Joined: Jan. 2006
|Quote (afdave @ Oct. 19 2006,12:31)|
|So tell me, O wise BWE ... what original thought have YOU had regarding Origins? Have I been mistaken all this time? I thought Darwin was the start of all these modern Evolution ideas and I thought it Tim Berners-Lee who invented the web at CERN. Silly me! All this time I should have known ... It was BWE and Al Gore!|
So glad you asked. Let me start at the beginning. I was born a poor black child... Um. Wrong one. Let's see. Oh yes, here it is. Ok. I grew up without the yoke of religion holding me down... No, that's not it either.
I was fettered with the constraints of having a botany professor for a mother and a history professor for a father so my outlook was necessarily skewed by my upbringing. I did however manage to read a bit and then I went to college and learned to understand a few things there. I'm not sure that I have many original thoughts regarding origins in terms of evidence. I have done some science, read the Bible(s) several times as well as many other creation myths, and I also have some knowledge of some other civilizations and histories, but I am not sure that anyone has ever put forth any conclusive evidence of the origin of the first life.
I can see the similarities between creation myths and can understand that they are attempts to explain what the authors did not understand. I can also catalog the phenomena that the authors did not understand and the supernatural explanations given for these phenomena. A partial list:* gravity –god, * geologic processes –god, * relativity or the absence of a reference point –god, * light speed and the implications of telescopes –god, * climate –god, * dna –god, * the Americas –ummm, * the size and age of the cosmos –god.
These phenomena are now partially understood by applying the scientific method to them. What's more, the science is accessible to anyone willing and able to repeat the experiments. If you were to repeat the experiments, you should get the same results. And, strangely, none of them end up needing anything specific from god. As Carl Sagan said "We grow up in isolation. We need to teach ourselves the cosmos."
I have repeated some experiments and sometimes achieved different results. In college, this was extraordinarily frustrating because my professors made me figure out why. I had to do things over and over and over and over until I could isolate the variables and produce repeatable results. By the time I was trying to figure out how a certain kind of starfish could do one thing sometimes and another thing another time in what looked like identical circumstances, I had enough background in methodology and sometimes just plain information that I wasn't making assumptions like "Maybe it's doing this because it is only 6000 years old." or "Maybe Earth is only 6000 years old." Natural selection was a central tenet to my research. If it weren't, I would not have been able to do any of it. And, what's more, if it wasn't accurate at least to a large degree, then I would have not been able to reproduce results at all.
The funny thing is that I never needed to consider the origin of the first life. As far as I am aware, no biologist does. All I needed to understand was the mechanism for adaptation. But when I consider religious explanations for origins, I get a very different picture. Have you read Gilgamesh? Do you know whether it predates the Torah?
Religious explanations all do something peculiar. They elevate “Man” to an honorary title. They separate us from the rest of the creatures as somehow different. “Tool Using”, “Speech”, ability to “Reason” or “Love”, ability to “Farm””. It turns out that we have no such monopoly. Our presumed distinctions turn out to be just that-presumed. Our distinction turns out to be the ability to plan . We have the ability to employ past observation in the present for a future intent. Not simply storing nuts for the winter but setting aside a weapon near a tree where I will eventually provoke an argument with my rival- that kind of intent. Man employs the dimension of time . We can sense the present as space to be aware of time past and time to come. The employment of time as a dimension is what opened up all that we are today-including religion.
Although memory and planning certainly exist in other species besides man, man’s memory of his past can be evaluated, now for future ends such as whacking his rival with a club unexpectedly. There is the element of surprise, the element of planning the place and the element of being prepared. Different.
But using time as a dimension differs from using space. We do not occupy the dimension of time with our physical bodies. We need to imagine it. We occupy the space with our minds. We make images of past events, use reason to evaluate them and try to construct images of future space. This talent feeds itself by including the ability to store information for [i]evaluation[\i] purposes. Leads to skins for clothes then houses then better materials then better objects from those materials then better materials and etc. Technology.
The downside is that we become aware that we will die. At first, it is terrifying. But, after consideration, we realize that we can see beyond death in our time dimension we occupy so we conclude that that part of us that can employ that dimension will not die. Then we further conclude that the same is true for our friends and loved ones and because we all share sort of the same world in that time dimension we will probably occupy it together when our bodies die. Voila!
Religion. Nothing wrong with the hypothesis, it is just hard to test. So all we have are guesses. And if the nature of those guesses force us to ignore evidence for how the world really works, we are all the poorer for it. Any religion which seeks the disproval of information had better use honest tactics in its effort or risk looking like you. And fundies of all religions.
But Dave, these aren’t my ideas. I am paraphrasing many. Most notably, Philip Wylie, Carl Sagan, Steven Gould, Fritjof Kapra, and Ovid. And what’s more, they are subject to revision in my mind as better evidence or ideas come along.
This post I wrote in the sfbDave thread got me thinking, who's got a good scenerio for the first guy who thought up god? Comedy or seriousness... Is the hypothesis testable?
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far
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