This "little" discussion contribution does not pretend to teach you everything about evolution -- but it is intended to make you think about the subject...
"The Serve" is divided into several chapters. This is the "preamble chapter". Don't confuse this "preamble" with the Preface, which is a different page (also part of the reading assignment). You can navigate between chapters by clicking in the frame to the left. To read this page, the "preamble" chapter, scroll down. The "preamble consists of three parts: Introduction, Purpose, and the Table of Contents.
QUESTION: How does the dinosaur cartoon above fit into the scope of this subject?
ANSWER: Dinosaurs -- except for the evolutionary line leading to the birds, went extinct about 65 million years ago, long before human evolution started about 4 million years ago. Yet, today -- as could be read and heard in the YouTube video in the "Preface" to this page -- about half of the people of the United States believe that humans and dinosaurs used to coexist. Is this because kids grew up watching too many episodes of the Flintstones, or were told by parents or creationists that fake rocks was 'evidence" for their superstition. Whatever the explanation, it is clear evidence for the lack of science education -- in some cases lack of ANY education.
The dead bodies of dinosaurs, and other organisms that lived in the past -- mostly plants and algae, have over a period of millions of years decomposed and mineralized. Much of it was formed before the era of the dinosaurs, and today the remnant organic material of these organisms is the fuel we drive our cars on (gasoline and oil) or heat our houses with (natural gas and oil). We call gasoline, oil and natural gas fossil fuels -- play on words because these organisms today only exist as fossils -- recognizable, physical evidence of organisms that lived in the distant past. (A very important evidence of evolution.)
Many creationists claim that humans (Adam and Eve, Noah) and dinosaurs coexisted on Earth, that humans and dinosaurs lived together just a few thousands of years ago. The video below explains how the famous Paluxy riverbed dinosaur footprints were formed. Some people claim that there are human footprints among the dinosaur prints, and that this proves that man and dinosaurs coexisted. Some creationists even claim that "dragons" were now extinct dinosaurs. At the web site of "Answer in Genesis" we can read, "A paleontologist who believes the record in the Bible, which claims to be the Word of God, will come to different conclusions than an atheist who rejects the Bible." The picture on that page (see below) illustrate the connection between dinosaurs and dragons, and that the Bible is a science book.
The established educated view, supported by scientific evidence, is that the dinosaurs died out -- except for those the who evolved to what we today call birds, dragons are fairytale creatures, and the Bible is not a science book.
video note: I hope you will watch all videos. However, because all students do not have access to high-speed internet connection at home, hybrid students are not required to view all videos. All online students must participate in Blackboard Class Discussions/Reflections of selected videos. If you do not have high-speed Internet connection it is recommended that you use an STC computer to view these videos. The videos are selected because they explain something discussed. It will therefore help all students, not just the online students, to view these videos. Hybrid students will watch some of the videos during classroom meetings. Most of the videos have sound. Make sure you have the sound on so that you can enjoy the music, or listen to the speaker! If you are using an STC computer you will need your own set of ear phones.
The reading assignment you are about to read is a rather long "tennis serve" -- about 11,000 words, the length of a good size term paper (-- which I would not get an A for in an English class, but at least I HAVE used a computer spell checker), and several web links and videos (to serve both as information and references). The videos have been selected with care for learning efficiency, as breaks , and for your enjoyment. (As always with these videos, if you don't have high-speed Internet connection from home, you might want to view them using an STC or a public library computer.)
You should have read the PREFACE page before reading this. In the YouTube video "Charles Darwin legacy 5" on the preface page, Niles Eldridge said, (Click here to go back and view it if you forgot or missed it). The "we" Niles Eldridge is talking about is the human species Homo sapiens:
Clarification: With "go away" Niles Eldridge means GO EXTINCT!
This "serve" is your instructors contribution to the Evolution Blackboard discussion and functions as
(ii) a reminder that some religious denominations have accepted evolution -- and the conclusions that must follow about our biological history (such as our common ancestry with the Great Apes);
(iii) a reminder about other things related to this subject (such as the destruction of our planet).
The third (III) reason is why Niles Eldridge's statement that we must "change or go away" is repeated and why the instructors statement next to the colorful globe can be found on many web pages:
To "inspire" you to read this page in the name of learning -- in hope to counteract the "ever-increasing poorly educated superstitious faith based human mindset" -- such as believing that snakes can talk as stated in the Bible and as mentioned in the video with Bill Maher in the "Nonsense" section -- you must fill in a Blackboard Evolution Worksheet Quiz. The worksheet quiz serves both as an effective learning tool -- especially if you have to repeat the quiz several times -- and as an "accountability checker" that you actually have read this page and the preface page. So, if you are doing this from your home computer, brew plenty of coffee -- or whatever is your "poison of choice", or have some Tylenol handy...
The page takes spins in many directions -- some away from evolution and biology. Remember the figure in your textbook (above; unfortunately this figure was not included in the last edition of the textbook), in the field of Environmental Biology/Science nature, culture and technology intersects. Many disciplines contribute to our understanding of the real world. Both the field of science and religion are integral parts of Environmental Science. Both are often interpreted as being in conflict with each other, and therefore seriously affect the world we live in, and one cannot select to ignore one and only pay attention to the other. Are they in conflict? Well, hopefully you will be able to answer that question at the end of this class assignment, as the student quoted below did in this discussion posting:
What did the student see differently? Hopefully during your readings and discussion participation you will find the answer to that...
It comes down to what is quality education. as opposed to 2000 - 3000 year outdated statements in the Bible. The 2000 - 3000 year old Bible makes many religious people blind to what is the real world -- or as Karl Marx said, "Religion is the opium of the people." (We will discuss that statement again later.) A quality scientist today cannot claim that we do not have common ancestry with the apes. That person will be laughed at. A quality scientist today cannot claim that the earth is just 6000 years old. That person will be laughed at. Why? The answer is, because it is not the "established truth". Stories about Noah, and the story about Adam and Eve, are just 3000 year old stories. If you are a parent -- if for no other reason -- think a little bit about your kid before you push uneducated ideas you heard in church. The preacher most likely does not have a Ph.D. in biology. Do some research! These days with the Internet, doing research is easy. (Just remember to check the source -- there is also a lot of misinformation on the Internet.)
I think it is important, in the name of quality education, that one puts aside the notion that somehow accepting evolution means that one must reject God. We all live on the same planet -- a planet that circles around the sun and not vice versa. Remember that not so long ago -- at least if we use the writing of the Bible as a time reference -- the church used to think that the sun circled the earth. We are all affected by this debate evolution vs. faith, because it is quality education vs. poor education. This is NOT a debate about whether there is a God or not -- this is a debate about a biological concept called EVOLUTION. The God question does not have to be included in the discussions we will have. Even though these discussions can spin in many directions, it has as the main goal to provide students with an understanding of what is the REAL world -- the natural world -- to hopefully allow students to accept that evolution is part of the REAL world. Perhaps God started evolution? It doesn't matter whether you are religious, agnostic, or an atheist. Evolution is real, and that is what this reading assignment is intended to show.
Below is a statement and above is a video by Kenneth R. Miller, professor of biology at Brown University -- a religious scientist:
Did everybody read that? Dr. Miller is RELIGIOUS, which mean that he believes in God. Is he blasphemous because he accepts EVOLUTION? Well, in that case the former highest ranking in the Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II, was also blasphemous because he also accepted evolution. Not accepting EVOLUTION is lack of quality education, and has nothing to do about whether you are religious or not. It has nothing to do about whether God exists or not.
Our local Bishop Raymundo Pena (Bishop of Diocese of Brownsville) had three very interesting commentaries, in the Monitor October 05, 12, and 19, 2007, of interest for this discussion. The bishop's evolution commentaries go that one step further, unfortunately, and discuss whether God exists or not. We are not going to discuss the existence of God, but one statement in one of the commentaries deserves to be mentioned. (Click on the small pictures of the commentaries if you like to read them. They are full of my underlining. I will address several things in his commentaries elsewhere, e.g., the bishops somewhat poor understanding of scientific principles. But then, he is not a scientist...)
Here is the statement that you need to pay attention to:
"Also, the dedicated pursuit of scientific knowledge deserves our respect, and we should never be close-minded or dismissive of scientific claims if ever they seem to threaten our understanding of God's revelation to us." (Bishop Raymundo Pena)
Note that the cartoon below is over 70 years old! We are still doing this 150 years after Darwin published his ideas in 1859!
The cartoon dated 1927 -1938 is used for educational purposes by Dr. Nilsson, South Texas College, reposted here, from http://www.ucl.ac.uk/sts/cain/projects/ejn/ejn_comics/. For further source information and fair use statement see bottom of page.
Table of Contents
EVOLUTION AND THE CHURCH
EDUCATION (or lack of a quality science education)
QUESTIONS FROM STUDENTS
EVOLUTION (brief lecture by the instructor)
We must be FREE TO CRITICIZE RELIGIONS
COMMON GROUND (between fact-based science and faith-based religion)?
REMEMBER TO KEEP AN OPEN MIND.
Is the coffee ready? While it brews you can watch the video above reminding you to keep an open mind.
Notice I didn't say beer, even though it would have sounded better with the Guinness Commercial above.
There are many advantages taking online classes sitting at home...
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