THE MAGIC OF REALITY by Richard Dawkins: A Review with Commentary from a Young Reader

Only Richard Dawkins could write a children’s book that generates this much controversy. Since the title was announced, fans and detractors of the world’s most (un?)popular biologist have been arguing back and forth about whether or not the book’s content is appropriate for kids.

To familiarize those who don’t know, Richard Dawkins is the author of The Selfish Gene and The Greatest Show on Earth–hard-hitting, science-heavy books about evolution and the evidence we have for it. He’s also the author of The God Delusion, which rivals Christopher Hitchens’s God Is Not Great for the “most reviled book in America” title. It’s easy to suspect, if you know anything at all about Dawkins, that this book might be a little heavy-handed, and yes, inappropriate for kids. Being a parent and a fan of science, I decided to find out for myself by reading the book with my six-year-old.

It’s unfair, maybe, to judge a book by its cover. Unfair or not, it happens, and my first reaction to The Magic of Reality was an audible intake of breath. Illustrator Dave McKean (the rockstar behind Neil Gaiman’s Coraline and The Graveyard Book) knocks it out of the park in Magic: every page and both covers are spectacular. The book could probably best be described as a “graphic science text,” visually on par with any beautifully drawn book.

Secondly, the questions that prompt each chapter are typical, child-age questions: From whimsical (“What is a rainbow?”) to probing (“Why do bad things happen?”), each section of The Magic of Reality addresses an inquiry any kid will ask his or her parents. By first presenting the myths people have created to make sense of a world that doesn’t quite make sense, Dawkins then does what Dawkins does best: he counters it with reason, offering evidence of what we do know to help predict and understand what we don’t. This time, he’s kinder about it. Rather than getting “Darwin’s Rottweiler,” readers of The Magic of Reality get Dawkins the Well-Educated Grandfather, whose gentler voice and everyday language make the book interesting and easy to swallow. It’s not exactly Dawkins Lite, but it is Dawkins Kind, a not unwelcome tack when writing for children.

It’s common for adults to stumble over the answers to these chapter questions–my daughter’s passing inquiry about bellybuttons once turned into an awkward, fumbling explanation of evolution, by way of the follow-up, “But what if there weren’t people to make babies with bellybuttons?”  At this point the easy route might have been to throw up my hands and say, “I’ll explain it when you’re older.” But that’s a cop-out and a disservice to a kid’s genuine curiosity about how things work. So I rambled along until we were both satisfied that Mom knew nothing and bellybuttons were, apparently, unexplainable.

A few weeks later, The Magic of Reality hit my mailbox and Chapter 2, “Who was the first person?”, helped me make much more sense. This specific chapter is the shining star of the book; Dawkins is right at home in breaking down the evolutionary process, offering the most succinct and elegant explanation of evolution I’ve ever read. (I’ve read a few.) Coupled with McKean’s illustration,  these 22 pages of the book are engrossing, informative and fascinating, and could quite easily stand alone as a young reader’s guide to evolutionary biology.

I read Magic myself before introducing it to my daughter–not because I was concerned about the book’s content, but because I wanted to be able to explain complicated ideas in easier words. (Carbon-14 dating, for example, is difficult to parse when you’re in first grade.) There are concepts in the book which are perfectly understandable to children her age–and definitely for those who are especially curious, since they’ll likely already have these questions ready for you–though clearly certain concepts are not fully grasped by children this young. Atomic structure elicited a polite nod and, “Those look like hula hoops.” Which, actually, is a pretty good interpretation of electrons orbiting the nucleus, at least until it becomes important that she understand it further.

Other chapters inspired similar small-person commentary:

During “What is the Sun?”, she informed me that it is indeed a star, just like the book said, and “a really really big one, even bigger than a whole planet.” Check.

Reading “What is a rainbow?” we veered into color-mixing and ROYGBIV, with emphasis on a recent art project. “My rainbow had pink in it, but that’s because it’s prettier than green,” she told me. (I disagree.)

And reading about the annihilation of 99% of life on Earth, illustrated in the form of a massive asteroid getting super-friendly with the planet, I discovered that my kid knows a lot about dinosaurs and their demise: “It hit the Earth and all the dinosaurs tried to run away and there were volcanoes and it was dark all the time! But the rock was SO BIG that even the hiding ones died. ALL OF THEM, MOM.”

Yet “What is an earthquake?” and its explanation of plate tectonics didn’t interest her even a little, apparently: “Can we just look at the pictures of the frogs again, ok?”

At the end, she asked, “How do people even know this stuff?” Of course, I told her that it’s because they asked questions.

On the surface it would seem that most of the content in The Magic of Reality whooshed right through her head, where it was promptly replaced with thoughts about which of her costumes in Little Big Planet is most awesome and suggestions for what I should go make for dinner right now. But the seeds of understanding big concepts are best planted in small plots. There will be more questions about bellybuttons and observations about the seemingly impossible enormousness of the Sun, and every real answer tends those little plants. Someday she’ll just “get it,” and having resources like Dawkins’s book on hand will only help reinforce and speed along that process.

So, the consensus: Yes, The Magic of Reality is perfectly acceptable (and by this parent, at least, highly recommended) for young people. It’s certainly never too soon to begin teaching children about science and determining fact from fiction, and Dawkins’s book is a useful tool for both. It’s interesting enough to occupy a few hours of Mom’s day (and Dad’s, presumably) as well. In short, according to my kiddo, “This book is way awesome.”

***

The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True releases Oct. 4, 2011 in the US. Buy it for all the geeklets you know.

Read my personal review (minus my daughter’s commentary, plus discussion of the book’s chapters) on LitStack, and get excited: an interview with Richard Dawkins is coming soon right here on [GaS].





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31 Responses to THE MAGIC OF REALITY by Richard Dawkins: A Review with Commentary from a Young Reader

  1. Richard Dawkins is an anti-geek. Us geeks and nerds are a very loving and accepting crowd. Not in the book you review but, in general, Richard Dawkins is spiteful and mean to people who don't believe exactly what he believes. That's the kind of repulsive mental beating we've been getting our whole lives for wearing Star Wars shirts and loving geeky things and not fitting in. If you are atheist we love you and if you are a person of faith we love you… if you like Star Trek but not Star Wars that's fine… if you cosplay or get off on Furry love it's cool… come hang out with the geek world and we won't cut you down and mock you like Richard Dawkins does if you believe there is something more to the universe than physics and cosmic dust. That something more that we see in our mind's eye is what the wonder and excitement of comics and sci-fi and fantasy are all about, isn't it? The enjoyment we get from fiction stems from the unique and amazing ability that humans have to consciously suspend disbelief, but Richard Dawkins wants to pigeonhole our minds into the tiny little box of the physical world where imagination is useless. I love him for being intelligent and taking a stand for what he believes, but I exorcize him from the ranks of nerd and geekdom for being so vicious about it and so hateful towards faithful people who deserve our respect for also standing up for what they believe in.

    • Dawkins is not spiteful and mean to people who disagree with him. He is straightforward and does not take bullshit for an answer. There is a huge difference. A person who is mean and spiteful towards people who disagree with them describes a person who causes problems everywhere they go. Myself, I tend to be straightforward about my beliefs and opinions as an atheist, but I have friends who are religious, and we have no issues with each other, even if at times we get into heated debates that can mirror interviews with Dawkins by ignorant people. 10 minutes later, we can sit down and enjoy a movie, a video game, what have you. You say he is spiteful and mean, but you see him when he is being interviewed or when he is in a position to be mean or spiteful. I haven't had the pleasure myself of meeting him, but I have seen him casually interacting with strangers in short videos, he seems like a nice, happy person.

    • Dawkins is an Idiot. Let me make this very simple! He THINKS we're mere animals that act upon instincts, BUT – he THINKS he is capable of holding reasonable answers, and knowing what is logical, and contrary what isn't.

      Of all the Idiots that i encounter in my daily life (So to speak) this man is on the top! He contradicts himself, over and over, and his argumentation is full of flaws.
      – Let me give you another example:
      He says that if one is brought and raised in a Christian home, one is to be indoctrinated with the belief in god's, and so forth. The question is, though, WHAT IF – this home was his, and not a Christians?

      Non-believers does NOT exist. Everyone has faith(You probably don't even know the real meaning to 'faith' duo to misuse by most Atheists, such as Dawkins) You can ask anyone who specializes in Human behavior patterns. Everyone who're not a Moron, to the least, would claim that Humans believe in the supernatural elements.
      Without the supernatural, we lose the will to live. Dawkins believe more strongly than any Jews, Muslims, or Christians, i have EVER met. He's ignorant, does not care for other Human feelings, and he propagates his ideas without any concern for: 'what if i am wrong'.

  2. Dawkins is full of bullshit, most of what theologians say to him goes "whooshed right through" his head. Dawkins was taken to the cleaners by Alister McGrath, author of Christian Theology and Christian Spirituality. If Dawkins had studied theology or even read McGrath's books in earnest, he'd learn that his own characterization of the so-called "myths" are not shared by any theologians. He would learn that many of these ideas are not as he would interpret them. And that is a problem, because he is dead against something he doesn't understand and refuses to understand. In his interview with McGrath he looks like a nervous little kid who just wishes the discussion would be over so he can get back to talking about people like Fred Phelps. Or any other nutjob he can point the finger at and say "look, see, religion is stupid." Opening a children's book with a discussion of the "myths" people used to "try to explain" anything, from Dawkins, is bullshit, he has no idea what those "myths" are even about.

    • I would recommend reading the book before issuing a statement on Dawkins's understanding of the myths presented. That said, I'm always happy to see you here, Ryan. :)

      • Well, if something has changed with him since he wrote "The God Delusion", then so be it, but I'm not going to go out and buy every one of this guys books to see if he's changed his mind. I've already read enough of his books and listened to his narrow-minded garbage about as much as I can handle. If he has changed his mind, great, when is he producing the book titled "The Big Bang Is Our Modern Creation Myth" (quote from Carl Sagan)?

        • He's a money-maker. In other words, everything he writes is for the sole purpose of making money.
          I'm not even sure whether his mentally disabled way of arguing against Theist religious beliefs, is even as genuine as he wants us to believe.

          I think he's a good actor, but a horrific debater/Writer…

      • "I'm always happy to see you here, Ryan. :)"

        I must admit I find that a bit surprising. People aren't generally happy to see me anywhere, lol. Anyway, I find myself gravitating to your posts and apologize if it seems like I'm singling you out. I just find your posts engaging, interesting and provocative.

    • Not to start a war, but for every educated theologian there are literally hundreds of thousands of laymen believers that don't care what Mr. Theologian says about their religion. And organized religion likes it that way (look into the history of why Latin was held onto for so long in the Catholic church to keep the flock from asking too many questions on their own).
      Yes Dawkins can come across as stodgy and a bit stuffy at times, but he's hardly mean or full of "bullshit". He just recognizes that presenting the facts to people that have no use for them in everyday life when they have their belief, you have to speak in a language they understand, which is hardly that of an educated theologian. I've seen the interview with McGrath and it's hardly Dawkins looking like a little kid.
      The purpose of the book is to help parents explain things to their children when the inevitably ask the questions and perhaps give them a starting point to investigate even further for themselves. There is a whole world of facts and data and research and astonishing beauty out there that gets hidden when children are misguided.
      And no matter how you polish a myth, it's still a myth.

      • That is not why Latin was preserved. Latin is preserved because it best represents the position held by the Catholic Church. Consider this for example; there is no verb "To be" in the ancient Hebrew and Aramaic which the Bible was penned in. Yet it is a common part of our modern english. This one subtle distinction can make the whole language appear to mean quite the opposite of what it does mean.

        Similarly if we translated Hebrew Yacchid into English we'd have only two options "One" or "Unity" and neither would be sufficient for representing the meaning of Yacchid. So we would have to choose or use both, but would the actual meaning of Yacchid be preserved? Biblical translators chose the word "One", as in "The Lord God is One", but the original Hebrew was "Yacchid".

        • Similarly the word Gamalah could stand for "Rope" or "Camel" but in translation they had to choose a "most appropriate" translation and winded up with "It is easier for a Camel to pass through the eye of a needle" which makes a whole lot less sense than "It is easier for a Rope to pass through the eye of a needle" since a Rope is qualititatively similar to a thread, yet quantitatively different, being too fat to pass through the eye of a needle. The camel just makes no sense, thankfully, in that incident the meaning is preserved. In many cases the meaning is not well preserved.

          So that is why the Catholic church tries to preserve Latin and why Judaism tries to preserve Hebrew. Because it is important for actually understanding the text.

        • Let me take another stab at it. I'm a big fan of child psychology and cultivating a mentality that is amenable to truth. Recently I've been studying the work of Mark R. Leary, June Price Tangney, Jennifer Crocker, et al. which differs from traditional cognitive-psychology in its emphasis on self-presentational concern and ego-validation. Traditional psychology would encourage parents to boost the self-esteem of their children, which is thought to lead to delusional self-images and defensive behavior designed to block realization of truth. These behaviors are termed "Accountability Avoidance" or "Truth-Avoidance" strategies.

          To my mind, to cultivate a proper orientation to truth means engendering an open-mind and a skeptical attitude. It requires much more in the way of love than in the way of thought, because the "heart" commands the head to come up with its reasons to justify the heart. Without this foundation for truth-acceptance and discovery no amount of theory is going to help the child. The scientific method works because it controls for egotistical self-bias on the large scale, but each individual scientist could be deeply deluded and perpetually avoiding the truth.

          As a matter of course, whole fields of scientific inquiry have been stifled by scientists clinging to falsehoods. Especially when those scientists are sitting on the review board of one of the major scientific journals. It is probably also the reason for the "decline effect". With that said, the theory of the Big Bang has quite a few holes in it, Einstein's field equations are inadequate and his theory of General Relativity is to be replaced by an even more perplexing M-Theory or GUT. So, as a matter of fact, it is exactly what Carl Sagan said "The Big Bang is our modern creation myth".

          On another note; nobody is mean in the way it appears from the outside. If that were the case there would be all these demonoid imps running around with devious hearts and there isn't, there are duplicitous people, who out of fear and insult react in ways which they think is justified, but which appears to some externally as "meanness". There is no such thing as cruelty in the absence of abuse, it is self-perpetuating. Dawkins reacts to what he perceives as injustices in the world, the perceived injustices justify his own injustices, such that he cannot perceive his injustices as injustices but views them as justified reactions to an injustice. But this will only perpetuate itself as those who he reacts to continue the pattern of feeling justified in reacting to a perceived injustice. That is every criminal and murders excuse "Extraneous circumstances and justice already inhering in the world made me do it." which may be true, but then none of us can claim to be enlightened, in possession of truth, or to be freely willing ourselves. We are just cogs in a machine that perpetuates injustice.

      • I completely understand people's attachments to beliefs, in-fact I understand it as an attachment to an embedded self-concept. An excellent compenium of sorts is available and a second edition scheduled to be released in Jan 2012 with additional chapters on the neuroscience of self and identity. The book is called "Handbook of Self and Identity" by Mark R. Leary and June Price Tangney. Mark R. Leary is Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and Director of the Social Psychology Program at Duke University. He penned the book "The Curse of the Self: Self-Awareness, Egotism and the Quality of Human Life" aimed at lay-readers with the goal to "explain how and why our natural tendency to talk to ourselves, see the world egocentrically, defend our egos, seek self-validation, and engage in other acts of selfhood often works against our best interests." and "to counteract what I view as the glorification of egoism in Western culture and pop psychology."

        • This is like a dumbing-down of the content of the Handbook and can be read here: http://www.thedivineconspiracy.org/Z5217M.pdf

          "The masses and their leaders do not realize, however, that there is no substantial difference between calling the world principle male and a father (spirit)… or female and a mother (matter)…" – Carl Gustav Jung, Man And His Symbols, I. Approaching the Unconscious, The Role of Symbols, p. 95

  3. I would also be surprised if he gave a detailed account of the epistemological foundations of science and mathmatics in this book. Many people are of the illusion that these are concrete subjects with discrete entities, but an introduction to calculus would tell us that all mathmatics are an abstraction of a "situation" from at least two "dimensions", and in certain situations the abstraction fails, as in "division by zero". We are simply taught that we cannot divide by zero, but given as Lim A–>0, the equation 1/0 produces infinity.

    Mathmaticians try to avoid infinities as much as possible, and it is telling that in Einstein's field equations there were a number of unacceptable infinities which Michio Kaku called "A nightmare!" and "Total nonsense". These people seem to fail to realize that mathmatics is only an abstraction.

    • …the structure of our scientific cognition of the world is decisively determined by the fact that this world does not exist in itself, but is merely encountered by us as an object in the correlative variance of subject and object.
      ~ Hermann Weyl’s lecture on Mind and Nature (1934), (9 November 1885 – 8 December 1955) was a German mathematician and theoretical physicist

      In other words, it is all myth, it is all abstraction. Historically, Dawkins does not realize this and tries to lord scientific abstraction over religious abstraction. It is possible that Dawkins himself does not realize this, and that would be harder for him considering how much he has invested into proving the opposite.

      Tell me if I am wrong, if Richard Dawkins has moved more into the center or if he isn't still on a crusade against "Mtyh".

      • This is a common defense of religious apologists—stating that since "mathematics" is an abstraction of reality, then it too is a myth is sophism at it's finest. The "myth" of science is responsible for mostly everything we know about the world around us. Ever work on a nuclear power plant? Well, to say we stumbled upon the concept and then implementation of the safe construction and operation of one (as an example) through myth is ludicrous. Stating a few examples in the history of physics where someone was wrong isn't really helping your argument either – since science in general has never stated to be infallible. It's a progression based on foundations that while widely accepted and so far proven to be absolute, are still mutable if the evidence and repeatable experimentation proves otherwise. To single out Christianity, nothing in the bible explains the world around us except in parables and myth that when taken in context, resemble the other systems of belief that were used during times when our knowledge of the universe left many important questions unanswered.

        • I think you are underestimating the prevalence of myth and metaphor in science and every day life. Because you belong to this era and culture the modern myths and metaphors do not appear to you as such, but those of other or past civilizations are jarring and confusing.

          You'd have to have extensive knowledge of the language in order to think according to how the people of the era thought. You'd have to avoid thinking in terms that were developed after the era in question. So if Tertulian introduced the idea of a Person in 400 A.D. and Buber said God was a Personal God in 1923. Then you'd have to imagine that people 4,000 years ago didn't conceive of a distinction between personal and impersonal. In which case, the personification of some inanimate entities must be taken with a grain of salt. If one is lacking in this knowledge of the peoples it will be difficult to understand them. But if one understands these differences then, perhaps it wouldn't appear much different.

          One important difference however, is that science operates on a cognition that is embedded with a subject-object duality, as Weyl stated in his lecture. This is difficult to understand or overcome, but it is the reason why all of our language and mathematics are mere abstractions and why we fail to discover truth. In religion all external objects are subsumed under the heading of one infinite object "God". The individual is the only thing which remains distinct from God and only such that the individual can be systematically assimilated into God. With the resultant merging of subject and ultimate object, the subject-object duality breaks down revealing the true status of nature. Science completely lacks this at present and operates wholly within the distorted perceptions of subject-object duality.

          Without dissolving the delusional ego, whatever one thinks may make sense in some limited range from the point of reference, but could never touch reality. Which is why statements like "God is Love" mean nothing to a scientist and means everything to a mystic.

        • I would like to share with you a segment from Julian Jaynes "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" a controversial book but intrigue nonetheless.

          "In the abstractions of human relations, the skin becomes a particularly important metaphier. We get or stay 'in touch' with others who may be 'thick-' or 'thin-skinned' or perhaps 'touchy' in which case they have to be 'handled' carefully lest we 'rub' them the wrong way; we may have a 'feeling' for another person with whom we may have a 'touching' experience.

          The concepts of science are all of this kind, abstract concepts generated by concrete metaphors. In physics, we have force, acceleration (to increase one's steps), inertia (originally an indolent person), impedance, resistance, fields, and now charm. In physiology, the mataphier of a machine has been at the very center of discovery. We understand the brain by metaphors to everything from batteries and telegraphy to computers and holograms…

          …Even such an unmetaphorical-sounding word as the verb 'to be' was generated from a metaphor. It comes from the Sanskrit bhu, "to grow, or make grow," while the English forms 'am' and 'is' have evolved from the same root as the Sanskrit asmi, "to breath." It is something of a lovely surprise that the irregular conjugation of our most nondescript verb is thus a record of a time when man had no independent word for 'existence' and could only say that something 'grows' or that it "breathes."

          ~ Julian Jaynes, The Origin of Consciousness In The Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, P.51

        • While our distant ancestors never worked in any power-plants, they did manage to build the Pyramids, the Sphinx, the Cistine Chapel, the Hagia Sophia, several large murals that span thousands of miles, massive cities and accomplished a bunch of other things. Given enough time I'm sure they would have concretized their concepts more and eventually built power-plants. (I guess they kind of did).

          You can accomplish a lot using metaphor and myth. It is really all just part of being someone in a world of things. The words used to refer to them are not as relevant as the fact that everyone in a culture recognizes what is meant by them. Its use is so pervasive in our own language and culture that it should be obvious that this is true, but we become used to our own usage and fail to realize what we are doing.

          "Sarah is such a sweet little girl, she’s always looking after her brother." – kind and friendly.
          "This tea is too sweet for me to drink! How much sugar is in it?" – a taste similar to sugar
          (ecenglish.com)

          Comprehending God or "totality" can be accomplished by use of metaphor. It really doesn't matter what metaphors are used as long as the ego is pushed to the breaking point, where it can be dissolved and assimilated into the totality. Only when a person's sense of individuality is dissolved into the totality can that person have a recognition of the reality as it is. Otherwise they are always looking at a fractured and fragmented world that excludes them. One might be able to spin a web of mathematics or language that subjectively approximates a state of unity with God, but these statements will only ever be metaphorical themselves. Nothing is true except the actual experience of living in truth. Religions like Christianity make this rather simple; Do what Christ says, i.e. love god with all your heart, mind and soul (1st Commandment) and this will lead to ego-dissolution. You don't need a billion and one abstract formulas, you just need to dissolve the ego, that's it. More abstractions just make the process more abstract, distancing it from the human heart where it needs to take action. When theories about the world are too abstract they reside only in the compartmentalized conceptualizing mind, but in order to attain communion one must affect their whole being.

    • Exactly! You are on a "side". Your phenomenologically transparent, nevertheless dualistic, conceptualizing mind splits a continuity of complementary positions into discrete forms with which it can identify itself, establish the split between "I and Other" between "Us and Them". And this is the "tendency to view the world egocentrically" discussed in the above literature from Mark R. Leary. If one could break out of the tendency to dichotomize the world and identify with only the good, then one might see that what Jung said is actually true, there is no difference.

  4. Another way of stating all these is from the point of view of German Transcendental Idealism which provided the epistemological-philosophical basis for many of the advances in modern physics. Dialing back to the debates between Einstein, Pauli, Schrödinger and so on, almost all of which who were German and extensively familiar with German Idealists like Kant and Fische. Kant proved that all cognition was of this fragmentary sort and predicated on "the All" (omnitudo realitatis). This is borne out in math and is probably the base of incompleteness theorems like Gödel's. When we conceive of a particular object in the world we also conceive of it as not being any other particular object, or we "subrept" (conceal) it from the whole. With the primary subreption being ourselves, our conscious self-awareness is predicated on concealing ourselves from the whole (in other words "Hiding from God"). All mathematics operate on this same basis and it was this kind of insight that brought about modern physics. It's also this kind of insight that would put all other science on a fast track to testable hypothesis and workable theories, and amounts to a Grand Unified Theory of Everything. We just need to reverse the action of subreption or concealment.

    • The essential truth of this can be arrived at by following the development of formal logic. Beginning with Aristotle's Law of Identity and moving on to Nagarjuna/Hegels dialectics.

      1.) A thing is what it is / A = A / Aristotle's Law of Identity
      2.) A thing is not what it isn't / A not-equal to Not-A / Aristotle's Law of Non-Contradiction
      3.) A thing is what it is and not what it isn't / A = A && A not-equal to Not-A / Negative Dialectic

      This means that in the definition or identification or objectification of any particular thing, we must take as indicative of that thing all which it is not. All Not-A is the equivalent of the inverse of A. Thus, all cognition is predicated on the All, as Kant proved.

  5. The best thing about this kind of arguing is no one knows. We have faith that the number of each carbon isotope in a sample is exactly the same now as it was 50 million years ago. We have faith that three skull fragments and a tooth from 4 million years ago can in any way be formed into a scientifically acceptable representation of what we looked like at that point of our ancestry. Ryan's comments above about the us and them is why most science has become a joke in the realm of where we came from. We are so desperate for our version of the truth to be the one that everyone believes that we make today's assumptions and guesses tomorrow's 'truth'. Every picture of what we looked like 4 million years ago is a lie, plain and simple. Why can we as bearers of 'truth' not just come right out and say "we don't know"? Because creationists claim that they do know and we can't stand there saying we don't know when someone else does, right? When evolutionary 'science' stops with the bullshit it can rightly claim its place among math, chemistry and physics as a real science. The reason I gravitated towards those three areas of study as a kid was because they were real. I could prove the ideas there on my own. The older I get the more I realize that both sides of this debate are completely filled with uneducated fools desperate for their neighbors to believe what they believe. When they don't have an answer, they make it up.

    • Jake, I couldn't disagree with you more. Do you know how much information has been gleaned through genetics on evolution? Heck with endogenous retroviruses, we have a "bar code" that we use to trace common decent, and it agrees perfectly with the fossil record, comparative anatomy, etc, etc. To quote Theodosius Dobzhansky, "Nothing in biology makes sense EXCEPT in the light of evolution."

      Second, I have to question your love of physics, chemistry and math. I would expect someone who does to know that the half life of Carbon-14 is around 5,700 years so it's basically useless in dating after 50 THOUSAND years, much less 50 MILLION years. (For those we often use Uranium).
      And lets look at physics, something really "simple", like gravity (incidently, if you want to start a fight in a group of physicists, ask how gravity works). We look at the galaxy and it looks like 85% of the mass needed to cause the rotation we observe IS NOT THERE. So, us physicists have "faith" that gravity works the same everywhere, even though the observations do not agree. In addition, we have no idea why gravity is so much weaker than the other forces, it dramatically resists attempts to unify it with EM. strong and weak nuclear forces, and it appears to actually reverse and become repulsive over great distances (the expansion of the universe is speeding up).
      So, if physics, a "real" science, is unable to answer every question about something as simple as gravity, why is evolution not a real science because it's unable to answer every question?

      • We all know – and as such, we do not know. As i think Ryan S were trying to say.
        In the end, as many Mathematicians have said during the centuries: "It is imagination that will take you far", however formulated, i suppose they mean that if one thinks objective truth can be held, even found, within science then one is likely to go further than one who thinks otherwise. Most Jews and Muslims have made science what it is today, merely because they knew God is the only true way to knowledge. They were humble in their searches, and they were gifted. Most importantly, then knew that divine knowledge could only be revealed trough serving the Holy Spirit.

        • Science is often considered arrogant, especially when it challenges our deeply held beliefs, however I do not feel this is the case. Each scientific article is accompanied by error bars, a subtle but meaningful reminder that ALL are scientific knowledge is incomplete. I rarely see similar acknowledgments in religion (I've NEVER heard the following statement, "This has been the Word of God…. plus or minus 3 percent.) You yourself said, " knowledge could ONLY be revealed trough serving the Holy Spirit." (caps mine).
          Many religious people pretend that their knowledge is absolute, even though it is not able to be examined as our scientific knowledge is. We cannot perform any experiment to disprove the God hypothesis, so I have to ask, HOW DO YOU KNOW? What experiments could we do to convince you otherwise, that God does not exist? (For evolution, my answer is easy, find me shared innactive genes in animals not related by common descent. Why do birds have genes for teeth but not jellyfish? Why do mammals have genes for gills but reptiles do not have genes for nipples. Find one one reptile or jellyfish with those genes and you tear down evolution and win a Nobel Prize) And if your answer is, "I cannot think of any," do you really have an open mind?