Do/did you hate your bio courses?

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In summary, the conversation revolves around frustrations with biology courses and the inclusion of evolutionary theory in the curriculum. One individual argues that students should have the right to refuse to learn anything that goes against their religious beliefs, while another argues that understanding evolution is crucial for the study of biology and medicine. The individual also shares their positive experience in a biology class that did not cover evolutionary theory. The conversation ends with a discussion about the fundamental similarities of DNA and the importance of evolution in medicine.
  • #1
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I'm just curious. Have any of you been frustrated because of your biology courses? I take CP Biology because I may be going into medicine and one of the only reasonable gripes I've had was that to meet California standards creationists have to learn the theory of evolution. My teacher understands his class may feel differently about how humans came - I think he himself believes we were created by a god. My main argument is that students should have a Constitutional right to refuse to learn about anything that is contrary to their religious beliefs and still be able to get a good grade.

That's my personal gripe. What's yours? That you had to learn plant biology? Just remember that while knowing plant biology won't necessarily help you unless you're thinking about being a gardener or a florist someday, our understanding of genetics was torpedoed by a few pea plant experiments.
 
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  • #2
I greatly enjoyed my Biology class last semester. I took General (University) Biology and Honors Biology Lab. I'm glad that we didn't waste our time studying evolution or even a phylogenetic system. We had to rush just to get through all the cellular components that we covered. I got to extract and purify canine DNA, amplify it in a PCR machine, clone it in bacteria, then have it sent off for sequencing. I learned a little about how to use the NCBI's genome database. So, I got to do a lot of fun things. However, if we had covered evolutionary theory, I would have considered it the same as studying Greek mythology. I don't have to believe the system to learn or understand it.
 
  • #3
moonman239 said:
I'm just curious. Have any of you been frustrated because of your biology courses? I take CP Biology because I may be going into medicine and one of the only reasonable gripes I've had was that to meet California standards creationists have to learn the theory of evolution. My teacher understands his class may feel differently about how humans came - I think he himself believes we were created by a god. My main argument is that students should have a Constitutional right to refuse to learn about anything that is contrary to their religious beliefs and still be able to get a good grade.

That's my personal gripe. What's yours? That you had to learn plant biology? Just remember that while knowing plant biology won't necessarily help you unless you're thinking about being a gardener or a florist someday, our understanding of genetics was torpedoed by a few pea plant experiments.

You shouldn't get a good grade in biology if you don't understand evolution. Evolutionary theory is the foundation of biology. Period. If you don't understand this then you haven't really learned biology and you shouldn't pass the class.

Religious beliefs are just that, religious beliefs. They are not science, nor are they on the same footing as science for explaining our world. If you can't hack learning about evolution and passing biology then medicine probably isn't for you. If you think that isn't important for medicine then think again. The first year of medical school you spend countless hours dissecting human cadavers, on which you will find the thumbprint of evolution. Understanding that anatomy and where it comes from is important to understanding pathophysiological processes that occur in the human body.
 
  • #4
Pooua said:
I greatly enjoyed my Biology class last semester. I took General (University) Biology and Honors Biology Lab. I'm glad that we didn't waste our time studying evolution or even a phylogenetic system. We had to rush just to get through all the cellular components that we covered. I got to extract and purify canine DNA, amplify it in a PCR machine, clone it in bacteria, then have it sent off for sequencing. I learned a little about how to use the NCBI's genome database. So, I got to do a lot of fun things. However, if we had covered evolutionary theory, I would have considered it the same as studying Greek mythology. I don't have to believe the system to learn or understand it.

Yes we have a word for this; ignorance. Why is it, do you suppose, that the Taq polymerase you used could amplify canid DNA?...
 
  • #5
bobze said:
Yes we have a word for this; ignorance. Why is it, do you suppose, that the Taq polymerase you used could amplify canid DNA?...

I suppose we could use Taq Pol on canid DNA because DNA is DNA, whether in a bacterium or in a dog. Chemical compounds work similarly in similar environments. This is just basic chemistry.
 
  • #6
bobze said:
You shouldn't get a good grade in biology if you don't understand evolution. Evolutionary theory is the foundation of biology. Period.

Even by your standards, that could only vaguely be true. You know that the phylogenetic tree is subject to revision at any time, as it has been several times even in the last few years. You know that new discoveries frequently change the depiction of evolution at all but the most abstract levels. It is only in this generalized form that evolutionary theory even has any application in medicine.
 
  • #7
Pooua said:
I suppose we could use Taq Pol on canid DNA because DNA is DNA, whether in a bacterium or in a dog. Chemical compounds work similarly in similar environments. This is just basic chemistry.

But there isn't any reasonable reason to think that at the microscopic level, they are all fundamentally alike is there; unless you take evolution into consideration.
 
  • #8
Pooua said:
Even by your standards, that could only vaguely be true. You know that the phylogenetic tree is subject to revision at any time, as it has been several times even in the last few years. You know that new discoveries frequently change the depiction of evolution at all but the most abstract levels. It is only in this generalized form that evolutionary theory even has any application in medicine.

I don't know or really want to know about your beliefs regarding the age of the Earth or the origin of species. However, do you deny that evolution is occurring now and can be observed?
 
  • #9
mishrashubham said:
But there isn't any reasonable reason to think that at the microscopic level, they are all fundamentally alike is there; unless you take evolution into consideration.

Why would I think that adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine would behave differently in one organism as in another? They *are* microscopically alike, because they are chemically alike. Evolution has nothing to do with it.
 
  • #10
SW VandeCarr said:
I don't know or really want to know about your beliefs regarding the age of the Earth or the origin of species. However, do you deny that evolution is occurring now and can be observed?

Oh, sure, for some definition of the word, evolution is occurring and can be observed.
 
  • #11
SW VandeCarr said:
I don't know or really want to know about your beliefs regarding the age of the Earth or the origin of species. However, do you deny that evolution is occurring now and can be observed?

I guess the argument will be what is the practical application of theory of evolution ?. I have heard several similar of these type of questions . I f an analogy is taken from physics, general theory of relativity has helped to increase the accuracy of GPS by factoring in for the time dilatation or understanding lasers helped to build lasers having a lot applications.
 
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  • #12
Pooua said:
Why would I think that adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine would behave differently in one organism as in another? They *are* microscopically alike, because they are chemically alike. Evolution has nothing to do with it.

And yet the very same organisms (bacteria or viruses ) have the ability to infect us. And don't tell me it was designed to infect us.
 
  • #13
Pooua said:
Why would I think that adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine would behave differently in one organism as in another? They *are* microscopically alike, because they are chemically alike. Evolution has nothing to do with it.

Haha you're right. But that's because you already know that it is DNA which is the genetic material. But why is it only DNA and not any other macromolecule? It could reasonably expect to have different sorts of genetic material right?
 
  • #14
thorium1010 said:
And yet the very same organisms (bacteria or viruses ) have the ability to infect us. And don't tell me it was designed to infect us.

I don't understand what you are claiming. To the best of my knowledge, T. aquaticus is incapable of infecting us.
 
  • #15
mishrashubham said:
Haha you're right. But that's because you already know that it is DNA which is the genetic material. But why is it only DNA and not any other macromolecule? It could reasonably expect to have different sorts of genetic material right?

For a few decades, many scientists expected that the carrier of genetic information would be found to be proteins. After all, pretty much everything else in all organisms revolves around proteins. Yet, we have never found any organism whose genetic information is carried that way. Some viruses do use RNA, though.
 
  • #16
Pooua said:
For a few decades, many scientists expected that the carrier of genetic information would be found to be proteins. After all, pretty much everything else in all organisms revolves around proteins. Yet, we have never found any organism whose genetic information is carried that way. Some viruses do use RNA, though.

And your point is?
 
  • #17
mishrashubham said:
And your point is?

I was answering your question, though I don't understand the point you were trying to reach.
 
  • #18
moonman239 said:
My main argument is that students should have a Constitutional right to refuse to learn about anything that is contrary to their religious beliefs and still be able to get a good grade.

Unbelievable, that is not how education works. Religion beliefs do not stand above scientific theories, in order to pass a scientific class one should learn the scientific theory.

I once had a strongly religious student do an internship with me, his personal beliefs stood in his way in completing the biology internship. Because of that he had to quit his University education. How sad is that? The student had himself to blame and no-one else.

If you think studying the phylogenetic system is a waste of time, then you really have a large blind spot in your knowledge. Even if you do not belief in evolution, the information on how related different organisms are is still important. Especially when studying medicine.
 
  • #19
Monique said:
Even if you do not belief in evolution, the information on how related different organisms are is still important.

"Relatedness" is in terms of best human judgement, not any purely objective measure. That's why a board has to review how the tree is arranged; the phylogenetic tree is a judgement call.
 
  • #20
Pooua said:
"Relatedness" is in terms of best human judgement, not any purely objective measure. That's why a board has to review how the tree is arranged; the phylogenetic tree is a judgement call.

What about genetics ? does genetics prove relatedness in your opinion.

I don't understand what you are claiming. To the best of my knowledge, T. aquaticus is incapable of infecting us.

I was not talking about t aquaticus . I was talking about the basic building blocks of life are the same for most organisms (i.e. DNA, RNA, etc ). which favors strongly for common descent.
 
  • #21
moonman239 said:
My main argument is that students should have a Constitutional right to refuse to learn about anything that is contrary to their religious beliefs and still be able to get a good grade.
Nonsense and for obvious reasons. Grades are meant to be indicative of a student's level of knowledge and skill in an field. Let's take a simplistic example of a recently graduated history student trying to get a job in the ancient history section of a museum. One problem: they're a young Earth creationist and therefore believe that the Earth is 6KY old and the events of the bible are literally true. Because of this they could not answer any question in the exam regarding ancient history and their coursework was demonstrably wrong. Would you think it was still fair if at the job interview they produced a document attesting that they have a passable grade understanding of history?
 
  • #22
Pooua said:
"Relatedness" is in terms of best human judgement, not any purely objective measure. That's why a board has to review how the tree is arranged; the phylogenetic tree is a judgement call.
And? It is based on facts, of course it can be done by taking different parameters into account: that is why attending the course is important. Science is about knowledge, not ignorance.
 
  • #23
Pooua said:
I was answering your question, though I don't understand the point you were trying to reach.

My point was the fact that all organisms use nucleic acids for their genetic material is perfectly explained by evolution and strongly points towards a common ancestor.
 
  • #24
The attitude of the first two posters is the opposite of what mine was at a very young age, and less natural IMO.

At a very young age surely what is attractive in Science is, for the theory, the grand syntheses with broad, inspiring and challenging vistas, and on the experimental side whizz-bang.

Our physics teacher told us about Fred Hoyle and the Expanding Universe (new then, mnyah mnyah). But then in practice the physics was the height of columns of liquids in Hare's apparatus. A boring let-down. I remember the chemistry teacher's very words 'chemistry is not all fireworks' as we slogged through balancing equations. So I got the idea the Science was about, or at least being good at science was about being good at boring things like simultaneous equations, was not stargazing but geometrical optics, not the Tree of Life but cell staining and chromosome arrangements etc. Slowly in the end realising how the learned disciplines of these nitty-gritties is necessary foundation for the Great Syntheses (and can have a certain horrible fascination in their own right. :biggrin: ). But this risks the perversion of becoming academism or academic snobbery, in which only limited, circumscribed, safe, 'useful' etc. - and for most people boring or unattractive - things are allowed to be described as Science.

It seems to me these posters want a quiet life, Science that is only the boring foundation because they want to be blinkered and protected, throw out the the baby and keep the bathwater, swallow the stone and spit out the cherry!

You can study bits of biology without immediate concerns for evolution. However that is forcing things artificially and academism though common is hard put to be totally triumphant there. It is more successful in physics and chemistry. There are these 92 elements, roughly immutable, we rearrange but do not change these immutable atoms. At one time how they came to be was not a subject of enquiry - and that sort of attitude became a bit fossilised in curriculae, and mostly as far as I know it is still not much gone into.

Academic discipline is all very necessary, but too much academism cuts off the natural spirits that got many people interested in Science in the first place.

So I think the attitude of the first two posters is artificial, ideological and unsustainable and am glad to see that academism at least has the discipline to limit itself, and insists you also study something interesting! :biggrin:
 
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  • #25
Even IF you don't believe in evolution, you should learn it. If you want to make your mind up on something, then you should learn it first. I've seen many religious people saying that evolution isn't true, but whatever they said indicated that they had no knowledge what-so-ever of evolution.

It's your right to believe in whatever nonsense you want, but if you want to have a conversation on the topic, then you better know what the theory is about.

Good grades in biology is proof that you know the topic and that you know (a bit) what you're talking about, it's not proof you actually believe the topic. So yes, getting good grades in biology is essential, no matter what you believe.

Furthermore, saying that "I don't believe in evolution because of my religion" without even have studied evolution is a severe form of close-mindedness.
 
  • #26
Pooua said:
I suppose we could use Taq Pol on canid DNA because DNA is DNA, whether in a bacterium or in a dog. Chemical compounds work similarly in similar environments. This is just basic chemistry.


Mish already pointed this out to you, Taq pol works on that canid DNA because of evolution, specifically because of common ancestry.


Pooua said:
Even by your standards, that could only vaguely be true. You know that the phylogenetic tree is subject to revision at any time, as it has been several times even in the last few years. You know that new discoveries frequently change the depiction of evolution at all but the most abstract levels. It is only in this generalized form that evolutionary theory even has any application in medicine.

Says the guy who seems to take pride in not understanding evolutionary biology? This is incorrect, evolution has many applications and implications for medicine. Whether you are talking about the use of antibiotics, antivirals and anticancer chemotheraputics and designing new drugs, to understanding disease incidence and susceptibility in populations (do you plan to never work with sickle cell patients in your endeavors in medicine?).

Oh maybe you want to be a heart surgeon then so all that evolution mumbo-jumbo won't matter? Be sure not to clip the recurrent laryngeal nerve as it takes an absurd rout off the vegus, under the aortic arch and ascends back up neck to the larynx. Or maybe you ought to understand the nature of hernias how the spermatic cord passes through the abdominal wall collecting bits of apaneuroses along the way. Or why so many people have back pain. Or maybe why congenital diaphragmatic hernias happen? Or any of the other numerous bits of our anatomy that are explained by our evolutionary lineage.

Pooua said:
Oh, sure, for some definition of the word, evolution is occurring and can be observed.

This is creationist talk, not science talk. Biological evolution has a specific definition--In science we are about specificity. The biological fact of evolution is that allele frequencies change for a population across generations.

Theory in science, we use to explain facts. In this case we use theory, like natural selection, genetic drift etc, to explain how those allele frequencies change across time.

Insisting the evolution is some "vague" term that describes the big bang to man as one mechanistic process is what the dishonest creationists want you to believe and what the gullible and ignorant creationist actually believe---Because of their refusal to learn what science actually says.


Pooua said:
"Relatedness" is in terms of best human judgement, not any purely objective measure. That's why a board has to review how the tree is arranged; the phylogenetic tree is a judgement call.


Phylogenetic trees can be both a model--as a type of scientific theory used to make predictions based upon evidence or they can objective representations of gather facts--Such as those based on gene mutation rates. It depends on what the tree is being used for. Of course that is something someone who actually studied evolution should know...
 
  • #27
And with that excellent post I think we're done here.
 

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