Days Black People Not Re-Enslaved By Trump

Sunday, September 20, 2015

RE: Carson, Compassion and Evolution

In his piece for the Huffington Post Christopher Brauchli concludes:
Dr. Carson's description of evolution makes it fairly obvious that working on other people's brains has had little effect on his. His attitude towards the struggling immigrant makes it obvious he spent no time working on hearts. It is hard to imagine what a wonderful country this would be if from the outset we had only admitted immigrants who met his criteria.
Because if someone is struggling you must feel the "right" attitude and do the "right" thing. And of course if you have the "right" attitude about evolution then you'll have the "right" attitude about everything else. Of course it couldn't possibly be the case that one could say that since Carson is clearly in the top 10 or 5 percent of intelligence, that his attitude towards "struggling immigrants" may be the result of thinking deeply on the subject rather than emoting about it like so many do. But lest the reader gets the impression that this is a defense of Carson, it is not. While I object to the flip conclusion, the rest of the article is an example of the usual mis-statements on the Big Bang and evolution. Let's take this for example:
Mr. Boze asked Dr. Carson: "What things come to mind when people ask you, why do you question the theory of materialist evolution?" Dr. Carson responded: "Well, the first thing is, how does something come out of nothing. And the second thing is, how does life evolve from non-life? Which, if you want to talk about fairy tales, those are incredible fairy tales."
Here Carson co-mingles two different things. The Big Bang theory and the theory of evolution. Though they are linked, it is quite possible to unhook one from the other. In my early days as a Christian (the author is no longer a Christian) I got to a point where I could reasonably explain that the Big Bang theory was how God created the known universe. That would be the entire "let there be light" first action in Genesis. This is also a reflection of the primary establishment of order (Ma'at) over the primordial stuff by Amen-Ra (the sun God) in the Egyptian universal origins story. Evolution was either the means for which diversity of already created life exploded (particularly after the flood) or at the most extreme the means of Genesis creation which could not be understood by the writers of the Pentateuch.

Personally I think anyone who is a Christian and has any in depth exposure to science ought to come to this conclusion as it best sits with the religion without looking like a total ass on the science. I'm not saying that the question as to how you get matter and energy from literal nothingness is not a valid question, particularly given the rules about non-creation or destruction of matter and energy. What I am saying is that no scientist is saying that beyond a doubt THIS is what happened. Carson knows this. This is the difference between religious explanations and scientific ones. Religion presupposes the answer is (God) while science presupposes the answer of "we don't know but this is the best data we have as of right now."

Per the issue of life from non-life the theory of evolution is on far more solid ground. Carson can be forgiven for neglecting to remember his early biology and organic chemistry classes, but we have many experimentations that show that the right conditions will cause Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen to form various organic compounds. The same compounds that are found in our bodies, Take water for example, Humans are mostly water. water is necessary for most of the functions of life. Once you have that, a lot of possibilities open up and we know water can be "spontaneously" formed. When you escape the idea that everything had to be done in 6 days so that God could get it's rest on and think in terms of millions of years you realize that you only need the one time that the conditions are right for water to first form and then the other necessary building blocks of life to form. It's not that hard. Remember that a human being at it's base biology is simply a collection of single cells all cooperating to stay alive by doing things for each other.

I would have thought Ben Carson figured this out by now.

But Carson says more:

"And to say that that [evolution] just came about sort of randomly by various mutations over the course of time, when as I just said mutations tend to lead to degeneration rather than improvement, just doesn't make any sense. So, the very things that they claim are evidence for evolution are the very things that damn the theory."
This statement underlines why there are fields of science called Evolutionary Biology, Neuroscience and surgery. Those in one field are not, nor are expected to be experts in the other fields. Thank goodness. Carson would probably be insulted if a Doctor of Evolutionary Biology walked into one of his surgeries and started telling Carson how he should proceed. It wouldn't be because the other person was not smart. It would be because their expertise is irrelevant to the issue at hand. So lets explain why Carson is full of it with his comment.

Firstly nothing in the theory of evolution says that ALL mutations are beneficial. What the theory states is that mutations happen. Out of all the mutations that happen a very small number gives those who posses them some advantage. Lets take running for example. Say that you are an early human and you have to chase down your food. Clearly the faster you can run, the more likely you can catch your prey. Thus a mutation that imparts greater speed by "creating" fast twitch muscle fibres gives an advantage to the owner. Those without the fast twitch fibres cannot catch food and end up dying off. The remaining population all gets the fast twitch fibres and that is passed onto future generations until or unless having that gene becomes problematic.

Meanwhile in some other population, rather than develop fast twitch muscle fibres, they develop a skin mutation that allows them to remain unseen by their prey. In this way they can sneak up on them and strike at close distance rather than run them down. Of that group, those that have this mutation tend to do better and eventually outbreed the ones who can be seen coming a mile away. So you have two populations trying to get at the same thing: food, with two very different means of doing so. this is mutation and evolution at work. Both fictional examples I gave can be found in nature. Now let me address a mutation that is both degenerate and beneficial: skin pigmentation.

Humans in Africa were black. Why? Because melanin protects the human from ultraviolet radiation from the sun. This is why skin cancer incidences in BLACK people (not the one drop rule ones) are orders of magnitude lower than it is for scandinavian white people. But the human needs to have some amount of ultraviolet radiation get into their skin in order to produce vitamin D which is crucial for bone development as well as immune system health. So melanin is not a total blocker. Albinism in Africa can be deadly. Albinos in Africa often get skin cancers and other growths and have a shorter life expectancy than those of normal pigmentation. So we have an example of "degenerative" mutation right?

Well not so fast. When the African moved out of Africa and into Europe, the situation was not so good. Northern Europe has infamously low levels of direct sunlight hours. Not only that, but this thing called winter where the temps drop! In this environment having heavily pigmented skin is not good. Due to the lesser amounts and intensity of ultraviolet radiation, those Africans had less vitamin D ion their bodies, leading to all manner of bone diseases and shortened life expectancies. Also since highly melanated skin is more dense than that with lesser melanin, it is more susceptible to frostbite.

In this environment the albino was better equipped to survive and thrive. Black people produce a rather large number of albinos, so no doubt in short order there were a number of them in the population. And lets not forget the Neandertals who had already been living in Europe with those same environmental pressures who no doubt also produced albinos No doubt nature made a point of making albinism a natural state for humans in that part of the world. This is why we see Europeans of varied hair colors and eye colors, to match the levels of recessiveness in their gene pool for pigmentation. Blonde hair and blue eyes being the MOST recessive and possibly BEST adaptation to the environment of northern Europe. Oh did I mention that it's probably easier to pick out a black skinned person in the snow than it is a very white one? Happy hunting!


So clearly Carson really doesn't know what he's talking about when he talks about mutations as it concerns evolution. Now lets deal with his other comment:

He explained that: "General Motors, same basic chassis as Chevrolet, a Buick, a Pontiac, or a Cadillac. And yet, they're different. And one did not evolve from the other. And why would you have to go and completely change the motor, the chassis, and all the other infrastructure because you're creating a different model. That doesn't make any sense to me."
Yes, it is clear that there a few things that have actually escaped Carson's great intellect. The comparison of different makes of automobile is a silly argument. The way to view the automobile is to look at it as a mode of transportation. You had to make a wheel. There are many wheels. The common ancestor, if you will, of the modern automobile wheel is the cut out of stone wheel. Yet the two are VERY different with the automobile wheel being highly evolved. Similarly the automobile is also about the means of propulsion. From steam engines (and crude electric ones) to internal combustion engines. Again the latter with direct fuel injection, variable valve lift and timing, spark advance, etc. are highly evolved from the crude examples from yesteryear. Of course we also have the diesel engine which doesn't use a spark to ignite fuel that's a mutation no? And what about the Wankel rotory engine? Isn't that a mutation? What about the beam rear suspension vs a fully independent rear suspension? Wouldn't that be evolution via mutation?

Oh and to be perfectly technical, up until Pontiac went to the car crusher in the sky, all Buicks were Pontiacs were Cadillacs. yet if you put a 1988 Cadillac next to a 1988 BMW 535i, the differences would shock you in terms of technology even though they share the same basic design.

I'm not entirely surprised that the Seventh Day Adventist Carson would be saying what he was saying. These ideas are shared by many in that community as well as other Christian denominations. My favorite is the comment that they have never seen an ape in a zoo (or elsewhere I suppose) give birth to a human.


Just like Donald Trump who ignores the comments of the ignorant, I no longer even respond to that nonsense. Carson is entitled to his religious beliefs. I certainly defend his right to that 100%, but that doesn't mean he can't be taken to task when he mis-states the actual points of the theory of evolution.