July 5, 2010

Underneath it all...

... we are fish.

30 comments:

rhhardin said...

That explains the fish smell.

Dead Julius said...

Here's something with a tangential but similar hook, another fish in the "underneath it all" sea:

This 4chan screengrab is the #1 item on reddit right now.

It's a good (and some might say philosophical) story, and it's fascinating. Thought you might enjoy it, despite it being off-topic.

NPR can keep the fish IMHO.

Kirby Olson said...

The first two chapters of his book are fairly amusing. Then he has to stretch it.

But the thing is God could have just been experimenting with the fish structure, and then, like an artist, started to use the same structure to do something a little more curious and demanding.

Big Mike said...

Does explain Michael Phelps, though.

Jana said...

I read this book for our book club. I did find it a bit of a slog, but it was interesting in parts.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

None of this is much of a revelation to people who have studied the theory of evolution.

Life on Earth is built around a template that is basically the same for all animals and insects. Bilateral.

Shubin points to a cabinet across the room. Inside is a re-creation of a prehistoric human burial site. There's the skeleton of a woman who has been placed in the grave, surrounded by her jewelry.

"It's hard to look at this as a fossil anymore," says Shubin. "You look at this as a person who lived, and people loved this person enough to do this. And that's what changed."

Shubin says it's not a bone or a muscle or a gene that made us human. It was something else.


This brings me back to my comment in the Al Gore/God/Religion thread.

Self awareness and the wondering about our place in nature created the idea of God and the thinking that there must be more, even after death.

Fred4Pres said...

This justifies why I so enjoy fishing and drinking a beer at the same time. I am communing with my inner self.

edutcher said...

rhhardin said...

That explains the fish smell.

Sometimes you don't even have to bend down.

MamaM said...

Light,
Chemical Elements and Compounds,
Clusters of Energy
Growing Organic Matter
Living Creatures
(fish, birds, animals
Human beings

The oral tradition of story telling was in effect long before a reliable system of writing was invented and developed. For the people who existed during that time, story was the most consistent method for sharing information, history, and meaning between human generations.

Around 1400 BC, the above sequence was recorded in a book written by a learned man who'd received his education in one of the best schools available, the court of the Pharaoh.

The story he put into writing was one that had been passed on by the generations of supposedly unenlightened who lived before him.

With so many scientific discoveries yet to be realized, what better way to explain this "coming into being" than by story? One which people of every age in every age could access with whatever knowledge, education or awareness they had available.

I can easily accept the chain linking backwards, from human to fish, as such a chain fits my experience of growth and creative process.

I find it harder to understand how the most highly evolved beings on the this planet (whole communities of them) find it necessary and beneficial to unfairly condemn and then bury fellow humans up to their necks, in order to bludgeon them death with small stones so their deaths will be slower and more painful.

If eyes, gills, teeth, flippers and fins and brains can evolve, what's the hold up with human behavior?

Paco Wové said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ken Pidcock said...

Ichthyostega says you can have a big future on dry land.

It took him years of searching in the Canadian Arctic, but in 2004, Neil Shubin found the fossilized remains of what he thinks is one of our most important ancestors.

I like the wording, because one of the coolest things about Tiktaalik is that it was found, not discovered. These folks were looking in those particular formations specifically for this kind of fossil.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Ken Pidcok:

I like the wording, because one of the coolest things about Tiktaalik is that it was found, not discovered. These folks were looking in those particular formations specifically for this kind of fossil.

This sort of thing proves the creationists to be lying when they say evolution is not a science.

If the creationists were right, any fossil could be found anywhere.

Kirby Olson said...

Well, this is just when God GOT AROUND TO IT.

God is an artist, and this is the fish period, like Picasso had a blue period.

MamaM said...

I consider the ability to pare a comment to five words encapsulating essence, to be an admirable and highly evolved function of the mammalian brain.

At the risk of getting on Crack's New Age list, wouldn't the trails of the Creationists and the Evolutionists both lead back past fish to Light as one of the primary energy sources?

Jason said...

What is up with the hostility some people have to the theory of intelligent design?

traditionalguy said...

The movie Jaws certainly hit a shared subconscious nerve about being swallowed whole by a larger fish. Some of the the mammals went back to the sea easily enough, like the mermaids. But does this mean that fishermen are murderers and that fish and chips is cannabalism?

Revenant said...

Around 1400 BC, the above sequence was recorded in a book

The sequence recorded in Genesis is:

1. The Earth
2. Water
3. Light
4. The atmosphere
5. The oceans
6. Dry land
7. Plants
8. The sun and moon
9. Sea creatures and birds
10. Livestock and land animals
11. Humans.

This sequence is completely wrong. The only thing it gets right is light->Earth->stuff on Earth.

Revenant said...

If eyes, gills, teeth, flippers and fins and brains can evolve, what's the hold up with human behavior?

Is there a hold up? Humans have never been as nice to one another as they are these days. Heck, the Mongols killed a larger percentage of humanity than the Nazis and the Communists put together.

That being said, evolution probably doesn't select for kindness to strangers. Most animals are nasty to unfamiliar members of their own species, especially if the stranger is encroaching in their area.

Kirby Olson said...

The scientists probably get everything wrong simply because their viewpoint is so logical. Getting everything in the right order, sequencing, etc. Creation grew by intuitive leaps, the way a canvas grows.

I love this bit from the Psalms:

Psalm 104:26: "There goes ... that Leviathan, which you (God) made for the sport of it."

Scientists are such a bore. It's a lot cooler to think of the skunk as something that used to spray perfume, but since the fall goes around stinking up the place like a secularizing communist on a moral tirade.

rhhardin said...

How seeds propagate.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Jason:

What is up with the hostility some people have to the theory of intelligent design?

It's not a theory; it cannot be tested. There is no evidence that can show that something was NOT designed, unless you carefully specify the abilities and intentions of the designer. Intelligent design advocates are very careful to avoid doing this, because "intelligent design" is merely a fig leaf for introducing God into the biology class, and always has been--they come out and say so when speaking before religious audiences, and think the rest of us are too stupid to find it out.

@Revenant:

Genesis actually has contradictory accounts--chapter 1 gives one order and chapter 2 a different one. You've given chapter 1. Chapter 2 gives:

Earth and heaven
Adam
Plants
Animals
Eve

MamaM said...

When the ancient Creation story is regarded as an oral tradition instead of a scientific treatise, the sequence listed makes sense. Overall order and goodness seem to be the main point, but the right stuff is all there.

Light Energy vs 2

Chemical elements and compounds, vs 3-10. For a people unfamiliar with the Periodic Table of Elements, words like Water, Sky, and Dry Ground would cover what was yet to be discovered, named and categorized.

Vegetation, vs 11-13

Clusters of energy, vs 14-19

Water creatures and winged birds, vs 20-13

Livestock, Wild animals, and Creatures that move along the ground, vs 24-26

Humans, vs 26-27

MamaM said...

For some, the two different accounts complement rather than contradict. The way two different versions of a movie can be created from a story, each version revealing a different focus or conveying an expanded point of view.

A story becomes timeless when it contains elements of understood truth, in one sequence or another. This one has been around for a long time, long before the universe as a concept became a scientifically accepted reality.

To consider the "the earth was without form and void" to be about the earth being created first and out of scientific sequence, as Revenant implies, is to misunderstand the context in which the story was first told. It also fails to take into account the role that set up and introduction plays in story telling.

To have written "the universe was without form and void before a Big Bang of light energy took place resulting in millions of years worth of creative growth and structural changes on this planet and beyond" would not have worked or been possible back then. The primitive people to whom this story was told received it and passed it on with the awareness they had available to them at that time. The same is true today. We are invited to understand with the knowledge we have available and limited by what we do not yet know. Creationists and Evolutionists alike. Which is why story is such a powerful medium.

Revenant said...

Overall order and goodness seem to be the main point, but the right stuff is all there.

Well obviously "the main stuff is all there". Plants, animals, the land, the sea, the sky, people, the sun, the moon, and light were all known to exist. Any creation myth that failed to invent an explanation for their existence would fail as a creation myth.

The relevant question is, "does the story accurately present how, when, and in what order these things came to exist". And the answers are "no", "no", and "no".

For a people unfamiliar with the Periodic Table of Elements, words like Water, Sky, and Dry Ground would cover what was yet to be discovered, named and categorized.

I.e., "if their beliefs about the world hadn't been wrong, their story wouldn't have been wrong either". Quite true.

A story becomes timeless when it contains elements of understood truth, in one sequence or another.

A story becomes timeless when it provides lasting value to people. That can be because it is true, but it can also be because it is comforting, or simply because it explains something for which no better explanation is available. For example, the idea that the Earth is motionless and the Sun moves around it endured for millennia -- not because there was any truth in it, but because it provided an explanation for the observed world.

For most of the history of humanity we didn't know enough about the universe we live in to be able to think of an explanation for its existence beyond "something or someone super-powerful must have built it". Once we realized that better explanations existed, belief in the "timeless" stories of Genesis, the Rig Veda, the Kojiki, et al, began to rapidly dwindle.

Jason said...

@Gabriel Hanna:

[Intelligent design] It's not a theory; it cannot be tested.

Ok, I'll bite. If it's not a theory, what is it, then? A hypothesis? Not really, because you can't test that hypothesis either, using the senses.

There is no evidence that can show that something was NOT designed,

Believe me... a lot of people have noticed that. But that does not accrue to the detriment of Intelligent Design. If your calculator only displays to ten digits, that does not mean that numbers greater than ten digits do not exist.

unless you carefully specify the abilities and intentions of the designer.

That is also not the fault of ID adherents.

Intelligent design advocates are very careful to avoid doing this,

Because it cannot be done, if God is infinite and omniscient. Can you catch the Leviathan on a fishhook? Or divide by zero, for that matter?

because "intelligent design" is merely a fig leaf for introducing God into the biology class,

Suppose it isn't. Intelligent design as an explanation for how the world came into being certainly predates the Scopes trial and any modern application of the wall of separation between Church and State. Intelligent Design didn't magically spring up as a reaction to the Scopes trial. It existed before there was ever a need for such a fig leaf.

and always has been

Demonstrably false. See above.

--they come out and say so when speaking before religious audiences,

Who is "they?" Well, "They" would have to be the VERY small minority of people who speak before religious audiences. The majority of the population, still, believes in God. It seems strange to believe in a Supreme Being and simultaneously believe He had nothing to do with creation and life.

and think the rest of us are too stupid to find it out.


A lot of the folks who are reflexively hostile to intelligent design based on the tropes and stereotypes and paranoia you've bought into are pretty stupid - I think they have a point there.

But most your argument is an ad hominem attack on the motives of ID adherents... it has nothing to do with the merits of the ID position whatsoever.

The rest of the argument is a criticism of ID because the hypothesis of the existence of God is not testable. But why on earth would one expect it to be, any more than the nonexistence of God can be testable?

The ID types are playing football. You're trying to apply soccer rules to football. That's why the ball has passed you by.

Revenant said...

"[Intelligent design] It's not a theory; it cannot be tested."

Ok, I'll bite. If it's not a theory, what is it, then? A hypothesis?

It is an unsupported claim based on the argument from incredulity fallacy.

Believe me... a lot of people have noticed that. But that does not accrue to the detriment of Intelligent Design.

You're missing the point. He's not saying "there is evidence of design"; there isn't. What he's saying is that the statement "life was designed" is, itself, immune to negation. If it is impossible to name a circumstance under which your claim could be false, your claim is not scientific. That doesn't make it automatically wrong, but it does mean that it isn't scientific.

For example, suppose someone said "all the life on Earth was created five minutes ago by Satan". You can't disprove that claim. Your memories from six minutes ago could have been planted there, after all. That doesn't prove that the claim is wrong, but it DOES mean that the claim is an unscientific claim because it is impossible to disprove.

Because it cannot be done, if God is infinite and omniscient.

You're tipping your hand. "Intelligent design" advocates are usually careful to not claim that the designer must be an omniscient, omnipotent God.

As in:

"because "intelligent design" is merely a fig leaf for introducing God into the biology class,"

Suppose it isn't.

That would be more convincing if you hadn't just gotten finished invoking God as your explanation for the "design".

Intelligent Design didn't magically spring up as a reaction to the Scopes trial.

You are correct that it didn't "magically spring up". It was deliberately chosen by creationists, after the Edwards v. Aguillard ruling of 1987, in a cynical attempt to get around the law.

The rest of the argument is a criticism of ID because the hypothesis of the existence of God is not testable. But why on earth would one expect it to be, any more than the nonexistence of God can be testable?

If you concede that it isn't testable, you concede it isn't science. If it isn't science, it has no business being taught in a science class alongside scientific theories. What else is there to discuss?

amba said...

Shubin wrote a good article about this for us in Natural History. It goes into some of the details about how gill arches morphed into the human larynx, and how having a modified fish body plan causes us problems.

MamaM said...

"Humans have never been as nice to one another as they are these days"

Really? Never statements are notoriously difficult to prove. Without a definition for "nice" and a time frame for "these days" this declaration sounds more like wishful thinking than fact.

Revenant, I have a difficult time accepting a lack of evolved "kindness to strangers" as an applicable explanation for the degree of human brutality and injustice involved in the stoning behavior mentioned.

Revenant said...

Really? Never statements are notoriously difficult to prove. Without a definition for "nice" and a time frame for "these days" this declaration sounds more like wishful thinking than fact.

The following are at or near historic average lows per capita:

- Murder (deaths from war included)
- Rape
- Dictatorial rule
- Racist sentiment
- Religious persecution

I would term that "nicer". Besides, you're the one who claimed humans weren't learning to be nicer to each other; surely you had a definition in mind?

Revenant, I have a difficult time accepting a lack of evolved "kindness to strangers" as an applicable explanation for the degree of human brutality and injustice involved in the stoning behavior mentioned.

I didn't offer it as the explanation, I simply observed that there's no reason to expect evolution to make people nice. I hasn't made other animals nice. Chimpanzees eat the children of rival tribes; how's that for brutality and injustice?

MamaM said...

To "find it harder to understand how the most highly evolved beings on the this planet (whole communities of them) find it necessary and beneficial to unfairly condemn and then bury fellow humans up to their necks, in order to bludgeon them death with small stones so their deaths will be slower and more painful", is not at all the same as claiming "humans aren't learning to be nicer to each other".

Near historic lows dating back to when??? This year? The most recent century? The millennium?

How does one gather and maintain accurate per capita records (or even estimates) of "niceness" to include victims of
- Rape
- Racist sentiment
- Religious persecution???

Chimpanzees eating their rival's children makes more sense to me than humans who can read and write brutally stoning members of their own community in this nice day and age.