04 May 2011

Darwin and evolution in Florida


One of the places we visited when we were in Florida last month was the Southwest Florida Museum of History in Fort Myers. A piece of advertisement I had picked up at the hotel lobby announced that the museum had an ongoing exhibit, Darwin & Dinosaurs. I had never heard of the said museum. So, while we were on our way I had some trepidations. Could this be a creationist showcase masquerading as a scientific exhibit? After all, deception is the only thing creationism is good at.

My suspicions were unfounded. Darwin & Dinosaurs was as scientifically sound, educational and interesting as a museum exhibit could get. The entire exhibit filled one long room. That it was relatively small was a plus; the display cases were tightly packed with artifacts and there was no room left for boredom.

Justifiably, Darwin was the main attraction, while the dinosaurs took the stage near the end. Darwin's life and work were well presented and included sections on the correspondence he carried out with the U.S. scientists, his voyage on the Beagle and even some of his personal items. One of the latter that attracted my attention was the seal Darwin supposed to have used on his letters.


The main dinosaur fossil cast belonged to the only known Baryonyx specimen.


In addition, there was a panel about the fossil Tiktaalik, which was a transitional species between fully aquatic and fully terrestrial vertebrates.


I congratulate the Southwest Florida Museum of History for their fine exhibit standing refreshingly in the path of the never ending creationist attempts to take over the public schools in Florida and elsewhere.

16 comments:

Duncan D. Horne said...

Congrats on your blog of note!

Love learning about Darwin..

Duncan In Kuantan

David Henderson said...

"After all, deception is the only thing creationism is good at." - Best line.

It's hard to understand how some can deny sound science (carbon dating etc), yet some do.

Munir said...

Is it absolutley necessary that we either follow Darwin or Religion. Why is it that we cannot have a belief in both?

AYDIN ÖRSTAN said...

Evolutionary biology and creationism are mutually exclusive, because each proposes a different mechanism to explain the origins of organisms. You can't sincerely believe in both at the same time. That would be illogical.

Frugal_Foodie said...

Since when is logic necessary for belief? Humans are masters of rationalization, especially when presented with ideas that cause existential distress.

There was an interesting article about this in PLoS ONE not too long ago.
http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0017349

Dean C said...

Nice pictures.

Psycho Burgundy said...

I like the pictures. And I agree with you in believing that creationism is a complete and utter farce founded entirely on lies and emotion.

Zombie said...

I havent been to a museum in ages!

Franz said...

Darwin's seal seems very interesting, reminds me medieval age but with a progressist thought of Darwin

Sent from my S5230

minicooper said...

"After all, deception is the only thing creationism is good at."

"Creationism is a complete and utter farce founded entirely on lies and emotion."


I'd say that's a lie based on emotion. Negative emotion.

You want facts? What about the ceolocanths that were extinct for millions of years but was then found near the African coast? Their extinction used to be a pillar for the geological column. What now?

Also, how come there is so little evidence for evolution? How come no fossils of evolving creatures have been found? You'd think there would be some, considering the millions of years they (supposedly) hung around.

Then there's fossil graveyards. How do animals from different continents get jumbled up and fossilized together. Oh, maybe there was a global flood.

Maybe if you were a bit more open-minded and tolerant, it would be easier to accept.

AYDIN ÖRSTAN said...

Dear minicooper,
Please get a decent book on evolutionary biology and study it. Your comments are very naive and show that you haven't done much thinking on this subject.

"What about the ceolocanths [sic] that were extinct for millions of years but was then found near the African coast? Their extinction used to be a pillar for the geological column. What now?"

So what? Evolutionary theory never predicted that coelacanths should have been extinct. That they eventually turned out to be extant makes no difference. What about dinosaurs and thousands of other species that have gone extinct over millions of years? What now?

"Also, how come there is so little evidence for evolution? How come no fossils of evolving creatures have been found? You'd think there would be some, considering the millions of years they (supposedly) hung around."

You can't be serious. But if you are, start with these links:

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolution-research.html

http://anthro.palomar.edu/evolve/evolve_3.htm

http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/search/topicbrowse2.php?topic_id=46

"Then there's fossil graveyards. How do animals from different continents get jumbled up and fossilized together. Oh, maybe there was a global flood."

I don't know what you are talking about. If your are pretending to be scientific, you need to be specific.
If there was a global flood, explain to me how come kangaroos live only in Australia and nowhere else, bisons live only in North America and Hawaiian tree snails live only in Hawaii.

Anonymous said...

I weary of people blindly believing science is based on facts. The greatest scientists once thought the Earth was flat, that ulcers were caused by stress and that a human travelling at 20 miles an hour would die. All based on the facts that were known at the time. The bible is a book of facts based on God's infinite and infallible knowledge. How totally, arogantly human to assume, in spite of a gazillion examples, that we know better. True Christian faith is not emotional, and is based on facts. Example? In the book of Job you will read "God stretches the northern sky out over empty space and hangs the Earth on nothing". Written at a time when the best scientists were sure the Earth was a flat rock, sitting on the back of an elephant, which was standing on the back of a turtle, which was swimming in a cosmic sea. Sure we have come along way since then. but "facts" are still only as good as the people interpretting them. Please be objective when reading scientific "facts".

AYDIN ÖRSTAN said...

The Bible is a compilation by several authors of Mesopotamian myths, history, etc. It contains contradictions as well as factual errors.

http://www.errancy.org/index.html

The best contemporary scientists did not believe that the earth "was a flat rock, sitting on the back of an elephant, which was standing on the back of a turtle..." Eratosthenes (c. 276 BC – c. 195 BC) had already measured the circumference of the earth, based on the assumption that it was a sphere.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eratosthenes

Frugal_Foodie said...

To view science as a collection of facts is also a fallacy and those Anonymous mentions were philosophers, not scientists.

Science is the progressive study of natural phenomena leading to the development of theories (not to be confused with the colloquial meaning of theory) that explain their occurrence. Science starts with observations, lead to experimentation, and produces explanations through careful elimination of alternative hypotheses. A good paper to read about this is "Strong Inference." While it is old, it is a staple of scientific and experimental design curriculum. Here is a link to a free pdf of this paper:

http://instructional1.calstatela.edu/dfrankl/CURR/kin504/PDF/gen_science_platt_1964_stronginference.pdf

I think another fallacy is that acceptance of evolution is a matter of "belief," as it is used in the religious sense. I accept that it occurs and that it is the best explanation of the natural history of this planet, but I do not base my spirituality, sense of self, my place in the universe, or morality upon it. It is falsifiable (though it has not bee) and must be allowed to change as our growing understanding of the natural world dictates. Such acceptance does not lessen the experience of living or lead to the nihilism that creationists fear. If anything, I think it instills a greater wonder in the beauty of life on this planet and appreciation of the time we have upon it, but that is my personal opinion.

Acceptance of evolution also does not prevent one from living "a Christian life." A good example of this is Kenneth Miller, the lead scientific witness in the Dover trial and an ardent Catholic. Here is his website:

http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/

He is not unique in his beliefs and his faith in God within the scientific community. Despite their claims, Dawkins and Hitchens do not speak for the entire scientific community, and are despised by some for religicizing science. Miller is very adept at promoting and explaining why acceptance of evolution is compatible with his faith. His article "Thoughts of an 'Ardent Theist'" is a good example:

http://www.millerandlevine.com/evolution/Coyne-Accommodation.htm

minicooper said...

I was not aware of your policy of disallowing creation science links.

"If you don't communicate your ideas to other people, the ideas don't come alive."

You don't want our ideas to come alive, do you? Oh well. They're alive and well anyway. :-)

Are you afraid people might become convinced by 'the other side' if they read their websites?

You don't have to post this, as I bet you won't.

AYDIN ÖRSTAN said...

I am not stopping anyone from reading what the creationists are writing. They are freely available on the internet. In fact, I am totally against government censorship regardless of what is being censored. But this is a private blog where I have no intention of being a conduit for ideas that I myself do not value.