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Evolution is just a theory

evolutionI’m sorry to have two posts like this in a row. I’ll get back to being my usual, lighthearted self with my next post.

My post yesterday was written as a reaction to a comment made on someone else’s blog. That comment suggested that evidence of God’s existence is all around us. This post is written as a reaction to some of the comments made on yesterday’s post. For example, “evolution is just a theory.”

Is there no hard proof that humans and other living things have evolved? Is evolution “just a theory,” no more valid of a theory than creationism? That is what is claimed by those who don’t understand what the theory of evolution is.

But that is simply not the case. Evolution is a scientific theory that is supported by the overwhelming preponderance of empirical evidence. It’s not just a hunch or a good guess.

There are three reasons why people say that evolution is “just a theory.”

They don’t understand what evolution is.
They don’t understand what a scientific theory is.
They believe that if you believe in evolution, you can’t believe in God.

Let’s take these one at a time.

What is evolution?

Evolution is defined as the process of growth and development or the theory that organisms have grown and developed from past organisms. It’s a change in the characteristics of a population over time.

Evolutionary theory does encompass ideas and evidence regarding life’s origins, but that is not the central focus of evolutionary theory. Evolutionary biology deals with how life changed after its origin. Regardless of how life started, afterwards it branched and diversified, and most studies of evolution are focused on those processes.

Contrary to what most creationists will tell you, evolution does not posit that humans evolved from monkeys or apes. Humans do belong to the same family, known as the Hominidae, as the great apes. The closest known living relative to Homo sapiens is the chimpanzee.

But this does not mean humans “evolved from monkeys.” We share a common ancestor with monkeys that is ape-like. But there is very little connection between those ape-like ancestors and today’s monkeys, which branched off the evolutionary tree nearly 40 million years ago.

What is a scientific theory?

Let’s define the terms hypothesis, fact, and theory.

Hypothesis: In science, a hypothesis is an educated guess, based on observation. Usually, a hypothesis can be supported or refuted through experimentation or more observation. A hypothesis can be disproven, but not proven to be true.

Fact: In science, a fact is an observation that has been repeatedly confirmed and, for all practical purposes, is accepted as “true.” Truth in science, however, is never final and what is accepted as a fact today may be modified or even discarded tomorrow based upon further examination and new discoveries.

Theory: In science, a theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses.

So, a scientific theory, such as evolution, is a highly substantiated, well-supported, well-documented explanation for our observations. It ties together all the facts about something, and provides an explanation that fits all the observations. In science, theory is the ultimate goal, the explanation. It’s as close to proven as anything in science can be.

In other words, a hypothesis is educated guess; a fact is a what; a theory is a how and/or a why. A theory in science is not just a hunch or a good guess.

Are evolution and belief in God incompatible?

So was the idea of evolution created to turn people away from God, to give them something other than God to believe in? The unfortunate thing is that many religious leaders who (1) don’t really know what evolution is, and (2) don’t understand what scientific theory is, are preaching just that — that evolution is anti-God. Honestly, they don’t know what they’re talking about.

thank god for evolutionMany scientists, in fact, see religion and evolution as compatible. A belief in God is not incompatible with accepting evolution.

These scientists believe that it’s entirely possible that a supreme being guided the evolution of living things and that evolution, rather than being mutually exclusive to religious beliefs, complements faith.

Dr. Francis Collins is a widely respected scientist and theistic evolutionist, a former director of the Human Genome Project, an evangelical Christian, and author of the book, The Language of God — A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. He said “Evolution by descent from a common ancestor is clearly true. If there was any lingering doubt about the evidence from the fossil record, the study of DNA provides the strongest possible proof of our relatedness to all other living things.”

Evolution is a scientific theory back by mounds of evidence; it is not just hunch. Evolution doesn’t say that humans descended from monkeys. Evolution was not created to turn people away from God and, for many who study evolution, it is not incompatible with belief in God.

Of course, for those who take the Bible literally, believe the Earth is around 6,000 years old, that dinosaurs roamed the planet at the same time as man, and that man was uniquely created in God’s image and has, since the dawn of life been exactly the same as man is now, then yes, evolution can be contrary to their religious beliefs.

But for those who take the Bible to be historically and scientifically accurate, so is reason and rational thought.

appeal-to-ignorance-wheel-of-fortune

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2014 in Blogging, Religion

 

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The evidence is all around us

does god existI hear this all the time from people who believe in God. Evidence that God exists is everywhere you look. If that’s the case, why can’t I see it?

A few have told me, when I ask this question, that I, like most atheists, have walled myself off from seeing such evidence, which makes me blind to “The Truth” of God’s existence.

So let’s talk about this.

I was recently reading a blog post and one commenter wrote:

I don’t understand atheists. Assuming you are serious, how is it that you promote the “Golden Rule,” which has its foundation in the Bible (Matthew 7:12)? I have never been able to understand how atheists can actually believe there is no God or higher being with all the evidence against that around us every day.

First, the so-called “Golden Rule” is not unique or exclusive to Christianity. It is often thought of as originating in Christianity with the Biblical verse “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12).

Actually, some versions of the Golden Rule existed far prior to Christianity. It is, in fact, a common belief held in some form by most world religions.

Its earliest form in religion dates back to Confucianism and Buddhism. Confucius is attributed with a statement in the 6th Century BC that one should not extend harm to others which one would not wish for one’s self. Buddhism documents also dating from the 6th century BC include the quotation “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.”

Second, where is this evidence that is all around us every day?

Google searchI went to a few websites to see if any could point out such evidence.

I’m not going to put the links to any of the sites I found in this post, so if you wish to find these, you can go to Google and type, “Evidence that God exists.” You’ll get just over a million results.

I obviously didn’t read all of them, but I did take a sampling. One site gave six proof points that God exists:

  • The complexity of our planet points to a deliberate designer who not only created our universe but sustains it today.
  • The universe had a start. What caused it?
  • The universe operates by uniform laws of nature. Why does it?
  • DNA code informs, programs a cell’s behavior.
  • God pursues us; he is constantly initiating and seeking for us to come to him.
  • Jesus Christ is the clearest, most specific picture of God revealing himself to us.

Another site said:

If God does not exist, life is ultimately meaningless. If your life is doomed to end in death, then ultimately it does not matter how you live.

If God does not exist, then we must ultimately live without hope. If there is no God, then there is ultimately no hope for deliverance from the shortcomings of our finite existence.

And a site provided five “good reasons” to know that God exists:

  1. God makes sense of the origin of the universe.
  2. God makes sense of the fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life.
  3. God makes sense of objective moral values in the world.
  4. God makes sense of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
  5. God can be immediately known and experienced.

None of this is evidence. This is belief. This is faith. This is opinion. None of the “evidence” that any of these sites present is observable, testable, or repeatable.

I see no evidence that God exists. If any definitive evidence were presented to me, I would be thrilled to change my mind about the existence of God. Believe me, in Christian America, being an open atheist is pretty close to being a pariah in our society.

So for those of you who are reading this post, I would love to hear what it is that you consider to be evidence that God does, indeed, exist. What do you see that allows you to believe that God is everywhere, that God is all around us every day.

I’m not asking this with the intent of reading your comments and shooting you down, ridiculing you, calling you gullible or superstitious. I am genuinely interested in learning what you see as such evidence.

Who knows? Maybe one of you will show me evidence that will enable me to see “The Truth.”

 
125 Comments

Posted by on November 20, 2014 in NaBloPoMo, Religion, Society

 

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What, me funny?

Good jokeI decided to do a NaBloPoMo prompt today. These prompts can be found here. This is my first response to an “official” NaBloProMo prompt.

The prompt asks, “Are you the funny one in most groups? What kinds of things do you find funniest?”

First, part one. Am I the funny one in most groups?

I like to think I’m a witty guy. I consider myself to have a keen sense of humor. And I can occasional kill with a solid pun or zing with a well-timed one-liner.

But I can’t tell a joke if my life depended upon it.

I hear good jokes all the time. But I can never, ever remember them. And if I do think I have remembered a joke and delude myself into thinking I can tell it in such a way that it will make people laugh, I always mess it up. I tell it poorly or I screw up the punchline. It’s downright embarrassing.

And stories. Oh man, I have tons of stories. Put me in front of a computer and a keyboard and, wow-oh-wow, can I tell stories. But put me in a group of living, breathing, drinking human beings and ask me to orally tell a story and it comes out as one garbled, inarticulate, jumbled mess.

So I may be a funny guy, but I am definitely not THE funny one in most groups. Not even close.

Second, part two. What kinds of things do I find funniest?

Four days a week, for 44 minutes a day — if you fast forward through the commercials — I laugh really hard. Each night, Monday through Thursday, I set my DVR to record The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert. At some point the next day or evening, I watch those two recorded shows. And I just crack up.

Stewart & ColbertJon Stewart and Stephen Colbert (and, of course, their teams of writers) are the funniest people on television. Or maybe anywhere. These two late night faux news pundits are potent voices of social commentary where partisanship and often out-of-context sound bites have replaced any kind of reasonable discourse.

Stewart has been the host of The Daily Show since 1999. Colbert, a former correspondent for Stewart’s show, began his spin-off program, The Colbert Report, in 2005. According to a recent Brookings Institute survey, Stewart’s The Daily Show was named by 8 percent of those surveyed as their most trusted source of news.

Back in April of 2010 I wrote a post in which I cited a survey by Pew Research about where Americans get their news. It showed that The Daily Show and The Colbert Report “have the most well-informed, knowledgeable viewers of all forms of media, including network news shows, cable news channels, newspapers, and magazines.”

Of course, that was a few years back. Based upon the most recent midterm elections, it seems the country has turned a bit more conservative. That’s because Fox News is now identified by 25 percent of respondents as their most trusted news source, according to the study. Silly Americans.

And then there’s the news that makes me really sad. Stephen Colbert is leaving his show in just three weeks. Sometime next year, after David Letterman decides to hang it up, Colbert will be taking over The Late Show on CBS.

I will miss Mr. Colbert and I can’t believe he’s breaking up the late-night dynamic duo of Stewart and Colbert. First the GOP takes Congress and now this. Sad times indeed.

 
34 Comments

Posted by on November 19, 2014 in Blogging, NaBloPoMo

 

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One-Liner Wednesday — Tact

tactOkay, okay. So it’s two one-liners this week. I couldn’t make up my mind which of these quotations on tact I liked better, so I decided to use them both.

Consider it a bonus. A two-for-the-price-of-one. A BOGO. You’re welcome.

This is posted in response to Linda G Hill’s One-Liner Wednesday prompt.

 
58 Comments

Posted by on November 19, 2014 in Blogging

 

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Beware of the Ego with Blogging

Beware of the Ego with Blogging

Doobster418:

Earlier today I posted about how I’d been taken to task for not going back and reading posts by a blogger who had made a lot of comments on my posts.

My post got quite a reaction from many perspectives. So far, that post alone has had more than 150 views today and more than 100 comments, which I found quite surprising — or at least unexpected.

I appreciate everyone chiming in, some coming to my defense, some critical of me, and a number critical of the notion that there is an obligation to read the blogs of people who comment on your posts.

Anyway, here’s the post that inspired my post, so this is what got this whole brouhaha started.

I’m disabling comments here on this post, so please make your comments on Deborah’s post.

Originally posted on Notes Tied On The Sagebrush:

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“Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief.” –Jane Austen

Blogging can be quite an ego trip don’t you think? It can really give you a fat head. I think anyone who blogs needs to keep this in mind. It is more worthy to maintain our humility.

Nice things we can do for each other as writers is to read each others work and try to be supportive of each other. I have found there are bloggers out there who do this and I really appreciate and admire them.

Give a genuine complement. There has to be something about someone else’s efforts you find praiseworthy.

Vanity is not exclusively a female trait. It applies to both male and female bloggers equally.

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|Nano Poblano|

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1 Comment

Posted by on November 18, 2014 in Blogging

 

Taken to task

tsk tskI got a smack-down yesterday. And probably deservedly so.

Someone who reads my blog and has, of late, been a regular commenter, noted her disappointment at bloggers who don’t comment back.

But she wasn’t talking about bloggers who don’t respond to comments made on their own posts. No, she was talking about something else entirely. She was talking about me.

She has recently become a regular reader of my posts and a frequent commenter. Yet I hadn’t stopped by to check out her blog. And clearly that bothered her.

She talked obliquely about “bloggers” who don’t visit her blog after she has read and commented on theirs. She characterized such bloggers as egocentric. They think it’s perfectly acceptable for their “adoring fans to comment on their glorious posts,” but they don’t reciprocate by coming to the blogs of those who make those comments, by reading their posts, and by commenting on them.

She didn’t mention me by name, but she didn’t have to. I knew right away that she was talking about me.

And she’s right. I can make all kinds of excuses about not having enough hours in the day to read every post of every blogger who comments on my posts. But that’s what they are, excuses. And there is no excuse for not, at the very least, checking out the blog of someone who takes the time to read my posts and makes the effort to post comments.

So I will commit to looking at the blogs and reading at least a few posts by those who do comment on my posts.

But that’s all I’ll commit to. I can’t commit to following your blogs or commenting on your posts. That’s because there’s got to be something about your blog that grabs me. It has to be engaging, entertaining, challenging, and informing.

As the blogger, you need to demonstrate that you have taken the time to craft thoughtful, provocative, witty posts; posts that make me think, posts that make me smile. Preferably, both.

But there are certain types of blogs that I won’t follow. It’s not that they are necessarily bad blogs, but I only have so much time to devote to reading blogs and I’m not going to waste my time on those that are not my type.

For example:

Poetry blogs — I’ve already made it clear that I’m not a fan of poetry.

Photography blogs — Hey, I like pretty pictures as much as the next guy, but if all you do is post pictures you have taken and you don’t write a whole lot of words, I probably won’t follow your blog.

Food blogs — I would rather eat food than read your thoughts about food.

Fashion/style/makeup blogs — I’m a guy. I’m not into fashion, style, and certainly not make-up. My wardrobe consists primarily of jeans and t-shirts. I have one pair of sneakers, one pair of dress shoes, and one pair of hiking boots. That’s it. Sorry.

Relationship and dating advice blogs — I’m a senior citizen, for crissake. I don’t need no freakin’ relationship and dating advice.

Book, movie, and music review blogs — I read books, watch movies, and listen to music. But my tastes may be entirely different from yours. I’d rather draw my own conclusions than hear what you have to say. If I want your opinion, I’ll ask.

Abuse blogs — I’m truly sorry that you were abused as a child by some older person or as an adult by your spouse or significant other. Really, I am. But if every one of your posts is about that abuse and how you’re coping — or not coping — with it, I will not, despite the sympathy I feel for what you’ve been through, be following your blog. The last thing I want to do is get really bummed out when reading blog posts.

How much I love God and Jesus and you should too blogs — I am genuinely happy for you that you have found joy and comfort in your beliefs. I’m an atheist, and if I read your blog, I’d probably wind up making snide comments that you would find totally offensive.

Crafts and hobbies blogs — You are very good at whatever craft it is that you do or hobby you pursue, be it cabinet making, crocheting, building model boats in a bottle, playing golf, or whatever. But until I retire and decide to take up a similar craft or hobby, I’m not going to be following your blog if that’s all it’s about.

Fan blogs — I like Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, the X-Men, Mad Men, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock as much as anyone else, but I don’t obsess about such things. Seriously, get a life of your own.

Reblog blogs — If everything you post is reblog of other people’s posts, I would prefer to read the Huffington Post. At least there a few original articles there.

Blogging tips blogs — Most such blogs are written by people with no more experience at blogging than I have. Oh yeah, I know what you’re thinking. “Isn’t this post offering tips on blogging?” No, it is not. I’m not offering tips on blogging. I’m merely listing the kinds of blogs I probably would not follow.

Making big money through blogging blogs — Blogging is something I just enjoy doing. I never planned to make a living through blogging. I think most of you who tell me about the megabucks you’re making and all of the great places you’ve visited because of the tons of money your blog has generate are full of shit.

Non-English blogs — You’re blog’s content may be first-rate, but if I can’t read it because I don’t know your language, what’s the point? I’m amazed at the number of followers my blog has whose own blogs are published in languages other than English.

I will also not follow your blog if any of the following characteristics are common to your posts:

  • Your posts are rife with misspellings and are full of usage, grammar, and punctuation errors.
  • Your posts are poorly written.
  • Your posts are presented as one long paragraph when they demand to broken up in to many shorter ones.
  • You express your personal opinions as if they are facts.
  • Your posts are whiny.

So there you have it. If you comment on my post, I will, without fail, go visit your blog and I will read at least two or three of your recent posts. And I may follow your blog as long as it does fall into any of the blog types noted above. If it does, well, sorry.


For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, much of this post was taken from an earlier one I wrote around six months ago. So if you read that post, you don’t have to read this one. Although if you’re reading this disclaimer at the end of this post, well, I guess it’s a little late to be telling you that, huh?

 
185 Comments

Posted by on November 18, 2014 in Blogging, NaBloPoMo

 

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Second thoughts

second thoughts - ManThe title of this post is probably a little misleading. I’m not really having second thoughts about anything in particular. Second thoughts imply a change of heart or opinion or resolve reached after considering something again. It might also mean having new doubts about someone or something.

But don’t worry, I haven’t suddenly found religion or been having intimate conversations with God or Jesus. No, this post is not about changing my mind or having doubts.

What this is about is — for at least the second time — complaining (okay, whining) about bloggers who follow certain practices on their blogs.

I realize that it’s not my place to tell anyone else how to run his or her blog. But I do have a few strong opinions about certain protocols some bloggers follow. And I’ve previously posted about both of them.

Awaiting moderation

Back in May, I told you all that, when I make a comment on your posts, I don’t like to be told that my comment is awaiting moderation. I mean, seriously, what are you afraid of?

If it’s spam you’re worried about, and if you blog on WordPress, Akismet should have you covered. Since I’ve been blogging on WordPress, Akismet has trapped more than 125,000 spam comments on my blog. That’s like half of a quarter million spam comments, for crissake.

And if you’re worried that someone is going to post a comment that you or some of your readers might find inappropriate or offensive, then perhaps you should close your posts to comments. Problem solved.

I invite anyone and everyone, without moderation, to comment on my posts. No filtering, no deleting. Say what you wanna say and it will be there for everyone who reads and/or comments on my posts to see.

So this comment is awaiting moderation business — just cut it out.

Chronological order

What is going through your heads, people, when you choose to display the newest comments at the top of your posts’ comments sections and the older ones at the bottom? I’ve already told you that showing comments in reverse chronological order makes no sense.

The natural flow of any conversation is from start to finish, not from finish to start. When comments are displayed in chronological order, it’s easy to follow along with the conversation, to see the interactions, the reactions, the responses, and the replies in the order they were made.

This is especially true if someone posts a comment based upon an earlier comment that someone else posted. If the latter comment appears at the top of all the comments, how the hell are you going to know what that commenter was referring to?

So why would anyone want to have the newest comments first, rather than the oldest? If your blog is set up to show the newest comments at the top of your comments, you need to think about changing that. Please.

It’s none of my business

Well, I grant you that. It really isn’t my business. It’s your blog and if you want to moderate comments and/or display them in reverse chronological order, that’s your right and privilege. But in a way, it is my business because I find both practices to be quite annoying. And I don’t think I’m the only one who feels that way.

I’m not going to do something silly like add a poll here. But I do wish those of you who read this post would let us know what your thoughts are about comment moderation and about oldest first or newest first in the comments sections. And if you do state your preference or express your opinion, explain why you feel that way.

Or not. It’s up to you. But if you “like” this post and don’t comment, I will take that as an endorsement — nay, a mandate — that I’m right and that comment moderation and reverse chronological order for comments are both inherently evil practices.

Hallelujah!


Oh yeah, this is another Nano Poblano/NaBloPoMo post.NaBloPoMo-Nano Poblano

 
106 Comments

Posted by on November 17, 2014 in Blogging, NaBloPoMo

 

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