Evolution is Wonderful

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I’ll never forget the first time I saw the Milky Way. On a warm late August night in 2009, my wife and I stretched out on a campground table at Dinosaur National Monument, Utah to see the cloudy stretch of our home galaxy arc across the night sky. I had never been in a place dark enough to see the stellar display. I lived in central New Jersey my entire life, where light pollution blocked out all but the very brightest stars. But here, far from the suburban sprawl I was accustomed to, I could giddily gaze at a simple circumstance of the universe we live in and wonder about all that starlight.


I had come to the national park for the fossils. Dinosaur fanatic that I am, I couldn’t step foot in Utah without taking a direct route to one of the most glorious Jurassic bonebeds of all time, where a chaotic jumble of giant bones conjures up visions of life and death 150 million years ago. The quarry wall was closed for repairs, and so I happily settled to see a Brigham Young University excavation of a geologically-younger long-necked herbivore that would later be named Abydosaurus.

Such magnificent, long-lost creatures kept stomping through my imagination as I stared at the Milky Way. I’ve never been drawn into astronomy or physics, but I recalled that even light takes time  to travel. There was no way to be sure, but maybe some of the ancient lights I was looking at originally left their incomprehensibly distant stars whenAbydosaurus and the monument’s other dinosaurs still walked the Earth. Seeing the illuminated points scattered over the park’s gorgeously-exposed geologic formations – the rocks little more than inky outlines in the dark – I felt like a time traveler standing between Earth and sky. There are few moments in my life when I have been as overtaken by sheer wonder and joy at the universe we live in.

Yet, despite how enraptured I felt by Deep Time, the horror novelist Stephen King thinks that I was missing out on the true wonder of existence. That’s because I’m an atheist, and, on NPR’s Fresh Air, King delivered this condescending quote about those who don’t see divinity in nature:

If you say, ‘Well, OK, I don’t believe in God. There’s no evidence of God,’ then you’re missing the stars in the sky and you’re missing the sunrises and sunsets and you’re missing the fact that bees pollinate all these crops and keep us alive and the way that everything seems to work together. Everything is sort of built in a way that to me suggests intelligent design.

I really don’t care about Stephen King’s views on the existence or non-existence of deities. That’s very, very far down on my list of issues worth worrying about. But King’s quote represents a snobbish and pervasive belief that those who see no evidence of gods are somehow impoverished in their lives. Creationists have been peddling this arrogant argument for quite some time – that without a god, the universe is purposeless and we are trapped in a nihilistic march towards oblivion.

Written By: Brian Switek
continue to source article at phenomena.nationalgeographic.com

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  1. Wonderful? WONDERFUL?!

    Appendices in your intestines that serve no other purpose than to randomly kill you, bacteria that won’t stay put under new antibiotics, pain (and bloody lots of it), women fawning over those smooth-cheeked brats while me and my splendid beard and chest hair get ignored, weeds that find more and more insidious ways to ruin my garden and worst of all… ninja mosquitoes!

    Curse you, evolution!

  2. @OP -

    If you say, ‘Well, OK, I don’t believe in God. There’s no evidence of God,’ then you’re missing the stars in the sky and you’re missing the sunrises and sunsets and you’re missing the fact that bees pollinate all these crops and keep us alive and the way that everything seems to work together. Everything is sort of built in a way that to me suggests intelligent design.

    I really don’t care about Stephen King’s views on the existence or non-existence of deities. That’s very, very far down on my list of issues worth worrying about. But King’s quote represents a snobbish and pervasive belief that those who see no evidence of gods are somehow impoverished in their lives.

    The likes of King are simply airing their vacuous absence of understanding of nature or evidence, and he is projecting his personal incredulity, on to others.

    What he really saying is:- “If you study the details of the functions of nature , so do not share my belief in fantasy magic as an explanation, you will not share my awesome “conjurer’s pantomime knowledge” of the nature!

    This is merely an arrogant assertion (in his self-inflated opinion), that his very limited deluded view and ignorance, provides some sort of superior view. His own ignorance hides his perception of his profound ignorance of the real wonders of the detailed science, which is available to all, but on which more educated people, make the effort seek evidence for their views. The scientifically educated see the wonders of the universe. The IDiots see only their own awesome delusions of anthropomorphic magic gods!

  3. YOU really gotta learn not to take the bait promoted by religious idiots !….They want pointless debate because that’s all they’re good for and because Atheism / Science makes them look stupid for believing in their own BS fairy tales anyway…….They think this is all a game and they try to Tit for Tat everything and try to make Atheists look silly or evil, Its typically childish in the extreme. But your article was beautiful until you mentioned the nemesis…..Why do we let those people invade our wonderful scientific free thought….???? Who cares what they say or believe, you can’t force them to see scientifically, But its a different matter in Law, Governement and Society – No religious bias or prejudice is acceptable in democracy…..If prejudice is present in these establishments – our lives are less free or fair…..but as an atheist at least our thoughts will always be free…..

  4. Have you ever spoken to a really smart person about a topic that they are not really smart about???

    Say, perhaps, a molecular geneticist about the DH rule in baseball? The scientist calls the umpires referees, doesn’t know how many innings are in a game…. refers to the innings as “quarters”…. wonders who has served the most penalty minutes in baseball….. etc….

    Or, a really successful actress that thinks vaccines cause autism? Or, in this case a successful writer with prolific output who is compelled to speak and remove all doubt that he is ignorant on the subject he is speaking?

    Well, here is what you do. Consider the source. He writes horror stories and had a near death experience. Of course he’s into all sorts of supernatural woo woo. Brush him off as the undereducated, ill informed person that he is and move on. which is what I will be doing right ……. now.

    • In reply to #5 by crookedshoes:

      Have you ever spoken to a really smart person about a topic that they are not really smart about???

      I couldn’t agree more.
      It is a feature of obsessive leading specialists, who have spent most of their time on one subject, to exclusion of time spent studying anything else, – that should they mistakenly believe that their authority status in their specialism is transferable to subjects they have not studied, – making fools of themselves by removing all doubts about their ignorance, is inevitable!

  5. Absolutely, ‘consider the source’ is the clearest understanding of the ignorance of celebrity of all ilks. What authority, for example, does the Prince of Wales bring when promoting the Duchy Herbals detox tincture? Or does being the President of the United States entitle you start wars after god came to you in a dream (or two) and says ok, good idea and Permisson Granted while allowing you to make statements like “I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully” (Saginaw, Mich., Sept 29, 2000). How many of us have been told by authority, or status, or celebrity that ‘this is the way it is because I just know it is because I am really, really smarter than you”?

    Give me facts, show me proof, and only then will I nod my head in your direction with respect attached. I will thank you for it, because I prefer to know rather than not know. Otherwise piss off and keep your visions to yourself, celebrity freaks all.

  6. People who think that the universe was invented by an invisible friend with them in mind ,ignorant of evolution by natural selection and deluded enough to think that universe have a purpose,are simply not equipped to comprehend with awe.

  7. If you say, ‘Well, OK, I don’t believe in God. There’s no evidence of God,’ then you’re missing the stars in the sky and you’re missing the sunrises and sunsets and you’re missing the fact that bees pollinate all these crops and keep us alive and the way that everything seems to work together. Everything is sort of built in a way that to me suggests intelligent design.

    Is there a label for the cognitive disability or logically fallacy that states “everything seems to work together = therefore God?” I’ve come to the opinion that some people (Maybe they are just not thinking enough or are lazy.) are beyond the jump-to-conclusions type of responses and have some sort of cognitive disability. On one hand, I was one of them and finally woke up, but I keep coming across so many people that wrongly attribute a situation to something other than the source. They see the beginning and the end and forget the vast amount of complex processes that have slowly been involved over time. Usually this involves understanding Evolution, but people also do this when it comes to mastering a skill – one ability building upon another and then another, then another…. They seem to forget the complex learning process that was involved. How many of us have heard of someone’s fine tuned skills, intelligence or abilities being credited to God or “the ghost in the machine?” Frequently, I’m completely flabergasted at some of the things people say. So few attribute credit where credit is due – not only to people helping other people, but simply understanding how to follow a path back through all the stages and causes. I’m losing hope for humanity. Sorry, kind of cranky today.

    Edit: Oh happiness, I finally found the edit button! How long has that been hiding under “More?”lol!

    I would also add that this behavior (as described above) becomes particularly troublesome when the person has some sort of Dunning Kruger effect going on. I was recently on an art site in which one “artist” woman gave praises to God – knowing that God was at the source of her “ease” of creativity. She did not accept the comments that achieving mastery and proficiency involved lots of effort, practice, trial-and-error, knowledge etc. over time. ( She forgot the process of learning, building one skill upon another, one ability transferring to another, etc.) I checked out her website…..ugh! Why people credit a God for ugly art is beyond me.

  8. From the artical,

    Creationists have been peddling this arrogant argument for quite some time – that without a god, the universe is purposeless and we are trapped in a nihilistic march towards oblivion.

    er … agreed.

    • In reply to #11 by old-toy-boy:

      Creationists have been peddling this arrogant argument for quite some time – that without a god, the universe is purposeless and we are trapped in a nihilistic march towards oblivion.

      er … agreed.

      Ah! ..but they have leaders with fake maps to guide flocks of them away from real knowledge throughout their whole lives!!

  9. Umm…just a minor quibble with this article: Dinosaur National Monument is in Colorado, last time I was there. It’s close to the border with Utah, but unless they’ve expanded the Monument in the last few years, it’s in Colorado.

    • In reply to #16 by Sue Blue:

      Umm…just a minor quibble with this article: Dinosaur National Monument is in Colorado, last time I was there. It’s close to the border with Utah, but unless they’ve expanded the Monument in the last few years, it’s in Colorado.

      Not been there, but met religious nut who raved about her impending visit to “The Monument, in Utah” that has some mystical significance to her church (Mormon I suspect). Apparently it hold the records of everyone… probably everyone who’s going to paradise, while the rest go to hell… Never mind, Google says CO, UT… must be true.

    • In reply to #16 by Sue Blue:

      Umm…just a minor quibble with this article: Dinosaur National Monument is in Colorado, last time I was there. It’s close to the border with Utah, but unless they’ve expanded the Monument in the last few years, it’s in Colorado.

      Most of it is in Colorado – a small part is in Utah.

      • I lived in Colorado until I was 16 and spent every summer at Anderson Camp on the Colorado River. We used to go up to the monument, right outside of the small town of Dinosaur, Colorado, hike around, and dig up trilobite and crinoid fossils out of the dirt banks along the trail. I never knew any of the monument was in Utah. There’s a hell of a lot of it in Colorado.

        In reply to #18 by Kim Probable:

        In reply to #16 by Sue Blue:

        Umm…just a minor quibble with this article: Dinosaur National Monument is in Colorado, last time I was there. It’s close to the border with Utah, but unless they’ve expanded the Monument in the last few years, it’s in Colorado.

        Most of it is in Colorado – a small pa…

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