150th Anniversary of Theory of Evolution

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One hundred fifty years ago today, a paper was read to the Linnaean Society of London, and the scientific theory of evolution was born.

Darwin was still working on his magnum opus when in June 1858 he received a letter from an English naturalist working in Malaysia. Alfred Russel Wallace was young and brash. When he conceived of natural selection, he didn’t plan a 10-volume lifework. He just dashed off a quick paper on the subject and mailed it to the author of The Voyage of the Beagle, asking him to refer it for publication if it seemed good enough.

Darwin was crestfallen. Was he about to lose credit for two decades of work? Wallace had suggested that Darwin forward the paper to Scottish geologist Charles Lyell. Along with English botanist Joseph Hooker, Lyell was one of a small handful of people Darwin had shown early drafts of his own work on natural selection.

Darwin wrote to Lyell and Hooker, and they arranged for a joint paper to be read at the forthcoming meeting of the Linnaean Society of London. (Founded in 1788 and named for Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish scientist who devised the binomial system of taxonomy, it is the world’s oldest active biological society.)

Neither Darwin nor Wallace attended the meeting. Wallace was still in Malaysia. Darwin was at home with his wife mourning the death of their 19-month-old son just three days earlier.

And fundamentalists of one stripe or another have been battling against it ever since. Now they’re at it in New Zealand.

A Christian group promoting intelligent design theory over evolution has sent teaching material to schools that critics say is religious propaganda and sloppy pseudoscience.

The Education Ministry says the unsanctioned material does not breach the Education Act and there are no plans to ban its distribution. But officials stress the theory of evolution underpins the science curriculum and schools have a responsibility to teach theories that are subject to accepted scientific scrutiny.

Focus on the Family has sent The Privileged Planet CD and booklet to 400 high schools, asking that they be made available to science teachers and school libraries.

Waikato University biological sciences senior lecturer Alison Campbell says the material champions creationism - the belief that God created the world as described in the Book of Genesis - claiming the universe is too perfect to have been produced by chance so must be the work of an intelligent designer. It represented a religious viewpoint, she said, not a scientific one, and had no place in science classrooms. “It’s an underhand way of getting creationist material into schools.” …

Focus on the Family’s executive director Tim Sisarich said the material was intended to expose pupils to an alterative theory of cosmology.

“We’re a Christian organisation so we believe that God made the planet and God made the cosmos … Science takes a theory and tries to establish it as the truth, and that’s all this is.”

An interesting aspect of the recent resurrection of creationism as “intelligent design” is the collaboration between far-right US Christian groups like the Institute for Creation Research and the Discovery Institute, and the radical Islamic Turkish creationist group led by the notorious Harun Yahya: Evolution Deceit. com - This website is the interactive version of the book ‘Evolution Deceit’ by HARUN YAHYA.

Professor Michael P. Girouard: In his speech, “Is it Possible for Life to Emerge by Coincidences?”, Michael Girouard, a professor of biology at Southern Louisiana University, explained through various examples the complexity of proteins, the basic units of life, and concluded that they could only have come into existence as a result of skilled design.

Dr Edward Boudreaux: In his speech, “The Design in Chemistry”, Edward Boudreaux, a professor of chemistry at the University of New Orleans, noted that some chemical elements must have been deliberately arranged by creation in order for life to exist.

Professor Carl Fliermans: A widely-known scientist in the USA and a microbiology professor at Indiana University conducting a research on “the neutralisation of chemical wastes by bacteria” supported by the US Department of Defence, Carl Fliermans refuted evolutionist claims at the microbiological level.

Professor Edip Keha: A professor of biochemistry, Edip Keha, was the only Turkish speaker of the conference. He presented basic information on the cell and stressed through evidence that the cell could only have come into being as a result of perfect creation.

Professor David Menton: A professor of anatomy at Washington University, David Menton, in a speech that was accompanied by a very interesting computer display, examined the differences between the anatomies of the feathers of birds and the scales of reptiles, thus proving the invalidity of the hypothesis that birds evolved from reptiles.

Professor Duane Gish: Famous evolutionist expert Professor Gish, in his speech entitled “The Origin of Man”, refuted the thesis of man’s evolution from apes.

ICR President Professor John Morris: Professor Morris, the president of the Institute for Creation Research and a famous geologist, gave a speech on the ideological and philosophical commitments lying behind evolution. He further explained that this theory has been turned into a dogma and that its defenders believe in Darwinism with a religious fervour.

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 Frank says:

The family was from Arkansas. The Dad (Dink) was a furniture salesman in San Bernardino, but back in the way-back-when he used to play 'bones' or 'spoons' in a minstrel show. To relive the golden days of yesteryear he would, from time to time, force his children to accompany him (Ronnie on guitar, Kenny on trombone) in a living room replay of a minstrel routine called "Lazy Bones."

The kids often found this to be an inconvenience, as they were fascinated by, and constantly perfecting new techniques for, The Manly Art Of Fart-Burning. Kenny explained to me that it was scientific - that it demonstrated (this is a real quote) "Compression, ignition, combustion and exhaust." -- Kenny & Ronnie Williams (later immortalized in "Let's Make The Water Turn Black").