Monday, February 28, 2011

Another “Evolution Requires Faith” Claim

Observed in a wall post and responses on Facebook. We’ll call the creationist CW.
CW: “I was thinking about DNA and genes and how every feature of every creature has its own genetic code. I wonder what evolutionist would say whether or not there is a DNA code a genetic code for the in between species, such as. the code for a wing and a leg are different: what does the "in-between" leg look like? Is the code muddied? How is THAT a step in the direction of evolving perfection?! Silly evolutionists: your version takes more faith to believe in than MINE does!”
Some friends of mine made an effort to explain, but the author wasn’t really listening. The answer to the question is not so simple, since there are many steps between a leg and a wing. Bird wings developed from the forelimbs of dinosaurs (specifically dromaeosaurs), and there are many known species of dinosaur that were essentially bipedal, leaving their forelimbs free to evolve toward other tasks. The “in-betweens” either look like a leg (or arm) with some wing-like characteristics, or like a wing with some lingering arm-like characteristics.

Berkley has a nice website on the subject, if you care to read it. The short of it, though, is that we don’t need faith to see that bird wings evolved. We don’t know everything about how it occurred, but we do have the intermediate forms (despite the denials of creationists), and we continue to learn more as we discover more fossils.
CW: “Humans are composed of the same material as is found in the soil. Man was made from soil. All creatures were created by the same artist so the same ingredients and style are present in all created things (C, G, T, A) and resemble each other According to non-creationist microbiologists, DNA itself dies not support the theory of evolution because each creature is made if a unique set of DNA. If u change the code, it's a new creature not an altered old one. Still a theory as of yet. There is more faith than evidence present in the belief of evolution. Didn't care fir those authors really. I like da Bible. :0"
Is it really any surprise that life on Earth is composed of elements that are common on the surface of the Earth? From an evolutionary standpoint, it's exactly what you should expect.

I’d love to know where she got this notion that “non-creationist microbiologists” are refuting evolution based on DNA. DNA is one of the great pieces of supporting evidence in favor of evolution, and unique variations in every living being are expected and in fact necessary for evolution to work. Sure it’s a “new creature”, but it’s not so different that it’s no longer the same species. It takes many generations for populations of creatures to diverge that much.

And of course Evolution is a theory. Learn what “theory” means to a scientist! It’s an explanation for a set of observations that is consistent with the evidence. A theory makes predictions that can be tested, and its predictions are consistent with reality.

A creationist friend of CW chimed into the thread to help defend it. We’ll call the friend HP.
HP: “There have never been any transitional fossils discovered. There is also overwhelming proof that an ‘inbetween’ species could not survive as it evolved into another species.”
HP is another creationist who apparently only reads creationist publications for information about biology. There are plenty of transitional fossils, showing that “in-between” species survive just fine. There are millions of “in-between” species alive right now; thousands of years in the future, their descendants will be different species.
HP: “Charles Darwin was just a man with a theory. He was not all knowing and was like Job in the Bible and spoke of things that he knew not of. And God would ask these men the same things he asked Job..."where were you when I put the stars in the sky? Where were you when I..." (Paraphrase:)”
Charles Darwin never claimed to know everything, and he was far from alone in his observations about life on Earth. His distinction was being the first to publish his findings.
CW: “That is my FAVORITE PASSAGE OF SCRIPTURE!!! "Brace yourself boy ... who do you think you ARE?" My paraphrase of course; God is much more kind than I am there. :) An in-between feather or eye or flipper just wouldn't be practical ... there isn't any way a half formed hand/wing would be superior to what was already there. And, again, it would become a new creature due to that whole pairing thing going on with the GCTA pairs ..."
If only CW and HP could see the irony of their comments. They’re the ones making claims about subjects they don’t understand, because it’s clear that they don’t understand the theory they’re attacking.

Of course, if they actually learned the Theory of Evolution instead of listening to creationist sound-bites, they might realize that it’s accurate, and they wouldn’t want that! I expect that's why creationists routinely ignore attempts to actually teach them something about evolutionary biology.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Simple Caribbean Chicken Curry

I made a batch of this over the weekend, and I got a request to post the recipe, so here we go.
  • Open a can of pineapple chunks and drain the juice into a measuring cup.
  • Combine the juice with water to make two cups and put it in a small pot.
  • Add curry spice (adjust as you see fit).
    • 1/4 tsp tumeric
    • 1/4 tsp cardamom
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1 tsp ginger
    • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • Add a cup of brown rice, bring to a boil, turn heat to low, cover, and leave to simmer 20 minutes.
  • Put one or two chicken breasts in a 375-degree oven for the same time.
  • Take the chicken from the oven and cut it into bite-sized pieces, add it to the rice pot.
  • Add about a cup of black beans (roughly half a can) to the pot.
  • Stir, cover, and let simmer another 10-15 minutes.
Like most things, it goes great in a tortilla.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Bill O' Reilly Reasoning

This was just too good to pass up.

Besides being just plain silly, O'Reilly's argument is also a classic example of "moving the goalposts".

Friday, February 04, 2011

Gabby's Burgers and Fries

I actually had my lunch with me yesterday when I went to work, but my colleague Andrea was in a special mood. She was craving Gabby's Burgers and Fries, and she asked if I wanted to join the group. I am so glad I did.

Gabby's is a little hole-in-the-wall burger joint on a corner across the street from the Nashville Sounds baseball field.

The absolute worst thing I can say about them is that they're a little free with the salt on the fries. The grass-fed beef they use, however, more than makes up for such a minor excess. Those are the most awesome burgers ever.