June 11, 2006

We're Getting Very Close To Figuring Out How Exactly Life Began

It is beginning to look like small molecules made from natural elements actually evolved into life 3.5 to 3.9 billion years ago on earth.

Here is a new article on the subject.

Fundies and plain many plain old believers don't like this topic, but sometimes reality is tough to deal with.

I had my family over to dinner last night. We are all secularists, but one of my brothers is adamant about God existing. He doesn't like my blog, and doesn't want me to interact with my 15 year old nephew regarding science and God. I don't think it is the science stuff so much, but more where it might lead him.

He feels that if someone doesn't believe in God, he/she has no purpose in life. Now he isn't into preaching, and I doubt he knows much about the bible, but he seems to need to believe in God and resents those who don't, and isn't interested in conflicting materials or arguments.

My sister thinks that a belief God is needed to live a moral life. At least she married someone who gets it. The night wasn't a total waste for me. I got into some intellectual discussions with my brother-in-law.

And my nephew was very interested in evolution science. I showed him some clips from this site, and he watched it eagerly. I did tell my brother that you don't need to ignore evolution to believe in God, and that many scientists do believe in God and evolution.

I was actually a bit taken back when my brother said basically not to teach my views to HIS kids, and if I want to teach my views I should have my own kids. This was before I showed my nephew the evolution for students site. When he was about to leave, I printed this and sent him home with it to read. In other words.....don't tell me what I can and can't say to anybody. The only person who can silence me the guy who signs my paycheck:)


  1. BEAJ

    I don't know what you do for a living, but I am beginning to think that you have real Biologist potential.

    Sadly, the pay TOTALLY sucks.

    So i can't advise it "in good faith"

    If you want to be really secure, start your own religion, and fleece old ladies out of their pensions.

    Free Constantinople

  2. You have a right to your opinion, of course. I believe interference in the parenting process is something loving family members do not do. Respect your families wishes when dealing with their children, their celebrations and when on their turf...you can agree to disagree.

    Respect for each other is an important key.

  3. Whoa! that's sounds like crap to me! Firs't the post does not make clear who is on whose "turf" and besides, REAL families fight and disagree all the time! Jewish families and Latins are the WORST! And children learn from these situations to develop their OWN opinions. It is the BEST environment for real development, if you to brain-wash them.... then divergent opinion can be a problem.

    Free Constantinople

  4. man,I'm making some dumb grammatical errors....I'm having a "bad blog-day"

    free constantinople

  5. well, I just thought to let you know, that the only way to go to heaven for everlasting life is to accept jesus as your lord and savior, if you do not , you will be cast into the lake of fire for all eternity with the devil and his angels. I'm sure you think that when you die you just rot into the ground and there's nothing, well you better be 100% sure of that, because if your wrong you will spend eternity in the lake of fire, its your choice ultimately, I hope you make the right one before your time has expired......

  6. If the Muslims are right, you will go to hell too. Maybe you should reject Jesus and accept Allah.

    Jesus didn't even exist by the way.

    You've been had in a very big way, and you are living a lie.

  7. Bacon, I understand how dicey this situation is for you. Proceed with humour and gentle mentoring. Fifteen is a tough age; they question everything, including well-intentioned lectures. Your nephew needs time to get his head around the facts... as well as the perceived implications.
    Believe me, he will have questions. But if he thinks you're too strident, you might be the last person he approaches... and that would not be helpful.

    That said, I am rather drunk. So feel free to dismiss this bit of butinsky blather.

  8. I'll give some more background. My brother isn't the most educated person on the planet, he knows I have more smarts than him and more education.

    It was on my turf, but I don't think that mattters.

    Dr., I was pretty laid back with my nephew. Although, I have to refrain from sounding preachy.

  9. Odd that you have no facts just theory about the orgins of life yet you are as sure as the religious you are correct.

  10. Anon, read the title of the post again. I am saying we are coming very close to figuring it out...that implies that we don't know for sure..........YET. But I think we will very soon.

    Believers have nothing in the way of evidence. Every scientific find fits in well with existing scientific theories, but fundamentalists consider them lies. It is sad to live a life that way.

  11. Close only counts when playing the horse shoe tossing game or curling. I came close to winning the lottery once.

  12. It is not the non-believers burdon of proof to disprove a god, it is the believers burdon of proof to prove there is one.

    So far they are failing miserably.

    ALL scientific evidence points away from some magical cosmic muffin poofing the universe into exisitence and to a natural expanation for all things.

  13. Anonymous said...

    Odd that you have no facts just theory about the orgins of life yet you are as sure as the religious you are correct.

    No, it is not odd at all....name for me ONE scientific fact....they don't exist! Both religion and science are theories, however scientific theories are supported by evidence and experimentation while religious theory is supported by...blind faith and fable-telling.

    Free Constantinople

  14. Free Constantinople, okay I’ll just let you off the hook on the “name for me ONE scientific fact....they don't exist!” statement. I’m sure that was a mistake on your part. Was that some sort of bait? If you really need evidence think of the scientific facts that make it possible for me to be at a machine on my desk that make it possible for you to be using a machine on yours so you can read this.

    Religion is not just a theory it is a belief. I choose to believe that there are things beyond mortal comprehension or understanding. I also choose to believe that the archaeology through finding physical evidence and witnesses of biblical times are at least to some extent accurate and believable there by bolstering my belief system.

    Science has always had to disprove belief. Galileo proved the earth was not the center of the universe. Others believed the world was flat and exploration proved it was not. It is IMO therefore up to science to disprove through archaeology or some other form to prove religion is false if you want me to believe that is so. I don’t know how that is possible but if it is, there should be some way to do it just like it has been possible to prove the above examples were disproved by science fact.

    So far science has not been able to prove that it is possible to put the spark of life into anything without having the building blocks of already living material. That’s not to say one day it won’t happen but that could be a watershed moment in history.

  15. Jhrhv, in order for religion to be a theory, it should make actual statements. For example, give so characteristics at least of what God is, how and when he created life, etc.

    For example, many people on this planet believe the earth is less than 10,000 years old, but science has disproved that religious "theory."

    Scientists do not try to prove there is no God, they just want to explain the world, past, present and future. Nothing would be more pleasing to the world of science if evidence of God or an afterlife is found.....of course, it just won't happen.

  16. BEAJ, I said religion is belief it was FC who said it was theory. The religion vs atheist argument details aside. Since neither of us knows for sure if life is a accident of chemicals or a chain reaction caused by some supreme being. What gives you the right to influence your brothers son? He helped with raising him fed him nurtures him etc. As you and I both have in the end the kid will find his own way.

    I’ve always only reinforced what my brothers beliefs to his kids don’t play ball in the house don’t drink and drive etc. They grow up fast  They are his kids not mine. If they want to ask me something I tell them what I think. Like stay in school you will get a better job. Work sucks school is much better. They’ve never asked me about religion other than what are you doing so I say Torah study they laugh I tell them what I’m learning how to respect your parents and give charity they stop laughing. Just like when I tell them I’m reading something about space they laugh and say what, I try to explain about how I’m reading about the size of our solar system they stop laughing.

    If your brother thinks you are a threat he might try influence his little bundle of joy to keep away from you which won’t be good for anyone in the equation.

  17. jhrhv, I am not out to turn my nephew into an Atheist, I am just trying to get him to know that science has proved there was no global flood, that evolution is fact, that all life evolved from one celled life forms that first appeared on earth around 3.9 billion years ago.
    If he wants to question God, or conclude that God is not part of the equation....fine. Like I said, the main guy who defeated intelligent design in Dover courts, Ken Miller, is a God believing Catholic.

  18. no need to let me off the hook,jhrhv, I stand by that statement...a computer is not a scientific fact by the way.

    Let me give you an example, I can say right now that the atomic theory is bunk...all of it..there are no protons no neutrons and no electrons....who can PROVE me wrong?...You can resurrect Albert Einstein and he can come to me with a stack of data 5 storys high and say "these are all the experiments performed on atomic theory in the last 100 years, and they all support the atomic theory as it exists today....OK who is right and who is wrong? Dr. Einstein's problem is so simple nearly everyone misses it. The problem is that the theory was constructed using those very same data....THEY MUST AGREE! Only a bozo would construct a theory that does not agree with the data available...it is a fallacy of circular reasoning...the data and theory are interdependent, thus one can not be used to prove the other.

    This is the dillemma of science, you can NEVER, I repeat NEVER arrive at fact.
    I challenge anyone to get a good college level science book that uses words like "fact" "proof" and "proven", you will not find it. Einstein himself never called Relativitiy a FACT. Real scientists avoid those aforementioned words like the plague. Alternatively go the PUBMED database and do a key word search on "fact" and "Proven". See how many hits you get. Sure you will get some returns but never in the context of "we have proven blah blah..." or "our theory is a fact of science" When Scientist talk a congresses and meetings they simply do not use those words, if you do...then you look like an idiot.

    Free Constantinople

  19. "Religion is not just a theory it is a belief." from above

    Any theory is also just a belief... it is supported by evidence...but not proof

    Free Constantinople

  20. I remember this story, I can't vouch for its veracity, but I will try to look it up. A colleague told me that since the Noble Prizes have been awarded in the "Hard Sciences" something like 20% of the winners theories have subsequently shown to be incorrect....

    You will never hear me say "Scientific Fact" it just not worth it...too dangerous... especially since your opinions are always in writing and searchable..


  21. "Galileo proved the earth was not the center of the universe." again from above

    Sorry, this is wrong. Implicit in that statement is that Gallileo knew where the center of the Universe is...and that it is not earth.

    OK so exactly where is the center of the Universe? (NOT the center of the Solar system) And why is it not earth?

    OK Maybe I can "let you off the hook" on that one

    "Others believed the world was flat and exploration proved it was not."
    from you know where

    This is really just making observations and coming to logical conclusions....or Descriptive Science.

    If you want to stick with this type of "stone-knives and bear-skin" science, I won't object to your conclusions

    But I think it is in our best interest to move science out of the 16th century.


  22. FC, you may want to read this and this regarding scientific fact.

  23. "it can be concluded that biology is a historical science"

    I would agree with that, but quickly include math, physics chemistry..etc.

    From the first link, I was surprised to see Gould quoted as using the "F-word", the rest of that site is a "total mess".... gives me a headache to read it

    Its funny, we can really split-hairs over the definitions of "theory, fact and belief".

    For me, theory and belief are nearly interchangeable, and fact is an unattainable state.

    but of course, there is plenty of room for other interpretations


  24. Bacon - they don't teach evolution in Canadian schools or something? You need to be the one teaching this to your nephew?

    If I were your brother-in-law, I wouldn't bring my child around you again. He asked you not to speak to him about this. This is his child.

    My advice to your brother-in-law is to circumsize your border collie so that you know how it feels to have your beliefs pushed on someone else's responsiblity.

    You are acting irresponsibly. I'm sure you would be fuming at the very least if you had a child and your brother-in-law kept telling your child that it will go to hell if he doesn't believe in god.

  25. Pimpette, God doesn't exist. My dog is a female, and to the best of my even Muslims don't circumsize female dogs.

    He is 15 years old, and he has a lot of questions. My brother is ignorant on these subjects. My brother didn't threaten me about it. He thought Atheism comes with the package, it doesn't. I just want my nephew to understnad that much of the bible has been proven to be wrong scientifically, and that the age of the earth is in the billions and that evolution is a fact.

  26. >>I was actually a bit taken back when my brother said basically not to teach my views to HIS kids, and if I want to teach my views I should have my own kids. This was before I showed my nephew the evolution for students site. When he was about to leave, I printed this and sent him home with it to read. In other words.....don't tell me what I can and can't say to anybody. The only person who can silence me the guy who signs my paycheck:)

    Your words. Not mine.

    >>My brother didn't threaten me about it. He thought Atheism comes with the package, it doesn't.

    You are right, it doesn't and discussing evolution is not the issue here this is the issue:

    >>I just want my nephew to understnad that much of the bible has been proven to be wrong scientifically....

    You are pushing YOUR views on your nephew. On top of it, you sent him home with an article that was more or less telling him his father is an idiot and that he should not question "scientists" for they know what they are doing.

    Again - if your brother was telling your children that they would burn in hell for questioning the existance of god - you would be screaming bloody murder.

    Your brother may not have threatened you and I don't see why he should even need to threaten you - I think you acted inappropriately and I think it is sad that you can't see that.

  27. Pimpette, if you taught your kids that the earth is flat and that the sun revolved the earth....I know that some home schooled kids are taught this.....who cares what you think. If you are teaching kids lies, and people who teach kids that evolution is crap and the earth is young are doing so, I feel it is my duty to inform anyone and everyone otherwise.

  28. I personally think that if the father is so insecure that he can't have his children hearing any other views that might conflict with his own, then it would have been doing the boy a disservice to not present him with an alternate view. He will eventually be an adult independent of the views of his parents, and presenting him as much information as possible, to teach him how to think critically and not narrowly, is something that will serve him greatly throughout his life, and a SMART parent would be teaching their kids that the world is full of information about which individuals will come to differing conclusions.

    And if your brother is at all smart, then he would simply say "your uncle and I disagree on this topic, but you are free to make your own conclusions."

  29. Bacon - Is your nephew being homeschooled? Do they not teach evolution in Canada?

    There is also something called respect and a lesson that seems to have been skipped in that regard. He's 15 now, he'll be 18 soon enough.

    Allie - by your argument am I safe in assuming that you believe in teaching ID alongside Evolution?

    Bacon can keep up what he is doing, but IMHO, it is disrespectful and it may actually lead his brother to take other actions and rightfully so. There is a moral lesson that can be taught and it has nothing to do with god or no god.

  30. Pimpette, he is not being homeschooled. My brother spends little time on his education. He is failing math. I was great in math. Maybe I shouldn't help with that either....he hasn't asked.

    You are showing idiocy to say that ID can be taught in science class. What exactly is the theory of ID? Name a hypothesis made by ID theory?

    There is something called respect. It is about respecting facts and the scientific method.

    Like I said, I'm not about to preach the fact that God doesn't exist. Just the facts about evolution and an ancient earth.

  31. I have no problem with ID being taught in a philosophy class. ID isn't science. Anything that isn't science shouldn't be taught as such. But do I have a problem with my kids learning about ID in general? No.

  32. Bacon - you know where I stand with the ID thing. I brought it up as a point, that you wouldn't appreciate that being pushed on a child, so why do you insist on doing something that your brother has asked you not to do with your nephew.

    I'm sorry, but I believe that parents have certain rights and if your brother is not physically and mentally harming that child then you have no right to interfere. Please do not give me the "he's neglecting his intellect" bs - it's not right.

    Allie, I agree, my point is - that if you want to be respected for your beliefs, then you have to respect other beliefs as well and not infringe on a parents rights as to what they chose to expose their child to. It goes both ways.

  33. Pimpette, doubting evolution is like doubting 2+2=4, and teaching ID in science is like teaching 2+2=5

    This isn't about beliefs.

  34. I need 2+2=4 to function in the world. I do not need to believe in evolution or ID to function within the world. I'm sorry, but it is not the same thing. Again, I don't support teaching ID in science class and I do not support your interference in your brother's life - I believe you have crossed a line.

    I'll leave it at this.