Why there are Still Monkeys (You fucktard)

Derp-de-DOO_9bccd0_3262423Generally speaking I do my best to maintain an air of calm, to use the opportunities presented by people’s questions about atheism, naturalism, evolutionary biology and so on to educate and elucidate. I am by no means an expert, but that still puts me leagues ahead of creationist proselytisers like Answers in Genesis.

However, fuck that in the ear.

One of the most common and idiotic questions to arise by people who ‘doubt’ evolution[1] is ‘Why are there still monkeys?

If you ask this question you are one of five things:

1. A troll.
2. Mentally retarded.[2]
3. Uneducated.
4. A shill for creationist groups.
5. Genuinely ignorant of the facts.

I mean, you’re on the queefing internet and can use it to look up that incest/scat porn you love so much. You can’t Google ‘human evolution’ for yourself? You’re sitting there with access to all of human knowledge and you haven’t used it to LEARN about this question that vexes you so much? WHY THE CORMORANT-WANKING ARSE-BUTTER NOT?

So listen up, you rancid squeezing of scrotal pus, and I will tell you why there are still monkeys.

Why there are Still Monkeys

First a counter question.

Why THE BALL-SOLDERING FUCK would you think there wouldn’t still be monkeys? Did you think some monkey committee got together one day in distant prehistory and had some sort of meeting? Perhaps the chairmonkey banged his gavel-stone on a rock and laid it down to everyone?

“You know what chaps. I’m sick of this ‘being a monkey’ shit. How about we all climb down from the trees, shed our fur, dock our tails, walk upright and starts calling ourselves humans?”

“Point of order!”

“The chair recognises Brian Macaque.”

“Can we keep the tails? They’re kinda neat.”

“No. Motion carried.”

That isn’t how it happens, you mong.

Look. Let’s try using an analogy (a thing that is similar to another thing) so that your miniscule amount of grey matter (that means ‘small brain’) can try to understand it, and then let’s use that to explain how evolution works. Given that most of you are from that gang of festering colonial septics [3], let’s use American history for our analogy.

Way back when a bunch of religious extremists, not unlike yourselves, got a bit peeved about the restoration of the monarchy and its implied return to Catholicism. Unable to deal with this they upped sticks and made the long journey to the American colonies, which were little more than disease infested shitholes at the time.

Little has changed.

Separated from Europe and England by thousands of miles America began to develop its own culture, traditions and lifestyle (or what passes for them over there) while Europe and Britain continued with their own culture, traditions and lifestyle. Separation and lack of easy communication (that means talking to each other), as well as different climate, space, the presence of a hostile native culture and so on all meant that the two countries diverged more and more.

This came to a head with the American Revolution and your founding fathers – traitors, terrorists and seditionists to a man – lead the revolt that finally separated England from its colonies.

So America came from Britain, separated from Britain and became its own country. With me so far? Probably not, you probably used the swearing as an excuse to cock off in a huff. Fuck you then. Anyway…

IF AMERICA EXISTS, WHY ARE THERE STILL BRITISH PEOPLE?

Do you see? Do you understand quite how monumentally fucking stupid your question is now? Why I am swearing and bashing my head against a wall every time you say it? Can you at least redeem yourself by some infinitesimal degree and admit you were wrong or at least didn’t know what you were talking about?

No you say? It’s different?

Well, yes, it is different, but it is also the same.

For starters, and this is a really, really important thing to understand so PLEASE concentrate very hard and stop flicking over to Youtube to watch ‘Blurred Lines’ or whatever other bit of artificially crafted controversy you kids like these days.

Humans DID NOT come from monkeys. We share a common ancestor with monkeys. Monkeys are more like our cousins. While YOU might have been fathered by your cousin, given that you’re a fucking idiot who won the genetic anti-lottery this is not what normally happens. Rather, even though you’re related to your cousin you both share a grandparent. When it comes to humans and monkeys we share a ‘species grandparent’, that common ancestor that would have been very much like a monkey.

All life on Earth is related if you go back far enough, but that would BLOW YOUR INDESCRIBABLY TINY MIND so we won’t cover that right now.

Another difference? Evolution is SLOW. A revolution can take place over the span of a few years, well within a lifetime, while evolution takes place much more slowly, measured in multiple lifetimes because it relies on the reproductive cycle (fucking and having babies who carry your genes – but let’s hope you take yourself out of the genepool because you’re clearly defective).

To call evolution slow (at least in large creatures such as ourselves) is to miss a perfect opportunity to use a posh word like ‘glacial’ and to use ‘glacial’ is to miss a perfect opportunity to use the term IMPERCEPTIBLY COCKING SLOW.

At some point some of our common ancestors got separated. Perhaps by migration or disaster, a change in climate, disease, earthquake. The conditions around them changed and so the kinds of things that helped them survive changed. They needed to walk upright. They didn’t need to climb trees. Adaptability and intelligence (though not in your case) became things that helped them live and so they were ‘selected’ for.

That’s natural selection, not some bearded sky-wizard calling the shots. The stupid ape gets eaten while flicking the sabretooth in the plums with a stick, the smart ape hoards food and so on. Meanwhile other groups of this ancestor were living in different places and situations where different things helped them live.

The populations diverged (that means split up) and developed in different ways.

Over time those differences get bigger and bigger and bigger until the two separate groups are so different that they can’t fuck and have kids any more. That’s called ‘speciation’ or ‘macroevolution’ which is the term you’ve probably heard from one of those lying shitheels that like to deny you a proper education.

There are still monkeys because we’re not from modern monkeys but from something like them from the deep past.

There are still monkeys in the same way there are still British people, even though there are Americans now.

Do you get it?

Do you understand you bacteria-infested taint-swab?

Then stop asking such fucking stupid questions and open a book other than the Bible for fucking once!

[1] – While enjoying the fruits of evolutionary biology and medicine in the form of vaccinations, genetic screening, DNA crime scene evidence, genetically tailored medicine and the hopes of bacteriophages as a replacement for antibiotics, paternity tests, ancestry tracking and everything else… the braindead cunts.

[2] – Yes, yes, it’s not nice to call people retarded as an insult. Whatever. Cry me a river and I will drink your delicious tears as a nod to the legends about Fomorians. I don’t have anything against the genuinely mentally subnormal, I am insulting people that should know better. Make yourself useful and go protest something that actually, meaningfully hurts people. Like welfare cuts, fitness tests for the disabled or corporate tax avoidance. You’re a hideous stereotype of a ‘wet liberal’ and you make me sick you festering axe-wound.

[3] – Rhyming slang for Americans. ‘Septic tank, Yank’.

Randomness? Not a Chance!

UrsulaAndress5143“You really believe this wonderful universe came about by chance do you? If not god then you MUST believe it’s all just random chance!”

How many times have we had to deal with this strawman argument? Over and over and over again. I am now very tired of answering it, so maybe I (and you) can use this as a handy reference.

1. Just because I don’t believe your answer (god) doesn’t mean I need another answer. All that is required for atheism is not believing in god and we have no reason to. It would be perfectly fine just not to believe your explanation and so long as there’s no evidence for your explanation that is perfectly reasonable. Saying: “Look at this perfect universe! God must have done it!” is not only ignorant of the hostile nature of the universe in which we live, but it is a perfect example of the argument from ignorance and the argument from personal incredulity.

2. Given the sheer scale of the universe (13.75 billion years old, hundreds of billions of galaxies each with hundreds of billions of stars) even sheer chance has pretty good odds at that scale anyway.

3. There is pretty much no instance in which ‘random chance’ is involved in cosmogenesis, abiogenesis or evolution.

3a. The fact is we don’t know that much about the origin of the universe yet. There’s some rather difficult and profound questions around it. It seems, though, that the fundamental factors that constitute the natural laws of the universe are interrelated and may be confined to a relatively small range. There’s also the fact that if the universe was not one in which we could come about to think about it, we wouldn’t be here to think about it. You must also consider that we formed to fit the universe in which we exist, not vice versa.

3b. The planets and stars came together through gravity, not chance. It is no more chance that these bodies formed than it is that a released stone drops to the ground. This is also the case for the formation of elements in stellar cores and their interactions. These are fundamental qualities and they interact as they do not randomly, but according to conditions and opportunity.

3c. Abiogenesis is not a matter of chance but a result of chemical interactions under specific circumstances. We have problems recreating it in a lab because of a matter of scale and time. Not because it’s impossible. Szostak’s work is some of the best on this. Really, replicating molecules are just a matter of inevitable chemical interactions – given enough time, the right conditions and the opportunity.

3d. Evolution is not random. Variation is semi-random due to mixing of genes. Mutations are somewhat random. Selection is not. The faster lion catches the wildebeest, the slower wildebeest gets eaten. That’s deterministic, not bloody random.

In short, shut up.

Seven Refutations

Seven-Dwarfs

Insomuch as is possible I will limit myself to simple atheism, that is ‘I do not believe in god/s’ without involving naturalism, science etc. This is a basic, sceptical stance wherein we require evidence for a god before we believe in one (or indeed anything else). William Lane Craig’s ‘Seven arguments for god‘ keep getting brought up as ‘evidence’ when they’re not evidence and they’re barely even arguments. I will now show why:

1. Why is there something instead of nothing?

Leaving aside the science for a moment, ‘I don’t know’ is a perfectly acceptable answer. Is there a reason? There may or may not be. Is it even possible for there to be ‘nothing’? There’s some suggestion otherwise. Whatever the case, whether there a reason, an actor, a natural force at play or otherwise if you’re going to say ‘god did it’ you need evidence that god did it. WLC only has an assertion which, without evidence to back it up, is useless.

One down.

2. Cause and Effect

Again, leaving aside the scientific examples of exceptions to this this is a poor argument and not evidence. IF everything requires a cause then this must also apply to god itself, leading to an infinite regression of gods each creating the next one. Clearly this is not a logical or rational position. Craig takes up the ‘Kalam’ argument, which I have covered before. This one says ‘everything needs a cause, except god’. Well then, if there can be exceptions then not everything requires a cause.

Even if everything does require a cause that could be natural, one of any number of gods or something else entirely. Asserting it is god doesn’t make it so. You would need evidence to prove that assertion. Again, this is just an assertion and again, without evidence to back it up, it is useless. This is without even getting into issues like the impossibility of cause and effect before time and context.

Two down.

3. Argument from Design & Complexity

Again, ignoring the fact that science can account for the appearance of design and for natural complexity we still find this to be a poor argument. Things certainly might appear designed or special but that’s just our perspective on them. If they were different, they’d be different. If you shuffle a deck of cards the odds of them coming out in any particular order are around 1 in 10 to the power of 68 (I think, the point is that they’re long odds). Yet every time we shuffle a pack those incredibly long odds are made manifest in that particular order. We just happen to observe them in the order they have happened into.

Even then, much of the natural world is interdependent and deterministic, shortening the odds and moves in building cycles.

So, we can certainly say things ‘appear designed’ but there are a multitude of possibilities for this. Again, natural laws and interactions, again, any number of possible gods and again, other things we maybe haven’t thought of. WLC presumes god and wedges it in there because that’s all he can think of. Yet again, this is an assertion. Yet again, this assertion requires evidence to back it up. Yet again, he has none.

Three down.

4. Objective Morality

There have been innumerable moral systems over time. Morality is subjective, conditional and contextual. We really cannot point to anything at all that would universally be bad or wrong (or the worst option) in any and every circumstance. Ignoring the science, again, all we have here is an assertion and yet again, one without evidence. Craig specifically believes the Abrahamic god to be true, and that god has tremendous problems when you look at its morality. It breaks virtually every one of its own commandments, it kills, it lies, it even rapes children (Mary being adjudged to be a child by modern standards). The very split between the OT and the NT undermines this suggestion of objective morality.

Even if there were an objective moral system there are many possible explanations, natural ones, theistic ones and others. Craig fails to provide evidence that there is an objective moral system or that his god is the one behind it.

Four down.

5. Ontological Argument

This one is really rather crazy so why anyone takes it seriously I don’t know. The basic idea runs something like this:

  • We can conceive of an all powerful, perfect being.
  • Existence is a prerequisite of being all powerful and perfect.
  • We can conceive of god.
  • Therefore god exists.

I call this the ‘if wishes were horses’ argument.

Here’s my formulation.

  • I can conceive of the perfect roast beef sandwich.
  • Existence is a prerequisite of being the perfect roast beef sandwich and it is MY perfect roast beef sandwich so it would have to be here right now for me to eat.
  • Where the fuck is my sandwich?

That we can conceive of a thing doesn’t, apparently, mean that thing actually exists outside of the conceptual space of our mind. Physical reality certainly appears to be much more limited. This conceptual being could also be anything from god to Allah to The Great Green Arkleseizure. We can also constantly improve on our concepts over time.

Yet again, no evidence here, just a theological/philosophical mind game that, in the end, provides no evidence.

Five down.

6. Resurrection

Here’s where Craig gets specifically into the Christian god. In brief there is:

  1. No historical evidence for the existence of Jesus, even as a mortal man.
  2. No historical evidence for the resurrection.

In short, again, these are claims which require evidence, not evidence themselves.

Six down.

7. Experiential

Subjective, personal experience is not evidence. Yes, people inculcated into a particular religion may claim to have a particular experience but this varies from person to person and culture to culture. The ‘spiritual experience’ of a Hindu is no more or less convincing than that of a Christian. While we give certain things a pass on the need for evidence (mundane, everyday experiences and so forth) really, we need evidence to rationally believe anything.

Your ‘encounter’ with god is no more convincing than my ‘encounter’ with an Aztec god after having taken mushrooms.

Seven down.

Summary

Every single one of WLC’s arguments are arguments from ignorance (I don’t know, therefore god did it) or arguments from personal incredulity (I can’t believe this happened any other way than god). These are, needless to say, fallacious lines of reasoning. There is no evidence here, just questions into which ‘god did it’ has been crudely rammed on absolutely no basis.

And yet WLC is considered the ‘best’ apologetics has to offer.

Four Reasons that Don’t Hold Up

The author of the Blog My Reasons seems to have made me a project to debate these reasons they believe in god, but having a debate hidden away purely in the comments isn’t a great way to proceed. I’ve taken a look at their reasons in the hopes that it would be something different and new but alas, it seems not. If this post seems curt it’s because these are mostly old hat and have been dealt with many times before.

1. Complexity

There’s a lot of stuff listed here but unfortunately it’s mostly redundant. The basic idea is that the modern cell is so complicated that it couldn’t possibly have evolved. Well, there’s a problem with that right away. The modern cell is itself the result of around 3.75 billion years of evolution and not the simple replicator that the first proto-cell or proto DNA/RNA would have been. There are two great primers and indications of how simple early replicators can be. Firstly Dr Szostak’s work on early replicators and secondly Spiegalman’s Monster.

The blog also cites non-organic material but in actuality planets, galaxies, stars etc are all pretty damn simple. They’re just BIG. Gravity and motion is all it takes to explain any of them.

The problem is really that a) complexity is not indicative of design and b) irreducible complexity… isn’t.

2. Religions Point to a Deity

Well the earliest religions are more animistic, pointing to ‘spirits’ and we see no indication of those either. Most religions have been polytheistic, but if you’re trying to argue for ‘a’ god, then that’s singularly unhelpful. Right off the bat it’s obvious that this is an argumentum ad populum and so can be dismissed without further ado.

That said there are other reasons why humans would have this common weakness for religion. Humans tend to false pattern recognition with a particular weakness for seeing human agency or imagery. We think we see a human face in the moon. Is it a human face? No. This is pareidolia. Similarly we expect concious, human agency where there is none. “OK, who hid my car keys?”

Why does this happen? Evolutionary Psychology suggests that there must be an evolutionary reason but that doesn’t mean our modern conclusions are correct. Humans are social animals who live in a social context. Amongst other humans most interactions and events DO have agency and erring on the side of suspecting and accounting for that would have survival value. Similarly there’s survival value in being paranoid. Mr Caveman is walking through the woods when he hears a twig snap. Should he assume it’s a sabretooth and run for his life or brush it off and ignore it? Even if it isn’t a sabretooth most of the time, paranoid caveman is more likely to survive and father children and pass on the ‘RUN!’ meme socially.

3. Pascal’s Wager

I cover some of the profound issues that shoot this argument to shit in a previous post. Little point going over it again.

4. NDEs

Are hallucinations caused by the release of DMT in the brain under extreme duress and ‘coming up’ out of oxygen starvation to the brain. Some include Out of Body experiences but these have similarly been debunked and have been artificially induced. Skepdic has a good summation of NDE claims and debunking.

The only variance here is the claim that the congenitally blind can have visual NDEs. Well, as it turns out only 10% of people who are legally blind are actually completely blind and even they often have some sense of light and of spatial awareness.

The study most often cited examined a whole 30 blind people who had supposedly had NDEs and reported 80% had had visual hallucinations in their NDEs. Keep in mind that 10% of 30 is only three and that this really doesn’t constitute a good example. Furthermore their star witness did not report full visual hallucinations but ones without colour. This is good reason to suspect that they might simply be reporting what they were expected to or how sight had been described to them.

The way to settle this would probably be to induce an NDE like experience in a person who was congenitally blind while scanning them in an fMRI for activity in the visual parts of the brain. We’ll have to see if this ever happens but in the meantime the paucity of evidence and its suspicious cast forces one to suspend judgement and hold the proposition false under the burden of proof.

Outside of this particular wrinkle, NDEs (and OOBEs) have been more than adequately explained at this point.

Why do people report similar experiences? Similar situations and stresses upon the body will induce similar effects just as certain drugs induce similar effects. Prior to the popularisation of  the ‘typical’ NDE, reports were very much varied according to cultural inculcation and tradition. It is only with the emergence of the typical NDE story that we have seen this homogenisation. It’s a similar phenomenon to how alien ‘abductees’ used to report a panapoly of different aliens from hairy dwarfs to giant lizard men but the popularisation of the ‘grey’ has homogenised that.

 

Why the Hate for Evolutionary Psychology?

Sticking with the feminism theme, at least for this post. I find myself wondering quite what the objection to evolutionary psychology is. After all, evolutionary psychology, just like any other evolutionary theory, doesn’t try to say what’s right or wrong, it tries to describe what is.

It cannot help but feel to me that the objections to it come from a similar root to religious objections to biological evolution. Just as a creationist doesn’t like the idea of ‘coming from a monkey’ or just being another animal so, it feels, that people object to the idea that their behaviours, their psychology, may be influenced (rather than determined) by their evolutionary history.

This becomes particularly contentious when one gets to the matter of differences between the genders. Hopefully, by this point, nobody would disagree that there are – indeed – biological differences between the sexes. Not just the obvious primary and secondary sexual characteristics but in genetics, hormones, brain structure and a host of other things. Hell, human females are (if I remember correctly) the only animal to have evolved an organ purely for pleasure.

Moving away from the sensitive area of talking about humans and all their neuroses for a moment let’s strip it back.

  1. We know evolution takes place.
  2. We know sexual dimorphism exists. Often to remarkable extremes.*
  3. We know behaviour can be affected by selection.
  4. We know behaviour, particularly sexual, even very complex can be split between genders.
  5. What is psychology other than complex behaviour interactions?

The question then becomes what’s so bloody special about human beings? Why would someone think we were different? Strikes me as particularly arrogant, as arrogant as claiming we have ‘souls’ and animals don’t.

I think the problem comes about in that some people see, in evolutionary psychology, justification or support for rather hidebound and traditional views of gender roles. That there are (or probably are) psychological difference between the sexes does not mean those differences conform to stereotype or myth.

At the risk of invoking a reductio ad Hitlerum I would point out that eugenics, while crude, could eliminate many genetic diseases. That doesn’t mean that the crazed racial hatred of the Nazis or their elimination tactics are valid or scientific. Nor does it mean that such methods have not been superseded, nor that they were right or moral.

*And other than, perhaps, gorillas or baboons, we’re particularly sexually dimorphic amongst our close relatives.

The River of Life

A common argument from theists is that DNA is ‘information’ and that ‘information’ can only be created by an intelligent being. This is half true. Information is created by conscious intelligent entities – us. Information is something we assign to other things.

A rock is just a rock, even the designation ‘rock’ is something we give to it. We can also discover all sorts of other information about the rock. We can weight it, measure its density, discover what materials make it up. We can dig through it for a fossil, we can determine how radioactive it is. We can discover all sorts of information about it but, again, this is all something we assign to it. Without our words, without our interpretation, the rock just is what it is and that we can determine this information about the rock doesn’t mean that it is a made, intelligently created thing.

The same is true of DNA. We describe it as a ‘code’ and as ‘information’ because it encodes proteins, governs so many factors about our bodies, minds, everything about us and about every living thing but in its own way the DNA isn’t all that different than the rock. Rather than being shaped by erosion – natural factors, DNA is shaped by natural selection – also natural factors.

The analogy I like to use it that of the river.

A spring bubbles up from underneath the ground and starts to flow. As it flows it becomes a river. The river starts to wind and twist its way across the landscape.

What determines the shape of the river? We can extract all sorts of information about it. The soil density of the banks. The shape and hardness of the rocks it encounters. The shapes of the valleys. The way it splits into different flows, pools into lakes and ponds, all determined by the landscape it flows over.

Is it right, though, to say that this IS information? Is the landscape encoding, telling the river what form to take?

No, the river is just flowing and the context in which the water and the flow finds itself determines the shape, determines the way it goes. Hopefully nobody would argue that this river is intelligently designed or that the banks are created ‘just so’ to shape it in this particular way so why do they do that for human DNA?

Our banks, our rocks, our rates of flow, our valleys, our gulleys… these are the contexts in which we find ourselves. Our predators, our prey, our diseases, our famines. These are the encounters that shape our evolution just as the banks, the rocks, the rains and so on shape the river.

Information is just the way we interpret these things.

Bad Reasons to Believe in God: Survival Instinct

This was a new one on me, I’d never heard it before. The answer seems so utterly obvious to me that I don’t know why anyone would bring it up, still, it’s started to come up from more than one source, so here’s the simple answer.

‘If there’s no god, how do you account for our inherent survival instinct?’

The survival instinct is an evolved trait. The survival benefit of… wanting to survive, should be blatantly obvious. Those creatures that want to survive pass on the tendency to want to survive, and they survive more often because they want to survive.

Creatures with a lesser survival instinct or no survival instinct at all, are – obviously – less likely to survive and so don’t pass on their suicidal tendencies.

D’uh.