Tuesday, February 19, 2008

What would it take?

Everyone has opinions (Mr Eastwood, in a performance the Oscar Committee should have favored, compared them to a$$holes in that regard). what would it take for you to change yours?

I invite readers to discuss these opinions or to suggest other opinions they strongly hold- what would it take to change your mind on those subjects? I might not respond to those who attack my opinions without stating what it would take for them to change there counter opinions.

I am going to start by discussing evolution - if you aren't interested, skip down a few paragraphs and look for the bolded Fan-death. Areas more related to like in Korea are mentioned there.

I think the theory of evolution is the best explanation for the living world around us. I also think many other inter-related or inter-supported theories are correct: the Bing Bang Theory, and plate tectonics are two examples. I also think that the evidence for evolution is so great that I can't imagine giving it up. In the first few years after Darwin wrote "Origin of the Species", I could easily see people arguing against the theory. One thing it has going for it is it has both evidence and mechanism. There are fossils and other evidence and we know DNA is subject to occasional bad copies. Gravity, on the other hand, only has evidence of it's existence - no one know the mechanism. Not even the germ theory of disease is as well supported -germs, I suppose bacteria and viruses are germs, cause most, but by no means all disease -cancer is a counter example, as are prions and heavy-metal poisoning.

Lets see, to overturn my acceptance of evolution would probably require several incremental elements rather than one big piece of new research. I cannot clearly say what it would take. The fragments of viral DNA that infected far distant ancestors and which we carry as do the great apes seems so unlikely to happen by chance. Discoveries like Tiktaalik, in the right place at the right time would be hard to explain as accident.

I recall one person at the Talkorigins usenet group saying that it would easier to fake the Holocaust than the evidence for evolution because the evidence for the former is man made might possibly be forgible. Neither he, nor I, think the Holocaust was faked - just wanted to be clear on that.

I am afraid it would take some clear news of a deceptive god, some powerful being that created and hid fossils and other evidence just to trick us.

Wait, if Voyager ran into a crystal barrier or otherwise showed that light might be slowed in space - well, that would help but still wouldn't explain the evidence on Earth.

Other opinions:

I love the idea of Fan-death. My blog gets around the majority of its hits from wikipedia visitors following a link here.

I think the concept is garbage, though. I have to slip into a smaller font here - I am whispering: -I even think the Dean of my university's medical department, who is quoted on the wikipedia page, is wrong. I don't think fans can cause hypothermia except under very extreme conditions. Okay, I'm back. I think that animal research is the way to go, but at the same time, I don't think this is important enough to mistreat animals. I suppose that if the results were positive for Fan-death, they would justify the experiment. If the results were negative, well, why did you hurt those poor little animals?

I, for one, would be willing to be a lab rat for this experiment. I think other foreigners would be as well. I have to warn you, though; the Dean of our Medical Department feels other factors are involved. I don't mind a drink or two, but how much would I have to imbibe before laying motionless in front of a fan?

Meta comment: Should I have said
'laying' or 'lieing' there?
What is the P. Continuous of 'lie'?
I'm having trouble thinking of opinions I am for; there are many things I don't believe - acupuncture, ghosts, the existence of traffic regulations in this country, etc - but that makes a pretty negative list.

Dokdo is Korean, Kimchi is Korean
I believe these point to be so, but I can't claim to care all that much. Probably, I would not change my mind because I am not interested to look into the history of each claim. Evolution was a viewpoint that is not likely to change because I understand it well. The Koreanness of Dokdo is unlikely to change because I don't understand the issue well.

Aid to North Korea
I am generally against it. To make me pro-aid, I would need to see where it was going.

President Lee's Canal
I think it is a bad idea. If I could see where the water to fill the canal would come from, that would go part way to helping me change my mind.

Outside of Korea
WMDs in Iraq
GI Korea stated, some time ago, that WMDs had in fact been found. Later, Rumsfeld was on TV saying that they had no WMDs had been found. I would like to believe my friend, but I can't see why Rumsfeld would deny it.

Hans Island is Canadian
I will never deny this! Obviously Hans Island is Canadian! Crazy Danes! More exclamation points!

What have I missed?


skindleshanks said...

lying (laying is the transitive form, I believe)

skindleshanks said...

I just checked my "Practical English Usage," by Michael Swan (absolutely wonderful book for all the "tough questions" older students ask, btw). "Lay" and "lie" are different verbs with different definitions, confounded by the fact that the past tense of "lie" is "lay". The -ing form is, indeed, "lying."
"Lie" (to tell an untruth) differs only in the past tense, "lied."
Swan notes that some dialects use the form "to lay down;" however, this is con considered standard.

skindleshanks said...

Hi Brian,
I won't pretend to have read the full discussion that you had with anonymous, but I do have to give you credit for helping me to have confirmed my view that evolution and Christianity are not inconsistent. Actually, that evolution and intelligent design (as I understand it) aren't inconsistent, either.

One of my cousins is a computer genius and described to me a computer "program" (or logarithm, or something) he was working on that could evolve, repair itself, adapt to new situations, etc. I guess if someone could make a series of 1's and 0's do that, I can't see why a universe could not be created to do that, too.

Like I've said before, there are a few points that 6-day creationists make that I'd love to see a good answer to, though (polonium radiohalos comes to mind). Generally, though, it does seem evident that some degree of biological evolution was involved.

The Bible doesn't spend all that much time dealing with the how than with the why, but taking the Bible as a whole, you can see that the point is not just that God creates the world, but he creates history as well (there is not only a beginning, but an ending, too).

Why God would to such a thing I think is best answered with a similar question: Why would a couple decide to have children? The answer to both questions is probably along the same lines (excluding, "It was a horrible accident!).

kwandongbrian said...


I've given Patrick heck for not personally describing or commenting on links he's given me. If someone is going to post a URL they want me to visit, they should tell a little about what I'll find there and what it means.

However, I don't have any sort of opinion on the subject of polonium halos, being more interested in biology than nuclear physics. I don't necessarily endorse this link but the people there claim to explain the halos. You don't need to comment further or even click on the link if you don't want to but FYI:

Thanks for the help with "Lie" vs "Lay". The spell check was telling me I had it wrong, but nothing looked right and Firefox's spellcheck is an interesting thing.

I will be questioning you on several points from throughout the discussion with Anonymous (Patrick) so be sure to read the whole thing before the next KOTESOL meeting!

As for some of the reasons why my wife and I decided to have a child, well, I wouldn't want to create a world for those reasons. I am glad we did, I love him, and all the other qualifiers that apply, but I would have trouble giving a good reason why we did. I kind of think reason fails for that sort of decision.

skindleshanks said...

I'll give it a shot, although I must warn you that I am reluctant to delve too deeply into this debate, since its very nature is what drove me away from serious scientific pursuit in the first place.

Far more interesting for me would be a discussion of human behaviour and motivation. I would say that one of the major reasons for me having children would be in order to have a relationship with that child, and from a theological perspective, it is also an excellent motivation for creating the universe (among others).

I do look forward to your interrogation, however. :)

skindleshanks said...

I'll have to warn you, though, if I see any waterboarding paraphernalia at the meeting, I'm leaving!

skindleshanks said...

On a completely unrelated note, Brian, I just got a book, Microtrends, that I'm finding absolutely fascinating. It's an analysis of small but statistically significant changes in social behaviour. I'd be happy to let you read it after I'm done (if you haven't already).