Deism and atheism

There are those who believe that everything wonderful in the universe is the work of God, however, with all the powerful that they consider, they do not judge him author of the evils and human tragedies. That is why there are more and more people who consider that the divinity is a human creation, that the powerful created it to subdue the weak. Christopher Hitchens considers that God has all the attributes of goodness and love, provides the good, but misfortunes are not attributed to him.

He affirms that "From God come compassion, consolation, health, love, and when none of that comes, when life is a hell of suffering, responsibility is never attributed to God but to fate. God is almighty, but the evils that happen are the work of the devil or are there to test the faith of men and make them worthy of eternal life. "

He asks "if the human species is a dream of God or God is the oldest dream of the species", and quotes Luis Borges stating that "theology is a branch of fantastic literature, (that) Einstein made sarcasm famous that being an expert in God was equivalent to being an expert in fairies. "

Taking Eagleton Ferry that "there is a link between fundamentalisms and global capitalism, which generates hatred, anxiety, insecurity and feelings of humiliation." Concludes that if God does not exist, man is the only source of values ​​("God is not good", Debate, Buenos Aires, 2008).
Since 1996 Michael Behe ​​defends the theory of intelligent design, biblical creationism. This theory was adopted by the government of George W. Bush, and imposed in some states of the Union, although Darwin showed that species, including humans, "are the result of a chain of natural transformations."

Religion was always opposed to scientific evidence, as the universe is the result of an infinite chance. There will always be people who yearn to return to the conservative past.

The opinion of George Clooney or Emma Watson on the theory of evolution has more impact than that of biology teachers

Only in the first months of last year, four states in North America studied laws to authorize the teaching of creationist theories in science class. And is that, despite the scientific consensus around Darwinism, human evolution remains a controversial issue in much of the world.

Therefore, many scientists are dedicated to pursuing strategies to better convey evolutionary ideas and make them stop in a reluctant society. It is true that this problem is especially strong in the US where 42% of the population believes that man was created as it is today. But that is precisely what is helping us to learn things: like where a celebrity gets to take off a biology teacher.

Through the New Evolutionary Illustration, I came to a work by Steven Arnocky and his team realized that no research had explored whether the acceptance of evolution could be susceptible to the opinions of other influential people. To study it, they selected 158 subjects to different opinions to see which of them had a greater effect on the population.

On the celebrity side, they chose George Clooney and Emma Watson (who were selected because a previous investigation showed that they met the maximum criteria of social attractiveness). On the side of the academy, they created a prestigious biology professor named George Rooney.

The sample is small and homogeneous, but as exploratory research it seems correct. In addition, the conclusions go in the line of previous investigations. The data indicate that, indeed, the opinion of a celebrity on the evolution influences the social acceptance of the same (more than the one of the experts in the field). It is not a big surprise. We already knew that celebrities can influence the fundamental values ​​and beliefs of people, on important issues, such as political orientation or religious affiliation.

But, more important, what the study points out (and previous ones) is that once the celebrities make a statement, the impact is very difficult to eliminate. "Public statements made by celebrities that contain scientific misinformation continue to exert an influence on people's opinions, even after they have retracted," the authors explain.

That is, the results show that, for better or for worse, celebrities have a fundamental role in the scientific literacy of the general population. In evolution, but also in vaccines, climate change or transgenics, the influence of celebrities seems to be decisive. It is something to keep in mind.

A flaw in the thinking that unites creationists and conspiranoids

Says Steven Pinker in Los Angeles that leads within humanity took a great leap forward when he decided to accept that much of the misfortunes is not behind the will of a God angry with our behavior or the spell of a witch. The English phrase "shit happens" is one of the foundations of civilization. Scientific thought in particular, the idea that "everything happens for a reason" or that something "had to happen". However, they are phrases that are often heard with some frequency.

In a recent article published in the journal Current Biology, a group of researchers led by Sebastian Dieguez, from the University of Freiburg (Switzerland), has tried to understand what is behind this type of thinking flaws and has found a relationship between two Evidence seemingly separate: creationism and theories of conspiracy.

"Both belief systems share a very powerful cognitive bias that we know as teleological thinking," says Dieguez. "It is a way to deal with complex issues but they are easy to understand if we have a distant and last cause that made everything as it is now," he continues. "In the case of creationism, that ultimate cause is God, who created everything as we know it," he adds.

That way of thinking made the appearance of the theory of evolution difficult, because it was a less intuitive way of understanding the world. "The way of thinking that says that trees have leaves to give us shade or that the sun rises to warm us up, seems to be something very intuitive and is the way the brain works spontaneously, seeing that things are good for something", indicates Dieguez. "Small children, for the most part, think like that, whether they are children of a religious family or not. And neither is it a completely stupid way of thinking, because to say that white bears are white to hide in the snow makes sense. That way seems the easiest to assume for the human being, but scientific progress and especially Darwin's theory of evolution has given us another way of seeing reality, "he says.

In previous works that try to understand these ways of thinking, Dieguez had shown that conspiracy is not explained because it is believed that nothing happens by accident. The conspiracy see that the world is complex and that there are random factors in its operation, but still believe that what happens in the world has one or several active minds behind that make it happen with an intention. The researcher from the University of Freiburg saw similarities between this way of thinking and creationism and tried to see if both were related to teleological thought and were related to each other. "Conspiracy is a way of thinking that does not involve a creator god but a group of people identified, but very nebulous, very strange, hidden, that clarifies everything," Dieguez recalls. "Everything you see is an attack or a natural disaster, it seems very complicated, but it is easy to understand if a distant and ultimate cause is the explanation of everything that made it as it is," he concludes.

After studying several groups of people in Switzerland and France from questionnaires, they observed that there was an association between believing in creationism and conspiracy theories. By pointing out this relationship, the authors want to highlight the flaws in this type of theories so that people can detect them. "Conspiracy is a kind of creationism that refers to the social world and knowing it can help to deal with some of the most widespread problems within our post-truth era."

"Creationism is a kind of conspiracy theory because to believe it, you must also believe that scientists or biologists are not only wrong but have a plan to discredit religion and sacred texts. It is a conspiracy against God, "says Dieguez. "On the other hand, conspiracy theories are a form of sociological creationism. As soon as you see something that is spectacular like a terrorist attack or a natural disaster, you are looking for a very clear explanation and a function. That has been seen with the bridge in Genoa. On Twitter and Facebook there are people saying that it is very strange that it happens now when there are certain problems in politics in Italy or France and that it is used to distract people's attention from other problems. Someone managed to make it happen completely perfectly and hidden for something, although it is not clear who did it or for what, "he concludes.

Darwin's theory of evolution confirmed: the moth changes color to adapt to the environment

Scientists from the University of Exeter (United Kingdom) have shown that the spotted moth, also known as 'Darwin's moth' for having been identified as an evolutionary example, uses its color to better camouflage itself from the birds that feed on them, which caused them to darken when industrial pollution blackened British forests in the nineteenth century.

"It is one of the most emblematic examples of evolution, but fiercely attacked by creationists who seek to discredit the theory of evolution," says Martin Stevens, of the Center for Ecology and Conservation of the Penryn Campus of the University of Exeter. The study has been published in the journal Communications Biology.

The mottled moth or butterfly of the birches (Biston betularia) owes its name to this tree, whose trunk it uses to camouflage itself before the predators. In the 19th century, with the Industrial Revolution and the atmospheric pollution produced by the coal dust, the bark of the trees darkened, which also caused the moths to darken.

This phenomenon, called industrial melanism, in which the darker varieties prevail in contaminated areas, served to demonstrate Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection, being a subject of debate between evolutionary and creationist biologists. Afterwards, the disappearance of the coal dust pollution returned to harmonize the amount of lighter moths, which were majority before the Industrial Revolution.

The study by the University of Exeter has shown that moths manage to camouflage themselves in the trunks of trees effectively to the vision of predatory birds. "Using digital image analysis to simulate bird vision and field experiments in British forests, we compare the ease with which birds can see dark and pale butterflies, and determine their risk of predation," explains Professor Stevens.

"Our findings confirm the conventional history presented by the first evolutionary biologists: that the changes in the frequency of dark and pale butterflies were due to changes in pollution and camouflage," adds the Exeter researcher.

An investigation could rewrite part of the theory of human evolution

The new hypothesis indicates that the species progressed in dispersed and isolated populations from the extreme south to the coasts of North Africa, and not from a single and concentrated population.

A group of researchers from the University of Oxford determined that the human species evolved at first in dispersed and isolated populations in Africa, contradicting the usual narrative.

The extended theory defends that "Homo sapiens" progressed from a single ancestral population in a region of Africa about 300,000 years ago.

However, the team led by the University of Oxford scientist Eleanor Scerri concluded that the first humans understood a pan-African meta-population "subdivided, changing and with physical and cultural diversity".

"This fits with a subdivided population model in which genetic exchanges are not random or frequent and allows us to begin to detail the processes that shaped our evolutionary history," Scerri said, according to the specialized journal Cell Press.

Natural barriers, such as rivers, deserts and forests, that separated these populations, created opportunities for migration and contact between groups that had previously separated.

The theory presented today, which points out that there was mixing and isolation of populations from the extreme south to the coasts of northern Africa, is more consistent with the fossil and genetic data than a single population model.

The analysis of fossils of "Homo sapiens" combined with inferences made from contemporary DNA samples suggested levels of early human diversity that supported the changing subdivided population model of the researchers.

"For the first time, we have examined all relevant archaeological, fossil, genetic and environmental data to eliminate field-specific biases and assumptions and confirm that a mixture of pan-African origin fits much better with the data we have," Scerri said.

In the future, according to the authors, this research will allow models of human evolutionary history to reject the simple linear progression of what might be called "archaic morphology" towards a more precise explanation of the complexity and irregularity involved in evolution.

"We are an evolutionary lineage with deep African roots, so to understand this history, we must re-examine the evidence from various sources without an a priori conception," concluded the scientist.