Human evolution

Is nothing sacred? Fire unimportant to human evolution?

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(Or, why human evolution should not be taught in school)

Jessica Hamzelou tells us, “Fire did not spark human colonisation of cold Europe” (New Scientist, 14 March 2011):

To try to pin down the earliest evidence of controlled fire use, Paola Villa at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and Wil Roebroeks at Leiden University in the Netherlands re-examined the data from over 100 European sites. They were looking for evidence of fires that were unlikely to have occurred naturally – those in caves, for example – and for clues that fire had been used in a controlled way. These include activities such as making pitch: some early hominins made this sticky substance by burning birch bark and using it to glue pieces of flint to wooden handles to make stone tools easier to use.The earliest European hearths date back between 300 and 400,000 years, the researchers conclude – much later than existing theories suggest. Some archaeologists think that controlled fire use dates back 1.6 million years. Richard Wrangham of Harvard University has even suggested that hominins began using fire 1.9 million years ago, leading to a cooking tradition that made digestion easier and freed up the extra energy our ancestors needed to grow bigger brains.

[ … ]

“The European evidence strongly suggests that the habitual and controlled use of fire was a late phenomenon,” Villa and Roebroeks conclude.

The findings controversially suggest that people migrated from Africa to the below-freezing winter temperatures of Europe without fire. These early hominins might have combined a high-protein diet with a highly active lifestyle to survive, the researchers speculate.

And here we were just told that cooking was key to human evolution.

This entertaining paper war demonstrates one of the problems of teaching of human evolution in school: Like origin of life, the discipline is in no fit state to be taught in school.

That has nothing to do with any claimed war between science and religion. It is a matter of good teaching practice to avoid areas where controversy rages among the learned, except for addressing the questions of gifted students in an open-minded way (always allowed in good systems).

22 Replies to “Is nothing sacred? Fire unimportant to human evolution?

  1. 1
    jurassicmac says:

    Is nothing sacred? Fire unimportant to human evolution?

    No, nothing is ‘sacred’ in science. When new evidence arises, ideas are changed and modified accordingly.

    This is not a bad thing.

  2. 2
    Joseph says:

    “In general, mankind, since the improvement of cookery, eats twice as much as nature requires.”-Ben Franklin

  3. 3
    Bantay says:

    @Jurassicmac

    You said

    “No, nothing is ‘sacred’ in science. When new evidence arises, ideas are changed and modified accordingly. This is not a bad thing.”

    What if evidence suggests a non-naturalistic explanation is preferred over a naturalistic or materialist explanation? Should ideas about science be changed and modified accordingly?

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    jurassicmac, to echo Bantay,

    If ‘nothing is sacred in science’, Why is this overwhelming evidence for the necessity of Design not heeded?;

    Modern Synthesis of Neo-Darwinism Is Dead – Paul Nelson – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5548184/

    jurassicmac, why do you not you yourself heed your own words?

  5. 5
    jurassicmac says:

    Bantay:

    What if evidence suggests a non-naturalistic explanation is preferred over a naturalistic or materialist explanation? Should ideas about science be changed and modified accordingly?

    Give me an example of a piece of evidence that could suggest a non-naturalistic explanation is preferred over a natural one.

  6. 6
    jurassicmac says:

    bornagain77:

    If ‘nothing is sacred in science’, Why is this overwhelming evidence for the necessity of Design not heeded?

    Perhaps the ‘evidence’ for design isn’t quite as ‘overwhelming’ as you imagine it is.

    Then again, it could be that 99.9% of all highly educated, highly accomplished biologists are simply idiots.

    (my money’s on the first one)

  7. 7
    Clive Hayden says:

    jurassicmac, Bantay,

    Bantay asked: What if evidence suggests a non-naturalistic explanation is preferred over a naturalistic or materialist explanation? Should ideas about science be changed and modified accordingly?

    jurassicmac replied: Give me an example of a piece of evidence that could suggest a non-naturalistic explanation is preferred over a natural one.

    Notice jurassicmac didn’t answer the question.

  8. 8
    jurassicmac says:

    Clive Hayden:

    Notice jurassicmac didn’t answer the question.

    Clive, I was asking for clarification. Bantay was asking what I would do in a given situation, but only gave a vague, unspecified situation. I asked for an example of the type of evidence he was asking me about. Perhaps you can answer the question: What kind of evidence would suggest a non-naturalistic (which I assume could mean supernatural) explanation over a natural one, in the context of scientific inquiry?

  9. 9
    jurassicmac says:

    Clive, in other words, If I ask someone what the appropriate response would be in situation ‘x’, but I can’t define, or even give an example of ‘x’, then it isn’t a coherent question.

  10. 10
    Clive Hayden says:

    jurassicmac,

    Clive, in other words, If I ask someone what the appropriate response would be in situation ‘x’, but I can’t define, or even give an example of ‘x’, then it isn’t a coherent question.

    It sure is coherent, I understood exactly what Bantay asked.

  11. 11
    Clive Hayden says:

    jurassicmac,

    What kind of evidence would suggest a non-naturalistic (which I assume could mean supernatural) explanation over a natural one, in the context of scientific inquiry?

    To me, this begs the question of what is natural and what is supernatural. To me, everything could be supernatural, and thus subject to science. It depends on your philosophical presuppositions. But, to directly answer, keeping in mind your philosophical presuppositions, ghosts, spirits, miracles, prayer, our minds, etc., but all of this imports many assumptions about our philosophical presuppositions as to what constitutes natural and supernatural. What we call for shorthand natural is only based on things like physicality and repetition, which are arbitrarily chosen tools of description, they aren’t explanations; especially given that the philosophy behind naturalism is itself not something physical–you don’t find it in your front yard.

  12. 12
    jurassicmac says:

    I asked:

    What kind of evidence would suggest a non-naturalistic (which I assume could mean supernatural) explanation over a natural one, in the context of scientific inquiry?

    Clive Hayden, [10]:

    It sure is coherent, I understood exactly what Bantay asked.

    Notice that Clive didn’t answer the question. 😉

    I disagree. I don’t think it’s coherent to ask someone how they would react to ‘x’ when ‘x’ is undefined. If the person can’t define ‘x’, they should at the very least be able to give an example of ‘x’. I’m not implying that you or Bantay can’t define or give an example of ‘x’; as I said, I was just asking for clarification. (but so far, neither of you have) It would be like asking someone: “How would you react to surprising news?” If “surprising” isn’t made explicit, it’s tough to answer that question. What do you mean by ‘surprising’?

    In response to my question, Clive said:

    To me, this begs the question of what is natural and what is supernatural. To me, everything could be supernatural, and thus subject to science.

    I’m assuming that you mean ‘it raises the question’ instead of ‘it begs the question’, because I don’t see how it begs the question at all. (If I misunderstood, please correct me)

    I’m afraid that if you think that everything could be supernatural, including atoms, trees, gravity, wind, etc., then you don’t have a useful definition of ‘supernatural’; that is, our definitions are so disparate that we’re at an impasse. If your conception of the word ‘supernatural’ allows for it to describe anything or everything, then I must say you have stripped it of all meaning.

    But, to directly answer, keeping in mind your philosophical presuppositions, ghosts, spirits, miracles, prayer, our minds, etc., but all of this imports many assumptions about our philosophical presuppositions as to what constitutes natural and supernatural. What we call for shorthand natural is only based on things like physicality and repetition, which are arbitrarily chosen tools of description, they aren’t explanations; especially given that the philosophy behind naturalism is itself not something physical–you don’t find it in your front yard.

    I must point out that not only did you not directly answer, you seem to have not answered at all; (at least the question I was asking) just comment on how hard it is to define ‘supernatural’ vs. ‘natural.

    You seem to be saying that the distinction between supernatural and natural is blurry and dependent on many philosophical and epistemological factors. I’m really not sure then how you expect me to comment on a scenario that would favor one explanation over the other, If you yourself can’t readily distinguish between the two. What game is this, and can I get a copy of the rule book?

    With all that being said, I really would like to answer Bantay’s question. You say you understood it, and that’s all well and good, but I didn’t; I was merely asking for clarification. I’m afraid that after your response, I’m actually a little more perplexed as to how to go about answering.

    I think a necessary condition of moving forward with constructive conversation is a working definition of ‘natural’ and ‘supernatural’. I propose ‘natural’ to mean anything made up of matter or energy, or any force that is subject to measurement and repeatable verification. I propose ‘supernatural’ to mean an agency which is not made up of or contingent on matter, energy, or time. I specify ‘agency’ because this does not need to be an all-inclusive definition, and it is what is most often meant when referring to the supernatural, i.e. divine intervention. (angles or other agents could intervene as well)

    So is that an acceptable working definition of the two terms in question? If not, let’s amend them. If so, perhaps then someone can answer the question:

    What kind of evidence would suggest a supernatural explanation over a natural one, in the context of scientific inquiry? (or, at the very least, what would be an example of evidence that would suggest that?)

  13. 13
    jurassicmac says:

    Let me explain in a shorter post why I think Bantay’s question should be expounded slightly before I should be expected to answer it. (It is otherwise a very good question by the way, I don’t know If I mentioned that already)

    Bantay:

    What if evidence suggests a non-naturalistic explanation is preferred over a naturalistic or materialist explanation? Should ideas about science be changed and modified accordingly?

    First of all, I don’t know Bantay from Adam. For All I know, Bantay could be Bill O’Reilly using a handle. If that were the case, and the phenomena in question were “What causes the tides?” then the fact that he can’t think of a natural explanation may warrant the conclusion on his part of a deliberate supernatural intervention. If that were the case, then my answer to his question would be: “Well, that’s actually not a case of the ‘evidence’ suggesting a supernatural explanation should be preferred over a natural one.”

    Now of course, I don’t think that’s the case with Bantay, I’m just using that as an example. But it illustrates why it actually is important to know the type of thing that would be considered evidence of the supernatural, in order to comment on what the ‘scientific’ response should be.

  14. 14
    QuiteID says:

    Clive, to be fair, if jurassicmac begged “the question of what is natural and what is supernatural,” Bantay begged it before him when he asked:

    What if evidence suggests a non-naturalistic explanation is preferred over a naturalistic or materialist explanation?

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    For me a simple way of looking at the question of ‘What is natural vs. what is supernatural?’ is best illustrated by the conflict between Einstein’s General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. For Einstein’s General Relativity defines Reality in terms of Gravity’s relation to 4-Dimensional space/time, whereas Quantum Mechanics describes reality in terms of mathematical descriptions of the dual particle-like and wave-like behaviors and interactions of matter and energy. Moreover the actions of Quantum Mechanics blatantly defy any constraints of time and space. It is as if Quantum Mechanics says to the space-time of General Relativity, ‘I have no need of that hypothesis’. Since people generally consider defying time and space to be ‘supernatural’, even miraculous, and since conversely people consider obeying time and space to be natural i.e. completely predicatable, I hold that General Relativity is our best description of the ‘natural’ world, whereas I hold that Quantum mechanics is our best description of the ‘supernatural’ world. It should also be noted that General Relativity, though it has recently been confirmed to an accuracy of something like 15 decimal places, still conforms to Godel’s incompleteness theorem, in that it is shown that General Relativity will never be a complete (natural) explanation for reality;

    notes;

    The Cauchy Problem In General Relativity – Igor Rodnianski
    Excerpt: 2.2 Large Data Problem In General Relativity – While the result of Choquet-Bruhat and its subsequent refinements guarantee the existence and uniqueness of a (maximal) Cauchy development, they provide no information about its geodesic completeness and thus, in the language of partial differential equations, constitutes a local existence. ,,, More generally, there are a number of conditions that will guarantee the space-time will be geodesically incomplete.,,, In the language of partial differential equations this means an impossibility of a large data global existence result for all initial data in General Relativity.
    http://www.icm2006.org/proceed.....l_3_22.pdf

    The following article speaks of a proof developed by legendary mathematician Kurt Gödel, from a thought experiment, in which Gödel showed General Relativity could not be a complete description of the universe:

    THE GOD OF THE MATHEMATICIANS – DAVID P. GOLDMAN – August 2010
    Excerpt: Gödel’s personal God is under no obligation to behave in a predictable orderly fashion, and Gödel produced what may be the most damaging critique of general relativity. In a Festschrift, (a book honoring Einstein), for Einstein’s seventieth birthday in 1949, Gödel demonstrated the possibility of a special case in which, as Palle Yourgrau described the result, “the large-scale geometry of the world is so warped that there exist space-time curves that bend back on themselves so far that they close; that is, they return to their starting point.” This means that “a highly accelerated spaceship journey along such a closed path, or world line, could only be described as time travel.” In fact, “Gödel worked out the length and time for the journey, as well as the exact speed and fuel requirements.” Gödel, of course, did not actually believe in time travel, but he understood his paper to undermine the Einsteinian worldview from within.
    http://www.faqs.org/periodical.....27241.html

    THE GOD OF THE MATHEMATICIANS – DAVID P. GOLDMAN – August 2010
    Excerpt: we cannot construct an ontology that makes God dispensable. Secularists can dismiss this as a mere exercise within predefined rules of the game of mathematical logic, but that is sour grapes, for it was the secular side that hoped to substitute logic for God in the first place. Gödel’s critique of the continuum hypothesis has the same implication as his incompleteness theorems: Mathematics never will create the sort of closed system that sorts reality into neat boxes.
    http://www.faqs.org/periodical.....27241.html

    Gödel’s Incompleteness: The #1 Mathematical Breakthrough of the 20th Century
    Excerpt: Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem says:
    “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle – something you have to assume to be true but cannot prove “mathematically” to be true.”
    http://www.cosmicfingerprints......pleteness/

    ——————

    further note;

    This following experiment extended the double slit experiment to show that the ‘spooky actions’, for instantaneous quantum wave collapse, happen regardless of any considerations for time or distance i.e. The following experiment shows that quantum actions are ‘universal and instantaneous’:

    Wheeler’s Classic Delayed Choice Experiment:
    Excerpt: Now, for many billions of years the photon is in transit in region 3. Yet we can choose (many billions of years later) which experimental set up to employ – the single wide-focus, or the two narrowly focused instruments. We have chosen whether to know which side of the galaxy the photon passed by (by choosing whether to use the two-telescope set up or not, which are the instruments that would give us the information about which side of the galaxy the photon passed). We have delayed this choice until a time long after the particles “have passed by one side of the galaxy, or the other side of the galaxy, or both sides of the galaxy,” so to speak. Yet, it seems paradoxically that our later choice of whether to obtain this information determines which side of the galaxy the light passed, so to speak, billions of years ago. So it seems that time has nothing to do with effects of quantum mechanics. And, indeed, the original thought experiment was not based on any analysis of how particles evolve and behave over time – it was based on the mathematics. This is what the mathematics predicted for a result, and this is exactly the result obtained in the laboratory.
    http://www.bottomlayer.com/bot.....choice.htm

    Intelligent Design – The Anthropic Hypothesis
    http://lettherebelight-77.blog.....is_19.html

  16. 16
    jurassicmac says:

    bornagain77 @ 15,

    After all that you still didn’t provide a workable distinction between ‘natural’ and ‘supernatural’ either. By your criteria, GPS satellites and atomic clocks are supernatural in whole or in part, because they make use of quantum phenomena.

    Something doesn’t have to be ‘completely predictable’ to be natural, and conversely, simply ‘defying time and space’ wouldn’t make something supernatural because a time machine or a teleporter could do those things, if such devices could be built; I don’t think potential machines built by humans could be rightly called ‘supernatural’

  17. 17
    Clive Hayden says:

    jurrasicmac,

    What kind of evidence would suggest a supernatural explanation over a natural one, in the context of scientific inquiry? (or, at the very least, what would be an example of evidence that would suggest that?)

    I already answered that. I’d like to know what your definitions are of natural and supernatural.

  18. 18
    QuiteID says:

    Clive, didn’t Bantay’s question have the same problem?

  19. 19
    Clive Hayden says:

    QuiteID,

    Yes.

  20. 20
    bornagain77 says:

    Actually jurassicmac, I think having the line drawn between natural and supernatural as that which defies time and space (i.e. quantum mechanics) and that which obeys time and space (i.e. General Relativity, gravity) is a very clear distinction between natural and supernatural.

    Indeed, as I pointed out before we know that general relativity is verified to an accuracy of something like 15 decimal places, and we also know that quantum mechanics has passed every prediction that has issued forth from its basic framework, yet we also know that the ‘natural’ world of the 4-D space time of General Relativity is a ‘incomplete’ description of reality,,,

    The Cauchy Problem In General Relativity – Igor Rodnianski
    Excerpt: 2.2 Large Data Problem In General Relativity – While the result of Choquet-Bruhat and its subsequent refinements guarantee the existence and uniqueness of a (maximal) Cauchy development, they provide no information about its geodesic completeness and thus, in the language of partial differential equations, constitutes a local existence. ,,, More generally, there are a number of conditions that will guarantee the space-time will be geodesically incomplete.,,, In the language of partial differential equations this means an impossibility of a large data global existence result for all initial data in General Relativity.
    http://www.icm2006.org/proceed.....l_3_22.pdf

    ,,,yet General Relativity also refuses all attempts to being subsumed within the ‘supernatural’ framework of Quantum Mechanics.

    Quantum Mechanics Not In Jeopardy: Physicists Confirm Decades-Old Key Principle Experimentally – July 2010
    Excerpt: the research group led by Prof. Gregor Weihs from the University of Innsbruck and the University of Waterloo has confirmed the accuracy of Born’s law in a triple-slit experiment (as opposed to the double slit experiment). “The existence of third-order interference terms would have tremendous theoretical repercussions – it would shake quantum mechanics to the core,” says Weihs. The impetus for this experiment was the suggestion made by physicists to generalize either quantum mechanics or gravitation – the two pillars of modern physics – to achieve unification, thereby arriving at a one all-encompassing theory. “Our experiment thwarts these efforts once again,” explains Gregor Weihs. (of note: Born’s Law is an axiom that dictates that quantum interference can only occur between pairs of probabilities, not triplet or higher order probabilities. If they would have detected higher order interference patterns this would have potentially allowed a reformulation of quantum mechanics that is compatible with, or even incorporates, gravitation.)
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142640.htm

    In fact Jurassicmac the reason why the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation forms a sphere around us is because of Quantum Wave collapse to each point of unique observation in the universe and not because of the 4-D space time of General Relativity!

    Wheeler’s Classic Delayed Choice Experiment:
    Excerpt: Now, for many billions of years the photon is in transit in region 3. Yet we can choose (many billions of years later) which experimental set up to employ – the single wide-focus, or the two narrowly focused instruments. We have chosen whether to know which side of the galaxy the photon passed by (by choosing whether to use the two-telescope set up or not, which are the instruments that would give us the information about which side of the galaxy the photon passed). We have delayed this choice until a time long after the particles “have passed by one side of the galaxy, or the other side of the galaxy, or both sides of the galaxy,” so to speak. Yet, it seems paradoxically that our later choice of whether to obtain this information determines which side of the galaxy the light passed, so to speak, billions of years ago. So it seems that time has nothing to do with effects of quantum mechanics. And, indeed, the original thought experiment was not based on any analysis of how particles evolve and behave over time – it was based on the mathematics. This is what the mathematics predicted for a result, and this is exactly the result obtained in the laboratory.
    http://www.bottomlayer.com/bot.....choice.htm

    (Please Tell me jurassicmac, what ’cause’ would you find sufficient to explain universal quantum wave collapse to each point of unique observation? Myself I can think of only one known cause that is that powerful!!!)

    I find it extremely interesting, and strange, that quantum mechanics tells us that instantaneous quantum wave collapse to its ‘uncertain’ 3-D state is centered on each individual observer in the universe, whereas, 4-D space-time cosmology (General Relativity) tells us each 3-D point in the universe is central to the expansion of the universe. These findings of modern science are pretty much exactly what we would expect to see if this universe were indeed created from a higher dimension by a omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal Being who knows everything that is happening everywhere in the universe at the same time. These findings certainly seem to go to the very heart of the age old question asked of many parents by their children, “How can God hear everybody’s prayers at the same time?”,,, i.e. Why should the expansion of the universe, or the quantum wave collapse of the entire universe, even care that you or I, or anyone else, should exist? Only Theism offers a rational explanation as to why you or I, or anyone else, should have such undeserved significance in such a vast universe:

    Psalm 33:13-15
    The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.

    The expansion of every 3D point in the universe, and the quantum wave collapse of the entire universe to each point of conscious observation in the universe, is obviously a very interesting congruence in science between the very large (relativity) and the very small (quantum mechanics). A congruence that Physicists, and Mathematicians, seem to be having a extremely difficult time ‘unifying’ into a ‘theory of everything’.(Einstein, Penrose).

    Yet, the unification, into a ‘theory of everything’, between what is in essence the ‘infinite world of Quantum Mechanics’ and the ‘finite world of the space-time of General Relativity’ seems to be directly related to what Jesus apparently joined together with His resurrection, i.e. related to the unification of infinite God with finite man.

    The Center Of The Universe Is Life – General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Entropy and The Shroud Of Turin – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/5070355

    Turin Shroud Enters 3D Age – Pictures, Articles and Videos
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1gDY4CJkoFedewMG94gdUk1Z1jexestdy5fh87RwWAfg

  21. 21
    jurassicmac says:

    Clive Hayden:

    I already answered that. I’d like to know what your definitions are of natural and supernatural.

    I gave a definition in [12], but I will repost since it may have been in moderation for a few days: I propose ‘natural’ to mean anything made up of matter or energy, or any force that is subject to measurement and repeatable verification. I propose ‘supernatural’ to mean an agency which is not made up of or contingent on matter, energy, or time. I specify ‘agency’ because this is what is most often meant when referring to the supernatural, i.e. divine intervention. (angles or other agents could intervene as well)

    QuiteID:

    Clive, didn’t Bantay’s question have the same problem?

    Clive Hayden:

    QuiteID, Yes.

    Clive, would you then say that Bantay should be expected to give definitions or examples before I should be expected to answer the question? (Like I said, I have no aversion to answering the question, as soon as I know what it is)

    bornagain77 @ [20]

    As I said in post [16], you still didn’t provide a workable distinction between ‘natural’ and ‘supernatural’. By your criteria, GPS satellites and atomic clocks are supernatural in whole or in part, because they make use of quantum phenomena and principles.

  22. 22
    Clive Hayden says:

    jurrasicmac,

    Clive, would you then say that Bantay should be expected to give definitions or examples before I should be expected to answer the question? (Like I said, I have no aversion to answering the question, as soon as I know what it is)

    You know what is question was given yours and his presuppositions about nature and supernature, now are you going to answer it or not?

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