Intelligent Design vs. Evolution

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Discussion by: zifn4b

I hope that Mr. Dawkins himself can help me with this dilemma.  I have spent a substantial amount of time pondering the Intelligent Design and Evolution concepts to try to form my own world view and (perhaps naively) hope to discover some real truth.

The one thing that I have always found curious about this discussion is that we consider Intelligent Design and Evolution mutually exclusive.  We make them adversaries and the basis of many arguments and belief factions, if you will.

I don't see it that way.  You could argue that Intelligent Design more closely resembles organized religious beliefs.  It is very clear that human beings did not rise up 6000 years ago when the whole world came into existence, if we are to take a literal interpretation of the Bible.

However, in philosophy, we have the Cosmological argument.  We have the notion that there seems like there should be an uncaused cause because how else do you explain the origin of the universe?

Let us imagine for a moment that there is such an uncaused cause and that it is infinitely more powerful and intelligent than we can possibly imagine.  Let us also imagine that it may also transcend time, that is, have no beginning and no end, the Alpha and the Omega or the Ouroboros or that which is represented in Escher's Drawing Hands.  That perhaps it exists outside of this system and thus is not limited by the constraints of the one we are all members of.

Why couldn't this "thing" create this system and with it all of the characteristics, rules and properties that would give rise to Evolution, Natural Selection and all of the other observations of the properties of this system that we refer to as science?  In essence, why isn't Evolution, Natural Selection and all other aspects of the universe the creation of "it."

I respectfully and humbly submit this question for your consideration.  It is not my intent to prove or disprove anything.  I only seek real truth and knowledge.

Kind Regards

136 COMMENTS

  1. Let us imagine for a moment that there is such an uncaused cause and that it is infinitely more powerful and intelligent than we can possibly imagine. Let us also imagine that it may also transcend time, that is, have no beginning and no end, the Alpha and the Omega or the Ouroboros or that which is represented in Escher’s Drawing Hands. That perhaps it exists outside of this system and thus is not limited by the constraints of the one we are all members of.

    Forget Jesus, the quantum mechanics happened so you’d be here.— Lawrence Krauss.

    YouTube lectures of Professor Lawrence M. Krauss are highly recommended.

  2. I think by “Intelligent design” you actually mean “theistic evolution”. In its purest form theistic evolution accepts the scientific consensus on evolution but adds the unfalsifiable claim that God did it. That may be good theology if you have a prior reason to believe in God, but it is not science.

    In contrast intelligent design claims that evolution cannot explain the diversity and sophistication of life. That could almost be a falsifiable claim and all it takes to falsify it could be more a detailed explanation of evolutionary pathways. So far their arguments have been refuted. For example the bacterial flagellum probably evolved from the type 3 secretion system. So they modify their predictions and retreat. If ID had more interesting and useful predictions we could accept ID as at least a competing idea. But at present it is right on the verge of retreating into pseudoscience.

    If the cosmological argument really worked it, it would provide a prior reason to believe in god – and presumably there would be no atheists. However it is at best a metaphysical argument that can in no way explored by science and at worst is powered by wishful thinking.

  3. Hi there zifn4b.

    “there should be an uncaused cause because how else do you explain the origin of the universe?”

    This is a “god of the gaps” argument. Better to say, “unexplained cause.” The same could be said for evolution. Just because a question arises where scientists say “we don’t know,” doesn’t mean that they will give up looking for an explanation.

    The biggest problem with the gaps argument, is that the gaps are getting smaller all the time. Imagine 500 or 1000 years ago, there were many things that science did not, and could not, know. Many of these things were attributed to gods or demons. Now we know better.

    Good luck in your search.

    Nok

  4. It’s an old question and it’s an easy response in terms of evolution. The answer is simply that the theory of evolution doesn’t have anything to do with the question of how the universe began. Scientists have no problem with the supposition that the entire universe could have been caused by an omnipotent, unknowable being. It COULD have…but unknowable, omnipotent beings that create a universe in such a way that life would evolve….are beyond the scope of science. If they reveal themselves someday that’s fine. Until then people can posit Thor, Ra, Yaweh or any omnipotent, beyond-the-reach-of-science being they want and they are all equally implausible.

    The key thing to understand is that there is no evidence of any of that nonsense and therefore no reason to believe any of that is true, and it’s particularly important when discussing evolution to not confuse cosmology with evolution. Once the world was here and life had begun, THEN we talk about how it evolved. Evolution doesn’t speak to how life began, nor does it speak to how the earth or universe began.

    The problem with the argument that there “should” be an uncaused cause is that science doesn’t deal in “should”. It deals in evidence. Plane’s shouldn’t fly. Magnets shouldn’t be able to attract each other. The fact that we don’t understand something or think that something “should” be a certain way cuts no ice with science.

    Philosophy has a cosmological argument. Science doesn’t. You explain the origin of the universe by studying it. By building CERN. By smashing atoms and looking at the output of light and energy from stars and my measuring distances and forces and theorizing and proving your theories wrong and finding support for other hypothesis. You figure it out by scientific investigation. Thousands of years of people wondering how the sun comes up and thinking about cosmological arguments that result in thousands of different answers to the same question got us basically nowhere. A few hundred years of science got us to understanding actual facts, including a basic understand of evolution.

    “It” may have created all this but there is no evidence to suggest that. “It” could be a lizard. Scientists don’t really care about whether there is an “It” if it stays hidden to all of our senses. If it starts breaking all the rules of physics and miracles start happening…if all of the oceans of the world are instantly clean tomorrow morning, enough food starts growing to fill everyone’s belly, population is stabilized, people stop killing each other and it tells us it’s sorry and now “I’ll” use my godly power to make the world a wonderful place….well…atheists and scientists will shake their head and say, “wow…didn’t see that coming”. Till then the cosmological argument is fun for philosophers to argue about around a brandy or a beer but it’s meaningless to science.

  5. However, in philosophy, we have the Cosmological argument. We have the notion that there seems like there should be an uncaused cause because how else do you explain the origin of the universe?

    As others have pointed out, this has nothing to do with evolution, it’s really an issue for physics. This is just one of those puzzles that we have no definitive answer for yet. You could reframe the question as “what came before the Big Bang”. One possible answer is that time started with the Big Bang so asking what came before doesn’t make sense but I don’t think that is a satisfying answer and at least one physicist (Brian Green) agrees with me. Another explanation is the “Universe from Nothing” argument described so well by Krauss.

    But I think the most important point is: we just don’t know for sure yet. And it’s a standard technique of religion to poke at holes in scientific knowledge and say we must use God to fill in those holes. IMO it’s one of the real reasons so many religious people still fight against Evolution. Because before Darwin there really was no good explanation of how such complex organisms as human beings with brains and eyes managed to come into being.

    In all these cases though saying “God did it!” is not really an answer. You haven’t explained anything new by bringing in God. You have no testable predictions or theory with more explanatory power then before you brought in the concept of God. All you’ve done is changed the wording of the problem, where as before you said “we don’t know” now you say “God did it… and God works in mysterious ways” I.e., you still don’t know.

  6. @zifn4b – The one thing that I have always found curious about this discussion is that we consider Intelligent Design and Evolution mutually exclusive. We make them adversaries and the basis of many arguments and belief factions, if you will.

    They are adversaries, because “Intelligent Design”, was fairly recent pseudoscience, invented by The Discovery Institute to try to pervert science teaching and to circumvent the US constitutional prohibition of teaching religious dogma in schools.

    ID proponents try to pretend ID is not religiously based but have had their dishonest claims thrown out by the courts.

    I don’t see it that way. You could argue that Intelligent Design more closely resembles organized religious beliefs.

    You are confusing “Intelligent Design” with that other pseudoscience – “Theistic Evolution” .

    Theistic Evolution claims to accept the scientific theory, but inserts supernatural bits of “god-did-it-by-miracles” into it, thus making a nonsense of its claim to be science. The usually very vague, supernatural “bits”, vary from individual to individual, and from religion to religion.

    On the same link to the present-day RCC position of Theistic Evolution:-

    In addition, while he was the Vatican’s chief astronomer, Fr. George Coyne, issued a statement on 18 November 2005 saying that “Intelligent design isn’t science even though it pretends to be. If you want to teach it in schools, intelligent design should be taught when religion or cultural history is taught, not science.”

    The pretence that supernatural bits of magic can be inserted into science and it will remain science, – is simply nonsense.

    What you seem to be suggesting is some sort of deist creation of the Universe, which is a different question, – on which others have already commented.

  7. As has been already covered the beginning of space-time/universe/our corner of the multiverse is a separate subject from evolution.
    But you ask why these two concepts, intelligent design and evolution, are considered mutually exclusive. You may consider so-called “theistic evolution” to be compatible with evolution as discovered by science. It may be, but then we would not have the same picture as that which we infer from nature.

    To make that more clear, think about how we think evolution occurs. A mutation occurs randomly in an individuals genome. Perhaps this happens as part of development or perhaps it is inherited from a germ-line mutation in one of the parents. The individual then suffers the rigours of life and breeds/or doesn’t, lives long/or doesn’t as their collective gene complement interacts with their environment.
    Thus natural selection acts upon our population and evolution proceeds.

    What did we start with, a random mutation.

    What does theistic evolution/intelligent design posit? That evolution follows a trajectory outlined by a supreme being. That certain structures had no choice but to evolve – or even be placed into organisms ex nihilo.
    So it was a pre-determined random event? A non-random randomness? The concepts are mutually exclusive.

    To rescue the situation you must change one so that it more closely resembles the other, but do this and you must either give up an all powerful being who made things turn out the way they did, or a natural world that cannot plan for the future or act in random fashion.

    Many people will happily make the second trade – as perhaps will you, but it that case you diverge from our understanding of the world and start to wrap yourself in the comforting cocoon of unfalsifiability.

  8. Hi zifn4b. I see that others have answered your questions with good comments, so I will keep this brief and just about the Cosmological Argument. If you do a Google search, you will find plenty of refutations, some even by religious authors. The key to it, for me, is that the argument is set up as what is called a “forcing argument” in that if the premises are true you are forced to accept the conclusion. However, that puts the burden of proof upon showing that the premises are always true in all cases. Thus, the argument falls if either premise “may” not hold; no need to prove them false. As it turns out, the Universe may not have had a beginning (in the common sense of the term) and we see events in the physics labs all the time that may be causeless.

  9. Until you have some way of showing that you ‘know’ that god created the universe, you are coming up with a hypothesis about the how the universe began (an explanation for something that has not been tested). You need to have a way of making predictions about the universe using this hypothesis, i.e. if god created the universe, then we should see x in the universe, and if we do see x then that makes this a good explanation. If y and z are predicted and also found in nature that lends lots of credence to the idea, and eventually if every prediction is tested and works out, then the hypothesis is called a theory and comes into general use.

    The issue atheists have with god is that you cannot make any predictions when you use god to explain things, so you cannot check whether you are right or wrong, which means you are just guessing. Guessing is fine, and everyone is entitled to their opinions, but in religious contexts faith is considered a a virtue, which to outsiders means being 100% about things people are only making guesses about. It means you can believe anything you want and no-one can change what you think no matter how wrong you are, which is scary and potentially dangerous.

  10. Let us imagine for a moment that there is such an uncaused cause and that it is infinitely more powerful and intelligent than we can possibly imagine. Let us also imagine that it may also transcend time, that is, have no beginning and no end, the Alpha and the Omega or the Ouroboros or that which is represented in Escher’s Drawing Hands. That perhaps it exists outside of this system and thus is not limited by the constraints of the one we are all members of.

    Why couldn’t this “thing” create this system and with it all of the characteristics, rules and properties that would give rise to Evolution, Natural Selection and all of the other observations of the properties of this system that we refer to as science? In essence, why isn’t Evolution, Natural Selection and all other aspects of the universe the creation of “it.”

    Let us imagine that this “thing” started the universe with what might call a “Big Bang” and out of this rapidly expanding mass came a vast number of subatomic particles that formed hydrogen atoms. These atoms drifted together under gravity and formed stars and whole galaxies of stars and whole clusters of galaxies. Inside the stars the hydrogen atoms fused into heavier and heavier elements. Some very large stars exploded into supernovas creating even heavier elements than could be forged in an minor star. All these bits of stars drifted together to form a new generation of stars with orbiting planets of complex elements and molecules. Some of these molecules grew into ever more complex forms until they could self replicate and mutate. Natural selection favoured those molecules that could remain relatively stable and compete for resources to replicate. Eventually these structures became complex and sophisticated enough to be considered alive. Evolution continued for a few billion years until today.

    Now just stop imagining that “thing” because it’s imaginary and unnecessary.

  11. We carry with us the sins of our forefathers … we find it difficult to disconnect ourselves from the inherited belief that there is a god. Culture has ground into us this concept and has done so remarkably successfully. It is so successful that even when we think we are free of the past we are still well and truly locked into old ways of thinking. Hence your question.

    This is not an either/or question. In fact it is a non question as other have pointed out.

    The problem is we are conscious beings and know our own finality … we all die. Most of us have yet to embrace this reality without making a bargain with some unseen entity. Fear drives us on in the face of the rising realities. We frame questions to achieve the desired results … that all is well and there must be some reason for our existence.

    Well, Yes, there is. It is called evolution and we are eating too much sugar and living sedentary lifestyles which has thrown evolution into a spin. It was only 300 odd generations ago that we living without refrigerators and hunting and gathering using our brain and our strength and our wit. We are now in danger of loosing all three.

    Homo Sapiens are sitting around drugged into a stupor as the insulin levels rise and we become obese. We look for easy answers like … is there still a god? Anything to avoid the decision we have to make but adroitly refuse to ask . Instead we still seek the ‘get out of jail free’ card?

  12. The one thing religion and science agree on (and sadly so) is that before the universe existed there was a state of absolute nothing. THIS state is what we need to work on, to define in order to discover its literal condition. What is Nothing? In my mind, a state of absolute nothing is impossible. If there was a space to grow a universe, then that space is not nothing, and that space could not contain nothing. When we try to remove ‘Everything’ from a plastic container, that container has to completely collapse before we say that there is nothing in it; but then we are still left with the container. It would be the same with the cosmos. If everything could be removed, the cosmos would have to collapse. But then, that collapsed cosmic container would have to exist in some other realm. Try to collapse that realm and we get the same repeating and never-ending problem.

  13. In reply to #11 by utopia:

    Until you have some way of showing that you ‘know’ that god created the universe, you are coming up with a hypothesis about the how the universe began (an explanation for something that has not been tested). You need to have a way of making predictions about the universe using this hypothesis, i.e….

    Utopia #11 has said that those proposing an intelligent designer are making a guess. It’s not even an original guess, it’s believing a guess originally made thousands of years ago. How many of their guesses have had any substance? They also provided their dead with food and weapons to help them on their journey through the afterlife. Why not believe these guesses as well.

    Those proposing Intelligent design try to gain credibility by harnessing the science of evolution. All the observation and recording has already been done. They sneak in the ‘creator/designer’ at the end of the process and hope that this notion will be swept up with the rest of the proven science.

  14. In reply to #14 by Jigger:

    The one thing religion and science agree on (and sadly so) is that before the universe existed there was a state of absolute nothing. THIS state is what we need to work on, to define in order to discover its literal condition.

    I don’t agree with that at all. Have you read Krauss’s book A Universe from Nothing? He has a nice discussion of these kinds of questions to start and he (rightly IMO) dismisses them for what they are, accidents of language. One of the biggest fallacies I’ve seen in studying philosophy is people who make major issues out of what are essentially quirks in the way we use language. We don’t need to study the idea of “nothing” because that isn’t a well formed question that is amenable to a scientific explanation. What Krauss explains in his book is how science may give us an answer for what was the cause of the Big Bang. That is a real question and may have a real testable answer. Understanding the abstract concept of “nothing” is best left to the Postmodernists and other people who love to spout a lot of big words that sound profound but are really meaningless.

  15. In reply to #14 by Jigger:

    The one thing religion and science agree on (and sadly so) is that before the universe existed there was a state of absolute nothing. THIS state is what we need to work on, to define in order to discover its literal condition. What is Nothing?

    Here is a good place to start: The Flavors of Nothing

  16. Why couldn’t this “thing” create this system

    I suppose it could. Spirits were the original hypothesis to explain the actions in nature. However, on closer look we see no evidence for such a spirit, Nothing. Further we have discovered every time we looked that the universe was quite capable of unfolding by itself without conscious direction.

    Arguments that a sasquatch could exist should not be confused with arguments they do exist. If sasquatches existed there should be some tell-tale evidence they would leave, some bones, hair, scat, corpses. But there is not. If there were some supernatural being tinkering with the natural order, we should see some signs of that tinkering. There is absolutely none.

    The evidence against Jehovah is even stronger. The bible is the only “evidence” for that particular god. Yet the bible is full of inconsistency and error. When you cross check it with archeology, geology, astronomy etc. it is blithering nonsense.

  17. In reply to #7 by Red Dog:

    In all these cases though saying “God did it!” is not really an answer

    If it is not an answer, what it is?

    1. a command not to investigate further.
    2. a claiming of holy mystery. A kind of territorial claim for the church on an area of inquiry.
    3. a way of pretending you understand when you understand nothing.
    4. a way of resisting scientific understanding.
    5. a way to lay claim over the moral rules about something.
  18. Everything designed must be assembled. Life self assembles. This is one of the hallmarks of living systems. They self assemble. Nothing designed does this.

    @ the OP, if you seek the truth, you can either look at the world with wonder and awe and an unbiased unassuming mind or you can manufacture your own reality and cloak it in pretend stuff. I choose the wonder and awe.

  19. One more thought I have about the general concept of “nothing”. I do think there is something interesting that can be said about such a concept but it has nothing to do with metaphysical musings about nothingness. One thing that is becoming clear from evolutionary psychology (the kind of stuff Pinker writes about) is that humans are born with software. By software I mean functional modules that can be described and analyzed the same way psychologists have analyzed systems such as vision. I call it software because these systems can be understood purely at the functional level, not completely of course, but just as you can understand a lot about a computer without worrying about whether it has an Intel or Motorola chip you can understand a lot about language for example without worrying about how the neurons actually work.

    Language is the main example for this kind of research. Pinker and most evo-psych guys agree with Chomsky (as a linguist it has nothing to do with his politics) that humans are born with a genetic predisposition to learn language (Universal Grammar).

    What does this have to do with “nothing”. Just as language is one of the functional modules so are concepts of arithmetic and logic. (Of course all this is a hypothesis I’m not claiming this is demonstrably true it’s an active area of research). Other modules are for basic physics and for agents and intentions. Note that the physics module is not the same as the science of physics, it’s the naive view of physics that would help a hunter gatherer hunt and gather. So getting back to “nothing” to the extent we can analyze that kind of question in a scientific way, I think that is the way to do it, not by playing endless metaphysical word games (for a good example — by which I mean an awful example try reading Sartre’s Being and Nothingness, I tried several times) but rather by understanding how we have come to inherit certain concepts as part of our DNA. Of course this idea of “nothing” that we have in our genes may turn out to be totally in conflict with what we eventually learn from science just as our common sense ideas of physics turn out to be wrong.

    Here is a fascinating paper from Chomsky and others that describes an example of this kind of research — examples of various modules for counting, recursion, etc.

  20. Let us imagine for a moment that there is such an uncaused cause and that it is infinitely more powerful and intelligent than we can possibly imagine. Let us also imagine that it may also transcend time, that is, have no beginning and no end, the Alpha and the Omega or the Ouroboros or that which is represented in Escher’s Drawing Hands. That perhaps it exists outside of this system and thus is not limited by the constraints of the one we are all members of.

    So what ?

    I think your logic seems to need an “uncaused cause” to explain “how it all started”. Like philosophers pondering for centuries over the chicken and egg problem until Darwin showed that the question made no sense on geological times. Looking for a prime mover seems to me like looking for an undividable element of a fractal, but let’s say you really really need that to sleep happily : how are you going to find it ? Sitting on a chair, thinking “maybe, a mysterious man did it all mysteriously”, or are you going to study physics and find out for yourself if it is all natural phenomena or not ?

  21. I think the neo-creationists are claiming evolution proceeds in a pseudorandom way, with god with his thumb on the roulette wheel. They say it all came out too well to be truly random.

    The answer to that is the evolutionary process is incredibly stupid with no sign of any foresight or planning. Even a teenager, thinking ahead, could do better.

    Surely a god would have done something to modify our human backs to work properly upright. Surely a god would have done something by now for human obesity, addiction to sugar, fat and salt that served us on the savannah. Now that we are living longer, we should evolve thicker tooth enamel. What idiotic idea was it to place the opening to the stomach and lungs side by side? and the reproductive organs right next to where the poo comes out. Evolutionists can explain why these design flaws are still with us.

    I learned a little about the anatomy of the crocodilians. It looks like “God” spent a lot more time fine tuning them than us. How could that be. Everybody knows God loves us far more than crocodiles. (Evolutionists would point out crocodilians have had much more time to evolve in roughly their present form that humans). In a similar way, birds have better lungs and vision.

  22. In reply to #14 by Jigger:

    The one thing religion and science agree on (and sadly so) is that before the universe existed there was a state of absolute nothing…

    This statement just isn’t true. There is even a very good hypothesis now we understand more of particle physics that ‘absolute nothing’ cannot exist; ‘nothing’ is actually an unstable state in which virtual particles continuously appear and disappear. But there again, there is a possibility that there never was ‘anything’ before the big bang because time itself may not have existed until the moment of the big bang.

    There are other possibilities, but ‘absolute nothing’ doesn’t get much of a look-in. ‘Absolute nothing’ is a philosophical concept – an attempt to construct a model with our human brains that is very possibly unrelated to actuality.

  23. However, in philosophy, we have the Cosmological argument. We have the notion that there seems like there should be an uncaused cause because how else do you explain the origin of the universe?

    But saying “god did it” explains nothing. You might as well say “fairies did it” or “Its magic” or “It happened by itself” or “We don’t know”.

    Physicists at least have some math that explains how matter just pops into existence in a vacuum. That is the creation of the universe in miniature. This math explains some of the behaviour of black holes.

    They also have some math that describes the early universe microsecond by microsecond. This jibes with radiation in space so far away it took 14 billion years to get here. Creationists ignore any science discovered since 1870.

    Since then science has created quantum mechanics, black holes, Einsteinian relativity, General relativity, quasars, lasers, computers, global monitoring, DNA, genetic engineering… Things creationists insist are gaps are often just gaps in their personal knowledge.

    Starting in our cave days, it turned out that everything we studied turned out not be controlled by an evil spirit, but by impersonal natural laws. That is 100%. Oddly creationists are betting any remaining mysteries will be filled by evil spirits. That is a very poor gambling strategy.

  24. In reply to #22 by Roedy:

    …I learned a little about the anatomy of the crocodilians. It looks like “God” spent a lot more time fine tuning them than us. How could that be. Everybody knows God loves us far more than crocodiles. (Evolutionists would point out crocodilians have had much more time to evolve in roughly their present form that humans). In a similar way, birds have better lungs and vision.

    The feet of birds are much better adapted than ours to a creature standing on two legs – not 26 separate bones that can give rise to fallen arches, twisted ankles and a host of other problems. At least 150 million years of dinosaur/bird evolution is clearly long enough. 7 million years (at the very most) of human evolution is not.

  25. For a rigorous and dispassionate analysis of ID that considers a postulated designer, go to Chapter 7 at agnosticperspectives.com
    which considers, among other things, what evidence there would need to be to support any sort of design of species.

  26. OP:

    Let us imagine for a moment that there is such an uncaused cause and that it is infinitely more powerful and intelligent than we can possibly imagine. Let us also imagine that it may also transcend time, that is, have no beginning and no end, the Alpha and the Omega or the Ouroboros or that which is represented in Escher’s Drawing Hands. That perhaps it exists outside of this system and thus is not limited by the constraints of the one we are all members of.

    That’s a lot of imagination.
    Here we have several unnecessary characteristics that have no evidence for them.

    1. Does not have a cause or beginning.
    2. Incredibly intelligent.
    3. Transcends time.
    4. Exists outside of the known universe.

    These four characteristics also seem a little arbitrary, why don’t we add a few more?

    1. Has five minds. (Why settle for just one? this thing could have multiple personalities, oh wait that’s a good one)
    2. Has a ‘personality’. (a highly intelligent timeless being wouldn’t be much without a personality)
    3. Likes cats. (who wouldn’t)
    4. Can see 3 extra colors that we can’t.
    5. Can ‘hear’ colors and ‘see’ sounds.
    6. Can create a rock so heavy it can’t lift it.
    7. Is all-knowing.
    8. Is all-powerful.
    9. Is benevolent.
    10. Is his own son and father.

    Actually, that’s absurd, many of those are contradictions or paradoxes. Lets take some away instead of adding more.

    1. Transcends time.
      Why would a being that created the universe necessarily have to transcend time? It could be that ‘time’ exists independent from the universe and we’re simply experiencing a modified version of it.
    2. Does not have a cause or beginning. If it doesn’t transcend time then it could have a beginning, why not? If our universe had a beginning, perhaps that being that created our universe had a beginning as well?
    3. Exists outside of the known universe. Perhaps it doesn’t, perhaps when it created the universe it created it ‘around’ itself so that it now exists within it’s own creation?
    4. Is intelligent. Perhaps it doesn’t actually have any discernible intelligence and just acts randomly, creating universes every few trillion years, interspersed with blowing up random stars and randomly moving peoples keys around.

    Hmm.. I guess we’re back to ground zero, lets start again.

    1. All the matter in the universe expanded from a single point in space-time. This seems fair, it fits with what we know about background radiation and red shift, and doesn’t rely on any unfounded assumptions or imagination.
    2. Fundamental particles coalesced into hydrogen atoms, which clumped together to form stars, which when ignited started fusing this hydrogen into more complex elements. Yep, that makes sense.
    3. After billions of years of these atoms shuffling around a planet emerges on which the positioning and ratio of certain elements happens to form slightly more complex molecules that have the ability to replicate themselves.
    4. These more complex molecules continue replicating themselves, forming colonies of molecules that ‘evolve’ from one form to another, constantly out competing the colonies that don’t survive as well, until one day several billion years later these colonies of molecules are complex enough to attempt to understand their own history and creation, but due to the constraints of the universe are not able to learn anything about what happened ‘before’ step 1, and are only able to merely speculate about such things.
  27. Seraphor,
    Absolutely excellent!!! In an earlier post, I intimated some silly drivel about “manufacturing your own reality and cloaking it in pretend stuff…. or approaching the world with wonder and awe”…. Thanks for distilling my drivel into a clear, concise framework. I don’t know if you did it on purpose, but thank you for the effort. Your words are everything I wish I had posted.

    I love the four lists! The last one is the only TRUTH we KNOW. I am tired to death of those that conflate “believe” with “know”.

    In reply to #27 by Seraphor:

    OP:

    Let us imagine for a moment that there is such an uncaused cause and that it is infinitely more powerful and intelligent than we can possibly imagine. Let us also imagine that it may also transcend time, that is, have no beginning and no end, the Alpha and the Omega or the Ouroboros or that wh…

  28. There is no necessary conflict between the concepts of Evolution and Intelligent Design. An Intelligent Designer could have used evolution including survival of the fittest as the mechanism to achieve his/her/its goals. I hesitate to use this forum to promote my own recently published book “The Fourth Beginning” but, since it deals directly with the issue you raised, I have decided to overcome my natural reticence. The two questions atheistic evolutionists have to answer is: “Why is there something rather than nothing”, and “Why is the something we have, this particular something?. The question Intelligent Designers have to answer is this: “How intelligent is a designer who takes 13 billion years to get to where we are today?” My book may not entirely answer these questions but it invites the reader on a fantastic journey in the course of which he/she will be invited to attempt to reach some intelligent conclusions. It’s also an easier read than most books on this subject.

  29. Let us imagine for a moment that there is such an uncaused cause and that it is infinitely more powerful and intelligent than we can possibly imagine. Let us also imagine that it may also transcend time, that is, have no beginning and no end…

    As others have pointed out that’s a lot of assumptions. I think that most scientists – and for that matter a lot of religious people – see the evidence for evolution by natural selection as sufficient to explain life as we see it now. However, even if the highly debatable Cosmological Argument was valid, i.e. if it is said that a First Cause is needed, one should be clear as to what that would mean. For surely a First Cause would result in the first state of the universe – which did not include life.

    In other words, any supposed First Cause God might be necessary for life, but not sufficient. To get from the initial, post-First Cause universe to life by means other than nature would imply continuing supernatural intervention. But the Cosmological Argument has no traction later on ie cannot explain post-first cause events. If I’m right that the Cosmological Argument produces at most a somewhat arid ‘philosopher’s God’ (and maybe little more than another theory about the Big Bang) then there is still a huge evidential and philosophical desert to cross to get to life.

    So why not just stick with the evidence for Darwinian evolution, which is so richly abundant? Well, some people just feel there ‘has’ to be a God with all His benevolence, powers etc and arguably for largely emotional reasons latch on to Intelligent Design as a seemingly ‘scientific’ way to reassure themselves that they are right. But this is not science: they are putting the ‘cart’ of their conclusions before the ‘horse’ of facts. Such teleological thinking was I think typical of the medieval scholastics who pressed the Cosmological Argument and who still have the ear of Catholicism and other orthodoxies. But teleological ‘explanations’ has long since been been overtaken by post-Renaissance philosophy and, more latterly, science.

    In short, the Cosmological Argument, even if it was right, fails both to account for life and to give any logical grounds for the kind of God most theists claim exists. Attempts to invoke a First Cause as somehow ‘explaining’ the final (current) state of life is to stretch the Argument beyond its limits, indeed defies the very logic of causation the Cosmological Argument rests upon.

  30. Let’s define the All Mighty being as infinite. Always was, is and will be. Let’s define evolution as a gradual development, esp. from a simple form to a more complex form. Once there is a form then there is a beginning and therefore rendering it finite. By definition it cannot be infinite which the All Mighty is. As finite beings in a finite world it will be impossible to explain the infinite and bridge the gap from our finite logic to infinite wisdom. Science is constantly trying to keep up with what the Torah has been explaining for generations.
    To better explain this I recommend reading ‘Genesis and the Big Bang’ by Dr. Gerald Schroeder a nuclear physicist who received his BSc in 1959, his MSc in 1961, and his PhD in nuclear physics and earth and planetary sciences in 1965, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).[2] He worked five years on the staff of the MIT physics department. He was a member of the United States Atomic Energy Commission.[3] Being an honest truth seeker you will appreciate his insights.

  31. BTW Using The Theory of Relativity, considered today by some to be The Law of Relativity, the universe as we know it may be 5764 years plus six days. If time is relative then six days could in fact be six billion years.

  32. In reply to #31 by Jemet:

    Let’s define the All Mighty being as infinite. Always was, is and will be. Let’s define evolution as a gradual development, esp. from a simple form to a more complex form. Once there is a form then there is a beginning and therefore rendering it finite. By definition it cannot be infinite which…

    Once again we come to the argument of “I know of a scientist who disagrees,” whilst ignoring the thousands who don’t. It is a very poor argument and to quote you, “Always was, is and will be.”

  33. In reply to #32 by Jemet:

    BTW Using The Theory of Relativity, considered today by some to be The Law of Relativity, the universe as we know it may be 5764 years plus six days. If time is relative then six days could in fact be six billion years.

    I am entirely unfamiliar with the scientific evidence or reasoned calculations to support this chronology. Can you provide references for any peer reviewed articles (ie generally recognised sources) that provide such evidence and calculations?

  34. Hi everyone. Thank you so much for your perspective. I think many of you missed the point of my question. I know many of you disdain organized religion and have many valid counter arguments. It was not my intent to argue for any sort of theistic position. Let’s assume for a moment we live in a world with no organized religion only science.

    Now imagine us trying to explain the origin of he universe under these circumstances. We can’t. The only answer science has is the universe randomly emerged for no particular purpose or reason. Essentially chaos theory. By definition science would have no way to predict that. We also believe that it has a beginning and that it will have an end. But we also have no way to verify this any better than any other explanation.

    My question arises from a thought experiment. Imagine I am a computer programmer and I write a computer program that simulates a virtual world with a complete set of governing rules, properties and entities. We know that the entities in such a “virtual world” even if they were given the ability to perceive would only most likely be able to do so within the confines of that system. They would be unaware that they are running in the context of a computer system and running software.

    Why couldn’t we also be a similar type of system on a much grander scale? I think about this because when I try to explain the origin of this system using science I come up much shorter. This leads my intuition to believe that there is answer that may lie in something beyond conventional science.

    I sincerely hope that you trust that I am a very rational thinker. I have a background in computer science and mathematics. The purpose of my query is not to argue for some theistic position. I do understand that eventually science will have more answers but it is painstakingly slow and I think many of you agree that science currently offers no better explanation than anything else. We don’t even really have any leading clues.

    This is one of, if not the grandest mystery of life. Surely there must be better progress that can be made. We should use everything at our disposal to do so. I look forward to more of your responses. Cheers!

  35. In reply to #35 by zifn4b:

    Let’s assume for a moment we live in a world with no organized religion only science. Now imagine us trying to explain the origin of he universe under these circumstances. We can’t.

    I think it’s debatable how completely science can answer the question of the origin of the universe. I think the Big Bang provides a pretty good answer and the stuff Krauss writes about goes even further, although I agree there are still open questions. But I think the fundamental mistake you are making is not understanding the nature of science. To say “we can’t explain X” is no big deal. Whether X = “the origin of the universe” or “consciousness” or whatever.

    And for someone interested in truth that doesn’t mean we start embracing religion or other systems just because science can’t completely explain X. OF COURSE THERE ARE THINGS THAT SCIENCE CAN’T COMPLETELY EXPLAIN! Sorry to shout but I really feel like you just aren’t getting that point. Science, and I would claim anything that can legitimately be called actual knowledge is always going to have gaps. Open questions, places where theories conflict, etc. If it didn’t we would stop doing it. To hold up one of those gaps as some big problem that shows science may not be complete and we may still need religion is just wrong.

  36. Until we have compelling evidence to accept a proposition, we have little choice but to accept and acknowledge that we simply do not know. To start inventing imagined alternative ‘explanations’ without evidence to support them might be entertaining but gets one no further towards truth.

  37. In reply to #35 by zifn4b:

    Hi everyone. Thank you so much for your perspective. I think many of you missed the point of my question.

    I think those of us who interpreted the OP as referring to some kind of deism might be forgiven, as the Cosmological Argument and arguments from design are usually made to assert God’s existence.

    If you are suggesting an intelligent designer in the sense of a computer programmer, you may already know of suggestions of the same, ie that we live in a simulation by other intelligences – rather like The Matrix, which arguably developed Descartes’ ‘evil demon’ hypothesis into a new cult. Personally I don’t subscribe to the idea, but here’s a link to some people who seemingly do – based at the UK’s Oxford University; http://www.simulation-argument.com.

  38. In reply to #38 by steve_hopker:

    In reply to #35 by zifn4b:
    If you are suggesting an intelligent designer in the sense of a computer programmer, you may already know of suggestions of the same, ie that we live in a simulation by other intelligences – rather like The Matrix, which arguably developed Descartes’ ‘evil demon’ hypothesis into a new cult. Personally I don’t subscribe to the idea, but here’s a link to some people who seemingly do – based at the UK’s Oxford University; http://www.simulation-argument.com.

    IMO that hypothesis is pseudoscience and I’m surprised that people I otherwise respect like Brian Green treat it seriously. If you look at the theory it essentially says “imagine a simulation so detailed that the objects in the simulation become conscious and have no way to distinguish their simulation from the actual world”

    First of all the idea that objects in a simulation are going to achieve consciousness is totally groundless speculation with no evidence to merit taking it seriously. But even more importantly this is a clear violation of Occam’s razor. If the simulation is so detailed that by definition the people involved can’t distinguish it from reality then the theory can’t be distinguished between a less baroque version where the people are just actually experiencing reality. The only way this theory could be counted as something I would consider science would be if someone said “and here is what we need to check to see if we are in a simulation or reality” until they do they it’s just pseudoscience.

    Also, as a computer programmer who has actually programmed some simulations of factory floors the idea that anyone would want to create a simulation that detailed flies in the face of logic. The whole reason you do a simulation is because there is some aspect you want to test or interact with (either to learn something or for fun) that would be too complex, dangerous, expensive, to do in reality. Once you make it as complicated as reality you remove the whole point of doing a simulation in the first place.

  39. In reply to #35 by zifn4b:

    It was not my intent to argue for any sort of theistic position. Let’s assume for a moment we live in a world with no organized religion only science.

    Now imagine us trying to explain the origin of he universe under these circumstances. We can’t.

    We have lots of organised religions, and we still can’t, so religions are not the issue. We can only say the universe evolved from the big bang – and we don’t know the details of the origin of this — YET !

    I think on the basis of past records, cosmologists and physicists are more likely to make progress with this question than any religious group!

    The only answer science has is the universe randomly emerged for no particular purpose or reason.

    Purposes are human objectives, – subjectively chosen! All “Why?” questions in nature, have “How?” answers, – which regress to a point where the honest answer is, “We do not know!” and the dishonest answer is, “It happened by supernatural magic!”

    The egocentric answer is, “It happened specially for me”! – which is flattering, but obviously whimsical thinking when comparing the size of a human with the size and time-scale of the universe!

    Essentially chaos theory. By definition science would have no way to predict that.

    Does any religion have an evidenced answer? If science does not have a predictable answer, it defaults to “We do not know” – Not “God-did-it-by-magic”!

    We also believe that it has a beginning and that it will have an end.

    Do we???? Why??? What evidence is there for this claim? There are various theories but … . .. . . . .

    But we also have no way to verify this any better than any other explanation.

    If nobody knows, we don’t know! Maybe research will discover more answers from a myriad of possibilities!

    This lack of knowledge adds no weight to any particular wild speculations derived from ignorance – as the history of gods-of-gaps just beyond the current range of view, has repeatedly shown!

  40. “Let us imagine for a moment that there is such an uncaused cause and that it is infinitely more powerful and intelligent than we can possibly imagine. Let us also imagine that it may also transcend time, that is, have no beginning and no end, the Alpha and the Omega…”
    Why would you do this in the first place? Simple, it is known as the “argument from ignorance” – lacking what you consider a definitive, satisfying, or plausible alternative explanation, you go ahead and assume that ANY explanation is as equally likely to be true as any other (even one with absolutely no supportive evidence). It’s a reasoning ERROR, and one you honestly should seriously re-consider.

  41. I only seek real truth and knowledge. “Real”, “truth,” and “knowledge,” all refer to the same thing: what is. And as soon as you are interested in seeking nothing else – you will recognize it.

  42. I was playing music with a dear friend over the weekend (I am a mediocre guitar player)… He asked me (knowing I am a science guy), why hasn’t science answered all the questions yet?

    I replied, “why haven’t all the songs been written yet?” I mean, there are only a finite number of tones. ABCDEFG and all the sharps and flats. How on earth could there be a NEW song?

    Human creativity will not be stymied (nor will whatever supplants humans in the next iteration of evolution)… nor will science stop progressing… that is exactly what attracts many of us to it’s study.

  43. Why shouldn’t the uncaused cause simply be the ‘laws’ of nature, (complex as they may be or have been, especially in the early universe)? And does not something like evolution explain how complexity can arise from simplicity, and appear to be of intelligent design, yet be totally unplanned, non-designed, (in the sense of by a mind) and so non-intelligent?

    Of course part of this evolution of complexity includes the evolution of intelligence, in humans say. With the benefit of this unplanned, non-designed intelligence, we anthropomorphically can assign intelligence to certain designs, when no such thing is the case.

    And don’t forget that much of the apparent design in nature is not intelligent, but on the contrary, (by our human standards), quite unintelligent, and not infrequently horrid, repulsive, and just plain not nice to our human conception. – I often feel overawed by the number of ways in which humans can be afflicted by natural diseases of many, many, many sorts. What would be the nature of an intelligent designer that came up with what is and has been in these regards?

  44. In reply to #22 by Roedy:

    Surely a god would have …

    Hiding to nothing here Roedy. All the “surely” arguments presuppose that the god in question is of the kind that gives a shit.

    My current favorite kind of deity is the one “with his thumb on the roulette wheel”, aiming cosmic rays to trigger mutations, or more recently maybe trigger neurons. He (She? It? They?) is/are in it for the long haul, puny humans have no idea etc etc. It can even take a few million years off and come back to see what’s happened since. Hands-on godliness is so Old Testament, the newer kind is fully automated.

    The advantage of such a deity (or deity committee, who cares) is Plausible Deniabilty. You can neither confirm nor deny its existence. Ergo, the perfect god. I suspect that (if such a thing were to exist) it would prefer to go unnoticed. Worshippers (of all stripes) once again have the wrong end of the stick.

    I’m in a Terry Pratchett kind of mood today, so don’t mistake this for any sort of apologetics for the theistically inclined.

  45. In reply to #35 by zifn4b:

    …They would be unaware that they are running in the context of a computer system…

    My second favorite explanation of Life, the Universe, and Everything. Like “The Matrix” – all our senses are faked, and give us a more-or-less consistent world to function in. Can’t disprove it, not in the slightest. Another Plausibly Deniable (non) explanation.

    This touches on a pet theory of mine regarding religions: each one is rooted in a specific advance in human technology, and especially the technologies of communication. The Word. Scripture. The Book. Next up, The Virtual Reality of God. I’ve (unpublished yet) a longer essay on this. Maybe worthy of a discussion of its own?

  46. In reply to #35 by zifn4b:

    Hi everyone. Thank you so much for your perspective. I think many of you missed the point of my question. I know many of you disdain organized religion and have many valid counter arguments. It was not my intent to argue for any sort of theistic position. Let’s assume for a moment we live in a…

    I think you’ve missed the point of science.

    As crookedshoes commended me on (cheers, but I didn’t have your post in mind, just irked by the OP) I VERY briefly summed up what we KNOW about the universe.

    Scientifically there’s far more to it than that, but as far as going further back than the big bang, that’s it. Anything else is pure speculation.

    It may be that science will never be able to answer some of those big questions, it maybe at ‘the Big Bang’ is as far as we’ll ever get. But that doesn’t mean we’re going to make any kind of progress with simply ‘thinking’.
    Philosophy may have assisted society in the past in the form of social and ethical insight, but it hasn’t brought us a shred of understanding about the universe. ‘Thinking’ doesn’t generate new data, it doesn’t grant any discoveries, it can inspire us and direct us in the right directions, but only science can make actual discoveries.

    You can run through all the thought experiments you like, but they will all be nothing more than speculation, and ‘the Big Bang’, however limited, will still be the overruling theory. In Addition, any hypotheses these thought experiments dream up will only add MORE questions to be answered, only in this case they will be completely unnecessary questions, questions like “does the agent that created the universe have any intelligence?”, “does the agent that created the universe have any influence over the universe?” and “what is it’s favorite pizza topping?”

  47. Uncaused cause infers that something can exist without being caused. If we aren’t willing to give the universe itself that distinction, why should we give it to something we have no way of proving even exists?

    Let’s try this: Science has offered us a multitude of things about the universe in regards to how things work (thermodynamics, evolution, redshifts, etc) and yes there is cause and effect that correlates across the board, but science doesn’t know all the information there is to know about the universe’s origins. No one does. Rather than simply investigate based on what we actually know why should we assume an uncaused cause we cannot prove? How does that help or explain anything?

    Intelligent design, Cosmological argument, uncaused cause…dress it up however you wish it ultimately speaks to the same question begging typical of a theistic and inherently unprovable position that doesn’t help us better understand how the universe works.

    Or, to summarize: if we have managed to acquire the vast amount of knowledge we have about the universe (which still holds an even greater sum of knowledge yet unexplained) without relying on a creator of any variety, what actual reason is there to pose and accept one now?

  48. On the contrary, I do understand the point that we may not be able to explain things but that doesn’t mean we still don’t have questions. If we can’t explain the origin of the universe then how do we derive any meaning or purpose to the universe or to our own lives and our place within it? There is a possibility that there is no purpose. If that were the case then all research, scientific or otherwise is completely pointless. Yet, it is clear to me we pursue knowledge especially in science with great fervor. Why is that? What do we hope to find? And what is the nature and source of this “hope.” Just to re-iterate, it is not my intent to seek a theistic explanation. I, like many of you, am just incredibly curious. I like to think I am merely quantifying the existence of entities and concepts in our space using the principles of decomposition. “Hope” has no physical representation yet I think we would all agree that it is a real, quantifiable concept.

    In reply to #36 by Red Dog:

    In reply to #35 by zifn4b:

    Let’s assume for a moment we live in a world with no organized religion only science. Now imagine us trying to explain the origin of he universe under these circumstances. We can’t.

    I think it’s debatable how completely science can answer the question of the origin of…

  49. The problem I have with the Big Bang Theory is that it supposes there was a concept of nothing or an empty set prior to the Big Bang. How can something arise from nothing? There are two ways I can attempt to try to explain this, one is that time is not finite. I can’t imagine what that would look like but it would solve the problem. The second is that we are inside of something (perhaps recursively) and that also has no bounds. In essence, my thinking is no different than Einstein’s. When Einstein was faced with an equation with an unknown part, he merely substituted a constant that fit the equation until he could discover something more accurate.

    These are discrete logic and mathematical concepts that we can easily represent in any number of modern computer programming languages. I could also represent some off the wall thing like you said but there is a difference between my postulates and yours. I derived mine from logic, you randomly selected ideas that really have no relation to the problem. I think you and many others may suspect I derived my postulates from some organized religious belief. I assure that is not the case. There is a difference and I know that people like to muddy the waters largely due to their belief systems. It is hard to have an objective conversation about these topics because of that unfortunately. 🙁

    In reply to #27 by Seraphor:

    OP:

    Let us imagine for a moment that there is such an uncaused cause and that it is infinitely more powerful and intelligent than we can possibly imagine. Let us also imagine that it may also transcend time, that is, have no beginning and no end, the Alpha and the Omega or the Ouroboros or that wh…

  50. This is one possible explanation and if we believe that this “life assembling” algorithm has no catalyst, author or purpose (reason to exist) then what follows from this is that all life is meaningless and devoid of purpose. That begs the question of why are we even having this conversation or doing any scientific research if that is the case?

    In reply to #20 by crookedshoes:

    Everything designed must be assembled. Life self assembles. This is one of the hallmarks of living systems. They self assemble. Nothing designed does this.

    @ the OP, if you seek the truth, you can either look at the world with wonder and awe and an unbiased unassuming mind or you can manufactur…

  51. In reply to #50 by zifn4b:

    If we can’t explain the origin of the universe then how do we derive any meaning or purpose to the universe or to our own lives and our place within it? There is a possibility that there is no purpose. If that were the case then all research, scientific or otherwise is completely pointless. Yet, it is clear to me we pursue knowledge especially in science with great fervor. Why is that? What do we hope to find? And what is the nature and source of this “hope.”

    Why does the purpose in our own lives have to have any correlation with a supposed purpose of the entire universe?
    Is it the purpose of a Mitochondrion to sustain the living cells of a higher organism, or is it simply to survive? Or is it our purpose to provide a rich environment for mitochondria to live and thrive?

    If there is no purpose, then there has always been no purpose, but that hasn’t stopped us so far., and if we found out tomorrow that there definitively was no purpose (baring in mind this wouldn’t change anything) would you not carry on living your life exactly as you have been doing so far?

    It’s a very theistic angle, to suppose that without an all encompassing, cosmic, universal purpose, that EVERYTHING is completely pointless.
    The reason to live doesn’t have to be embedded within the very fabric of the universe.

    LIFE is a reason to live.
    Consciousness is an incredible phenomenon on it’s own. You wouldn’t ask “What is the point of a rainbow?” “What is the point of the Aurora?” or “What is the point of happiness?”
    And along with life, especially human life, comes; curiosity and intrigue, wonder and awe, pleasure and amusement, love and excitement. All of which enrich and provide further reason to live. It’s true that these things may simply be biological incentives to pass on our genes, but that shouldn’t belittle them in anyway, we are biological entities through and through. Music is made up of a sequence of layers of different sounds, but you wouldn’t call Mozart’s 40th Symphony “just a load of noise”.

    Human life, like many other things, is greater than the sum of it’s parts, and that is reason enough to make the most of it, and making the most of it includes, if not relies on, scientific discovery and advancement.

  52. In reply to #50 by zifn4b:

    On the contrary, I do understand the point that we may not be able to explain things but that doesn’t mean we still don’t have questions. If we can’t explain the origin of the universe then how do we derive any meaning or purpose to the universe or to our own lives and our place within it?

    Let’s get one thing clear: We don’t derive meaning and purpose from everything about the universe, so this question is a red herring. Whether the Big Bang Theory gets superseded or not, whether quantum foam or multidimensional strings exist, or how big the universe actually is, have little to no bearing on my daily living when all’s said and done because they don’t do anything to my daily living. Meaning and purpose, assuming for the moment you mean what I think you mean when you use those words, are at the very least matters restricted to living organisms with brains, goals, and motivations. It would make no more sense to speculate on the predatory or parasitic, adaptive or nonadaptive, social and nonsocial qualities of the universe as a whole because the concepts just don’t apply to that field: stars and galaxies can no more be parasitic or social than quartz and basalt can, certainly not in a literal sense. Even if the universe had been set up as a machine by someone for some purpose, that merely adds a new player to the picture, insofar as that player actually intervenes and interacts with the others. It certainly doesn’t resolve your “derivation of purpose” problem by default.

    “Hope” has no physical representation yet I think we would all agree that it is a real, quantifiable concept.

    Unless you don’t concede physical materialism, hope does have a physical representation: as a substructure within each brain capable of feeling it, and more abstractly as any analogous structure regardless of the components used to build it. Abstractions are not utterly separate from concrete matter in any case, except in the generic sense that we can isolate them and discuss them without invoking concrete things specifically (as in mathematics and logic). In any case, you can’t build a case for a deistic god out of it.

  53. In reply to #51 by zifn4b:

    The problem I have with the Big Bang Theory is that it supposes there was a concept of nothing or an empty set prior to the Big Bang.

    No it doesn’t. We don’t know what was before the Big Bang, but it is very unlikely to have been the ‘philosophical’ nothing (that is, an absence of anything). It seems that ‘nothing’ may well be an unstable state, with virtual particles appearing and disappearing continuously (isn’t particle physics fun?); Lawrence Krauss explains this very well – simply put, it may be that something must always come from nothing.

    That’s not the only possibility of course (one is that there never was anything ‘before’ the Big Bang as time did not begin until then).

  54. In reply to #51 by zifn4b:

    The problem I have with the Big Bang Theory is that it supposes there was a concept of nothing or an empty set prior to the Big Bang. How can something arise from nothing? There are two ways I can attempt to try to explain this, one is that time is not finite. I can’t imagine what that would look…

    I thought deconstructing the four points in my third list clearly pointed out that your attributes were arbitrary.

    If these attributes of a prime mover you came to were through logic and not based on existing theistic hypotheses, why have you postulated it as having intelligence?
    Everything we know about intelligence involves a physical processor of information and a long process of trail and error, or evolution, to produce it.

    Presuming that a prime mover has intelligence is completely arbitrary and only serves to fulfill theistic, anthropocentric desires for a cosmic purpose. Not to mention, creates more questions than it attempts to answer, such as “how could a being outside of our universe have developed intelligence?” or, if as you suppose this being always had intelligence or that time as we know it is not applicable then “how could an intelligent agency have existed outside of time or have created itself, but the same is not possible for the basic elements of a natural universe?”

  55. I don’t like using the term God because it automatically puts Atheists in an adversarial stance. I’m Agnostic by the way. I think we all agree that Science is far more valuable at delving into these topics than our current organized religions. What we’re talking about is something different. Let’s just assign it a variable using a statement like: Let X be that which is responsible for the origin of the universe. Now, define X. Some are postulating something like: “There is nothing responsible for the origin of the universe.” I say, show me a proof of that. I have a much harder time trying to think of a proof for that than I do the former.

    _In reply to #3 by themad_humanist:

    I think by “Intelligent design” you actually mean “theistic evolution”. In its purest form theistic evolution accepts the scientific consensus on evolution but adds the unfalsifiable claim that God did it. That may be good theology if you have a prior reason to believe in God, but it is not science…

  56. In reply to #57 by zifn4b:

    I don’t like using the term God because it automatically puts Atheists in an adversarial stance. I’m Agnostic by the way.

    I have no problem with you using the word ‘God’, it’s very vague term with a variety of definitions. God, Allah, Odin, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, Mother Nature or ‘The thing that we cannot comprehend but perhaps created the universe’, all the same to me. If it’s your position you’re concerned about, that’s all you need to point out.

    For the record, I am also Agnostic.
    I am also an Atheist. (Perhaps it is your perception of atheists that is the problem?)

    I would also like to say, it seems to be that this entire topic is accessory to your own personal existential concerns. Perhaps, considering that there are other people who have addressed the same issues as you but have come to terms with them and do not fret over an apparent absence of cosmic purpose, you could reflect on why YOU fear a universe without purpose?

    Some are postulating something like: “There is nothing responsible for the origin of the universe.” I say, show me a proof of that. I have a much harder time trying to think of a proof for that than I do the former.

    We’ll gloss over the word ‘proof’ for now. I say, why do you have a hard time coming to terms with such a scenario? A universe that came into existence on it’s own is a much simpler problem than one that requires a prior cause.
    The problem that YOU face is an existential one, this is something YOU need to come to terms with, as I’ve said all I can on the subject. Why does YOUR LIFE have purpose?

  57. In reply to #57 by zifn4b:

    I don’t like using the term God because it automatically puts Atheists in an adversarial stance

    I don’t see why it has to. This is one thing that truly baffles me about so many of the New Atheists. I disagree with people about issues all the time. Some of my friends are conservative politically, some believe in New Age BS, and some of them are theists. It’s possible for rational people to disagree with each other and still respect each other and even like each other as people.

  58. I find it fascinating that the idea of creative forces and Uncaused causation always seem to somehow correlate with universal purpose.

    This is a conceit, a illusion the the poser allows perhaps to determine some purpose to the things that happen in life that seem random, cruel and devoid of any purpose. But it is conceit nonetheless, even if it’s unintentional.

    No creature is any more or less deserving of life or death, no person is any more or less deserving to have a fulfilling life (which is determined by their singular actions and desires). To think even in the most remote sense that our actions on this remote speck in the cosmic scheme are somehow tied to the overall machinations of some universal agent that both creates and monitors our actions in any capacity is ultimately far more conceited than anything I could think up by myself.

    We live, we die. The people in our lives give that existence meaning, the mark of immortality (or as close as we’ll ever get to it) being how the memory of that life is carried through the generations either in reverence, infamy or indifference.

    Our tie to the beginnings of the universe is simple: we exist in the universe. We are no more special than the comets that blaze through the sky, the sun that brightens the world or the leaves that fall from the trees. We are fascinated by ourselves by default. We are separated by other species on this planet by our ability to reason and rationalize as we do, but does that make us special on a universal scale? So much so that we have to have some predetermined purpose by some unseen force?

    We give our own lives meaning, and we plot our own destinies. The sun will still brighten the sky, the world will still turn, and the universe will still continue to confound and befuddle us. We are far more like amoeba struggling to thrive than pawns on a cosmic board.

    The conceit serves no useful purpose.

  59. In reply to #52 by zifn4b:

    This is one possible explanation and if we believe that this “life assembling” algorithm has no catalyst, author or purpose (reason to exist) then what follows from this is that all life is meaningless and devoid of purpose. That begs the question of why are we even having this conversation or doing any scientific research if that is the case?

    You keep returning to some psychological need for purpose!
    Organisms or their genes have the personal purpose of survival.
    Humans may have their own purposes, such as identification of resources, or enjoyment of life, but there are no inherent purposes in the physical universe.
    The suggestion that something as extensive in space and time is involved in human purposes or aspirations, is simply egocentric thinking. It is the underlying cause of geocentric thinking, homocentric thinking, and deity-centred thinking.

    If humans need objectives and purposes, they can, and do, invent their own.
    It’s just that some invented them dressed up as gods to add weight to their views, while others copied these at later dates, and then pretended they were an inherent part of the flat-Earth, heaven’s celestial domes. or as now, – up-dated – to “the universe”.

  60. In reply to #50 by zifn4b:

    If we can’t explain … then how do we derive any meaning or purpose to our own lives?

    I think you’ve finally zeroed in on the core of the matter. That is indeed a question worth dealing with. Not by finding an answer, but by ditching the question in the trash where it belongs, along with all the other dumb questions you can think up, like “how loud is blue?”. Because we CANT explain (not fully), and you’d better get damn well used to that fact, and find some other way to give yourself a sense of meaningfulness, if that’s what turns you on.

    Lack of a “meaningful” life is unrelated to explanations. How can an explanation give you a satisfying sense of meaning? What you need is a better balance in your brain chemistry, dopamines and seratonin and that sort of thing.

    Some people improve their brain chemistry by scratching their curiosity itch, and actually doing something to find out more about the world around them. This has had evolutionary advantages for our species, and is generally acknowledged to be a Good Thing. Others get off on less worthy pleasures, including bullshitting their way to luxury, wealth and power.

  61. So your stance is, if life is meaningless and devoid of purpose, then why do research? And, if there is a god, then he/she did it all, so why do research?

    This spiral of logic is exactly why WE shouldn’t be having this conversation. Your side of it is replete with logical fallacy and erroneous assumption. Life self assembles. No algorithm. No catalyst, no magic fingers with special cubic zirconium encrusted tweezers (thanks Frank).

    You reach your own conclusion based on your own assumptions “Then what follows is…. meaningless…. devoid…. ” YOU come to that conclusion. I am fine with life having no author, no reason. That doesn’t mean that I can’t define and pursue my OWN reason and purpose. Now, I will go about further pursuit of my reason — educating and explaining science and the wonder of knowledge to another generation of students.

    I have an intrinsic locus of purpose. I am satisfied to investigate what I know is around me and not jump to any illogical conclusions because my brain struggles to make sense of something. You have an external locus of purpose and need there to be something (or someone) to give that purpose to you. I choose my way. You are free to choose yours. The big difference is, I have tried it your way and it doesn’t work for me. You have never tried it mine, and I fear that you couldn’t even if you wanted to.

    In reply to #52 by zifn4b:

    This is one possible explanation and if we believe that this “life assembling” algorithm has no catalyst, author or purpose (reason to exist) then what follows from this is that all life is meaningless and devoid of purpose. That begs the question of why are we even having this conversation or doin…

  62. In reply to #52 by zifn4b:

    why are we even having this conversation?

    Because we find it interesting, or entertaining, or amusing. Pick the word you’re most comfortable with.

  63. In reply to #35 by zifn4b:

    I do understand that eventually science will have more answers but it is painstakingly slow and I think many of you agree that science currently offers no better explanation than anything else. We don’t even really have any leading clues.

    Hi zifn4b,

    You are impatient about the progress of science, which has only been around for ~1/14,000,000th of the time that life has existed here on Earth. Nobody promised you that humanity would solve all the big questions during your lifetime, so relax, explore, learn, love, construct your own meaning for your one short life, and enjoy the fantastically improbable fact that you are alive here in this awesome age of discovery…. 😎 Mac.

  64. As others have said, so-called intelligent design is not really the issue here. ID is creationism in a clown suit, a Trojan Horse developed in America for a uniquely American purpose, to get creationism taught in US schools. And it has been comprehensively rubbished by American courts, e.g. Dover vs Kitzmiller.

    You appear to be suggesting what is broadly a mainstream Catholic view. The world is billions of years old, evolution is real, there was a Big Bang (first postulated by a Catholic priest, Georges Lemaitre) BUT… God lit the fuse.

    I can see why Christians need to believe God created the universe, but ultimately the argument rests on a “god of gaps”: we don’t perfectly understand how the universe came about, therefore God did it. But there are equally (or more) credible hypotheses involving physics.

  65. In reply to #50 by zifn4b:

    If we can’t explain the origin of the universe then how do we derive any meaning or purpose to the universe or to our own lives and our place within it?

    If all meaning and purpose in your life derives from explaining the origin of the universe then you’ll be long dead before:-

    1. A full explanation is provided
    2. The universe does anything to affect your life
  66. I’m going to use Jesus to help you understand. However, It’s not the Jesus you read about in the Bible. This Jesus was more a philosopher. We learn about an alternate Jesus perspective when we read the Gospel of Thomas (Discovered 1945). In this gospel there are 50 extra sayings not found in any biblical literature. Here are two we’ll use to start this discussion.

    2 Jesus said, “Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. When they find, they will be disturbed. When they are disturbed, they will marvel, and will reign over all. [And after they have reigned they will rest.]”

    3 Jesus said, “If your leaders say to you, ‘Look, the (Father’s) kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is within you and it is outside you.

    When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty.”

    So this Jesus, says the magic is within us and it’s something to be known. By known I am sure he means experienced.

    Evolution theory, the knowing stuff or science, suggests that things just evolve. What you get, from realities perspective, is a string of passing moments. The future never exists until it becomes a moment , so its not a reality. The past is a collection of moments. If its recorded authentically, its a collection of reality.

    So truth and knowledge must be found in an authentic account of histories record or the current moment. Back to Jesus now to find out which of those two is supreme in terms of importance. Again this saying never made the Bible’s cut. (if you want to know why just ask)

    91 They said to him, “Tell us who you are so that we may believe in you.”

    He said to them, “You examine the face of heaven and earth, but you have not come to know the one who is in your presence, and you do not know how to examine the present moment.

    So now we know, or at least if we pay attention, which can only be to a moment, that reality and purpose and meaning, because they can only be experiences, belong to the present moment.

    The rest requires an authentic interpretation of historic evidence. That’s science and evolution theory. The Bible just didn’t stack up against the hard evidence.

    Belief is just an active imagination unless it has the support of evidence. or Something a lot like that. It’s to dangerous to rely on. Just ask those young suicide bombers or the victims of religious persecutions.

    Want reality and truth, take Jesus advise. Seek and find the present moment. They you will know reality 🙂 Believe nothing. Problem solved ….ohmmmm.

  67. Existence (the totality of that which exists) exists. The non-existent does not exist. Only existence exists. You cannot get outside of existence; you cannot get above it, below it, behind it, in front of it, before it or after it. Existence exists. This is the fundamental fact of reality – the self-evident, inescapable and undeniable fact upon which all other facts rest. Existence did not emerge from non-existence. To demand a ’cause’ for existence is to demand that one ‘step outside of existence into non-existence’, for non-existence is the only alternative to existence. To demand a ’cause’ for existence is to have never grasped the essence of causality.

    If a thing exists, it must exist as something specific; it must be what it is, which is to say that it must have a specific nature or identity. This is the fundamental law of reality (and of logic) known as the law of identity. The law of causality is a corollary of the law of identity and states that an entity can act only in accordance with its identity (for example, a ball rolls on account of its roundness, roundness being an essential aspect of a ball’s identity). The law of causality thus expresses the relationship between an entity and its actions (and not the relationship between sequential events, which is derivative) and is essentially the law of identity applied to action. All actions presuppose entities, and all entities presuppose existence. If an entity is caused, it must have been caused by the action or actions of another entity or entities. Existence as such, however, cannot have a cause. If a cause exists, it must be part of existence; if it does not exist, it cannot be a cause. Causality begins with existence; existence is the irreducible primary at the foundation of all causal chains. The’ first cause’, if you prefer this term, is existence, not some imaginary entity called God.

    The difficulty that most people encounter in contemplating the notion ‘non-existence’ is the difficulty of not regarding it as being something in particular. This difficulty arises because it is impossible to consider anything meaningfully (including the notion ‘non-existence’) without using concepts, and all concepts ultimately derive from existents grasped at the perceptual level of man’s awareness. To be aware is to be aware of something. To be aware of nothing is thus a contradiction. To attempt to grasp ‘non-existence’ as a form of awareness is impossible, for there is literally nothing there for awareness to grasp . Even to attempt to define ‘non-existence’ is impossible, since all definitions express essential characteristics of existents, and since ‘non-existence’ does not exist, it has no characteristics, essential or otherwise. One can describe ‘non-existence’ only as the alternative to existence – the negation of existence – or with synonyms, such as ‘nothing’, ‘zero’, or ‘blank’.

    Time is a relative concept applicable only to events and entities within the universe (the totality of that which exists), but not to the universe as a whole. Time is a measurement of change in relation to some arbitrary standard of change which we call a unit (for example, a second), and change presupposes entities that change, i.e., entities that act. If nothing existed, there could be no change – no action – and therefore no time. Time is in the universe; the universe is not in time. To assert that the universe ‘began’ is to imply that it somehow ‘sprang into being’ at some point in time, which is a contradiction. Time is in the universe, and in consequence of this inescapable fact the universe had no beginning, will have no end, and will remain inescapably eternal, i.e., outside of time.

    Mainstream Big Bang theory does not hold that the universe (the totality of that which exists) emerged from non-existence at some point in time. It holds that some form of matter very different from what exists now, and possibly governed by physical laws different from the way they are now, existed before the Big Bang and caused the Big Bang. Mainstream Big Bang theory thus does not violate the fundamental laws of identity and causality. Much of the confusion clouding popular understanding of mainstream Big Bang theory is due in large part to physicists using the term ‘nothing’ to denote what is actually a more fundamental stratum of existence. The form of the universe – the form of existence – may change and evolve, but the universe as such – existence as such – is an irreducible primary.

  68. Science is all about sorting suggested explanations, preferring the better ones, rejecting the poor ones. ’Better’ meaning: ’fitting the data’, ’Poor’ meaning ’not fitting the data’.
    We have here two suggestions: Either some deity created the universe, or it came into being by some natural process. To sort out which is the better all we can hope for is for physics to suggest some natural process by which the universe COULD have come into being, and see if it fits the data. Lawrence Krauss has done that in his book: A Universe from Nothing. The alternative is not a scientific one as long as you cannot think of any hypothetical data that would disprove it.
    Strictly speaking ‘Intelligent design’ (at least in the narrow sense) is NOT what you suggest. It is the idea that lots of details in the living world is the result of direct intervention by a deity. This being is not just thought to have started the universe, it is thought to have intervened numerous times in a very detailed way: Creating the bacterial flagellum from scratch to take the most cited example.

  69. In my opinion the smart money is, and always has been, on the view that religion and science are independent subjects, ‘orthogonal’ as one person put it.

    Isaac Newton ran the risk of punishment by the church when he first produced equations for the planetary orbits. The official view up to that point had been that God ordered angels to push the planets round in their orbits. By dispensing with this heavenly control Newton risked the wrath of the church which, at that time, was not to be trifled with.

    Newton’s response was to say how much smarter is was of God to create a universe with laws that automatically cause the planets to follow certain orbits without the need for angelic intervention. The church of the day accepted this argument and Newton got away with his theory.

    The problems only arise when either science or religion tries to step on the other’s toes. When creationists try to tell us that God created the world a few thousand years ago they only make themselves look foolish, as do scientists who try to scientifically prove that there is no God or that God’s existence is unlikely. Science deals with experimentally observable phenomena; religion deals with things that cannot be observed or demonstrated.

    It is perfectly possible to take a similar view to Newton on evolution, that God set up the universe in such a way that humans would inevitably evolve through the evolutionary process that we have studied. Indeed, it seems a be better god who can do things this way rather than sitting down with a divine pencil and paper and designing each life form individually. Yo can believe in whatever you like so long as it does not conflict with science.

  70. In reply to #71 by Martin Hogbin:

    Isaac Newton ran the risk of punishment by the church when he first produced equations for the planetary orbits. The official view up to that point had been that God ordered angels to push the planets round in their orbits. By dispensing with this heavenly control Newton risked the wrath of the church which, at that time, was not to be trifled with.

    Newton’s response was to say how much smarter is was of God to create a universe with laws that automatically cause the planets to follow certain orbits without the need for angelic intervention. The church of the day accepted this argument and Newton got away with his theory.

    Well, sort of. The church of the day was in fact the Church of England. Had it been the Catholic Church, your language might have been appropriate, but the C of E has never had the power to punish anyone for pursuing science. Indeed, it could be argued (actually it has been) that the break from the church of Rome in the early 1500s allowed people like Newton to come to the fore.

  71. In reply to #72 by Pabmusic:

    In reply to #71 by Martin Hogbin:

    Isaac Newton ran the risk of punishment by the church when he first produced equations for the planetary orbits. The official view up to that point had been that God ordered angels to push the planets round in their orbits. By dispensing with this heavenly control…

    Maybe the power of the church was not so great in Newton’s time but that was not my main point. That was that newton changed the established beliefs without coming into conflict with religion. Maybe the C of E deserves credit too.

  72. In reply to #71 by Martin Hogbin:

    In my opinion the smart money is, and always has been, on the view that religion and science are independent subjects, ‘orthogonal’ as one person put it.

    Science deals with experimentally observable phenomena; religion deals with things that cannot be observed or demonstrated.

    I think this is a cop-out that doesn’t stand up to examination. To begin with, scriptures do make some claims, such as that sweet and salt water don’t mix, or that there was a flood that covered the face of the earth, that are obviously scientifically disproved. We are then told not to take those literally by the more rational religious teachers. So we know that science does indeed make religion’s sphere smaller.

    But science is about observation of the universe (including ourselves). And we can observe how even the most basic teachings of religion play out in real life.

    Let’s take the religion of Christianity. At its core, it says that we were separated from God by our sinfulness, but out of love, God has repaired the relationship. The NT makes claims: that just as a father would not give a scorpion to a child who asked for an egg, so the “heavenly father” would answer prayers with good things; that Jesus would send the holy spirit for guidance. Christian preachers and teachers continually assert that we can have a real relationship with God in this life, not just in heaven.

    But I am one of many who have found that these claims to be empty. Everything goes along just as we would expect if there were no God. Things may go well or horribly, but in no event is there any sense of guidance or even just a loving presence, let alone anything so overt as a miracle. [see note] This is my observation.

    People who want to claim non-overlapping magisteria say that science can have nothing to say about intangibles – such as love – and thus nothing to say about the existence of God. However, the behavior of someone is an observable phenomenon, and when we are getting to know another person, we are finding out by observation whether they are being self-serving, friendly, or eventually even loving, cooperative, deceitful, playful, or rational. This info-gathering by observation is the same kind of thing that science does. And you can apply it to the things religion tells you that God will do in this life.

    When the claims appear to be empty, the fall-back of religion is to say that we can’t understand the omniscience of God, so what seems wrong to us is actually right and good if only we knew. But this amounts to saying we can ultimately know nothing and makes any claims about religion, including which if any is true, useless.

    [note: I am aware that there are some who do feel what they say is a sense of God’s presence. I envy them the emotional balm it affords when times are toughest, but it doesn’t carry any further – they still have as many problems, and are still as often mistaken or wrong-headed, as anyone else. So it seems to be only a psychological defense mechanism of the brain.]

  73. One thing about Evolution , I heard Richard D. mention he believes we evolved from apes, if so why are we the only species in nature which such a leap in evolution, compared to other species , from apes to intelligent beings …why only us ?

  74. In reply to #71 by Martin Hogbin:

    scientists who try to scientifically prove that there is no God

    I challenge you to find a scientist that has tried to prove there is no God. Just because ignorant religious people are stupid enough to try to prove that there is some specific god they like doesn’t mean scientists run around trying to prove there is no god and I have yet to hear of a “real” scientist that has ever tried to prove it. Many of us don’t believe there is a god but none I have ever heard of are dumb enough to think there could ever be a proof that one doesn’t exist.

  75. In reply to #71 by Martin Hogbin:

    In my opinion the smart money is, and always has been, on the view that religion and science are independent subjects, ‘orthogonal’ as one person put it.

    That was only really tenable before the days of neuroscience, biochemistry and psychology.

    Newton’s response was to say how much smarter is was of God to create a universe with laws that automatically cause the planets to follow certain orbits without the need for angelic intervention. The church of the day accepted this argument and Newton got away with his theory.

    Newton lived at a time before the term modern science had even been invented. The church dominated academia and education at that time, so it is hardly surprising that he was brought up and educated to accept the Christian beliefs of the time.

    The problems only arise when either science or religion tries to step on the other’s toes.

    Religions do not have toes or any other material basis – only myths and delusions.

    When creationists try to tell us that God created the world a few thousand years ago they only make themselves look foolish,

    Indeed they do, because they are either using long discredited texts which have been superseded by new evidence, or are just making it up to fit with their preconceptions.

    as do scientists who try to scientifically prove that there is no God or that God’s existence is unlikely.

    Did you have a particular god in mind? Some are easily debunked, others are too vague to test objectively. All are highly improbable when compared to other evidenced explanations of phenomena.
    The onus of proof is on those making god claims.
    You can’t just assume Zeus or Aphrodite exist, and then challenge others to disprove them.

    Strangely, theists do not seem to feel the need to disprove all the other gods except their own – throughout Earth and history, List of deities, but for some strange reason expect scientists to do so!

    Science deals with experimentally observable phenomena; religion deals with things that cannot be observed or demonstrated.

    Indeed religion deals dogmatically with imaginary notions for which there is no evidence whatsoever! The best empirical explanation is that of believer projected psychological delusion.

    It is perfectly possible to take a similar view to Newton on evolution, that God set up the universe in such a way that humans would inevitably evolve through the evolutionary process that we have studied.

    You could equally imagine the universe was set up by giant aliens, but that only raises the even more complex question of the origin of the aliens – did they just evolve from laws of nature, or was there a creator, of the creators, of the creators, – ad infinitum!

    God-did-it-by-mysterious-magic, is a cop-out – not an explanation!

    Indeed, it seems a be better god who can do things this way rather than sitting down with a divine pencil and paper and designing each life form individually.

    It is a more credible claim than the invented nonsense of ID, but is unevidenced and vastly more complex than the simple evolution of the universe according to the laws of nature, without personified creator father-figures.

    Yo can believe in whatever you like so long as it does not conflict with science.

    This is simply the god-of-gaps, which has historically existed just beyond reach of current observations. Wild speculation should be recognised as such. This historic sky god-of-gaps has been repeatedly been refuted, whenever science or objective observations have pushed out the boundaries of knowledge into the previously unknown areas where gods have been claimed to exist.
    It seems reasonable that imagined gods in areas currently unknown to science, will continue to be shown to be projected delusions, generated by the physiological needs in the brains of believers, as those of the past have already been shown to be.

    “We have found a neuropsychological basis for spirituality, but it’s not isolated to one specific area of the brain,” said Brick Johnstone, professor of health psychology in the School of Health Professions. “Spirituality is a much more dynamic concept that uses many parts of the brain. Certain parts of the brain play more predominant roles, but they all work together to facilitate individuals’ spiritual experiences.”
    In addition, the researchers determined that other aspects of spiritual functioning are related to increased activity in the frontal lobe.

  76. In reply to #75 by gioalien:

    One thing about Evolution , I heard Richard D. mention he believes we evolved from apes,

    We evolved from an ancient common ape ancestor shared with gorillas, chimps, bonobos, and orangutans. Before that we evolved from marine worms, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals.

    if so why are we the only species in nature which such a leap in evolution, compared to other species ,

    While humans are exceptionally intelligent compared to many species, there are many animals with significant levels of intelligence. – Apes, whales, dolphins, elephants, crows, and many others.

    from apes to intelligent beings …why only us ?

    It took a long time in very small steps. It is only recently with modern technologies that studies showing intelligence in other species has been possible. Some species have some mental skills which surpass humans.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn12993-chimps-outperform-humans-at-memory-task.html#.UmRF0lOTlEc

  77. In reply to #75 by gioalien:

    One thing about Evolution , I heard Richard D. mention he believes we evolved from apes, if so why are we the only species in nature which such a leap in evolution, compared to other species , from apes to intelligent beings …why only us ?

    Hello gioalien, A4D has responded to you already, but I want to address your use of ‘believe’ above, a word that is often misunderstood.

    RD deeply understands and accepts the huge amount of evidence supporting the fact that we share a common ancestor with apes – and all other species that have ever lived. All life has evolved from simple replicators ~3.5 billion years ago, and RD’s book ‘The Ancestor’s Tale’ beautifully explains that journey in the reverse direction – it’s an excellent book which I highly recommend.

    Whether one ‘believes’ it or not, it’s a fact that our ~165 millionth ancestor was a fish, and that we are related to plants, birds and insects, since we all have the same DNA code. The chances against the same DNA code evolving in separate life forms gives a number that is beyond mind-boggling.

    Sorry to be pedantic about a word but – as has been dealt with on other Threads – single words like believe, truth, theory, evidence, etc. can and are being used in ways that create confusion among those who don’t understand the implications…. Mac.

  78. Something keeps nagging at me. Which evolved first, the proteins or the DNA? (We need DNA to make proteins, but proteins make the DNA…) Which came first, the seed (with it’s information for forming a tree) or the tree? Perhaps the biochem guys can help me?

  79. To be fair, the I.D. guys did predict we’d have trouble finding intermediate fossils. How many fossils of fish, bat or dinosaur ancestors do we have? (How many pre-cambrian fossils do we have?) In reply to #15 by Nitya:

    In reply to #11 by utopia:

    Until you have some way of showing that you ‘know’ that god created the universe, you are coming up with a hypothesis about the how the universe began (an explanation for something that has not been tested). You need to have a way of making predictions about the universe…

  80. This is just another idiotic troll that wastes reading space – this site seems to be bombarded by these spurious enquiries – religious fundamentalists masquerading as rationalists. Ignore them.

  81. In reply to #81 by doubtingthomas:

    To be fair, the I.D. guys did predict we’d have trouble finding intermediate fossils. How many fossils of fish, bat or dinosaur ancestors do we have? (How many pre-cambrian fossils do we have?) In reply to #15 by Nitya:

    In reply to #11 by utopia:

    Until you have some way of showing that you ‘know’…

    Whether the number of fossils of intermediate species is considered plentiful or scarce it’s still more evidence than that of a supernatural being. Fossils are only formed in specific circumstances, the stars need to be aligned as it were. I think the number found and identified is quite amazing.

  82. In reply to #81 by doubtingthomas:

    To be fair, the I.D. guys did predict we’d have trouble finding intermediate fossils. How many fossils of fish, bat or dinosaur ancestors do we have? (How many pre-cambrian fossils do we have?) In reply to #15 by Nitya:

    Hi DT. Except for those fossils that were the last-in-line before becoming extinct, all fossils are intermediate. If you browse ‘pre-cambrian fossils’, you’ll get many results, but this one just shows pictures of . . er . . hundreds.
    http://ca.images.search.yahoo.com/search/images?_adv_prop=image&fr=mcafee&va=precambrian+fossils

    I guess those highly qualified ID (creationists in clown suits) scientists were wrong in their hypothesis predictions . . . again…. Mac.

  83. In reply to #80 by doubtingthomas:

    Something keeps nagging at me. Which evolved first, the proteins or the DNA? (We need DNA to make proteins, but proteins make the DNA…) Which came first, the seed (with it’s information for forming a tree) or the tree? Perhaps the biochem guys can help me?

    Hi DT. Just Google the question as it’s written above, and you’ll get lots of info on this…. 😎 Mac.

  84. In reply to #81 by doubtingthomas:

    To be fair, the I.D. guys did predict we’d have trouble finding intermediate fossils. How many fossils of fish, bat or dinosaur ancestors do we have? (How many pre-cambrian fossils do we have?) In reply to #15 by Nitya:

    In reply to #11 by utopia:

    Until you have some way of showing that you ‘know’…

    I’m curious about your choice of user name. What causes you doubt?

  85. In reply to #80 by doubtingthomas:

    Something keeps nagging at me. Which evolved first, the proteins or the DNA? (We need DNA to make proteins, but proteins make the DNA…)

    Neither. Early life probably started with lipids. DNA evolved much later.

    Which came first, the seed (with it’s information for forming a tree) or the tree? Perhaps the biochem guys can help me?

    The trees came first – growing from spores long before seeds evolved.

    doubtingthomas @81 – To be fair, the I.D. guys did predict we’d have trouble finding intermediate fossils. How many fossils of fish, bat or dinosaur ancestors do we have?

    To be fair, “ID” was invented by the modern creationists to try to get around the US constitutional prohibition on preaching religious dogmas in school science lessons. Its proponents are utterly clueless about biology and geology.

    http://digitallibrary.amnh.org/dspace/handle/2246/1629 – “The Eocene fossil record of bats (Chiroptera) includes four genera known from relatively complete skeletons: Icaronycteris, Archaeonycteris, Hassianycteris, and Palaeochiropteryx. Phylogenetic relationships of these taxa to each other and to extant lineages of bats were investigated in a parsimony analysis of 195 morphological characters, 12 rDNA restriction site characters,

    Not only are there intermediate fossils, but there are thousands of examples of species in transition within modern genera.
    You really should study biology rather than reading made-up rubbish from AIG or the delusions of Hammy!

    EVOLUTION OF THE DINOSAURS – http://digitallibrary.amnh.org/dspace/handle/2246/1629

  86. In reply to #76 by digibud:

    In reply to #71 by Martin Hogbin:

    scientists who try to scientifically prove that there is no God

    I challenge you to find a scientist that has tried to prove there is no God. Just because ignorant religious people are stupid enough to try to prove that there is some specific god they like doesn’t…

    I agree that no good scientist tries to prove that there is no god but you only have to look at responses here to see that not everybody holds the view that science cannot prove that there is no god.

  87. In reply to #74 by dandelionfluff:

    In reply to #71 by Martin Hogbin:

    In my opinion the smart money is, and always has been, on the view that religion and science are independent subjects, ‘orthogonal’ as one person put it.

    You are essentially giving a religious argument for the non-existence of god. That is fine. The core of most religions are things which are not subject to experimental verification and thus are outside the scope of science.

    Science deals with experimentally observable phenomena; religion deals with things that cannot be observe…

  88. In reply to #77 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #71 by Martin Hogbin:

    In my opinion the smart money is, and always has been, on the view that religion and science are independent subjects, ‘orthogonal’ as one person put it.

    That was only really tenable before the days of neuroscience, biochemistry and psychology.

    Newton’s response…
    I agree that religions that make falsifiable claims shoot themselves in the foot and so can be disproved by science but it is possible to make claims that are not subject to scientific verification. These are the claims made by the smart religious. ‘Jesus loves me’, for example, that claim is not subject to scientific verification or disproof.

  89. In reply to #90 by Martin Hogbin:

    I agree that religions that make falsifiable claims shoot themselves in the foot and so can be disproved by science but it is possible to make claims that are not subject to scientific verification.

    These are unfalsifiable claims which makes them unevidenced and purely speculative. The onus of proof would be on those making such claims. – As I pointed out @#77

    These are the claims made by the smart religious. ‘Jesus loves me’, for example,

    This is just hiding behind vagueness and a lack of definition, these claims come from the “irrational religious” rather than the “smart” religious. (I am sure you could go to Mexico and find someone called Jesus who loved you! – There are hundreds of Jesuses living there.)

    If you are talking about a Biblical “Jesus”, you would first have to prove such a person existed (and still exists). Given that apart from conflicting bible stories written decades or centuries after supposed events, there is no historical evidence of such a person existing, your claim is weak.

    that claim is not subject to scientific verification

    Indeed so! Unlike Roman historical characters of the time: – Not a scrap of eye-witness testimony, contemporary record, or archaeological evidence, supports this claim, let alone a claim that such a person still exists 2,000years later!

    or disproof.

    Can you prove fairies, leprechauns or flying dragons, or a multitude of historical gods don’t exist? Of course you can’t!

    A negative proof is a logical fallacy which takes the structure of: – X is true because there is no proof that X is false.

    If the only evidence for something’s existence is a lack of evidence for it not existing, then the default position is one of skepticism and not credulity. This type of negative proof is common in proofs of God’s existence or in pseudosciences where it is used to attempt to shift the burden of proof onto the skeptic rather than the proponent of the idea. **The burden of proof is on the individual proposing existence, not the one questioning existence. **

    @89 The core of most religions are things which are not subject to experimental verification and thus are outside the scope of science.

    Anything “outside the scope of science” is either outside of human knowledge (In which case NOBODY can honestly claim information on that subject) or it is outside the scope of reality, and is purely imaginary in someone’s brain.

    As I pointed out in the link @#77, the available evidence is that gods do not exist as material entities, but are simply mental images created in the brains of believers – hence all the contradictory religions.

  90. In reply to #90 by Martin Hogbin:

    I agree that religions that make falsifiable claims shoot themselves in the foot and so can be disproved by science but it is possible to make claims that are not subject to scientific verification.

    Carl Sagan’s dragon in the garage is relevant here (you’ll find it in The Demon-Haunted World). If I tell you there’s a fire-breathing dragon that lives in my garage, you ask me to show you. But my response is “I forgot to say that it’s and invisible dragon”. OK” you say “No problem – we’ll sprinkle flour over the floor so that it will leave footprints”. “Good idea” say I “but I should have mentioned that the invisible dragon hovers a few feet off the ground”. “No sweat” you say “We’ll mount sensors to detect the heat from its fiery breath”. “Good idea” say you, “but I forgot to say that the fiery breath is in fact heatless”. And so on, with me always coming up with reasons why you can’t carry out any tests.

    Now, the point is – just what is the difference between an invisible, floating dragon that breathes heatless fire and cannot be detected by any means, and nothing at all? The moment anyone proposes an untestable thing, the onus of proof is upon them to show that what they propose is different from nothing.

  91. It is not difficult to refute the existence of God (an alleged immaterial and supernatural consciousness that is alleged to have created, by an act of consciousness, all that exists external to, and distinct from, itself). All that is required is the application of logical principles to the notion of God. Make no mistake, we can be certain that God does not exist, because we can be certain that God cannot exist.

    If, for example, someone asserted that somewhere in the universe there exists a spherical cube (an entity that is both a sphere and a cube at the same time and in the same respect), it is immediately obvious that this cannot be the case, because the notion of a spherical cube is self-contradictory, for in reality an entity cannot be both a sphere and a cube at the same time and in the same respect. So, we can be certain that a spherical cube does not exist, because we can be certain that a spherical cube cannot exist. If we can demonstrate logically that the notion of God is self-contradictory – and we can – we can be certain that God cannot, and therefore does not, exist.

  92. In reply to #89 by Martin Hogbin:
    >

    You are essentially giving a religious argument for the non-existence of god. That is fine. The core of most religions are things which are not subject to experimental verification and thus are outside the scope of science.

    No, I was replying to your post #71 where you said religion and science are independent subjects. I outlined how science, personal observation, and reason can and do have a lot to say about religions (going into the case of Christianity in a little more detail).

    Religions make claims about god(s). As long as they are claims that affect the physical world (including ourselves), you can investigate those claims. That is a completely different thing than trying to disprove god altogether.

  93. In reply to 87 CdnMacAthiest
    Thanks for responding, but there was no need for the bitch slap at the end of your response. We don’t all have a PhD in this stuff.
    Seeds or Spores. Tomatoes or Potatoes. Still doesn’t help much.
    The bat article talks about 4 genera of bats from the Eocene period, and a whole lot of speculation about their ancestors. However, these fossils are not pre-flying bats. They are bats.
    By pre-cambrian fossils, I wasn’t talking about bacteria/amoebozoa. ID guys predicted we wouldn’t find animal fossils leading to all the PHYLA that we see in the Cambrian period. (ie. No animals until 600 MYA, then the Cambrian explosion) I didn’t invent this. Darwin and Dawkins both pondered this.
    PS. Who’s Hammy?
    In reply to #87 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #80 by doubtingthomas:

    Something keeps nagging at me. Which evolved first, the proteins or the DNA? (We need DNA to make proteins, but proteins make the DNA…)

    Neither. Early life probably started with lipids. DNA evolved much later.

    Which came first, the seed (with it’s information…

  94. In reply to #95 by doubtingthomas:

    In reply to 84 CdnMacAthiest Thanks for responding, but there was no need for the bitch slap at the end of your response. We don’t all have a PhD in this stuff.

    Hi DT. As many here will know from my 3 years of Comments, I’m no PhD, just an apprenticed blue collar Scientific Instrument Maker who became a Mechanical Engineer, but who self-educated myself over my 63 years to where I can discuss some areas of reality on a reasonably knowledgeable level, all based on Reason and Science.

    If you think I was unfair to ‘bitch-slap’ ID ‘scientists’ in my Comment, then give me an example of any peer-reviewed evidence, hypothesis or theory that they have proposed that has turned out to be correct….

    When ID or Creationist ‘scientists’ – no matter what qualifications they have, or from what dubious educational institutions they attended – can only do their work with pre-suppositional conclusions ‘in the light of their faith’ then they are not doing science, and deserve ridicule for the damage they do to rational education, especially among those unfortunates who were indoctrinated and infected by religious viruses to believe ancient man-made myths.

    By pre-cambrian fossils, I wasn’t talking about bacteria/amoebozoa.

    In my link to pictures of pre-Cambrian fossils, do you think that those hundreds of pictures of fossils don’t show (albeit mostly soft-bodied) animals, just “bacteria/amoebozoa”.

    ID guys predicted we wouldn’t find animal fossils leading to all the PHYLA that we see in the Cambrian period. (ie. No animals until 600 MYA, then the Cambrian explosion)

    These animal fossils are from ~760 MYA, which is well before the 540 to 485 MYA Cambrian period.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/120207-oldest-animals-sponges-earliest-science-evolution/

    The estimated emergence of animal Phyla range from 1000 to 1500 MYA, which also directly refutes your comment.

    http://www.kumarlab.net/pdf_new/WangHedges99.pdf

    I found these links and information within 2 minutes of Google browsing, and the sources are reliable, not tainted by manipulation or distortion by those with faith-head agendas like those sites visited by folk who only want to hear comforting lies to support their delusions…. Mac.

  95. In reply to #95 by doubtingthomas:

    In reply to 87 CdnMacAthiest
    PS. Who’s Hammy? In reply to #87 by Alan4discussion:

    DT, you might want to make your one Response to two different Comments more clear, or separate them, since it was A4D who mentioned Hammy, who it’s likely everyone here will recognize, but I can tell you that he’s referring to the notorious Ken Ham of Answers In Genesis.

    From the AIG website: “Ken’s bachelor’s degree in applied science (with an emphasis on environmental biology) was awarded by the Queensland Institute of Technology in Australia. He also holds a diploma of education from the University of Queensland (a graduate qualification necessary for Ken to begin his initial career as a science teacher in the public schools in Australia).”

    I’m sure Australia is right pleased to be rid of him, especially after the scandal and lawsuit by Creation Ministries International for his illegal actions regarding misuse of their funds. In the Hamster’s case, I’ll rephrase my Comment #84 ‘bitch-slap’ and call this ID purveyor a ‘creationist clown in a suit’…. Mac.

  96. In reply to #97 by CdnMacAtheist:

    In reply to #95 by doubtingthomas:

    In reply to 87 CdnMacAthiest
    PS. Who’s Hammy? In reply to #87 by Alan4discussion:

    DT, you might want to make your one Response to two different Comments more clear, or separate them, since it was A4D who mentioned Hammy, who it’s likely everyone here will recogni…

    With a degree in Applied Science ( environmental biology) he should show more sense. I wonder what tipped him over to the ‘dark side’?

  97. In reply to #98 by Nitya:

    In reply to #97 by CdnMacAtheist:
    With a degree in Applied Science (environmental biology) he should show more sense. I wonder what tipped him over to the ‘dark side’?

    Hi Nitya. I suspect that cognitive dissonance created a meltdown in his rationality module, making his subconscious only capable of outputting bullshit, but his conscious part doesn’t realize that… 😎 Mac.

  98. In reply to #95 by doubtingthomas:

    In reply to #87 by Alan4discussion:
    Still doesn’t help much. The bat article talks about 4 genera of bats from the Eocene period, and a whole lot of speculation about their ancestors.

    Again, it’s difficult to separate which part of which Comment you’re replying to, since your response is all mixed together. If you hit ENTER twice, you get a new paragraph, which really helps to separate your statements and allows for better comprehension by readers. You are new here, so that formatting problem is understandable.

    Wikipedia: Bats represent about 20% of all classified mammal species worldwide, with ~1,240 bat species divided into two suborders.
    Bats have been traced back to fossils from ~52 MYA, and through genetics to placental common ancestors ~200 MYA, from when Laurasia and Gondwana split up from Pangaea. This is not ‘a whole lot of speculation about their ancestors’ since the known family tree is shown in the first link below.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bat

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurasiatheria

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurasia

    However, these fossils are not pre-flying bats. They are bats.

    Bat predecessors that didn’t fly were not bats, but species of gliding mammals, as shown in the Clade Tree and extensively discussed in Link #2. Bats then speciated many times, and despite some becoming extinct, evolved into the present 1240 species, which cannot interbreed and vary greatly in size, capability, locality and lifestyle.

    Your statement above may be implying that bats are a ‘kind’, which is a theological view of biology, but they are far more diverse and ancient than that – and there is lots of real evidence to prove it, without biases or presuppositions, so maybe your doubts are unnecessary, Thomas…. Mac.

  99. In reply to #98 by Nitya:
    >

    With a degree in Applied Science ( environmental biology) he should show more sense. I wonder what tipped him over to the ‘dark side’?

    Good grief! My initial qualifications were in environmental biological sciences. How did a university let a buffoon like Ham qualify?
    How can anyone show an understanding of Ecology from his nutty view-point?

    e·col·o·gy http://www.thefreedictionary.com/ecology

    • a. The science of the relationships between organisms and their environments. Also called bionomics.
    • b. The relationship between organisms and their environment.

    The relationship between organisms and their environment IS natural selection in action and IS the mechanism of evolution!

    Like some others at AIG he is probably unemployable as biologist other than as wearing a qualification as an authority badge for nonsensical views at AIG.

  100. In reply to #102 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #98 by Nitya:

    With a degree in Applied Science ( environmental biology) he should show more sense. I wonder what tipped him over to the ‘dark side’?

    Good grief! My initial qualifications were in environmental biological sciences. How did a university let a buffoon like Ham qualify?…

    That’s what I thought. He must have absorbed nothing! Worse than that, he used his qualifications to go into teaching. The poor kids in his charge must have had conflicting ideas about evidence.

    At least he’s following his true calling now. Still leading the young astray with misinformation but at least he can’t abuse his influence as a science teacher.

    Edit: good grief! I just realised how much worse it is now! He’s in a position to mislead so many more young people with this creationist rubbish and uses his science background to give the appearance of credibility! This is so much worse.

  101. In reply to #95 by doubtingthomas:
    >

    Thanks for responding, but there was no need for the bitch slap at the end of your response.

    A lack of study is not a basis for doubting available scientific evidence. Creation pseudo-scientists, posing as experts really do need to be bitch-slapped. Their claims are incompetent and dishonest – and transparently so to anyone well informed on the subjects they claim to be presenting!

    We don’t all have a PhD in this stuff. Seeds or Spores.

    Seeds, spores and the basics of sexual reproduction in assorted organisms are not “PhD stuff” They are high-school biology.
    Your question is like, “which came first – the chicken or the egg?” – The answer is “the egg”. Ancestors of chickens were laying eggs when they were fish, amphibians or dinosaurs!

    Tomatoes or Potatoes. Still doesn’t help much.

    File:Cladograma de las solanáceas.jpg

    Understanding the relationship between tomatoes and potatoes should help you understand the branching of family trees from common ancestors in ALL Kingdoms, Orders. Families, Genera, Species, and sub-species. (The modern transitional species I mentioned @87)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solanaceae

    Scientific classification – Starting from the plant Kingdom and the common ancestor of plants:

    • Kingdom: Plantae
    • (unranked): Angiosperms
    • (unranked): Eudicots
    • (unranked): Asterids
    • Order: Solanales
    • Family: Solanaceae

    Subfamilies

    • Cestroideae
    • Goetzeoideae
    • Nicotianoideae
    • Petunioideae
    • Schizanthoideae
    • Schwenckioideae
    • Solanoideae

    Tribes

    • Capsiceae
    • Datureae
    • Hyoscyameae
    • Jaboroseae
    • Juanulloeae
    • Lycieae
    • Mandragoreae
    • Nicandreae
    • Nolaneae
    • Physaleae
    • Solandreae
    • Solaneae

    Subgenera

    • Bassovia
    • Leptostemonum
    • Lyciosolanum
    • Solanum

    Solanum is a large and diverse genus of flowering plants, including two food crops of the highest economic importance, the potato and the tomato.

    So you will see that biologists have sorted out all these plants derived from a common ancestor, and have plotted their relationships with each other. Science does not claim perfection at the first attempts, but corrects any mistakes as new evidence arises.
    There is nevertheless a huge body of scientific evidence on the evolutionary relationships of most organisms on the planet! There is of course diversity within modern species, so studies of this on-going natural selection and evolution continues.

    The conditions for an organism to be fossilised, are quite rare, in addition to which erosion and the subduction of rocks destroys many ancient geological records. The odd missing item for some species or a lack of detail over some time span is not an issue in the face of the huge range of sciences debunking the comically ignorant and incompetent Young Earth Claims.

    By pre-cambrian fossils, I wasn’t talking about bacteria/amoebozoa. ID guys predicted we wouldn’t find animal fossils leading to all the PHYLA that we see in the Cambrian period. (ie. No animals until 600 MYA, then the Cambrian explosion)

    It is a common misconception among those uneducated in biology to confuse the term “animal” with the term “vertebrate” or “mammal”. (Corals, Jellyfish and Sea Anemonies for example, are animals)

    Even those dedicated to “faith” such as the Church of England and the Vatican, claim to accept the science of evolution!

    The Church has deferred to scientists on matters such as the age of the earth and the authenticity of the fossil record. Papal pronouncements, along with commentaries by cardinals, have accepted the findings of scientists on the gradual appearance of life. In fact, the International Theological Commission in a July 2004 statement endorsed by Cardinal Ratzinger, then president of the Commission and head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, later Pope Benedict XVI, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, includes this paragraph:

    According to the widely accepted scientific account, the universe erupted 15 billion years ago in an explosion called the ‘Big Bang’ and has been expanding and cooling ever since. Later there gradually emerged the conditions necessary for the formation of atoms, still later the condensation of galaxies and stars, and about 10 billion years later the formation of planets. In our own solar system and on earth (formed about 4.5 billion years ago), the conditions have been favorable to the emergence of life. While there is little consensus among scientists about how the origin of this first microscopic life is to be explained, there is general agreement among them that the first organism dwelt on this planet about 3.5–4 billion years ago. Since it has been demonstrated that all living organisms on earth are genetically related, it is virtually certain that all living organisms have descended from this first organism. Converging evidence from many studies in the physical and biological sciences furnishes mounting support for some theory of evolution to account for the development and diversification of life on earth, while controversy continues over the pace and mechanisms of evolution

    In addition, while he was the Vatican’s chief astronomer, Fr. George Coyne, issued a statement on 18 November 2005 saying that “Intelligent design isn’t science even though it pretends to be.

    It is only ignorant fundamentalists who continue to dispute the science.

  102. If my questions are antagonizing you guys (rzzz!), perhaps you could suggest an alternate site (“lower level”) where I can ask questions without pissing off everybody? I’m not sure it’s reasonable to label “all the fossils as intermediate” if we have modern versions of the same specimens. For example, what’s the difference between Araucaria columnaris and Araucaria mirabilis, or Cyathea medullaris, and Cladophlebis australis? These cones/ferns look the same to me. Why do they get a different scientific name?

    Anyway Mac, In reply to #84 by CdnMacAtheist:

    In reply to #81 by doubtingthomas:

    To be fair, the I.D. guys did predict we’d have trouble finding intermediate fossils. How many fossils of fish, bat or dinosaur ancestors do we have? (How many pre-cambrian fossils do we have?) In reply to #15 by Nitya:

    Hi DT. Except for those fossils that were t…

  103. Nitya- A relative (I assume atheist or at least disinterested agnostic) once told me I had a choice. Believe that the universe was made in 6 days from nothing (and follow someone else’s rules), or believe that the universe exploded into existence from nothing in the Big Bang (and live by my own rules). Both ideas seem to require a leap of faith that defies logic, but before I present this to my 3 kids I want to have it straight.
    In reply to #86 by Nitya:

    In reply to #81 by doubtingthomas:

    To be fair, the I.D. guys did predict we’d have trouble finding intermediate fossils. How many fossils of fish, bat or dinosaur ancestors do we have? (How many pre-cambrian fossils do we have?) In reply to #15 by Nitya:

    In reply to #11 by utopia:

    Until you have…

  104. In reply to #106 by doubtingthomas:

    Nitya- A relative (I assume atheist or at least disinterested agnostic) once told me I had a choice. Believe that the universe was made in 6 days from nothing (and follow someone else’s rules), or believe that the universe exploded into existence from nothing in the Big Bang (and live by my own rule…

    You’re making it sound like an either/or choice…a fifty/fifty bet! But it’s simpler than that…one explanation is wrong! I can’t say that the other answer is 100% correct as there’s a slim margin of error, but it’s very, very close to being certain. So unless you want to pass on to your kids an explanation that is almost certainly wrong you need to study the information much more closely.

    I think your atheist friend was not giving you a very good assessment of the possibilities. Just because he doesn’t believe in a supreme being or various gods and goddesses that are up there for belief, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s even science literate.

    Do yourself and your kids a favour and follow the links. Grab a copy of ‘The Magic of Reality’ for your kids and read it yourself as it’s a great book. And ……don’t take science advice from your creationist friends!

  105. In reply to #105 by doubtingthomas:

    If my questions are antagonizing you guys (rzzz!), perhaps you could suggest an alternate site (“lower level”) where I can ask questions without pissing off everybody?

    Hi DT. You aren’t pissing people off, except that your questions can be easily answered by a couple of minutes of Googling – and / or many years of education and studying the widely available evidence. The RDFRS Terms & Conditions ask that questions that can be easily answered online should be avoided, but some folk don’t know how to ask good, specific questions on Google, and the multiple results can be difficult to choose and absorb.

    It’s important to recognize what sites are factual and reliable, since there is so much religious and pseudoscience woo woo available for knowledge seekers. If you come here quoting or linking to creationist or intelligent design ‘evidence’ or start ‘preaching’ you’ll be treated accordingly.

    I have certainly learned much about online browsing since I joined RDFRS and needed to have a good basis for my Comments – or I’ll also be dismantled by the very knowledgeable Users here, as has happened before…. 😎 As I said earlier I’m not highly qualified, and am a lifetime non-theist, but I’ve read and learned quite a lot over the years to both understand reality and defend myself from religion viruses, and have learned very much more since I joined RDFRS in 2010.

    You are new here, and you may not have been ‘lurking’ for long before commenting, plus your user name is a biblical one, so some of us may make assumptions about your intentions from your comment wording, since we get regular trolls and comments with religious agendas or clearly ignorant assertions that have been refuted many, many times….

    I’m not sure it’s reasonable to label “all the fossils as intermediate” if we have modern versions of the same specimens.

    Most fossils are of species that have split into descendant species, so generally my statement is correct if the remains are of an age that they have fossilized in rock layers – and are not just old skeletons buried in earth or sand – which is generally at least 10,000 years, per paragraph 2 here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinosaur_bones

    I am certainly not trying to chase you away to a ‘lower level’ since I’m at a lower level myself compared to many of our highly qualified and really knowledgeable members. You just need to read more Discussions, Posts and Comments to appreciate how this Site operates, so that when you post a well worded and structured Comment or Discussion we can see you are genuine and serious…. 😎 Mac.

  106. In reply to #107 by Nitya:

    You’re making it sound like an either/or choice…a fifty/fifty bet! But it’s simpler than that…one explanation is wrong!…

    Can I second this? It is a very common error to believe that two sides of a “controversy” are equally weighted. Yet we instinctively know that that the spherical -v- flat Earth “controversy” is not a 50-50 choice. Nor the heliocentric -v- geocentric one, nor the germ theory -v- evil pixies one. By thinking of the present issue as a 50-50 choice, we lessen the value of truth (or the attempt to find truth) in favour of the invisible dragon in the garage (see post 92).

    In reply to #105 by doubtingthomas:

    …I’m not sure it’s reasonable to label “all the fossils as intermediate” if we have modern versions of the same specimens…

    There is a good case for saying that almost every individual organism that has lived has been an intermediate between its parents and its offspring. We are not the same as our parents, we are recognisably different. The labels we give things are human constructs, and usually they are useful to us (that’s why we use them) but we tend to think that things have to conform to the labels, rather than realise that the labels are merely descriptive.

    The most common definition of a species is something that reproduces in the wild only with others like it. It’s a useful definition in most circumstances, but not in all, because at the fringes of any species are examples that don’t conform exactly. We know, for instance, that a horse and a donkey can produce a mule (they don’t in the wild for practical reasons – they inhabit different parts of the earth) – although it seems mules are always sterile.

    Take an example from classes rather than species. Mammals are a class, distinguished by their way of giving birth to live babies and suckling them with milk. But at least two mammals lay eggs – the platypus and the echidna – and so don’t fit the profile exactly. Perhaps a more accurate description would be that they are intermediates between reptiles and mammals. There are countless similar living examples.

  107. In reply to #105 by doubtingthomas:

    If my questions are antagonizing you guys (rzzz!),

    Your questions are only irritating because they include assumptions and quotes from dishonest websites. If you want to ask simple questions about evolution that is fine. Many people here know of much educational material which is solidly supported by competent and honest research. Scientists who take great care to establish accurate information are irritated by stuff from ignorant liars posing as experts on subjects they know nothing about.

    perhaps you could suggest an alternate site (“lower level”) where I can ask questions without pissing off everybody?

    There are plenty of reliable educational sites giving information on fossils, geology and biology.

    I’m not sure it’s reasonable to label “all the fossils as intermediate”

    It is entirely reasonable. There are no organisms on Earth today which are identical to their ancient ancestors. Field biologists can watch rapidly reproducing species diversifying and sometimes separating into different branches of the tree of life. Evolution is a continuous process, not something which only happened in the past.

    if we have modern versions of the same specimens.

    We don’t. We only have some species which have a similar structure to their ancient ancestors and ancient relatives. “Living fossils” are not identical to the ancient fossils of the same or similar genera.

    For example, what’s the difference between Araucaria columnaris and Araucaria mirabilis,

    To justify different species names the groupings are usually not capable of cross-breeding to produce fertile offspring, or they are geographically or temporally separated and genetically different. This is a rather technical question so needs detailed links.

    http://www.conifers.org/ar/Araucaria.php

    http://www.conifers.org/ar/Araucaria-columnaris.php

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Araucaria-mirabilis

    or Cyathea medullaris, and Cladophlebis australis? These cones/ferns look the same to me. Why do they get a different scientific name?

    The problem with these questions is that they look like they come from some creationist “science cannot answer list”, which does not contain questions which “science cannot answer”, but merely contains questions which need detailed explanations which are unlikely to be understood by anyone who is not familiar with botanical terminology and botanical structures.

    If you are struggling with the differences between seeds and spores, you are not going to be able to follow these details.

    In a similar manner you could ask incredulous questions about nuclear electric rocket engines and I could give you links, but it is doubtful if a non-scientist would understand them. That does not mean they cannot work!!

    perhaps you could suggest an alternate site (“lower level”) where I can ask questions

    You have identified the problem with your questions here yourself. You need to ask your own questions which give you answers you can understand.

    It is a well known creationist trick to pick complicated topics which require expert knowledge, and possibly a three year university course, and then feed them to non-specialists, pretending that scientists cannot explain them. They pick these because the topics are complex and THEY cannot understand them!

    Such questions are not difficult for them to find, given the usual scientific cluelessness of “expert” YEC authors.

    Almost any complicated scientific issue will leave them in befuddled incredulity!

  108. Ok on the subject of precambrian life are we to take it that you’ve looked at Charnia, Stromata or sponges and our inheritance of collagen which makes multicellular life possible?

  109. In reply to #106 by doubtingthomas:

    A relative (I assume atheist or at least disinterested agnostic) once told me I had a choice. Believe that the universe was made in 6 days from nothing (and follow someone else’s rules), or believe that the universe exploded into existence from nothing in the Big Bang (and live by my own rules). Both ideas seem to require a leap of faith that defies logic, but before I present this to my 3 kids I want to have it straight.

    (It is a bit of a gross assumption that all god-believers think the universe/world was created in 6 days by Jehovah. There are thousands of creation myths, all of which have, or have had, devout followers. )

    First you need to understand that physical “nothing” does not exist in the universe!
    An “empty” jar contains air. “Empty” interplanetary space contains photons, magnetic fields, and gravity. “Empty” interstellar space contains radiation and gravity.

    If you are trying to understand a universe from scientific “nothing”, you need to study the quantum physics of matter and antimatter which can cancel each other out if they meet.
    If you want to study a universe created in 6 days, you need magic fairy mythology. Only one explanation describes evidenced features of reality.

  110. In reply to #105 by doubtingthomas:

    For example, what’s the difference between Araucaria columnaris and Araucaria mirabilis, or Cyathea medullaris, and Cladophlebis australis? These cones/ferns look the same to me. Why do they get a different scientific name?

    …Or putting it simply .. Unless you have studied the biological structures and processes in different modern conifers, and between different modern ferns, you will be in no position to compare ancient species with modern species.

    There is a huge diversity within modern species, but unless you are familiar with the details you will not recognise them or differences in ancient ones. Looking at misleading nonsense made up by ignorant YECs will only inhibit your understanding.

    I have already given you extensive details of the taxonomy or relationships between potatoes, tomatoes and their relative angiosperm plants. You have not shown interest in following up on this, but have moved on to other complex areas of the plant kingdom, where you seem to lack understanding of the features.

    YEC pseudo-experts often publish incompetent claims that particular “transitional” features (such as fins to legs on fish) cannot evolve.

    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evograms

    http://old.richarddawkins.net/discussions/645960-the-common-hand-by-carl-zimmer-illustration-by-bryan-christie-national-geographic

    Biologists like myself just laugh at them – and link photographs of the features they claim do not exist!

  111. If you know about life and birth, for me it is easy to believe in evolution. I have a hard time believing in intelligent design. To me, if there is a creator, I would have to believe life was created through evolution.

  112. I personally dont know the answer to that, but what I know is that we humans have a tendency to assign a supernatural cause to any effect we do not understand, like when people in the past thought rain came down in response to the command of some god of rain, and also that in the history of human understanding on how the universe works, every turn and twist have showed us only natural causes. It just seemed implausible to think that in spite of just finding natural causes without any implied purpose, suddenly we found a supernatural being that initiated everything with some purpose.

  113. It’s not a question of the truth or untruth, but a question, is it science? If you notice, all qualified scientific concepts must fulfill obligations such as explaining a wide range of natural events; explains itself on how it operates; must be able to be tested; make accurate predictions and provide benefits to mankind. Evolution fulfill all these obligations and benefits mankind like in medical science combating diseases. Intelligent Design (ID) can only fulfill the first obligation of explaining a wide range of events by it’s ready patent answer “Intelligent Design did it”, but after that, it gets into trouble. No explanation on how it works or functions. How do they test ID? How can they make predictions with it? How do they use ID to combat diseases? If you want real truths, Science is not the way to go, Religion has all the truths you need to know and then some more. Science only always you to seek the truth, and when they find it, others are allowed to scrutinize it. The “Truths” in science are tentative with a degree of uncertainty which allows change. You see, Science has no problem in being wrong because it has something that Religions doesn’t have, that is a “Self Correcting Mechanism.” When Science is wrong, it just corrects’ itself, when Religion is wrong, it has nowhere to go. The Mormons are having this problem now. Your “Thing” that created this system could be true, however, this is not scientific. If the Thing reveals itself and fulfills it obligations as a scientific concept, and allows scrutiny, then I believe science will allow it in .

  114. Thanks for your explanations Mac, Nitya, Alan… It really felt like “hatred for the heretic” initially. I’ve ordered two courses “A New History of Life” by Stuart Sutherland (UBC) and Major Transitions in Evolution by Anthony Martin (Emory). I’ll look into The Magic of Realty too. I find a lot of the scientific papers really time-consuming to get through. I understand some scientific jargon is necessary (for taxonomy, etc.) but a lot of it feels like “legaleese for the science guy”. There should be a section in every article where the researcher says what he’s done/ found/ speculated in plain English. (Yes, I know you’re thinking “abstract”- but even that’s often not in ordinary language. (If most of this stuff is as straight forward/ plain to see as you tell me it is- why don’t they explain it that way?) I saw a 2012 gallop pole that said 46% of Americans are creationist, and ~30 are theistic evolutionists. So clearly a secular public school education is not sufficient. Without the “plain English” you’re ensuring only scientists and the keenest searchers will explore “Life’s greatest mysteries”. In reply to #108 by CdnMacAtheist:

    In reply to #105 by doubtingthomas:

    If my questions are antagonizing you guys (rzzz!), perhaps you could suggest an alternate site (“lower level”) where I can ask questions without pissing off everybody?

    Hi DT. You aren’t pissing people off, except that your questions can be easily answered by a c…

  115. In reply to #117 by doubtingthomas:

    Thanks for your explanations Mac, Nitya, Alan… It really felt like “hatred for the heretic” initially.

    You’re welcome DT. The saying ‘the more we know, the more we realize we don’t know’ is especially true for individual folk in these days of complex science and ultra-specialization. Most new knowledge requires a lot of peripheral knowledge and higher education to comprehend.

    I vaguely understand a wide range of subjects, but my many years of reading and more recently being educated online have expanded my horizons greatly, while supporting my trust in the Scientific Method and the results of rational investigations by scientists.

    I’m lucky to have learned how to think, and haven’t been forced or tricked into only learning what to think. I try very hard to avoid any kind of faith, revelation or dogma (hence my Avatar), while I’ve come to accept some things that I used to be opposed to just through ignorance.

    Due to my experiences as a lifelong non-theist freethinker, I am a strong anti-theist because of what theism does, but I have learned not to hate the unfortunate folk who were indoctrinated to become mind-slaves to their local faith-viruses. I’m pretty harsh to adults – who maybe don’t know any better – who try to convince or convert others into their delusions, especially innocent children.

    I don’t know if you were or are religious, atheist or agnostic, or where you live, but learning about how religion works is also important, and I recommend ‘The God Virus’ by Dr Darrell Ray (see in RDFRS Store above) to understand the methodology and indoctrination of faith businesses, since we are all exposed to them and their effects in daily life. Among others, this book greatly enlightened me to how insidious the influences are, and how to see and avoid them.

    I’ve ordered two courses “A New History of Life” by Stuart Sutherland (UBC) and Major Transitions in Evolution by Anthony Martin (Emory). I’ll look into The Magic of Realty too.

    I hope you are successful in teaching your 3 children to be fully functioning, rational, inquisitive, freethinking, productive, loving adults.

    I find a lot of the scientific papers really time-consuming to get through. I understand some scientific jargon is necessary (for taxonomy, etc.) but a lot of it feels like “legaleese for the science guy”. There should be a section in every article where the researcher says what he’s done/ found/ speculated in plain English. (Yes, I know you’re thinking “abstract”- but even that’s often not in ordinary language. (If most of this stuff is as straight forward/ plain to see as you tell me it is- why don’t they explain it that way?)

    It’s difficult to do science accurate enough for scientists that is also simple enough for laymen like us to comprehend. Making it easy to follow undermines the accuracy, and makes it easier for agenda-driven faith-heads to manipulate and distort for their mind-dulled slaves.

    I saw a 2012 gallop pole that said 46% of Americans are creationist, and ~30 are theistic evolutionists. So clearly a secular public school education is not sufficient. Without the “plain English” you’re ensuring only scientists and the keenest searchers will explore “Life’s greatest mysteries”.

    The best thing I can do is recommend all of Professor Dawkins books, since he’s great at writing science for regular folk, in a poetically beautiful way that emphasizes the awesomeness of life. The Magic of Reality is not just for children, but is a door into his science writing, including The God Delusion, which is a natural outgrowth of his rationality, secular humanism and pursuit of truth.

    There are many other great works among my 450 books, and you will have many choices once you start swimming around in all the science available in books and online, so good hunting.

    Probably the best thing you can teach your family is to love reading, which is more difficult in these days of tv, videos and 10 second soundbites, so work on that by reading to and with them regularly…. 😎 Mac.

  116. In reply to #118 by CdnMacAtheist:

    In reply to #117 by doubtingthomas:

    Thanks for your explanations Mac, Nitya, Alan… It really felt like “hatred for the heretic” initially.

    You’re welcome DT. The saying ‘the more we know, the more we realize we don’t know’ is especially true for individual folk in these days of complex science a…

    And a big thanks to you and A4D for consistently providing the links to relevant areas.

    I like to keep abreast of new findings by subscribing too the New Scientist magazine. There are areas that I find very difficult so I tend to skip those, but I devour the articles that capture my interest. I’ve discovered that the NS post many of their articles on Twitter, so I may not have to subscribe when my current subscription runs out.

  117. In reply to #117 by doubtingthomas:

    Thanks for your explanations Mac, Nitya, Alan… It really felt like “hatred for the heretic” initially. I’ve ordered two courses “A New History of Life” by Stuart Sutherland (UBC) and Major Transitions in Evolution by Anthony Martin (Emory). I’ll look into The Magic of Realty too. I find a lot of t…

    Hi doubting thomas.

    Could I recommend the interactive version of The Magic of Reality? I have it on my tablet device, and it is a great experience to read. Your kids should be enthralled and you should enjoy it as well.

  118. In reply to #119 by Nitya:

    In reply to #118 by CdnMacAtheist:
    And a big thanks to you and A4D for consistently providing the links to relevant areas.

    You’re welcome, though I haven’t been ‘linking’ for long, and it’s down to seeing why by RDF users like A4D. I’m still not good at it, being a 2 digit typist and a computer neanderthal, but it’s very enlightening and has exercised most of my feeble brain muscles.

    Being retired, I have the time to browse and read, then write my stuff using multiple revisions, before posting. I’m lucky that my composition, grammar and spelling are quite good – from my many years of reading – so the content is foremost in my mind.

    Now, if we were discussing race / rally car design / fabrication, organizing competitions or driving skills, then I’d be in my element. That’s my machinist engineer gear-head side, and even there – except for the odd sudden exclamation – god has no place… 😎 Mac.

  119. In reply to #121 by CdnMacAtheist:

    In reply to #119 by Nitya:

    In reply to #118 by CdnMacAtheist:
    And a big thanks to you and A4D for consistently providing the links to relevant areas.

    You’re welcome, though I haven’t been ‘linking’ for long, and it’s down to seeing why by RDF users like A4D. I’m still not good at it, being a 2 di…

    As I’m also retired ( a similar age to you as well) I hope that the discipline required to compose my thoughts will keep my brain active. I do what I can, anyway. Unfortunately I’m a bit of a technophobe, though I’m ever grateful that others possess skills in this area.

  120. In reply to #117 by doubtingthomas:

    Thanks for your explanations Mac, Nitya, Alan… It really felt like “hatred for the heretic” initially. I’ve ordered two courses “A New History of Life” by Stuart Sutherland (UBC) and Major Transitions in Evolution by Anthony Martin (Emory). I’ll look into The Magic of Realty too.

    If you want something ready for children, “The Magic of Reality” is the book you need in plain English.
    The hardback version and the ebook are the best options, as the paperback lacks some of the beautiful illustrations.
    You can read it to, and with, young children, or teenagers can read it themselves.

    Here is a link with a short resume:-

    The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True – by Richard Dawkins http://www.richarddawkins.net/books/5859#

  121. To my mind ‘Darwinian Evolution’ – i.e.: evolution as it is interpreted presently on these pages, are as much a myth as the religious fables. Darwin did not speak the last word on this topic (nor the first), in fact, I don’t think he understood at all what he believed he was witnessing, but considering the times he lived in and his religious background he did the best he could.
    What appears to be ‘evolution’ on the earth, when understood in the context of the rest of our solar system, becomes redefined. There exists another way to explain and illustrate the effects of ‘evolution’ on the earth without the need for any fantasy. The earth tells us the story and it has nothing to do with ‘progress’ or a slow move towards more ‘sophisticated’ organisms. The fossil clearly record illustrates the ‘change’ we can observe in organisms and popular evolutionists infer there deductions from these, but a thorough reading of the earth’s history does not support ‘evolution’ as it is presently propagated on these supposedly enlightened pages. To understand what we call ’evolution’ on this planet, we have to understand what causes it, and when you understand the cause of ‘evolution’ it becomes something else altogether. Perhaps a discussion on the ‘causes’ of ‘evolution’ will be a good starting point.
    .

  122. In reply to #124 by Raka:

    To my mind ‘Darwinian Evolution’ – i.e.: evolution as it is interpreted presently on these pages, are as much a myth as the religious fables. Darwin did not speak the last word on this topic (nor the first), in fact, I don’t think he understood at all what he believed he was witnessing,…but considering the times he lived in and his religious background he did the best he could…

    You clearly know very little about Darwin. Darwin did not write from within the point of view of the Church of England. It is quite obvious that, where ‘faith’ and science conflicted, he was very much on the side of science – even if it offended his beloved wife and hurt him to the bargain.

    Also, although Darwin was not the first to talk about evolution, he was the first to propose the two main methods (one far more influential than the other) by which it happens – natural selection and sexual selection. Of course we know far more today, but your slightly patronising tone belittles what others have called “the greatest single idea” that any human has ever had.

  123. In reply to #124 by Raka:

    To my mind ‘Darwinian Evolution’ – i.e.: evolution as it is interpreted presently on these pages, are as much a myth as the religious fables. Darwin did not speak the last word on this topic (nor the first), in fact, I don’t think he understood at all what he believed he was witnessing….

    Hello Raka. Welcome to RDFRS. Your first Comment here is certainly provocative, and if you have a good mechanism to explain the causes of evolution, then I for one am eager to hear about it….

    I’m sure your hypothesis, data, experiments, and peer-reviewed explanatory theory will be really earth-shaking in its implications, so please tell us all about it…. Mac.

  124. In reply to #124 by Raka:

    To my mind ‘Darwinian Evolution’ – i.e.: evolution as it is interpreted presently on these pages, are as much a myth as the religious fables. Darwin did not speak the last word on this topic (nor the first), in fact, I don’t think he understood at all what he believed he was witnessing, but consid…

    What exactly is your definition of “evolution as it is interpreted presently on these pages”? Because the vast majority of those who accept evolution accept the scientific theory, as supported by all the scientific evidence to date. Not simply Darwin’s hypotheses, but a culmination of all biological research to date.

    And you’re absolutely right about your second point.

    “To understand what we call ’evolution’ on this planet, we have to understand what causes it,”

    This is exactly what science tries to do, understand causes of things, and all the causes that we have uncovered so far have supported or enhanced the theory of evolution.

    The second part of this sentence however I don’t follow:

    “and when you understand the cause of ‘evolution’ it becomes something else altogether.”

    What exactly does it become?

    What do you know that the rest of the scientific community do not?

    How did you obtain this knowledge?

  125. In reply to #124 by Raka:

    To my mind ‘Darwinian Evolution’ – i.e.: evolution as it is interpreted presently on these pages, are as much a myth as the religious fables.

    I take it you know little or nothing about biology!

    Darwin did not speak the last word on this topic (nor the first), in fact, I don’t think he understood at all what he believed he was witnessing, but considering the times he lived in and his religious background he did the best he could.

    This is simply wrong! You need to read the history and the science.

    What appears to be ‘evolution’ on the earth, when understood in the context of the rest of our solar system, becomes redefined.

    No it doesn’t! It becomes clearly defined within the history of the Solar System and the interactive co-evolution of life and the chemistry of Earth.

    http://astroclock2010.wordpress.com/cosmic-timeline-17/
    How the planets formed

    The formation and evolution of the Solar System is estimated to have begun 4.55 to 4.56 billion years ago with the gravitational collapse of a small part of a giant molecular cloud.

    There exists another way to explain and illustrate the effects of ‘evolution’ on the earth without the need for any fantasy.

    I think you are confusing your fantasy with science.

    The earth tells us the story and it has nothing to do with ‘progress’ or a slow move towards more ‘sophisticated’ organisms.

    That is correct.

    Evolution is not about progress “towards more ‘sophisticated’ organisms”. That is a theistic view. Evolution has produced, and continues to produce, a whole range of organisms both simple and complex – with both increasing and reducing complexity.

    The fossil clearly record illustrates the ‘change’ we can observe in organisms and popular evolutionists infer there deductions from these,

    Which are confirmed by morphological observations and genetic analysis.

    but a thorough reading of the earth’s history does not support ‘evolution’ as it is presently propagated on these supposedly enlightened pages.

    Rubbish! This is simply an ill-informed assertion from ignorance of the subject!

    To understand what we call ’evolution’ on this planet, we have to understand what causes it, and when you understand the cause of ‘evolution’

    The causes of evolution are the laws of physics. Evolutionary biologists and astro-biologists are well aware of this.

    it becomes something else altogether.

    Ah! The vague and mysterious, bland, unevidenced assertions, of incredulity about the “something else” of the clueless gap hunter, who pretends understanding while demonstrating asserted ignorance!

    Perhaps a discussion on the ‘causes’ of ‘evolution’ will be a good starting point. .

    Your studies of geology and biology seem to need a “starting point” – You need to catch up, and read through this discussion and its links!

    …. … .or have a look at some other discussions on this site – like this one!

    http://www.richarddawkins.net/discussions/2013/10/11/when-they-were-cells#comment-box-9

  126. In reply to #124 by Raka:

    To my mind ‘Darwinian Evolution’ – i.e.: evolution as it is interpreted presently on these pages, are as much a myth as the religious fables. Darwin did not speak the last word on this topic (nor the first), in fact, I don’t think he understood at all what he believed he was witnessing, but consid…

    I’m really curious to see where this leads. Is “change” the operative word? It’s difficult to know where you’re coming from.

  127. In reply to #121 by CdnMacAtheist:

    In reply to #119 by Nitya:

    In reply to #118 by CdnMacAtheist:
    And a big thanks to you and A4D for consistently providing the links to relevant areas.

    You’re welcome, though I haven’t been ‘linking’ for long, and it’s down to seeing why by RDF users like A4D. I’m still not good at it, being a 2 di…

    You’re not alone in your writing, revising and rewriting efforts. I do the same; I usually write down my thoughts, preview the piece as I go, make adjustments along the way, submit and then find a typo and have to edit. Even then I still let mistakes slip through and become really annoyed at myself as I often render the post unintelligible or seriously alter my intended point. With all that, I still find it the most user friendly site. At times I comment on articles in the newspaper. There’s no preview function and the layout is different with replies coming straight after the initial comment.

    Anyway, evolution vs ID is such an interesting topic, I’m pleased to see that it’s not completely finished.

  128. In reply to #129 by Nitya:

    In reply to #124 by Raka: The fossil clearly record illustrates the ‘change’ we can observe in organisms.

    Is “change” the operative word? It’s difficult to know where you’re coming from.

    Nitya, while we’re waiting, I wonder if the answer is a Buddhist or Islamic “change only comes from within” joke…. 😎

  129. In reply to #131 by CdnMacAtheist:

    In reply to #129 by Nitya:

    In reply to #124 by Raka: The fossil clearly record illustrates the ‘change’ we can observe in organisms.

    Is “change” the operative word? It’s difficult to know where you’re coming from.

    Nitya, while we’re waiting, I wonder if the answer is a Buddhist or Islamic “chang…

    Ha ha. Hope not. I’d like it to be a bit more challenging. 😉

  130. In reply to #130 by Nitya:

    You’re not alone in your writing, revising and rewriting efforts. I do the same;

    Nitya, I just finished RD’s new memoir, covering his first 35 years up to the publishing of The Selfish Gene. He talks about typing out the book, and all the manual changes he had to make, obsessively revising, with crossing out, arrows, pasted on bits of paper, note-crammed margins, etc…. 😎

    In the 80’s, I was in charge of my motor sport club newsletter, and it was mostly typed by me, cut and paste, copy, assemble, staple, stuff, lick and stick stamps and address labels, then load boxes, with up to 40 pages for up to 250 members, each month. I sure learned a lot, and 5-6 folk would have an ‘assembly night’ with beers and many racing lies…. 😎

    Anyway, evolution vs ID is such an interesting topic, I’m pleased to see that it’s not completely finished.

    A lot of interesting comments and tangents – sorry Mods – and stuff from almost all of our best Users, and much learning going on.

    I thought we had confirmed the 100% – ok 99.973% – win by evolution, but anytime now Raka is going to completely pull the rug out from under us, and then rush off and get his Nobel and Crafoord Prizes…. 8-(

  131. In reply to #133 by CdnMacAtheist:

    In reply to #130 by Nitya:

    In reply to #121 by CdnMacAtheist:

    In reply to #119 by Nitya: You’re not alone in your writing, revising and rewriting efforts. I do the same;

    Nitya, I just finished RD’s new memoir, covering his first 35 years up to the publishing of The Selfish Gene. He talks about ty…

    What a shame my completed efforts are not quite of the same standard! Ha ha!

    I’m trying to stay on topic by injecting a little relevant commentary along the way. I’m easily diverted and like a chat. I fear that I may have come across some similar thoughts as our new poster a few years ago, still not to pre-judge.

  132. The universe to me is binary. The absence of something is as functional and interactive to the presence of something. Both work hand in hand as a backdrop to each other the same way a white object on a black background reveals form. This can be similarly said with the reverse.

  133. In reply to #124 by Raka:

    To my mind ‘Darwinian Evolution’ – i.e.: evolution as it is interpreted presently on these pages, are as much a myth as the religious fables. . . . To understand what we call ’evolution’ on this planet, we have to understand what causes it, and when you understand the cause of ‘evolution’ it becomes something else altogether. Perhaps a discussion on the ‘causes’ of ‘evolution’ will be a good starting point.

    Hey Raka, you called a meeting, and we’re having a good discussion while we wait for you to return and expand on your proposed topic, so where are you….? Mac.

  134. I wonder where that thing came from that created the thing that created the thing that created the thing that…….

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