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Shouldn’t really be surprised that this resolution passed in the state of Oklahoma. I don’t disagree with the state government’s decision because I think most of the commandments are meaningless, but because it violates the constitution and creates a slippery slope. You cannot use public land or money for religious purposes or monuments. If someone had wanted to put up a monument to sharia law or the book of Mormon people would have flipped out, there would have been protests, but it would have been the exact same thing. The government is not to promote any sort of religion because the constitution of the United States establishes a secular government.
Plus only three of the ten commandments are actually illegal: murder, stealing, and bearing false witness, and that only in a legal situation. And those are completely logical, I don’t need a religion too tell me that making that stuff wrong allows for a stable society. Adultery, while immoral, is totally legal in America. If coveting were illegal it would be a thought crime. That shalt have no other gods than me? Well since I don’t have one that’s not really a problem for me. I may choose to honor my father in mother if that are worthy of honor (and they are). People are more than welcome to take the lord’s name in vain. A being that doesn’t exist cannot be offended. Graven images? Somebody should remind the Catholic church of this one. They have a ridiculous amount of religious statues, paintings, etc in most of their churches. And finally keeping the Sabbath. I don’t know why Christians bother with this since the Sabbath is a Jewish tradition observed on Saturday and means nothing to Christianity.
I guess really the bottom line is whether it’s ten commandments monuments, intelligent design, anti-gay marriage, or a number of other things, please stop trying to legistlate your religion. The opposite of these things is not hurting anyone. Just let people be themselves, even if you disagree with them.
So yesterday I was sitting at Panera before work reading Jerry Coyne’s new book Why Evolution Is True (which is a great book) when an older gentleman, probably about 60ish noticed it. He asked if I was reading the book for a class to which I said no, I’m a biologist and I enjoy keeping up with the literature. He then proceeds to tell me that I need to look at all the evidence because there is no way evolution can be true. He also states that he was once a biology major but realized that he could not go anywhere with a career in biology not subscribing to evolutionary theory. So I asked him why he thinks evolution can’t be true. Let’s just take these one at a time.
The first thing he tells me is that I need to go to Glen Rose, Texas and look at the fossils they have down there of human footprints that are right next to some dinosaur tracks in an old riverbed. Now what he is referring to is known as the Paluxy Man Tracks. They are what appear to be man-like tracks walking along side some dinosaur tracks (talked about here and here). These tracks have long been debunked by scientists as either eroded dinosaur footprints or sculpted man tracks in effort to support the young-earth creationist view (classy). I recommend the Talk Origins link if you want to read more about it, I don’t want to plagiarize.
The second thing he said was the second most tired argument I always hear when people are trying to tell me that evolution is impossible. It’s the argument that evolution completely contradicts the second law of thermodynamics, which is completely ridiculous. The second law of thermodynamics is as follows:
In a closed system, processes that occur will increase in entropy, or disorder. (link)
Now it is possible that evolution could contradict the second law of thermodynamics…if the earth was a closed system, but it isn’t. A closed system is a system which has no source of energy other than what is already present in it. Therefore it will continue to lose usable energy as processes continue. The earth however is an open system. How you ask? Because there is that big, bright, hot thing in our sky called the sun. The sun produces the same amount of energy as 9.15 x 1010 megatons of TNT (link) every single second. That is a ridiculous amount of energy. Of course that is radiated out in every direction but some of it reaches the earth, providing the energy plants need to perform photosynthesis, and in turn, they provide the energy for herbivores, and they for carnivores. If energy continues to be put into the system then it does not violate the second law of thermodynamics by more complex organisms evolving from less complex ones. Again I point you to Talk Origins, they do a better job than I.
His last claim is the one that I have heard the most and is probably the most debunked one: The bacterial flagellum and other organs are too complex to have evolved randomly. I am so sick of people using this tired old stupid argument. Anyone with access to Google can find countless replies to this. I believe Michael Behe is the most famous proponent of this argument and one of the leading advocates of intelligent design (repackaged creationism). What people who haven’t thoroughly studied evolution don’t realize (though Behe has, not sure why he still says this) is that macro-evolution does not happen over one generation, it takes many many many generations for evolution by natural selection to modify existing structures for new uses. The flagella would have evolved gradually from a very simple, yet useful, structure such as a protrusion in the cell wall that could help the cell move like an amoeba’s foot. The eye would evolve much in the same way. There are many current examples of organisms that have patches of light sensitive cells that can’t distinguish shapes but allow the organism to detect which direction the light is coming from, a still useful adaptation. A depressed area of these cells makes determining the direction even easier and therefore more useful. You see where I’m going with this. If you would like a more thorough explanation I suggest googling it or again, Talk Origins.
One of the last things the man said to me was that evolution is barely even a theory in science, which is just blatantly not true at all. It is one of the most well established and widely accepted facts in all of biology. Theory does not mean what most people think it does in science. A theory is a fact of science that is based on mountains of scientific evidence, and keep in mind, gravity is also a theory. People seem to get hypothesis and theory mixed up.
Now please don’t think I am calling this man an idiot. He is by no means an idiot, I just think that he is blinded by his ideology from seeing the evidence right in front of him. He clearly has some college education, even if it was decades ago. He just has drawn different conclusions than I have based on the evidence he has seen.
I used to be just like him, thinking that evolution was impossible, until I started actually studying and reading about it. I find it to be one of the most beautiful and amazing processes of nature. It’s amazing to me that over billions of years natural processes could have created such a complex and diverse ecosystem on our planet.
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I am a chemist for Waste Management in OKC. My job rarely requires any work, which allows me a lot of time to surf the internet, mostly political and science news sites and read really nerdy science and theological books because I am a huge nerd. But thanks to the magic of the internet I can have a place to express whatever I happen to feel or my thoughts on different thing I read. Isn’t technology wonderful?
Those from Oklahoma will probably know what the title is referring to. The newspaper in Oklahoma City is called The Daily Oklahoman and it has repeatedly been voted one of the worst newspapers in America. Therefore it is affectionately referred to as “The Daily Jokelahoman”, though my blog will have the exact opposite slant that the Oklahoman does.
Also this blog will probably piss a lot of people off. Enjoy 🙂