Dawkins’ fabled cooperative gene discovered in microbes…



From phys.org

Geneticists from the Universities of Manchester and Bath are celebrating the discovery of the elusive ‘greenbeard gene’ that helps explain why organisms are more likely to cooperate with some individuals than others

The renowned evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins coined the term “greenbeard gene” in his 1976 best seller The Selfish Gene.

The greenbeard is a special type of gene that, said Dawkins, could solve the conundrum of how organisms identify and direct selfless behaviour to towards other selfless individuals.

The existence of greenbeard  once seemed improbable, but work published in Nature Communicationsby the team of geneticists has identified a gene that causes a whole range of ‘beard colours’ in a social microbe.

The microbes – ‘slime moulds’ – live as , but clump together to form a slug like creature when they run out of food. The newly formed slug can move to help them find new sources of food, but this depends on successful cooperation.

Evolution Is Finally Winning Out Over Creationism…


From Science

A majority of young people endorse the scientific explanation of how humans evolved.

Few issues have divided the American public as bitterly as Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. Since On the Origin of Species was published in 1859, it has driven a wedge between those who accept that humans and this planet’s other inhabitants have evolved over time, and those who believe that our species was created in its current form with no alterations. While the majority of people in Europe and in many other parts of the world accept evolution, the United States lags behind. Today, 4 in 10 adults in America believe that humans have existed in our present form since the beginning of time, and in many religious groups, that number is even higher.This is woeful.

Now, at long last, there seems to be hope: National polls show that creationism is beginning to falter, and Americans are finally starting to move in favor of evolution. After decades of legal battles, resistance to science education, and a deeply rooted cultural divide, evolution may be poised to win out once and for all.

The people responsible for this shift are the young. According to a recent Pew Research Center report, 73 percent of American adults younger than 30 expressed some sort of belief in evolution, a jump from 61 percent in 2009, the first year in which the question was asked. The number who believed in purely secular evolution (that is, not directed by any divine power) jumped from 40 percent to a majority of 51 percent. In other words, if you ask a younger American how humans arose, you’re likely to get an answer that has nothing to do with God.

Evolution of the Eye…



Church and State: Did Christianity (and other religions) promote the rise of science?



From whyevolutionistrue

Of course most of you will answer “No way!”, and I do, too, but accommodationists and science-friendly believers make this argument often. Here are a few specimens:

“. . . the very notion of physical law is a theological one in the first place, a fact that makes many scientists squirm. Isaac Newton first got the idea of absolute, universal, perfect, immutable laws from the Christian doctrine that God created the world and ordered it in a rational way. Christians envisage God as upholding the natural order from beyond the universe, while physicists think of their laws as inhabiting an abstract transcendent realm of perfect mathematical relationships.”—Paul Davies, “Taking Science on Faith“, New York Times.

“Moral laws are promulgated by God for free creatures, who have it in their power to obey or disobey. The laws of nature, on the other hand, are promulgated for the inanimate world of matter; physical objects don’t get to decide to obey, say, Newton’s law of gravity. In each case, however, we have the setting forth or promulgation of divine rule for a certain domain of application. It is important to see that our notion of the laws of nature, crucial for contemporary science, has this origin in Christian theism.”  —Alvin Plantinga, Where the Conflict Really Lies, p. 276

“Indeed, a distinctive feature of the Scientific Revolution is that, unlike other scientific programmes and cultures, it is driven, often explicitly, by religious considerations: Christianity set the agenda for natural philosophy in many respects and projected it forward in a way quite different from that of any scientific culture. Moreover, when the standing of religion as a source of knowledge about the world, and cognitive values generally, came to be threatened, it was not science that posed the threat but history.” —S. Graukoger, The Emergence of a Modern Scientific Culture, p. 3

“faith in the possibility of science, generated antecdently to the development of modern scientific theory, is an unconscious derivative from medieval theology.” —Alfred North Whitehead, Science and the Modern World, p. 19.

“Recent scholarship, most of it conducted by secular academics, has established that religious belief was entirely compatible with scientific progress, even encouraging it in many cases.”—K. Giberson and F. Collins, The Language of Science and Faith

Inevitably accompanying these claims is the assertion that because many early scientists (e.g., Newton, Galileo, Copernicus, and Maxwell) were Christians, Christianity must claim some credit for science. Other faiths too take credit; it’s common for accommodationist Muslims to point out that the real scientific achievements of Islam, coupled with bogus exegesis of the Qur’an, show that Islam was important in encouraging science.

Evolution: Scientists counter the claims of intelligent design proponents…



From evolutionfaq

Isn’t Evolution Just Another Religion That Requires Faith?

No.  A religion is a set of beliefs based on the supernatural, which by definition is untestable and impossible to disprove (or “unfalsifiable”).  Faith, in the religious sense, can be stated as “belief without evidence.”  No aspect of science works this way, including the Theory of Evolution.  All scientific theories have been scrutinized through years of experimentation, and can all be falsifiable.  For example, the Theory of Gravity can be proven false if a scientist can devise an experiment where two bodies did not attract each other.  Likewise, the Theory of Evolution could be proven false if a scientist ever documents the evolution of a new adaptation to an organism which did not in any way benefit the organism’s ability to survive, reproduce, or ensure the survival of its species as a whole.

While scientists may place faith in a scientific theory, their faith is based on past evidence.  For example, all scientists have faith that the Law of Thermodynamics will hold true during an experiment because there is overwhelming past evidence to support this belief.  This is completely different than placing faith in a religious belief, which has no supporting evidence at all.