The World According to kcillini77

December 13, 2007

They’ve Finally Figured it Out!

Filed under: Evolution/I.D.,Kansas City,Sarcasm — kcillini77 @ 9:08 pm

Found this in the Kansas City Star today. My comments follow the article (in italics).

Researchers discover why pregnant women don’t tip over

By SETH BORENSTEIN

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON | Scientists think they have figured out why pregnant women don’t lose their balance and topple over despite ever-growing weight up front.Evolution provided them with slight differences from men in their lower backs and hip joints, allowing them to adjust their center of gravity, new research shows.

This elegant engineering is seen only in female humans and our immediate ancestors who walked on two feet, but not in chimps and apes, according to a study being published today in the journal Nature.

“That’s a big load that’s pulling you forward,” said Liza Shapiro, an anthropology professor at the University of Texas, the only one of the study’s three authors who has been pregnant. “You experience discomfort. Maybe it would be a lot worse if (the design changes) were not there.”

Harvard anthropology researcher Katherine Whitcomb found two physical differences in male and female backs that until now had gone unnoticed: One lower lumbar vertebra is wedge-shaped in women and more square in men; and a key hip joint is 14 percent larger in women than men when body size is taken into account.

The researchers did engineering tests that show how those slight changes allow women to carry the additional and growing load without toppling over — and typically without disabling back pain.

“When you think about it, women make it look so very … easy,” Whitcomb said. “They are experiencing a pretty impressive challenge. Evolution has tinkered … to the point where they can deal with the challenge.

Walking on two feet separates humans from most other animals. And while anthropologists still debate the evolutionary benefit of walking on two feet, there are notable costs, such as pain for pregnant females. Animals on all fours can better handle the extra belly weight.

The back changes appear to have evolved to overcome the cost of walking on two feet, said Harvard anthropology professor Daniel Lieberman.

When the researchers looked back at fossil records of human ancestors, including the oldest spines that go back 2 million years to our predecessor, Australopithecus, they found a male without the lower-back changes and a female with them.

The lower spine in humans had already developed a unique forward curve that helps compensate for the extra pressures that arose when the primate ancestors went from moving around on four limbs to walking upright.

Because the engine of evolution runs on the passage of genes from one generation to the next, pregnancy is a critical moment. Without that adaptation, Whitcomb said, females would have been in considerably greater pain during pregnancy and might not have been able to forage effectively or escape predators, ending the pregnancy and the genetic line as well.

As solutions go, the forward spine is only partly successful, Shaprio said, because women still commonly complain of back trouble and pain during pregnancy. Even the basic forward curve that promotes balance in upright walking is “not a structurally ideal solution,” she said, because it can lead to instability and even fractured vertebrae.

If evolution provided relief for women in pregnancy, one might ask, what about the equally awkward morphology of men with beer guts?

Shapiro said that their research shows that “men would not be as well adapted to a beer gut” as a woman.

Whitcomb noted that in terms of the time that the evolutionary shift occurred, “finding extra calories wasn’t likely,” so an early hominid primate with a potbelly would have been quite a rarity.

John Schwartz of The New York Times contributed to this report.

 

I find the choice of words the author used to begin the second and third paragraphs very thought provoking. “Evolution provided…”, “This elegant engineering…”

Biological evolution, by definition, is anything but engineering. It is trial and error. There is no end goal in mind other than survival, so the solution that is arrived upon is the best means to an end reached by random chance. It can by no means be referred to as engineering, and certainly not as elegant.

But this article does point out one very critical question we all must consider when it mentions that “anthropologists still debate the evolutionary benefit of walking on two feet.” Wouldn’t we all be better off on all fours? Let’s all give it a shot for the next week. My son moved pretty quickly on all fours before he started walking… Maybe he was onto something!

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August 9, 2007

The Ostrich Effect

Filed under: America,Christianity,Church,Evolution/I.D. — kcillini77 @ 7:29 am

When I graduated from high school 12 years ago, I thought I had things pretty well figured out. My mind was changed on a few things during college, but surely when I picked up my sheepskin my philosophy and doctrine was pretty well set, right?  Three-plus more years of bachelor life followed, and I made a few minor modifications, but without a doubt I must have been set in my ways when I got married. Now I sit here four years removed from that event, with a child of my own as well, and I see that my mind has changed numerous times over the years. Not about trivial stuff – about my core beliefs.

Let me give some examples of things I used to believe:

  • That the earth was created in seven literal days
  • That drinking alcohol was a sin
  • That Revelation pointed to a future tribulation where Christians would be taken up into heaven and observe a holocaust from above
  • That Christians had to vote Republican
  • That someday I would mature as a Christian to a point where I would be able to say that my sins, my “lusts of the flesh”, were all in the past
  • That people in disease and poverty borne out of their own choices were being punished by God and deserved what they got
  • That an “Open Mind” was something bad

The list could go on and on if I reflected longer, but it serves my point. Some of those things I believed because I learned them in Church or at home growing up. Some I inferred based on other teachings. Others I just came up with on my own. Since that time, my mind has been changed on these issues based on Bible study, research, logic, reasoning, and prayer. I still believe, and have an even stronger faith based on these activities, that Jesus died and rose again for our salvation. I still believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. And I still believe that those who believe the things that I don’t believe anymore are worthy of my respect and are my brothers and sisters in Christ.

All through scripture, the Gospels are the focus – from Genesis to Revelation, the Gospel message of Jesus is central. It is THE point of all of scripture. The rest is, as 2 Timothy 3 tells us, “God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” So it’s all important, and our doctrine is very important. It’s important to determine what we believe on these issues and live our lives by them. But it’s also important not to make dogmatic assertions based on our understanding of them. Doctrinal issues such as these have led to our various denominations, but sticking to them dogmatically divides us as friends – as brothers and sisters, and that’s not how the Church should be.

Let me go back to my last bullet. If there’s one thing in there that you could say I am now dogmatic about, it would be that one. American Christians in general seem to believe that once you have your mind convinced about a doctrinal issue, you should set your feet and your head firmly in the sand and refuse to open yourself up to an idea that the truth may be different than imagined. This mentality needs to change if our Church is to become relevant in our country again. The head burying response is rooted strongly in fear, something we were not given a spirit of. We think that if we open our minds to change we will open the floodgates for all sorts of sinful things to become acceptable in the church or even for us to lose faith in the resurrection. But if our faith is true, we should never fear questions. Seek the evidence for the resurrection. Once you have established a rock solid case for that (and it’s there), your fear should start to dissipate. At that point, you can seek the evidence for some of your other pet traditions. Some of them will have evidence sorely lacking. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll find it’s time to pull your head out of the sand and start discussing the issues with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

April 14, 2007

Faithbusters

Filed under: America,Christianity,Evolution/I.D. — kcillini77 @ 5:04 pm

 evolution.jpg

A new friend of mine who is highly skeptical but interested in the claims of Christianity posed a question to me that I had never been asked before. Since a fair question to a skeptic is “What evidence would it take for you to believe in Christ”, he asked me, “What evidence would it take for you to abandon your faith?” I didn’t have any reasonable off the cuff answer for him, so I told him I’d have to think about that. It’s been in the back of my mind lately, and so I’d like to explore the question by examining some potential faithbusters and how I have either come to grips with them or how I feel I would respond if the situation arises. This will no doubt become a multi-post effort. Okay, without further ado – here’s the first:

The Origin of the Universe and of Man: Could there ever come a point at which science could prove to me that the God I believe in does not exist? Obviously, science can never disprove the existence of God, but in theory it could rule out the need for God. Prevailing scientific theory already believes it has done so, but Darwinian thought is prefaced with the assumption that only natural causes are valid. Hence, macroevolution as currently presented has already ruled out the existence of God and only surmises that God is not necessary via circular reasoning.

The reasoning of intelligent design scientists such as Michael Behe, William Dembski, and others make sense to me. I don’t intend to rehash their arguments here – you can research them for yourselves if interested. What I can say about my beliefs is that at this point I think the idea that Genesis 1 is intended as a literal retelling of creation (i.e. seven days and the earth is only 6,000 years old) is a stubborn idea based on a lack of understanding of the genres employed in scripture. That doesn’t mean that God couldn’t have created the earth in seven days, but that given the fairly irrefutable scientific evidence surrounding us, those who hold to such a notion (ie. Ken Hamm) are turning a blind eye to science in support of one interpretation of a section of scripture. Science is not an enemy of faith.

The age of the earth may require a different interpretation of Genesis than believing it to be a scientific textbook. But one thing that is clear no matter how you read it is that God created man in his own image and made a clear distinction between animals and man. The metaphysics of our being – the very fact that we can reason and emote and think as we do – separates us from animals and is one thing that even the theory of evolution cannot ever explain.

But I’m starting to go off on a tangent. I began by questioning what would make me question or perhaps abandon my faith. Because I believe that God created man in His own image, a strong indication that we DID evolve from randomness to the complex individuals we are today would make me rethink some of my positions. One might say, ‘but you have already been convinced to a point that you would reason away any proof that I might show you.’ Fair contention. Here’s what I would need to see. Forget your faked or extremely imaginative “missing links.” Forget your spotted moths and other evidences of microevolution. Show me one species born from another one and I’ll have questions about my understanding of the nature of God. If everything is constantly evolving, there has got to be a species somewhere in the world ready to make the leap into a more progressive species. Where is it?

February 27, 2007

Funny Stuff

Filed under: Christianity,Evolution/I.D. — kcillini77 @ 9:00 pm

The other day I was flipping channels and came across a Discovery Channel documentary called “The Anatomy of Sex”. I only watched for about a minute, but I had to write down this quote because it had me laughing. “…but the parts you like are no accident. They’re the product of four million years of evolution.”

The entire premise of evolution is that we came from nothing by random chance. I understand what they are getting at is that per the theory, trial and error determined that the organs that we currently sport were the best method of propogation of the species. But it points to the major flaw in the theory.  Since when does random chance lead from chaos to order?  Nothing in our universe works that way.  When’s the last time you saw a load of two by fours dumped onto the ground formed into a house without an architect and construction?  How about, “…but the parts you like are no accident. God had a purpose in mind when he designed the human body and it was GOOD.” That makes a whole lot more sense to me. What do you think?

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