Saturday, November 18, 2017

In his book "Faith Versus Fact" Jerry Coyne asks some good questions.

"Why isn't it better to find out how the world really works instead of making up stories about it, or accepting stories concocted centuries ago? And if we don't know the answers, why shouldn't we simply admit we don't know, as scientists do regularly, and keep looking for answers using evidence and reason?"

-- Jerry Coyne, University of Chicago biologist

"Christian theology is the study of nothing.” -- Thomas Paine, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States

Thomas Paine was born on February 9, 1737 in Thetford, Norfolk, England.
He died June 8, 1809 (aged 72) in New York City, New York, U.S.

Thomas Paine was an English-born American political activist, philosopher, political theorist, and revolutionary. He is one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

More quotes for my list of favorite quotes:

The study of theology, as it stands in Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authorities; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion. Not anything can be studied as a science, without our being in possession of the principles upon which it is founded; and as this is the case with Christian theology, it is therefore the study of nothing.
― Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

All churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim, are simply human inventions. They use fear to enslave us. They are a monopoly for power and profit.
― Thomas Paine

Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst.
― Thomas Paine

It would be more consistent that we call the Bible the work of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind.
― Thomas Paine

What is it the Bible teaches us? - raping, cruelty, and murder. What is it the New Testament teaches us? - to believe that the Almighty committed debauchery with a woman engaged to be married, and the belief of this debauchery is called faith.
― Thomas Paine

The story of the redemption will not stand examination. That man should redeem himself from the sin of eating an apple by committing a murder on Jesus Christ, is the strangest system of religion ever set up.
― Thomas Paine

The age of ignorance commenced with the Christian system.
― Thomas Paine

The most detestable wickedness, the most horrid cruelties, and the greatest miseries, that have afflicted the human race have had their origin in this thing called revelation, or revealed religion.
― Thomas Paine

I detest the Bible as I detest everything that is cruel.
― Thomas Paine

It's in the best interest of American farmers to do the right thing. Be nice to cows.

Modern Farmer

Overcrowding, rough handling, lousy sanitation, low-end feed—this is all too common in the cattle industry.

Many of the major ways to alleviate some of that suffering is obvious: access to the outdoors, ease of grazing, sunlight, more space, breeding for health rather than growth. But there are also little things ranchers can do, according to a new study from Brazilian researchers.

Aside from being, you know, the morally right thing to do, keeping cattle happy also has economic benefits. Happier dairy cows produce greater yields and more nutritious milk, according to some recent studies. Animals raised for their meat will, when scared, produce hormones that make meat tougher, according to other research. And a more stressed animal makes for much more difficult handling; they are are, after all, huge and strong, and when agitated, can be a handful.

Using dogs and cattle prods, not surprisingly, resulted in higher stress levels. Shouting and physical aggression, like pushing, also produced more stress. But other finds were less obvious. For example! Removing anything with a bright color, or with a high contrast between light and dark, helped reduce stress levels. The cows also didn’t seem to like water puddles, for some reason; the researchers removed that problem by filling in those puddles with dirt. Bam. Happier cows!

These small changes aren’t, and shouldn’t be, a substitute for more wholesale change in the industry to promote animal welfare. But more research into what keeps cattle happy is a very good thing, especially when it’s something as easy as removing your Kandinsky painting from the corral.

I don't understand why assholes throw plastic in the ocean.

If the current trend continues, there could be more plastic than fish by weight in the oceans by 2050.

This news is 6 years old but it's interesting. At a town in Alabama at a public school the students received free bibles, and even worse the biology teacher was teaching magical creationism instead of evolution. This is typical in the Bible Belt.

http://blog.al.com/breaking/2011/03/bible_distribution_allegations.html

ACLU legal director Allison Neal said her office decided to take action after being contacted by a parent in the school regarding "several troubling practices," which included in-class Bible distributions by teachers and a teacher's failure to follow the science curriculum regarding evolution because it supposedly conflicts with some religious beliefs about the origin of life. 
"We are continuing our investigation of these practices and are awaiting the District's response to our public records request.  When our investigation is complete, we will determine the appropriate next steps to take to ensure that the District complies with the Constitution."
My comment: The science teacher should be fired. The school superintendent should be fired. Did that happen? Probably not. Christians are stupid fucking assholes.

Everything you always wanted to know about why human apes have large brains and the other ape species have smaller brains.

Q: Why don’t the other apes have bigger brains? A: They can’t eat enough to afford them.

Muslims are morons.

It seems like virtually every male Muslim has the name "Mohammad" or some variation of that name. I recently played chess with a Mohammad at Lichess.org.

I don't understand why. It would be like every Christian male was named "Jeebus".

Thank goodness I'm not a Mohammad and not a Jeebus. My real name is "Human Ape".

This is my favorite quote. Thanks Mr. Feynman.

An interesting thing about the god-soaked. They believe their magical master of countless trillions of solar systems thinks this tiny insignificant planet in the middle of nowhere is a big fucking deal.

Of course the god fairy is just a fantasy but if it was real there is no reason to pretend it would be interested in us. In this vast universe the fairy would have better things to do than perform ridiculous magic tricks here like the magical resurrection of Jeebus and splitting our moon in half, aka the required beliefs of Christianity and Islam.

"I can't believe the special stories that have been made up about our relationship to the universe at large because they seem to be too simple, too local, too provincial. The earth, he came to the earth, one of the aspects of god came to the earth mind you, and look at what's out there. It isn't in proportion."
-- Richard Feynman

I asked this question at Yahoo Answers - Religion & Spirituality: If very strong evidence was discovered that proves beyond any doubt there was no resurrection of Jeebus, would you stop believing in Christ?

https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20171118112259AAgUqXz&sort=N

This was the best answer which was written by Lighting the Way to Reality

There is evidence against the Resurrection, and we don’t need the discovery of ancient texts to show that Jesus didn’t revive. The fact is that the New Testament is not credible.

That is because it is clear that the writers of the books of the NT were not above fabricating things in their attempts to prove that Jesus fulfilled prophecy.

For example, the two birth stories in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, who were trying to show that Jesus was born in Bethlehem according to prophecy, are totally incompatible and contradict each other in several aspects. The only reasonable conclusion is that they are both fabrications that were made independently of each other.

According to Matthew the family of Jesus lived in Bethlehem when Jesus was born during the reign of Herod the Great (Herod died in 4 B.C.). Matthew relates of a threat to Jesus and a trip to Egypt and that, when they returned to Palestine after the death of Herod, the family of Jesus bypassed their original home in Bethlehem and settled in Nazareth so that Jesus would fulfill a prophecy (a prophecy that is non-existent in the Old Testament, by the way).

According to Luke, Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth before the birth of Jesus and went to Bethlehem during the Syrian governorship of Cyrenus (that's the Greek spelling; Quirinius is the Latin, and he began his governorship in 6 A.D.) because of an enrollment for taxes that required that everyone had to go to the city of their ancestors. Not long after the birth of Jesus the family returned to their home in Nazareth.

In attempting to reconcile the two accounts, apologists try to place the enrollment for taxation mentioned in Luke to the time of Herod the Great's reign. However, there was no such enrollment during that time. The Romans taxed only the provinces they had direct control of, such as Egypt and Syria. They did not tax the provinces controlled by client rulers such as Herod the Great.

Furthermore, there is no evidence that there was a Roman enrollment for taxation in Judea during Herod's reign, and attempts to prove otherwise are without basis. In addition, Saturninus was Governor of Syria from 9 BC to 6 BC, and Varus from 6 BC until after the death of Herod. Again, Quirinius was not governor of Syria until 6 A.D.

When Herod died in 4 BC, the Romans divided up his territory of Palestine and gave Judea, Idumea, and Samaria to his son Archelaus to rule, and the other parts of Palestine to his other two sons. Archelaus was brutal as ruler and his subjects appealed to Rome. As a result, Rome deposed Archelaus in 6 AD and took over direct rule of Archelaus's territory. In so doing they instituted taxation of that territory, and Quirinius, as the newly installed governor of Syria, was tasked to oversee the taxation, hence the enrollment.

That taxation did not include Galilee, which was ruled by Herod's son Antipas, so Joseph, as a resident of Galilee (according to Luke's story) would not have been required to go to Bethlehem for the enrollment. (Contrary to Luke's exaggeration, the taxation was not world wide and did not require everyone to return to the city of their ancestors. The practical Romans would never have required such a return because there would have been absolutely no reason for it, and it would have disrupted commerce. The Romans taxed on the basis of residency, not ancestry). But Luke needed to make up a way to get Joseph and Mary to go to Bethlehem in Judea where Jesus would be born, so he exaggerated and changed the requirements for the enrollment as a device to accomplish that.

In Matthew's story, Joseph originally lived in Bethlehem, and that some time after the birth of Jesus, Herod posed a threat to Jesus. Joseph and his family therefore went to Egypt (which Matthew made up to appear to fulfill prophecy), returning after the death of Herod. Using the brutal reign of Archelaus as an excuse, Matthew had Joseph and his family bypass their home in Bethlehem and instead settle in Nazareth. As the KJ Bible says, "And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene." That indicates that Joseph was making a new home for himself and his family there. Again, there was no such prophecy. Matthew just made it up to give a reason for Joseph to settle in Nazareth.

Near the beginning of his story, Luke refers to "Herod King of Judea" (Luke 1:5), which would have been Herod Archelaus, not Herod the Great (upon their father's death, both Archelaus and Antipas took on their father's name as a title for themselves). Herod the Great, referred to in Matthew, was king of all of Palestine, not just Judea.

It seems that Luke was familiar with the history of Palestine and he used that history as the framework for his fabrication of the birth story of Jesus. In that context, it is therefore clear that the events described in chapter one of his gospel were supposed to have occurred near the end of Herod Archelaus's reign (which I described above), and that the beginning of chapter two is referring to events just after Archelaus was deposed and the Romans took direct rule over Judea and initiated the enrollment for taxation. Because he wove his fabricated story into the historical events, the time frame of Luke's story is therefore self-consistent, and the attempts by apologists to place Luke's story during Herod the Great's reign are without foundation. Thus the contradiction with Matthew's fabricated account still exists.

Luke continues his story in chapter two by relating that Joseph and Mary traveled from their home in Nazareth to Bethlehem because of the enrollment for taxation. Not long after their arrival in Bethlehem, Jesus was born, and after performing the ritual requirements according to the law of Moses, which was forty days, Joseph and his family returned to their home in Nazareth.

There is simply no way that the two fabricated stories can be reconciled.

See also my answer to this question in which I show that Matthew fabricated the prophecy of the virgin birth.

https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index...

So, it is clear that if those two writers of the NT are not credible, then the NT loses its credibility as an “inspired” document.

In any case, that is all moot because the Bible itself proves that its god does not exist.

See my answer to this question showing that to be the case.

https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index...

But, on top of all that, and even if an ancient text were found showing that Jesus didn’t revive, it would likely not kill Christianity because Christians are experts at disregarding, and making up phony arguments against, any evidence that refutes their beliefs.

Lighting the Way to Reality

Rational: based on or in accordance with reason or logic. Irrational: not logical or reasonable.

The most important book ever written is "On the Origin of Species" by Charles Darwin.

The 2nd most important book ever written is "Faith Versus Fact, Why Science and Religion are Incompatible" by Jerry Coyne, University of Chicago biologist.

This is a very long quote from Jerry Coyne's book (I wrote some comments at the end of it):

---------------------------------------------

Take the Resurrection of Jesus, for which the only supporting evidence is the contradictory accounts of the Gospels. But suppose we could get evidence against it---say, the discovery of ancient texts that tell of a Jesus who didn't revive? It wouldn't matter. Several prominent believers have proclaimed with finality that nothing---nothing---could shake their belief in this and other fundamental claims of Christianity. Here's the prominent theologian William Lane Craig:

"And therefore, if in some historically contingent circumstances the evidence that I have available to me should turn against Christianity, I don't think that that controverts the witness of the Holy Spirit. In such a situation I should regard that as simply a result of the contingent circumstances that I'm in, and that if I should pursue this with due diligence and with time, I would discover in fact that the evidence---if I could get the correct picture---would support exactly what the witness of the Holy Spirit tells me."

Justin Thacker, a theologian at Cliff College, agrees:

"Let's take the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. If science somehow, and I can't even imagine how, but if it told me that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was just categorically impossible, could not happen, I would disbelieve that and continue to believe what the Bible teaches about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, because if you take away the resurrection there is no Christian faith, it just doesn't exist."

These statements are, to speak plainly, irrational. Thacker, for instance, deems the Resurrection immune to disproof not because it's supported by strong evidence, but because its absence would undermine his religion. Craig is convinced that with sufficient mental contortions, he'd manage to save his beliefs despite their refutation.

---------------------------------------------

"But suppose we could get evidence against it" I already have that evidence. I stepped on a cockroach and left it there on the floor. Three days later I checked to see if it rose from the dead. My prediction was correct. The cockroach was still dead. Therefore dead creatures (including worthless preachers) stay dead. This is an extremely obvious fact of reality. Dead insects and dead human apes can't do anything because they're dead. Why the fuck is it necessary to explain these things in the 21st century?

Christians are Christians because they're too cowardly to grow up and face facts.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Vivaldi: Four Seasons/Quattro Stagioni - Janine Jansen - International Kamermuziek Festival

I found a ridiculous anti-science bible-thumping blog. The idiot who owns the place is batshit crazy. What a waste of a life.

Mann's Word - Defending the Christian faith and promoting its wisdom against the secular and religious challenges of our day.

To defend his moronic cult he repeatedly quotes his bible, apparently not realizing the whole thing is fiction.


He thinks the Noah's Ark genocide myth is real and of course evolution makes him cry.

Religion is brain damage. For most of the victims there is no cure.

This is what happens when Muslim scum are allowed to get in.

A recent surge in stabbings and knife-related violence across Germany is drawing renewed attention to the deteriorating security situation there since Chancellor Angela Merkel's 2015 decision to allow in more than a million migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
In recent months, people armed with knives, axes and machetes have brought devastation to all of Germany's 16 federal states. Knives have been used not only not only to carry out jihadist attacks, but also to commit homicides, robberies, home invasions, sexual assaults, honor killings and many other types of violent crime.
Knife-related crimes have occurred in amusement parks, bicycle trails, hotels, parks, public squares, public transportation, restaurants, schools, supermarkets and train stations. Many Germans have the sense that danger lurks everywhere; public safety, nowhere.

I used to think it was impossible to believe in the Noah's Ark genocide myth. I was wrong.

I recommend the website called "Michigan Skeptics Association". This link is for what somebody wrote about Jehovah’s Witnesses and their fear of evolution.

Michigan Skeptics Association: Do Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in the theory of evolution? As a former Jehovah’s Witness who once spent an inordinate amount of time researching their Creation Book, I can tell you that the official answer is a resounding no.

Michigan Skeptics Association

Evolution makes Jehovah’s Witnesses cry.

A branch of Christianity, a cult called Jehovah’s Witnesses, has a big problem with evolution. They don't like it at all. The professional brainwashers of this cult are focused on convincing their victims evolution is wrong. This is an example of their dishonest disgusting bullshit. (I wrote some comments at the end of this.)

Should I Believe in Evolution?

WHY IT MATTERS

If evolution is true, life has no lasting purpose. If creation is true, we can find satisfying answers to questions about life and the future.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

Imagine this scenario: Alex is confused. He has always believed in God and in creation. But today his biology teacher forcefully claimed that evolution is a fact, that it is based on credible scientific research. Alex doesn’t want to appear foolish. ‘After all,’ he says to himself, ‘if scientists have proved evolution to be true, who am I to question them?’

If you were Alex, would you accept evolution just because the textbooks present it as fact?

STOP AND THINK!

People on both sides of the debate are often quick to state what they believe without really knowing why they believe it.

Some people believe in creation simply because that’s what they’ve been taught at church.

Some people believe in evolution simply because that’s what they’ve been taught at school.

SIX QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER

The Bible says: “Every house is constructed by someone, but the one who constructed all things is God.” (Hebrews 3:4) Is that reasonable to believe?

Claiming that life did not have a Creator is as absurd as claiming that this house did not have a builder.

CLAIM: Everything in the universe came as a result of a random big bang.

1. Who or what caused the big bang?

2. Which makes more sense—that everything came from nothing or that everything came from someone?

CLAIM: Humans evolved from animals.

3. If humans evolved from animals—from apes, for example—why is there such a huge gap between the intellectual abilities of humans and those of apes?

4. Why are even the most “basic” forms of life so incredibly complex?

CLAIM: Evolution is a proven fact.

5. Has the person making this claim investigated the evidence for himself?

6. How many people believe in evolution simply because they have been told that all intelligent people believe in it?

“If you were walking through the forest and discovered a beautiful house, would you think: ‘How fascinating! The trees must have fallen in just the right way to make this house.’ Of course not! It’s just not reasonable. So why should we believe that everything in the universe just happened to come about?”—Julia.

“Imagine that someone told you that there was an explosion at a printing plant and that the ink spattered onto the walls and ceilings and formed the text of an unabridged dictionary. Would you believe it?”—Gwen.

WHY BELIEVE IN GOD?

The Bible encourages you to use your “power of reason.” (Romans 12:1) That means your belief in God should not be based merely on

EMOTION (I just feel that there must be a higher power)

THE INFLUENCE OF OTHERS (I live in a religious community)

PRESSURE (My parents raised me to believe in God—I had no choice)

Instead, you should have sound reasons for your belief.

“When I’m in class listening to the teacher explain how our bodies function, there’s no doubt in my mind that God exists. Each part of the body has its own function, down to the smallest detail, and these functions are often carried out without our awareness. The human body truly is mind-boggling!”—Teresa.

“When I see a skyscraper, a cruise ship, or a car, I ask myself, ‘Who built this?’ It takes intelligent people to build a car, for example, because so many small components have to work just right for the whole thing to function. And if cars have to be designed by someone, then so do we humans.”—Richard.

“The more I studied science, the less credible evolution seemed. . . . To me, it takes more ‘faith’ to believe in evolution than to believe in a Creator.”—Anthony.

TO THINK ABOUT

Despite decades of research, scientists have yet to come up with an explanation for evolution that they can all agree on. If scientists can’t agree on evolution—and they are supposed to be the experts—are you wrong to question the theory?

--------------------------------------------
--------------------------------------------

"Despite decades of research, scientists have yet to come up with an explanation for evolution that they can all agree on."

Dishonest bullshit. All biologists agree with the basic facts of evolution. Minor things are debated but eventually there is a consensus as new evidence is discovered.

"The more I studied science, the less credible evolution seemed."

Maybe, Mr. Fucktard, bible websites are probably not the best place to study science.

"To me, it takes more ‘faith’ to believe in evolution than to believe in a Creator."

Evolution is the strongest fact of science. Facts are not beliefs. Facts do not require faith. Only your moronic god fantasy and all the other religious bullshit requires faith.

"When I see a skyscraper, a cruise ship, or a car, I ask myself, ‘Who built this?’ It takes intelligent people to build a car, for example, because so many small components have to work just right for the whole thing to function. And if cars have to be designed by someone, then so do we humans."

The people who manufacture cars are not using a magic wand, so you can't compare cars to your childish idea about a magic god fairy magically creating millions of species.

We know the development of new species is a natural process because we have countless thousands of evidences for it, evidence you fucktards know nothing about because looking things up makes you cry.

“When I’m in class listening to the teacher explain how our bodies function, there’s no doubt in my mind that God exists. Each part of the body has its own function, down to the smallest detail, and these functions are often carried out without our awareness. The human body truly is mind-boggling!”

It's mind-boggling we have so much in common with fish but that's the way it is. Our ancestors were fish. This is fact, not fantasy.

"Who or what caused the big bang?"

That's a different branch of science you fucking moron. It was a natural process by the way. Look it up.

"CLAIM: Humans evolved from animals."

We are animals. We are part of nature, not separate from nature.

"If humans evolved from animals—from apes, for example—why is there such a huge gap between the intellectual abilities of humans and those of apes?"

That gap is not as huge as you think it is. Also, the brain of a dolphin is just as large and complex as the human brain. We do not have a monopoly on intelligence, and you by the way are a fucking moron.

"Why are even the most 'basic' forms of life so incredibly complex?"

Your fantasy: "Complexity therefore magic." The complexity is the result of natural selection for four billion fucking years.

"CLAIM: Evolution is a proven fact."

No shirt Sherlock.

"Has the person making this claim investigated the evidence for himself?"

The biologists discovered the evidences and tested everything. Evolution has passed every test. And anyone can look these things up. Just google "wikipedia evidence for evolution" FFS.

"How many people believe in evolution simply because they have been told that all intelligent people believe in it?"

One more time: Evolution is not a belief.

There is no reason to trust anyone including scientists. All you have to do is look things up. Ask a five year old child how to use google then get to work you lazy know-nothing god-soaked retard.

At Yahoo Answers I asked Christian fucktards some questions about the moronic "soul" fantasy.

A Christian dies in a fire and only his ashes are left. Does his soul fly to heaven and does the soul become the body that was destroyed?

Where in the human body is the soul?

Is the soul invisible?

Can a soul survive in a fire?

Is there any scientific evidence for the existence of a soul?

https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20171117113025AADPzze

UPDATE:

The answers were mostly bible gibberish.

I chose a best answer, a lady who is a Jehovah’s Witness. I wrote these comments for her:

Althea, I like your name. Thanks for your answer. It was interesting.

Nobody answered this question: Is there any scientific evidence for the existence of a soul? I prefer ideas that have strong evidence. I don't think the Bible is evidence for anything.

I noticed the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion is totally against evolution. I have been studying evolution for several years, how it works and the overwhelming evidence for it. I don't understand why there are people who want to throw out this interesting and important branch of science.

You probably wouldn't like my blog. http://darwinkilledgod.blogspot.com

I looked something up and I found what I expected: Southern Baptist Convention - In 1982, the Southern Baptist Convention issued a resolution rejecting the theory of evolution.

Virtually all Baptists have thrown out evolution because this important branch of science makes them cry.

The leaders of other Christian cults might accept evolution but that doesn't mean their members accept it.

Always, 100% of the time, when Christians accept evolution they stick their Magic Jeebus Man into it. Christians never accept evolution as a completely natural process. This is more evidence for an obvious fact: Darwin killed God.

What about Muslim scum? Do they love evolution, especially human evolution, without sticking Allah into it?

Of course not. When Muslim assholes are not blowing themselves up they are brainwashing children to throw out the science they know kills their death cult.

Some Muslim morons say evolution is OK but not for human apes. Human apes are "divinely created". In other words Allah did it.

Muslim fucktards have a big brainwashing advantage when they throw out evolution. In Muslim theocracies evolution is never taught. Muslims are morons because they were trained to be morons.

There is lots of information about the numerous religious cults and their fear of evolution at Religious Groups’ Views on Evolution - Updated February 3, 2014

A moronic example: "The Catholic Church generally accepts evolutionary theory as the scientific explanation for the development of all life. However, this acceptance comes with the understanding that natural selection is a God-directed mechanism of biological development and that man’s soul is the divine creation of God."

In other words Catholics think supernatural magic is a mechanism of evolution. Also, millions of Catholics did not get the pope's memo. They have thrown out all of evolution.

This "soul" thing. What does it look like? Is it invisible? Where is it located in human ape's body? And how does it magically fly to a magical paradise when the ape drops dead?

My point is Catholics and all other religious dipshits are just plain fucking stupid.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

How our small mammal ancestors survived when dinosaurs ruled the Earth.

The Kayentatherium, a Mesozoic-era mammal, pictured in this illustration with a pair of Dilophosaurus, background, and the prehistoric turtle Kayentachelys, foreground. A new study suggests that mammals, which were largely nocturnal during the age of dinosaurs, became more active in daytime shortly after the dinosaurs went extinct. CreditMark Witton 
New York Times: After the Dinosaurs’ Demise, Many Mammals Seized the Day

When the dinosaurs are away, the mammals will play.

That’s the basic idea behind the “nocturnal bottleneck” hypothesis, a concept proposed in 1942 that suggested mammals could have only survived in a dinosaur-dominated world by avoiding the sharp-toothed beasts during the day and coming out at night.

Mammalogists have long thought the earliest shared ancestor of all mammals was nocturnal, and now a study published Monday provides a potential date for when the furry creatures stopped cowering in the shadows and started venturing into the daylight.

The researchers found that the first mammals to be active during both day and night appeared around 65.8 million years ago, just 200,000 years after the extinction event that led to the demise of most dinosaurs. They were most likely the ancestors of even-toed ungulates, like today’s cattle, llamas and hippopotamuses, as well as the cetaceans like whales and dolphins.

“In evolutionary time 200,000 years are hardly anything. It’s almost immediately,” said Roi Maor, a doctoral student at Tel Aviv University in Israel and University College London, and lead author of the paper that appeared in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

They also found the first mammals that were clearly diurnal, or only active during the daytime, appeared about 52.4 million years ago, some 13 million years after the dinosaurs died out. Among these mammals were early monkeys and apes, the ancestors of today’s gorillas, gibbons and humans.

Mr. Maor cautioned that his study only showed a correlation, not causation, between when nonavian dinosaurs went extinct and when mammals became daytime creatures. But the finding adds support for the 75-year-old hypothesis describing how our ancestors inherited the day after dinosaurs disappeared.

Using a computer program, Mr. Maor and his colleagues plugged in behavioral data from 2,415 mammal species that noted whether the species was nocturnal, diurnal, or cathemeral (irregularly active at day or night). The analysis also evaluated ancestry information that showed how closely related the species were to one another.

“Think of it as an atlas. We show all the species alive today and each one of their ancestors is mapped onto that road map,” he said. “Our algorithm told us whether or not their ancestors were diurnal or nocturnal.”

It showed the expected behavioral patterns of ancestors going back at least 166 million years ago during the Mesozoic, and highlighted a shift from nocturnal to daylight activity among some mammalian ancestors after about 66 million years ago, when calamity struck the planet.

Their data set represented 91 percent of all mammal families. About 60 percent were nocturnal, like the vampire bat, the fennec foxand the four-toed hedgehog, and 26 percent were diurnal like the eastern gray squirrel, giraffes and humans. Most of the rest were characterized as cathemeral like the star-nosed mole, the European rabbit and the muskrat.

Lars Schmitz, an evolutionary biologist from The Claremont Colleges, in California who was not involved in the study, said he was excited to see such a large comparative study, and that the study’s finding of when mammals emerged in the daylight supports the nocturnal bottleneck hypothesis.

“This seems to support what most people have been saying, that mammals were predominantly in the nocturnal niche and could not expand into the daytime until the dinosaurs were gone,” he said.

But he noted that a limitation of the work is that it only includes living species and not extinct ones. Without knowing their behavior, the researchers may be missing some important clues about when mammals first carpe diem-ed.

Islam: The belief that you can attain a personal relationship with god through blowing yourself up.

Every day one or more Muslim lunatics blow themselves up. I was wondering who blew themselves up today so I went to Google News and I searched for "suicide bombing". I was not disappointed.

Today a Muslim retard blew himself up for Allah, murdering 12 people in Afghanistan.

Washington Post: Suicide bomber strikes Kabul political gathering, killing at least 12.

Update: Arab News said 14 people were murdered for Allah: Arab News: KABUL: A suicide attacker blew himself up outside a political gathering in Kabul killing at least 14 people, officials said Thursday, highlighting the deepening divisions in the war-torn country.

The magical resurrection of the Magic Jeebus Man. The stupid, it burns.

According to a poll 77% of Americans believe in the magical resurrection of the decomposing Magic Jeebus Man.

This means I live in a country where 77% of the population is batshit crazy.

Imagine the stupidity required to believe in the "Jeebus was a zombie" myth.

It's impossible to reason with these idiots. They are 100% certain zombies are real.

Even if I wanted to throw out all of reality and pretend a magical master of the entire vast universe is real, why would this supernatural creature perform a ridiculous disgusting magic trick to make a decomposing corpse rise from the dead for this tiny middle-of-nowhere planet?

"I can't believe the special stories that have been made up about our relationship to the universe at large because they seem to be too simple, too local, too provincial. The earth, he came to the earth, one of the aspects of god came to the earth mind you, and look at what's out there. It isn't in proportion."
-- Richard Feynman

More reasons why the moronic ridiculous Christian death cult must be thrown out.

This is from Jerry Coyne's book "Faith Versus Fact":
"It's no surprise then that the Jesus Seminar, a group of more than two hundred religious scholars charged with evaluation the historical truth of the words and deeds of Jesus, concluded that there was no credible evidence for either the Resurrection, the empty tomb, or Jesus's postmortem reappearance. They commented dryly, "The body of Jesus probably decayed as do all corpses."
According to the Jesus Seminar:

What percentage of Americans are infected with the god disease? I looked it up. It's still a terrible problem but not as bad as it used to be.

Gallup poll JUNE 29, 2016.


89% of Americans say they believe in God

In a separate poll, 79% say "believe in God" and 10% "not sure"

All measures of belief in God show declines from previous decades

http://news.gallup.com/poll/193271/americans-believe-god.aspx

This means 11% of Americans are 100% certain the Magic Man is not real. This poll also means 89% of Americans have a virtually incurable mental illness.

As recently as 1968 98% of Americans were god-soaked.

Competent science education, especially evolution, can fix the problem but unfortunately most students get stuck with teachers who either know nothing about evolution or they don't teach it to avoid harassment. The students learn nothing.

Another poll in 2016 shows that 77% of Americans believe in the magical resurrection of the decomposing Magic Jeebus Man. 77% of Americans are batshit crazy.

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/lifestyle/general_lifestyle/march_2016/three_quarters_of_americans_believe_jesus_rose_from_the_dead

I added this to my list of favorite quotes.

"Christianity is a mind control game that saps its participants of their intellect, their common sense, and ultimately, their ability to clearly see the true nature of the lives that they lead in this world. There is nothing holy, sacred, or miraculous about any of it."
-- Shinobi

http://www.ex-christian.net/topic/77085-jesus-did-it/

People can ignore this New York Times article about AT&T. It's for myself because I own several shares of AT&T. This article is also about our Idiot President, aka Trump, so somebody might be interested in it.

New York Times: Mr. Trump Casts a Shadow Over the AT&T-Time Warner Deal. President Trump’s hostility toward CNN may affect the proposed merger between the cable news channel’s parent company, Time Warner, and AT&T.

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD NOV. 15, 2017

President Trump’s hostility toward the news media, and CNN in particular, has been so extreme that it is calling into doubt whether his appointees at the Department of Justice can fairly evaluate a merger involving the cable news channel’s parent company, Time Warner, and AT&T.

The Justice Department’s Antitrust Division has reportedly asked AT&T to sell the Turner Broadcasting division of Time Warner, a unit that includes CNN, or sell its DirecTV unit to gain approval for the deal. On its face, this is not an unreasonable request. Combining AT&T and Time Warner in their present form would create a vertically integrated telecom-media goliath. It would have the market power to hurt competitors and consumers by raising prices of popular shows like “Game of Thrones” and channels like HBO, CNN and TNT. Smaller rivals like Dish Network and regional cable-TV companies might have no choice but to pay or risk losing their customers to AT&T.

For these and other reasons, experts and lawmakers have been saying for months that a merger raises serious problems, and some sort of divestment seems necessary before it can be approved. But asking Time Warner to sell Turner Broadcasting and its CNN unit raises its own questions. Given Mr. Trump’s repeated attacks on CNN, there’s ample cause to suspect that the Justice Department scheme is a ploy to force a sale of the news organization to owners that will strip away its editorial independence and turn it into a house organ of the Trump administration.

Officials at the White House and the Justice Department insist they haven’t discussed the case with one another. They also say that political considerations have played no role in the department’s review. But it’s interesting, and to some people suspicious, that the chief of the Antitrust Division, Makan Delrahim, has changed his mind about the deal. In October 2016, he said he did not see a “major antitrust problem” with an AT&T-Time Warner marriage. Now he does, and he supports the divestiture of Turner and CNN. Reasonable people are bound to ask if he changed his mind because economists and lawyers at the Antitrust Division persuaded him, or because he was influenced by Mr. Trump’s tweets and public statements.

Justly or not, Mr. Delrahim suffers from the same suspicions that attach to just about all of Mr. Trump’s appointees. By firing a director of the F.B.I., by demanding that the Justice Department investigate his political opponents and by attacking judges, Mr. Trump, unlike other presidents of the modern era, has shown little but contempt for the independent, honest judgment of government departments and agencies. In a more insidious fashion, he has undermined the integrity of public service by appointing people to important jobs who have glaring conflicts of interest. He has stacked the Environmental Protection Agency with officials who have long ties to the fossil fuel and chemical industries; a similar bias infects the Interior Department.

This week, the president nominated a former pharmaceutical industry executive, Alex Azar, who led a company that repeatedly raised the price of important drugs like insulin, to head the Department of Health and Human Services.

Mr. Delrahim could well be an exception. But he has a lot to prove. For starters, his division needs to build a strong legal case against the AT&T-Time Warner deal. He will also need to explain why the Justice Department, instead of requiring a divestiture, could not use the same approach it did in 2011 when it allowed Comcast, a cable company, buy NBCUniversal, a media business, as long as the company agreed to treat other cable companies and internet streaming firms like Netflix fairly.

Further, to show that his views on this deal are more than politically expedient, Mr. Delrahim needs to be just as tough on other mega-mergers that come before him. He will have no credibility if he takes an aggressive stand against AT&T-Time Warner but then goes easy on deals involving companies owned or controlled by conservative tycoons, like the pending Sinclair Broadcast Group acquisition of Tribune Media and any deals made by 21st Century Fox, which has reportedly had talks to sell assets to Disney. Mr. Trump’s appointee to head the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, has, in fact, changed rules to help Sinclair get bigger, and also seeks to make it easier for media companies to own multiple news outlets in the same market.

Through his relentless politicization of everything he touches, Mr. Trump has complicated matters greatly for his appointees. Unless they act with utmost integrity they will be tainted as henchmen for an unruly and vindictive president.

I found an interesting story about a bible-thumper who grew up and threw out the ridiculous Jeebus bullshit.

He got one thing totally wrong: "I might be wrong about God."

No sir. You're not wrong. There is no magic in the universe. People who believe in the Magic Man are batshit crazy. People who think the Magic Man might be real are equally batshit crazy. You don't want to be batshit crazy because that would be a waste of your life.

Here it is. It's worth reading. God and the problem of sincere disbelief

Neil Shubin explains how they predicted the fish fossils they were looking for would be found at a remote Canadian island near the Arctic Circle. Their prediction was totally correct. This is how science works and I think it's fantastic.

The following questions were posed to Neil Shubin in April 2006, after the unveiling of the discovery of Tiktaalik roseae.

Q: What drew you to conduct research in this region?

A: The story behind us beginning to work in the Arctic, or discovering this area to work on, is actually interesting. We discovered these areas looking through an undergraduate geology textbook. I was having an argument with one of my colleagues, and we went through my undergraduate geology text and there is a figure in there. It shows where rocks from the age of 380 to 360 million years ago are exposed on the Earth. And there were three sites: one was in Eastern North America, which is where this person and I made lots of discoveries before; another was in Greenland, which is very famous for producing some of the earliest creatures to live on land; and there was a third. The third was in the Canadian Arctic, stretching from what is now Ellesmere Island all the way to the West, about 1500 km. It turned out that no one ever worked there before, except the geologists that mapped it. So after seeing that image in the textbook, we went out and tried to raise money, get the permits, and then ran a series of expeditions up there to find just the kind of creature we ended up discovering six years later. There were other paleontologists who had worked in this region in the past. Explorers, a Norwegian team around the turn of the century in the early 1900s worked up there. There were people interested in fossil plants who worked up there for a period of time. No one had gone up there to look for fossils of vertebrates, of fish and amphibians. We were the first team that I know of.

A huge copy & paste job. "We're essentially very specialized fish. We have the same features as very primitive fish you find in the Devonian rocks. Yet we've added a few things -- actually, we've added a bunch of things. But yet we share with those fish so many characteristics that it's astounding."

Neil Shubin and Ted Daeschler: How Fish Came Ashore

Q: What do we know about the environment in which the transition to land occurred?

NS: Back in the Devonian, north central Pennsylvania was very different from today, where you now find a river valley with a mountain plateau and weather that gets cool in the fall. Back then, there was a much more tropical climate in Pennsylvania. It was south of the equator. Remember the continents are continually moving around. The area was a river valley, much like a broad delta.

And something very special was happening in those deltas. There were small streams with all kinds of diverse fish. There were tropical plants, and many of the species that we find were warm-adapted. In fact, what we're finding in the Devonian or a little bit before this time are probably some of the first forests. Life was beginning to settle on land -- plant life and invertebrate life, that is.

If we had a camera that could capture the Devonian world, many of the streams we would see would be small, shallow freshwater streams that were choked with these plants. What was happening within there was very interesting. It was a crucible for evolutionary, change largely because of the diversity of fish, many of them predatory. It was a fish-eat-fish world in the sense that you had fish getting larger and more predatory. You had fish developing more types of armor. And you had one very special type of fish that had a third strategy, which was to get out of the way of this of this arms race. And it's those fish that evolved the traits that enabled them to walk on this newly inhabitable land. Essentially what enabled those animals to get out of the way -- that is, to get out of the water -- were new features like limbs and changes in their vertebral column, in the heads and so forth.

TD: On the Allegheny plateau in north central Pennsylvania, the rocks are flat and most of them belong to what's called the Catskill Formation. We have to remember that when those rocks were deposited, the environment looked nothing like it looks like now. In fact, it was so different that at that time there wasn't even an Atlantic Ocean to the east. Instead, Europe was connected with North America, and there was a mountain range along that area. Those mountains were shedding sediments -- silt, sand, and clay -- off toward a seaway out in Ohio, to the west. The deposits that were left became what we call the Catskill Formation. They were streams and deltas, [and] it's the life in those streams that has become a very exciting part of the project in Pennsylvania to learn about the Devonian period.

Stream systems that were running across big, wide floodplains in north central Pennsylvania 370 million years ago would have created big, muddy channels, and in between those channels there would have been forests. In fact, they were some of the first forests on Earth. Plants had finally taken hold of land environments, and that's a very important change. The Earth was brown and muddy for the billions of years previous to this point in time. It was during the late Devonian that the land got green, especially in wet areas like these deltas that were shedding off and running into a seaway in the Ohio area. And so it would've been quite flat. If you were in a satellite looking down, you'd probably see green rims following the river courses. And, as I said, that productivity on land led to the productivity in the freshwater environments. So what was happening on land was new, and what was happening with the animals in the freshwater environments was also new.

Q: How did the transition happen?

NS: It's becoming very clear from discoveries made in Pennsylvania and elsewhere in the world that many of the traits that enabled animals to walk on land actually evolved in small freshwater streams. In these streams, animals were adapting in new ways to exploit this freshwater habitat. They evolved big, broad appendages, big, broad fins that enabled them to maneuver in weed-choked streams. Many of the features that animals later use to walk on land originally evolve for a different purpose -- to live in these freshwater streams.

Essentially what we're finding are clearly aquatic organisms, true fish in every sense of the word, that have features that are also seen in creatures that live on land. Some of the features correspond to bones in our limbs, including some that might be very similar to our fingers; features in the back; features in the skull. It's a very surprising discovery; not something we necessarily would have predicted, say, 15 years ago.

Apparently, what drove the transition in fish is that life in these small streams is very similar to life on land. Think about it: You're a big fish with giant teeth and you're making a living by eating little fish. But you're a huge fish, say, six feet long, and you're in a shallow stream choked with weeds and you need to crawl through those weeds and get into the mud. That is very similar to an environment that amphibians like a salamander live in today. So we're dealing with a mosaic environment in shallow streams; that is, there are a variety ways to exploit that habitat. One of those ways turns out to be a good way for the future, too, because it is later used to enable animals to walk on land.

TD: What makes the late Devonian, 370 million years ago, a particularly interesting fossil period is that there was such a wide diversity of basic kinds of fish in the world, many more basic kinds than we see on Earth today. There were the placoderm fishes, armored fishes that don't have any living descendants today. There were spiny sharks -- again, a whole group that left no descendants -- very primitive sharks, and very primitive forms of what we call ray-finned fishes, which did lead to a lot of the modern groups. And, of course, the fishes we're most interested in are the lobe-finned fishes. They were the ones that were developing structures in their fins that were beginning to look like limbs.

Lobe-finned fishes are a group of bony fishes. It's the structure in their fins -- particularly what we call paired fins, two in the front and two in the back -- that makes them unique and separates them from other kinds of bony fishes. Some were using those fins in developing extra-specialized bony structures, to perhaps push on the bottom of these streams, or perhaps to go up into more shallow water. And those sorts of adaptations for moving into those kinds of environments are a stepping stone, if you will, for eventually coming on land. Therefore, a very important transition was going on in these lobe-finned fishes in the Devonian.

Q: How did fish get onto land if they couldn't breathe?

TD: Very early in their evolution, fishes had lungs while they were still aquatic, so the transition to breathing air was no problem. Many kinds of fish have primitive lungs and some actually are able to breathe air -- we call it "air gulping." Among the lobe-finned fish there was not a big problem with breathing air. They had developed lungs first for use in water. As they may have moved into these stream systems, perhaps lungs became more and more important, especially in waters that may have had a lot of decaying plant material and low oxygen content. Coming up to the surface and breathing air may have been no problem at all. One thought is that the development of limbs was to help push off the bottom to get your nostrils above the water surface and take in some air.

Q: What are some of the scenarios that might have led from these fish with lobe fins to what we call tetrapods [fourlimbed creatures]?

TD: The transition from fin to limb seems to have happened in a rather complex environment. There were probably a number of factors favoring limb-like fin features for certain groups: being able to push off the bottom of the mud to get your nostrils above the surface and breathe air; being able to push along the bottom to move through plant-choked environments or into shallower water to capture prey, because these were carnivorous fish; or perhaps being able to escape the bigger predators behind you by moving into shallower water. There are lots of different ideas on why fins may have become useful for new purposes. But the fish that had a new tool kit in those fins were able to exploit new ecological opportunities in the stream systems 370 million years ago.

The discoveries that we've made in the Catskill Formation in north central Pennsylvania, in particular, have provided a lot of good new data, first of all about the diversity of the earliest limbed animals. We found a couple of new forms, and that's important. Added to the other forms around the world, we're seeing that at this point in time a lot of experimentation was going on among these earliest limbed animals. The different morphologies in all these different forms suggest they were doing different kinds of things.

Our work in Pennsylvania has not only given us a snapshot of some of the animals that lived here, especially those earliest tetrapod animals, but has also shown us the other creatures that were living around them. Maybe more importantly, we're finding spectacular plant material preserved around them, in the same layers. We're finding wonderful invertebrate material. These are soft-bodied things for the most part -- arthropods, like primitive scorpions that were coming up and living in these same stream or even land environments. So we can set that whole picture of fauna and flora in a geological context. We can try to interpret what the environment was like by judging the sediments that these stream systems left behind, and we can get some ideas of whether these were channels, or swamps, or what. So with geology and paleontology together, we have a really nice snapshot of what it would have been like here 370 million years ago.

NS: This is an important transition, because before this time period all life was in water. Earth was a brown and rocky place. Over many millions of years, plants and bugs inhabited land, and at this time period our distant ancestors evolved those features that enabled our success.

TD: Life finally was able to make the transition to land basically because of extrinsic factors -- features of the physical environment, such as oxygen and other atmospheric gas levels changing, and different sorts of geological phenomenon going on. Life on Earth is very old; but life on land is not nearly as old.

It was only in the last 400 million years or so that plants were able to establish a foothold on land. There were aquatic plants that began to colonize land and those were real pioneers because they were moving into an environment that was extremely harsh. There was no soil on the surface of the earth. It was rock and mud and silt. Just a brown wasteland, from our perspective today. Plants came first, then invertebrate animals, different sorts of arthropods -- many-legged small creatures, like insects -- and arachnids -- spiderlike insects. It was only after those animals and plants had colonized land and soils began to develop and there were perhaps damp microclimates within these early plant communities that the back-boned animals, the lobe-finned fishes particularly, began to exploit those new environments that had been set up on land.

Once you have that, the world's a different place. All of a sudden there are streams, small streams that have all kinds of plants inside them, and within these streams you have the opportunity for new evolutionary experiments. These small streams are like an engine or a crucible of evolutionary change. In fact, it's within these streams that different types of our ancestors evolved. These freshwater streams are a new environment. They did not exist a hundred million years before. With this novel environment, you have the possibility for evolution to go in a number of different directions.

New environments make a new set of rules that are experimented with by the vertebrate animals, and evolution chooses the ones that work best in these new environments. So indeed, a new environment spawns innovation in the animals that are beginning to exploit that new environment.

Q: Your discoveries have changed the way many scientists think about this transition. What were the old assumptions about this transition?

TD: Our work in the Catskill formation in Pennsylvania has provided a lot of new data about what has happened in the late Devonian period, 370 million years ago. We're able to see much more about the environments and the other animals that were living along with lobe-finned fishes that have been the focus of our attention.

In the past people looked at the rocks, may have found some of the fossils, and came up with one scenario: that perhaps those animals developing limbs were living in environments in which there were frequent drying periods. They may have lived in ponds that were drying up and they needed to use their fins to move into new wet areas to escape drying out their fins in these dying ponds. That was one idea. What we have been able to add to this idea, perhaps to replace this idea with, is that we're seeing wonderful wet environments in our work. We're seeing swampy, plant-rich places where these evolutionary changes were happening.

NS: One thing that was special about Red Hill, the road cut in Pennsylvania where we've found several key fossils, is that it is literally a slice of life of the Devonian 370 million years ago. You have the plants, you have vertebrate animals, and you have creepy crawlies, and it's rare to have all these things together. It enables a reconstruction of what life would actually have looked like at this time period from the climates to the organisms and so forth.

For a long time the paradigm was you have land and you have water and these are two discrete categories and the evolutionary jump between the two was a big one. The reality of the situation is very different, and it's actually more interesting. You have a lot of intermediate environments and a lot of intermediate forms living in these intermediate environments. It's helpful to think of the small streams of Red Hill and other places like that as being quasi-terrestrial and quasi-aquatic. Think about it, a shallow stream choked with weeds: If you're a big animal in this environment, it's kind of like land and it's kind of like water. It's no surprise that organisms with intermediate designs appeared in these intermediate environments.

Q: What was life like in these streams?

TD: There was a wide variety of fish in late Devonian environments, and we see many of them at the Red Hill site. We find a few different varieties of placoderms, which are armored fish, perhaps filling different niches but basically feeding on the mud on the bottom. They were eating the decaying plant material and such, which was provided by the plants that were beginning to colonize land; hence freshwater environments were beginning to be productive.

Of course animals were taking the opportunity to prey upon the placoderms. That's one of the ideas we have for why some of the early limbed animals at Red Hill had heavy jaws -- perhaps to crush placoderm plates. They'd exploit these fish that were exploiting the mud that was being fed by the terrestrial plants that were beginning to grow on land.

There are also other kinds of lobe-fin fishes. These early tetrapods were about a yard long, but some of the lobe-fin fishes that were related to tetrapods but didn't have the ability to get into more shallow water, were on the order of three or four yards long, with huge teeth. They were probably the top of the food chain there, the ultimate predators. And maybe the early tetrapods that we see had to fear those early predators. So besides being able to chase their prey into the shallows by using limblike fins, they were also able to escape the predators behind them by using these same limblike fins to get into the shallow waters. This was a really dynamic world. We were beginning to get a complex food chain in these new environments.

The lobe fin was an innovative new structure, which allowed an animal to do things like prop against the bottom, or perhaps push against the bottom and lift its head up to breathe air above the water surface. Perhaps it allowed the animal to move through plant-choked waters to more easily pursue prey up into the shallow waters. Perhaps it allowed the animal to enter those same shallow waters by pushing against the bottom and using its tail for propulsion to escape predators behind it. There are a lot of different ways that lobe fins were able to be used that were very different from the typical fish uses of their fin.

NS: The main mechanism of evolutionary change is a very simple one. No two organisms look alike. The fact that all of these individuals look different means that some are going to do better than others in their given environment. And in every generation having this process of variation and success leads to the changes we've seen throughout evolutionary history, in particular in the Devonian. If you look in a Devonian stream, no two fish look alike, no two fish do the same things. They feed in different ways, they swim in different ways. Some of these different ways are actually better than others, and over a period of time, sometimes very short, sometimes very long, we can see significant changes in how organisms look, survive, reproduce, and so forth.

Q: What do these recent discoveries tell us about how our knowledge of evolution is changing?

NS: It is really appealing to me at a personal level that discoveries at a road cut can really change our worldview in a very important way. For a long time many of us thought that evolution is progressive -- that is, evolutionary change goes in lockstep with climate or environmental change. It doesn't appear to be the case in a transition like this, the invasion of land. It's both more complex and more simple than we could have ever imagined. What seems to be happening is a series of experiments, like in those 370 million-year-old streams. You have all kinds of different forays into new types of ecologies, different ways that fish can make a living.

I think it's wrong for us to think of evolution as a ladder of progress, that you have environmental change and a ladder of evolutionary change leading to its ultimate destination -- mankind. Really what you have is a series of evolutionary stages. Organisms are trying to exploit their environment to the best of their ability, to make their living, if you will, in these environments. And there're almost as many ways of doing it as there are different types of organisms. It's in the Devonian that these experiments were happening at a very rapid pace, and we human beings are actually the descendants of one of the successful experiments from this time period.

Q: What about the idea that this transition is really one of the key personal moments in our own deep history?

TD: As limbed animals, we're very interested in what gave us these very useful appendages. It's interesting when you look at all of the limbed vertebrates. Appendages are used for such a wide variety of things. Sometimes appendages are even lost for the sake of a different lifestyle, like in snakes or whales that have significantly reduced appendages, especially their hind appendages. But one of the things that makes us unique as humans is the ability to use our hands to manipulate things in a very fine way, and it's something we inherited from primates. And primates inherited the appendages from more primitive mammals, and we go all the way back to lobed-fin fishes, which had the beginnings of all these structural features. We're very interested in those features for that reason.

NS: There are two types of bony fish on the earth today: the ray-fin fish and the lobe-fin fish. Ray-fin fish, as the name implies, have a fin composed mostly of rods, or rays. These rays form most of the surface area of the fin, and they're a special type of bone -- they're not the sort of bone that's present in our limbs. The ray-fin fish are very common today; for example, the common sole is a ray fin. Nowadays, he's dinner. In fact, most of the fish we eat are ray-fin fish. Yet in the Devonian, 370 million years ago, these fish were very rare. The more common fish in the Devonian were the lobe-fin fish. A lobe-fin fish has a fin composed of a fleshy lobe. Yet within this lobe is where most of the interesting evolutionary stuff happened. Many of the bones that gave rise to our limbs actually lie within the lobe of the fin.

For better or for worse, the lobe-fin fish are among the creatures most closely related to us. In fact, it's most closely related to all vertebrates that walk on land. What's special about the lobe is that most of the bones that enabled animals to walk on land [evolved from this]. Whether it's a bird flying, a whale swimming, or Mozart playing the piano, the bones that enable those creatures to do those functions originally evolved within the fin of a lobe-fin fish.

Now, the discovery of the fossil fin was really remarkable largely because it shows for the first time just how much like a tetrapod limb one of these fish fins can actually be. We can compare the fin of a 370-million-year-old fossil fish and the arm of a human. In a human arm you have first one bone, then two bones, the wrist, and the digits. In the fin, despite the fact it looks nothing like the arm of a human, what do you have? You have one bone, two bones, even little bones that can be compared to a wrist, and then rods that face away from the rest of the appendage itself, just like our fingers or toes. The whole arrangement of bones in both cases is very similar. This striking similarity between [the fin of] a fish that's 370 million years old and the arm of a [modern] human suggests that many of the bones now in use for daily functions, from our walking to birds' flying, originally were set up in a fish like this.

So what does this show? That many of the bones that evolved for functions in humans actually were already present in fish living in freshwater streams about 370 million years ago. Even though they don't look anything like the bones, and their size, shape, and functions are likely to be different, the pattern is essentially the same. And that's a very important feature in evolution that evolutionary biologists call homology -- a special sort of similarity. When we say things are homologous, we mean they're similar in an evolutionary sense; that is, they're derived from a common ancestor.

TD: We are just one of the animals that evolved from lobed-fin fishes, but we can trace our ancestry and the ancestry of all the other limbed animals back to that point 370 million years or a little bit more ago. We are lobed fin fishes.

Q: What do you mean by that?

TD: We're essentially very specialized fish. We have the same features as very primitive fish you find in the Devonian rocks. Yet we've added a few things -- actually, we've added a bunch of things. But yet we share with those fish so many characteristics that it's astounding. Not only the lobe, but also characteristics of the back, characteristics of the skull, behavioral characteristics, characteristics of the respiratory system, similar genes. It can go all the way down to the molecular level. Basically our body plan is that of a fish. We've added a few things here and there, and we like those things. But in an evolutionary sense, we view ourselves as very specialized lobed-fin fish. That's what we mean by that statement.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Some quotes from Mark Twain about religion.

Wikipedia: Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer.

All these quotes are from Mark Twain:

"So much blood has been shed by the Church because of an omission from the Gospel: 'Ye shall be indifferent as to what your neighbor's religion is.' Not merely tolerant of it, but indifferent to it. Divinity is claimed for many religions; but no religion is great enough or divine enough to add that new law to its code."

"Faith is believing what you know ain't so."

"If Christ were here now there is one thing he would not be – a Christian".

"Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion--several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn't straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother's path to happiness and heaven."

"I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it."

"Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company."

"Man is a marvelous curiosity...he thinks he is the Creator's pet...he even believes the Creator loves him; has passion for him; sits up nights to admire him; yes and watch over him and keep him out of trouble. He prays to him and thinks he listens. Isn't it a quaint idea."

"Stripping away the irrational, the illogical, and the impossible, I am left with atheism. I can live with that."

"If there is a God, he is a malign thug."

"If the man doesn't believe as we do, we say he is a crank, and that settles it. I mean, it does nowadays, because now we can't burn him."

"The so-called Christian nations are the most enlightened and progressive ... but in spite of their religion, not because of it. The Church has opposed every innovation and discovery from the day of Galileo down to our own time, when the use of anesthetic in childbirth was regarded as a sin because it avoided the biblical curse pronounced against Eve. And every step in astronomy and geology ever taken has been opposed by bigotry and superstition. The Greeks surpassed us in artistic culture and in architecture five hundred years before Christian religion was born."

"You believe in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, burning bushes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories, and you say that we are the ones that need help?"

"There was no place in the land where the seeker could not find some small budding sign of pity for the slave. No place in all the land but one - the pulpit. It yielded last; it always does. It fought a strong and stubborn fight, and then did what it always does, joined the procession - at the tail end. Slavery fell. The slavery texts in the Bible remained; the practice changed; that was all."

"The Church worked hard at it night and day during nine centuries and imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood. Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One doesn't know whether to laugh or to cry. Who discovered that there was no such thing as a witch - the priest, the parson? No, these never discover anything."

"The Church has opposed every innovation and discovery from the day of Galileo down to our own time, when the use of anesthetics in childbirth was regarded as a sin because it avoided the biblical curse pronounced against Eve."

"To trust the God of the Bible is to trust an irascible, vindictive, fierce and ever fickle and changeful master."

"Religion consists in a set of things which the average man thinks he believes and wishes he was certain of."

"The Bible is a mass of fables and traditions, mere mythology."

"In all the ages the Roman Church has owned slaves, bought and sold slaves, authorized and encouraged her children to trade in them. . . . There were the texts; there was no mistaking their meaning; . . . she was doing in all this thing what the Bible had mapped out for her to do. So unassailable was her position that in all the centuries she had no word to say against human slavery."

"Strange a God who mouths Golden Rules and forgiveness, then invented hell; who mouths morals to other people and has none Himself; who frowns upon crimes yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man's acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon Himself; and finally with altogether divine obtuseness, invites this poor, abused slave to worship Him!"

Every time Christians defend their moronic death cult it goes like this: "Complexity therefore magic."

"Complexity therefore magic." They are invoking their god of the gaps. They are desperately trying to find a hiding place for it.

This is one of their favorite excuses to throw out reality and invoke magic:

"Nothing can't become something therefore the Magic Man did it."

BBC News has science article about it.

BBC - Some physicists think they can explain why the universe first formed. If they are right, our entire cosmos may have sprung out of nothing at all.


I'm not very interested in this branch of science. I know scientists have some ideas about it and of course they are not invoking a god fairy's magical powers. That's good enough for me. Also imagine how much more they will understand a few centuries from now.

How the universe was born could not possibly be more complex than the development of new species. Thanks to Charles Darwin and the thousands biologists who came after Darwin, we know it was a natural process, no gods required.

The god-soaked do not understand these two quotes:

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.
-- Charles Darwin

If the history of science teaches us anything, it is that what conquers our ignorance is research, not giving up and attributing our ignorance to the miraculous work of a creator.
-- Jerry Coyne

It would be so much easier for these god-of-the-gaps people to grow up and face an obvious fact of reality: There is no magic in the universe and there never was any magic. Magic is not real.

Why can't these people grow up? Stupidity is part of the problem. I think mostly it's because they can't exist without their cowardly magical 2nd life fantasy. They know science is killing their ridiculous heaven fantasy and that makes them cry.

Or perhaps stupidity is their only problem. Christians are very hard of thinking.

I noticed Christians are constantly insulting scientists. They accuse them of being dishonest. Christians don't understand how science works. Everything is questioned. Nobody in science can get away with bullshit and scientists know this.

I never met a Christian who wasn't a stupid fucking asshole.

John Williams | Asturias | Isaac Albéniz

In Idiot America magical creationism was changed to "Creation science" so theocrats could stick it into science classrooms. They lost in court. Then "Creation science" was changed to "intelligent design" so theocrats could stick it into science classrooms. They lost in court. These days Christian assholes are still trying to force biology teachers to give equal time to both magical creationism and evolution. They will never be allowed to get away with it. Their other idea is harassing and threatening biology teachers. Christians are stupid fucking assholes.

Stephen Jay Gould gave a speech at the University of Chicago. This was open to the public. I was there. I learned quite a bit that day.

"Creation science has not entered the curriculum for a reason so simple and so basic that we often forget to mention it: because it is false, and because good teachers understand exactly why it is false. What could be more destructive of that most fragile yet most precious commodity in our entire intellectual heritage -- good teaching -- than a bill forcing honorable teachers to sully their sacred trust by granting equal treatment to a doctrine not only known to be false, but calculated to undermine any general understanding of science as an enterprise?"
-- Stephen Jay Gould

The Magic Jeebus Man

This is fantastic: Orquesta Filarmonica Requena - Pavane, Opus 50 Gabriel Fauré

This is one of my favorite quotes because I wrote it.

Christian morons, how does this heaven business work? If I understand your cowardly belief correctly, your soul (whatever that is) magically flies up to the clouds (or who knows where) and then magically transforms itself into your disgusting dead body, except now you're alive again, living in some magical place infested with other Christian idiots like yourselves. Jeebus must be waving his magic wand like crazy to make this bullshit work.

And your magical selves live forever in this fantasy land, for trillions and trillions of years. Long after the entire universe goes extinct, you're still alive playing with your harp, bored out of your fucking mind.