Archive for Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Dodos flock to Darwin Day celebration

Lecture, film, exhibits pay tribute to evolution

February 13, 2007


KU celebrates the 198th birthday of Charles Darwin today

KU joined in the worldwide celebration of Evolutionist Charles Darwin today, but not to focus on his birth, but on the scientific progress since his time. Enlarge video

For an example of how evolution works, look no further than Richard Schowen's inflamed sinuses.

Schowen, who gave a lecture Monday as part of the "Darwin Day" festivities on the Kansas University campus, is taking the drug Augmentin for a sinus infection - a drug that became necessary only after bacteria evolved to develop a resistance to penicillin.

"Evolution is in full swing now, just as it always has been," said Schowen, a KU professor emeritus of pharmaceutical chemistry. "It's happening to us all the time. It's happening throughout the biosphere all the time."

Schowen's noon-hour lecture was one of about a dozen events on the KU campus to commemorate the birthday of Charles Darwin, who would have turned 198 on Monday. The events included an evening screening of "Flock of Dodos," a movie by a former KU student, Randy Olson, about the controversies in Kansas and Pennsylvania surrounding the teaching of evolution in schools.

KU researchers were on hand at an open house at the Natural History Museum. The faculty set up special displays of current research in evolution.

Town Peterson, curator of ornithology, displayed a few of the thousands of birds in the collection and explained the changes and variation among them.

"Evolution is a natural process," he said. "It's essentially indisputable."

Steve Case, a KU researcher and chairman of the committee of scientists and teachers who developed science standards supporting evolution, helped organize the event.

He said the event stepped up to the challenge, set by "Flock of Dodos," to communicate better.

"We have psychologists and paleobiologists and others who are demonstrating that evolutionary research is still fundamental to a lot of disciplines," Case said. "I don't think a lot of people know that."

Today, some KU faculty and others plan to head to Topeka to speak before the Kansas State Board of Education. The board is expected to rewrite science standards to do away with language critical of evolution, which was added in 2005 by a conservative majority that was voted out last year.

Jack Krebs of Kansas Citizens for Science, a Darwin Day sponsor, said he plans to speak to the board. The day, from his standpoint, will be significant, he said.

"It's been two and a half years since the standards committee was convened and at least a year and a half (was) wasted because of this intelligent design interference in the process," he said.


gr8dane 10 years ago

notsobright said, "still wonder how chaotic unordered non-life created life. . . Still wonder where all the transitional forms are- have yet to see a whale with one leg and one fin?? Wow- that would have really been something, to see two whales- each with one fin and one leg- one male and one female that produced more of the same. I know, I know- I am a mindless redneck who just can't see reality for what it is."

Hey, you said it, not me. I was going to go with "You apparently don't understand what evolution actually is and how it works. It doesn't work that way."

I'm ignoring your first question, "how chaotic unordered non-life created life" because it's invalid ("chaotic, unordered"), leading, and unrelated to evolution, which is about how life changes and adapts, not how it started in the first place (science has other theories for that).

Where are the transitionals? All around us. We call them "lifeforms" or "living organisms". They are the transitionals to future organisms. Do you SEE a single one with "one leg and one fin"? No. Because it doesn't work that way.

You DO see organisms that have different TYPES of fins from legs (like whales, which evolved from land animals) and legs from fins (which our own limbs evolved from much longer ago), though, some more effective than others, some having been evolving for longer, etc.

It's a gradual process, step by step, over thousand of generations, each step giving a SLIGHT enhancement, slightly greater ability to move in their current habitat, etc.

What it's NOT is a magical "arm turning into a fin" (or vice versa) process, much less it happening to one limb and not the other(s), THEN happening to the other(s) when that one is "complete".

And that's another of your misconceptions. That anything is ever "complete". As I pointed out, look around now, and you see thousands of DIFFERENT LOOKING fins and limbs species out there now. Each adapted for its own habitat, each still changing and adapting now, never "complete".

I've been talking about the "transitionals" that are still alive. I know you probably meant the fossils of older ones. We have plenty of those also. The fossil record is far from complete, because of how rare the process of fossilization is, and that organisms have to die in certain ways, in certain places, in certain conditions, for fossils to form, and then further luck is involved for those fossils to survive erosion, volcanic activity, earthquakes, etc for millions of years, and then we still have to find and dig them up. Still lots we haven't found yet.

gr8dane 10 years ago

But yes, the fossil record is missing big whole sections, where we don't exactly have a good record of ancestral relationships and transitional forms and changes that happened.


It DOES have many very good exceptions to that, sequences that are quite well filled in by hundreds of fossils that show the above VERY well. If I recall, the horse lineage is well shown, as is the whales you mentioned, and elephants, and others. They show transition quite well. Which they couldn't if evolution were as false/unproven as creationists assert. Even creationists who accept so-called "micro" evolution and claim speciation and above (macro) are not possible are proven quite wrong by the fossil record, without even getting into the examples of OBSERVED speciation in the last century or so.

Creationists often act like we have to have a COMPLETE fossil record to show evolution (ignoring that it is an observable, testable ongoing process NOW). This is false. We just need one decent fossil sequence showing evolution going on. We have hundreds. The gaps don't disprove it. Especially since the overall picture around the gaps fits what we'd expect to find, predicted by evolutionary theory.

As for the concern about how a "male and female" could both have the same changes and pass them on to offspring. If evolution worked the way you seem to think (limbs magically changing radically, and asymmetrically, in a single generation), yes, this WOULD be a problem. Good thing it doesn't work that way. Evolution happens to a POPULATION of interbreeding organisms, and single mutations or other variations are rarely so strikingly different to make them unable to interbreed with EVERY OTHER (sexually compatible) member of the population.

Those few that are are usually considered birth defects, and if they don't kill off the organism themselves or leave them at the mercy of predators, diseases, etc, they might be weeded out of the gene pool by simple sexual selection (no one in the population wanting to breed with them). Especially if it's a change that makes them look unhealthy, isn't a helpful change, etc.

Creationists act like evolution says the "first human baby" was squirted out of a chimp mommy, and ask how it could have found another human to breed with and start the human species. It doesn't work that way. Chimps and humans came from a common ancestral population (that was neither chimp or human, exactly, but had traits of both) that split into TWO or more populations, stopped interbreeding between them, and eventually the separated POPULATIONS adapted differently enough that they were different species, unable/unwilling to reproduce together.

We have several examples of species in the very process of doing that now. Like horses and donkeys, considered different species, but close enough to a common ancestor that they CAN interbreed in rare cases, but the offspring are usually sterile because of the accumulated genetic differences.

John1945 10 years ago

And for an example of how bigotry works, come to Lawrence, Kansas' premier community of hate.

oldgoof 10 years ago

This a comment from John Altevoght? hahahahaha.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years ago

I'm sure when you and Carl and the other Christian Taliban take control, all forms of bigotry will just vanish, right, John?

KS 10 years ago

It's such a pleasure to know that my great, great, great, great,............................................great grandparents were once maybe a "bug" or who knows what? I always thought Grandma was a little strange. Now I know!

gr8dane 10 years ago

And I see bondmen is again bashing the moderate Christian majority, because we aren't in denial of reality as he is.

I think they hate us more than they hate the atheists. They probably figure the atheists "don't know better" but that we should, or something. :P

concerned_citizen 10 years ago

The headline is perfect! That kind of inadvertant, back handed insult only comes at the hands of highly evolved journalists!

"...a drug that became necessary only after bacteria evolved to develop a resistance to penicillin." The weaker bacteria being successfully killed off by the anti-biotics and being supplanted by the resistant strains as the dominant organism in it's environment...that's evolution in action.

Adaptation is not evolution. A 'professor emeritus' should know better.

yourworstnightmare 10 years ago

concerned_citizen wrote: "Adaptation is not evolution."

What, pray tell, is the difference between adaptation and evolution?

yourworstnightmare 10 years ago

KS wrote: "It's such a pleasure to know that my great, great, great, great,............................................great grandparents were once maybe a "bug" or who knows what?"

The fossil record tells us that no new phyla of organisms have evolved in 500 million years. Phyla are such things as arthropods (crustaceans, insects, "bugs"), chordates (vertebrates, reptiles, dinosaurs, birds, humans), etc.

Basically, phyla are body plans. Thus, since 500 million years ago, evolution has mainly consisted of tinkering with these body plans.

KS, your ancestor was not a bug, but you shared a common ancestor with arthropods some time in the dim mists of antiquity. Describing that ancestor, the "urbilateran" ancestor of all bilaterally-symmetric animals, is a major research focus of evolutionary biologists, molecular geneticists, and developmental biologists.

gr8dane 10 years ago

Technically, he's right. Adaptation is NOT evolution. It's the RESULT of evolution (textbook example of natural selection acting on variation in the population).

But in practical usage, they're the same thing. Adaptation is evolution, or a degree of it anyway. And a 'professor emeritus' would know this.

But creationists have so many strawman misconceptions of what evolution is, and adaptation (evolution to adapt to something harmful to the species) is so well documented and observed, they have to tell themselves it's NOT evolution, because evolution is "something that's just not possible" in their dogma, so it can't be adaptation, an observed fact.

Creationism is like that. It requires a lot of denial and redefining of terms.

Like how creationists now accept SOME evolution happens, like adaptation. And they use the copout that this is MICRO evolution, which they've redefined to be something VEEERRRRRY different from MACRO evolution (it's not, it's the same process to a different degree).

In other words, they've redefined micro and macro to be:

Microevolution - evolution that you can convince me took place. Macroevolution - evolution that you can't convince me took place.

And they treat them like two separate, unrelated processes.

notsobright 10 years ago

still wonder how chaotic unordered non-life created life. . . Still wonder where all the transitional forms are- have yet to see a whale with one leg and one fin?? Wow- that would have really been something, to see two whales- each with one fin and one leg- one male and one female that produced more of the same.

I know, I know- I am a mindless redneck who just can't see reality for what it is.

antikoolaiddrinker 10 years ago

What was the casue of the original first cause that casued all things to be set into motion?

antikoolaiddrinker 10 years ago

What was the cause of the original first cause that caused all things to be set into motion?

DaREEKKU 10 years ago

The original cause? God lit a match when he farted.

Bladerunner 10 years ago

So...Why did the chicken cross the road?

notsobright 10 years ago

Very good. Something from nothing. One can not cross an actual infinity- which means that there had to be a beginning a finite time ago. How did we get that beginning? This thing we got has order, personality, laws of nature, etc. Whenever you find purpose you find agent causation. So, we can call names, pout, rant and rave-BUT let us be adults: Simply give an honest, epistemically sound answer.

By the way- something that is not created had no need for a cause- thus an "uncaused cause." That is a philosophically sound probability. Could be wrong, but far more probable than something from nothing, especially when the world as we know it has order and personality.

Still can't figure how you get personality from nothing.

Dumb, notsobright, "dodo" redneck signing out. . .

Grundoon Luna 10 years ago

Yo, nonetoobright, I wish I could remember the name of the fish that prior to that was only found in fossils and thought to be extinct for millions of years that was found alive off the coast of Madagascar in, I think, the 1940s. It had grown legs with fins at the extremity. The thing is still in the Smithsonian, or another museum, though quite dead now. There may be your transformational start. Cycladon or something. A lot can happen over 14 billion years.

notsobright 10 years ago

I am a dodo. Really, just a notsobright, redneck. . .I just can't seem to get it. Please explain to me one more time how do we get life from non-life? Second, where are the literally zillions of transitional forms that certainly must exist to accomplish this current world?

I am told it is a "fact." So, there must be "scientific" evidence. They wouldn't want me to believe it by "faith"- would they?? I just want to show this evidence to my arrogant, bigoted non-thinking friends who really think we are more than chance machines. Can you believe it? These dumb friends of mine actually think that love, justice, and human rights are something more than the way chemicals work in their brains. What a bunch of dodos.

Tom McCune 10 years ago

Coelacanth. (The "living fossil" fish.)

Darwin never claimed that evolution explained the origin of the universe, just the origin of species and how they change over time. As a liberal Christian, I personally see no conflict between The Bible, the Big Bang, and evolution. It seems to me they just tell different aspects of the same story.

bondmen 10 years ago

For the many modern churches today Evolution Sunday is like any other sunday where the preacher talks about better living, meeting seekers felt needs and ends with the familiar lament 'can't we all just get along?' There is is no Lord and Savior, no God who became a man, no Jesus who lived a perfect life, and who became a perfect sacrifice shedding His blood on a cross for any sinner who believes in Him and who defeated death by rising from the dead. No these churches have other causes and another agenda. Sadly they are places of death for the dying.

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