Believing in Evolution

A good friend, Ian, invited me to join a Facebook group to find ‘One Million people who believe in evolution.’ This got me thinking, the result of which is the following, not yet finished debate on the subject. My side is far from perfect so any comments pro or con are welcome.
Many thanks to Ian for allowing me to post his replies, all comment is verbatim. No editing invoved.
Páidi Seo 29 March at 19:31
Ok I’m in pedantic mood; but, 1. isn’t ‘believe’ a religious concept,
2.isn’t evolution a theory like relativity and gravity and isn’t it only good until a better theory comes along?
3. are you aware that Darwin’s theory was used as the basis for eugenics and enforced euthanasia?
Apart from that……..!!!
be good!
Ian  29 March at 19:58
1. Yes, however in this case I feel that the use of this word is justified as it is a group set up to not believe.

2, The word theory has many definitions and creationists are quick to jump on the just a theory argument:

1 : the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another
2 : abstract thought : speculation
3 : the general or abstract principles of a body of fact, a science, or an art <music theory>
4 a : a belief, policy, or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of action <her method is based on the theory that all children want to learn> b : an ideal or hypothetical set of facts, principles, or circumstances —often used in the phrase in theory <in theory, we have always advocated freedom for all>
5 : a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena <the wave theory of light>
6 a : a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation b : an unproved assumption : conjecture c : a body of theorems presenting a concise systematic view of a subject <theory of equations>

3. Just because someone twists the truth to justify doing bad things does not mean that the truth is no longer the truth.

Any more objections 🙂

Ian  29 March at 19:59
definition 3 is the one I am pointing to btw
Ian  29 March at 20:04
Oh and just as a point of record, I do not believe that religion and science cannot live together, but in my opinion young earth creationism is not science and should not be taught as such. Believe whatever you want just don’t call it science and keep it out of the science class room.

see you soon mate


Páidi Seo 30 March at 11:59
Hey Dude!
your answers; 1. I must be hanging around with too many Americans, the irony went straight over my head!
2. I think any and all of those definitions fit any theory and all are workable. As for definition 3 the use of ‘body of facts’ is interesting. ‘Facts’ are difficult to ascribe, there are few facts, things may be factual that is based on a clear, precise and cogent understanding of the information as presented. That does not make them facts. The rules of thermodynamics appear to work anywhere and at anytime in the universe and are therefore called ‘Laws’ and are ‘facts’ it is highly unlikely that they will ever be overturned even in the extremes of the Big Bang where most physical laws collapse.

Evolution, like relativity are not yet ‘Laws’ they are the best fit for the observed data and are factual but could be overturned by a better theory – which in itself would still not be fact until proven incontrovertabily(sorry for the spelling.)

That said Evolution seems to work and the Catholic church has said it has no objections to it. Indeed the creationists tend to be evangelical protestants who take every word of the bible literally, which has never been the stance of Rome, sadly we all get labelled the same, evolution is taught in science class at RC schools where as creationism is not and never has been.

3. Totally agree and this is something millitant atheists and secularists have thrown at Christianity for decades. All sorts of people will use a belief system to wage war or commit evil but as you say that does not stop it from being truth.

A really good book about the rise of biblical fundementalism and erroneous ideas based on a misuse of science is ‘Flat Earth – the story of an infamous idea’ by Chritine Garwood. I got it for £2 from a cheap shop. It’s fascinating and shows a lot of parralels between flat earth idea and creationism, well worth a read!


Ian  30 March at 17:10
Oops sorry bad typing

answer 1 should have read

1. Yes, however in this case I feel that the use of this word is justified as it is a group set up to counter another group that is trying to find people who do not believe.

You do make a good point about the word fact but it does depend again on definition

1. Knowledge or information based on real occurrences: an account based on fact; a blur of fact and fancy.
a. Something demonstrated to exist or known to have existed: Genetic engineering is now a fact. That Chaucer was a real person is an undisputed fact.
b. A real occurrence; an event: had to prove the facts of the case.
c. Something believed to be true or real: a document laced with mistaken facts.
3. A thing that has been done, especially a crime: an accessory before the fact.
4. Law The aspect of a case at law comprising events determined by evidence: The jury made a finding of fact.

We can determine fact by examining the evidence as a jury does, and yes we may never have complete evidence but it is still beyond any reasonable doubt.

You are correct about mainstream religion particularly catholicism accepting that evolution does indeed work and the creation story is now not taught as hard fact. My parents generation was taught it as fact and I wonder what aspects of the bible will need to change to fit in with science in the nex 50 years or so. If you tell my mum (and I have) that the churches of England and Rome accept evolution and that there never was an Adam and Eve she has never heard this from the church and is shocked to hear it so in my opinion the church leaders should make their new stance clearer to their respective flocks.

I have a question about people “who take every word of the bible literally”, who decides which aspects of the bible are not to be taken literally and as science advances, who decides if another bit should not be taken literally?

On another topic entirely how can we see God as good if you read the Old Testament? How would Abraham be treated today for taking his Son to the point of sacrifice in Gods name? Child abuse? Insanity? I could go on to cite other examples of a dark God but I’m sure you know them already, so how can we be told that our morality comes from God?

I’m loving this back and to btw, most people just tell me to shut up 🙂

regards, Ian

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Published in: on April 29, 2010 at 16:17  Leave a Comment  

Astronomy for All.

Easter Monday (5th. April 2010) turned out to be a fascinating day – and night! Working during the day I became more and more excited at the prospect of taking part in my very first Messier Marathon. A what you say?

Charles Messier (b. 1730 – d. 1817) began his astronomical life at the age of fourteen when he saw the six tailed comet of 1744 and a few years later when he saw an annular Solar eclipse which was visible from his hometown on July 25, 1748. (An annular eclipse is one in which the moon does not completely cover the sun but leaves a circle of the sun visible it looks like a ring or annulus.)

A NASA image of an Annular Eclipse.
Messier eventually started working at an observatory for the ‘Astronomer of the Navy’ one M. Delisle. In 1757 Messier started looking for the expected return of Halley’s Comet, but as he hunted he came across nebulous objects that might be confused as comets. Objects like the great Spiral in Andromeda and its companion fuzzy object. As he looked for Halley’s comet Messier discovered a comet of his own; as he observed it he came across another comet-like object this time in Taurus (the Crab Nebula) and realised that a catalogue of these comet llike objects was needed.
So began the Messier catalogue with the Crab Nebula being the first entry and so became known as M1 or Messier 1. The great Spiral became known as M31 and its companion M32. As he scanned the skies Messier discovered new objects (M3 and M41) as well as new comets.
What is this Messier marathon? Well around the end of March when the moon is well under way waining or is at new moon phase a happy chance of celestial mechanics allows for observers to try and see all the 110 objects is Messiers’ catalogue in one night. It needs careful planning to see all objects and to ensure that the observer is not looking back and forth across the sky and so wasting time moving the telescope great distances. The first marathons may have begun in the late 1970s so are a recent idea.
Unfortunately for me it was cloudy here in Southport, happily all was not lost. A chap named Gianluca Masi from a town 90 km from Rome decided to use his observatory to do an online marathon. His observatory – the Ballatrix Observatory – can be remotely controlled by users around the world but for Monday night Mr. Masi ran the show.
And what a show! His commentary was fascinating: he talked about how he was taking the images and where we were in the imaging process. Within what seemed like a few seconds an image would appear on the computer screen of one of the Messier objects. Quite amazing.
There were fellow observers from Italy, the USA, Turkey, Argentina and many other countries, all of whom could communicate with Gianluca and each other as the images came in. Not only that but we were treated to the view of the observatory as the marathon was ongoing. Simply fantastic.
Mr. Masi did this under the aupices of Global Astronomy Month a spinoff from the International Year Of Astronomy which occured in 2009. Under the tag-line ‘One World One Sky’ it is an attempt to bring people together through astronomy and to further our understanding of the universe and each other.
Here is the address for the observatory;
I couldn’t stay up all night observing even though I was in the comfort of my home and poor Gianluca was outside in a chilly 5C night. What I saw was fantastic, the speed of the camera in taking images was incredible as was the idea that there were hundreds of people all tuned in to gaze at some spectacular sights!

M3, a globular cluster in the constellation of Canes Venatici (the Hunting Dogs.)

Published in: on April 6, 2010 at 19:32  Leave a Comment