Science: January 2005 Archives

Happy TIME

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Taking his cue from a TIME Magazine issue focusing on happiness, Mark Roberts tackles the issue from a Christian perspective in a series he apparently finished almost a week ago. I got through half of it and then decided to wait until he was done, and I just figured out that he's moved on to a new series. I've just read the rest of it, and I can declare that it's all worth reading. It would be too much to try to summarize, so I won't try.

Evolution Stickers

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I was toying whether to say something about the evolution stickers fiasco. I didn't get around to completing my decision on whether I would. Sam has now beaten me to it, and I think she says everything I wanted to say (and a little more).

I know it's bad blogging practice not to link to the background to what I've just mentioned. I'm too burned out dealing with someone who turns out to be a semi-troll and a lot more people than I expected who have completely misinterpreted my words and actions with regard to the World post.

Therefore, I'm not going to comment further on the evolution stuff or seek out the links to the background on that or link to the posts I've just referenced on my own blog (which won't take too much work to locate if you really care and don't already know). Sam links to the background on the evolution stuff, anyway, so when you read her post, which was the point of all this, you can get the background from there.

This is the first case like this that I've seen (not counting fictional cases such as in The Sixth Day). A woman lost her cat and decided to replace it with its clone. She found someone who would do it and now has her cat's clone. Hat tip: McConchie

What do I think of this? I hope she realizes that the clone will have a natural life span as long as her dead cat's natural life span would have been had it not died. Other than that issue, I'm not sure why this in itself should raise any serious ethical worries. When I first found this, I wanted to use it as an excuse to type up a thorough discussion of the moral issues raised in cloning, but I've got two reasons not to do it at the moment. First, I've got a long list of things to blog about and don't feel like doing a long post right now (this not feeling like doing it is independent of the next issue, which is just another reason not to feel like it). Second, I've got an injured finger at the moment and don't feel like typing the whole thing out in index finger mode. So I'm just going to issue a challenge: what is wrong with what this woman did, besides the one concern I raised? My claim is that there's nothing wrong with it, and I'm challenging anyone to give me an argument that I'm wrong. I can think of reasons not to do it, but I'm not sure they're moral reasons.

Apparently a debate is now going on about whether all the purported missing links between humans and apes (e.g. Lucy, Java Man, the Neanderthals, the recent New Zealand Hobbit people) are of other species at all. [Hat tip: A Physicist's Perspective] I've read that what we have of Neanderthals is consistent with arthritic homo sapiens, but I didn't know if that was a reliable source. I also know that many have questioned whether Australopithecus can play the role it does in standard models of human evolution. Well, now some people who are not in any sense creationists are claiming that not one of these transitional forms is what it's supposed to be. The genetic variation is well within the realm of considering them all part of the same species, just at various stages of development along what is roughly a continuum, but stages within the development of one species.

If this is right, it turns out to be completely consistent with even the most conservative of creationists, who insist that they do believe in the empirically observable aspects of evolutionary theory, i.e. microevolution. I'm not about to defend any view on most of the issues people argue about related to this, but I found it interesting that some people who have not in any way given up the standard evolutionary picture have now reverted to seeing all the purported transitional forms as well within the range of variation to count as homo sapiens. I don't know what bearing this will have on evolutionary theory. Presumably it favors Gould over Dawkins. What I'm worried about is if it's going to have a bearing on the role genetic variation plays in arguments about race. If it does, I'll have to rework some of the arguments I've been working on.

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