Giant Pandas, and civilisation.

:smiley:

I wrote this on the flight over after reading a wee bit of the ID topic, so, at the risk of being accusing of “Hogging a dead Florse”, here it is! :D

Recently on here, we had a discussion about religion.

No one proved either way whether there’s a god or not; but what we did prove, is that it’s possible to talk about subjects like this in a civilised fashion.

There was no name-calling, no personal abuse; so in the hope that we can repeat that phenomenon, let me introduce the giant panda into the ID debate:

But, before I start, I’d like to introduce some rules to the topic, and I’d be grateful if everyone respected these rules.

(1) No personal attacks.
(2) Just because someone presents an idea that you disagree with, does not mean that they are an “idiot”
(3) Try and be open-minded about all suggestions. If someone presents an idea that you don’t agree with, then think about it anyway. Try to see it from the other viewpoint, instead of instantly thinking about how to attack it.
(4) No cellphones.
(5) And finally, any beer brought into the discussion must be shared equally! :D


There’s long been disagreement among zoologists as to whether the giant panda is a bear or some totally unrelated species,; possibly a result of Toke’s “convergent evolution”.

The pro-bear argument went: Well, it looks like a bear!

The anti-bear argument went: Yeah, but it doesn’t look very much like a bear.
Its head is bigger in relation to its body size than any bear. Ditto its stomach.
Bears hibernate; pandas don’t.
Bears have two or three cubs; pandas have one.
Bears are active hunters and travellers; pandas sit on their arses in the middle of a bamboo patch and don’t move for days.
Bears are largely or exclusively carnivorous; pandas eat bamboo and nothing else.
Bears have sharp senses; pandas don’t.
Bears are aggressive; pandas aren’t.

And so on.

However, pandas are now being successfully bred and studied in China, and DNA analysis has shown that without a doubt, pandas are bears. Their DNA is as close to a brown bear’s as any other bear species.

And post-mortems of pandas has shown that they have a bear’s internal organs, digestive system, etc.

Which raises another question; how can a mainly carnivorous omnivore survive on bamboo alone?

And the answer is, they can’t.

Pandas in the wild are constantly on the brink of starvation. 95% of the nutrition available in bamboo passes straight through a panda’s system, it is wasted. Corpses of pandas found in the wild have invariably died from starvation.

And that explains many of the behavioural and physical differences between pandas and other bears too.

They don’t hibernate because they are unable to build up enough fat deposits to do so.
They are inactive because they don’t have the spare energy to be otherwise.
The large stomach is essential so that it can process enough bamboo for the panda to survive.
Chewing bamboo for 20 hours a day takes large and heavy jaws, which means a larger head.
Pandas actually do give birth to two cubs, and sometimes three, but the mother will only feed one, she can’t produce enough milk for more. And often she can’t even produce enough milk for that one.

Pandas in captivity have their diets supplemented by “bear food”, bamboo flavoured pellets made from fish meal, animal protein, etc., and they thrive on it. They put on weight, the mothers produce enough milk for all of their cubs, and they show an inclination to hibernate in the winter.

But, for pandas in the wild, even without man’s encroachment on the panda’s environment, pandas are doomed. The species continually walks the narrow border towards extinction, and it’s just a question of time and luck.

Now, an evolutionary theory for this, (and it’s only a theory), is that sometime in the past, a population of bears discovered that the bamboo was a plentiful addition to their diet. Bears always have been opportunists, and will eat almost anything.

What happened next is only conjecture.

Perhaps the prey animals the bears hunted declined due to climatic changes or whatever, or perhaps the bears just succumbed to laziness; hunting bamboo is a lot easier than catching salmon.

Anyway, due to the process of natural selection, bears with heavier jaws, larger stomachs, were better able to utilise the bamboo, and so gradually their descendants came more and more to rely on bamboo as their food source.

But, at a cost.

They became less suited to be active hunters, their sensory apparatus atrophied, their musculature atrophied, and anyway, they didn’t have the spare energy to hunt.

So, natural selection turned the bears into bamboo eaters. But the adaptations did not go far enough, nor quick enough. It’s gone far enough for them to survive, (barely), it’s gone far enough to prevent them being successful hunters and utilising high protein food sources, but it hasn’t gone far enough for them to thrive.

They are one of nature’s failures, and nature has only one sentence for failures.

Anyway, that’s the evolutionary explanation, and as I said, it’s only conjecture, it’s only a theory.

So, what would an ID theory be? I personally find it difficult to conceive of how intelligent design would result in this.

But, perhaps someone could offer some thoughts?

Likewise, I find it difficult to reconcile the plight of the pandas with Genesis. Why would God create an animal that is only fit to be a herbivore, yet give it the digestive system of a carnivore?

Anyway, I’m interested to hear your thoughts about this.

I know this topic may be considered provocative, but it’s not intended that way at all.

Rather, it’s an attempt to explain and understand the world around us, using all different viewpoints.

And I am more than willing to listen and think about all viewpoints, no matter what philosophical basis they stem from.

Ali

Interesting topic Ali. As most of the ones you start are. YOU THINK TOO MUCH!! Just kiddin’, I am gonna have to meditate on this for awhile and get back to you. BTW, I made the comment already that I’m a Christian and I believe in creation but, I don’t know that the Genesis account is entirely accurate as several “humanization” errors HAD to occur that skew the accuracy of the account. For example, how does one resolve the time issue? How can we place time constraints on a being that is by definition timeless? I sure as heck don’t know!

I’ll get back and pipe in again. I’m glad you made it home safe and sound. Sure coulda used the baby-sitting services of your girlfriend though. The beasts are getting hungry for fresh meat! :D :D

TG

Ali, will give this one a lot of thought next week while fishing.
Glad you had safe trip. Next time visit NC and bring lot’s o beer. :D

My very simplistic explanation of evolution (via survival of the fittest) is this:

Zebras run fast because the slow ones are eaten before they get a chance to breed.

As for the “ID” application… I’d say that our creator designed a dynamic system of life forms for this planet that over time would be able to adapt and change to better suit it’s environment. In the process, inefficient species die out.

my $.02


I brought Miller Lite, who wants one?

Quote (nergle @ Mar. 31 2005,18:15)
So, what would an ID theory be? I personally find it difficult to conceive of how intelligent design would result in this.

Well, with just a vague understanding of the "Intelligent Design" theory, I would guess an ID theory would be that natural selection is part of the system by design, and that not every piece of the machine has to be "perfect" and built to last. Isn't the "design" of ID supposed to on a scale larger than individual organisms?
Quote (nergle @ Mar. 31 2005,18:15)
Likewise, I find it difficult to reconcile the plight of the pandas with Genesis. Why would God create an animal that is only fit to be a herbivore, yet give it the digestive system of a carnivore?

Maybe because H/he knew that the humans H/he created would find them cute and take care of 'em somewhat? Seriously, though, it's odd how our species will assist the survival of other species even though they don't directly contribute to ours, or even indirectly for that matter; I mean, if the Giant Panda population died out, would their own ecosystem even flinch? Well, I guess the bamboo would rejoice, but why do we as humans bother? Oops, gotta stay focued here--Evolutionism and Intelligent Design...gotcha.

:D

Tony
My very simplistic explanation of evolution (via survival of the fittest) is this:

Zebras run fast because the slow ones are eaten before they get a chance to breed.


John, simplistic it may be, but I've never heard a better description of natural selection! :D

As for the "ID" application... I'd say that our creator designed a dynamic system of life forms for this planet that over time would be able to adapt and change to better suit it's environment. In the process, inefficient species die out.


Well, with just a vague understanding of the "Intelligent Design" theory, I would guess an ID theory would be that natural selection is part of the system by design, and that not every piece of the machine has to be "perfect" and built to last.

John and Tony, two very similar suggestions there.

But, another question arises from them, which is; when?

If natural selection is/was part of the design, then when, at what stage, did the initial creation occur?

Was it in the garden of eden? Were the beasts of the field and air, only proto beasts at that time, and only minor evolutionary adaptations have happened since?

Or was it much earlier?

Did a creator just seed the earth with single-celled organisms and leave them to it.

Or do we go back even further, and perhaps say that the creator designed the exact process of the Big Bang in the knowledge that all that would follow, would follow?

Actually, I have problems with the scientific theory at this point too; "First there was nothing, which exploded".

Really? LOL.

Anyway, no matter when the designer designed and created, we still have the problem of the pandas.

But perhaps you're right Tony, perhaps the panda was put there so the World Wildlife Fund would have a cute logo for its corporate symbol, it's as good an explanation as any. :D

Anyway, keep the thoughts coming guys. :)

Ali

Oh, sorry Ali, are we only talking about Intelligent Design with a biblical Creator? Is that what ID is by definition? I was thinking along the lines of a more general “all-powerful omniscient entity”; it’s much easier to start from scratch. :laugh: As you can see, this is all theory for me at this point. :)

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Quote
Actually, I have problems with the scientific theory at this point too; “First there was nothing, which exploded”.

I wonder if a real scientist would even claim to know what “nothing” is, or if it even exists. I think the most intelligent scientists are very unsure of themselves when it gets down to the details, and they just keep working at the theories to see if something sticks. That’s sort of comforting.

Anyway, I think this is a good topic, and it’d be nice to eventually get to the bottom of this someday. I just hope that if we do find out who is responsible for all this, we won’t be terminated for knowing too much!

:p

Tony

Good topic.

For a really good look at the human angle of this, read ‘Guns Germs and Steel’ by Jared Diamond. It asks the same questions about particular human societies as Ali raises about bear species. I can’t recommend it enough.

The point TG raises about the Genesis account is something I think about often. The whole Bible is no more than an account. We don’t have the original word file with ‘track changes’ set from the first version. Even if you naively assume that nobody deliberately intended to change the form and content of the original account, you cannot discount the natural ‘chinese whispers’ effect. Every story grows in the telling without even trying. Then factor in all the great reasons for political and religious leaders to deliberately skew the account to suit their current administrative needs, starting with the very first people to actually write these stories down on paper. Factor in the proposed age of these accounts, and the associated probability for multiple revisions. Several known revisions are not even denied.

Maybe ID has some basis in reality, maybe I’m completely wrong in thinking that we’re just a biological accident, I can handle those possibilities. But am I really to believe that this oft-revised and oh-so-implausible biblical account of our creation is a viable information source ? I guess I’m just too analytical to have faith in something like that. If I ever see Christ himself descend from the sky, then I’ll accept that the good book, unlikely as it seemed, was probably based in reality.

Quote (nergle @ April 03 2005,15:02)
But, another question arises from them, which is; when?

If natural selection is/was part of the design, then when, at what stage, did the initial creation occur?

Was it in the garden of eden? Were the beasts of the field and air, only proto beasts at that time, and only minor evolutionary adaptations have happened since?

I'm gonna say that many species evovled from similar, and very basic, sources.

Look how closely most animals resemble each other:


one head
two eyes
two ears
two nostrils
an opening that food goes into (mouth, snout, beak, whatever)
main torso
four appendeges
one heart
internal organs arranged in a similar fashion.


To a visitor from another world, maybe it would be pretty obvious how closely related all the species on Earth are, but as humans our ego is such that most of us won't admit to the similarities.

IMHO
my $.02
YMMV
etc...

:cool:

I think ID needs to be looked at more like the Big Bang. Life started… poof. There it is. How it got there or who (if there is a who, though many assume a who) put it there is not really knowable. But, there is nothing to say stuff couldn’t evolve from the point of poof. The only real argument so far as I see it is where did the poof come from. A creator or lightening, amino acids, and sulfur? I think evolution fits in fine with ID, it is the starting points that differ. Now, the Big Bang is science because they have radiation they can measure and other reminants thought to be left overs from the Big Bang. ID doesn’t have an equivalent thing yet, so it is still in the non-science category. (Not to get to much into the discussion from the other day.)

My question is why is it that scientists who believe in evolution are so wound up in saving an obviously inferior design as the panda? Yeah they are cute and fill up zoos with tourists, but in a Vulcan “logic only, no emotion” sort of way, nature wants them to die off. Pandas, like wooly mammoths, just don’t have what it takes like a cockroach or alley cat. As for how they got to eat bamboo, it was probably because of geographic isolation. (The do live way out in the mountains and away from salmon and park dumpsters) That is the big reason so many species get to be weird. (Look at Australia and the Galopogos, monkeys pre Pangea and post.)

My question is why is it that scientists who believe in evolution are so wound up in saving an obviously inferior design as the panda?
I think the reason we (whoever we is) try to save the whales, pandas, snails, salmon, whooping cough....er...cranes....is that none are becoming extinct because of any natural phenomena. Virtually every present day extinction can be traced directly to human causes (that's debatable). I'm sure there is evidence that some of these species would become extinct anyway, so we as humans should not intervene, and there is PLENTY of room for debate, but it get down to humans mucking around with nature, both preserving and destroying, or sitting and watching others preserve or destroy.

If T-Rex were still freely roaming the earth would we trying to prevent their obvious eminent extinction if that were the case?

I guess that is where I am going. This seems like a case where the destruction is based on poor design and not Draino in the water. I suppose there is something to be said for destruction of habitat.

Lots of good points here fellas. I don’t have much to add. I just posted because I don’t want the THREAD to become extinct. This one is much more enjoyable than arguing US politics and whether or not it is appropriate to display respect for a world reknown, peace-loving man by flapping a colorful sheet of fabric at half-mast. (Sheesh. That one bugged me. Sorry.)

On topic: :) I have always had problems with “The Big-Bang” theory. As Ali pointed out, how can nothing explode? If at first there was nothing, then suddenly there was, and it blew up like a cherry bomb in a toilet, how and why did who/what put it there?

As far as the Genesis story of creation. How did this “account” come into being without some basis in fact handed down over thousands of years? IF I buy into evolution completely, a big ball formed after an even bigger “nothing” exploded and it was lucky enough to have water on it and was JUST the right distance from the Sun (which is also a product of the “nothing” explosion) so it did not melt nor did it freeze into an ice cube suitable for a VERY large cocktail. It also has JUST the right tilt of its axis so there are seasons to the weather patterns making sustainable life over a larger geographic area possible. Now, through sheer LUCK, some slop floating around on the ball of JUST EXACTLY the right chemical composition (or so our scientists tell us) combined (somehow) with more floating slop of JUST EXACTLY the right chemical composition, and PRESTO! Single-celled organisms! Woo-Hoo! Oh, wait. Where is the “spark” that ignited this mess. Lightning? Eh…could be. Anyway, after millions, maybe billions of years a humanoid like creature has arisen from the ooze from countless permutations in the evolutionary cycle. Pretty cool huh? So a couple of these humanoids, Ugg and Ergg are sitting around one day and Ugg says, “Dude, how the heck did we get here? And why are the females so UGLY?” Ergg replies, “Don’t know man, but it might impress the babes if we made up some wild shit and wrote it down. Then maybe we can shave 'em!” Ugg says, “Naw cuz, it’d be better if we ask the talking cloud thingie. It’ll tell us wazzup.” So, they go chat with the talking cloud and have a stenographer record the whole deal.

To be continued… it might take a while to get to Pandas!! :D :D

TG

Tune in later when Ugg says, “Man, you wouldn’t believe it! I was bored today and started beating one of those heavy, chunky things against another one. The sound was hypnotic man and I began swaying back and forth dude! So, I called this “Rock”. OK, so dig this, after beating a while, I found I could pick up the big chunky thing. It had gotten SMALL! When I put it back on the ground dude? It went off down the hill ALL BY ITSELF!! I thought at first I’d call the new chunky thing Michelin, but geez, what a mouthful eh? So I decided on Roll.” Ergg replies; “Ugg. Pass the juice man, you had enough.”

Well, I think the Big Bang is more than nothing into something. It was certainly something. With our knowledge of anti-particles it is possible to change matter into pure energy. On top of this take what we know about gravity and black wholes… The way I see it is certainly possible that either matter was compressed into a infinitely small mass that blew up after so much crap and matter was smashed down so small. Kind of a turning itself inside out. Then, if string theory pans out, which it looks promising, we have many more dimensions to deal with. The universe as we know it could have just been a blob smashed out from another neighboring universe through black/worm holes. Sure, this is far out particle physics, but a lot of the stuff they have replicated on small scales in the lab, so it is not total baloney. Then the question is where did the matter come from in the other universe or whatever. I suppose it is possible it was all just here, always has been and always will be and we are trying to push or human idea of start and end on a system that doesn’t have that. Start and end is a human concept based on what we see with life, death, and change. Reality doesn’t necessarily need to follow what we little folks think up or are used to.

In regards to the origins of life, which I see as completely separate and different from evolution (one is how the ball started rolling, the othe is once it started rolling, how does it roll.) yes we see order and all that. But, it seems the thought that life started spontaneously is always looked at in the vacuum of our one single planet. Keep in mind there are billions of other galaxys, solar systems, and planets all going through all sorts of changes. Using the million monkeys on a million type writers analogy, looking at all those 10-15 billion years of existence before life popped up mixed with zillions of planets with different atmospheres and climates, it increases the statistical possibility immensly. After 10-15 billion years of no life, 4 billion years then of evolution is a really really long time and 10-15 billions years is a really long time for life itself to pop up somewhere.

In addition, we are just now scratching the surface of things other than what we know as life today. We are all thinking life had to be some sort of carbon based organic metabolic H2O and O2 sort of organism. With viruses we see that metabolism is not necessary for basic life to exist. (Though viruses probably ara later development seeing that they rely on standard life to survive.) In addition, with the discovery of sea vents 20 years ago or so, bacteria that sustains itself on inorganic compunds have been discovered. These organisms oxydize compounds for energy. They remove electrons to survive just as oxygen and iron react to make rust. This is very basic chemestry that can be replicated over and over. Until this point it was a catch 22. How can organisms that need organic matter to survive be created from nothing if organic matter didn’t exist? Now with simple oxidation as a source, this argument is no longer an issue. There is sufur, methane (half the planets in our solar system have methane), and other minerals everywhere. The next step will be synthesising this sort of organism in the lab I would imagine. Once life can be synthesised from basic compounds, the argument over origins will change dramatically. The primordial soup deal is old school and there is very much more that has been learned since it was proposed in 1950 something.

As for Genesis, every culture has its origins story. Some American Indians say we were created on the back of a turtle. Ancient Egyptians tell of Ra creating everything. The ancient Greeks had their story. Everyone does. I am sure they are all based on some reality. Ra was supposedly the sun. Just as the Smokey the Bear has its origins in reality, there is no six foot bear with a campain hat out there. Personally I can’t take a creation story as fact based on the fact that everyone has one and they are all built on the same evidence or lack thereof.

Personally I can't take a creation story as fact based on the fact that everyone has one and they are all built on the same evidence or lack thereof.


Hmm...good point..... You guys are making my brain work overtime! I like it!

I gotta get back to the story of Ugg and Ergg later.......

TG

And The Non Denominational God made the heavens and the earth, and it was good. Then The Non Denominational God made man, and it was good, til he gave him half a brain. Then The Non Denominational God made a silly man, and called him musicians with an opinion, and the world laughed aloud at this. And The Non Denominational God told the musicians with an opinion “Shaddup And Play Yer Guitar”. Then The Non Denominational God made a Yaz Miester and the world looked on in horrific shock as he became the one voice of insanity after his numerous Klingon abductions! Where he brought back from Alpha Centauri a bear looking creature he named the Adnap. The Adnap screwed several Yeti, and the offspring were called Panda’s! Thus there was no evolution! Just another Klingon Abducton.

Or so I’ve been told.:smiley:

Best theory so far Yaz! :D

However, my own thoughts re the Big Bang are that it’s a cyclical process. (But don’t get hung up on that thought, because it gets worse. :( )

So, the universe “bangs”, expands, reaches a limit as determined by gravity, contacts into a mono-block, till, for whatever reason, bangs again.

OK, now I get weird. :D

Einstein showed that time an space are just aspects of the same thing, just as kinetic energy is only a 4th dimension of momentum.

And, space is only the distance between two (or more) objects.

so, if you only have one dimensionless object, you don’t have space, nor of course, time.

So, when the mono-block forms, time no longer exists.

The question is, is the “zero” time when the next mono-block exists different from the “zero” time the last mono-block existed?

Well, I don’t see how it can be; it appears to me that zero is zero, and hence every time the mono-block forms is the same “zero” time.

So, we can look at it two ways. The universe is recreated exactly the same way each time.

Everything.

The toast you dropped on the floor this morning, the girl you screwed back in your early teens, all will repeat.

Or, perhaps time is a static structure.

If we ignore time for the moment, we can see the universe as a static structure, then, if we consider that time is the same as the other 3 dimensions, then it too must be static, in some way or another.

But we do personally travel along the time axis, for 70/80 years if we’re lucky.

Just like an oak bug which spends its life crawling form the bottom of the tree to the top, we travel 80 years…“that way”.

So, what has this to do with the Giant Panda?

Well, bugger all as far as I can see!







:laugh:

Ahhh but Ali, what happens if we fold space in the mono blocks, does time get folded too, reverting each block to zero? If it does, where does that leave Strat players who yearn so for a great guitar such as a Les Paul. (We all know TomS discretely yearns for one!)

Quote (YazMiester @ April 14 2005,06:41)
Ahhh but Ali, what happens if we fold space in the mono blocks, does time get folded too, reverting each block to zero? If it does, where does that leave Strat players who yearn so for a great guitar such as a Les Paul. (We all know TomS discretely yearns for one!)

Aaargh! What twisted notion of space-time produced that possible world?

No, I deny it, there is no possible world in the multiverse in which it is so! None! Absolutely None, I tell you! It would contradict all possible sets of physical laws!

:angry: