Peer Review and Science

Without a doubt one of the best and most thoughtful videos on what peer review actually is, how it works and what it means to be a scientist. I learned a great deal from this video and thoroughly enjoyed the presentation. If you really want to know why ID and creationism fail as science then watch this.


Transitional Fossils

Creationists on blogs are forever asking to see just one transitional fossil. While there are thousands, let's start with a common one. One which was in fact discovered during Darwin's own lifetime: Archaeopteryx lithographica

Here is a list which lists features diagnostic of both dinosaurs and modern birds showing which features Archeopteryx had from each group.

Dino-6, Archeopteryx-6, Bird-11-23
  • The Sacrum (the vertebrae developed for the attachment of pelvic girdle) occupies 6 vertebra (reptilian

Dino-Absent, Archeopteryx-Present, Bird-Absent
  • Premaxilla and maxilla are not horn-covered (reptilian
  • Trunk region vertebra are free (reptilian)

Dino-Absent, Archeopteryx-Present, Bird-Present
  • Opposable hallux (Avian Feature)

Dino-Present, Archeopteryx-Present, Bird-Absent
  • Cerebral hemispheres elongate, slender and cerebellum is situated behind the mid-brain and doesn't overlap it from behind or press down on it (reptilian
  • Neck attaches to skull from the rear as in dinosaurs not from below as in modern birds (reptilian)
  • Center of cervical vertebrae have simple concave articular facets (reptilian)
  • Long bony tail with many free vertebrae up to tip (reptilian)
  • Premaxilla and maxilla bones bear teeth (reptilian)
  • Ribs slender, without joints or uncinate processes and do not articulate with the sternum (reptilian)
  • Pelvic girdle and femur joint is archosaurian rather than avian (except for the backward pointing pubis as mentioned above) (reptilian)
  • Metacarpals (hand) free (except 3rd metacarpal), wrist hand joint flexible (reptilian)
  • Deltoid ridge of the humerus faces anteriorly as do the radial and ulnar condyles (reptilian)
  • Claws on 3 unfused digits (reptilian)
  • The fibula is equal in length to the tibia in the leg (reptilian)
  • Metatarsals (foot bones) free (reptilian)
  • Gastralia present (reptilian)

Dino-Present, Archeopteryx-Present, Bird-Some
  • Nasal opening far forward, separated from the eye by a large preorbital fenestra (reptilian)

Dino-Some, Archeopteryx-Absent, Bird-Present
  • Bones are pneumatic (reptilian)

Dino-Some, Archeopteryx-Present, Bird-Absent
  • Pubic shafts with a plate-like, and slightly angled transverse cross-section (reptilian)

Dino-Some, Archeopteryx-Present, Bird-Present
  • Feathers (Avian Feature) 
  • Furcula formed of two clavicles fused together in the midline (Avian Feature)
  • Pubis elongate and directed backward (Avian Feature)

It can be seen that Archeopteryx possesses many more characters which are present in dinosaurs and not in birds, than it does characters which are present in birds but not in dinosaurs. This is why Archeopteryx is a true transitional species, because it shares some characters which are diagnostic of one group whilst still retaining characters diagnostic of its ancestral group. Anyone who claims that Archae is 100% bird is wrong. Anyone who claims that Archae's skeleton is even predominantly bird- like is wrong. Anyone who claims Archae has a "totally birdlike" skull is wrong.

To your comment about a deer to a whale or a deer with flippers...that's just asinine! It's like the creationists that want a crock-a-duck. It shows a total lack of understanding of evolution...if you could actually find one of those it would prove evolution is wrong, not right.


Atheist and Agnostic

Since many people seem to be confused about the difference between theism and agnosticism, at least it seems so from the widespread misuse of the term agnostic. I offer this simple explanation of what the terms mean and how they can be used.

Agnostic does not mean someone who doesn’t care or is ambivalent toward the existence of God, nor is it a midway point between theist and atheist. The word agnostic refers to knowledge or a claim of knowledge while the words theist and atheist refer to what you believe or have faith in, regardless of what you may know for certain.

A person therefore can be a:
  • theist/agnostic (Belief in God / Does not claims to know for certain that God exists)
  • atheist/agnostic (No belief in God /  Does not claims to know for certain that God exists)
  • theist/gnostic (Belief in God  / Claims to know for certain that God exists)
  • atheist/gnostic (No belief in God / Claims to know for certain that God exists)

Now, not to complicate what I have just explained, but an additional note should be added when we talk about being agnostic. For some people, whether they are agnostic or not, may depend on your definition of God. For example, some people will assert that they know for certain that the Christian God does not exist because they perceive there to be irreconcilable conflicts in the definition of the Christian God's attributes, or some other logical fallacy which would prevent Him from existing, but they may be agnostic toward a definition of God which is defined differently.

Hope this helps...

Evolution and DNA Evidence

Reenacted scenes from the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial which was the first direct challenge brought in the United States federal courts against a public school district that required the presentation of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution as an "explanation of the origin of life."

This second video is not from the Dover trial, but rather expounds and clarifies the significance of Chromosome #2 in Homo Sapiens


The Golden Crock-A-Duck Awards

Sad but true, someone made these cute video's to try and figure out which of the young earth creationists say the most ridiculous, ignorant and foolish things...I strongly recommend that you have a a beer at your side while listening.


The Church and Battered Women's Syndrome

The Church, the bride of Christ - Suffering from battered women's syndrome?


Response to man's Sinful Nature

I think there are two things you are not considering when you look at humankind’s behavior. The first is the timespan, you mention programs in the inner city, but really I look at our history over centuries not individual lifetimes. We are, in many nations, far more civilized now then ever before in our history. We no longer chop off a hand for stealing a loaf of bread, we no longer beat women because they are not virgins, we no longer drown children because they are not the right sex or because they are born with a deformity. There will always be individuals who are problematic, because of trauma, birth defects and environmental causes, we can’t stop nature from screwing up sometimes, but as a whole we have progressed eons from the behavior we exhibited only a few centuries ago.

Ironically, the societies which seem to have made the most progress are the ones where reason and humanism can flourish without being crushed underfoot by religion. It began with the enlightenment and has continued to this day. For comparison look at the nations where religion rules with an iron fist, where you cannot, raise a voice in defiance of the established religion and see how much moral progress is to be found…precious little.

When you look at people and determine that they are deeply flawed it is only because you look through a lens which is crafted, like the old circus mirrors, to give that impression. Humans are greedy, selfish, aggressive, possessive, tribal and prone to violence. They are also compassionate, tender, caring, nurturing and protective…these are the traits given to us by evolution, by our need to survive. They have served us well in the past, but the changes in our societies easily out pace evolution’s ability to keep up. What we now have is a society and civilization in transition. We need to find ways to reapply or refocus our natural tendencies in a more productive manner. Religion cannot help us in this quest because it is non-changing, by definition its morals are timeless, its methods inflexible, it will not serve us, it will only slow us down, increasing the likelihood that we will not find a way to refocus our tendencies in time. I mentioned a lens earlier…if you take a man with all of his traits and tendencies and then fashion a lens from religion, one which makes the very actions which define us as evil, then it is with little wonder that when we look at humanity using that lens that we appear to be flawed and hopelessly lost. When however you remove the lens you see humanity for what it is, as Hamlet spoke…

“What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god!”

We are not flawed beings, in any sense of the word, we are a spectacular creation of nature, we are made from the dust of the stars themselves. No religion, no belief in any God or gods can give us more nobility and specialness of purpose. We are literally the universe itself becoming sentient.

You spoke of being grateful that you had a place to take your guilt. I would make the case that there is no need of someone to release you from your guilt. Guilt is only an indicator, a litmus paper of the mind to prick my conscience when I do something which I know to be wrong, for selfish purposes. I learn from it, and dispose of it when no longer needed, I do not carry it around like some albatross around my neck looking for someone else to rid me of it’s stench. I take responsibility for the decisions I make which were wrong and I rejoice in the ones I make correctly and I continually strive to better myself for my own benefit and those around me. No magical gods, no angels and no fairy tales. Just myself, those who journey with me in this life and the world around me. These are all the companions that I need to have an incredible, wondrous life filled with passion, joy, inquisitiveness and love. Who could ask for any more…


In Response to a Christian Blogger

Oh yes, by all means pray, stay at and home pray all day....rally others in the streets and hold massive prayer meetings, synchronize prayer times over the internet so not one moment of time is lost without prayers being offered. As an atheist I wholeheartedly approve and support that idea, because as long as you are praying you are not doing anything which can actually affect the rest of the world.

I won't bother to try and show you that the founding fathers of this country were primarily deists, not Christians. There is probably no point in saying that Obama is not a socialist but rather a Neo-Keynesian and I doubt there is much point is demonstrating that our society of scientifically illiterate children and adults is primarily the result of teaching biblical creation mythologies to our children and of the recent republican administration's actions of gutting the scientific intelligentsia from government.

Nope, you just go on praying, it's the only way you can participate in our government's workings without screwing it up for the rest of us.

An Atheist's View of Himself

This incredible video reflects my belief of who I am and my place in the universe. Please watch it and enjoy.