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“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” – Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

Fresh Reads from the Science 'o sphere!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

PBS Documentary: Evolution

I won't be writing a detailed overview of Darwin's personal life and academic contributions, since I'm quite sure that there are already many good books and blog articles about this subject matter.

Instead I will highlight this excellent documentary produced by PBS in 2001. If you haven't seen it before and have a couple of hours to spare, do check it out.



Click the following links to continue:

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11*

What I like about this documentary is that they consistently emphasize that evolution happens to populations, not to individuals. It also touches upon the DNA evidence of common descent (with a brief primer on comparative genomics), which is important to demonstrate to the viewers that evolutionary biology is not only a "historical science" of fossilized remains.

A minor quibble with the documentary is that they did not mention the fact that natural selection also predicts that a population in a static environment should not evolve (due to purifying selection), but today we know this is not the case, certainly not at the molecular level.

Thus, the appearance of enabling mutations by neutral drift could be an important causative factor to evolutionary change, relegating natural selection to the secondary role of preserving changes. The issue of whether natural selection or mutation plays a more significant creative role in the appearance of evolutionary novelties is a genuine scientific debate that continues on today.

I can understand why they left it out though - this nuance is unlikely to interest people outside the field, and irrelevant to the evolution-creation culture war, since there are no current scientific mechanisms of evolution, Darwinian or not, that dispute common descent.


Would you like to know more?
- Controversy in Evolution (old Fresh Brainz video)

*PS. Notice the "Petunia" insider reference?

6 Comments:

Anonymous said...

See rebuttal of the PBS series by Dr Jonathan Sarfati here at

http://creationontheweb.com/content/view/3854

BTW, according to the website Dr Jonathan Sarfati would be in Singapore in November this year to speak on creation. If you feel up to it you may want to appear in one of the venues and challenge his views.

Lim Leng Hiong said...

Anon, I have no idea what you're thinking. You previously said:

"Yes I know Denton went from agnostic to theistic evolutionist. But he is still a creationist! He at least sees the problem with evolution, do you?"

Which means that a person who accepts common descent is still a creationist by your definition, as long as he believes in a creator God.

But now you point to Sarfati's article which says:

"Darwin’s obvious anti-Christianity doesn’t stop Kenneth Miller claiming to be ‘an orthodox Catholic and an orthodox Darwinist’. He wrote a book, Finding Darwin’s God (2000), an anti-creationist polemic, to try to reconcile God and evolution. Miller has had a long history of joining forces with leading humanists against Creation, and his book is full of straw-man arguments, misinformation and outright deception."

He considers Ken Miller to be an anti-creationist. But Ken Miller is also a theistic evolutionist.

So is a theistic evolutionist a creationist or an anti-creationist?

Anonymous said...

I never said that anyone who accepts common descent is a creationist, so that's not my conclusion at all.

I believe Jonathan Sarfati means by creationist the "Young Earth Creationists" who believe that God created as is taught by a plain reading of the Genesis text in 6 ordinary days about 6000 years ago. I was however using it earlier in a broader sense as anyone who believes that God is ultimate creator and that naturalistic evolutionary processes fails to answer the question of origins. Is Denton an evolutionist? Yes he is, though he questions its given powers touted by many evolutionists. Is Denton a creationist? Yes he is, in a non young earth sense. So no, I am not contradicting myself in anyway.

In any case, a theistic evolutionist is an anti-creationist, taking the definition that creationists are the young earth creationists, which most in the CE debate defines as such anyway. There, I hope I have explained and clarified myself. So don't sweat it.

Lim Leng Hiong said...

"Yes I know Denton went from agnostic to theistic evolutionist. But he is still a creationist!"

"I never said that anyone who accepts common descent is a creationist, so that's not my conclusion at all."

"Is Denton an evolutionist? Yes he is, though he questions its given powers touted by many evolutionists. Is Denton a creationist? Yes he is, in a non young earth sense. So no, I am not contradicting myself in anyway."

???

Anonymous said...

What's your confusion? What's so difficult to understand that broadly speaking, creationists are people who believe that there is a Creator (which would include all those who believe God used evolution), but that in the CE debate the label creationists are usually used to refer to young earth creationists who hold to a 6 day creation, a global flood and that the earth is about 6000 years old?

How much more clearer do I need to explain this? If you think I made a contradiction then you are wrong. Had I said Denton was a creationist (6 day creationist) but not a creationist (6 day creationist) then I contradict myself. But if I said that Denton was a creationist (in the theistic evolutionist sense) but not a creationist (in the 6 day creationist sense) then I am not contradicting myself. Clear? I even explained and clarified what creationist meaning I am using.

Boleh? Ke yi mah? Eh Sai boh?

Still confused? See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Creationists

Amused said...

Must, resist...

An apple is an apple.
An orange is an orange.
If something is not an apple, then it has to be an orange.
Something can be an apple, and also an orange (but only when the orange is green).

Hope that makes sense.