Catholic vs. Atheist - 2019-05-05 - Aron Ra Part 2

Author Recorded Sunday May 5th, 2019

There are 47 episodes in the Versus:Atheist series.

Recorded February 9th, 2019

Catholic vs. Atheist - 2019-02-09 - Greg

Recorded September 11th, 2016

Catholic vs. Atheist - 2016-09-11 - Renaud

This talk came about because Aron wanted to give me a mini crash-course in the fundamentals of Evolution theory before my upcoming interview with Kent Hovind. Aron is a very affable man with a lot of personality and a big heart, and I am very grateful that he took the time to talk to me again.


Catholic vs. Atheist - 2019-05-05 - Aron Ra Part 2

Author Recorded July 30th, 2016

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are in raw part too so let's start from evolution what can you tell me what do I need to know well the easiest or the simplest concept to explain in evolution I think where the moments it's not the simplest but the most basic concept to explain about evolution would be genetic drift we understand that in every litter of puppies and every you know pod of eggs by every frog you know they every one of these embryos has a certain number of mutations different they all of its other siblings the only time you're gonna get a genetically perfect match is when they're twins and so that's one zygote that gets split in half and so as cells replicate themselves or duplicate themselves later on they run the chance of further mutations but the ones that we're concerned about are the ones that you have from the moment of conception the zygote you have a certain number of mutations that you have inherited and so these are mutations can be acquired only when they occur in replicating genes and the parents that that happen to be gamete cells the parent gene pool tends to restrict new variants it tends to hold everybody to kinda together but if you divide that population take a smaller group and separate them aside and there's other ways to do this than just this then you'll notice unique mutations appearing in the new group that in generations will proliferate throughout that new group so that it pretty quickly in just a few generations you'll be able to identify whether a new organism came from that group or came from the original group see Darwin figured out natural selection but he couldn't figure out genetic drift he had no idea about genes it was Mendel who figured out Darwin's mystery Darwin had no way of explaining this Mendel figured it out some people have termed Darwinism to be the original idea that Darwin suggested which is natural sexual selection and then they coined the term neo-darwinism for the Mendel Oh Darwinian of natural selection with genetics but now they've they've changed the name again and have just completely abandoned the use of the word Darwinism at all so it's now the the extended synthesis so if you understand that the genetic drift happens and it's in it's inevitable it's going to happen and it the only way to slow it down is by having a larger parent gene pool the smaller the gene pool the more rapid you're going to get and the more likely you're going to get variation although that can still occur anyway there's four different types of speciation some of them can occur within the even larger parent people but these have a tendency to restrict so when you get speciation speciation is where you now have one that is completely genetically isolated at least when we're talking about sexually reproductive animals you've got something that where one genotype has become two then then becomes 4 and 8 and 16 and so forth except for the ones of course who go extinct and then when you have a handful of them that have gone extinct to you you find the original set may still be alive and you have a couple of different daughter sets it may be difficult to find exactly how closely related they are but you can still test that genetically so I have recently been invited to go to the I'm going on a paleontological expedition into the kuru which is a which is a remote wilderness region of South Africa and I have confirmed there are lions and rhinos and and that sort of thing in this area so it's going to be the actual African experience yeah but I'm gonna be out there like in a pup tent for two weeks we're looking for Permian threats it's weird we're in an area where the Permian rock has exposed where most of the therapsids that we know of in the world have come from and I've talked to a number of the the scientists that have already been there and they're bragging about the individual unique species that each of them has personally discovered a couple of them impressive you know up to 9 feet long and I'm looking forward to the remote possibility that I myself could discovery as yet unidentified species of Permian the rhapsode the Permian is history is just prior to the age of the dinosaurs that's at a time when they were still Europe druids and trilobite s-- and when we had proto mammals not actual mammals yet but we had things that were closer to mammals definitely than any other type of reptile if you had seen them you would think that they were mammals you would call the mammals even though they don't meet all the criteria yet so the series of transitions between what carolus linnaeus would have recognized as a reptile or would have called a reptile to what we now recognize as mammals is actually an enormous collection of individual species that we have identified a myriad exchange for my niece whom I interviewed who's studying evolutionary biology she mentioned a fishapod that's not the technical word but do you know what she's talking about yes that would be my favorite area of our evolution which is actually in some sense is more interesting than Permian three apses that's going but just before that to the Devonian period and they're things like acanthus dag a ganar is my favorite transitional species ever if you've ever seen me the emblem of the Darwin fish you know the fish symbol that thing it had it had legs with toes and elbows and wrists and all of that but it's a fish yeah and it's not even just a fish it so it's a fish it's a salamander that is a fish mm-hmm but it's not really a salamander but it's it's a perfect transition it still has internal gills and it walks although it doesn't walk on land this is something that a lot of people would immediately discard that they that that's a salamander except that it doesn't have the external gills like some salamander larvae have this has internal gills with gill bars so it is still a true fish it's just a true fish with legs complete with elbows wrists and fingers all it's missing is iPhone but I'm wondering about the nomenclature is there enough room in the language to accommodate all the new species or do we have to make longer and long and longer names for each clade in each species how does the nomenclature work is there a way of accommodating all the new stuff carolus linnaeus devised a binomial system of nomenclature but of course he didn't know that evolution was a thing he couldn't figure out why it was when he was when he was trying to build this classification system he was fully expecting that he was going to resolve created kinds and what he found instead was that everything was daughter sets within a sequence of parental or ancestral sets like a line of matroyshka dolls except that every Russian doll that you open doesn't have one doll and it has two or four okay so it's just imagine how that diversifies so he realizes everything goes in these parent categories multiple things go into a faerie category together and then multiple parents of that go into a parent category together again creationism could not explain or account for that so Linnaeus was left in a quandary especially when he tried to classify chimpanzees and orangutans they didn't know about gorillas yet but you know they knew about chimpanzees and orangutans and when he when he tried to classify those he classified them as people and he made a public post challenging the scientific community to point out the difference because he said there wasn't one there was not a difference to distinguish humans from apes or Apes from humans now he had no idea about evolution it couldn't make any sense to him and we can't say that that chimpanzees are humans or the orangutans so humans although he classified them as such the way that it works with this series of Russian dolls that we were talking about is that chimpanzees and orangutans and gorillas and Gibbons and humans and australopithecines all fit into the parent category of Apes and then you know we did all of us within that parent category that makes sense but he wasn't able to figure that out what what is a primate technically speaking a primate is a specific type of mammal worio eutherian mammals that has protective bars around the eyes whereas you if you look at a dog's skull you'll see that there's a little recess where their eyeball fits into but it doesn't have a frame around it so if you were to hit a dog on the side of the head you would damage its eye but primates the most basal primates all have this bar and our eyes are oriented forward also that so that it's binocular vision we don't have primates that have their eyes pointed out to the side because we have to navigate through trees we need depth perception that's our biggest deal so our eyes have to be are oriented forward we have to have color vision and so all of these traits built on to a particular subset of mammals oh so it's it's all about the head it's nothing to do with they're dragging their knuckles on the ground or not what all primates also have opposable thumbs okay so that's the way there are post cranial traits as well this is just the most obvious ones and honestly if I were to go through the full list for each category they get I'd be speaking Latin yeah so um back to the question about the classification in the nomenclature is it getting cumbersome or is there a way to keep the name is short with every new discovery oh yeah we keep the names short just as a matter of tradition so everything has the the genus name and the species name but then we get to certain peculiarities when we get to these endnotes where we know that things are still evolving so like Canis familiaris the old name for dog well now dog has been reclassified as wolves so Canis lupus familiaris but now we know that we have other sub varieties that may become species unto themselves and so we may have Canis lupus familiaris dachshund but our tradition still is to keep it binomial there are some instances where the tradition is actually changing to a trinomial system but we're not going to do four names together we would simply drop off the genus canis if we needed to if we're gonna you know we would identify it lets or keep the genus and drop everything else between that and dachshund for example canis dachshund would be the easiest way of putting that I say do you know anything about the Dewey Decimal System in library science I know that it exists but they do have to try to break down in the sort of family like a broad category and then narrower categories and then narrower categories and I've always been fascinated with that like there must be some problems there that are unresolved where they have to just compromise and say look I know it's not a perfect fit and you could make an argument for this other category but I'm going with this classification is it the same thing with phylogeny there are arguments in phylogeny but there's ways of solving them so I don't I don't know what the issue with the Dewey Decimal System is but I mean the more you study anything anything doesn't matter where it is the more you study it the more complex it's going to turn out to be the more you know about it the more nuances there are and so everything is gonna break down into where there's some game's consistency somewhere though I can't at the moment think of what that would be here you couldn't think of a case where there's a fish dog and a dog fish and you're not sure if the fish dog should go under the dog or if the dog fish hunted the fish you don't I mean which is a subset of sharks I'm just being silly but you know what I mean right like an account which obviously has no determinable relationship to a cat yeah a line it's just not related to a lion but you know what I mean right like there might be these ideas where there are a whole bunch of things in common between these two seemingly unrelated branches but we could make a case to place it either way okay look I can give you a couple of examples where that has happened so once upon a time they had aardvarks and anteaters and pangolins and they classified them all together on based on on criteria that all of them lost their teeth now losing teeth completely being toothless and having to eat ants is a kind of devastating change so it was assumed that this must have only happened once and then from that you have these three different types that diverge away from there but the genome came back and said no that's not the case genetically it turns out that pangolins are more closely related to carnivores aardvarks are more closely related to elephants being afrotheria and z NAR throw which is the Anteaters the South American and eaters of South America will do the Nora is a collection of anteaters and armadillos and sloths so the South American fauna all have a genetic link and it had nothing to do with that they all in other words the three groups lost their teeth independently and all coincidentally began eating ants because that's what you would do when you lose all your teeth I always picture dances being crunchy but I guess they'll never find out yeah yeah exactly what about transhumanism are you excited about it do you think it's a good worthwhile project well I I have to know what you're talking about because I have seen different definitions what I mean by transhumanism is where we can take control of our own evolution which is a good thing definitely if some people will look at the movie Gattaca and they will think that that's a terror story or that that's a horror story or whatever you want to call it but I don't look at it that way we have all already controlling our genes as much as we can we figured out there's a pax 9 mutation for example which has a high proclivity among Mexicans Mexicans have a high rate of Ana Genesis through the PAX 9 which means that they don't notice not all Mexicans obviously because there's a huge range but in the sampled set of a hundred people they got a hundred percent of the sample had an agenda of the wisdom too so they didn't grow wisdom teeth a third molar which means that they didn't suffer the morbidity of impacted wisdom teeth now if we could transmit that mutation to every developing human nobody would ever have impacted wisdom teeth we have the same number of teeth as chimpanzees and gorillas but we don't have as big a jaw as they do and the problem with that is that third wisdom tooth when it comes in it's the only Manoa daunt tooth that we have it's the only one that doesn't you know that doesn't grow and replace it comes in once and it comes in late in life and when it does it usually comes in at an angle because of the position of our jaw so it comes in a pack sever ething else there are a handful of positive mutations that we can find in certain people and if we can extract them and put them in other developing people that would be advantageous that'd be great I know somebody who as multiple I can't remember I can't remember what the name is at a Horta I don't know he's got something in his heart that even though he weighs 600 pounds he's never gonna die of a heart attack because he has this second tube it is he has a duplicate tube so he it can't kill him he could have a complete closure of one and he's still fine so if we could take a mutation like that and put that in our developing shoulder that's excellent right yeah we come from like some sort of rat like mammal is that true like a squirrel or something like that the base template for the simplest that mammals can get are if you look at a rat that's one example another wouldn't be is true another one would be a possum possums are marsupials right and shrews are placentals but if you look at the two of them they look pretty much like each other and a rat has actually a number of specializations they've lost their their thumb which is really unfortunate because they otherwise they would be using their hands the rats and humans actually have off like hundreds of codons at a time that are in perfect synchronicity it's unfortunate that they've lost their thumbs and they've also lost their canines whereas shrews still have their full complement of teeth and they're based in more generalized they're more capable of adapting to a number of different varieties where rats are now somewhat limited but if you take up marsupial the opossum and the Shrew now you have the most generalized mammal form there at this okay so if we go back how many like clade branches back is that to get from us to that primitive form of mammal would the numbers not going to be exact without having to look up my notes but I would say that that's gonna be right around 35 wow that's a lot so if we could go another 35 into the future is it reasonable to expect that we will be to that future evolved thing as the rat is to us like in that distance in terms of sophistication intelligence and the advantages we have over these little mammals would there be that necessarily that jump ahead in sophistication and evolution do you think that's possible well we have the advantage of we are very we're still very generalized we are still an circus or because we still have five digits on all four appendages we all still have all four appendages so we still have cuspids and canines and molars we have still have the the the variation of teeth we have a lot but the one thing we we missing that a lot of other animals has that we no longer do is our tail and that has been in some lineages that because it's it we if you have the tail then you have something you can adapt for other purposes and so the more things that you have that you can adapt for other purposes are better the more specialized you are the more painted into a corner you can be when the environment changes so the big-brained animals are us parrots and crows elephants pigs dolphins and whales so dolphins of whales a huge brain capacity they have comprehension of language they can see in color they have brilliant aptitudes and all these different things they could be us but they have no hands and they live in an environment where it's impossible to sculpt anything or to build fire they can't create chemical composite they can't do chemistry they can't make tools like they can do nothing they've got in the super brain they can't use it how pathetic is that no look at the elephants elephants also have a huge brain they have phenomenal capacity for comprehension but again imagine you have one hand and that one hand has two fingers and that's it I mean this is what this is what an elephant can do with its trunk right what can you do it's very very little that the elephant is incapacitated by its own physiognomies there's no there's nothing that Elva can do to expand on that intelligence and then we have parrots and crows they have to stand on one foot in order they'll hold anything in the other foot because their arms have turned into wings and they can't read that while they still have fused fingers in their wings they can't separate those fingers they can't adapt hands out of them again so that err so specialized that they are doomed they can only go this way now they don't have the course to take that other path anymore okay this is a good concept you've given me now above this generalized versus a specialized state okay that's a new thing I didn't learned about that yet so thank you for that and my favorite example of that is the raccoon raccoons have like we do raccoons that are our procyonids which means that their basal to dogs they are cario tipic of what dogs and bears and weasels all stemmed from so that the ancestor of all these things looked very much like a raccoon coincidentally I was talking to a geneticist about this a few years ago I said why does it the raccoons unlike everything else we have two species of Raccoon we got one in South America and one one species for the entire northern hemisphere that's it I mean raccoons in the United States are the same as raccoons in Russia they're the same damn species why is there no diversification there should be and this geneticist said it actually studied raccoons and they found out that their mutation rate or their evolution is extremely slow so they actually have a number of species that effectively don't evolved it aware that they have all so slowly that it just doesn't happen in a way that I mean these guys have been ten million years virtually identical to what they are but they have like we do they have these wrists that will twist and they have hands they have actual hands where they can hold things they can pick up things with their hands and walk around with those things in their hands but the two disadvantages that they have is one they have such a slowed mutation rate that they don't evolve effectively and two they don't have the brain that the crow or the parent or the elephant or the pig can you imagine you look what a pig in - what is it hooves can't do a damn thing right it can't manipulate its environment there's no way it can learn there's no way can better itself as a population but raccoons have all of that they just didn't get at the brain there was a raccoon eating our garbage the other day yeah yeah it so you're looking at this animal you and you have all of the physical aptitude you need to be anything you want to be it's just that the brain you should have waited to something else that can't use it could they give them a brain transplant from a raven no because Ravens have dinosaur brains which is basically a reptilian brain which means that you have almost no cerebral cortex they have a bird's brain is a hyper tuned reptile brain imagine likely it's like if you go if we went back to the 60s and you were like comparing American and European cars in the the the European engine would be much much smaller than the American engine but it's got all of these things to tune it up in the turbochargers and superchargers and all of these if they've done everything that they can to get all the mud all the power they can't out of that tiny little motor and that's the way bird brains are they are hyper advanced they're super developed but they're not big what were the candidates today that are alive today the candidates for an exciting future in terms of evolving it to something bigger and better and smarter and faster and all that that would be a tough choice I mean like I said my first option would be records and and there are others that are unfortunately going extinct as we speak that had this other ability like red pandas and these are things that are generalized enough that if they could speed up their evolution a bit and take advantage of this environment they I would think that raccoons just living where they do if all people dropped off the planet the raccoons would be the best suited ones to take over but with that stupidly slow mutation rate it's not likely to happen how does something for example get wings let's say we wanted this raccoon over millions or billions of years to eventually have wings could we in a thought experiment could we set up an environment where there's an incentive for him to grow his wings and to fly in just in a thought experiment could you talk me through how that might happen it stuns me that you even have that concept it's bewildering to me I mean I've always understood evolution ever since I was a little kid I've always understood evolution and because I mean the reason that I did it was because somebody gave me a diagram when I was in second grade that give me a diagram on taxonomy and that's it that taxonomy is the biggest explanation for this so for anybody listening if you're curious at all if you if you sincerely want to understand what we actually know about this please watch my series on the systematic classification of life I'm working on episode 40 right now and so that'll be up in the next couple of days but this will explain our idea our molecules to man all of it okay but now when you're talking about growing wings let's look at the plot the times that wings have grown before we talk about insects because insect wings started from the opening part of the carapace which I'm guessing you you're not you don't care about that dinosaur wings which is where we get birds from is that the one you want to know about or are we going to talk about mammals because mammals have only two types of flight what what one is flying one is gliding that's a squirrel squirrels Flanders and Kalu goes okay now let's talk about birds like what was the precursor to the bird and how did it turn how to fly okay early dinosaurs they were hiding like dominant many of them had to go bipedal because their their hind legs grew so outrageously large they used their they're called manner Raptors as a certain subset of theropods that have grabbing hands so now they reduced their fingers they all started out with five and we have early dinosaurs that have five fingers but most of them lost the thumb and the pinky so that we end up with three fingers and those three fingers are grabbing fingers and the Velociraptor which is the famous example of this we know from the skeleton how its arms could retract back and do a grab which exactly duplicates a flapping motion now what we found out after that was that velociraptors are not at all what we thought they look like in Jurassic Park velociraptors were fully feathered now we've seen the evolution of feathers in a number of primitive dinosaurs that are older than that we've seen how early dinosaurs had something along the lines of like a downy kind of covering like a fluff and these turn into something that would be similar to EMU feathers so if I don't know if you've ever seen emus their feathers are very very primitive they're not acer Matt they're they're symmetrical they're not like flight feathers at all they're they're almost like hair with spines down the middle and then offshoots off of those spots a very primitive type of feathers and then an emu gives a good explanation of that because if you if you ever get a hold of an emu and I had a pet EMU for a number which I absolutely loved that bird it was my favorite pet ever I had a six foot six inch tall EMU living in my backyard every year and I would take him for walks to the park and everything I really loved that bird but when you examine the EMU you realize that while you can't see its arms it actually does have arms under those big shaggy feathers and it has a little elbow and a wrist and a single finger one finger and on the end of that finger is a claw the interesting thing about that is that there's no musculature in those arms anymore none so they're tiny immune have you seen a Tyrannosaurus Rex well that makes one of health tiniest arms are yeah that that's an e mean emus have really tiny arms they literally can't do anything they have no musculature so why the hell does it have a claw it can't use the claw it can't move its arm so when people tell you when the other creationists tell you there's no such thing as a vestigial trait you can say ah you are lying to me because we do have claws on the ends of the fingers of emus and that is a vestigial trait that is a dinosaur arm that does not serve as a wing so with velociraptors though velociraptors had wing feathers although albeit short ones and the reason that they have them was maybe initially for sexual display but it ended up having an alternate purpose because when you have these short wing feathers the half wing that many creationists say that that you know you can never find a half a wing but yeah we do we got lots of them actually and half wings are very useful because you can incubate a much larger clutch of eggs which produces a very strong selective pressure you know that the ones that had those wings that the head the wing feathers had more babies than the other ones did they were able to in create a larger klutzy we're able to provide better than the smaller ones now remember also dinosaurs have hollow bones they can breathe through their bones it's connected to a system of lung sacs never ever think they have a much much more efficient respiratory system than any mammal which is one of the reasons that dinosaurs got so stupendously big because they could process oxygen way more efficiently than we do any dinosaur the size of an elephant is going to be pound for pound faster and stronger and more efficient than an elephant an elephant doesn't stand a chance against any kind of dinosaur the same size any mammal versus any dinosaur the dinosaur is more efficient it's better built then the mammals are the only reason that we survived and they didn't was because our ancestors at the time that the comet came down we're living underground and we're very small with tiny food requirements whereas dinosaurs ran a gamut and they were very susceptible and they laid eggs whereas we were able to you know contain ours what sort of growth would there be like in terms of these mutations giving beneficial changes that make them more fit for survival I don't know what you mean well when I talk to my niece she said that eventually some of the fish wanted to stick their head out of the water and look around and so they started developing neck so they could turn their neck without turning their whole body there is an advantage in when we see this with some animals that we still have like I had a another one of my pets was a bike here also known as a Senegal a Pullip Turris polluter Senegalese and this is a a fish that is very close to the Devonian lobe-finned fish a matter of fact it has legs on the front it doesn't have elbows or any of the rest of that it just has the legs and because of its early diversion from everything else it has much less calcium in its skeleton than other fish do so it's much closer it's its lineage originated much closer to the split between cartilaginous fish and Ostia these or bony fish so the common assets are there you know somebody start one of these these fish start containing more and more calcium to strengthen their bones and the stronger bone isn't as flexible which is why there's an advantage to sharks having cartilaginous skeletons but then there was these Ostia these that developed heavier stronger and more brittle bones can you get just give me an example of a fish that I might have eaten from each category the the hard boned one and the cartilage one please I don't know if you've ever eaten shark yeah yeah I've had that that's cartilaginous that has a cartilaginous skeleton it has no bones in it except for its teeth oh and all the other fish I've eaten like tuna it's all bony yeah those are tele O's there they're all rusty at these they're they're bony fish and then when you get into freshwater areas in the Devonian period for example now you have murky a very often muddy low-visibility areas where these fish will have a difficult time swimming but they can creep around in the in the Narrows of rivers and such and so there's an advantage in being able to peer out of water as very few fish do very few fish now will raise their eyes out of water just to get a better vision about what's around them fish that have legs or have any adaptation for legs like the fish that I'm talking about this is a freshwater fish comes from Africa the Pullip duracell nogales it uses its legs to hold still on the bottom so that its prey doesn't see it and it also has a very primitive lung with an asymmetric lung growing out of the side of it which of course these will balance out in in you know in geologically we show how both of these lung sacs or what is originally a buoyancy bladder separate into two even ones where in in Senegal's they're still asymmetrical so this fish doesn't need the gills it fits in warm water and it's stagnant water there's no oxygen in that water so normal fish would have would have drowned literally but Pullip Theresa Nogales and all of these others they can sit in these shallows in these warm shallows and they just go take a gulp of air whenever they need one and I go back to the bottom they're literally breathing that's pretty well so can you can you talk me through that particular example because that sounds interesting how much time would it have taken for it to go from what it was before it could breathe air until what it is today where it can stick its head out and breathe air can you paint a picture we're trying to pick an almost arbitrary stage between one period of development to another period of development so you're thinking about somewhere between 400 and 320 million years of and this again is off the top of my head so what we have throughout that entire interim is things like clipped earth which is a living fossil in the sense that it's cario tipic of those early adaptations because there's no direction there's no plan this is I mean evolution tries every experiment and keeps running even failed experiments with the new set all the time and some things have they have an advantage in some things you know don't work out so these the pullip turists are meat eaters so if you ever had one in your fish tank you wouldn't want to have any other fish in there that you cared about because it will eat them all so this thing will sit on the bottom and wait till something gets too close and then suddenly use those little legs in the front have just Dart forward and gulp whatever else it is so they can be fascinating they look more like snakes or lizards then they do like fish it's kind of fascinating looking because they're the head looks very much like a Kolob redic although they are not snake heads and shouldn't be confused with snakehead snake heads are named for some other arbitrary reason but the collectors actually looks like it has a more snake-like head they're fascinating fish I well the first time I saw one I remember being stunned as I looked at it because I mean this is a fish that is a lizard this is a lizard fish and so of course I bought him and I named him Darwin and I had him for 11 years so if you do discover a new species would you get to give me the name also hopefully do you have a name picked out Kofi does that mean something no not at all just sounds good it's what Donald Trump was when he was trying to say covered and he fell asleep while he was tweeting and then because he because he's narcissistic he could never admit that he's ever made a snake so he has to lie about everything and then said that oh yeah there's only there's a few people in my cabinet who know what ko Fifi means yeah they do what I mean that's that's what I would have found something that is not already distinct in some other way who keeps track of all these discoveries because it seems like you know with calculus there was live knits and Newton and they both discovered the same thing who keeps track of all that I don't know what you mean but who keeps track I mean there's there's the peer-review process where you have to publish your findings yeah so that's what you would do yeah and it takes a great long time and like when you see in the news that somebody the scientists have discovered X it's not like they pulled it out of the ground last week okay so they pull that whatever that is they pull it out of the ground a decade ago and they've been spending the last ten years removing it from the matrix I was given a tour of the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta which is a fantastic Museum and I was given a private tour of their labs and their storage facility in the back because their director had something he was very proud of and rightfully so he had the absolute best dinosaur fossil that had ever been discovered by anyone ever in history and it hadn't yet been released to the public so I was allowed to walk up to this thing I could have I didn't show the disrespect of touching it but I could have touched it if I wanted to it was exquisite this was an ankylosaur that I guess I got caught in a tsunami or something but I mean this would this was a very rare find where we we end up with a dinosaur that his has mummified it is both inundated with water and buried at the same time which almost never happens and it was buried so perfectly that you you haven't you yet have a perfect impression of its skin not its bones its skin and not just the skin but encased the way it was at when it was alive so when they finally released this thing and they show the exhibit of this in kylus or a year or two after that but I mean I had already seen it two years before it became public Wow yeah I mean it was exquisite I mean so beautiful when you get up close to its like that if the fossil itself was black and a matrix was a much lighter color so you can you they were still using painstaking tools to take little I live by little by little take out the rock that surrounded the fossil to separate them so this in kind of rock that they have to this beautiful image that shows a skin pattern that is what you would see from an alligator those fine details of a never see anything of a dinosaur that looks so much alive as this wow it was really magnificent so the difficulty I have is understanding how microscopic and very slow changes give any sort of benefit to the offspring that are manifesting these mutations like I don't well like I mean the the basic principle as far as I've understood it is that there are random mutations and these provoked changes in morphology or whatever the case may be and then that becomes an advantage and then so that that one survives and the less efficient ones don't survive let's let's simplify this a little bit evolution at every level is a matter of incremental superficial usually subtle changes in proportion whether its chemical or or or morphological aids so yeah it's just a small change in proportion and then this variation happens all the time every scribbling is ever so slightly different than other siblings now sometimes those will be accentuated sometimes those you know a different coloration or a different size or a different size of a particular proportion on a larger front feet than back feet are most typically larger back legs and front legs something like this and then eventually one of them one of these adaptations is beneficial and then you have a whole new lineage that diversifies from that for example look at praying mantis praying mantis is effectively a cockroach a praying mantis has a cockroach with two important mutations in it one is the separation of the of the thorax so that it's now running on four legs but it has its front legs free and the other advantage is that the front legs become grasping legs that's it otherwise that's a that's a cockroach running on four legs but look look and you've got ten of thousands of species of preying menace I don't know how many documented species of praying mantis we have alive right now but I mean there's hundreds of them right mm-hmm as with cockroaches you look at the huge diversity of cockroaches none of them ever ever had a natural selective advantage unless it's their their ability to ingest and survive poison things like that obviously there's some advantage to that but when you get this one where suddenly you've got this crook in the back end but you know what got one cockroach that doesn't use its front legs for walking and actually uses it to grab other things and now it's a specialized meat eater and now you've got thousands of new species based on this one change you know that image they have of the primate that's becoming erect over a series of images you know typical image yeah Rudy Zealanders painting which confuses a lot of people it is an iconic image and I understand what he was trying to illustrate but people would find literal issues with that I mean okay because he's taking things that existed at the same time and putting him in a sequence Australopithecus did live after Ardipithecus butBut Neanderthals and Denisovans and Homo sapiens Homo erectus if there's a point when we all lived at the same time when all four were alive at the same time so it's a little bit misleading that icon to put them all in linear like that because what what it implies in Zoolander's painting is that we is that Homo sapiens descend from Homo neanderthalensis but we know that's not the case could you illustrate one that's more accurate likely I from from Homo erectus we know that all living people now it descended from homo erectus there was one that when I went extinct 13,000 years ago that was not descended from homo erectus and then arguably wouldn't be human unless our human classification includes australopithecines because there's one the Homo floresiensis has a couple of traits that were taken from Australopithecus tin homo erectus so we know that they'd actually broke off earlier but homo erectus is the base template for Homo heidelbergensis which then produced Neanderthals on one side sapiens on the other and now we know of two other human subsets they are the Denisovans and one for which we've still never found any fossil record we've identified it in genes there's a group of people in I think it's Melanesia that they've identified a genetic trace for another as yet undiscovered human race that would be for most people would agree that humans are special that they're that sort of the top of the heap the pinnacle of evolution and this sort of thing we're the most arrogant I mean we're the only animals that were so arrogant that we called ourselves the wise you know man or wise and then what do we do burn up our own planet yeah brilliant wait can you talk about the the sort of relative value is there an objective value hierarchy or are you talking about I'm talking about like that image that iconic image where you have this primate that's slowly becoming erect it sort of gives the impression like this is good this is better this is even better and then Wow today we're like amazing where dolphins not amazing yeah of course they are yeah okay but they're not even in that lineage right elements remaining yeah right I mean I can be very much impressed by any number of things I mean what what makes humans distinct we're the only animal that got the big brain and the raccoon body we got we got the we got the generalized body that can't do stuff with the only ones that got the brain and the body together everybody else got cheated by getting one or the other which is pointless and stupid why would you have the ability to walk around and twist your wrists and grab things and carry things in your hands and you've got a dog brain and that's it I mean talk about a lack of intelligent design so do you agree that we are the most exciting animals on the planet or no oh are we the most exciting yeah we're the cruelest we're that most conceded we are the ones that are we we are for the first time ever for the first time in in in geologic history of this planet a single species is the cause of an entire extinction level event and it is one of the biggest extinction level events ever the Anthropocene extinction which is being caused by humans right now is predicted to cause the extinction of saltwater fish by 2048 that's this century potentially within my lifetime we could have no more saltwater fish because of what we're doing because of the industrial level that which we're fishing out the ocean so that's just one of a dozens of horror stories I could say about what we are doing to the planet so I we're gonna have to redefine what exciting means so you don't give us pride of place in any hierarchy whatsoever we have potential yeah but we have we have equal but we have more potential to do harm than anything else and we are doing that harm so like you know how we have pets and we have we grow we farm animals for food what would you think of the idea of in the future of some more evolved animals took us as pets and cultivated us as a food source yeah what I want I'm hoping about it I think you mentioned transhumanism is there's another element to just beyond controlling our own genetics we have the ability now to do something that no other mammal has been able to do certainly ideas have we have the ability now to be go beyond what humanity could ever remember in the matrix when they're all eating that goop not really okay well there was a movie called The Matrix you've seen the matrix right yeah I just don't have a good memory okay well so they they have to eat this like soup that they make and it has everything that they need supposedly and they have to eat that soup every day because that's all they have but we have the ability now to create our own literally build our own food and not just lab-grown meat I mean we can actually go beyond that we now have the ability of creating our own cake or paste or meat patty or we can do a variety we don't have to do like they did in the matrix and always have this goopy soup we can do different types flavored and enhanced in a number of different ways to where we can do this without any animal expenditures at all are you vegetarian or vegan or anything like that I would like to say that I'm I'm well I have to admit that I'm a huge hypocrite in that I ever eat meat at all I enjoy it nothing ever tasted as good but I have to concede that if you're a vegetarian you will lose weight because when nothing tastes good anymore you won't eat as much but I know you you enjoy eating you told me that last time yeah I do but I am I'm seriously considering that I I have to make I have to make that transition it is already the case that when we buy me more often than not we buy cruelty-free okay yeah and have you ever had a really really tasty a vegetarian dish I I did go recently we had a we had an atheist conference here in Dallas and there is a Krishna temple here in Dallas that that has a really excellent vegetarian restaurant in it and so I managed to get a party of 25 of our atheist speakers from other countries in other states to come and and have a communal dinner there and that and everything all said it was that it was really as the British kids put it they just brilliant so we had a number of vegetarians in the troop and they all appreciated the food and that time it wasn't bad the first time I had a vegetarian meal it wasn't good yeah yeah no there's a good stuff to be had I think you just need to get used to it and try mixing up the flavors and you know I think spice and seasoning really makes a difference right yeah I know that I know how bad it is to have exponential human growth and be eating fish at the rate that we are to be eating any animal at the rate that we are we're going to I've eaten crickets number of times but I mean we can't really shift over to crickets there it is possible to sustain the entire population on a vegetarian diet yeah I can't say vegan because I don't know how we could live without butter or milk I mean cuz that's perfect yeah alright I'm gonna have to let you go because I ever thank you so much I have an errand that I'm gonna have to run and I'm sorry that I'm gonna have to duck out this has been a fun conversation yeah thank you very much I appreciate it have fun take care thank you bye buh-bye