first_imgLife has not been found on Mars, but some scientists, according to National Geographic News, are worried that we are contaminating the planet with Earth germs that will make the search for Martians more difficult.  Speaking of Mars, a report in Science Now claims that Mars rarely got above freezing in its entire history.    The life-on-Mars angle is not news, but life on Titan?  Sure enough, two astrobiologists, according to New Scientist, are claiming there might be faint evidence for life on the frozen moon of Saturn among the barbecue lighter fluid (see 04/25/2005 entry).  Based on initial chemical analysis from the Huygens Probe (see 01/21/2005 and 01/15/2005 stories), Chris McKay and Heather Smith think something might be feasting on gas.  “They think the microbes would breathe hydrogen rather than oxygen, and eat organic molecules drifting down from the upper atmosphere,” especially energy-rich acetylene, according to the report.  Better keep that oxygen from Saturn’s rings away (see 02/28/2005 entry), or the whole moon might blow like a torch.  That produces some follow-up speculations.  Would such an event cook the life well done?  If a barbecue happens with no one around to eat it, is there really a taste?McKay ought to know better.  He knows chemistry, and he knows thermodynamics.  If life is information made flesh (see 06/25/2005 article), where is he going to import that ingredient?  Astrobiologists are going to lose their last smidgeon of credibility totally if they keep pushing the myth that life just happens everywhere just because they need to justify their careers.  Honesty is the best policy.(Visited 8 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

first_imgThey call it prosociality or altruism. They know it exists. They admire it. They just can’t evolve it.The following hinges on the reputation of Keith Jensen (U of Manchester Health Sciences), who wrote a primer for Current Biology on the subject of Prosociality. His evolutionary view seems in line with previous papers reviewed here; to the degree his article represents current evolutionary thinking, then certain conclusions can be drawn about Darwinian explanations for this uniquely human trait: helping others at high cost to oneself, with no apparent benefit in personal fitness or survival.Animals may self-sacrifice, but they do it for the local population (the beehive, the herd). Why would a medical missionary cross the world to give sight or walking ability to people he or she doesn’t know? The ultimate is giving one’s life for another. Why would a soldier throw himself on a grenade to save buddies that are not his relatives? How does that score fitness-wise? Humans also care for other animals and for the whole biosphere. They will devote their lives to the study and care of endangered species that cannot possibly benefit them. Jensen does his best to approach human prosociality in the Darwinian terms of fitness, but comes up empty.Whether animals other than humans are prosocial is a topic of debate. Examples from observed behaviours in nature are tantalising. However, the question is whether the effects on others are intended. Animals have to be able to recognise a need in others and the ways to help others achieve those goals. And they have to be motivated to see those goals fulfilled. Additionally, for helping behaviours, the animals should recognise intentions in others, that other individuals have goals. A squirrel dropping a nut on the forest floor does not intend that the hedgehog underneath eat it, it is not motivated to act on the hedgehog’s behalf, and it is unlikely to derive satisfaction from the hedgehog’s good fortune.The great apes provide the acid test for Darwinian origins of prosociality. There, too, the evidence is lacking. Researchers hoping to see tantalizing hints of prosociality can easily anthropomorphize the apes, reading things into their behavior that they have planted with reward cues. Apes will groom each other, a behavior known as direct reciprocity, but that’s not prosociality per se. The best experiments and the best observations in the wild fail to see true unselfish behavior.When faced between a prosocial outcome and a spiteful one (namely by pulling food away from a partner) there is again no preference. Evidence for sharing in chimpanzees and other great apes is scant….While evidence for prosociality in chimpanzees has not been robust, other, perhaps less competitive species might be better candidates. Yet, to date, there has been no clear evidence for prosociality in experiments on bonobos, the more socially tolerant of the two Pan species.For humans, prosocial behavior seems innate, even for children. How is this unprecedented leap in behavior to be explained within a Darwinian paradigm? Evolutionists look to mutation and natural selection to explain everything. Those causes seem to fail here. The best that Jensen seems to come up with in the end is bootstrapping from cooperation to altruism. Jensen ends with no solution. Prosociality appears uniquely human:Humans, while not always prosocial, have a concern for the welfare of others. Other species, while sometimes acting for the benefit of others, may not rely on homologous mechanisms. The intention to help others, with an understanding of the consequences of the actions and the means to identify with the needs of others, may be uniquely human. While our closest living relatives can recognise something of the intentions of others, they do not appear to care so much. If so, it is possible that direct reciprocity springs from a concern for the welfare of others, and that motivational rather than cognitive factors account for the limited evidence for reciprocal altruism in other animals. Prosociality will have evolved from mechanisms seen in other species — perhaps emotional contagion, parental attachment or ownership — but somewhere after the split from Pan, a concern for the welfare of others, including non-kin, allowed for our species to engage in large-scale cooperation. So, while intuitively obvious, prosociality is not as widespread as one would expect and is surprisingly difficult to distinguish from look-alikes.Intention, concern, welfare, understanding, caring — these are words indicative of personhood. Jensen remains convinced that prosociality “evolved from mechanisms” that are blind, uncaring, and undirected. But he cannot find evidence for that conviction. Would a mechanistic process lead him to care enough to write about it?You might enjoy reading Doug Axe’s new book Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life Is Designed. Given that Axe is a staff researcher with the Discovery Institute’s Biologic Institute, it is classified as an intelligent design book. But this time, Axe does not shrink away from mentioning God. Axe’s approach is all the more powerful because, as a biochemist, he first cogently undermines the Darwinian mechanism of any power to create. Darwinism is demolished before he even begins to consider the logical alternative.While the book doesn’t preach or promote a Biblical view of God, Axe testifies to being a Christian. What we want to point out here, though, is his emphasis on personhood as a human distinctive. Persons intend. Persons care. Persons understand. Persons create. Axe envisions a new generation of scientists unshackled from the raw materialism that cannot explain a protein, let alone a prosocial human. A return to personhood may be the key to opening up conversations long quenched by materialists. It’s about time. You can see it for yourself above; when it comes to things nearest and dearest to our hearts, the Darwinian materialists are bankrupt. (Visited 38 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

first_img20 August 2012President Jacob Zuma has appointed an inter-ministerial committee on the Marikana tragedy, to be led by Minister in the Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Collins Chabane.The committee will coordinate and lead all support for the families and relatives of those killed during last week’s violence in Marikana, the Presidency said on Monday. This will include the identification of family members, counselling and burials.The committee was expected to hold its first meeting and visit to Marikana on Monday.Forty-four people, including two police officers and 34 mine workers, were killed and scores injured in violent clashes in the mining town of Marikana outside Rustenburg, North West province last week.Zuma has declared this week a period of mourning for those killed. From Monday to Sunday, flags will fly at half-mast at all flag stations in South Africa and missions outside the country. On Thursday, memorial services will be held across the country to mourn and promote a violence-free society.Zuma has also called on faith-based organisations to work with the government to assist the affected families.The inter-ministerial committee will include North West Premier Thandi Modise and a raft of Cabinet ministers: Susan Shabangu (mineral resources), Nathi Mthethwa (police), Bathabile Dlamini (social development), Richard Baloyi (cooperative governance and traditional affairs), Mildred Oliphant (labour), Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula (defence and military veterans), Aaron Motsoaledi (health), Siyabonga Cwele (state security) and Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma (home affairs).Lonmin to pay for children’s educationMeanwhile, mining company Lonmin has committed to providing funding for the education of the children of all employees who lost their lives during last week’s tragedy.“This funding will cover education costs from primary school to university,” the company announced on Friday.Lonmin chief financial officer Simon Scott express the company’s “sincere condolences to the families and friends of all those employees who have lost their lives, not only in the events of Thursday but also in the days leading up to it, and of course to the families and colleagues of the two South African Police Service officers who died trying to protect others.“We are committed to supporting all the families that lost loved ones during this tragic week,” Scott said in a statement.“We have established a help desk at Lonmin’s Andrew Saffy Hospital which will help families with the identification of bodies, assist with all the burial arrangements and offer bereavement counseling.”Source: read more

first_imgA Cabinet Minister in the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh has courted controversy by claiming on camera that a Ram temple would be constructed in Ayodhya as the “Supreme Court is ours.”Interacting with journalists at Bahraich on Saturday, Mukut Bihari Verma expressed confidence that the temple would be built at the disputed site as the judiciary, as well as the executive and the legislature, was “ours.” But the MLA from Kaiserganj, who holds the cooperative portfolio in the Yogi Adityanath government, did not specify what he meant by “ours.” He made the remarks when asked by journalists about the BJP’s long-standing promise of building a Ram temple. While the “BJP came [to power] on the issue of development, the Ram Mandir is its revered goal.” “The temple will be constructed. We are deeply committed to building the temple,” he said.When reporters pushed him to explain how the BJP had resolved to construct the temple as the matter was sub judice in the apex court, Mr. Verma responded with the controversial remarks. “Supreme court mein hai, tabhi toh. Supreme Court bhi toh hamara hai na. Nyaypalika bhi. Karya palika bhi hamari hai, vidhan palika bhi. Desh bhi hamara hai, mandir bhi hamara hai (The matter is in the Supreme Court, that’s why. The SC is ours, the judiciary is ours…the executive is also ours, and the legislature is also ours. The country is ours, the temple is also ours,” Mr. Verma said.He was not available for clarification.last_img read more