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Posted in Evolution on 2015-05-03 23:45:20

3) "The Big Bang theory" was apparently named by an opponent of the theory, astronomer Fred Hoyle. The reason the term is inaccurate is not because sound wouldn't have carried in space. It is because the theory postulates that space itself expanded from an initially microscopic size to what it is today. According to the Big Bang theory, space would not have been anywhere near a vacuum at the time of the Big Bang because all of the energy that is now present in the universe would have been compressed into that microscopic volume.

4) What the theory of evolution postulates is that we can account for the formation of the known species without presuming the existence of any mechanisms other than (a) random mutation (which we observe today) and (b) a process called "natural selection" (which we also observe today) by which the species that are best suited to an environment thrive better than their less-well-suited counterparts. Skeptics of the theory typically question (a) whether the theory can account for observed gaps in the fossil record and (b) whether the observed rate of random mutations, the fractions of such mutations that are sufficiently non-harmful to allow the resultant organisms to thrive and reproduce, and the number of such mutations that are needed to yield a given amount of evolution can quantitatively account for the rate of evolution that would have been needed to produce the spectrum of species we currently observe given the estimated age of our planet.

Posted in Evolution on 2015-05-03 23:02:21

A poll isn't "flawed" because it asks for people's beliefs about something that isn't true. What the poll has established so far is that more than a third of the respondents believe that science has proven beyond all reasonable doubt how life came to be on our planet.

All that science really does is prove theories false. The more tests a theory is subjected to without being proven false, the more scientists begin to believe that it's probably true. But it was demonstrated a little over a century ago what a dangerous presumption this is. There were some laws of physics that had been confirmed by countless experiments, but which were then shown to simply be approximations that work over a limited range of speeds, distances, and masses but that aren't even close to being correct outside of those ranges.

Posted in Evolution on 2015-04-19 03:32:16

Your first sentence is true, but the other two are not, or at least not entirely.

In science, the term "evolution" refers to any gradual process of change.

In biology, "evolution" is commonly used to refer to speciation, though not always. I read an article just this past week, for example, which dealt with the process by which the formation of the basic amino acids that comprise living organisms became genetically encoded, which would be a part of abiogenesis, but this process was most definitely referred to in the article as an evolutionary process.

But in astronomy, "evolution" refers to processes that have nothing to do with biology, let alone speciation. For example, the term "stellar evolution" refers to a process by which stars change during their lifetimes.

The Big Bang theory, however, is not by any stretch of the imagination an evolutionary process, and it certainly does not state that everything began with a rock exploding! It actually says that everything began with a flash of light, which gave rise to equal quantities of matter and antimatter.

Posted in Why do people choose to believe in a deity on 2012-03-08 21:22:49

Since your poll doesn't have enough choices to allow me to answer some of your questions, I'll answer them here.

Are you athiest?

No. And by the strict dictionary definition, I never have been. At one time, I was not convinced that there was a God, but neither was I convinced that there was no God (which is how my dictionary defines the word "atheist").

What closest represents your beliefs?

I have become aware of evidence of God's existence that I consider to be conclusive.

What do you think is the reason of the direct correlation between intelligence and lack of religiosity.

I have never seen any evidence that there is such a correlation. Some of the most intelligent people in history have believed in the existence of God. If you know of a study indicating that there is such a correlation, I'd be interested in knowing where and when the study was published, and by whom.

Why do you think people believe in religion?

No need to speculate, since I did a study on it for a college psychology class. The two most commonly given reasons were:

1) direct evidence through personal experience: People claimed to have seen, heard, or otherwise experienced phenomena that they believed could only be explained by the hypothesis that God was real.

2) philosophical arguments: People were convinced that such things as the existence of the universe, the existence of inferential thought, the existence of objective moral principles, etc. could only be explained by the premise that God existed.

What is the best approach to dealing with someone who's religious?

If you have no interest in the subject, you can ignore them. Otherwise, I would suggest that you (1) ask them why they believe what they believe, and (2) share with them why you believe (or don't believe) what you believe (or don't believe).

How long until religion is extinct except in small pockets of humanity (if we can survive before they destroy the planet)?

First, I don't know why you think that religious people are going to destroy the planet. The only thing humans have done that has seriously raised the possibility of destroying the entire planet is invent nuclear weapons, and religion didn't really play any role in that.

Second, the prevalance of religion throughout the history of mankind strongly suggests that it will never become extinct.

Posted in School or College Plays - revealing performances on 2012-03-05 06:35:11

I'm going to give a somewhat different view on this.

There were a number of things for which the 1990 movie "Lord of the Flies" was criticized, one of which was its use of bad language. The argument was that the book didn't use any bad language, and therefore a movie made from it shouldn't, either. But the critics ignored the fact that the book does allude to the boys using bad language (e.g., "Ralph swore.") even though it doesn't include the bad words in the text. But on the stage or screen, you don't have that ability. You either hear Ralph say the bad word, or Ralph doesn't swear.

In the same way, it would be pretty hard in a stage presentation to depict Mowgli as nude without having the boy who plays the part actually be nude on stage.

The scene with the boy getting stripped by some other boys, however, is a bit different. You can say that this sort of thing sometimes happens in real life and that it's "meant as a bit of fun" rather than as something sexual, but I'd submit that when it does happen in real life, it's normally only "a bit of fun" for the boys doing the stripping - not for the one being stripped, and that it's only fun for them because they enjoy subjecting the boy to embarrassment and humiliation. And the question then becomes whether a child actor should really have to subject himself to that kind of embarrassment and humiliation (which is really a form of injury) just to play the part.

We take it for granted that an actor or actress can portray someone being shot or stabbed without actually being shot or stabbed themselves. And the same should be true in this case. For example: The boys drag their victim behind some bushes so that no adult will see what is going on and stop them. You see them pulling off the boy's shoes, socks, shirt, pants, and underpants, you see them run away carrying all of his clothes, and you see the boy sit up behind the bushes with an embarrassed and worried look on his face and look around, trying to figure out what to do. The boy could actually be naked, but he wouldn't have to be fully exposed in front of the audience, since in real life he'd undoubtedly be trying to stay hidden. But, since the audience wouldn't be seeing his entire body, the boy actor could also be wearing some swim briefs or something, so that he wouldn't actually have to be nude in front of anyone.

Of course, you could argue that actually being nude in front of the audience would make it easier for him to look embarrassed and humiliated. But that would only be true if he were the kind of boy who finds it embarrassing and humiliating to be nude in public, in which case there's a good chance that he wouldn't even agree to play the part. A boy actor who had spent lots of time on nude beaches, on the other hand, might be comfortable playing the part, but probably wouldn't find it easier to look embarrassed and humiliated just because he was nude in public.