Evolution, missing links and whatnot.

21. March 2010

This has been lying around as draft for quite a while, because I wanted to do further research on the subject. Not having had time to do that, I now decided to publish it anyways, so if you find a mistake, feel free to comment.

1994. An american research team finds bones in Ethopia, only 75km from the location of the famous “Lucy“. They soon discover that they are about 4.4 million years old and belong to a yet unknown species, which they then had the honor of naming Ardipithecus ramidus. What followed were years of boring research and restauration.

15 years later. The research is published in the magazine Science

A day later. Everybody goes crazy about the “missing link” having been found. And every single creationist out there has comment on the fact that man clearly is not related to such low creatures as monkeys, and that all this Darwinism is so totally wrong, and that this finding proves nothing.

OMG. Why can’t they shut up? Once? Pwleeze?

Okay, calm down. Is this the “missing link” everybody has been looking for?

Sorry, but no. Simply because the missing link does not exist, there are numerous. But lets see what science has already found out so far:

The oldest fossils of homo sapiens (that is the sort of funny species you and I are part of) are about 200.000 years old and were found in Africa, also known as the archaic homo sapiens. The oldest fossils outside of Afrika are about 100.000 years old, which leads to the conclusion that around that time we left Africa and started conquering the rest of the world. DNA studies have proven that every human on this planet is linked to the same “genetic Eve” from Africa. So, no missing link for about 200.000 years.

At least two other species of the homo family lived during that period: homo neanderthalensis and homo floresiensis. Both are extinct, but neither species is our “ancestor” – they are our “siblings”. For a long time, scientists had thought that homo neanderthalensis was our ancestor, simply because at that point in time the known neanderthalensis fossils were older than those of homo sapiens. They were looking for fossils that were half-neanderthalensis-half-sapiens to prove that one evolved from the other. This was a “missing link” people tried to find for decades. Today, we know that no such fossil exists, because there is no direct link.

A fourth species, homo erectus is the common ancestor of all three.

How exactly the three younger species came about is where missing links set in again. Homo erectus appeared around 1.500.000 years ago. Sometime between 500.000 years ago and about 200.000 years ago, the three younger species evolved.

Unfortunately, the number fossils in that time period are very few, there are about 10. If they were nicely distributed in age and all from the same location there would be a gap of 30.000 years between each and every one of them. You might have guessed it: they are not. The fossils were found in different places and precisely dating them is a problem in itself. What adds to the problem is evolution having “jumps” every now and then, when it only takes very few generations to create a different species, and we are hoping to find just that: A half homo erectus, half homo sapiens fossil. Or half-erectus-half-neanderthalensis, for that matter. There are about three or four that might fit in that line, but scientific evidence is not good enough to actually put them into the right position in the evolutionary tree.

As you can imagine, the further one goes up that tree, the rarer the puzzle pieces get. Especially when it comes to fossils older than 3 million years, every single finding is important. “Lucy” is 3.2 million years old. Scientists think the split between apes and hominids must have happened around 7 million years ago. The number of fossiles that are between 4 and 7 million years old is pretty much: zero. That is a huge gap of 3 million years. Oh, you guessed it… the missing link!

Since we have finally found out what is commonly called the missing link… will a single fossil bridge the gap? Surely, no. If we cannot close a gap of 300.000 years with 10 findings, how could a single one close 3 million years? But every single discovery will make the picture a bit more complete, even if it turns out to be a side-line, like the neanderthalensis.

Okay. Now back to the story. We now know what we are looking for: All kinds of humanoid or apelike fossiles in the time span of 4 to 7 million years old.

What did they find? Something that is 4.4 million year old. Does it make a difference? yes. Do they have the missing link? no.

Thanks.

You can now claim the T-Shirt, and get on with your life.

Oh, since youre still around: If you still believe, Adam was created by God 5.000 years ago, please note that the Babylonians invented friggin’ glue a thousand years before that. And if you still think evolution is a “theory”, please note: so is gravity.

Further reading: National Geographic Little Green Footballs

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Funny as HELL.

19. September 2009

A couple of days ago, I came across this article in the Daily Telegraph: Atheists offer to care for Christians pets after the Rapture

Funny as hell, right? Oh, does that count as blasphemy already? Yay! I qualify for atheist pet care ūüôā

You can now safely send your $110 to me.


Freedom of Religion, and what people totally forget mentioning.

24. May 2009

Now for the most part of the world, freedom of religion is believed to be a human right, and in a whole lot of countries it is granted as fundamental right in national laws. Yay. Good.

There is something wrong with it, though.

Everybody feels good about claiming this right for themselves: “I can choose to believe in whatever I want, and its nobody’s business.” And they are right, but thats just half the truth. The other half is respecting the others’ Freedom of Religion. And that is where the trouble comes in, as that seems to be ignored by the same people that claim it for themselves.

The¬†Principle of¬†Missioning – What is called “missioning” is effectively ignoring the another person’s current faith (because it is so obviously wrong) and trying to convince them that there is only one true religion. It ignores that the missioning victim is already pursuing his right to freedom of religion by believing¬†a) in something else or b) that all religions are crap. Allowing missioning in your religion provides the moral basis to deny others of their fundamental right, until they believe in the same thing as you are. Even if you put a sign at your door saying “I don’t want to be bothered with your nonsense”, you can be sure that some Mormon is gonna ring the bell. This is totally not what was meant by Freedom of Religion.

Soaring above Others – I cannot tell you how often I’ve heard somebody preach how much more valueable and great the followers of the true religion are, because they believe. Well? Totally unlike the non-believers, who aren’t worth as much because they don’t happen to believe in the same crap as you? I’ve heard preachers comparing the non-believers (or whoever happens¬†not to believe in their truth)¬†to frogs, because their lives are as meaningless as that of frogs. Okay – “Ribbit”. Now what? I’m not even getting into how important frogs are to nature, but I am totally objecting to the principle of The Chosen People. And I’m totally objecting preaching that, because – just think about it once – if one is chosen to be more valuable than the other, it makes the other worth less. Duh! That is the foundation to slavery and genocide. If your¬†preacher tells you that you’re worth more than others, he’s not only wrong, he’s also making way for mass murder – that totally is not Freedom of Religion.

Entitlement – Again and again religious leaders claim that their religion entitles them to certain privileges, state funding, the right to build temples on public grounds, influence laws and media and whatnot. The answer is: No it does not! The fact that you believe in something entitles you to big fat¬†nothing.¬†I’ll give you that for free,¬†you can pick it up at my house. If you want to believe in something, go ahead, but don’t expect others to support you! Just because you believe your temple should be built in the center of your town, does not entitle you to that property. If the property you have does not allow for a building with more than three stories to be built, then you cannot build a church tower there – your beliefs don’t change that, okay? Just because you believe there shouldn’t be topless women in public TV does not give you the right to¬†enforce that on¬†the media – the only thing you’re entitled to is to switch the damn thing off. And if you’re preacher is on TV, I am so entitled to switch channels, you wouldn’t believe it. What seems so simple still doesn’t¬†get into peoples heads.¬†It is called Freedom of Religion, not Entitlement to Dictatorship.

I know that according to Martin Luther, reason is the devil’s bride, so I have probably lost a number of readers half way through. But fundamental rights apply to everyone, thats what makes them fundamental. That includes you, but¬†that also includes me, and mind you, I am going to claim my Freedom from Religion.

So keep your beliefs out of my life, will ya?