Why Do We Rape, Kill and Sleep Around? The fault, dear Darwin, lies not in our ancestors, but in ourselves, a Newsweek article by Sharon Begley, shows us what happens when evolutionary psychology clashes with powerful social values. The former comes out the worse for it.
Archive for June, 2009
For those of us concerned about child abuse there is this: There’ll be no tent for God at Camp Dawkins. Oh how utterly ironic that the architect of the religious label = child abuse meme is starting a camp of his own. Of course the true believers who send their little ones to this camp are hopeful on the indoctrination issue:
Crispian Jago, an IT consultant, is hoping the experience will enrich his two children.
“I’m very keen on not indoctrinating them with religion or creeds,” he said this weekend. “I would rather equip them with the tools to learn how to think, not what to think.”
But there is also this:
Mike Gene has written an intriguing post, at his blog, on front loading with ribosomes. From the post:
This assembly maps involves 15 universal small subunit ribosomal proteins, and of these 15, ten have a moonlighting role (we shall explore several of these functions at a future date). What’s striking is that all proteins involved in binding to the 3’ domain of the rRNA are not only universal proteins, but also have moonlighting functions.
In other words 2/3 of the proteins have moonlighting roles. Quite a large percentage. Darwinian evolution predicts that some ancient proteins will be coopted for future uses, but 2/3 of them? What is even more intriguing about Mike's post is his prediction: Read the rest of this entry »
No Smiting is the title of a New York Times book review by Paul Bloom. The review is notable for a number of reasons. It is a focal point around which we are able to contrast differing views of the world begining with the perspective of Robert Wright, author of the book The Evolution of God. Because the review is rich in material, around which discussions can be centered, I'll break this into two distinct blog entries. This one will focus on the page you can link to and a follow-up, coming shortly thereafter, will focus on the following review page, Kindly confine any comments on this blog entry to the first page of the review. I'll start with an analysis of the first paragraph:
God has mellowed. The God that most Americans worship occasionally gets upset about abortion and gay marriage, but he is a softy compared with the Yahweh of the Hebrew Bible. That was a warrior God, savagely tribal, deeply insecure about his status and willing to commit mass murder to show off his powers. But at least Yahweh had strong moral views, occasionally enlightened ones, about how the Israelites should behave. His hunter-gatherer ancestors, by contrast, were doofus gods. Morally clueless, they were often yelled at by their people and tended toward quirky obsessions. One thunder god would get mad if people combed their hair during a storm or watched dogs mate.
First Evidence of Entanglement in Photosynthesis is a Technology Review article citing an arXiv piece. Entanglement, a quantum phenomenon, is the object of attention or more specifically its relation to the biological process of photosynthesis. The paper's abstract:
Stephen C. Meyer's book,Signature in the Cell; DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design, is now available. I purchased a copy from my local bookstore (buy local, especially if you live in economically depressed Michigan), for $27. At over 500 pages, that's actually quite a bargain. I've looked through quite a bit of it. First impressions: Read the rest of this entry »
I enjoy Eugene V. Koonin's writing because he does look at which way the wind is blowing before providing his own views. The Biological Big Bang model for the major transitions in evolution, from Biology Direct, is a view of evolution which utilizes analogies to convey points. Some tidbits from the paper:
Major transitions in biological evolution show the same pattern of sudden emergence of diverse forms at a new level of complexity. The relationships between major groups within an emergent new class of biological entities are hard to decipher and do not seem to fit the tree pattern that, following Darwin's original proposal, remains the dominant description of biological evolution. The cases in point include the origin of complex RNA molecules and protein folds; major groups of viruses; archaea and bacteria, and the principal lineages within each of these prokaryotic domains; eukaryotic supergroups; and animal phyla. In each of these pivotal nexuses in life's history, the principal "types" seem to appear rapidly and fully equipped with the signature features of the respective new level of biological organization. No intermediate "grades" or intermediate forms between different types are detectable. Usually, this pattern is attributed to cladogenesis compressed in time, combined with the inevitable erosion of the phylogenetic signal.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
So it comes as no surprise that research suggests that, A belief in God could lead to a more contented life. Believers are better able to cope with life's adversity:
Religious people are better able to cope with shocks such as losing a job or divorce, claims the study presented to a Royal Economic Society conference.
They derive greater satisfaction from life:
HT: Tom Gilson
At the Biologic Institute website there is a piece titled Physicists Finding Perfection… in Biology. From the article:
When we think of simple, elegant, unifying principles in science, we think of physics. It’s not surprising then that physicists who examine living systems are looking for principles of this kind.
And it seems they have found one. Simply stated, it is that biological processes tend to be optimal in cases where this can be tested. Life’s complexity can make it hard to pinpoint what “optimal” means, but sometimes physical limits provide a crisp definition. Because these limits cannot possibly be exceeded, they serve as an objective standard of perfection. Interestingly, in cases where it is clearly beneficial to edge right up to this standard, that’s exactly what life seems to do.
Tom Gilson authored a blog entry titled “Atheism Is Not A Belief” at Thinking Christian. He correctly points out the falseness of the contention that atheism is nothing more than lack of belief in a God. Of logical necessity atheism entails some identifiable accompanying beliefs. Gilson spells them out:
Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design, by Stephen C. Meyer, is about to be published. From the promotional website:
Unlike previous arguments for intelligent design, Signature in the Cell presents a radical and comprehensive new case, revealing the evidence not merely of individual features of biological complexity but rather of a fundamental constituent of the universe: information. That evidence has been mounting exponentially in recent years, known to scientists in specialized fields but largely hidden from public view. A Cambridge University-trained theorist and researcher, director of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, Dr. Meyer is the first to bring the relevant data together into a powerful demonstration of the intelligence that stands outside nature and directs the path life has taken.
The universe is comprised of matter, energy, and the information that gives order to matter and energy, thereby bringing life into being. In the cell, information is carried by DNA, which functions like a software program. The signature in the cell is that of the master programmer of life.
M is for messy is Martin Gardner's review of The Trouble With Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next; a book authored by Lee Smolin. It begins:
For more than thirty years, string theory has been what Murray Gell-Mann called “the only game in town.” By this he meant that it was the only good candidate for a TOE, or Theory of Everything. Not only does it claim to unify relativity and quantum mechanics, it also explains the existence of all fundamental particles. Instead of being “pointlike,” they are modeled by filaments of energy so tiny that there is no known way to observe them or even to prove they are real.
New Creationists is a blog piece with a fictional manifesto reflecting some very real myths held by New Atheists. Some quotes and commentary:
The primary method for attaining our goal is Reaching a Middle Ground. This means that we are to seek, purely in the eye of the layman public, a position which appears on the surface to be a reasonable compromise. To be sure, we want to tell the world we embrace evolution. We also want to tell the world we embrace a Creator.
And there was this echoing sentiment from the last paragraph:
Our goals at this point will rely upon American idiosyncrasies. Tired of divisive politics, Americans seek a Middle Ground. They crave a sense of wishy-washy – it sounds fair.
We know the atheists who frequent Telic Thoughts are not a wishy-washy bunch right? They will have the opportunity to reinforce that view.