Talking About Evolution


This video was produced to allow scientists to explain, in their own words, the importance of evolution to science — and the related importance of teaching evolution in schools. Our goal is to convey the fact that evolution is an amazing, uplifting discovery that has served as the genesis of countless advances in many fields of science. We also wanted to highlight female role models in the science community.

For information on what you can do to support evolution in education, please visit these sites. These organizations are not associated with this video in any way, but we think they do great work: National Center For Science Education: http://ncse.com/ and American Association For The Advancement Of Science: http://www.aaas.org/.

We encourage people to film their own videos and contribute to the conversation. Keep it positive: focus on the importance and wonder of evolution, and not on divisive name-calling.

Many thanks to all of the scientists who participated in this video. Their individual video submissions are available in their entirety at [insert YouTube channel URL here, assuming we can load those easily].

This video was produced by: Matt Shipman, David Wescott, Jamie Vernon, Kevin Zelnio and Andrea Kuszewski.

Comments

  1. #1 NewEnglandBob
    November 22, 2011

    Dr Ashbridge at $4:40 could have spent a minute familiarizing herself with her few seconds of script instead of looking like she is reading it off camera for the first time.

  2. #2 idahogie
    November 22, 2011

    Great video. I hope more STEM disciplines (and even the atheists) take the same approach.

  3. #3 ron
    November 22, 2011

    A skeptic or atheist is governed by two main principles: 1) all beliefs must be supported by observational evidence, and 2) beliefs that contradict observational evidence cannot be tolerated. However, strong atheism states that there is no god, even though observational evidence indicates that the universe has a cause that cannot be detected observationally. So despite the lack of observational evidence for a naturalistic cause for the universe, the strong atheist believes that the universe has a naturalistic cause and that there is no god, contradicting the tenet that all beliefs should be based upon observational evidence.

    Search Anthony Flew.

  4. #4 Jeff
    November 22, 2011

    @Ron:

    I break down your argument thusly

    Your argument is we have no observational evidence for a reason/cause for the universe to exist. Therefore we must make up a reason.

    From this I follow that you have based your argument on the following principle:
    It is a requirement for a universe to exist it must have a reason/cause.

    And following from that basic premise is your second argument:
    That cause must be a ‘god’ or a creator being.

    Please explain the first principle. Why the universe must have a cause/reason.

    And if that is sufficiently supportable, please explain how your second argument, that it must be a ‘god’ that is reason/cause for the universe follows from what you call no observational evidence for a cause/reason for the universe to exist.

    I would say that in the absence of all evidence, which you have stated is the case(a point I will only concede for arguments sake, but not in truth), then I suppose all proposed theories fit the available evidence.

    However, a more reasoned and I would argue useful approach when confronted with no evidence would be to seek more evidence. Instead of fabricating random concepts and ideas grounded in nothing but flights of fancy.

  5. #5 Jeff
    November 22, 2011

    @2 Ron:

    I should further elaborate on my earlier response to your comment with my perspective on what your post conveys about your interaction with concepts and philosophies.

    With your statements about skeptics(I should state that skeptics and atheists are not mutually inclusive, generally skepticism leads to atheism but there are a great many credulous atheists in this world who seek out alternative belief systems) you make make the statement that because no evidence exists to support or negate an idea, that idea must be rejected. That is not the case. If no evidence exists to support an idea then that idea remains in the state where it may be valid or it may be valid. To say that it is rejected outright is a falsehood.

    This leads to the next point, you seem to hold a false belief that the skeptical atheist holds the following belief: ‘There is no god’. This is wrong.

    No, the belief held by the skeptical atheist is instead: ‘there is no evidence for god’. How this can affect skeptics is the basis of several arguments for belief systems.

    Perhaps you’ve heard the argument: For arguments sake there’s no evidence for or against god. Then you weigh the promised rewards of religion/belief in god, the afterlife, Valhalla etc. Against the rewards of non-belief none well shouldn’t all reasonable people believe in God just as a hedge? After all, you compare a reward vs a punishment if god exists and if god does not isn’t it a moot point?

    Well, fundamental to that argument is the concept that if you believe in god, there is only one way to believe in god and god forbid(hahaha, but not really) there could never be more than one god. Well, what if you somehow worship god wrong and instead its worse than nonbelief, what if you worship the wrong god, after all, the christian god classes those who worship other gods as badly as those who murder.

    If there is zero evidence to support god/creator, there is zero evidence to define what behavior pleases or if that creator even cares. But I’ve now digressed and drifted away from my initial point.

    I would like to reiterate my points since I seemed to get sidetracked.

    First off, skeptics do not reject ideas for which there is no evidence, it simply means there is no meaningful way to interact with that concept in the real world. You can produce thought experiments should you like and you can try to conceptualize how these ideas may produce evidence of there existence in the real observable universe and attempt to seek that evidence to prove or disprove them. But until the sum of that evidence moves away from 0, then that idea is merely mental masturbation.

    Second, it is very important to note, not all atheism derives from skepticism. Some atheists are there because their belief system precludes the existence of gods and that belief system may be just as whacky as Christianity, paganism, turtle stacking, great spirits, horrible spirits or computer simulations(to be fair, our universe as a computer simulation probably is more valid than the other ideas listed but hey).

    Third, you should give your argument about why the universe requires a cause, and from there why does it follow there must be a non-naturalistic explanation?

  6. #6 dean
    November 22, 2011

    ron, the requirement should be that there is evidence in favor of a “god”. i base my belief on
    a) there is no observable data for a god – we have scientific theories that provide explanations for many things, and those theories have been tested extremely well and held up.
    b) when need be we have methods for adjusting our explanations – adjustments made not simply on unverifiable faith, but observations and data
    c) the inability to explain something currently does not, by itself, mean we should default to a “aha! there’s god, right there, over by the chupacabra! see him? see him?” mode

    what part of “don’t wander into the realm of the supernatural if you want to obtain scientific explanations” don’t you get?

  7. #7 ron
    November 23, 2011

    Jeff,
    I appreciate your passion and ability to express your beliefs. I don’t blame you for getting side tracked. There are many inter-weaving cogs here.
    Let’s establish that A) The universe does exist. B) To label oneself a “scientist”, as these video participants do, is to label oneself as someone who accepts or rejects theories based on observational evidence (aka the “scientific method”).
    The point is that to believe in random chance as an observational science is not supported by the scientific method. The scientific method itself is valid because the universe is NOT random, but that experiments are repeatable and observable. We did not strap ourselves to our beds last night on the chance that the laws of gravity changed randomly.
    Laws of logic, physics and morality are not accounted for by an evolutionary worldview. Yet they exist. Information is not random. Information comes from something. Matter comes from something. Ultimately, evolution is a incomplete theory on the universe. The Christian worldview completely explains the origins of all universal laws.

  8. #8 ron
    November 23, 2011

    Dean,
    A) I would argue that the Biblical worldview is consistent and the evolutionary worldview is not. I recognize that you do not see the evidence in the same way that I do.
    B) Then we agree that there is uniformity in nature. Uniformity in nature is the basis of the scientific method (that experiments can be repeated and observed). Evolution, or random changes in nature, directly opposes this concept. If I believed that chemical reactions frequently change, I would believe my memory to be faulty (if I remembered anything).
    C)I don’t think one should default to anything without proof. If you would like me to explain parts of the Biblical worldview that you question, I would welcome the opportunity.

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    November 23, 2011

    Ron, the principle of uniformitarianism does not state that molecules can’t move or interact! It just states that the basic principles of physics, chemistry, etc. do not change across time and space.

    The fact that you think that a DNA molecule can not change (evolve) without violating this principle suggests to me that you’ve not thought about this topic very much, and you’ve not had much schooling.

    From this point forward it is incumbent on you to prove that ou are not a 6th grader with a lower than average level of intelligence. Because right now, that’s pretty much what it looks like.

    Your parents should really insist that you use the Internet only on a computer they keep in a very visible place, like the living room.

  10. #10 ron
    November 23, 2011

    Hi Greg,
    The ad hominem attack is powerful, no?
    Is uniformity in nature something that’s learned in Minnesota’s 6th grade? Would you propose that people not teach this principle? Do you disagree that this principle is the basis for the scientific method?

  11. #11 Greg Laden
    November 23, 2011

    Ron, I invalidated your comment on the basis of the science. That was not an ad hominem attack.

    Then, I went after you as a person because i think that people who are trying, like you are, to ruin education in this country are worthy of nothing other than disdain.

  12. #12 NJ
    November 23, 2011

    Ron @ 10:

    The ad hominem attack is powerful, no?

    Ad hominem argument: Ron is stupid, therefore his argument is wrong.

    Not ad hominem argument: Ron’s arguments are wrong, therefore he is stupid.

    The very fact that you failed to grasp this simple concept strongly supports the latter conclusion, as do your failures of understanding of randomness, uniformitarianism, and evolution.

    It is clear that you couldn’t find a clue with the Hubble telescope. Take Greg’s advice from the end of comment #9.

  13. #13 ron
    November 23, 2011

    Greg,
    On comment 9: I can read well enough to know that your first paragraph is a definition and that the second establishes that I think something about DNA I have not typed in previous posts only to say that I haven’t much schooling or am not well read on the subject. I suppose one could call the second paragraph a straw-man argument. The third was ad hominem and the fourth was unsolicited parenting advice.
    Whatever you did, you did not invalidate comment 7 or 8 on the basis of science.
    You’re holding yourself out as an “intellectual” while falling into logical fallacies consistently. I don’t know if studying logic is part of your public education plan, but I’d advocate for such in any curriculum.
    Happy Thanksgiving.

  14. #14 Greg Laden
    November 23, 2011

    Ron, I apologize for calling you a seventh grader. Clearly I was wrong about that.

    This is clearly a case of you needing to adjust your medication.

    Thank you very much.