Evolution caught in the act: Scientists measure how quickly genomes change

Mutations are the raw material of evolution. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tubingen, Germany, and Indiana University in Bloomington have now been able to measure for the first time directly the speed with which new mutations occur in plants. Their findings shed new light on a fundamental evolutionary process. They explain, for example, why resistance to herbicides can appear within just a few years.

"While the long term effects of genome mutations are quite well understood, we did not know how often new mutations arise in the first place," said Detlef Weigel, director at the Max Planck Institute in Germany. It is routine today to compare the genomes of related animal or plant species. Such comparisons, however, ignore mutations that have been lost in the millions of years since two species separated. The teams of Weigel and his colleague Michael Lynch at Indiana University therefore wanted to scrutinize the signature of evolution before selection occurs. To this end, they followed all genetic changes in five lines of the mustard relative Arabidopsis thaliana that occurred during 30 generations. In the genome of the final generation they then searched for differences to the genome of the original ancestor.

The painstakingly detailed comparison of the entire revealed that in over the course of only a few years some 20 DNA building blocks, so called base pairs, had been mutated in each of the five lines. "The probability that any letter of the genome changes in a single generation is thus about one in 140 million," explains Michael Lynch.

To put it differently, each seedling has on average one new mutation in each of the two copies of its genome that it inherits from mum and dad. To find these tiny alterations in the 120 million base pair genome of Arabidopsis was akin to finding the proverbial needle in a haystack, says Weigel: "To ferret out where the genome had changed was only possibly because of new methods that allowed us to screen the entire genome with high precision and in very short time." Still, the effort was daunting: To distinguish true new mutations from detection errors, each letter in each genome had to be checked 30 times.

The number of new mutations in each individual plant might appear very small. But if one starts to consider that they occur in the genomes of every member of a species, it becomes clear how fluid the genome is: In a collection of only 60 million Arabidopsis plants, each letter in the genome is changed, on average, once. For an organism that produces thousands of seeds in each generation, 60 million is not such a big number at all.

Apart from the speed of new mutations, the study revealed that not every part of the genome is equally affected. With four different DNA letters, there are six possible changes—but only one of these is responsible for half of all the mutations found. In addition, scientists can now calculate more precisely when species split up. and its closest relative, Arabidopsis lyrata, differ in a large number of traits including size and smell of flowers or longevity: Arabidopsis lyrata plants often live for years, while Arabidopsis thaliana plants normally survive only for a few months. Colleagues had previously assumed that only five million years had passed by since the two species went their separate ways. The new data suggest instead that the split occurred already 20 million years ago. Similar arguments might affect estimates of when in prehistory animals and plants were first domesticated.

On a rather positive note, the results of the US-German team show that in sufficiently large populations, every possible mutation in the genome should be present. Thus, breeders should be able to find any simple mutation that has the potential to increase yield or make plants tolerate drought in a better manner. Finding these among all the unchanged siblings remains nevertheless a challenging task. On the other hand, the new findings easily explain why weeds become quickly resistant to herbicides. In a large weed population, a few individuals might have a mutation in just the right place in their genome to help them withstand the herbicide. "This is in particular a problem because herbicides often affect only the function of individual genes or gene products," says Weigel. A solution would be provided by herbicides that simultaneously interfere with the activity of several genes.

Turning to the larger picture, Weigel suggests that changes in the human genome are at least as rapid as in Arabidopsis: "If you apply our findings to humans, then each of us will have on the order of 60 new that were not present in our parents." With more than six billion people on our planet, this implies that on average each letter of the human genome is altered in dozens of fellow citizens. "Everything that is genetically possible is being tested in a very short period," adds Lynch, emphasizing a very different view than perhaps the one we are all most familiar with: that evolution reveals itself only after thousands, if not millions of years.

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Jan 01, 2010
marjon; it's more like all humans are not the same, we are all diverged from one another but still capable of reproducing. our populations change in segmented groups depending on the environment/resources/etc.

it's not like tomorrow one of us will turn in to an ape and cannot reproduce with the rest of the species.

take the article on cockroaches for example, we can identify the entire spieces will diverge by some given percent, 0.1%-0.5%. well they found one species which was different by 3% and called that a new species. that cockroach can still mate with the 'regular ones'. which both will probably 'undo' and 'persist' certain altered genes.

so one retarded cockroach will create an off shoot that's more like an average of it, and changes like that occur all over the place probably.

after a while it's a huge change from the original population.

Jan 01, 2010
Marjon: I recommend you read Richard Dawkins' new book, "The Greatest Show On Earth". In it, "Speciation" is VERY well explained. You will not be sorry you read it.

Jan 01, 2010
marjon, i base my beliefs on the natural world as it demonstrates itself, where you side with 'principles' your parents and peers taught you.

nature of reality > anyones opinion

the bottom line is, when you say 'you can't prove there isn't a god so how do you know you're not wrong' then i say 'exactly, you can't prove there isn't a zebra controlling the universe either, so you might as well drop it and focus on what you can directly and empirically know.'

how ever complex 'god' is, if it exists then it will be known directly eventually, ... or not. what i can tell you, is i wasn't born 'knowing' i will go to hell for being 'bad', so why should i assume so? there's no reason TO believe in god.

Jan 01, 2010
Implicit in the article and research is the assumption that "mutation" is a random error-driven process. But certain locations are more prone to variance, and most "mutation"/speciation occurs one level higher or more: duplication of existing genes or coding, and methylation and silencing or re-activation of existing code.

Which implies a far higher leveraging and potency for explicit or implicit mutation "policies" embedded in the so-called silent DNA. Examination and enumeration of point mutations is a very weak method of locating or understanding such things.

Jan 01, 2010
Didja hear about the dyslexic agnostic insomniac?
Lay awake abed every night, worrying and wondering about the existence of Dog!

Jan 01, 2010
A small percentage of a large number may well/often does trump a high percentage of a small number. In commerce, it's called "making it up on volume".

Jan 01, 2010
I've seen suggestions that the dog genome is a menu from which breeders select items via the "homeobox" gene. Direct manipulation of that gene would theoretically permit constructing a Great Dane by altering its coding in a fertilized purebred toy poodle's egg.

Jan 01, 2010
The AGW 'scientists' lack not so much the ability to separate beliefs and motivations from their output, as willingness and inclination.

Jan 01, 2010
As for "first of a new species", such terminology is deceptive. Speciation is a gradient process, with some gradients steeper than others. Look up "punctuated equilibrium" and associated literature. Small populations under heavy environmental stress seem to be the "point sources" of significant changes.

Jan 01, 2010
As for "new species of humans", the answer is yes, sort of. Look up "homo floriensis". AKA "Hobbits". ;)

Jan 01, 2010
marjon - in answer to your question 'How does the new species male find the new species female and reproduce new species offspring?'

Individuals of new species do not appear in a single generation. Populations of individuals change over long periods of time according to the laws of variation and natural selection. If part of a population becomes isolated from its parent population for long enough, that new population can accumulate change such that each individual is sufficiently different to those in the original population that breeding between them is impossible. They have by definition become two different species - and each has always consisted of males and females.

Jan 02, 2010
marjon - they key concept is "isolation". Two groups are divided and never mate. The individuals mate within their group, but over time their inner-group mutations become too many for them to mate with the other group. So the first male of a new species will have no problem finding the first female, since they and their parents share most of the same genes.

Jan 02, 2010

Please don't waste the time of people on this site if you simply refuse to listen to the answers that have already been given to your question or to seek the answers where advised.

Jan 02, 2010
I don't trust the scientific method because it is conducted by fallible, egotistical people.

Unlike people who use faith as a 'method' eh?

"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. "

So, Einstein, Newton, Feynmann etc.etc. all had to wait for their opponents to die? Not that simple obviously. Quoting glib aphorisms does not prove your point at all.

Jan 02, 2010
Marjon - people have not tried to create a new species of dog. According to what we can see from the fossil record, it would be easy to do and would only take a few thousand generations.

'Species' is not a black-and-white distinction.
As proto-species drift apart, it becomes harder and harder for them to breed, but there is enough variation within each group that some members of one group would still be able to breed with some members of the other group, with the proportion diminishing over time.

There also more sudden changes, such as when chromosomes split or merge. Most such changes are fatal, but some carriers survive and occasionally even breed. Re-regulating genes after such changes produces separate species faster - probably within a hundred generations.

But do you really WANT an answer to your question?
If so, read the sources suggested, or Google around and research the subject.
And if you don't want an answer, then why are you asking?

Jan 02, 2010
Humanity continues to evolve with every new generation, but the rate of change depends on the amount of selective pressure. The rate of evolutionary change has slowed where modern medicine has removed a great deal of selective pressure. On the other hand, where the challenge of survival is the greatest, evolution has accelerated.
- since, in a large population, every possible mutation is being tested
- since extreme selective pressure will allow only those with an advantage to survive
- therefore, the largest evolutionary 'jumps' take place where survival is the most difficult
Famine, disease, and warfare present the harshest challenges for human survival. It follows that evolution is taking place the fastest in areas of the world where the populations are high and the challenges are the greatest. This suggests that the evolutionary future of humanity is in the third world where conditions are the harshest.
In the faces of the downtrodden you'll see humanity's future.

Jan 02, 2010
There's a very fundamental and clear perspective to take on this subject. Scientists do know by direct experimentation that gene expression is what 'directs' the formation of organic beings. The difference between any organic being and another can be quantitatively verified by analysis. A human and a rat will not have *identical DNA, at best similar in some regards.

So logically the differences of each past and currently evolving species is entirely based on the propagation and interference of genetic information.

Living creatures as we know them are a product of their DNA, and the difference between species can be objectively known, directly, as the difference of their DNA.

From that we can intuitively understand why the term species is so 'vaguely' defined, it infers on something *highly statistical in nature and addresses the full range of differences between genetic information.

Jan 02, 2010
What is a significant change in genetic information? It's relative significance. We don't seem to know what draws the actual line between two species being able to mate. In my use of the word species we could split animals up which represent a difference of 1% or 30% genetic information. It doesn't matter, we are living gradients, interpolated genetic information, we are all 'blurred' together through time.

'Significant jumps' in evolution probably occur because 'significant' expressions are modified, two legs versus four legs. That has a larger visual impact on the 'object' we percieve, but objectively in nature it's probably no different than the skin of an animal being altered.

Half the problems we see I'm beginning to recognize as only being an illusion of how we 'measure' importance based on what we visually recognize. But at the bottom of the chain, at the most basic level, it's information being modified, interference, degenerate organic 'information' from disease, etc.

Jan 02, 2010
The answers are always staring at you in the face, you may just *choose to not believe 'this' or 'that' because it makes you feel 'uncomfortable' or 'confused'. Nature doesn't care about your feelings or opinions, it exists as it does, and if you want the truth you just have to listen to what nature is trying to tell you without interference of personal opinions or prejudice derived from baseless 'principles'.

Science, as I have explained above, has proven the fundamental constituents of the animal kingdom. From there you can derive the rest logically and test to verify every deduction, which scientists have been and are in the act of verifying and validating.

If you can argue against that, I want to hear it, spoken from the foundations up.

Jan 02, 2010
I'm still wondering how a new sexual species starts from such mutations.
How does the new species male find the new species female and reproduce new species offspring?

They don't. Early in the transition they remain cross fertile. Cows and American Bison can interbreed, as can camels and llamas They remain separate species and have been separated for at least 15,000 years, but they produce viable hybrids. Left apart, in a few thousand +- years portions of their populations would continue breading past (evolving) the ability to pro-create with formerly compatible sister species. Eventually the populations would shift significantly enough so that no inter-breeding could occur, or perhaps only "mules" would result from such unions.

Jan 02, 2010
It was amusing to note while reading Scully's 'The Demon and the Quantum' that physicists studying the origin of the universe were much less certain about its beginnings than the biologists who claim to KNOW how life began.

No biologist, worth being called a biologist, claim she knows the beginning of life.

Evolution is to some conservatives what AGW is to some liberals . . . Religion.

Evolution does not preclude creation by Yahweh, Odin or Chuthulu. In fact science doesn't have an opinion on the supernatural. If something cannot be measured it isn't science. I'm sure everyone here agrees that "God" cannot be measured; no matter their opinion of "God".

Jan 03, 2010
No biologist, worth being called a biologist, claim she knows the beginning of life.

"Richard Dawkins elaborated on this image of the earliest living entity in his book The Selfish Gene: "At some point a particularly remarkable molecule was formed by accident. We will call it the Replicator. It may not have been the biggest or the most complex molecule around, but it had the extraordinary property of being able to create copies of itself.""
Then Dawkins is not much of a biologist to you as he claims to know how life began?

Yes, those primitives are still around, or at least something that fits his description. They are called prions. They are not life (at least not life as we define life), but they do replicate.

However what Dawkins calls an accident; we'll never *know* what happened 'lo those gigayears ago.

What cannot be measured is not science.

Jan 03, 2010
To address some of marjon's fallacies and ignorance for others that might actually pay attention:

Males and females never evolved separately. I don't know where people such as yourself developed such a poor strategy for discussing/debating evolution, but it really must stop. There are many species around the world that have no definable male/female organs, there are species that have interchangeable sexual modes, and there are asexual reproducing species. The vast myriad of reproductive methods that exists today is probably a small snapshop of the potential reproductive modes that have existed throughout time.

Now can you stop trolling with that little bit of inanity? It has gotten particularly old.

Jan 03, 2010
How about places that have enabled the weak and sick to survive with medical treatments? In places where survival is difficult, such people would die. In a benign environment more variations should survive.

Human beings are a communal species. It isn't about survival of the fittest individual, it is about survival of communities and the species. For human beings it just so happens that our intelligence has evolved tools to increase our lifespans (primarily to increase reproductive opportunity) and one of those tools is medicine.

Jan 03, 2010
The essence of the conflict between science and religion is basically one of communication. There isn't a conflict at all. Science is a method of building data into coherent theories about the way the universe actually works. It works only with the natural world, measuring only what can be sensed in some form. Religion, and spirituality are about all the rest.

By stoking the fires of this pseudo-conflict, religious leaders around the world are decimating their future. Any children they have that accept that science and religion are incompatible have 2 choices as they grow up:

a) Discard science and the information it provides
b) Discard the religion they grew up with and embrace science

In the first case, you end up with people who do not understand technology, in the second you end up with people who disavow their faith. Both are bad news for religion. The technology jobs are some of the best paying, and losing God is like losing part of your soul.

Jan 03, 2010
In other words, being a Luddite or Creationist is a really good way to constrain oneself to the lowest rungs of the income ladder. I find it heartbreaking the people would actually do this to their children or themselves.

Jan 03, 2010
Darwin actually puzzled over this point himself however and its a good question. If offspring do tend to carry a mix of genes, how does anyone get to be an outlier? Very tall or very short people, very smart or very dumb, or any extreme should quickly make everyone average. I mean really, why isn't ANY population of individuals of ANY species essentially all the same?

The answer is because genetics simply doesn't work that way. It just doesn't. Look around you and you can see that it doesn't.

Jan 03, 2010
males and females didn't evolve separately. Asexual reproducing forms evolved the capability to reproduce by sharing genetic materials. Those species that were able to do that gained a genetic advantage, basically the new ability to speed up genetic changes. Take a look at the various species today that can reproduce asexually and sexually. Do some of your own research instead of posting inane questions for which you really aren't interested in the answers.

Jan 03, 2010
Such a long thread - and so much meaningless discussion about something so basic.

Yes - ban the troll - anybody that persists in asking the same inane question regardless of how well they have been answered deserves the name TROLL.

Unfortunately Frajo is right Otto, we all need to be more careful and think before using a word like throwback.

I use it when breeding fish and my brightly coloured fish give birth to a dull looking fish that would be perfectly coloured to avoid a fish-eating bird but which looks pretty dull in my fishpond.

If left to their own devices my fish pond (after several generations) would end up full of boring coloured fish (subjective opinion inserted).

But of course I am wrong here as well. All mutations are just mutations, some types easier than others but all equal in variation regardless of what varies.

Jan 03, 2010
Assume a male 'new species' is created by a mutation. If a female 'new species' is created by the same mutation, how will they find each other if not in the same herd/community/continent? Mutation seems an unlikely mechanism for that type of species creation.

I don't think you're serious, but here:
Start with a species that reproduces through only asexual means.

Along the evolutionary pathway (thousands of generations) the species finds a way to share genetic material during reproduction, but maintains the ability to reproduce via asexual reproduction during times of stress or population decline.

Genetic selection and reproductive rates selects for populations that produce more rapidly through this newer sexual reproduction eventually reducing the ability to reproduce asexually.

Sexual organs and/or identity may or may not evolve in between the steps. There is really no need for male/female identities.

Jan 03, 2010
All new species must start as asexual?

And that, fellow commenters, is the exact reason why marjon is a troll.

Jan 03, 2010
Marjon - You could try reading answers to your questions before asking them again.

As said before, a new species is generally not created by 'a mutation', but by many mutations over thousands of generations.

Since you don't read articles people have referred you to and you only acknowledge answer that let you ask a new question, it appears that you want to ask questions rather than get answers.

If so, then your approach is not honest.
So either read and acknowledge, or look yourself in the mirror and admit to yourself, and any God(s) that you believe in, that you are dishonest.

Asking questions to learn is fine, and this board is pretty tolerant of it.
But asking questions and ignoring the answers, or deliberately misinterpreting the answers so that you can ask more questions, is obnoxious, boorish behavior. Any moral God(s) would consider it a sin.

Jan 03, 2010
Marjon - Ok, that question hasn't been answered directly in this thread.

It is very unlikely (but not theoretically impossible) that a single mating from an inter-breeding population would create a new species in one step.
A single change big enough to prevent interbreeding with the source population would typically cause death or sterility.

Typically even closely related species have huge numbers of differences accumulated during thousands of generations of separation.

For simplicity let's call it 10,000 changes (10,000 is "many, many" in Chinese). By 1000 accumulated changes the new group would probably be considered a sub-species, and it might be a bit less fertile with the source group.

If the new group doesn't interbreed then, more changes will accumulate, and by 5,000 changes interbreeding might be difficult (and people might argue about whether this was a subspecies or actually a new species).

Of course this is greatly simplified, but I hope that it is clear enough.

Jan 03, 2010
Otto1923: The bulk of Marjon's questions are repeats that have already been answered. That is as disrespectful of the answerers as if we were to go to a bible class and repeatedly spout evolutionary evidence after it was clear that we were bothering people.

Let us not sink to that level ourselves.
People rightfully down-rated Marjon's repeats and deliberate misinterpretations (such as 'the above'), but they also down-rated Marjon's few reasonable questions, which seems to me to be as much a misuse of the rating system as Marjon's repeats are of the comment system.

Marjon - this is a science bulletin board. Stay off if you object to the whole scientific method and just have an axe to grind, and I won't go to the local church and object to the Bible/Koran/name-your-flavor.

And no, that does not mean that science is a religion.
Don't quote half of an analogy out of context again.
Stick to legitimate questions that you actually want to listen to an answer to.

Jan 04, 2010
Marjon,-It is not very high or broad-minded of you to refuse to read Dawkins book. I am an atheist but I try to be as well acquainted with the Bible, apocrypha, Dead Sea and Nag Hammadi scrolls etc, as I can. Knowlewdge is acquired by opening books, not closinf (or burning) them.

Jan 04, 2010
I have read a lot of theoretical constructions of how a new species MAY develop, but has anyone ever produced hard, experimental evidence of the evolution of a new species? Is there hard, experimental evidence of life originating from dead matter? If this is the case then we are dealing with hard science, otherwise it remains speculation. By the way, arguments ad hominem are not appreciated.

Jan 04, 2010
Marjon,- try this: "Lifeless prion proteins" are capable of evolution.


Jan 04, 2010
But of course I am wrong here as well. All mutations are just mutations, some types easier than others but all equal in variation regardless of what varies.

Nonsense. All mutations are not equal, neither in function nor form. Some mutations do recall an earlier (less advanced) form. Some do not. Throwback is as good a term as any.

Are you shilling for some kind of Politically Correct view of change?

Jan 04, 2010
"Darwin's errors unearthed - Serious doubts about evolution are evolving. Flawed theory exposed... - www.ucg.org.uk/ad/ev/"

Is it part of Physorg.com policy to allow creationist hacking into a serious article?

Jan 04, 2010
I have read a lot of theoretical constructions of how a new species MAY develop, but has anyone ever produced hard, experimental evidence of the evolution of a new species?

At least a couple of times a year. I'm serious. The articles are right here at physorg. Last week, or three, an article about a newly evolved fruit fly. Not to mention e-coli continues to evolve right in front of our eyes.

Jan 04, 2010
Marjon,-What is the point of continually denigrating evolution without demonstrating a superior thory? Your questions imply that you already have 100% certain answers, and that our poor probabalistic scientific ones are just not good enough. So why not share this information with us? As a creationist you presumably believe that the Word of God is a total explanation for everything. But even if we accepted this, we would still want to know how exactly God-did-it.
So as you are contributing to a scientific forum please spell out exactly how God's Word manufactures new species,and allows males and females to find each other, and how "dead" matter becomes alive,--and why weak and sick people produce more variations and are more successful at breeding than are young healthy specimens.
You obviously have God's ear, so please do tell.

Jan 04, 2010
Otto1923 -- With all the other "noise" I'm not sure if you fell your original question was answered. There's a part of my family that has produced a lot of very intelligent people. I suppose isolation and a reproductive competitive advantage would need to be there for a large amount of time for any genetic advantage to be manifested. Note! Clinical depression also "runs" in that part of the family.

Jan 04, 2010
The article above sez, *Everything that is genetically possible is being tested in a very short period of time* Evolutionists apparently think that shooting bullets at a computer more rapidly will lead to faster progress. A more reasonable conclusion from this study is that living things have not been suffering under a mutational load this heavy for *millions of years*, but for a much shorter time. That they can still survive is due to amazing systems of DNA repair which is evidencxe of creation. To say that these mutations are the *raw material of evolution* is like calling terrorists entrepreneurs.

Jan 04, 2010
If a transgenic cow is created to produce human insulin, is that a new species?

If the cow is cross-fertile with a transgenic bull that makes insulin and is able to pass that trait to their progeny? At the same time neither newbull, nor newcow, is cross-fertile with oldcow or oldbull?

Using the back of the envelop definition used here? Yes.

Jan 04, 2010
Science is not practiced by the participants here?
Isn't science precise? Why can't you spell my name correctly?

You have eyes! can you not see? You have ears! can you not hear?

Jan 04, 2010
you are a difficult person.

Mark 8:18 was not taken out of context. You have been shown truth and have willfully ignored it.

Jan 05, 2010
Instead of all this silly bickering amongst relative amateurs, why does Marjon and her "kind" not just go straight to primary sources and peer reviewed articles, or even take up science and do original research herself(?) if she(he, it) is so paranoid as to think there is a world-wide Darwinian conspiracy aimed just at her? Or Google, or even God-forbid, read a book?

Jan 05, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Jan 05, 2010
--apart from which, it is much easier to ask questions than answer them. Science tries to do both. Have you never been irritated by a child's "why, why, why? constant interrogation?
Science is not perfectm or complete.-it is an ongoing (evolutionary) process. If you review the history of fatuous "God-of-the-gaps" arguments, you might even see what a total failure they have been, and continue to be.

Jan 05, 2010
You are quite wrong. The essence of science is that its practitioners review and question everything constantly. There are no "pet theories"; there are instead methods, evidence and provisional conclusions which are arrived at; everything is in the melting pot; if the evidence says otherwise then conclusions will be altered accordingly. There is no finished, complete and wrapped up revealed knowledge; there is instead, practical applications which work, and which predict new lines of research which correlate with previous work in a logically consistent and reinforcing progression. Proof of the correctness of this methodology is the "fact" (not theory), that when you turn on the light switch, the light actually comes on as expected; (example of a correct prediction based upon previous electrical science and technology). This is all very reasonable and logical; do you not yet understand?
Now explain to us how Intelligent Design works.

Jan 05, 2010
"How do you know the lights will come on tomorrow? "

Science uses probabalistic inductive reasoning. Given the laws of electrical theory, I am confident that the lights will very probably come on tomorrow,-just as they always have (since they were invented).

Likewise the Sun will probably rise tomorrow: Inductive Logic, plus Newton's and Kepler's (descriptive) Laws of Motion.

"There are many in the climate 'science' community that apparently don't."


"Also, how do you falsify the random spontaneous life creation?"

Ever heard of Louis Pasteur?

I am assembling some detailed analytical questions about the mechanics of "Design" theory (intelligent or otherwise). As you are so fond of questions, would you like me to post them so you can give detailed answers?

Jan 05, 2010
"scientists must join forces with -- and show more understanding of -- religion".

I don't agree. Religion just wants to infiltrate and take over science. The Catholic and Anglican Churches pretend to accept Evolution,--but only if they can tweak it by inserting God and souls into it. That is not science. Do not forget that in the 4th century Christianity effectively destroyed classical science and philosophy, and civilisation itself, because they had no relevance to "salvation". Then came the Renaissance and Enlightenment; now Christians are trying to destroy the results of these as well, and usher in another Dark Age.If they get their way we will be back to witch-burning and glossalalia,(speaking in tongues).

Jan 05, 2010
I certainly hope you're a troll. If not, this is quite depressing.

I am not a scientist and I am not an atheist.

Stop the hate, bring the love.

Jan 05, 2010
"...how a male 'new species' finds and mates with a female 'new species..'

It's been quite some time, but as I recall, it was relayed to me as a process involving the birds and the bees.

I wouldn't completely discount Stork theory, either.

For Gods sake, don't reply at me. I've read enough to know that I won't be back in this lifetime..

Jan 05, 2010
I certainly hope you're a troll. If not, this is quite depressing.

I am not a scientist and I am not an atheist.

Stop the hate, bring the love.

Wad is a fine example of the intolerance of many scientists today. And he is factually incorrect regarding religion and science as many modern scientists were motivated into science to explore God's creation.

I was talking about you. You're pretty ignorant for someone who complains about ignorance and claims not to be a troll. You treat religion and science as if they are finite things. Scientists argue with each other as much as they argue with you. You just wouldn't see it because you're always on the same side of the arguement.

Jan 05, 2010
"as many modern scientists were motivated into science to explore God's creation."

Yes I realise that. Individual Christians, not their Churches, behaved in humanistic ways simply because they were human as well as Christian. In "those days" everyone was Christian,--you had to be, because it was cultural conditioning,--and besides, atheists were disempowered and disenfranchised, and quite liable to be severely penalised (including burning as a "heretic").
Thanks to secular humanism we are fairly free of Christian hate (not atheist hate,--we never burned anybody). To see how Christianity was, all you have to do is examine modern Islamic fundamentalism. It is not atheists who blow up air-liners. Sorry if plain speaking is too much for some of you. I am a philosopher, a scientist and a Doctor,--and not a troll. I leave that to Marjon.

Jan 06, 2010
Hitler was a Catholic. Read "Mein Kampf" and his speeches and you will see what a good Christian (and anti-semite) he was. Martin Luther had set the tone for mass murder in his book "On the Jews and their Lies";-and he was a good Christian. Stalin did not murder because he had theological opinions about the non-existence of God,--but because he was a ruthless politician,-and had been brought up in the culture of the autocratic Tsarist/Orthodox Church axis. Pol Pot and Mao had been raised in the Buddhist tradition; are all Buddhists murderers? Tell that to the Dalai Lama. Anyway, we are "off topic"; this is a science forum.

Jan 06, 2010
"What is your excuse for those who now freely choose to remain Christian with some atheists even becoming theists?".

What about de-conversions? There are more atheist web-sites and individual atheists and agnostics than ever before.
How about at least 93% of top scientists in the National Academy of Science,--and even more in the Brisitish Royal Society?

(Can someone tell me please, how to do the inserted comments in faint print?)

Jan 06, 2010
In his "table talks" he did indeed say uncomplimentary things about Christianity, but the fact remains that he never relinquished his Catholicism, he signed a Concordat with the Pope Pius XII, and the Vatican celebrated his birthday until the end,-as well as assisting prominent Nazis to escape the Allies. But there are so many lies told, we can never be sure of history; it is written by the winners afterall. But why should a handful of atheists be interested in lying about Hitler's religion or lack of it? It would serve no useful purpose for them. But for Christian fanatics it is extremely useful to be able to spread the lie that Hitler was an atheist, in their war on unbelievers.
At most, I would consider Hitler to be a "lapsed" Catholic. Mosyt of the Catholics I have ever met have been lapsed. Why don't we get back to science?

Jan 06, 2010
"Private quotes from Hitler:
"Christianity is an invention of sick brains: one could imagine nothing more senseless, nor any more indecent way of turning the idea of the Godhead into a mockery".

Marjon: From this we can deduce that Hitler was much influenced by reading Nietzsche (who was an atheist),
--and also that as he complains about "mocking the Godhead",-which is something no atheist would do,-and that therefore Hitler himself was not an atheist.

Muslims also condemn Christianity's Trinity as a heretical polytheistic perversion of the one true Godhead (Allah). So was Hitler a Muslim?
One cannot draw simplistic black and white conclusions from all this muddle.

Jan 06, 2010
Private quotes from Hitler:
Sounds like some atheists I have heard.

Nice use of the classic Reductio ad Hitlerum to further your trolling agenda. I was wondering when you were going to go in that direction, and you didn't disappoint. This thread has been a very entertaining read - thanks for refraining from useful and pertinent discussion!

Jan 06, 2010

"Of what value is any attempt to disprove religion, a belief without proof?"

Because of the harm it does.

"The only rational position regarding faith is agnostic."

You are getting there slowly.

Jan 07, 2010

Are you missing my point on purpose?

Faith, belief WITHOUT proof.

It seems irrational to attempt to disprove (which atheists try to do) faith (belief without proof). But atheists claim to be rational. Does this mean atheists are irrational regarding faith?

If there is a point to all this, it seems very convoluted. You are apparently saying tht science is impotent to attack Faith because faith is not provable and has no epistemic content.
This sounds like a classic "shifting-the-goalpost tactic,--much the same as removing God to a safe distance "beyond the Universe" where nasty scientists can't get at him to do him harm; why bother?

Jan 07, 2010
"religion views science as human hubris or an attack on scriptural truths"

That is its problem; it cannot understand that scientific logic and empiricism has replaced ancient myths, mostly spread by violence..

Jan 07, 2010

"The third and fourth approaches to science and religion involve interaction - either as an exchange of ideas or as a final "integration" of the spiritual and the physical".

That raises another problem; there is no demonstrable "spiritual" to integrate with.

Jan 07, 2010
"It's very hard to defend the idea that all 'real' knowledge is on the science side, and none on the religion side," Mr. Clayton said. "Everyone knows it's false. You can know you love your wife and know that life is meaningful. You know certain actions are wrong."

How can it be hard to defend when we do succesfully defend it already by reason, logic and empiricism? Didn't just say earlier, that religion is FAITH, and not knowledge,-you are contradicting yourself.
I have knowledge that I love my wife (not faith).
I believe my life can be meaingful if I take the trouble to make it so. If I was to sit in a corner for 70 years doing nothing,--then my life would not have meaning, either for myself or anyone else.
I can believe certain actions are wrong,-largely due to local cultural conditioning. If I was a Christian then worshipping Ganesh would be wrong; if I was a Hindu, worshipping Ganesh would be right. It's all relative.
What about Universal values? Is killing always wrong?

Jan 07, 2010
Frajo--well I am a not an expert on set theory, but I don't really see its relevance in this case; perhaps it has some."Impotent",-was my interpretation of what Marjon was apparently trying to say, and I agree with you that science is not impotent in the face of the fact of love and affection; on the contrary, these are adequately covered by evolutionary theory and sociobiology.On the other hand, faith can say what it likes (and it does),about scientific subjects (and they ARE now scientific subjects, not theological ones),-like cosmology and QCD(?)-is this a reference to Quantum ChromoDynamics,-or something else? As for hubris;if you are a post-modern relativist,you might be one of those who claim that there is no absolute knowledge of anything,and that all is just opinion, and one theory is as good as another.Is that what you are saying?Its absolute truth or falsity would be to jump out of a top-floor window, because the theory of gravity does not have supremacy over faith in flying.

Jan 07, 2010
"Science has done no harm?"

Yes of course science can be misused, like any other human activity, but on the whole, it is not (atheistic) scientists who are clamouring to damage and pollute the world,--rather it is the politicians who highjack it for their own ends, even in a "democracy"; (Tony Blair's invasion of Iraq?). Einstein's discovery of special relativity lead ulimately to atoms bombs and Hiroshima, though you could say that was a good thing as it terminated the Japan war and saved countless (American) lives,--perhaps even some Japanese ones.
Yet do we really want to sacrifice knowledge of the structure and origin of Matter because of the misdeeds of politicians? Does science cause malaria, and (non-radiation) cancers? I thought it was busy trying to prevent and cure both,--usually in the face of-pig-ignorance. Overpopulation is another chief cause of our woes .

Jan 07, 2010
"You did not answer the question"

Sorry, I must have missed something. No, one cannot disprove "Faith",-not even logically, certainly not empirically. This I think, is because "Faith" is not a proposition,and therefore cannot be dealt with logically. All one can do is to point out its self-confessed vacuousness, ie its lacking of any kind of epistemology. On the other hand, "Faith", not being content with being vacuous, then starts making epistemological claims, eg about a Superman Creator living in the sky (somewhere), called "God", and about how the Universe came into being, how Life originated, and their own fanciful version of "On the origin of species". These claims can then be dealt with logically and empirically. So the answer is "No" and "yes".

Jan 07, 2010

Do you believe religion can be misused, like any other human activity?

Surely the answer is obvious.

What do you call 'scientists', like those promoting world wide carbon taxes, who are willing to lie to achieve their 'utopia'?

Is it utopic to try and clean up the Earth?

Jan 07, 2010

Evidence is not truth. By definition, the science process is supposed to be always collecting and evaluating evidence. Scientists should always be ready, willing and able to change based upon the 'evidence'.

--and so they are (if they are good scientists). Can we say the same about religious faith?
You say evidence is not truth,--how could it be?-except in so far as "evidence" is collected in support of theories, and if persuasive enough may be used to give weight to a scientific theory which for practical purposes may be regarded as a "fact". But lets not start going round in circles again; we have discussed this already.
Remind me again; what is the purpose of this discussion?

BTW,--I may be away skiing for a week from tomorrow if I am not stranded here on the island of Jersey by appalling snowy weather. Hope you can manage without me.

Jan 08, 2010
I like a tipple of Calvados myself. See you next week perhaps. Reg

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