Monday, November 07, 2005


Can evolution happen this fast? Read below from Dawkins' THE ANCESTOR'S TALE:

[Open quote] Some idea of the accidental genetic consequences of domestication is given by some interesting Russian work on silver foxes.

D. K. Belyaev and his colleagues took captive silver foxes, Vulpes vulpes, and set out systematically to breed for tameness. They succeeded, dramatically. By mating together the tamest individuals of each generation, Belyaev had, within 20 years, produced foxes that behaved like Border collies, actively seeking human company and wagging their tails when approached. That is not very surprising, although the speed with which it happened may be. Less expected were the by-products of selection for tameness. These genetically tamed foxes not only behaved like collies, they looked like collies. They grew black-and-white coats, with white face patches and muzzles. Instead of the characteristic pricked ears of a wild fox, they developed 'lovable' floppy ears. Their reproductive hormone balance changed, and they assumed the habit of breeding all the year round instead of in a breeding season. Probably associated with their lowered aggression, they were found to contain higher levels of the neurally active chemical serotonin. It took only 20 years to turn foxes into 'dogs' by artificial selection.* [Close quote] —R. Dawkins, THE ANCESTOR'S TALE, pp. 29-30

By the way, all dogs come from wolves, not foxes. But imagine how quickly the morphology of these foxes changed with the change of one trait. How long before a new species would appear, one which could not breed with other foxes?


"It is only a theoretical ideal that repetitive copying retains perfect accuracy. In practice scribes are fallible, and not above massaging their copy to make it say things that they think (no doubt sincerely) the original document ought to have said. The most famous example of this, painstakingly documented by nineteenth-century German theologians, is the doctoring of New Testament history to make it conform to Old Testament prophecies. The scribes concerned were probably not wilfully mendacious. Like the gospel-makers, who themselves lived long after Jesus's death [the earliest 2 to 3 generations after], they genuinely believed he had been the incarnation of Old Testament messianic prophecies. He must, therefore, have been born in Bethlehem, and descended from David. If the documents unaccountably failed to say so, it was the scribe's conscientious duty to rectify the deficiency. A sufficiently devout scribe would, I suppose, no more have regarded this as falsification than we do when we automatically correct a spelling mistake or a grammatical infelicity." —also THE ANCESTOR'S TALE, p. 19


"... one day, quite by accident, a molecule arose that was able to make crude copies of itself, using as building blocks, other molecules in the soup. . . . This was the earliest ancestor of deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA, the master molecule of life on Earth. It is shaped like a ladder twisted into a helix, the rungs available in four different molecular parts, which constitute the four letters of the genetic code. These rungs, called nucleotides, spell out the hereditary instructions for making a given organism. Every lifeform on Earth has a different set of instructions, written out in essentially the same language. The reason organisms are different is the differences in their nucleic acid instructions. A mutation is a change in a nucleotide, copied in the next generation, which breeds true. Since mutations are random nucleotide changes, most of them are harmful or lethal, coding into existence nonfunctional enzymes. It is a long wait before a mutation makes an organism work better. And yet it is that improbable event, a small beneficial mutation in a nucleotide a ten-millionth of a centimeter across, that makes evolution go." —from COSMOS, Carl Sagan, pp. 30-31

Sagan on comets: "It seemed inconceivable that a spectacular streak of milk-white flame, rising and setting with the stars night after night, was not there for a reason, did not hold some portent for human affairs. So the idea arose that comets were harbingers of disaster, auguries of divine wrath—that they foretold the deaths of princes, the fall of kingdoms. The Babylonians thought that comets were celestial beards. The Greeks thought of flowing hair, the Arabs of flaming swords. In Ptolemy's time comets were elaborately classified as "beams," "trumpets," "jars" and so on, according to their shapes." —Carl Sagan's COSMOS, p. 78

Is modern fundamentalist thinking about natural events much different than the way the ancients thought about comets? That's a question to consider when we start evaluating modern fundamentalism's claims as it tries to impose supernatural explanations onto natural events like evolution and the Big Bang. I can't see any difference. They're that many years behind in their thinking. Too much Bible believing has retarded their mental functions.

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