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“Our Place in the Cosmos?: Humanity, Spirituality, and the Awesome Universe,” Saskatoon, SK

Episode 1 (April 9, 2014)
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4/9/2014 at 10:40:01 AM GMT
Posts: 142
Episode 1 (April 9, 2014)
This topic is devoted to episode 1 of Neil Shubin's "Your Inner Fish."

4/10/2014 at 3:42:42 AM GMT
Posts: 19
Now THAT's what I call a great science show. Educational, informative, clear, focused but also interesting and great production. And no crap about how horrible religion is compared to science. It simply let the science speak for itself. Not that I mean to compare this with any other particular science show currently being broadcast, or anything.

4/10/2014 at 12:18:23 PM GMT
Posts: 41
Yeah, I couldn't agree more, Sy.  

I think I first heard about the book through Randy, and having read the book (great as an audio book) and heard Kenneth Miller (I think it was) present the Tiktaalic story, I expected it to be fascinating.  I was not disappointed.

I watched it with my wife and 13 yr old son whom we homeschooled, along with his 4 older siblings, to be a good scientific creationist until my paradigm shift away from that to an evolutionary creation (EC) view in 2010 when I read Francis Collins book.  My kids have no problem with the EC view now.

Anyway, my 13 yr remarked afterward how remarkable it was that God designed the development of fingers, etc., i.e., from the HOX Hox gene homologue Sonic Hedgehog that caused the differentiation.  So, it was a great opportunity to talk about how God essential Design and simply be further back and yet high intelligence and an advanced civilization still inevitable as I discussed in a series of post on the Cosmos series.

The story of the discovery of Tiktaalic right in the intermediately dated strata of rock right where they expected it should be is quite a compelling story showing how the theory of evolution make predictions -- predictions that hold true when hypothesis suggested by them are investigated.

When I first heard that we came from fish a couple years ago it was hard to image.  But, after seeing the similarity of our embryos and our structure and digits side-by-side with the amazing graphics and outline, that was also understandable and compelling.

Last edited Sunday, April 13, 2014
4/11/2014 at 1:58:05 AM GMT
Posts: 4
I agree, Sy, and have been trying to figure out why Episode 1 of Inner Fish was so much more satisfying to me than the new Cosmos has been. For one thing, it was less hurried. I am annoyed by rapid cuts and especially by rapid cuts back and forth between real things and virtual things. I thought Inner Fish did a marvelous job of using graphics in combination with real objects. Probably the main difference was presentation of a more personal story by a guy who seemed more natural and not following a script. The narrator of Inner Fish told the story as a participant in an ongoing adventure of discovery rather than as a lecturer trying to insert some "wow" into science. I've been thinking of parallels in the way we present the gospel to people we hope to influence.

4/12/2014 at 11:29:34 AM GMT
Posts: 142
Finding tetrapods

It was a pleasure to have videography and graphics enhance rather than detract from the scientific message. And Walt, you are quite right about the refreshing personal passion and work of a scientist on display rather than someone expounding a message.

Having heard Neil give his lecture on this work first-hand, much of the material was familiar to me and it was most enjoyable to see the video version. It is really quite a remarkable discovery and analysis.

The section on hexadactylism was fascinating. (why doesn’t the word quatrodactylism exist? I guess that’s part of ectrodactylism)

There were only two hints of metaphysical judgments, possibly unintended, that I could detect. One was the placement of humans at the end of the tree of life, indicating a rather anthropocentric perspective. The other was the use of “just” in the phrase “…we are just…inner fish…” Whether intentional or not, it does reflect a reductionism that we would find unjustified.

I was also hoping he would allude somehow to whether or not there has been progress in understanding the relationship between the Tiktaalik fossil and the tetrapod tracks found in Poland that predate Tiktaalik. Skeptics have jumped on that puzzling discovery to cast doubt on the dominant transitional role of Tiktaalik. But presumably the earlier transitional species may have died out while Tiktaalik survived.

If the other episodes are equally informative, this will be a valuable series.

4/13/2014 at 4:20:02 AM GMT
Posts: 21
As is common for me, I caught the second showing of the first episode at 2:00 in the morning on Friday (?). I read 3 of Shubin's books, including Your Inner Fish, Endless Forms Most Beautiful and The Making of the Fittest, a while back, and the show was as good as I expected it to be. Being a biochemist, I always find that I want to know a lot more than these popular books tell me, but they seem like good sources for the intelligent layman. The anti-evolution types won't be convinced, but that just reflects the remarkable human capacity for special pleading when a world view is at stake.

Ironically, during the initial showing I was at a local music venue listening to a high school classmate ('69) perform. I met a friend of his who told me about his own fossil hunting locally around Fort Worth, and how he had found some wonderful fossils, but couldn't keep them from being bulldozed by a construction project. Nasty, unscrupulous real estate developers - oh, wait, I take that back, I've had several of them in my own family. :)

4/13/2014 at 5:00:10 PM GMT
Posts: 4
Since Randy was fascinated by the section on hexadactylism, I'll mention a case of the genetic abnormality cited in Scripture, in 1 Chronicles 20: 6-7: "Again there was war at Gath, where there was a man of great size, who had six fingers on each hand, and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number; he was also descended from the giants. When he taunted Israel, Jonathan son of Shimea, David's brother, killed him" (NRSV). I might otherwise not have noticed that detail, but I stumbled across it when Ginny and I were reading in 1 Chronicles the same week that 1 Inner Fish was aired.

4/13/2014 at 8:41:11 PM GMT
Posts: 41
The Notorious Six Fingered Man
In the words of the great Curly, "I represent that remark!".  That would be be Curly from The Three Stooges.  No, I don't have them but my father was a "notorious six-fingered man" with two thumbs on each hand, one cut off at birth.  I was amazed to see the perfectly formed 6-fingered hands on the young man in the show.  My dad's weren't like that.  They always said the doctors cut the wrong one off.  His remaining thumb was a bit crooked and very powerful.  People sometime winced from the squeeze when they shoot hands with him.  He was a club champion tennis player.  But, while his grip was powerful, he was a bit all-thumbs and his tennis racket would often fly out of his hand when we used to play doubles.

So, I don't know whether to assume that I carry a recessive gene for that trait -- we did count all our kids' fingers and toes when born.  None of my 4 brothers had it either, nor their kids. But, it might take a carrier marrying someone else with the a recessive gene.  I'm hoping it was just an a birth defect, perhaps from my grandfather's job packing arsenic of lead dust around 1910 rather than a mutation in the germ line.  Or, perhaps it is something our kids and their intendeds can get tested for.

Randy, I didn't know there was a bit of controversy.  Thanks for sharing a link to the Polish discovery of the those tracks.  We'll have to look for that in the next two episodes.  Hopefully, they will given an update.

Last edited Sunday, April 13, 2014
4/13/2014 at 10:20:18 PM GMT
Posts: 142
Fascinating! Thanks for sharing that, Keith. I wasn't that familiar with it so your note sent me scurrying to Wikipedia. Just as you indicated, they said "Because neither of the two thumb components is normal, a decision should be taken on combining which elements to create the best possible composite digit. Instead of amputating the most hypoplastic thumb, preservation of skin, nail, collateral ligaments and tendons is needed to augment the residual thumb.[32] Surgery is recommended in the first year of life, generally between 9 and 15 months of age.[8]"
What a fascinating range of variations that are possible in our marvelously complex bodies.

4/23/2014 at 6:21:34 AM GMT
Posts: 19
According to Campbell et al., Biology, perhaps the most used 1st year biology textbook, the most common form of polydactyly is due to a dominant gene.

Inigo Montoya: My father was slaughtered by a six-fingered man. He was a great swordmaker, my father. When the six-fingered man appeared and requested a special sword. My father took the job. He slaved a year before it was done.
[Shows the Man in Black the sword]
Man in Black: I've never seen its equal.
Inigo Montoya: The six-fingered man returned and demanded it, but at one tenth his promised price, my father refused. Without a word, the six-fingered man slashed him through the heart. I loved my father. So naturally, I challenged his murderer to a duel. I failed. The six-fingered man left me alive, but he gave me these.
[strokes the scars on his cheeks]
Man in Black: How old were you?
Inigo Montoya: I was eleven years old. And when I was strong enough, I dedicated my life to the study of fencing. So the next time we meet, I will not fail. I will go up to the six-fingered man and say, "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."