of low-nutritive, starchy cellulose and plant matter. To get sufficient nutrients, pandas had to consume over fifty pounds of bamboo each day. They survived, but only barely. Females were fertile for a few days a year at the most, male sex organs were sometimes too small to get the job done, and the infants they sometimes produced were completely helpless for too long. And when man began leveling bamboo forests to make way for development, the panda’s already tenuous dominion over its ecological niche was shattered. Conservation efforts haven’t helped much, either. Even with all the bamboo they can eat made available, male pandas in captivity often have no idea how to mate with a female, and panda numbers only manage to stay consistent (or rise somewhat). They’re still in cages, or behind bars betting gawked at by zoo goers. All in all, the panda made a tragic turn somewhere along the road. What began as a momentary adaptation to a change in environment (the introduction of a rival, perhaps) has ultimately forced the panda into an unsustainable, unnatural lifestyle punctuated by even more damaging, man-made environmental pressures.

Both individual species and life itself requires a specific set of environmental parameters to be satisfied.

Life, scientists conclusively agree and these examples show, is exceedingly rare and fragile in all its forms. An impossibly complex sequence of specific, precise machinations and circumstances were necessary for life as we know it to come into existence – so complex, in fact, that we’re still figuring out exactly how it all went down. We do know that life (on Earth) is a system of proteins and nucleic acids forming structures that reproduce and evince genetic variability with each successive generation (evolution). We suspect that before life, there were pre-biotic chemicals intermingling in what Darwin called a “warm little pond” of primordial ooze, and that these chemicals reacted with each other and certain environmental pressures (radiation, heat, moisture) to produce something approximating a living organism. In 1953, Stanley Miller and Harold Urey sought to reproduce primeval conditions by subjecting water, ammonia, methane, and hydrogen (atmosphere) to electric currents (lightning); amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, were formed. And just recently, researchers created RNA, which counts as its descendant DNA, by mixing an assortment of phosphates, sugar, and nucleotides in water and heating, evaporating, and irradiating it. But researchers had been trying for decades to create RNA, and it’s only recently that they actually succeeded.

How many times has nature “tried” to do the same thing and failed miserably? Among all the billions upon billions of planets in the universe, how often have the perfect conditions arisen to allow the creation of life – let alone its affluence? There’s no way to know (yet), of course, but I’d imagine that since the sky isn’t lit up with a steady stream of interstellar traffic, intelligent life on the level and complexity of Earth’s isn’t very common. We had committed, brilliant minds whose sole fixation was to produce a key precursor to organic life working around the clock, and they still barely managed to do it.

The basic building blocks of life aren’t unique to Earth, either, so other planets have had their chance. Meteorites and comets are known to house amino acids, nucleotides, and other prebiotic materials and many scientists posit a hail of prebiotic-bearing meteorites actually sparked life on Earth. Those same prebiotics undoubtedly slammed into every other planet, too, but whether any were able to make use of them remains to be seen. As far as we can tell from observing those planetary bodies within range of our instruments and assuming similar contact with prebiotic-bearing interstellar bodies, life had its chance to arise but did not (or if it did, it was brief and generally unsuccessful).

So, why us? Are we special?

We’re not exactly special; we aren’t anointed, chosen beings. We’re just lucky. And that’s even more beautiful, in my opinion. Just think. Life almost didn’t make it! If one little variable’s off – maybe, I dunno, the seas were twice as salty – life doesn’t form. How crazy is that?

On the global scale, life on Earth could not, and would not, survive, prosper, or even have come into existence without things the way they were and are. All those chemicals, elements, swirling gases, molten lava, boiling seas, lightning strikes, and shifting tectonic plates made life possible. Without each and every environmental variable in place, those phosphates and nucleotides might never have produced anything but inert brown goo. And without water, and an oxygen-rich atmosphere, life wouldn’t have flourished. Life, then, is completely reliant on a very specific environment.

The same holds true for individual species, which arise because of extremely specific environmental pressures and often come to thrive only when continually subjected to those same pressures. If the environment in which a species evolved changes or is eradicated, the species’ fitness suffers. Sometimes that species adapts successfully, while others like the panda attempt to adapt but may ultimately fail. Either way, it changes the species forever. Individual species, then, thrive in the environment in which they were conceived and to which they are adapted.

For some reason, people forget that humans are beholden to the very same rules as every other life form. We forget that we remain animals, that we are the only remaining hominids heading a long line of bipedal, big-brained, meat-eating tool users. As such, we are even more susceptible to environmental pressures that conflict with our natural tendencies because we largely discredit evolution and ignore its implications for our lives.

Ignore evolution at your peril. Ignore the undeniable fact that the human animal (like any other) arose under certain environmental pressures, pressures that persisted for most of our formative years. Even more important than what our ancestral environments looked like is what they did not look like. They were not grocery stores with tons of refined carbohydrates and cereal grains lining the aisles. They were not sitting in traffic for an hour each way. They were not gallons of vegetable oils. They were not legions of obese diabetics.

And I’ll be the first to admit that we’re highly adaptable. We are, thanks to our massive meat-fueled brains. But though we can adapt to an alien lifestyle and survive, bear children, and lead seemingly normal lives, it isn’t ideal. It’s like the cow chowing down on soy and corn; he’s just eating what he’s given. It seems sufficiently food-like for his purposes, just as a breakfast of white toast, margarine, and jam seems like food to most people. That’s just skating by, though. That’s just surviving. Do we really want to be like the panda and subsist on nutritionally-bereft food just cause it’s there?

No!

We are animals, and we are subject to evolutionary pressures. We came of age in a time without processed foods, sedentarism, and chronic stress. That is the environment for which we are adapted, and it is the environment towards which we should strive – if we’re interested in optimum health, happiness, and longevity, that is.

Let me know your thoughts in the comment board. Thanks for reading!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I would urge anyone who is still bringing up the faults in carbon-dating and the old textbook evidence for evolution to look at probably the best website on evolution: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/

    This site has much more modern evidence for evolution. Proof of evolution has come a long way since many of us had it in high school and learned about vestigial and homologous structures. DNA evidence is pretty compelling and makes it hard to deny our ancestral relatives in all forms of life.

    I have yet to understand why people think that evolution somehow impacts religion. One is belief, one is science. Instead of spending so much time trying to debunk the evidence for evolution, I would be much more impressed if religious scholars could come up with scientific evidence for a god.

    lbd wrote on November 3rd, 2009
    • Good point.

      Also, NOVA has a great new EVOLUTION site to go along with the 3-part series that began yesterday.

      I grew up in fundamentalist Christianity, graduated from a one-room Baptist church HS and went on to Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga, TN to study the bible.

      DIdn’t take long as an adult now thinking for myself to drift away. I switched to a real University (Oregon State) and went on to undertake serious studies in philosophy after graduation, on my own.

      I’ve been an atheist for 20 years, now.

      All that to say that I recall all the silliness I was taught in HS and bible school regarding evolution. Essentially, it all comes down to trying to poke holes and find inconsistencies, and somehow that’s supposed to make creationism (or, now, “Intelligent” Design) viable, as though the infidelity of one spouse is held as proof of the virtue of the other.

      At any rate, a couple of years back I got involved in some discussions on the Internet over all this and was amazed to learn that the arguments are all the same, precisely the same, and yet more was discovered in the 1990s about evolution than everything previously known, put together.

      Of course, the old folks have their faith, and that’s that. And the young ones are too young to recognize it’s the same shtick now going on for decades.

      Richard Nikoley wrote on November 4th, 2009
  2. Wow I have a lot more respect and admiration for Mark after this post. AWESOME! Thanks for blowing away the “other” branch of Conventional Wisdom. Seriously I think I’ll believe what countless hours of research has proven and documented, and not some jibberish wrote by drug tripping homo sapiens thousands of years ago when they crucified people and thought the Earth was flat and the center of the Universe.

    BlazeKING wrote on November 3rd, 2009
  3. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proofs” – Carl Sagan

    If you haven’t seen the Cosmos series check it out.

    BlazeKING wrote on November 3rd, 2009
  4. Wow Alex, what a complete fail!

    You must harbour the ultimate in cognitive dissonance holding your creationist beliefs whilst at the same time parting in a discussion on an EVOLUTIONARY science approach to health and fitness website! Haha it reminds me of a story I was told by a guy knew a Texas oil man who was a strong creationist! Yet in his daily work he had to deal with technical jargon regarding underground oil deposits being referred to as 50 million years old, etc as an indication of how deep, or how old the oil is, … Hilarious!

    Peter wrote on November 3rd, 2009
  5. I think that some here are confusing creationism, which is a religious belief, with intelligent design, which is an alternative hypothesis to parts of Darwinian theory. I haven’t fully explored these areas yet, but Darwinism is CW and should not be accepted uncritically. For those interested in reading further about intelligent design, I would recommend the Discovery Institute’s website. Warning: they are not impartial and objective; they are advocates for a variety of libertarian and conservative issues.

    Ed wrote on November 3rd, 2009
    • Intelligent design is built on the exact same premise as creationism, whose speculations are untestable and therefore have no part in Evolution let alone science. Whether that creator/manipulator was God or Aliens or some other mystical postulate, the premise is UNTESTABLE. This is not science; it is metaphysics and religion dressed up to look like science.

      Marnee wrote on November 4th, 2009
      • You go.

        If it’s not falsifiable, it ain’t science. This is absolute. Creationism or ID have never once brought a scientific hypothesis. Not a single time, ever.

        Anyone who claims or thinks otherwise simply doesn’t grasp what science is.

        Richard Nikoley wrote on November 4th, 2009
  6. Shine, I agree that religion is based upon belief. You believe that 20 billion years ago everything came from nothing even though we have never witnessed anything like it since, and this premise defies the first and second law of thermodynamics. There are also many questions that evolution can’t answer. Like where did the space for the universe come from? Where did matter come from? Where did the laws of the universe come from (gravity, inertia, etc.)? How did matter get so perfectly organized? Because evolutionists can’t answer these questions they have to take on faith or as you said “believe”. They are making an assertion that evolution is still true.

    Websites for good science:
    AnswersinGenesis.com
    ICR.org

    Books:
    Creation vs. Evolution by Ralph O. Muncaster
    Darwins Black Box by Michael Behe
    A fine tuned universe by Alister McGrath

    DVDs:
    The Privileged Planet
    Expelled, No intelligence allowed.

    Jamie, if you’re a fan of Dawkins you might be interested in the debate between him and John Lennox. You can watch it on youtube. It is about an hour in length and is broken up into 10 minute videos. John Lennox teaches Mathematics and Philosophy of Science at Oxford University and is a Christian who believes in Creation. I know, I know, a Christian with a PHD. How is it possible!

    BlazeKing you mentioned the “drug tripping homo sapiens and a flat earth. I would have to say that drugs are much more prevalent in todays society and more over, in todays colleges which ironically is where all of these “brilliant” minds hypothesize about evolution. Have we all really changed that much? Or should I say, have we all really “evolved” that much. But since we are on the topic of the drug tripping homo sapiens, perhaps you could explain a couple of Bible versus to me. Job 26:7 “God hangeth the earth on nothing” and Isaiah 40:22 speaking of “the circle of the earth.” If you examine the original text, Job is describing how God created the earth and how it sits suspended. Isaiah is describing how the earth is round. Isaiah and Job are both found in the Old Testament which will mean little to you and I only bring it up because it was thousands of years before the time of Christopher Columbus which is when people thought the earth was flat. Now if 1492 was right around the time when man was discovering the world was round, how is it possible for a more “primitive” group of drug tripping homo sapiens, to know the world was round and was suspended in space thousands of years before the scientist professing themselves to be wise could know? We crazy Christians call that divine revolution. You also mentioned crucifixion, Psalms 22 describes in detail what the coming messiah would go through while dying on the cross for mankind’s sin. The interesting thing about this is that the Psalms were written 700 years before crucifixion was invented.

    Peter, I would have to disagree. I think it odd that “primitive” or a less evolved form of man had a great way of eating and after all of the leaps and bounds we have made in technology through the years, obesity, at least in this country is at an all time high. Now if we have evolved so far from the primitive man, why are most of us having to rediscover how the old “unintelligent primitive man” used to eat? I think if anything, we are devolving. Are you familiar with the law of entropy? Nothing gets better by its self. Everything tends towards chaos and disorder (second law of thermodynamics). I am sure you and I can agree that we get oil from the life that inhabited this planet some time ago. The question is how long ago? The oil we drill for is under about 20,000 psi. The oil pressure is much greater than the pressure of the overlying rock. The pressure should equalize in less than 10,000 years. An interesting question would be if oil comes from animals that lived “millions” of years ago and the oil pressure should equalize in less then 10,000 years then why do we still have oil pressure?

    alex wrote on November 3rd, 2009
    • This is a really incredible lecture by Lawrence Krauss that answers some of your questions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ImvlS8PLIo

      “A Universe From Nothing”

      erik.cisler wrote on November 4th, 2009
    • “There are also many questions that evolution can’t answer. Like where did the space for the universe come from? Where did matter come from? Where did the laws of the universe come from (gravity, inertia, etc.)? How did matter get so perfectly organized?”

      Alex, these are questions of cosmology and physics. The theory of evolution does not address cosmogenesis nor abiogenesis; it postulates a process through which speciation occurs.

      “Because evolutionists can’t answer these questions they have to take on faith or as you said “believe”. They are making an assertion that evolution is still true.”

      This represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the entire scientific process. Science does not arbitrarily make assertions that things are true; science concludes that things are true in light of all known evidence. Scientific theories are always receptive to the discovery of new and compelling evidence. In fact, these unanswered questions which you cite as discrediting science are actually the driving force behind science. Rather than contradict evolution and other theories, unanswered questions drive the continual refinement and improvement of our understanding of the universe.

      However, no evidence has been revealed as of yet that sufficiently debunks the theory of evolution. Unanswered questions from different, unrelated scientific fields do not constitute evidence.

      Shine wrote on November 4th, 2009
    • “You believe that 20 billion years ago everything came from nothing even though we have never witnessed anything like it since, and this premise defies the first and second law of thermodynamics.”

      Alex, I am going to tackle just this part of your blatherings. Bear with me.

      “..came from nothing…”? Who said that? The first life, initially as a single cell I presume, was created from various chemicals available in the universe. The fact no one said this totally debases your whole argument. No laws were broken.

      Regarding the first law of thermodynamics, again no one said life came out of nothing. “Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It can only change forms.” I would argue the existence of your god breaks this law. As the earth was forming there existed materials and an environment in which life could be created. Since then, millions of years has passed and we have the complex beings you see today. I know it is hard to look at all man has created, our iphones and spaceships, and believe we had lesser origins. But everything (excepting ignorance) is pointing to the fact that we did, so grow up and deal with it.

      Regarding the second law of thermodynamics… how does this even apply? We know so little about entropy, but what we do know hardly applies here. You are using concepts out of context.

      Before people understood thunder, they attributed it to Zeus or some other deity. Before people understood that germs cause sickness, they said people were cursed. (Note this is now called Germ “Theory”) You, Alex, are no different than those people. Just simply living an ignorant life. Is that a problem… I would say no, however religions have slaughtered “non-believers” throughout all their history. Religion poisons everything.

      I pity you.

      Ridgeback Runner wrote on November 4th, 2009
      • By the beard of Zeus!

        Nelter wrote on November 4th, 2009
        • Now that is blasphemy!

          Ridgeback Runner wrote on November 5th, 2009
        • By Odin’s good eye!

          Nelter wrote on November 5th, 2009
    • alex:

      “I think it odd that “primitive” or a less evolved form of man had a great way of eating and after all of the leaps and bounds we have made in technology through the years, obesity, at least in this country is at an all time high. Now if we have evolved so far from the primitive man, why are most of us having to rediscover how the old “unintelligent primitive man” used to eat?”

      You are totally conflating separate concepts. Biological evolution is separate from technological, and socio-cultural “evolution”. This conflation is one of the main reasons “conventioanl wisdom” has so many ill effects: civilized practices are not contextualized within our biological nature. I don’t even think the term evolution, as you are applying it to technology is appropriate. I think emergence is a better term. There are inherent costs or trade-offs to adapting any technology; there is never all just benefit. The benefits of agriculture included increases of convenience, reliability, and sufficiency (to name just a few). Having this heightened level of control over food was conducive to fostering civilization. The trade-offs included diminished quality of food and the consequent negative physiological effects.

      I don’t understand what kind of point you are trying to make by mentioning entropy. Are you rather implying a state of societal decadence ?

      TaydaTot wrote on November 4th, 2009
  7. Alex, you’re on a long strange trip. Hope you don’t go to far down that wormhole…

    Mikeythehealthycaveman wrote on November 3rd, 2009
  8. What are we talking about again?
    I’m hungry. I’m going to eat some eggs.

    Ben wrote on November 3rd, 2009
  9. So three priests walk into a bar and……

    Rachel Allen wrote on November 4th, 2009
    • …the bartender says: “What’s this, some kind of joke?”

      Richard Nikoley wrote on November 4th, 2009
  10. How fragile is life? Look at the famous ‘Pale Blue Dot’ photograph and consider Carl Sagan’s thoughts:

    “Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
    The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

    Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

    The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

    It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known”.

    Eegah wrote on November 4th, 2009
  11. Eegah wrote on November 4th, 2009
  12. What a beautiful article. Thanks.

    Peter wrote on November 4th, 2009
  13. Just to let you know Mark. The study Stanley Miller did in 1953 did create amino acids, but Nasa confirmed that they elements he used did not line up with they way it really was. He did they study in a way so he could create something not in the way it really was.

    Matt wrote on November 4th, 2009
  14. Wow Alex your misunderstanding of evolution is only dwarfed by your obviously religious motives in believing in creationism and young earth

    There is so much blatantly wrong with your post I cannot even begin to counter it… All I can say is your views are in no way compatible with this site (and as im sure Mark will agree-not welcome!) I am all for varying opinions and an open discussion, but this site is based on the sole tenet that evolution is a fact, and your posting are not ‘providing an alternate view’ they are spreading incorrect, uninformed and entirely false information

    Peter wrote on November 4th, 2009
  15. Can you say Polarizing Post? Somebody lit a fire…

    Molly wrote on November 4th, 2009
  16. It is very primal to sit and ponder our experience of life when we are warm, safe, and our bellies full. I do it all the time and come to no conclusions except that the answers we come up with reflect our makeup and not necessarily the ultimate reality. These contemplations, for me, always end with a profound sense of awe that is somehow peaceful and requires no further arguments.
    Olddude

    OLDDUDE wrote on November 4th, 2009
    • Well put.

      Nelter wrote on November 4th, 2009
  17. Correct. The Miller experiment had A) an apparatus designed by intelligence beings (us!) and B) had oxygen introduced, which the pre-atmospheric earth did not have.

    Craig wrote on November 4th, 2009
  18. Howdy. Just wanted to add my little piece of straw onto the fire.
    I am in the process of going primal. I am also a Wiccan, And I love this Post, Mark.
    And yes, The God Part of the Brain is a very good book.
    One of the reasons, ironically, that I became Wiccan is due to my efforts to go back to my ancestors’ ways. However, this was long before I found out about the PB. I am very motivated to get fully into the diet, but I am currently in Iraq (First ones in, Last ones out!). There is no way I can subsist on the “food” out here in a primal way! Its laughable actually. I printed off a list of acceptable foods, and counted 10 that were primal in nature in our chow hall. 10! Mostly fruits, and chicken breasts. Gods how I hate chicken breasts! lol

    Anyways…Christians, I love you guys.
    I dont really have anything that I can contribute to the fire, since I am not completely knowledgeable in the area of Biology or Evolution. I just leave it alone.
    However, I just want to note, and this is in a completely unheated, friendly conversation way.
    You realize there were 16 other Gods that were crucified as Saviors before the Nazarene, right?
    Krishna, Sakia Muni, Thammuz, Prometheus, Quezlacotl! Okay, thats not 16, but just do some research, if you are interested.
    My beliefs on the creation of the universe as follows; There was an egg. and from that egg, all life flowed forth.
    I always just equated the old teachings to the big bang, you know…But thats just me.
    Anyways…Im waiting until I hit the states again before I really jump into it all.

    Great site, Great post, and Great discussion (even if people are taking it too personal). :)
    Blessed Be,
    The Scribbly One.

    The_Sciblerian wrote on November 4th, 2009
    • …And beyond the 16 crucified, there were like 300 claiming messiah status. And may of these tal tales had all the same elements: virgin birth, son of god, and resurrection after three days.

      But see, even in Christian bible colleges like I attended, the full scope of religious teaching is rarely taught.

      Jesus just had a better marketing team.

      Richard Nikoley wrote on November 4th, 2009
  19. Wherever it all comes from, I think it’s beautiful and awe inspiring. That is all. :)

    Peace.

    Meghan wrote on November 4th, 2009
  20. Great post!

    It’s no wonder that people have mentioned Carl Sagan in the comments, as a lot of his writings and lectures cover the fact that The Earth is a pretty miraculous place.

    You guys can pray to whatever rock you want, just don’t throw it at me. I have my own, and don’t feel the need to share – because I found it myself.

    Kristina wrote on November 4th, 2009
  21. I created a thread in the forum if people want to move their discussions over there.

    TaydaTot wrote on November 4th, 2009
  22. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof” – Marcello Truzzi

    “If it turns out that there is a God, I don’t think that he’s evil. But the worst that you can say about him is that basically he’s an underachiever.” -Woody Allen

    “So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence.” -Bertrand Russell

    “It isn’t necessary to have relatives in Kansas City in order to be unhappy.” -Groucho Marx

    SerialSinner wrote on November 4th, 2009
  23. I find the idea of a temporally infinite universe logically and philosophically impossible. Think about it. If the universe, if time, never began, than a truly INFINITE number of events would have had to have happened in order for us to be here talking about it. Is that actually possible to instantiate in reality? How would we ever have gotten here. Philosophically (not religuously) I posit that time necessarily must have begun. How far back was that? I guess I don’t really care…

    Craig wrote on November 4th, 2009
  24. Good article!
    i enjoyed reading it a lot

    Rob wrote on November 4th, 2009
  25. Mark, I have followed you for a long
    time but disappointed that the ‘facts’ are not there. Evolution is NOT science
    and if you read thoroughly on this subject by OTHER prominant scientists,
    that will be confirmed. Just because Evolution is ‘fed’ to the American public through school indoctrination doesn’t make it accurate.

    Patsy wrote on November 4th, 2009
    • Can you name a few of these “prominant” scientists?

      And you’re right; the “facts” aren’t here, but the facts certainly are.

      erik.cisler wrote on November 4th, 2009
    • “Mark, I have followed you for a long time”

      And you’re just now figuring out that this is ALL about human evolution?

      Well, at least that explains the rest of your comment.

      Richard Nikoley wrote on November 4th, 2009
  26. … very disappointing to discover how many folks are afraid of debate and fear freedom of speech with the vitriol personal attacks on those with whom they disagree. Stating that science and religion are two different arguments but then telling someone who believes in God that they are not welcome at a site which advocates a paleo diet? Are those not also two different areas? Because someone doesn’t accept evolution he/she cannot join in a discussion about health? Really? Peter, I don’t get that impression from Mark who started this post. I discovered Mark on a show called Know The Cause and have purchased his products after listening to him there and reading his thoughts on this site. The creator of Know The Cause believes in God and advocates many health issues from the Bible. He and Mark are long-time friends and agree on most dietary/health issues. None of us can say that we know 100 percent of all there is to know. It’s safe to say we learn something new every day – knowledge continues to increase. No one should be excluded from this process.

    To Health & Freedom!

    Shari wrote on November 4th, 2009
    • Thank you, Sheri.

      “Stating that science and religion are two different arguments but then telling someone who believes in God that they are not welcome at a site which advocates a paleo diet?” You hit the nail on the head.

      Kristin J wrote on November 5th, 2009
  27. My view is that human beings may or may not have evolved from entirely different lesser beings over millions of years. That’s not much of a view is it? I know that microevolution is obvious though, we do adapt and change to our environment, and I believe in Mark’s theories and think the PB is an AWESOME book and we have much to learn from Grok.

    One of the reasons why I’m not so sure that we evolved the way science says we did is that I’ve always been intrigued by the lack of a (fairly at least) comprehensive transtional fossil record. A good read on this is the book “Bones of Contention”.

    And no, I am not a young earther, but I do believe there is a God behind all of this. The universe, in my view, cannot be “just here” for no reason, with no prime mover, and it cannot be infinite.

    Craig wrote on November 4th, 2009
  28. If anyone wants to see a comprehensive transitional fossil record, check out baleen whale evolution. It is fascinating. Much more comprehensive than the old horse fossil examples. Much of the argument against evolution is based on old examples which were developed even before DNA and protein evidence was available. Textbooks are slow to change. Again, if you want a complete look at CURRENT evolutionary theory, check out the Berkeley site I mentioned above.

    lbd wrote on November 4th, 2009
  29. Whew. Where to begin?

    I am a born-again Christian. I made this choice well into middle age, when I was not in the middle of a crisis, in my own living room on a quiet Sunday afternoon. When that happened I was a tenured associate professor with what most people in Oklahoma would consider “liberal views”. Today I am a professor emeritus, still with what most people in Oklahoma would consider “liberal views”. I say all this to provide a background for my comments.

    There is not much in what Mark posted that I would argue with. The evidence of change (“evolution” if you prefer) in life forms is all around us – plant, animal and human. If you read Genesis closely, you find that one of the main themes of that book is how human life spans were shortened dramatically by the changes in our environment after the flood. We know from the history of the last few hundred years that life spans increased significantly and now seem to be shortening again – all as our bodies adapt to the changes in our environment, diet and lifestyles.

    Change is an indisputable fact. But that does not mean that humans evolved from a lower life form. Not does it mean that the scientific estimates of the age of the earth and the universe are wrong. Nor does it mean that God put dinosaur bones in the ground to test our faith.

    God designed our bodies, and the bodies of the other creatures who inhabit our world to function in the environment he created here. As that environment has changed, those of us who live here have had to change to survive. If we did not change, we did not survive.

    Mark may not believe what I do about the back story, but I agree with what he says about life being rare and fragile and that we need to understand that and take steps to protect it.

    FYI – The account of the creation in Genesis 1 refers to a different event than the account that starts in Genesis 2. A better translation of Genesis 2 would be “And the earth became void and without form. . .” And remember, in the second account, the Spirt of God moved “over the face of the waters”. The very waters he will “collect” together to allow the dry land to appear. The prophet Isaiah
    has a passage that may describe why the earth became void and without form, and why the Spirit of God brooded while He moved over the face of the waters.

    Jim Kenderdine wrote on November 4th, 2009
    • “…when I was not in the middle of a crisis…”

      I did that at age 10, out of horrifying fear of being burned alive…THROUGHOUT ETERNITY.

      Should I say more?

      Richard Nikoley wrote on November 4th, 2009
      • “Should I say more?”

        Well, just this: chip on my shoulder? You bet, and wearing it proudly.

        Richard Nikoley wrote on November 4th, 2009
  30. Interesting and sad to see the ridicule that takes place at the expense of others. I suppose that the proponents of the evolution THEORY (Darwin himself, would agree at this point in our history) have not “evolved” enough not to make personal attacks. God Bless you all, and I will no longer be spreading the word about this site.

    matt beaudreau wrote on November 4th, 2009
    • Matt, I wouldn’t let a few commenters spoil your opinion of the website and its inarguably useful information. Remember, the article itself stays above the fray.

      erik.cisler wrote on November 4th, 2009
    • “…THEORY (Darwin himself, would agree at this point in our history)”

      ALL CAPS. Perhaps you might check up on the concept of theory in a scientific context.

      Darwin? Not on your life. He actually got out and saw and felt evolution.The first. And there’s something special about being the first to see something.

      Otherwise, it is what it is, Matt. What are people to do? Ought they spend endless hours explaining everything in excruciating detail, over and over…or, is it the case that you’re a believer who won’t just admit it, and would like for all us heathens to waste our time being polite to your unspecified standards?

      Is reality different if one is only polite and circumspect in delivering its tenants and absolutes? Or, don’t they exist, really? Is it all just a matter of opinion, so no feelings ever get hurt, no feathers ruffled?

      Is that how man evolved in the Savanna? Was nature that kind?

      Yea, I can be a pussy in certain areas. My mom? All she has to do is shed a tear and I’m at attention.

      Otherwise, I carry on.

      …I can’t help but find astounding cognitive dissonance inthe fact that so many people are shocked…SHOCKED that we really, really hold to human evolution and all its many implications here, at my site, and around.

      I, for one, applaud my friend Mark Sisson for having the courage to allow this pimple to fester.

      It’s time.

      Richard Nikoley wrote on November 4th, 2009
    • “have not “evolved” enough not to make personal attacks”

      Nope, sublimation is different than evolution.

      TaydaTot wrote on November 4th, 2009
  31. Before the world flood, man was a vegetarian. It is only after the flood that God gave man meat to eat as well.

    “The fool says in his heart, There is no God”. Ps 14:1

    marilyn wrote on November 4th, 2009
  32. I don’t claim to know how the world works or have all the answers, but deep down I know there is a God and Jesus is who he says He is. I know I’m the minority on this site, and that’s fine. The hostility people have towards believers confuses the heck out of me, but it is what it is.

    Just by reading these posts, it’s pretty clear quite a few people in particular, not naming any names, feel as if they know it all and have the answers to everything. You’re so wrapped up in your own self righteousness and so called intelligence that even if God knocked at your door you still wouldn’t believe. Hearts are hard and wickedly deceitful above all things.

    Whether you believe now or not is your choice, but when you die you will undoubtedly know you were wrong. I hope you realize it before then.

    Regardless, just because some people choose to have faith, that doesn’t give anyone the right to knock them for it. You say we’re ignorant for believing, but there’s nothing more ignorant than intolerance.

    Bill wrote on November 4th, 2009
  33. Richard- Darwin himself said that if billions of transitional fossils were not found over a period of even a hundred years, then his theory of macro-evolution could be thrown out the window. Not only have we not found billions….we have not found one. Where are these transitional fossils to show, or better yet prove Macro-evolution? Micro-evolution, however, is what Darwin “saw and felt”. That is evolution in the same species- not one species spawning from another. And since nothing else has been proven, there is no science. And since you, Richard, brought up science, please explain the first law of thermodynamics in terms of evolution. If science states that matter/energy can not be created from nothing, how did your evolutionary fairy tale begin? I suspect by your quips that you will come back with some sort of personal attacks, and that is fine. I just pray that you’ll bring logic to the argument in your mind, and do so for your own sake and nobody elses. God Bless.

    matt beaudreau wrote on November 4th, 2009
    • Creationists like to talk about macroevolution and microevolution. It’s a false dichotomy, though; “microevolution” and “macroevolution” are one and the same. There is no relevant difference. Scientists rarely, if ever, use this terminology.

      erik.cisler wrote on November 4th, 2009
    • I’m not going to take time to explain evolution to you, Matt. Or science. Or thermodynamics.

      There’s the websites already mentioned, and books. Here’s a good one.

      Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters, by Donald R. Prothero

      Richard Nikoley wrote on November 5th, 2009
  34. Shine, I don’t think that the questions I posed in any way contradicts evolution. I think they and others prove holes in the theory. I think the first and second laws of thermodynamics contradicts evolution.
    You stated that “science does not arbitrarily make assertions that things are true”.
    Well in 1922, when Harold Cook found one single pig’s tooth in Sue County, Nebraska, I would say he made some “assertions” when he built an entire “Nebraska Man”, a supposed proof for evolution because he thought the tooth was half way between a human and an ape tooth. Then there is Ernest Haeckel, the man who doctored the drawing of human and dog embryos as proof for evolution. The examples go on and on…I just find it odd that the crazy Christians are supposed to be the ones with agenda. One final question, if the theory of evolution is so sound, and intelligent design is only for the mentally incompetent, then why is it the people on your side of the argument (evolutionists) are having to fabricate evidence to support it? I mean if the theory is so solid, wouldn’t there be more than enough to prove it true without having to make it up?

    “Scientific theories are always receptive to the discovery of new evidence”.
    I know there is new evidence being discovered all the time to support creation. Unfortunately, this evidence never sees the light of day due to your “unbiased scientists” who say they will follow the truth where ever it leads. For instance, when the scientists from Nova covered up a story where dinosaur footprints were excavated right next to human footprints. The human prints were larger than any other footprint found on man today. There have also been countless artifacts found that have been made by ancient people making reference to dinosaurs (dragons). Your evolutionary scientists are biased and are the ones with the agenda. Just look at how butthurt and hostile the people on your side of the argument have gotten just during the course of these comments. If you guys are so right, then what is with all the hostility?
    Ridgeback,
    “The first life, initially as a single cell I presume was created from various chemicals available in the universe, no laws were broken”

    I would then ask you where did the chemicals come from that were available? I never stated that any laws were broken. I wanted you to tell me where did these laws come from? Or did they evolve as well? And if so, how? You mentioned this first cell that came from various chemicals but you did not tell me where the chemicals came from, so maybe you can tell me with what did this first cell capable of sexual reproduction produce?

    “I would argue that the existence of your god breaks this law”

    I would agree, but if my God does in fact exist, then he would not be subject to these laws because he would be the creator of them. You see, God is omniscient, which means he is outside space and time. Let’s see if you can bare with my “blatherings” just a little further. Let’s just say you created a computer program, like a video game. In that game there were little stick figures running around that you wrote into the program. Let’s also say that you as the intelligent designer of this program, wrote in laws that govern everything inside this game like centrifugal force, gravity, inertia, and the first and second law of thermodynamics. Everything inside your creation would be subject to these laws that you wrote in. You however, being outside the space and time of the program would not be subject to these laws. Everything that occurs inside this game would be natural, but you as the creator would be supernatural. That’s where evolutionists have a huge problem. We know there are natural laws that govern our universe but the theory of evolution defies these laws.
    My statement about the second law of thermodynamics simply states that we have never observed order come from disorder. We have never seen intelligence come from random chaos. I presume that when you wake up in the morning your hair is not already done for you because you just by random chance happen to toss and turn the correct number of times. I am sure you are familiar with the analogy of the tornado ripping through the middle of a junkyard and leaving in it’s path a fully functioning 747. It just doesn’t happen. It defies our natural laws. So I am more drawn to a supernatural conclusion.
    There have been millions and millions of people killed in Russia, China, and Vietnam etc. because those governments were communists. Communism is formalized atheism. When you deny the existence of God you inadvertently place yourself on the throne. When you don’t have God as the ultimate lawgiver then we (mankind) start making it up as we go. For instance, Hitler murdered millions of Jews because he thought they were humans that hadn’t evolved as far as the Arians. Hitler thought the Arians were the supreme race of humans and he wanted to speed up the evolutionary process by getting rid of the humans that he believed would not benefit the Arians that had evolved the furthest. Now where I wonder could he have gotten an idea like that from?

    The_scibierian
    “the 16 other supposed gods that were crucified as saviors before the nazarene”

    I would have to ask if the other 16 supposed gods fulfilled over 300 prophecies detailing the coming messiah? I would further ask how it is possible that one peaceful man during the course of only the last 3 years of his life was able to change the entire face of the world forever? It is from his birth that most of the human race dates its calendars, it is by his name that millions curse, and in his name that millions pray.

    As for Jesus’ “marketing team” mentioned by Mr. Nikoley…All of the apostles were killed for their testimony. All of them claimed to be eyewitnesses to his deity and to the resurrection. All they had to do was deny what they said they saw and they would be set free, but none of them did and they were all killed for it. Where else could you speak of people dying for something they knew was a lie? You may say that fanatics die for lies all the time, but they did so believing it was truth. The apostles having been eyewitnesses did not need faith to believe. If the resurrection did not happen, obviously the disciples would have known it, which means they would have known they were dying for a lie.

    alex wrote on November 5th, 2009
    • Wow, Alex. Are you seriously claiming the Paluxy River footprints were of human origin? And not just human, but “larger than any other footprint” – so, what… giants?

      If you’re going to ascribe the genocides of the 20th century to all atheists, then surely you take personal credit for the Jewish pogroms during the plague, the innumerable deaths on all sides during the Crusades, and the Native American genocide at the hands of the Catholic conquistadors. Don’t compare death tolls; it’s crass and unbecoming.

      erik.cisler wrote on November 5th, 2009
    • “I am sure you are familiar with the analogy of the tornado ripping through the middle of a junkyard and leaving in it’s path a fully functioning 747.”

      Well, there you go. Proof positive this is a pointless conversation.

      Richard Nikoley wrote on November 5th, 2009
    • Alex,

      Let me begin with the fact that five years ago I would be on your side, arguing for the existence of god. I was, however, willing to accept we evolved from single cell organisms… but it was directed by god. The whole young earth idea and the taking of the bible literally is absurd and I felt no rational christian would follow it.

      Let me add the fact remains that if you were born in India, you’d be hindu. In Turkey, and you’d be muslim. And if you followed either of their texts word for word you would sound just as ignorant.

      As to the where and how of the creation of the universe and life, we are still putting the pieces together. Unlike those that want to push the big red Easy Button and just believe some fairy tale, there are people out there researching these questions. The Large Hadron Collider is one example of a device built to study this. If the church had more power, as it did in the past, I am sure these scientists would be put to death. Do I know the answer to the where and how? No, and truthfully, I do not care. I will listen to what data is out there and base my belief on the best available information at the time. You however, are basing your belief on out of date information.

      Your example, while I do enjoy a good video game every so often, fails to explain why would god, such a perfect and omniscient being, would create such a game, such an environment. Does he need worshipers? Sounds more like a dictator to me. Are you sure he is not from North Korea? And again, the theory of evolution does not defy the laws of thermodynamics. I am an engineer (so please pardon any grammar mistakes), aced thermo, and see right through your spouting of “the first and second law of thermodynamics” like a rabid dog. It is a pathetic attempt to try to bring science to your defense. No one said evolution came from nothing so bringing thermodynamics into your argument proves nothing but your blatant ignorance. The theory of evolution does not defy any natural laws. And the fact life was able to get a foothold on this rock we call earth, I fully believe it can do so elsewhere, on other rocks, naturally.

      “…never observed order come from disorder.” Disorder, my friend, is simply something we do not understand yet. Weather used to be completely unpredictable. Eventually we came to predict what the weather tomorrow will be like. Later we could predict multiple days fairly accurately. IF we knew all the variables that effect weather, we could predict the weather accurately. In your case, I could see you saying god makes the weather, and where it rained yesterday, but not today, it was not a pressure or humidity change, it was god’s will. That is borderline retarded.

      And yes my hair is already done for me when I wake because I rock a buzz cut at the moment. Regarding the 747, wow, a craft that is meant to stay stable in high winds does what? It stays stable in high winds? You mean the items with the higher wind resistance went flying off into the distance? Woah, Praise Jeebus. Now that is magic! What is a 747 doing in a junkyard anyway?

      And your arguments about atheism… they are simply a “if there is no god then all is permitted” statement. So you are telling me the Jewish people, before they received the ten commandments, were okay murdering each other, stealing from each other, committing adultery and so forth? No. No society could survive if all was permitted. And before you play the Hitler card, know the church, your god’s church, backed Hitler, et al, until they eventually became the target.

      Let me conclude that I have never stated I was an atheist. A naturalistic pantheist at best. If I were to believe in God, God would be perfect and nothing could exist outside of God. Being perfect, God would not have emotions. Emotions (anger, love, jealousy) are animalistic. That being said, the bible, regardless of its translation is clearly written by men for men. Always preaching how great the afterlife is while truly seeking power in the here and now. Bringing the good word with fire and sword. Forget Natural Selection or Sexual Selection, many people lived or died by Religious Selection… join us or die. I won’t even get into how the bible was used to justify slavery.

      You cannot say I do not have an open mind, as I was on your side most of my life. I have since ‘evolved’ intellectually. Again, I pity you and your blatherings. If you think I am dead wrong, hell, I’ll let you pray for me.

      Ridgeback Runner wrote on November 5th, 2009
      • Excellent reply.

        Shine wrote on November 5th, 2009
      • “You cannot say I do not have an open mind, as I was on your side most of my life. I have since ‘evolved’ intellectually.”

        Indeed, me too. Used to be as fundamentalist Baptist as they come, even so far as to have been educated in private religious schools. I even won a “preaching contest” as an 18-yr old. Imagine that! Me the heretic. Of course, I was just trying to please and fit in with the crowd I grew up with.

        While I’m sure there are quite a number of nonbelievers who came to believe, in my experience, it’s rare compared to the overwhelming numbers of non-believers who were once believers, but allowed themselves to realize that they were _taught_ a certain belief structure from the time they can remember and really never had a chance to honestly evaluate it critically.

        It’s tough. I recall the dreadful fear and anxiety I experienced when I faced it. It was a book, and as I turned the pages I knew what was coming. I knew non of it made sense, and I was a student of the bible in college. I knew what was coming, but still the dread.

        Then, finally, I allowed myself to say it right out loud: I don’t believe it. Then I said, out loud, a few curses directed at said supreme being that i certainly won’t repeat.

        And guess what? No lightening from the heavens. And then it was over, and there was a tremendous relief and I’d never go back in a million years. I’d rather die, and I mean that.

        What liberation. And the best part is that in whatever way, that I can’t explain, things began to go right in my life as never before. It seemed that dispensing with illusions in one area better situated me to identify and dispense with hopeful, fantastical thinking in other areas, such as relationships and business.

        And I’ve prospered tremendously since. …All because _I_ had a truly open mind.

        Richard Nikoley wrote on November 5th, 2009
      • In answer to your question as to why God set up this grand senerio—-
        He wants a people for His own possession. Since God is love, the matter of choice had to be in the equation. He does not want mere robots.

        marilyn wrote on November 5th, 2009
        • Ah, yes, free will. Well, that doesn’t work either.

          ~~~

          Your code begins by damning man as evil, then demands that he practice a good which it defines as impossible for him to practice. It demands, as his first proof of virtue, that he accept his own depravity without proof. It demands that he start, not with a standard of value, but with a standard of evil, which is himself, by means of which he is then to define the good: the good is that which he is not.

          It does not matter who then becomes the profiteer on his renounced glory and tormented soul, a mystic God with some incomprehensible design or any passer-by whose rotting sores are held as some inexplicable claim upon him—it does not matter, the good is not for him to understand, his duty is to crawl through years of penance, atoning for the guilt of his existence to any stray collector of unintelligible debts, his only concept of a value is a zero: the good is that which is non-man.

          The name of this monstrous absurdity is Original Sin.

          A sin without volition is a slap at morality and an insolent contradiction in terms: that which is outside the possibility of choice is outside the province of morality. If man is evil by birth, he has no will, no power to change it; if he has no will, he can be neither good nor evil; a robot is amoral. To hold, as man’s sin, a fact not open to his choice is a mockery of morality. To hold man’s nature as his sin is a mockery of nature. To punish him for a crime he committed before he was born is a mockery of justice. To hold him guilty in a matter where no innocence exists is a mockery of reason. To destroy morality, nature, justice and reason by means of a single concept is a feat of evil hardly to be matched. Yet that is the root of your code.

          Do not hide behind the cowardly evasion that man is born with free will, but with a “tendency” to evil. A free will saddled with a tendency is like a game with loaded dice. It forces man to struggle through the effort of playing, to bear responsibility and pay for the game, but the decision is weighted in favor of a tendency that he had no power to escape. If the tendency is of his choice, he cannot possess it at birth; if it is not of his choice, his will is not free.

          What is the nature of the guilt that your teachers call his Original Sin? What are the evils man acquired when he fell from a state they consider perfection? Their myth declares that he ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge—he acquired a mind and became a rational being. It was the knowledge of good and evil—he became a moral being. He was sentenced to earn his bread by his labor—he became a productive being. He was sentenced to experience desire—he acquired the capacity of sexual enjoyment. The evils for which they damn him are reason, morality, creativeness, joy—all the cardinal values of his existence. It is not his vices that their myth of man’s fall is designed to explain and condemn, it is not his errors that they hold as his guilt, but the essence of his nature as man. Whatever he was—that robot in the Garden of Eden, who existed without mind, without values, without labor, without love —he was not man.

          Man’s fall, according to your teachers, was that he gained the virtues required to live. These virtues, by their standard, are his Sin. His evil, they charge, is that he’s man. His guilt, they charge, is that he lives.

          They call it a morality of mercy and a doctrine of love for man

          ~~~

          That was John Galt speaking. Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand.

          Richard Nikoley wrote on November 5th, 2009
    • “Shine, I don’t think that the questions I posed in any way contradicts evolution. I think they and others prove holes in the theory.”

      Alex, I think I have already discussed that holes in theories, or unanswered questions, are an integral part of the scientific process. You have recognized that the cosmological questions which you raised do not contradict evolution; why, then, do you use them in your agenda to discredit evolution? The inclusion of irrelevant points in your argument discredits the remainder of your statement.

      “Just look at how butthurt and hostile the people on your side of the argument have gotten just during the course of these comments. If you guys are so right, then what is with all the hostility?”

      Is this addressed directly to me? If so, please cite where I have been anything other than respectfully civil. I certainly cannot see where any of my comments towards you could be construed as hostile.

      If you have a complaint with the way others have been addressing you, please take it up with them and do not direct your blanket accusations at me.

      Shine wrote on November 5th, 2009
  35. Hi, Mark: Loved your essay and the great responses from so many of your readers. As an evolutionary biologist myself, I appreciate the context of your essay and of your whole approach to lifestyle in general. I suspect that some of your readers are scientists like myself, and many obviously are not. Since I am much, much older than you are (61), I can recall the gist of your message from the early voices of the environmental movement in the 1960s. You are reaching an audience that most of us have not reached. The less we pay attention to the fragility of life, the more we will drive it to extinction. Just this week an international conservation group announced that more than 17,000 species of plants and animals are on the verge of extinction. Not endangered. Extinction. Never to return. Our planet has gone through catastrophic extinction and subsequent periods of rapid evolution before. Nothing has been as fast and as disastrous as what we are seeing now.

    BTW, I found you after Googling ‘eat more fat’ – in my effort to find out how to get more fat into my diet. Your paleo approach to the human diet is supported by at least 200 years of clinical and scientific research. The details of this background and how we got to where we are now are analyzed wonderfully in Gary Taubes’ latest book, “Good Calories, Bad Calories.” The only thing that I would add to his message and to yours is that the whole notion of calories is misunderstood to the point of being ridiculous. That is an essay in itself. Pandas are a good example for how animals, including us, constantly seek homeostasis — i.e., do whatever it takes to get enough calories from what they eat.

    Now I’ve started to babble, so I better stop. Keep up the great work, young man!

    Dennis Clark wrote on November 5th, 2009
  36. Richard- I don’t expect you to take the time to explain it to me, because you wouldn’t have a leg of proof to stand on. Transitional fossils anyone? And yes, there is a difference in one species evolving, yet staying the same species as opposed to becoming a different animal in general. Coin it micro and macro if you will, or just good ol’ fashioned logic. As soon as your dog gives birth to a turtle, let me know. Until then, I’ll give thanks to a God that has given us plenty to be thankful for; including non-believers for us to have interesting conversation with.

    matt beaudreau wrote on November 5th, 2009
    • “Transitional fossils anyone? And yes, there is a difference in one species evolving, yet staying the same species as opposed to becoming a different animal in general.”

      Matt, your ignorance is simply too astounding to address. Sorry, man, but you simply don’t know what you’re talking about. That’s fine, though. We’re all ignorant about some things. Whether you choose to do anything about it or not is up to you.

      Incidentally, I was a member of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR / Henry Morris) from roughly 1975 ish – 1987. Got all the newsletters, read ‘em all.

      There’s _none_ of your ignorant nonsense I haven’t read a million times before, and eventually dismissed once I actually leaned about evolution from real scientists (imagine that). Want to crack up? Go the the icr.org website and right at the top:

      “Biblical | Accurate | Certain”

      Now, I defy anyone to find a legitimate institute dedicated to scientific research that touts allegiance to the bible and claims certainty.

      The whole thing is a giant fraud anyway. It’s a faith-based organization panning itself off as a scientific one. Truly evil.

      I will give you one little hint on how to get started, being charitable and generous as I am: you first need to understand how concepts relate to reality.

      “As soon as your dog gives birth to a turtle…”

      Then, you need to delve into speciation. You want transitional fossils? Begin with a single cell organism, end with man. In between? Transitional fossils. Then, we tag things with enough difference between them as separate species. Lot’s of difference between a dog & turtle (different species). Not so much between a fox terrier and a fox (different species, but you might have a difficult time telling them apart, even in terms of bahavior).

      And so on. Cure your ignorance, Matt.

      Richard Nikoley wrote on November 5th, 2009
    • Matt,

      The way I’ve had it explained to me is that for a fossil to form certain conditions must be met (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fossilization#Rarity_of_fossils). There will naturally be species, or your transitional species, where a fossil may never be found because it never formed in the first place. That does not say that species did not exist or that a transition did not occur. In addition, I highly doubt any transitions were are drastic as your dog to turtle drivel. The changes that occurred in each generation were small, and over time grand deviations took place.

      I will remit there exist those out there unable to connect the dots and regardless of what discoveries are made will fail to be impressed. But hey, I will not insult your lack of mental capacity further. And, as a gesture of friendship, I’ll come back to god if you provide me with a piece of the rudder from Noah’s ark, and one of the nails used to hang your savior. No leg of proof to stand on, eh?

      Ridgeback Runner wrote on November 5th, 2009
      • 500 eye witness ( in one incident) saw the risen Savior. There are more eye witness, but I doubt that such solid proof would have any meaning for you.

        I think it is time to get back to the orginial topic of this article.

        marilyn wrote on November 5th, 2009
        • “500 eye witness (in one incident) saw the risen Savior.”

          And you _know_ this, how, exactly?

          Richard Nikoley wrote on November 5th, 2009
        • While I would like to get back to original post, the young earthers out there derailed this conversation. If we did not evolve over millions of years, then the justification for the primal lifestyle is debunked. Nothing any one of you has presented even remotely could be considered solid proof.

          Here are my questions to you:
          500 eye witnesses? Exactly 500? Not 501, or 499?
          Can you provide me the names of these witnesses?
          I would think that seeing someone rise from the dead was a big thing (hard not to make a zombie joke here), so how many of these 500 people wrote about seeing this? For the people who want to see the transitional fossils, I could easily take their approach and demand writings from all 500 people to prove it happened.
          Are there multiple sources that report 500 eye witnesses?
          How can you be sure it was not just one delusional person greatly exaggerating his out of body experience?

          Hell, even if you said YOU saw him, I would write you off like the people that claim to see fairies, ghosts, bigfoot, chupacabras, and so forth.

          But let me try a different route. What do you need Marilyn to believe, understand, and accept evolution?

          Ridgeback Runner wrote on November 6th, 2009
    • Here, being the generous sort, let me provide some links related to what I meant in my last reply when I wrote:

      “you first need to understand how concepts relate to reality.”

      Here’s the base link:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Species_problem

      “Many of the debates on species touch on philosophical issues, such as nominalism and realism, as well as on issues of language and cognition.”

      Should you not read the whole thing, at least check out these sections:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Species_problem#Philosophical_aspects

      Richard Nikoley wrote on November 5th, 2009
    • You want transitional fossils?

      Try
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archaeopteryx

      TruckerGirl wrote on November 6th, 2009
      • Well, you know what the answer to that is, right?

        See, the way the con goes is that _any_ fossil is a member of some species. It’s one species or another. OK, find fossils of two different species that have similarities, then find a third that’s a different species still, but in between the previous two. Then, find two more that are in-between those, and so on, ad infinitum.

        No matter how many in-betweens you find, you’ll always still have to come up with “transitional” fossils.

        That’s how the con works, relying on scientific illiteracy combined with the conflation of a concept (species) with the thing (fossil).

        Richard Nikoley wrote on November 6th, 2009
      • Won’t work. See, for every transitional fossil you can produce, they counter with “oh, that’s a different species,” ad infinitum.

        That’s how the con works, conflating a concept (species) with a real thing (fossil).

        Richard Nikoley wrote on November 6th, 2009
  37. This might be of interest (and relief) to some. Here’s a list of religious organizations and links to their statements in support of evolution.

    http://ncse.com/media/voices/religion

    I just picked the first one and was quite impressed with the level of honesty.

    ~~~

    http://ncse.com/media/voices/188-wisconsin-clergy

    188 Wisconsin Clergy
    Within the community of Christian believers there are areas of dispute and disagreement, including the proper way to interpret Holy Scripture. While virtually all Christians take the Bible seriously and hold it to be authoritative in matters of faith and practice, the overwhelming majority do not read the Bible literally, as they would a science textbook. Many of the beloved stories found in the Bible — the Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark — convey timeless truths about God, human beings, and the proper relationship between Creator and creation expressed in the only form capable of transmitting these truths from generation to generation. Religious truth is of a different order from scientific truth. Its purpose is not to convey information but to transform hearts.

    We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rest. To reject this truth or to treat it as ‘one theory among others’ is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children. We believe that among God’s good gifts are human minds capable of critical thought and that the failure to fully employ this gift is a rejection of the will of our Creator. To argue that God’s loving plan of salvation for humanity precludes the full employment of the God-given faculty of reason is to attempt to limit God, an act of hubris. We urge school board members to preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge. We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth.

    [Text of letter signed by 188 pastors from Baptist, Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist and other churches sent to school officials in Grantsburg, Wisconsin criticizing a policy containing the expectation that students be able to explain "the scientific strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory."]

    ~~~

    Pretty cool, I say, and I have zero problem with that approach.

    Richard Nikoley wrote on November 5th, 2009
    • the same way that we know George Washington was the first president of the US. It was written down.

      marilyn wrote on November 5th, 2009
      • Joke post?

        erik.cisler wrote on November 5th, 2009
      • And if someone wrote down that George Washington rose from the dead, you’d believe it?

        And if not, why not? Let’s suppose it was written down in a best-selling book read by millions.

        Richard Nikoley wrote on November 5th, 2009
        • Go bask in your philosophies Richard. One day you will know………………………………

          marilyn wrote on November 5th, 2009
      • There are many documents actually written by the supposed prophets of the Mormon and Muslim religions. Do you believe what they say? If so, there are clear differences and contradictions (not to mention blatant plagiarisms) with christianity. If not, if you do not believe those works are true, by what right do you dismiss them?

        Ridgeback Runner wrote on November 6th, 2009
  38. It’s strangely comforting to see that the same arguments that I have to hear from year to year from my teenage students when I teach evolution are the same that I am hearing on this thread from older creationists. I feel less ineffective because now it is obvious to me that no matter how much evidence is presented, creationists will still turn a blind eye to it. And that is what has always turned me away from religion – the smugness of the religious. I don’t presume to know what is beyond this world. How wonderful if it somehow goes on, but my idea of paradise doesn’t include a bunch of self-righteous folks with all sorts of rules about how everyone else should live. I’m pretty sure we have that already on Earth.

    lbd wrote on November 5th, 2009
    • People are stupid. They will believe a lie either because they want it to be true, or are afraid it is true.

      Dogmatic religions are the ultimate lying machines.

      Nelter wrote on November 5th, 2009
  39. I do believe in evolution among species, because it is happening now and their is much fossil record for it. I do not believe in evolution across species because it is not happening now and there is no fossil evidence for it.

    I am done with this useless discussion. You remind me of the Greeks who gathered to constantly talk about something new————–useless!

    marilyn wrote on November 6th, 2009
  40. How can evolution be happening now, in this instant, so you can see it happening? Do you really think that one species can branch into several others in a year or two? Unless you are looking at bacteria, this is unlikely. It takes million, even billions of years. Even the information on this site is based on the fact that humans have not been able to evolve the tolerance for grains in the millenia we have been on this planet. Fossil evidence is scarce at best. The chances that fossil evidence exists for a transition of species to species is close to nil. Most things rot and return their nutrients to the earth. However, there are some indications of these transitions, especially in Tiktalik: http://www.nature.com/nature/newspdf/evolutiongems.pdf

    lbd wrote on November 6th, 2009

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