Darwin Day Luncheon

Darwin Day Luncheon Presented by Annual Darwin Day Celebration
During the week of Charles Darwin's birthday, we'll dine together in celebration of our common ancestry with fish and dinosaurs!

Note there will not be a regular breakfast meeting on this date.

Starting time is Noon: Lunch will be served, followed by a short presentation by Geoff Clark titled "Darwin and the Demon-Haunted World". Dr. Clark is Regent's Professor Emeritus of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at ASU.

Afterwards, everyone is invited to stay around for Games, Trivia, Prizes and Conversation

Menu: Primordial Soup, Grilled Fish, Rotisserie Chicken, Salads, Bread, Dessert, Beverages (feel free to bring adult beverages to the event)

Speaker Summary
Dr. Clark's presentation briefly covered five topics related to the controversy about evolution: The world views of religion and science; Darwin's revolution in thought and the theory of natural selection; Paley's argument from design; so-called Intelligent Design and the five stages of human evolution.

A world view is a logical coherent assertion about the nature of reality. Religion is grounded in faith while science is grounded in materialism, that is to say there is only 'matter' and that 'mind”'is a manifestation of matter arranged in complex ways. Scientific creationism is a religious doctrine posing as a science. The differing world views of science and religion are unreconciled. The threat to the concept of an inerrant Bible is that if any part of that text is shown to be false, then the whole concept of inerrancy crumbles. The religious view is that “facts” do not change. The scientific view is that “truth” is merely the best current hypothesis and is subject to change based on new information. Science is self-correcting in that the scientific process will eventually reveal a false hypothesis.

Darwin's theory of natural selection avoided the word “evolution” because of its prior use by Herbert Spencer as a natural striving to perfection. Darwin's version of evolution is changing adaptation to local environments by natural selection, and thus evolution occurs through natural selection. Natural selection is a direct inference from three observables: over-reproduction, variation within a species and a principle of inheritance of that variation. Thus, if all organisms over-reproduce, on average those better adapted to changing local environments will tend to produce more offspring than those not so well-adapted and the population average will tend to shift in their direction.

Darwin argued that the order observable in nature was due only to a universal striving for individual reproductive success. There was no principle or intelligence producing it.

Natural selection is so philosophically radical that many haven't wanted to confront its implications: human existence is intrinsically meaningless; we cannot impart meaning or values to nature nor seek to discover them from nature; meaning comes from humans and not nature; we must engage in moral struggle to create meaning in our lives.

William Paley was an English theologian and philosopher who founded the “Christian Evidences” movement and wrote “Natural Theology”. He proposed what is called the Argument from Design (AFD) which holds that the order observable in nature is due to intelligent design by an all-knowing, all-powerful creator. Nature can be understood and its creator revealed through the methods of science. If we can somehow decode nature correctly, moral truth will be revealed.

The problems with AFD are many: the nature of the designer, the fact that nature is indifferent to human aspirations, value, hopes and dreams; a deity only makes sense in a dualist world view; AFD is a dualist theory employing materialistic methodology and there is no empirical evidence for a designer.

So-called “Creation Science” is determined by the belief that there are only two alternatives: evolution and special creation of species. Any evidence against evolution must be evidence for creationism. Thus Creation Science promotes the idea that a body of evidence against evolution actually exists and that evolution is therefore a 'theory in crisis'.

The major tenets of Creation Science are that God created the Universe at one time (most commonly in six 24-hour days); God created the Universe in essentially its present form; God created 'kinds' (living beings) in their present forms and that this creation occurred around 10,000 years ago or less. Creation Science is very weak on testable claims. Most of it consists of 'evidence against evolution.'

Intelligent Design (ID) has been called creationism “light” by Eugenie Scott. The fundamental tenet of ID is the idea of Irreducible Complexity, i.e., that some things are so complex they require a designer. One of the claims of ID is that the fossil record does not support the theory than humans have evolved. Clark dismissed that claim with the statement that we have the fossils, they make sense and show both divergence and evolution in the human line.

Clark continued with a discussion of the five stages of human evolution. The split between humans and apes occurred between seven and eight million years ago. Genus homo appeared by 2.5 million years ago and by 1.8 million years ago had colonized mid-latitude Eurasia. Modern-like bodies, showing a reliance on bipedalism emerged by 1.6 million years ago. Anatomically modern humans appeared around 200,000 years ago.

He cautioned to keep in mind that the mode, the tempo, the mechanism and details of this evolution are often debated but the basic framework is generally accepted among scientists.

After the presentation, audience members gathered at a table where Dr.Clark had arranged casts of fossil skulls to show the progression of evolution from man's early ancestors to the near present.

Darwin Day Luncheon
February 8th, 2015 12:00 PM   through   2:00 PM

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