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In this episode of Skepticality, Derek has discussion with artist/writer, Darryl Cunningham, about his work and how a health care assistant/cartoonist decided to take on the job of educating the public about misconceptions surrounding psychiatry, science, and even world financial affairs.

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Color plate illustration of Actiniae showing various sea anemones, from Ernst Haeckel’s (1834–1919) Kunstformen der Natur (1904), plate/planche 49. [PUBLIC DOMAIN]

In this week’s eSkeptic, James “The Amazing” Randi — age 85 at the time the following article was written — ruminates on the reality of biological evolution. Randi wrote the “’Twas Brillig…” column regularly for Skeptic magazine until issue 19.2 (2014). This week’s feature article was Randi’s second-last column, which appeared in Skeptic magazine 19.1 in 2014, under the title “Let’s Get Real, Even if it Hurts.” Read James Randi’s bio at the end of this article.

Accepting the Reality of Biological Evolution

by James Randi

The well-established fact of biological evolution is being increasingly and frantically denied in the USA by creationists, and as I write this, a public opinion poll has announced that some 46% of the U.S. public identify themselves as creationists. According to a recent study carried out at Michigan State University, acceptance of evolution by Americans declined from 45% in 1985—already a shameful statistic— to 40% in 2005. It also found that only Turkey and the Vatican trail the U.S. in this denial of fact.

Not accepting the reality of biological evolution is equivalent to not accepting the stark fact of gravity. You can deny gravity, or claim that Earth is flat, but such simple denials do not in any way prove a point. Evolution is the single, unifying scientific explanation for the diversity of life on Earth, and the foundation upon which the biological sciences are built. The scientific theory of evolution is accepted by an overwhelming majority of scientists around the world as the cornerstone of biology. To deny the reality of evolution is to deny the foundation upon which modern medicine and related biological sciences are built.

Of course, creationists do not believe that they are denying the reality of anything. Their reality is that evolution is false and that creationism is true. They also do not claim that this is all based in faith; no, they think that they’ve got science behind them, and it is here where they are wrong, and where scientists can show why.

I’ll present here the example of cephalopods—which include octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish—which have one central systemic heart and two branchial hearts. The dominant central heart supplies blood to the body, to the ten tentacles of squid, and to the eight tentacles of the octopus. If such redundancy is okay for sea creatures, how come we humans can’t get in on the plan?

Not accepting the reality of biological evolution is equivalent to not accepting the stark fact of gravity. You can deny it, but such denial does not in any way prove a point.

I’ve used such examples of poor design many times, along with two of my own favorites—those delightful kidney stones, and cataracts—but I also have some derived from my personal and professional point of view. I celebrate the fact that scallywags like me— magicians—can produce some of our illusions because of the phenomenon known as persistence of vision, as well as the fact that the imaging part of the brain automatically switches off when the eye moves rapidly from one point to another, and that the mind—to better bridge gaps of information—can and does invent images that just aren’t there. While such illusions can serve a survival function as satisfying substitutes for the facts, and can assuage certain fears, the awkward facts often insist on emerging, and the resulting induced alarms are often useful indicators of very real dangers and threats. […]

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9 Comments »

9 Comments

  1. abdul Basit khakwany says:

    Adam was the first man created by God. Doomsday will come and then there will be resurrection of all mankind – going either to paradise or hell.
    There is no scope for evolution, neither any proof with Evolutionists. They mislead themselves and others.

    • Rev Jeeter Jones says:

      Does that come with fries?

      Hell jokes already considered and dismissed as too dumb

      Or is

      that too dhummi??

    • R. D. McConnell says:

      And your evidence for this assertion is?

      Of course, there is none, as we all know.

      You are living in the nonsense asserted by dumb Greek and other Semites offered 2,500 years ago, with no proof, an entirely illiterate and unintelligent audience and a society dominated by those who claimed knowledge that simply does not exist, and did not then either.

      How ignorant can you be to believe in such nonsense?

      We live in the 21st Century: WE ARE NOT BOUND BY THINGS WITH NO EVIDENCE PRESENTED THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO.

      Period.

      Forward – not backward into oblivion. Who dares say that they were more knowledgeable or smarter than we are today?

      You? ROFLOL.

  2. R. D. McConnell says:

    GOD IS NOT DEAD – –

    She didn’t exist in the first place, as we all know.

  3. yusuf says:

    mr abdul basit where do you evidence
    your evidence is love story of middle east

  4. abdul Basit khakwany says:

    You people do not want evidence but you believe in your self-styled imagination to be true. You are harming none else but yourselves.
    Read this verse of Quran:
    “Couldst thou but see when (on the Day of Judgment) the guilty (disbelievers) hang their heads before their Lord (and say): Our Lord! We have now seen and heard, so send us back (to previous life); we will do right deeds, now we have seen.
    (God says):” And if We had so Willed We could have given every soul its guidance, but the word from Me concerning the evil doers took effect:that I will fill hell with jinn and mankind together.
    “So taste the burning for-as-much-as ye forgot the meeting of this your Day; lo! We forget you. Taste the doom of immortality because of what ye used to do.”
    “It is not for any soul to believe save by the permission of Allah. He hath set uncleanness upon those who have no sense.”
    Gentlemen, You do not believe in God because God does not want
    that you believe in Him! This is His punishment on you. Paradise is precious enough enough and you do not qualify for that.
    If you show humility to Him and strive to seek His Guidance, he will relent and accept your repentance otherwise you are doomed.

  5. abdul Basit khakwany says:

    So rise up and ask for His pardon. He is Forgiving; Merciful. Be sure you surrender to Him before you die.

  6. abdul Basit khakwany says:

    Life of this world is only one time chance\bet. Be careful. If you fail to surrender to God before your death, you will be in agony for ever.
    Why put yourself in unnecessary horrible risk? Be prudent. Your false concept about Godless world will prove tragic for you. Just read translation of Quran. It has changed many lives. Correspond with (formerly Cat Steven and now) Yusuf Islam. He changed his religion from Christianity to Islam.

  7. Justin Case says:

    abdul Basit khakwany – How do you KNOW these things?

    I mean, you don’t even KNOW me, yet you (and your god) doom me to agony forever? I mean, if your god WANTS me to not believe in him, then what can I do? I mean, he’s all powerful and all, isn’t he?

    Ahhh, your parents told you these things. But how did THEY know them?

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