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About Duncan

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  • Birthday 04/28/1963

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  1. Duncan

    "we Have Progressed Beyond Darwin"

    Just to quickly reply to a couple of the points that Gilbo and others have made: Evidence gained through observation isn't the only kind of empirical evidence. Consider a murder trial in a courtroom. Very often no one has seen the murder actually take place. The evidence used will come from other sources- notably forensics. And I assume that you'd agree that forensic evidence is empirical. Genetics does not contradict Evolution. The 'tree of life' derived from genetics is nearly identical to that which was previously reconstructed from the fossil record. Where there are differences, genetic evidence has acted as a corrective. Hopefully will be able to look at the thread in more detail later today.
  2. Duncan

    Hello Everyone

    Thank you for your welcome.
  3. Duncan

    Don't Bring An Atheist Home To Mom & Dad

    I'm not at all surprised that conservative Christians don't wish to socialize with us Atheists, or have their children go out with us godless types. Truth be told, it goes both ways. I don't have any Christian friends (or want any). And if my stepdaughter married a Christian, or converted to Christianity, I'd certainly disinherit her.
  4. Duncan

    "we Have Progressed Beyond Darwin"

    Before Genetics, the scientific alternative to common descent was multiple descent. Thanks to advances in our knowledge of the underlying biochemistry of life, we now know that all life is descended from a single ancestor, rather than there being multiple lineages. I don't see how it supports the idea of a single creator. Is there any particular reason why a creator should choose to use one particular arbitrary chemical code to store and transmit biological information, rather than having lots of different codes for different types of organism? Individual organisms don't evolve. Groups of organisms evolve over long periods of time. That a process occurs too slowly to observe doesn't mean that it doesn't happen. All that it means is that we need to look at sources of information other than observation in order to understand it- the fossil record, genetics and Biogeography. So chimps and humans can't have children. So what? As far as I know, chimpanzees can't produce offspring with gorillas or orang-utans either.
  5. Duncan

    "we Have Progressed Beyond Darwin"

    Calypsis4: Very puzzled by your post. The fact that all extant organisms share the same basic biochemistry is strong evidence for common descent. Organisms don't transform into different kinds of organism- Evolution takes place over long periods of time, and involves many generations of organisms. And I honestly don't know what point you're making with the ape/ human thing.
  6. Duncan

    "we Have Progressed Beyond Darwin"

    Evolutionary Science has progressed hugely since Darwin, the most important change being the advent of Genetics. Darwin developed the theory of Natural Selection, but had no idea what the mechanism for heredity was, and therefore no idea as to what was in fact being selected. As well as explaining the physical underpinnings of Evolution (how Evolution is instantiated on a physical level), Genetics gives us very strong evidence for common descent. Darwin is still worth reading, partly for historical interest and partly because he was an excellent writer. However, if you want to study Evolution, don't go to Darwin- get a textbook instead.
  7. Duncan

    Immune System

    I'll try to answer the question in the OP as best I can. Please bear in mind that I'm not a microbiologist, or for that matter an immunologist. Diseases are an example of the phenomenon of parasitism. Parasites are organisms which survive by co-existing with a host and hijacking the host's resources. The Influenza virus and the Head Louse are both equally good examples of parasites- the main difference is that one is a whole lot bigger than the other. Parasitism as a survival strategy is probably very old indeed. As evolution progressed over time, organisms have developed increasingly powerful defences against parasites, including of course defences against diseases. The mammalian immune system is certainly the most sophisticated such defence. However, parasites evolve too. And because they reproduce so quickly, disease agents (mainly bacteria and viruses) also produce mutations at a very high rate. Thus diseases are able to adapt to defences rather well- witness, for example, the number of drug-resistant strains of bacteria. These bacteria are drug-resistant because natural selection has favoured those mutations which enhance the bacteria's chances of survival and reproduction. So the answer to the OP runs something like this: The diseases which we have now are the products of what is sometimes called an 'Evolutionary Arms Race' between parasitic micro-organisms and their hosts. Its true that micro-organisms existed long before multi-celled creatures, but these earlier micro-organisms were not the ones that exist today. The evolution of the immune system and of disease agents took place simultaneously.
  8. Duncan

    Hello Everyone

    Hi I'm Duncan (real name), and I've just joined the forum. I am an Atheist with a more than casual interest in both the Philosophy of Science and Evolutionary Theory. I look forward to polite and interesting conversations with you all.

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