From: Rob Fargher
To: Ron Stringfellow Oct-23-93 09:24:38
-=> Quoting Ron Stringfellow to All <=-
RS> been to ascertain from the bulk of you slgh's is that after you cut
RS> through the smoke and mirrors you cannot tell us how life began. You
RS> accept by FAITH evolution...in effect your god is evolution. Good
Ron, I have a Ph.D. in Zoology. I am currently employed at a
college where I teach courses in biology and human physiology. I have a
professional and personal lifetime interest in trying to understand life
(not just my own but all of life). Now you may reject these credentials
as they don't represent the revealed knowledge that you cherish. That's
OK, my purpose is not to awe you but rather to make you aware that what
I'm about to say comes from one who knows what he's talking about.
In my courses, a couple of the themes I emphasize are: emergent
properties, evolution (no surprise there, I'm sure, but specifically
that we are the result of our evolutionary history) and the commonality
The concept of emergent properties has to do with levels of
organisation in a organism, viz: organism, organ system, organ, tissue,
cells, molecule. Roughly stated, properties of a certain level emerge
from characteristics of levels underneath it: the special
characteristics of epithelial tissue derive from cellular physiology
at the molecular level. Similarly, organs such as the kidney derive
their properties from the epithelial tissue that composes its functional
parts of the organ. Overwhelmingly massive amounts of our understanding
about how biochemistry, cellular physiology, cells, tissues, organs,
and organ systems work the way they do relies on an understanding of our
evolutionary history. All of life has far, far more in common than
individual species have in unique features.
It is _utterly impossible_ to make sense out of most of our
anatomy/physiology without reference to our evolutionary history.
Dobzhansky (1973) said it succinctly and accurately "Nothing in biology
makes sense except in the light of evolution." Any other interpretation
fails (or has so far) unify biology into a coherent whole. The body of
evidence demonstrating that evolution has occurred is uncontestable, no
matter what agenda one is trying to promote (the _mechanisms_ by which
evolution occurs are another matter and the subject of much fruitful
research). Biological evolution is one of the most strongly
established and verified theories in the pantheon of science. It is so
well established, by means other than self-verification, that to deny it
means denying _all_ of science. To bury ones head in the intellectual
sand and dogmatically assert that evolution did not occur is at best
wishful thinking and at worst outright malicious; in either case it is a
medieval reversion to alchemy and Holy Grails.
Now, here's a little secret, Ron. Evolution does not deny God! There
is absolutely nothing in evolutionary theory that in any way contradicts
suppositions that God started the whole shebang and set evolution off on
it's course. This, in caricature, is the position of the Catholic
church! Not only that but many of the researchers who work in the field
of evolutionary theory attend church! Although many do not hold such a
position, it is not a logical inconsistency to hold a belief in God as
the creator of ultimate origins and to have confidence in science as a
means of discovering how life, the universe, and everything works.
Here's another little secret, Ron. Just as science doesn't deal with
gods, evolution DOES NOT DEAL WITH ULTIMATE ORIGINS. In no way is it
necessary to understand how life arose on Earth. Evolutionary
mechanisms only come into play once life arose. Theories about the
origin of life ARE NOT A PART OF EVOLUTION. Theories about the origin
of life are just that, theories about the origin of life not theories
about evolution. We collectively have far more confidence in evolution
as the explanation for the development and diversification of life once
it arose than we have in theories about abiogenic origins of life.
However, evolution and abiogenic origins are two completely separate
issues. If you insist on faulting evolution because it doesn't provide
an explanation for the ultimate origin of life then you are committing a
severe logical fallacy. You are also erecting a strawman, trying to saddle
inappropriate baggage on to evolutionary theory; this is intellectual
dishonesty. As such, you are acting as an anti-intellectual saboteur,
fortunately an ineffective one - your intellectual gun is loaded with blanks.
RS> If man is in a constant state of evolution...where is he going to
RS> evolve when the sun burns out ? Will he become cold blooded blind
RS> white salamanders ?
No, Ron, we won't. If we haven't killed ourselves off by then the
death of the sun, some billion years hence, will do the job. You see,
one of the characteristic features of all life is that it is a dynamic
equilibrium of sustained local decrease in entropy. This local entropy
decrease is _obligatorially_ coupled to the much greater entropy
increase represented by the sun; the sun is the power plant that drives
all life on earth. Once the sun is no longer supplying energy to the
earth, all life will die out.
But it won't come to that. Part of our suns evolution (there's that
word again) will be to pass through a red giant stage. At that stage
the outer circumference of the sun will be past the orbit of Jupiter.
Earth itself will no longer exist.
... Canada: a country where smokes are $7 but heart transplants are free.
--- Blue Wave/Max v2.12
* Origin: The BandMaster, Vancouver, BC (604-266-7754) (1:153/7715)