Friday, February 13, 2009

Darwin!

Favourite gobbets on evolution:

"We admit that we are like apes, but we seldom realise that we are apes."
Richard Dawkins

Then the Bishop rose, and in a light scoffing tone, florid and he assured us there was nothing in the idea of evolution; rock-pigeons were what rock-pigeons had always been. Then, turning to his antagonist with a smiling insolence, he begged to know, was it through his grandfather or his grandmother that he claimed his descent from a monkey? On this Mr Huxley slowly and deliberately arose. A slight tall figure stern and pale, very quiet and very grave, he stood before us, and spoke those tremendous words - words which no one seems sure of now, nor I think, could remember just after they were spoken, for their meaning took away our breath, though it left us in no doubt as to what it was. He was not ashamed to have a monkey for his ancestor; but he would be ashamed to be connected with a man who used great gifts to obscure the truth.
from the famous 1860 Oxford evolution debate

Addendum:
Before the “Origin,” similarities and differences between species were mere curiosities; questions as to why a certain plant is succulent like a cactus or deciduous like a maple could be answered only, “Because.” Biology itself was nothing more than a vast exercise in catalog and description. After the “Origin,” all organisms became connected, part of the same, profoundly ancient, family tree. Similarities and differences became comprehensible and explicable. In short, Darwin gave us a framework for asking questions about the natural world, and about ourselves.
"The Origin of Darwin" by Olivia Judson (NYTimes deerh tuunii The Wild Side blog-iig recommend hiiye; an another reason to follow her blog - she's hot! :P)

Natural selection's explanatory power is not just about life on this planet: it is the only theory so far suggested that could, even in principle, explain life on any planet. If life exists elsewhere in the universe - and my tentative bet is that it does - some version of evolution by natural selection will almost certainly turn out to underlie its existence. Darwin's theory works equally well no matter how strange and alien and weird that extraterrestrial life may be - and my tentative bet is that it will be weird beyond imagining.
"Why Darwin matters" by Richard Dawkins (wanna read God Delusion!)

The idea of evolution by natural selection is not hard to grasp. It just requires connecting some uncontentious propositions. These are that organisms vary from one another, even within a species, and that new variation can arise from time to time; that some of this variation is passed from parent to offspring; and that more individuals are born than can exist in the available space (or be sustained by the available resources). The consequence is what Darwin described in his book as a “struggle for existence”. The weakest are eliminated in this struggle. The fit survive. The survivors pass on their traits to their offspring. Over enough time, this differential transmission of characters will lead to the formation of a new species.
"Unfinished business: Charles Darwin’s ideas have spread widely, but his revolution is not yet complete" from The Economist - quite comprehensive article, must read!

On Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’ interactive graphic from NYTimes
Charles Darwin page on The Guardian (don't forget to check out Damien Hirst's cover art for the anniversary edition of "On the Origin of Species")

Song of the Day: Enrico Caruso - Mia Piccirella

5 comments:

Tuguldur said...

chi mongold bga buddhismig sain medehgui bh shig bn. Mongolchud buddhismig anh Buddha surgaalia ehlulsen shig n oilgodog gej bodjinu?? ugui shude. Humus naad zah n gandan orj nom unshulah, erleg nomin haan gej yumnas aih, tam diwaajind itgeh, burhan gesen subjectig bii bolgoh geh met ter anh buddha-iin zaasnas shal oor uzel shude.

Buddhismin neg ursdgal gedg utgara l adil bolhos chini yriad bga burhan gesen oilgoltgui buddhism erdo ch bish.

Ene utgara mongold bga ene shashin europed bga conservative christianism, eswel arab oirh dornodod bga het uzelt islamudas ymar ch ylgaa bhgui.

Durin buddin shutlegtei mongol hunes ochod chi Tsagaan dari eh gej yu we? ged asuu. Oodoos chin jesus-n "etseg" shig burhan l gej helne.

Tuguldur said...

"...we're still debating over something obvious..."

There is no something obvious in science. Seeing as obvious is totally subjective deal.

Science is a set of models, which explain natural phenomena. We call these models as theories. Biology is one field of science, and evolution is one of its models. I am not saying its wrong or correct/no one knows exactly/.

These models or theories are strict logical conclusions made upon set of hard facts. So biology as a scientific theory, it has lots of hard facts to sit on.

On the other hand there are no so called 'hard' facts for christianity or any other model of explanation of human origin.

However, being the only scientific model, it doesn't mean its very obvious or very correct. In fact we create models in science and keep testing it, till we find flaws. Then we change the model, and this is the beauty of science that we always change and make the models better so that we get closer and closer to the absolute truth which we will NEVER reach exactly.

Back to the quote, so when it comes to percieving these models, the individuals who have no background about the field, it just goes by their belief to the scientific community. Even you're someone saying something like 'evolution is cool', you actually have no idea how did the scientific community came up to this conclusion based on what kind of facts. You simply choose to believe to their conclusion.

I am not saying if evolution is true or false, just reminding you creeps about how science works. ;)
In my opinion you cannot really blame people as if they're not understanding something obvious; because its their choice and they have a right to do it.

Anonymous said...

Whats the source of mutation tho? Environment? We're all really determined by the environment? Why does environment change then? WHAT started this whole chain of changes? Or who? :O Hehe, now that we're able to control the environment to some degree, will our own evolution slow down or even stop??? Lots of weird questions.

Tuguldur said...

Things can be roughly 'explained' from the Big Bang /or the start of space and time/ till now. But we really have no idea how and why exactly Big Bang happened.

We only don't have any model for today, it doesn't mean we will never know or something. Its just same as when we we're questioning if the planets rotate around us or we rotate around with them. As time passes, we'll refine our models, and will come up with a model. Of course it won't be the end, there will be even more confusing questions behind it.

As far as I know, we're not something of the level of stopping the evolution. We have 'biological' bodies, which are strictly governed under these evolutionary rules. Perhaps this is the main reason why we are urging to invent intelligent robots, which are not ruled by evolution. Think about it: we can be destroyed, but the robots will survive. ;))

Bold said...

I always wonder the same thing as well and I was stunned when I read that less than half of Turkish people accept the Theory of Evolution and about the same fraction of people deny it (the rest being unsure). I don't get how people can believe a story (that Jesus walked on the water surface, we are descended from Adam and Eve etc) but deny all those facts which support (but not prove) the Theory of Evolution.