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Galactic Member

576 Posts

Posted - 08/12/2005 :  6:22:35 PM  Show Profile Send Rock a Private Message  Reply with Quote

Intelligent Design vs Evolution
Are We the Result of Alien Meddling?

Recently, the President of the United States made an off-the-cuff remark that he saw no reason why the theory of Intelligent Design should not be taught beside the theory of Evolution in the public schools of the United States.

These two theories take opposing views in their explanation of the origin of life.

Intelligent Design postulates that there is a “power” that intelligently created, and continues to create, life on Earth. It points to the complexity of life as something that could not possibly occur simply as the result of evolutionary happenstance, and in particular it points to the interrelationship of all life forms in ways that are so remarkable it is difficult to see how they were not designed by some mind to be that way.

The manner in which insects pollinate flowers, for instance. How is it that the flower, which has no sense of smell, or sight, and certainly does not know about how the insects benefit it, nevertheless ‘evolved’ perfume and delicate shades of color to attract the insects? More recently the Intelligent Design movement has turned its attention to such things as the manner in which genes mutate, or how new biological structures, like wings or lungs, originated. There is no good evolutionary explanation for these things, it says, and they are evidence of a purposeful design in the development of life on this planet.

Yet, to be honest, a few disquieting things about the Intelligent Design “school” should be noted.

Intelligent Design was a movement started purposefully in the 1990’s for the stated reason of displacing evolutionary theory as the explanation of the origin of life. It was started by a group of fundamentalist Christians, who quickly developed a blueprint (it has been published on the net) for infiltrating public scientific debate, and in particular the school system. Tellingly, this blueprint is named “the Wedge”. Intelligent Design was not started because someone in the world of science or research suddenly discovered new facts that pointed to the likelihood that life was intelligently designed. It was started instead for a negative purpose: to displace evolutionary theory. It has been scrambling ever since to come up with some form of scientific fact that might directly support its contentions. Otherwise, it is pure speculation.
Just noting that one theory (Evolution) has problems does nothing to prove that an alternative theory (Intelligent Design), based on only conjecture, is correct. That is not the way to go about establishing a new scientific theory.

Nevertheless, Intelligent Design has gained ground, and slowly is infiltrating the public consciousness. People who know nothing about science take its pronouncements seriously. It has been a purely public relations effort from the beginning. Now, with the conversion of the President of the United States to its side (to be expected, with his history of support for fundamentalist, intolerant pseudo-Christianity) it has gained a further publicity victory.

The scientific community is in a quandary about Intelligent Design. There are a number of people who are trained in science, and who practice scientific method in their professions (and so who call themselves ‘scientists’) who have come out in support of Intelligent Design. But this is just like them saying that their favorite color outside their scientific lives is ‘blue’. It is just their opinion, not based on scientific fact, and should be regarded in that light. They have no business saying “we are scientists, we believe in Intelligent Design, therefore it is a scientific fact.” That, of course, is a non sequitur. A fallacious conclusion. Illogical. But it has confused and fooled many ignorant people.

The truth is that Intelligent Design was started by people who, at least at the beginning, were honest enough to admit that the whole thing was about the Bible. It is a form of Creationism. But they quickly realized that if they lied about it, and claimed it was about Science, not religion, they had a better chance of confusing people who otherwise might not have listened to them. Then, when people finally realize what they are doing, the Biblical version of Creation will have already been re-inserted into American classrooms (from which it was excluded originally on Constitutional grounds), and it will be too late to stop them.

The basic problem with Intelligent Design is not its proposed theory. The problem is its methodology. It is dishonest. It intends to be dishonest. And when people who represent a religion that among other things claims to embody truth and honesty resort to inherently dishonest methods to gain their goals, I think there is every reason to be wary of them.

On the other hand, there do exist problems with the theory of Evolution.

With the development of Neo-Darwinism in this century, which combines Evolutionary theory with the theory of genetic mutation, Science seemed to be on the right track toward explaining the origins of life.

Evolutionary theory, as it exists today, does an admirable job explaining the multitude of minor differences between species we see all around us. Why, for instance, a finch that lives in northern Europe has a different coloration and even a few different habits from a finch that lives in Algeria. Yet they are both indisputably finches. By extrapolation Evolution then attempts to explain the apparent similarities between those finches and, for instance, various classes of Dinosaur that lived 65,000,000 years ago by saying that over time one descended from the other, gradually changing in form and appearance.

But there are sticking points. Where really big changes apparently occurred, Evolution has trouble explaining them.

For instance, when vertebrate life moved from the Sea onto the Land (when fish seemingly changed into amphibians), or into the air and Dinosaurs (supposedly) evolved into birds, Evolution hems and haws and says it MUST have happened that way, but we can’t explain how. At those points Evolutionary ‘theory’ sounds little better than Intelligent Design.

When it comes time for the BIG question, the origin of Life, how it happened, how it could conceivably have happened, Evolution falls on its face. It has no good explanation.

In point of fact, Evolution is a good theory for explaining ongoing, minimal, day-to-day changes in life forms. It is less useful for explaining how fish developed lungs or dinosaurs grew wings. It is useless for explaining how a few amino acids in the oceans of Earth organized themselves into groups of the millions and billions of atoms
that constitute the simplest living organism.

So perhaps Intelligent Design does have its place in the Historical Dialectic of concepts about the origin and development of life.

Evolution is the Thesis. Intelligent Design is the Antithesis. What could be the Synthesis?

The Intelligent Design people, by insisting that the Bible, and God, and Religion have nothing at all to do with their contentions (a documented lie) have in fact opened up the field. Why should God or Religion come into the picture at all? Why not just throw out the Bible? It’s an old, obsolete, ignorant book anyway. Why even bother about it anymore? Why not take Intelligent Design on its face? Life and various life forms might indeed have an intelligent origin, an intelligent design. But who says that intelligence has to be God or some supernatural being? The Intelligent Design people say they have nothing to do with Christianity, so let’s hold them to it, and toss organized, Biblical Christianity into the dustbin of History.

Having done that, this notion that life on Earth may have some sort of Intelligent Design behind it is intriguing.

Orgel and Crick (of DNA fame) noted that there are certain basic characteristics about life on Earth that point, perhaps, to an extraterrestrial origin. All life forms on Earth use the same DNA code, for instance. If life originated spontaneously here, it would have done so a number of times, since the conditions (in the oceans) would have been favorable, presumably, in many locations. This would have meant that more than one form of DNA should have developed, and we should see lifeforms on Earth today with different forms of DNA. But we don’t. This is unlikely unless all life originated from one source, such as perhaps a comet. Life on Earth also has the unlikely habit of using rare elements, such as Molybdenum, in it’s makeup. Why would it do that? If life originally organized itself on the Earth, surely it would have used common elements here, readily available? That it does not perhaps points to life originating in an environment where these elements were more available, even common. Someplace other than the Earth. Some place with a higher metallicity perhaps? A Star system closer in to the center of the Galaxy?

These factors point to the possibility that Life on Earth did not originate on Earth. That it was “seeded” from some other place. Current Scientific theory does not regard this as particularly unlikely. Indeed, with the discovery that meteors and comets contain such complex organic substances as amino acids, basic to the building of life, and the acknowledgement (almost a solid fact) that the early Earth was subjected to an almost continual bombardment of extraterrestrial material, there is little doubt today that much, perhaps most, of the organic material that made an “organic soup” out of the early oceans was of extraterrestrial origin. Add to this the discovery that certain forms of life, called “extremophiles”, can survive very long periods in conditions that formerly were thought impossible for the existence of life, and current thought admits that life could have come to the early earth from outside. We could all be Aliens.

With regard to the current discussion, perhaps the “seeds” of life were purposefully implanted on our planet. Intelligent Design. Such a notion is called “directed panspermia”. Could an Alien race have intentionally spread life through this portion of the Galaxy? If so, remember we are talking about billions of years ago.

Such an idea has several implications.

One is that the alien race, whoever they were, would obviously be unimaginably in advance of us. If we ever were to meet them. If they still existed.

Another is that there would be many other worlds that have the same basis of life as we do. Not only would they be carbon/water based, but they would have the same DNA patterns. If evolution is not just a random process, but follows a set pattern determined by how it begins, perhaps races that are recognizably Human are common in this part of the Galaxy. Twins of Earth might exist not only with water oceans, yellow Suns, oxygen atmospheres, and Earth-normal gravity, but even with horses and butterflies. Perhaps even not just intelligent beings, but people as well.

Intelligently directed panspermia would give rise to all these possibilities.

But the Intelligent Design idea goes beyond mere creation. It contemplates the vast difference of life forms on our world, and how they got that way.

The current Intelligent Design people (headquartered in Seattle) would say it is God, of course, who is responsible for everything, and specifically through the lame explanations contained in the Judeo-Christian Bible (which really explain nothing at all). Fairy Tales for children.

But if the Intelligent Design was by Aliens, there actually is far more evidence available for such an interpretation than exists for the lame Judeo-Christian version of creation. If you give the alien possibility a chance it also can explain certain discrepancies that Evolutionary theory cannot.

There exists a strange “fact” discovered in the search for verification of Evolution. It is postulated (based on the oldest fossils known) that life had begun on Earth AT LEAST 3.8 billion years ago. But actually it was before that, since organisms capable of producing fossils already existed by then. Yet multi-cellular life, highly evolved life, did not exist here (again based on the fossil record) until less than a billion years ago.

This means that for at least 2.8 billion years life on earth consisted solely of amoebas and slime molds (and similar stuff). Was this life significant? Yes, insofar as the existence of any life at all is significant. Was this life impressive? Well, not if what impresses you are Trilobites or Ceratopsians.

The Earth was in fact stuck in a “steady state” of evolution for billions of years. Single cell organisms proliferated and filled the oceans, in all the environmental niches that single celled organisms can fill, not changing much.

Why was that?

Some might say that is how Evolution works. It starts, and then a planet needs 3 billion years or so of oceans full of slime molds before it gets worked up and starts producing really interesting stuff (like star fish).

But based on what we know about the rate of change of certain organisms, that makes no sense. Amoebas and other single cell organisms are very prolific. They subdivide and reproduce very rapidly. Just check it out next time you get a cold how fast the little buggers spread through your body. They go through hundreds or thousands of generations every year. So why didn’t evolution produce more complex forms on Earth faster than it did?

Because, as evolutionary theory postulates, it takes more than just mere numbers of generations to produce change. It takes an outside stimulus. Specifically, the environment has to change in a way that favors new forms of life.

It would seem that the Earth, for the first 3 billion years or so of its History, despite plate tectonics and the occasional meteor, had a steady environment. A nice, stable Sun. Warm oceans. An ozone layer. Once life had evolved to a (low) level that was happy with the environment, there was no impetus for evolution. So nothing changed for 2.8 billion years.

But then, something happened. It must have been drastic. Catastrophic even.

At this point I want to fast forward a bit to the extinction of the Dinosaurs. Please bear with me.

We now believe that what killed the Dinosaurs was an asteroid about the size of New York City that struck the Earth in the vicinity of the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. It did this 65,000,000 years ago. It apparently broke up in the atmosphere before it hit, and there were several smaller chunks that hit at the same time (the Manson crater in Iowa, for instance). This had the effect of spreading the zone of immediate destruction. The result was a Saganesque “Nuclear Winter” that killed the big lizards.

Well, so what?

Some folks doubted this scenario. The man who proposed it had found asteroidal dust (identified by its chemical properties) at the geological boundary where the dinosaurs had gone extinct. He knew that the fossil record showed other examples of mass extinctions. To prove his theory he began to search for asteroidal dust at the geological boundary of a different mass extinction. He thought that the mass extinctions had probably all been caused by asteroids.

To everyone’s surprise but his own, he found the dust. In fact, as people began to investigate the matter, they found dust at ALL the mass extinction boundaries they could identify, going back some 500,000,000 years. Evidently, the Earth was struck from time to time by Asteroids, and these caused mass extinctions.

But there was more. When they plotted these extinctions/asteroids on a chart, a pattern emerged. It appeared the Earth was struck every 26,000,000 years by enough extraterrestrial material to cause a mass extinction. Some were larger than others, of course, but they were all recognizable as mass extinctions.

What on Earth (or off it) could cause such a thing? Was it mere coincidence? That seemed a rather large assumption. The pattern was too regular. It seemed/seems that something causes the Earth to be bombarded from space every 26,000,000 years. (Not to worry though. The last time was 13,000,000 years ago, so we have another 13,000,000 years before the next one).

Scientists began to speculate about this strange set of figures. The only thing that could explain such an extraterrestrial occurrence would be something in orbit around the Sun with a 26,000,000 year period. Such a long orbit could not be a planet. It would have to be at a distance of one light year, or even more. It would have to be a stellar companion, making the Sun in effect a binary star. Every 26,000,000 years the companion would disturb the Oort cloud, or the Kuiper belt, or the Asteroid belt, or all three, and send asteroids, comets and meteors spiraling in towards the Sun, like water down a drain. Some of them would hit the Earth.

The main problem with this theory is that despite diligent astronomical searches no companion to the Sun has ever been seen.

But if the companion were a brown dwarf star, or a small black hole, it would be difficult or impossible to see.

Some scientists have felt so sure that this companion must be out there that they have named it. They call it ‘Nemisis’.

Now back to Intelligent Design.

It is evident, whether these asteroid bombardments are caused by an unseen companion to the Sun or not, that the resulting mass extinctions have had an enormous impact on the evolution of life on Earth. It is very likely that if the Dinosaurs had not gone extinct, then Mankind would never have evolved. If we had we certainly would not have risen to our present position of dominance. Can you imagine what would have happened if all those scientifically incorrect films about cave men confronting Tyrannosaurs were true?

The evolution of this biosphere has been driven by the fact that every 26,000,000 years many species suddenly, through no fault of their own, go extinct. This has been a major driving force, perhaps THE driving force, of evolution on this planet.

In fact, it might be speculated that the “steady state” of an “organic soup” in the oceans ended because this situation of recurring disaster commenced. This may well have been the sudden catastrophic environmental change that started multicellular evolution. It is apparent that whatever caused multicellular organisms to start evolving, it kicked in several billion years after life on Earth began. It might also well be that the Sun, if it is a binary, did not form as a binary. The companion might be something it picked up later. And when it did, the companion began to influence evolution on earth.

This “picking up” of a companion might have been a fortuitous circumstance, a coincidence, something that “just happened”. There are probably all sorts of rogue brown dwarfs, and even black holes, wandering through space, and conceivably one might have been picked up by the Sun at some time.

Or, it might be Intelligent Design.

Suppose a race, millions or billions of years in advance of where Mankind is now, is exploring the Galaxy, or is so familiar with its quadrant of space that it is far beyond exploring. It views space as a field to be developed, to be farmed. Where it finds suitable planets with “organic soup” oceans it stimulates them, prods them, to produce evolved life. Perhaps such a race would think nothing at all of moving black holes around, or of even creating one when it wanted one.

Such a race would conceivably know that if you place a black hole in an orbit of suitable period around a star with a promising planet, it will periodically cause mass extinctions by deforming the local Oort cloud. These extinctions will stimulate evolution, and eventually something interesting might result. Perhaps, knowing this, approximately a billion years ago a small black hole was placed intentionally in orbit around our Sun. The result, after much time, is us. That would be intelligent design indeed.

This idea of intelligent design, when not held down by some lame requirement that Jesus and the Bible be involved, opens up all sorts of areas of speculation. Why just stop with the beginning of Life, or the beginning of multicellular evolution?

Why not go whole hog and see if we can discern Intelligent Design in the origin of the Human species? (That was the original intention of the Christian Intelligent Design people anyway. What they really care about is that account in Genesis about Adam and Eve and Original Sin, not some dry speculation about amoebas.)

Is there anything that points to intelligent design in the evolution of humans specifically?


There is a curious period in Human evolution when momentous changes occurred. Changes that were basic to us becoming Human. But according to evolutionary theory these were changes that should not have occurred. In fact, these changes were so curious that it is difficult to understand how they happened unless they were part of some design.

Ten million years ago a vast forest covered much of Africa. It stretched from there, in a more or less continuous band, across the Middle East and Northern India down into Southeast Asia. This forest was inhabited by a primitive proto-Ape, a Pongid.

Climate patterns changed, as they do from time to time, and the parts of the forest in the Middle East and Northern India began to die out. The parts in Africa and Asia remained. The proto-ape migrated to the parts of the forest that remained. The proto-apes that migrated to Southeast Asia evolved into the Orangutans. The proto-apes who migrated to Africa evolved in several different directions.

One group, who stayed in the trees, became the Chimpanzees.

Eight million years ago another group of proto-apes came down out of the trees and began to live on the ground. For whatever reason they did this, living on the ground exposed them to all sorts of dangers, especially predators. They needed to modify, to evolve, for dealing with these predators. So they grew bigger and bigger. They became the Gorillas.

Evolution thus demonstrated that a practical, and probably the most economical, way for these proto-apes to deal with the problem of living out of the trees was for them to grow bigger and stronger to protect themselves. Nothing illogical about that.

Then, five million years ago a second group of these apes again came down out of the trees, probably because the forest was still shrinking.

But did these apes adopt the evolutionarily tried-and-true method of increased size to deal with the problem of living on the ground? No, they did not.

Not only did they quickly evolve in a new direction. They evolved in a very impractical direction. They began to walk upright on two feet. They became the Hominids, our ancestors.

This has always puzzled anthropologists. Why did these apes begin to walk upright? How did that help them to survive better? Hominids (the australopithecines) were physically, from the neck down at least, no different from us. They could run no faster than we can. They could not outrun a big cat. Neither were their brains any larger than those of a Chimpanzee or Gorilla. So having their hands free did not give them any tool using advantage, because they did not make tools. In fact, walking upright should have been a very bad solution to their problem, and they should have gone extinct very quickly.

But obviously, they did not. Why?

Actually, we don’t know the answer to that question. We only know from the fossil record that FOR SOME REASON Hominids began to walk on two feet and FOR SOME REASON this apparently useless adaptation did not result in their extinction.

But the really curious thing is what happened a bit later.

Because a million and a half years later Hominids began to grow bigger brains too (Homo Habilis). Again, we do not know why. Many Anthropologists say “intelligence developed because the environment favored it”. But that is like lifting yourself off the ground by your own bootstraps. Because theory says things evolve as a result of the environment, they say intelligence developed for this reason. They are trying to satisfy the theory, not the facts. Actually the facts have to be bent to satisfy the theory. That is not good science.

The thing is that once people developed larger brains, those free hands that resulted from walking upright suddenly became very convenient. It was almost as if whatever had caused the increase in intelligence had foreseen that free hands would be very useful and so had developed those first.

Tool use and technology followed.

This is a curious scenario that does not conform to evolutionary theory. The effect (walking upright to free the hands for tool use) seems to have preceded the cause (intelligence) which itself developed for no good reason. This would make more sense as the stages in a design to achieve a final end product (an intelligent species with free appendages suited to tool use) rather than as random evolutionary mutation. And isn’t that what a theory is for? To make sense of something?

Moreover that million and a half years when Hominids lived on the ground (and so were no longer as good at climbing trees as they once had been), were exposed to all sorts of ground-dwelling dangers (such as saber-tooth cats), could not fight worth beans (imagine a chimp vs a tiger), could run no faster than you or me, and were no smarter than chimps are today was a period in which they, by all the rules of evolution (survival of the fittest), should have gone extinct.

But they did not.


How did they beat the odds?

It almost looks as if they were helped, protected, as if they were someone’s project in progress. Before you scoff consider that evolutionary theory cannot convincingly explain this period of Human evolution or why these changes occurred.

Who is to say these things are not distant shadows of Alien genetic intervention? Who is to say we are not a modified species?

The current debate about intelligent design holds open all these possibilities. Of course, the people who began the intelligent design debate did not intend such speculation. They intended to drag the horizons of intellectual debate about Human origins back to the 16th Century, not to expand them to the stars. But their dishonest approach to the question has had the unintended effect of opening the field, not closing it.

So, paradoxically, I think the Intelligent Design debate now gearing up in the US is a good thing. Hegel and Marx thought that this is the method by which ideas advance in the face of entrenched conservative ideology. That would be a good thing.

It certainly is something to think about.

Whoever said we could know anything, anyway?

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Mountain View

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Posted - 10/08/2005 :  7:56:33 PM  Show Profile  Visit xanti's Homepage Send xanti a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Riveting read, Rock - Thanks.

Theory, antitheory and folk tale

A t the end of "A Brief History of Time," his 1988 best-seller about the latest scientific thinking on the cosmos, the British physicist Stephen W. Hawking posed a tough question in deceptively simple terms. "Why," he asked, "does the universe go to all the bother of existing?"
Musing on the answer, he pointed out that in the last couple of centuries most scientists had been too busy with new theories about what the universe is to ask the question why it is. But, he wrote, it was not always that way. Philosophers -- the people who ask why -- used to take all of human knowledge for their field, admitting no division between scientific questions and religious ones.

Flexible thinker that he is, professor Hawking famously concluded his book with a thought that may have surprised his colleagues. "If we do discover a complete theory [of the universe]," he wrote, "it should in time be understandable in broad principle by everyone, not just a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of "why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason -- for then we would know the mind of God."

Since then, many ordinary people have jumped the gun on that discussion, particularly in the United States, where a debate has raged over what should and should not be taught in public schools on the great "why" question. More accurately, sizable segments of the American population have conflated "how" and "what" with "why," in effect arguing that a science course -- especially a biology course -- should start, not end, with the mind of God. Most scientists and teachers feel, with professor Hawking, that it should be the other way round.

This fractious debate appeared to have been resolved in 1987, when the U.S. Supreme Court effectively barred the teaching of "creationism" in public schools to balance the teaching of evolution -- the near-universally accepted theory that Earth is billions of years old, that life forms have developed gradually over millions of years and that the question of ultimate origins is an open one. The court argued that creationism -- the belief that a deity created Earth and living things some 6,000 years ago, as recounted in the Bible -- was an attempt to promote religion and as such violated the constitutional wall between church and state. It was a split decision, but in the end the justices chose to opine that a scientific theory did not have to be "balanced" by a folk tale.

Since then, however, states have chipped away at the substance and scope of that ruling, culminating in a new case now being heard in Pennsylvania in which the folk tale seems to have returned to the fray in the guise of an antitheory. Parents from the town of Dover, Pa., are suing to block a local school board requirement that biology teachers read a statement casting doubt on Darwin's theory of evolution. The statement also proposes an alternative scenario, known as intelligent design, which says life is too complex to have arisen spontaneously, without the intervention of an undefined higher being.

The case has drawn enormous attention, and polls show the American public -- but not the scientific community -- as more or less evenly divided on it. Both sides agree, though, that it will probably end up back in the Supreme Court. Thus, 106 years after Darwin's "Origin of Species" was published, evolution is still controversial.

Except that it is not, on the whole -- not among the overwhelming majority of scientists and not outside the United States. Scientists testified at the Pennsylvania trial last week that intelligent design, the latest weapon in the anti-Darwin war, is not a scientific theory at all, since, like creationism, it is untestable. On that ground, it is simply a negative argument, not an alternative one.

Observers from other countries often have trouble understanding the vehemence of American anti-evolutionists, since so many religious people around the world see no contradiction between Darwin's theory and belief in a deity. There are even many scientists who, as the Australian physicist Paul Davies once put it, "do not subscribe to a conventional religion but nevertheless deny that the universe is a purposeless accident." Darwin himself never said it was.

The American debate is therefore a bit of a curiosity. Much about it is comical -- remember the joke about intelligent design being disproved by the existence of the Kansas school board? But much of it is alarming, too, particularly the hints that a form of anti-intellectual brainwashing may be taking place in large swaths of the rural U.S. The world will be watching the outcome of the Pennsylvania case with interest -- and trepidation.

The Japan Times: Oct. 2, 2005
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Posted - 10/08/2005 :  7:58:01 PM  Show Profile  Visit xanti's Homepage Send xanti a Private Message  Reply with Quote
5 October 2005
Oxygen Increase Behind Rise Of Mammals

Researchers measuring levels of carbon 13 - a byproduct of photosynthesis - in deep-sea core samples going back 205 million years have identified a sharp rise in oxygen levels about 50 million years ago. The increase in oxygen levels gave mammals the evolutionary boost they needed to dominate the planet, says researcher Paul Falkowski, from Rutgers University.

Because photosynthesis produces oxygen and leaves carbon 13 behind, the presence of carbon 13 in the fossil samples allows precise measurements of how much oxygen was in the atmosphere at any given time. Falkowski said that when dinosaurs flourished the oxygen level was around 10 percent, but increased to 17 percent 50 million years ago and then to 23 percent by 40 million years ago.

"In the fossil record, we see that see that this rise in oxygen content corresponds exactly to a really rapid rise of large, placental mammals," Falkowski explained. "The more oxygen, the bigger the mammals. We argue that the rise in oxygen content allowed mammals to become very, very large - mammals like… huge saber-toothed cats. They paved the way for all subsequent large mammals, including ourselves."

While there were placental mammals on Earth at the time of the great extinction of dinosaurs about 65 million years ago, they were small, limited creatures. The dinosaur extinction event itself did little to further the mammalian domination of the planet. It was the subsequent spreading of shallow seas, the increase in plant life - and photosynthesis - in addition to the consequent increase in oxygen content that gave the mammals the boost they needed, according to Falkowski's study in the journal Science.

Over the last 10 million years, the oxygen level has decreased to around 21 percent, which many scientists believe was caused by great fires that burned over the earth about 10 million years ago. These fires reduced the number of trees and, therefore, the amount of photosynthesis and oxygen.

Source: Rutgers University
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Posted - 10/08/2005 :  9:00:05 PM  Show Profile  Visit xanti's Homepage Send xanti a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Catholic Church no longer swears by truth of the Bible
By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

THE hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has published a teaching document instructing the faithful that some parts of the Bible are not actually true.

The Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland are warning their five million worshippers, as well as any others drawn to the study of scripture, that they should not expect “total accuracy” from the Bible.

“We should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision,” they say in The Gift of Scripture.

The document is timely, coming as it does amid the rise of the religious Right, in particular in the US.

Some Christians want a literal interpretation of the story of creation, as told in Genesis, taught alongside Darwin’s theory of evolution in schools, believing “intelligent design” to be an equally plausible theory of how the world began.

But the first 11 chapters of Genesis, in which two different and at times conflicting stories of creation are told, are among those that this country’s Catholic bishops insist cannot be “historical”. At most, they say, they may contain “historical traces”.

The document shows how far the Catholic Church has come since the 17th century, when Galileo was condemned as a heretic for flouting a near-universal belief in the divine inspiration of the Bible by advocating the Copernican view of the solar system. Only a century ago, Pope Pius X condemned Modernist Catholic scholars who adapted historical-critical methods of analysing ancient literature to the Bible.

In the document, the bishops acknowledge their debt to biblical scholars. They say the Bible must be approached in the knowledge that it is “God’s word expressed in human language” and that proper acknowledgement should be given both to the word of God and its human dimensions.

They say the Church must offer the gospel in ways “appropriate to changing times, intelligible and attractive to our contemporaries”.

The Bible is true in passages relating to human salvation, they say, but continue: “We should not expect total accuracy from the Bible in other, secular matters.”

They go on to condemn fundamentalism for its “intransigent intolerance” and to warn of “significant dangers” involved in a fundamentalist approach.

“Such an approach is dangerous, for example, when people of one nation or group see in the Bible a mandate for their own superiority, and even consider themselves permitted by the Bible to use violence against others.”

Of the notorious anti-Jewish curse in Matthew 27:25, “His blood be on us and on our children”, a passage used to justify centuries of anti-Semitism, the bishops say these and other words must never be used again as a pretext to treat Jewish people with contempt. Describing this passage as an example of dramatic exaggeration, the bishops say they have had “tragic consequences” in encouraging hatred and persecution. “The attitudes and language of first-century quarrels between Jews and Jewish Christians should never again be emulated in relations between Jews and Christians.”

As examples of passages not to be taken literally, the bishops cite the early chapters of Genesis, comparing them with early creation legends from other cultures, especially from the ancient East. The bishops say it is clear that the primary purpose of these chapters was to provide religious teaching and that they could not be described as historical writing.

Similarly, they refute the apocalyptic prophecies of Revelation, the last book of the Christian Bible, in which the writer describes the work of the risen Jesus, the death of the Beast and the wedding feast of Christ the Lamb.

The bishops say: “Such symbolic language must be respected for what it is, and is not to be interpreted literally. We should not expect to discover in this book details about the end of the world, about how many will be saved and about when the end will come.”

In their foreword to the teaching document, the two most senior Catholics of the land, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, and Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrew’s and Edinburgh, explain its context.

They say people today are searching for what is worthwhile, what has real value, what can be trusted and what is really true.

The new teaching has been issued as part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of Dei Verbum, the Second Vatican Council document explaining the place of Scripture in revelation. In the past 40 years, Catholics have learnt more than ever before to cherish the Bible. “We have rediscovered the Bible as a precious treasure, both ancient and ever new.”

A Christian charity is sending a film about the Christmas story to every primary school in Britain after hearing of a young boy who asked his teacher why Mary and Joseph had named their baby after a swear word. The Breakout Trust raised £200,000 to make the 30-minute animated film, It’s a Boy. Steve Legg, head of the charity, said: “There are over 12 million children in the UK and only 756,000 of them go to church regularly.

That leaves a staggering number who are probably not receiving basic Christian teaching.”



Genesis ii, 21-22

So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; and the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man

Genesis iii, 16

God said to the woman [after she was beguiled by the serpent]: “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

Matthew xxvii, 25

The words of the crowd: “His blood be on us and on our children.”

Revelation xix,20

And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had worked the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshipped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with brimstone.”


Exodus iii, 14

God reveals himself to Moses as: “I am who I am.”

Leviticus xxvi,12

“I will be your God, and you shall be my people.”

Exodus xx,1-17

The Ten Commandments

Matthew v,7

The Sermon on the Mount

Mark viii,29

Peter declares Jesus to be the Christ

Luke i

The Virgin Birth

John xx,28

Proof of bodily resurrection

Times Newspapers Ltd.
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Galactic Member

United Kingdom
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Posted - 10/09/2005 :  8:05:01 PM  Show Profile  Visit xanti's Homepage Send xanti a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Early Earth Had Toxic Oceans...

Summary - (Oct 7, 2005) Researchers from NASA have confirmed that it would have been impossible for advanced life forms, like fish or mammals, to live in the Earth's early oceans because it was such a toxic environment. The scientists studied ancient rock formations, and found evidence of photosynthetic bacteria living as recently as 1.6 billion years ago. This bacteria would have required both sunlight and an environment rich in hydrogen sulfide - this environment would have been quite toxic for air breathing creatures.

Full article @ You must be logged in to see this link.

Note: "This work suggests Earth's oceans may have been hostile to animal and plant life until relatively recently," said Dr. Carl Pilcher, NASA's senior scientist for astrobiology. "If so, this would have profound implications for the evolution of modern life."
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780 Posts

Posted - 10/11/2005 :  3:53:37 PM  Show Profile Send scmit377 a Private Message  Reply with Quote

It's BOTH creationism and evolution designed by beings superior
to humans, God (if you like), or aliens (if you like).

Evolution is definitely part of the overall picture.

According to an abductee from Germany, aliens have created
man here on Earth from the genetic blending of four other
native species already living here on the planet that are
probably now all extinct.

Evolution, that is punctuated by periodic doses of
intelligently designed creationism (alien genetic
manipulations) over millions of years.

The fundamental Christian religious people will fight you
on that one. They say that God created everything, all species,
a few thousand years ago. These people are not necessarily
incorrect, since God's kingdom is perhaps one of the many
superadvanced alien races that have had genetic influences here
with current humanity and the Earth. I don't see a
contradiction here, it all depends on how you interpret the
situation. I don't discount God. I don't discount aliens

From fossil records, we know that there were life forms on
Earth from before a few thousand years ago. Evolution is
still a part of the game. Stars evolve, solar systems evolve,
planets evolve, life forms evolve, this is all a natural
universal process that should occur everywhere in the
Universe. This is why I am so convinced that many species
or races of aliens must exist.

Human multiple alien race abductee member,
Regular guy,
doctor's degree student
President of CD-CETI
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Galactic Member

United Kingdom
860 Posts

Posted - 10/12/2005 :  5:07:45 PM  Show Profile  Visit xanti's Homepage Send xanti a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't know, scmit...The labelling of such fundamentally important actors as a/the 'creator/s' is one of the factors disabling our ability to look beyond the errors we make in assuming that the answer is more important than the question...

Once we have established an ideological base on which to build the case, it all pretty much goes downhill from there...

One cannot find 'answers' to questions by presupposition alone. Unfortunately, this is the point at which both parties begin to state their cases.

I find the issue/s both sad and wasteful of energies and efforts that might otherwise be more gainfully employed elsewhere. Not least because, in the end, maybe it's not so much a case of how we came to be, as how we come to do. The rest will surely follow...

Edited by - xanti on 10/12/2005 5:09:23 PM
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Posted - 10/24/2005 :  7:24:31 PM  Show Profile Send Rock a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Religious Fundamentalism in the United States is far more serious than you seem to realize. They don´t want to teach Evolution and Creationism side by side. They want to ban Evolution. They are anti-intellectual in the extreme. They are good at playing politics, however, and have slithered into many positions of power where they are even now doing their damndest to re-form the United States into that Bibical Parody of a nation that existed in the move "The Handmaid´s Tale". Bush´s efforts to pack the Supreme Court with `Religious people` are just one step along the way.

That thing about increased oxygen was interesting. Do you think the decreasing oxygen level explains things like Tony Blair?

Whoever said we could know anything, anyway?
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United Kingdom
860 Posts

Posted - 10/25/2005 :  12:26:05 PM  Show Profile  Visit xanti's Homepage Send xanti a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ohhh no - I do not underestimate the madness, Rock - not at all!

Do you think the decreasing oxygen level explains things like Tony Blair?

Hehe...mayhaps, it does...

However, the fact that it matters not; 'left' nor 'right'...that all parties concerned are scraping the bottom of the barrel and that this consists of nothing but fear should provide a focus from which to pluck an answer for that.

Such a road takes one and all nowhere unless you call the Dark Ages somewhere!

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Galactic Member

780 Posts

Posted - 10/26/2005 :  6:56:08 PM  Show Profile Send scmit377 a Private Message  Reply with Quote

OK Xanti, you can beam me up now. (to your UFO spaceship)


I am naming Xanti as
Senior Vice President of CD CETI
Elrick as
Senior Vice President of CD CETI
Starmom as
Senior Vice President of CD CETI
and Rock as
Chief Skeptical Advisor of CD CETI

Ohh but please, don't send me a bill for your services
Everybody knows that I created the Universe!, so what's
the problem here anyway?


Human multiple alien race abductee member,
Regular guy,
doctor's degree student
President of CD-CETI
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Galactic Member

833 Posts

Posted - 10/27/2005 :  08:32:34 AM  Show Profile  Visit Starmom's Homepage Send Starmom a Private Message  Reply with Quote
hey scmit, thanks for the appointment!
great job on creating the universe, by the way. i have a few questions though. like, what is the origin of consciousness?
when did matter become aware?

"When does a wave become a particle? when it is observed"
could you explain that?

for each molecule of matter there is an equal and opposite molecule of anti-matter. they should cancel each other out.
but matter wins the dance.
can you please explain this cosmic imperfection that allows
the victory of matter?

evolution or creation, or a little bit of both,
there are still mystery elements in that cosmic soup that we dont know.
time is one of them. can you explain time to me? i get more out of
a heiroglyph than i do a watch(which i kill).
a glyph of spirals, the spirals of galaxies or the spirals of dna(as above, so below).
what? did you open the circle to set the spirals spinning,
to set us on this journey of discovery,
with a catch 22 to kink up any progress we might make?
is this a cruel joke?
set on this crooked path to wander lost and never know who we are, or why, or how we came to be.
what's your point, as creator of the universe?

i mean, really, why create dazzling stars and bountiful blue worlds
when in the midst of that magnificence there is such cruelty,
such horror, such carnage?
what is the point?
to watch us squirm, earthworms in sudden exposure to light,
down here in this swamp?
outside my window the leaves fall. all shining and red and gold.
not far away i can hear the babble of the world in misery.
i cant quite reconcile myself to the beauty
of earth with the savagery of man. doesnt fit. aint natural.
will we evolve past this? lop off our prehensile tail and move faster? get somewhere?

as creator of the universe, you did a fabulous job.
but youve got a little explaining to do to the suffering and the
oppressed children of earth.
i want to know how the ONE who creates the intricacy of a rose
uses the same hands to create repulicans.
if the foundation of all things is a construction of light,
and everything is a balance with one imperfection,
how can beauty co-exist with violence?
does there have to be a struggle, from the most basic elements of creation, in order to exist, there has to be a battle?

science may prove things, at least temporarily, and the math may validate the science, all are threads in the tapestry,
but where is the gold thread that runs thru all, the thread of light,
and soul.
religions fail to truly address that, in their business of buying and selling.
how can any of us know anything for sure when we are fed
crumbs from the grander tables of the vatican..and elsewhere.

will consciousness evolve? is that the point?

as creator of the universe, you could let loose a little truth,
for us to digest slowly, a meal instead of a crumb,
for the hungry.

be quick with your fishes and loaves of bread.
(i am asking as an employee, respectfully, with hopes of a promotion)

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Galactic Member

780 Posts

Posted - 10/28/2005 :  03:09:15 AM  Show Profile Send scmit377 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Answering the question, or trying to, is an almost
impossible task. So I make fun of the whole thing.
hehehe. I'd like so see a group of Ph.D biologists-
(evolution oriented) in with a group of Ph.D. religious
scholar types(creationism) arguing over evolution vs
creation in a public type forum.

If I remember any of my physics , light particles
were said to be like wave-particle packets. Other
things also seem to have both a wave and particle
type charcter to them, like gravity and matter.
(But,then again, I am not the world's physics
expert either.)

Antimatter, where is it? I think our Universe
is like fractionated off of the rest( a higher
dimensional Universe). It is kind of like an ice
cube, where the rest of the Universe is normally
at a higher energy states (e.g.liquid water,
water vapor-gas) and we had fractionated off of the
rest billions of years ago.(just a theory).
sometimes you here the phrase of "broken symmetry"
So maybe that is where all the antimatter is. It got
carried off into other dimensional spaces, other
parallel universes as the current Universe we know
about started to cool down. (Scmit's cosmology theory,
hehehe) (But again, not really the world's expert.)

I still think it is BOTH evolution and creationism
together as the final answer.(at least for me)

Human multiple alien race abductee member,
Regular guy,
doctor's degree student
President of CD-CETI

Edited by - scmit377 on 10/31/2005 06:58:23 AM
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United Kingdom
860 Posts

Posted - 11/20/2005 :  7:47:10 PM  Show Profile  Visit xanti's Homepage Send xanti a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Two simple questions arise, firstly - then, from whence did we evolve - which leads us back to; then who created the creator...

Scmit! I do believe I begin to like your thinking & reasoning more n' more...waves...particles...seas of consciousness...

Ok...Evolutionary creationism...I remember once being in deep talk with a minister of the church. He rested assured that his god created all things in stages. No literal seven-day genesis, if you will - but a millenia of trial, error & focus that finally panned-out to produce the present. His was a case of taking all the 'known' facts about evolution & moulding them into a (his) theory of creation. It didn't work for me then and it works even less for me now. One omnipotent all-seeing being creates a 'garden in Eden' (finally...!) and then proceeds to set the stage for its destruction. The being is endowed with facets of 'personality' ranging from the evil to the 'divine'. The being is both destructive & creative in nature. It possesses the power to cruelly smite or to benevolently endow ...It expects praise and worship for its very existence. It appears to demand from the created that which it is unable to manifest itself...It tells us what love is and then fails to practice even its most simple principles. It practices prejudice in almost all its forms. Furthermore, it threatens (nay, promises) to exact judgement and punishment upon those whom it deems to be found less than worthy...

The creator is flawed & evolution leaves much to be desired. Does that mean that neither of them are finished yet I wonder...

Standing alone, neither makes any 'true' logical (nor even emotional) sense to the modern world. Given that such a proposition is correct it stands to reason that there must be a third 'way'. That is the point where & when this 'evolutionary/creationism theory' makes its entrance into (so-called) conscious reasoning. A fusion of two seemingly opposing ideologies that serves to make sense of the 'unknown' factors that are ever and always present within the mind of humans. Humankind's efforts to demystify the mysterious...Very few think to embrace it, instead...unconditionally. The mysterious is seen as something to solve, to dissect, to...conquer and so we simply fail to experience & so to explore it in the raw, via reality. Unfortunately, it is our propensity to 'solve' such mysteries that have made the attempts at it's solution ever-more mystifying! We equate by assumption. ('Science'/'knowledge') physics is replete with them - assumptions! We fail to bring one element into the equation because it is ever-present! We form the calculation from another that does not, in fact, exist!

And so...we continue to create gods & maths in an attempt to create order out of chaos. Strange, is it not, that both seem to produce the opposite effect.....
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spoot meister
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936 Posts

Posted - 11/21/2005 :  05:05:22 AM  Show Profile  Visit spoot meister's Homepage Send spoot meister a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I forget wether anyone has mentioned this [so sorry if you have], but where did bacteria on this earth come from? If it evolved what from? Is it possible to create life out of rock and minerals?

There is no grey in our black and white world.
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Galactic Member

United Kingdom
860 Posts

Posted - 11/21/2005 :  3:15:33 PM  Show Profile  Visit xanti's Homepage Send xanti a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hi, spoot.

Have you encountered the You must be logged in to see this link. ?

You might also find something of interest in a search for: You must be logged in to see this link. !

See also: You must be logged in to see this link.

Edited by - xanti on 11/21/2005 3:34:39 PM
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576 Posts

Posted - 11/24/2005 :  5:41:19 PM  Show Profile Send Rock a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hi Spoot.

Is it possible to evolve life out of Rocks and Minerals?

Good question.

That in fact is one of the problems with evolutionary theory. Current science tells us that pre-biotic substances (amino acids and the like) are very common in interstellar space, on meteors and such. It is very likely such things got into the oceans of the ancient earth by meteor bombardments.

Also, the Miller-Urey experiment (performed in the 1950´s) showed that if you take a mixture of gasses similar to those believed to constitute the atmosphere of the ancient earth, and water (the ancient seas), stick ´em in a jar, and shoot electricity through them (simulating lightning) you get a whole bunch of organic materials as a result.

So the ancient oceans of earth were an "organic soup".

Along with that, some folks have noted that certain chemicals, lipids and the like, form globs with "walls" (membranes) in water. "Gee" they said "that looks like cell walls. Is that the way cells could have formed originally?"

But beyond that, current theory is zip. No progress. It is light-years in distance from noting that the oceans were full of pre-biotic materials, and that some of these materials mimicked cell-structure, and showing how they came to life and formed the first cells. Evolutionary theory cannot explain that.

So we come right back to those people who say life was created on purpose.

You could say it was God and Jesus or Buddha or whatever.

Or you could say that life was seeded here from some other place, whether intentionally or not is not the point.

To answer your question directly (refreshing, yes?) no one has explained how inorganic rocks and minerals can come to life. But current theory says it HAD to have happened that way. Otherwise, where did life come from?

I would just add that if life was seeded, even if by some mechanism it is seeded not only from planet to planet, but from Galaxy to Galaxy, it still had to start SOMEWHERE. So we are left either with life is a biochemical reaction that occured (rarely or not) on its own, or there is a force (call it God, call it Melvin) that once, or twice, or endless times, brought inorganic material to life.

Your guess is as good as mine.

Whoever said we could know anything, anyway?

Edited by - Rock on 11/24/2005 5:44:07 PM
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