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Is God a Taoist? - some food for thought. For me, some flaws of Christianity started to become more and more obvious a couple of years ago. Nowadays religion (with emphasize on religion not God) doesn't concern me much and I don't consider Holy Bible as a fully credible text. Also from my view, you can find inconsistencies in any religion (what these inconsistencies really tell - that's for reader to find).


Thu Nov 27, 2008 10:32 am
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Somewhat random thought and hardly new, but: if God made us, then he's either part of our Universe or he's part of something outside it. If it resides in our universe, then what created the universe, and what created it? If it does not, then what created the place it does reside in? If God doesn't need a creator, then why do we? (after all, a being as incomprehensible and powerful as God seems a much less likely occurrence than life as we know it) If he does, then how insanely complex and powerful is the being that made God or, for that matter, how complex is the universe he resides in that ours is by comparison so easy to influence? (the infinite complexity argument)


Thu Nov 27, 2008 2:01 pm
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I had to mention a few things.

About Catholicism and slavery... the Catholic church itself was heavily disturbed by the concept is my understanding of history. It's wrth noting that the official stance was that Africans had perfectly saveable souls, which in this instance indicates that the church didn't consider them less than human. And this was before many of the reforms. But of course, they had toi bow to the economics.

As for what happens if you choose an 'incorrect' religion... it's my understanding actually that the religion is irrelevant. In fact, belief in Christ specifically is also irrelevant, provided that you believe in and attempt to follow the ideals of a person which could be identified as the Christ. The joys of evolving theological thought.

---

Also, infinite complexity arguments and 'can God make...' arguments are idiotic and a way to make yourself feel smug and intelligent when... no, you're not being so. Stop it, you're being just as bad as the fundies who are absolutely sure God exists.


Wed Dec 03, 2008 4:36 pm
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Metatron wrote:
Also, infinite complexity arguments and 'can God make...' arguments are idiotic and a way to make yourself feel smug and intelligent when... no, you're not being so. Stop it, you're being just as bad as the fundies who are absolutely sure God exists.


I don't see why they're idiotic. Please explain it to me.


Wed Dec 03, 2008 5:13 pm
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About Catholicism and slavery... the Catholic church itself was heavily disturbed by the concept is my understanding of history.


The Bible itself has plenty of rules about how masters should care for their 'servants'. The pedantic argue that servant != slave, as slavery isn't very acceptable anymore. Though why would you even need such intricate rules for a free person who could leave if they felt they were mistreated?

Myself, I see it the same way as Christians now wordplay around 1 Tim 2:12: it's no longer politically correct, so they soften the meaning. The same will happen for homosexuality, once it's no longer acceptable to discriminate. It's only a matter of time.

What I do want to understand is how anyone can read the New Testament and think that outward displays of intolerance and oppression are in any way compatible with Christ's teachings. I can understand why they feel their personal faith trumps the constitution of the country they live in.

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But of course, they had to bow to the economics.


I will applaud the Catholic Church for any rebuking of slavery they showed, though you make it sound as if they caved in the end. And there is of course many more Christians sects than Catholicism.

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As for what happens if you choose an 'incorrect' religion... it's my understanding actually that the religion is irrelevant.


This varies heavily from person to person.

Some believe hell is just the life we have now, and that not having God's love will be what is 'hell' to us. Some believe hell is a fiery pit where demons tear at your flesh as you burn in a lake of fire for all eternity.

Some believe in something along the lines of "transcendental revelation" (term is probably wrong, it's been a while) where you can discover God even through the beauty of nature and be saved. Some believe it's Jesus or Hell.

Myself, I'm opposed to the concept of a tortuous, eternal hell. I cannot knowingly worship a deity that would inflict that upon any person, no matter how evil that person may have been. I'm of the strong belief that there's more to one's actions than simply being 'good or bad', but how their very brain was wired, who they were raised by, etc.

Now, if there is no such thing as eternal suffering, then it's not relevant in the grand scheme of things what I believe in. Worst case, I end up in a purgatory for however long; which no matter the length, will amount to not even a drop of water in the ocean of eternity.

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Also, infinite complexity arguments and 'can God make...' arguments are idiotic and a way to make yourself feel smug and intelligent when... no, you're not being so. Stop it, you're being just as bad as the fundies who are absolutely sure God exists.


I will agree that strong atheism and strong theism share similarities in that said people believe they are absolutely right, with no chance for error. I think calling atheists stupid for these arguments is a bit harsh, however.

It's clear that we have limits of understanding. No matter how the universe was created (God, the Big Bang, etc), there's still the question of where did matter itself come from? To me, it's simply a matter we aren't capable, as human beings, of understanding fully.


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Wed Dec 03, 2008 6:03 pm
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byuu wrote:
there's still the question of where did matter itself come from? To me, it's simply a matter we aren't capable, as human beings, of understanding fully.

As far as I've been able to tell the only true 'solution' would be to prove that the universe is a consequence of the structure of some mathematical object (i.e. E8 theory), and to categorically prove that other such objects could not support our universe without us being able to tell. That's a bit of a long shot, and it still wouldn't answer why anything exists at all, so yeah. That doesn't mean you should just give up though.


Wed Dec 03, 2008 6:15 pm
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Verdauga Greeneyes wrote:
That's a bit of a long shot, and it still wouldn't answer why anything exists at all, so yeah. That doesn't mean you should just give up though.


No, of course not. Sorry if I implied otherwise.


Wed Dec 03, 2008 6:20 pm
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byuu wrote:
No, of course not. Sorry if I implied otherwise.

Nah, it wasn't aimed at you. It was more clarifying my own position; I didn't want to sound fatalistic/nihilistic.


Wed Dec 03, 2008 7:10 pm
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I'm rather fond of F. Scott Fitzgerald's quote

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Let me make a general observation - the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.


I also think it's stupid to expect religion to teach you about the workings of the world around you, or expect science to teach you about people and happiness (no, weed doesn't count).

As far as I'm concerned, everything else is fair game.


Wed Dec 03, 2008 11:23 pm
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DataPath wrote:
I also think it's stupid to expect religion to teach you about the workings of the world around you, or expect science to teach you about people and happiness (no, weed doesn't count).


Sorta reminds me of Darwin's view of evolution.

After a lot of disturbed contemplation(remember, he was a devout Catholic, not the God-hating atheist that religious zealots like to paint him as), he decided that it was awesome that God would give His creations the ability to adapt to a changing world.



You could actually take things a bit farther. If you get REALLY religious about it, you can view it as the hand of God making new life RIGHT BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES. It doesn't GET awesomer than that.



But of course, THAT subject always turns into "Evolution is dirty athiest lies! God magiced everything up out of nothingness!" and "God is dirty religious lies! Everything grew out of cometary debris and amoebas through random chance!"
There's no room for a middle ground.


And I've probably just lit a flamewar accidentally.


Wed Dec 03, 2008 11:55 pm
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the fact of the matter is that no one KNOWS how everything started, no one. and if you have any ideas about how it did start, no matter how supposedly scientifically based, it's really a matter of faith.

From that point is their really any evidence of an ancient world around us? Evolution takes place every day but not as an originator of species. As far as I can tell most changes in species revert back to the original design after change is no longer needed, such as beaks in birds.

People like to believe in the evolution of the origin of species because it's comfortable for them, it means they don't have to consider alternatives, just like many people cling to religion like a blanket but don't really follow the hard truths of the teaching of that religion when the going gets tough, others DO hold to it to their death, but then they are the type of people who are just searching for SOMETHING to believe in

so the real question is what is ultimate truth, lets not kid ourselves here and what is the meaning of life. If there is no meaning to life then why are we sentient? that doesn't even make good scientific sense. If we were to be truly "advanced" lifeforms, we wouldn't be so helpless and thinking but closer to something like the zerg from starcraft.

I have to wonder at the basic concept of good and evil, everyone has it. And while everyone has a capacity to love and care, everyone also has the capacity to cheat and steal. EVERYONE has done it, and everybody gets it.

Sure different societies and cultures have different "acceptable" practices but don't try to tell me that there isn't a general knowledge of right and wrong, sure people lie to themselves and justify many things but the fact comes down to it, they KNOW when someone has wronged them, and it bothers them if someone else accuses them of wronging that someone.

So what is this concept of good and evil? why are we sentient?

Even the evolution as the origin of species doesn't explain how things REALLY began, where they came from or how, and neither does any religion, it asks you to believe in a being that exists outside of the universe, and simply always has.

No one is ever going to agree, because people CHOOSE to believe what is convenient for them to believe.

for one person, it's easier to believe that everything is insignificant and that nothing they do is "WRONG"

while another will find it easier to believe there is meaning, even with rules, than to believe in oblivion.

I MYSELF believe that there is more out there, and a God, but what does that matter to you? If I believe it is important and you are my friend, or even not, I'd tell you that I think it is important to explore that ideology, but I have found with most people that they would rather not consider it, or don't even take me seriously.

Everyone can take shots at each others ideologies all days, that's the easy way to "deal" with things. Attacking the alternative idea instead of propagating your own.

when it comes down to it though we are all in search of 1 or 2 things.

Either you want comfort, or you want truth.

anything further will just come off as offensive even though it is not intended that way.

I can be such an asshole, but in truth you guys are awesome to hang out with, and make a lot more sense than a lot of people I talk too (well.... some of you...... sometimes..... ya)

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Thu Dec 04, 2008 1:44 am
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Panzer88 wrote:
As far as I can tell most changes in species revert back to the original design after change is no longer needed, such as beaks in birds.

From what I remember from biology classes, it always adapts to the environment. What if the previous design is lost due to e.g. mutations?

Panzer88 wrote:
what is the meaning of life.

IMO on a basic biological level there is none. Some structures (organisms, societies, you name it) can exist longer than others, so they stood out in the random noise and became what they are now. Your biological meaning of life would then be keeping up the process in your generation.

As for a spriritual meaning of life... that's for everyone to decide for themselves, I guess.

Panzer88 wrote:
If there is no meaning to life then why are we sentient? [...] If we were to be truly "advanced" lifeforms, we wouldn't be so helpless and thinking but closer to something like the zerg from starcraft.

Some people say that intelligence has developed through the advantage that simulating a part of the world in our brains gives us, to see the outcome of an action before it actually does.
What if sentience is also just a consequence of brain development? A side effect, so to speak.

Panzer88 wrote:
I have to wonder at the basic concept of good and evil, everyone has it. And while everyone has a capacity to love and care, everyone also has the capacity to cheat and steal. EVERYONE has done it

<jesus> except me, lol :)

Panzer88 wrote:
I MYSELF believe that there is more out there, and a God, but what does that matter to you?

*sigh* People used to be like that. (link)

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Thu Dec 04, 2008 2:20 am
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creaothceann wrote:
Panzer88 wrote:
As far as I can tell most changes in species revert back to the original design after change is no longer needed, such as beaks in birds.

From what I remember from biology classes, it always adapts to the environment. What if the previous design is lost due to e.g. mutations?


but you forget, in the DNA of a creature there is always the original bluprint, even if that particular one is mutated, even after generation the original schematics are still in the DNA. Furthermore if evolution comes from loss of information it would dead end and there is no way it could create new life forms. Think about it, if evolutionary advancement comes from loss of information, where does the new information come from? Mutation, right, but even then you are continually hemorrhaging information, and mutations for the most part just impair a life form rather than enhancing it, they are mistakes in the execution of building what the DNA told the cells.

creaothceann wrote:
Panzer88 wrote:
what is the meaning of life.

IMO on a basic biological level there is none. Some structures (organisms, societies, you name it) can exist longer than others, so they stood out in the random noise and became what they are now. Your biological meaning of life would then be keeping up the process in your generation.

As for a spriritual meaning of life... that's for everyone to decide for themselves, I guess.


that's what I was getting at.

creaothceann wrote:
Panzer88 wrote:
If there is no meaning to life then why are we sentient? [...] If we were to be truly "advanced" lifeforms, we wouldn't be so helpless and thinking but closer to something like the zerg from starcraft.

Some people say that intelligence has developed through the advantage that simulating a part of the world in our brains gives us, to see the outcome of an action before it actually does.
What if sentience is also just a consequence of brain development? A side effect, so to speak.


well that is the common belief as I have seen around me but really, even though mankind is very dominant, an individual human, especially a young one is incredibly vulnerable.

creaothceann wrote:
Panzer88 wrote:
I have to wonder at the basic concept of good and evil, everyone has it. And while everyone has a capacity to love and care, everyone also has the capacity to cheat and steal. EVERYONE has done it

<jesus> except me, lol :)


well yeah if you really believe that Jesus is who he claimed, which brings up an interesting point. I love how people say "Jesus was just a nice guy" that's not really possible. There are only 3 things he really could have been, because he claimed to be God. He was either insane, and didn't know better, evil, because it'd be evil to intentionally promise hope that's never coming, or he really was God.

creaothceann wrote:
Panzer88 wrote:
I MYSELF believe that there is more out there, and a God, but what does that matter to you?

*sigh* People used to be like that. (link)


dude, I don't have any agenda if that's what you are saying, I'm just talking here.

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Thu Dec 04, 2008 2:30 am
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Panzer88 wrote:
in the DNA of a creature there is always the original bluprint, even if that particular one is mutated, even after generation the original schematics are still in the DNA.

See, that's what I don't think is what happens. Afaik there's only one working copy in our cells, backed up by two complimentary strands and a lot of DNA repair mechanisms.

Panzer88 wrote:
Furthermore if evolution comes from loss of information it would dead end and there is no way it could create new life forms. Think about it, if evolutionary advancement comes from loss of information, where does the new information come from? Mutation, right, but even then you are continually hemorrhaging information, and mutations for the most part just impair a life form rather than enhancing it, they are mistakes in the execution of building what the DNA told the cells.

Yeah, mutations are mostly harmful. But it affects only one individual, so for the species it may be alright. [EDIT: What FitzRoy said.]
I do think that species often end up in dead ends, btw. Overspecialization is deadly when the environment changes.

Panzer88 wrote:
creaothceann wrote:
Panzer88 wrote:
I MYSELF believe that there is more out there, and a God, but what does that matter to you?

*sigh* People used to be like that. (link)


dude, I don't have any agenda if that's what you are saying, I'm just talking here.

No, not directed at anyone - just an interesting link that I found today.

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Thu Dec 04, 2008 2:49 am
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After a lot of disturbed contemplation(remember, he was a devout Catholic, not the God-hating atheist that religious zealots like to paint him as), he decided that it was awesome that God would give His creations the ability to adapt to a changing world.


Of course, for every random mutation that increases the chances of survival in an environment, countless others cause their recipients to suffer or die. Here's a condition called harlequin ichthyosis, which is usually fatal at birth. Thus, this method of adaptation comes at the cost of random suffering and death. So if someone wants to believe God chose that, they have to accept the costs as well.

Part of the reason the concept of original sin was created was to explain this stuff away. An infant never had the chance to sin, yet they can die horrifically like anyone else before understanding what evil is. This would immediately instill doubt in a rational person. Thus, there has to be a way to convince people that one of our ancestors fucked us all into being born with their sins so that we can be rightfully punished without having to commit our own. You might think using parental sin as an argument might be better, but it's not, because the punishment for the sin rarely seems proportioned. Thus the only construction people might be willing to believe is one that treats the punishment as a whole on man rather than men individually.

It makes for a good scam, too, one of the best throughout history. Bad things happen to everyone, death itself is unavoidable, trying to avoid the unavoidable seems better than accepting it. 99/100 people will run if a meteor three miles wide is bearing down on them, but the result is the same for all 100. Claim to represent a higher power, look and talk the part, and you can convince most people into giving you their money or servitude in return for His mercy. If something good happens, tell them that's what did it. If something bad happens, tell them it's a test or it wasn't enough. If they see a sinner benefiting despite it, remind them of the punishment to be administered in the afterlife.


Thu Dec 04, 2008 2:51 am
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creaothceann wrote:
Yeah, mutations are mostly harmful. But it affects only one individual, so for the species it may be alright. [EDIT: What FitzRoy said.]
I do think that species often end up in dead ends, btw. Overspecialization is deadly when the environment changes.

Cheetahs and anteaters are both examples.

The cheetah is kind of the Steve Urkel of the cat world. It has bad sight, bad hearing, bad claws, bad EVERYTHING.
It can sprint REALLY fast, but that's it. It has no endurance. And once it catches prey, it can't just slit the throat and be done with it. It has to hold on and strangle it.

And there's NO genetic diversity.
Pick any two cheetahs, and they're genetically closer than brother and sister would be. You can do transplants from one cheetah to another with no immunosuppressants.

As near as we can tell, there was a massive epidemic in the past that ripped through the cheetah population, and a tiny handful of Urkel Cheetahs with resistance were the only ones to survive.


Anteaters are just so specialized that if ants die, they die. They can't eat anything else anymore, and likely won't be able to unspecialize.


Actually... we're actually seeing that problem in pandas now, and they AREN'T very specialized, except in their head.
They're too dependant on massive stands of bamboo that just don't exist anymore, and they can't seem to figure out that they still have a carnivore's digestive tract(that's why they have to eat TONS of bamboo. They don't digest plant matter very well, and most of it goes right back out.).


Panzer88 wrote:
creaothceann wrote:
Panzer88 wrote:
I MYSELF believe that there is more out there, and a God, but what does that matter to you?

*sigh* People used to be like that. (link)


dude, I don't have any agenda if that's what you are saying, I'm just talking here.

No, not directed at anyone - just an interesting link that I found today.[/quote]


Thu Dec 04, 2008 3:15 am
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Panzer88 wrote:
Furthermore if evolution comes from loss of information it would dead end and there is no way it could create new life forms. Think about it, if evolutionary advancement comes from loss of information, where does the new information come from? Mutation, right, but even then you are continually hemorrhaging information, and mutations for the most part just impair a life form rather than enhancing it, they are mistakes in the execution of building what the DNA told the cells.


For the most part, yes. But randomness is such that an unlikely chain of events will happen eventually; there's actually a good example of this: a team of scientists have kept (an increasing number of) cultures of bacteria (with the same ancestor) for over 20 years and recently, one of them evolved an ability to synthesize a new substance. (I'm not a biologist so I may have got that wrong, but it evolved -some- new metabolic function) They also have a portion of each generation on ice and can thus trace back the path of mutations that lead to this new function. It's unlikely, but after 20 years in a large population, it did happen.

Another example is the 'evolution chip'. A chip that enhances the speed of mutations in RNA. You put RNA in with an environment that's slightly different from what it's used to and if you wait long enough, you'll get RNA that's adapted to that environment. (or at least, the scientists reported consistent success rates for a particular adaptation; the thing isn't perfect yet)

I'll see if I can dig up links to the articles if you're interested.

Of course, none of that says that some deity -didn't- decide to initiate the chain of events that lead to the new function. I don't think there's anything that can disprove it if said deity 'hides' his work well enough, for instance within statistical uncertainty. I do think it proves there's no real reason to think intelligent design -does- exist, at least on that scale.

In the end there probably is such a thing as a rational religious person. If you choose to believe there is more out there, there is nothing that science can say that will ultimately prove this wrong. What it can do is demote the -necessary- influence (for the rational religious person) of such a deity to a level that just isn't very convincing anymore, in my opinion. Hell, I -still- want there to be something more (something scientifically unlikely, i.e. aliens don't count) out there and I'm not 100% convinced there isn't, but I can't justify it and it just doesn't feel right to go with something I can't justify.


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well I mean this has been done before with organisms that live and die quickly such as the fly, and they've also introduced gamma waves to encourage mutation but in the end most results show changes in an existing species but no actual birth of news species. I'm not trying to argue religion vs science or something ridiculous like that. I don't believe as religion as some crutch, in fact, even if some things I do may seem religious to people, I can't practice something I don't believe is true. Therefore anything that is true to me MUST make logical sense and fit scientific processes. Therefore I can't argue science vs. religion but rather argue what is ultimate truth. And as I have stated I have a POV but I have no agenda and I enjoy talking about these things.

In other words, I'm secure in what I think, but also totally open to exploring new ideas, I just haven't seen the evidence of original life forms emerging to this day. Change is constantly around us, but it's constantly small, and has borders, this can be observed regardless of whether we are considering any higher power or not.

what you presented is still very interesting to me though because it is a long running study, so thanks I'll certainly look into it. This kind of stuff fascinates me.

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Panzer88 wrote:
well that is the common belief as I have seen around me but really, even though mankind is very dominant, an individual human, especially a young one is incredibly vulnerable.

That is true about ants as well. What is your point?

Panzer88 wrote:
I love how people say "Jesus was just a nice guy" that's not really possible. There are only 3 things he really could have been, because he claimed to be God. He was either insane, and didn't know better, evil, because it'd be evil to intentionally promise hope that's never coming, or he really was God.
What, an insane person can't be a nice guy as well? ;)

Panzer88 wrote:
well I mean this has been done before with organisms that live and die quickly such as the fly, and they've also introduced gamma waves to encourage mutation but in the end most results show changes in an existing species but no actual birth of news species.
I remember reading about how a new species of fruit fly was actually "created" in a lab a few years ago. EDIT: I suppose it was about this
Anyway, a new species isn't "born" in just one or even several thousand generations.

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Mind you considering that we share about 93% of our DNA with fruit flies and 75% of our DNA with -pumpkins-, it doesn't apparently take that much to create a new species :P (of course, if you take out 'junk DNA', that percentage drops markedly. Still, it is interesting)


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New information comes from mutations such as gene duplications. At the moment, my research is looking into a whole family of proteins with extremely similar structure (but very different functions) that all have the same evolutionary origin. Protein families are all over the place. Frameshift mutations can also create completely novel genes.

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Panzer88 wrote:
but you forget, in the DNA of a creature there is always the original bluprint, even if that particular one is mutated, even after generation the original schematics are still in the DNA. Furthermore if evolution comes from loss of information it would dead end and there is no way it could create new life forms. Think about it, if evolutionary advancement comes from loss of information, where does the new information come from? Mutation, right, but even then you are continually hemorrhaging information, and mutations for the most part just impair a life form rather than enhancing it, they are mistakes in the execution of building what the DNA told the cells.


Nope. The original blueprint, the DNA, can be modified in many different ways. Transposons, retrograde viruses, environmental toxins, radiation damage, aging. The mere act of cell division frequently introduces transcription errors.

No, I'd guess that by the time you're 60, you'd be lucky to find a few dozen cells that match your original DNA 1:1. And the ones that matter, with respect to evolution, anyway, are the reproductive cells, which tend to be particularly sensitive.

The most interesting thing about evolution, beneficial mutation, and selection, is that one strand of DNA can code for a WHOLE lot more than we ever seen in a living being. Or in other words, given the right conditions in which to develop, humans (or any other living being) with significantly different attributes could be produced from the same DNA. The field of epigenetics is one we're just barely discovering exists. Environmental factors impacting RNA transcription, proteins binding to some strands of DNA, etc, all impact gene expression in ways that we don't understand yet.


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DataPath wrote:

The most interesting thing about evolution, beneficial mutation, and selection, is that one strand of DNA can code for a WHOLE lot more than we ever seen in a living being. Or in other words, given the right conditions in which to develop, humans (or any other living being) with significantly different attributes could be produced from the same DNA. The field of epigenetics is one we're just barely discovering exists. Environmental factors impacting RNA transcription, proteins binding to some strands of DNA, etc, all impact gene expression in ways that we don't understand yet.


really?

so you are saying giving the right conditions humans could be much more than they are? That's interesting.

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Fri Dec 05, 2008 9:08 am
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Buzzkill Gil

Joined: Wed Jan 12, 2005 7:14 pm
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Panzer88 wrote:
DataPath wrote:

The most interesting thing about evolution, beneficial mutation, and selection, is that one strand of DNA can code for a WHOLE lot more than we ever seen in a living being. Or in other words, given the right conditions in which to develop, humans (or any other living being) with significantly different attributes could be produced from the same DNA. The field of epigenetics is one we're just barely discovering exists. Environmental factors impacting RNA transcription, proteins binding to some strands of DNA, etc, all impact gene expression in ways that we don't understand yet.


really?

so you are saying giving the right conditions humans could be much more than they are? That's interesting.
X-Men: Hard science.


Fri Dec 05, 2008 10:23 am
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Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2004 1:35 am
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Panzer88 wrote:
really?

so you are saying giving the right conditions humans could be much more than they are? That's interesting.


More? Probably not. Functionally different? Yes.


Fri Dec 05, 2008 4:35 pm
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