Exchange 2

Shaun: I read your story. Well written and intelligently developed, so I felt in safe hands, I would be led by stages to an idea. I got the situation from the writing, alien beings raising humans for food and humans finding this natural,  assuming it to be part of how well they were otherwise cared for, with all wants satisfied, meanwhile the aliens are having second thoughts and exploring what this all "meant" and wanting their subject to tell them how the ancient moral humans thought.

But I'm not sure it gave me insight into you. I couldn't make out what I should conclude about your ideas from it. It appeared to say, our "morels" are superfluous, and could be bred out of us without anything of absolute value being lost. That is, it faced readers uncertain of the value of morals with the respective outcomes of choosing between having morals or not having them (modern human livestock or ancient independent humans). OK, I guess that's the point. Secularity leads to loss of basis for morals, religion provides a basis for them. You face secularists with the human nature that secularity would ultimately lead to, a future that you assume would be repelling to anyone. Hence a challenge to find an alternative basis for morals.

In placing high value on morals, under threat from secularity, we'd be close. I can meet that challenge. I believe morals are implicit in the process of evolution, else why would we have them. Morals are, I take it for granted, species-specific, they emerge in the process of our species' evolution. I put it this way: we will automatically adopt as our meaning of life whatever we have been pre-adapted for. By discovering what we've been pre-adapted for, we acquire new "real" meaning. The morals of religions are these meanings given expression in pre-discovery-of-evolution times.

For me morals are an evolution issue. For you I read the story as saying morals are a rationale-for-being-religious issue, and evolution must be seen in that context. Now, that would be a great difference between us. It would also mean to me, that ultimately you must make evolutionary theory secondary to the issue of morals. But:

I could not hold to my religious beliefs, which include putting a premium on knowing and accepting Truth, if I felt that the story about life forming by natural processes alone and then likewise evolving into all forms of life were true. Alternatively, I might then come up with a clever modification of my religious beliefs to accommodate this truth. So, while my religious beliefs play a role in my opinion of Darwinism, I could not continue to doubt it apart from my considerations of philosophy, history, and "scientific facts."

I'm surprised. I believe believers will always find truth defined by religious belief before anything else. What kind of faith can you have that you could find any other standard of truth more convincing? What other standard could be that convincing? A laboratory measurement? A mathematical formula? A neat theory? Is your faith conditional on scientific consensus? A modification of faith, that's more like it. So you'll bend to other standards just as much as you need to maintain faith. I appreciate the warning.

I share your disillusion with evolutionary theory. In my mid-teens I read "Origin..." as a text for practicing oratory, and became converted to evolution as the source of further wisdom about human nature. But nothing happened. Ethology never amounted to much. Evolutionary psychology was awful.

I've seen a whole new (if overlapping) subset of Darwin doubters arise in the ID movement (which, despite its strong creationist ties, includes a number of people who don't believe in Divine creation)

I've kept clear of the Discovery Institute, through I know it contains a subset as you mention. But I'm intent on not accepting the creationist label by having anything to do with them. Any thoughts?

On your responses to my points: Mentions of evolutionary origins in the ancient world had never lead to a tradition of wisdom based on it, I believe--unlike atomism for example. By 1880 Western culture was entirely unaffected by it. All traditions available then were based on alternative origin stories. For me, no philosophy prior to 1840 could be valid, since it must have been proposed without reference to evolution. Kant is a case in point, just too early, presented with the idea in a crude form but had rejected it. All his thinking worthless (not that I've read it).

I don't think the fossil record proves evolution at all, rather I think belief in evolution has guided and provided the interpretations of paleontology.

I think there is enough evidence for some species having followed from other species for the process of extending the process back to a single trunk to have have sufficient likelihood, despite large gaps in the fossil record. Once one abandons special creation to any degree, there is no better alternative than supposing the process of evolution to have been the guiding principle from the start.  Also, both Erasmus Darwin and Lamarck found the process plausible, before any supporting theory had been proposed. So existing evidence and likelihood satisfies me. They process being extended back to a single trunk is not to fit a theory, but a plausible linking up of scraps of evidence.

You seem to think that the story of evolution itself suggests a transcendence of mere physical processes (which would include the chemical ones, ultimately).

YES!!!! To me, my experience of myself strongly suggests that the process generating me transcends today's limits of physics. Or, that phsyics should be defined by what we know to be true of evolved creatures, eg ourselves, that they have properties that to today's physics seem transcendent. My quest is from the study of what must be involved in living creatures evolving to draw outlines of what those properties are, and what they imply about the universe as a whole. For me, conscious experience testifies to realities that must be acknowledged, whether or not they can be accounted for by today's physics. But they are not mystical or spiritual, they are physical realities, just not understood today. We lack the necessary concepts. No reason, though, why we shouldn't try to sketch their outlines so we can take advantage of some of the capabilities we know evolution must engage in.

"What does the cell's almost-perfect system of DNA repair say about the role of DNA in evolution?" By this I was referring to the supposed need for genetic mutation to provide fuel for selection; if mutation is needed why do we have such an efficient repair system, which acts to prevent mutations? And since the system acts in the cell, it will eliminate many potentially beneficial mutations prior to selection getting a chance to work on them. Question: would a 100% efficient repair system, with no mutations at all, be less adaptative than one letting a few mutations get through? Certainly the properties of this repair system will have a far greater effect on the proportion of harmful to beneficial mutations than selection can have. The existence of this repair system, never mentioned in discussions of the modern synthesis, actually throws the whole system into doubt.

Most likely forms of dreaming gradually evolved along with levels of consciousness;

YES!!!!!  So here we have a phenomenon to be accounted for that doesn't involve our subjective self awareness, that scientists seem to think doesn't need to be accounted for. It emerged probably 100 million years ago, so it predates civilization. And since in us it is associated with conscious experiences, we may assume that was true of its original manifestations, part of what it was "for."  So dreaming poses evolutionists with having to account for something nonphysical back in pre-dinosaur days, definitely part of their jurisdiction. Physicalism says anything non-physical can't affect anything physical. Selection and mutation are purely physical, so they can't operate to "evolve" the non-physical aspect of dreaming. That's why I bring it up. It's a neat challenge to darwinism.

Consciousness is probably a corollary of the evolution of certain forms of intelligence, and appears to be possessed to some extent by several other animals, such as the great apes, whales, and probably other mammals and even some birds. Again, as an evolutionary development, there is probably no clear line dividing some level of intelligent awareness and what we might be tempted to call "true consciousness."

So? It still has to be accounted for in any evolutionary theory.

"What kinds of patterns of connection must already be built into it, and what kind of process must it take to generate those patterns during gestation? How can such information be stored in genes and read out of them to generate tissues embodying those patterns of connection?"... All of this is simply a matter of studying cerebral organization down to the cellular or possibly molecular level, along with genetic and epigenetic factors.

I disagree. I think phenomena involving patterns of connection as intricate as these are inherently too elaborate, no matter whether we understand them in detail or not, to be encoded in a string of single-action genes selected separately for their individual action, as the modern synthesis supposes. These phenomena seem to me to involve processes requiring capabilities many orders of magnitude more "capable" than what we conceive of mutated genes being acted on by selection being able to do.

I'm not sure what you mean by "stirs its own tissues." The cells of its bones and even soft parts all maintain the same positions relative to each other. Besides, as whales evolved in the water, hydrodynamic effects probably contribute to maintaining symmetry and proportion.

I was taught embryology worked through successive patterns of chemical gradients each inducing the next. But chemical gradients are exactly what are destroyed by stirring. Chemical gradients in the early embryo cannot maintain their positions in the face of stirring the way later bones and tissues do. Says I!

computer simulations demonstrating that a few mental rules (or reflexes) in each individual can produce this group behavior

Those I read about involve communications between neighbors spreading across the group. To us the swarm seems to move as one, that is, within the one tenth of a second that we can discriminate. Suppose the swarm is 200 creatures across. Suppose their reactions times are smaller than ours, say each can react to signals in one 25th of a second. For a signal to pass from one side of the swarm to the other will take 200/25 seconds, or 8 seconds. That's 80 times as long as we see it taking. Only in computer simulations can such a rapid spread of signals propagate across that many "creatures."

"What does an evolved creature choosing to become a scientist say about evolution?" Whatever he or she wants to say about it! but seriously...

Come now! You can't be serious. Is there no fundamental difference between the chemicals in a test tube and the scientist next to it evaluating the chemicals' "behavior"? Does the scientist assume his curiosity about cosmology is the consequence of selection for adaptation to the savanah?

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but [this] one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

I know I cannot fully appreciate the capabilities of evolution, given today's wisdom: but, discounting all pre-discovery-of-evolution philosophizing I strain forward towards the goal of bringing down into human nature some portion of the creative power characteristic of our creator, the process of evolution.

I would make a better evolutionists than you, if I wanted to. ;) winking Maybe I'm wrong, see what you think of my responses below...

So, given my responses to your responses, how are we doing?



David: ["Very long post I skimmed" Shaun. Warning!]

Combining my replies and a good bit of research... I'm not trying to swamp you with all the material and attachments,
just providing material you may find useful to peruse at your leisure...
I know what it's like to be moved by an inspiring idea and try to inspire others with it, only to get reactions
indicating other people just don't get it at all. Mine was simply a combination of enjoyable learning resources: a
specialized library with related hands-on materials and games; fun, facts, fantasies and faith combined; and then
I'd add a gym for people who didn't like gyms: the Fantasy Hero Training Center. Or I'd start with that and add the
second as a training center for brainy heroes (a la Tony Stark and Dr. Pym) and support personnel like Bond's "Q",
or Mad Scientists for Good (there's one in the movie Sky High). Either way, I had an even bigger vision for a whole
theme park, the Musement Park... ah well, you see it still gets me going. But when I try to explain it to other
people, they always think it's "just like" something else that it's really not like at all (e.g. an activity center
where teens play ping-pong and such, or the YMCA), or I just get the deer-in-the-headlights look, or some friendly
advice about some (potential) problem or reason why it would never work. Sigh. Anyway, I sense something of a
similar frustration in your case -- this idea revs your engine and makes you feel more alive, it's got to be
significant, but: "The response has been a loud and clear 'I don't get it.'" (Hmmm, wonder if my idea would be a
combined hospital-playground for this "self" of yours...)

It's funny that I'm helping you, as I really have no interest in advancing your cause. Just being friendly with a
kindred spirit -- not only in facing bewildering rejection of an apparently great idea, but "My body remains inert,
placid. It’s my self that gets squirmy and needs exercise." "I am finding your writings very much like a comb I can
use to straighten out my own thinking." As we religious creationists say (Pro_27:17) "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man
sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." In my case, the benefit of corresponding with you so far seems to be in
the broadening of my perception of minds given to evolutionism.
[Oh, (BTW, as an aside before I forget I wanted to ask) do you get the Science Channel? Have you seen the show Dark
Matters? I think you'd find it interesting and resonating with or being relevant to some of your thoughts about
science. For example, did you know a protege' of Pavlov performed similar experiments on children, to show that
humans, too, were just a bundle of reflexes?]

Anyway, you originally caught my attention as a critic of Darwinism, and that seems to be at the center of your
thinking still ("I've two concerns as a propaganding  anti-darwinist") but from what I've seen as I learn more, what
you have a problem with is not Darwinism, but what we creationists recognized some time ago as a more fundamental
problem: materialism, or in your case (being a materialist, fundamentally), rank reductionist materialism. You have
no inclination to think something beyond the matter and energy natural to our universe was involved (basic
materialism), you have no doubts about the process of natural conditions weeding out mutations to produce all living
things over time from a single, simple form. That's darwinism. And there's no "golden bullet" (or silver), as Darwin
designed the philosophy of evolutionism to be immune to falsification.

So it seems to me that what you're objecting to is the dry, cold, hyper-rationalist view that there's essentially
nothing more to say about life, intelligence, and all the mind-related traits of humanity (and perhaps in some cases
and to some extent, other living things). To these sorts, once you've described the activity of the matter in the
brain, along with the energy involved of course, you've said it all. Everything else is essentially illusion.
Frankly, I think that deep down you're divided yourself between this view and the view of the part of you on the
surface that's fighting it  so hard, the part that was sparked by the way Evol ution first appeared to you as the
grand raison d'etre of everything. I think this is because even deeper, your spirit feels it's not native to this

But you don't want to mess with that. In fact, besides avoiding any hint of connection to a super nature, you're
also going to have to work hard to avoid the charge of "vitalism." Or maybe I'm misjudging how (not) far you're
willing to step out of the fold of Establishment right-think. You mentioned changing your approach to embrace
previous or existing currents within darwinism. I believe Freud and/or Jung had some ideas similar to yours,
although I guess those are out of favor now, too. I think you mentioned disappointment with the evolutionary
psychology ideas, such as those of E.O. Wilson, but you might study his work for inspiration, if only through
contrast. You haven't commented on my reference(s?) to the Altenberg 16. How about Rupert Sheldrake?

"Why don't I argue against quantum physics the way I argue against darwinism?" To me, and most other creationists,
quantum physics (well, most of it) and darwinism aren't in the same league. Some creationists want to stick to
Newtonian physics, apparently, but the leading scientists I know accept most of QCD and all that. It's experimental
science, with results that can be and have been applied to practical technologies. Darwinism is telling stories
about the past that can never be scientifically demonstrated to be true.

So you need to make it clear that this "self" that you are arguing is more than an illusion (but not much more)
isn't a codename for "soul" or "spirit" or some other supernatural thing, nor are you arguing that there is some
"principle of life" hidden in matter that we haven't discovered. It's just an emergent phenomenon of the complexity
of the way our brains operate, that can't be described fully as the sum of the electro-chemical activity itself.
Just as the meaning of these words arises independently of the pattern of glowing pixels on your screen. Hmmm, then
you have to watch out that you don't get too close to ID arguments along similar lines (information - intelligence -
non-materialism inter-related).

"...there's a much better science of evolution lying far in our future." Reminds me of Clarke's dictum that "Any
sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Of course, to me it suggests that when our
scientific explanations (or hopes for the future) start looking like magic, it may be covering up evidence of the
supernatural. Consider also Jastrow's observation about the Big Bang, that in at least one respect the theologians
were ahead of the scientists. There might be a danger in this for acceptance of your hypothetical new, future

"If we can alter the course of their evolution like that, we can also change how we evolve ourselves."
Are you familiar with the term Eugenics, and how it was applied in various countries, especially in the 1930s?
As I said, this whole idea of there having to be something more to, or more than, darwinism is totally alien to me,
I'm merely practicing putting on my evolutionist cap. We're separated right from the start, but there's a point of
convergence in that we both see the current Establishment view as falling short of explaining some things.

I think you might be onto something at a populist level. Some of us creationists have noted that we can only help
some people to see the truth; even if we could produce a silver bullet to kill darwinism or any form of
materialistic evolutionism, it would only be replaced by some deistic or probably "New Age" postmodernist variation.
There are already people who claim to be Jedi and believe in the Force. There are probably plenty of atheists who
would like to appeal to some future form of evolutionary science that yet avoids any of that stuff, too, but as you
know, they are too afraid of saying or doing anything that might weaken the current Established view or might get
them labeled as "soft" or even closet creationists. Still, there may be any number of in-betweeners dancing on that
line between starry-eyed laymen and crusading defenders of the status quo who will "get it." I'd look among people
who are secularists, college-educated, but haven't been particularly involved in the creation-evolution debate, or
trained more than average in science, engineering or philosophy. I know you want this to influence actual science,
but I think you'll have to take a patient, long-view approach. Oh, you might also look for inspiration to those
scientists who focus on cosmic evolution, such as Neil deGrasse Tyson. Look up things of his on the web that have a
Comments section and you may find a lot of talk about the destiny inherent in evolution and things like that.

"I used to envy people who had ready access to ways to exercise the self; Christians who could simply thumb through
the [B]ible..."
Oh, it's not like that at all, you know. The self is a different thing for Christians. While we hold our spirit/soul
to be a treasured gift in an earthen vessel, we recognize "self-ishness" as perhaps THE fundamental sin, the sinful
attitude of pride from which all other sins and evils develop (loving money is a subset that likewise produces all
sorts of evil). For that matter, Hindus see the self as an illusion, and illusion is the source of all the ills of
the world. They seek to lose the illusion of self and merge with the reality of Brahma, as I recall. For Christians,
we keep our individuality as real, distinct entities, but we seek to make our wills submissive to God's will, to
make our selves in harmony with God. Meditating on Scripture is part of that (prayer is perhaps a larger part), but
it's not like "exercising our selves" by "simply" thumbing through the Bible.

You might also mention the Western tradition of philosophical soul-searching that goes back to ancient Greece and
Socrates, Plato, et al. That seems more like your gymnasium for the self. The secularistic philosophy that rejected
religion and then the supernatural in general gave birth to the bloating of science which has been used to claim
that religion isn't needed anymore -- and about the time it was used that way, it also was used to subordinate or
declare obsolescent the philosophy that bore it.

The "self is like a relationship" idea reminds me of the view that the self is an illusion, in that it is said to
arise from the relationship of "operators" in the brain, the interaction of different mental subroutines. The
philosophically "strong AI" people use this idea as a way to work on applied human-like AI. Again, you might look
into that for ideas, as some of them also talk about "emergent behavior" and this might be what you're really
looking for.
Have you actually read "Zoonomia"? I haven't, although I've read Charles' _Origin_. Oh, Zoonomia might also warrant
italics rather than just quotes as I believe it's an epic poem. Ah, but I was going to tell you, it's not "the
West's very earliest account of evolution." Here's some history notes, that include some related material:
546 B.C. death of Anaximander, who taught that all life developed from amphibians
{384-322 B.C.} {Darwin, in a footnote:} Aristotle, in his "Physicae Auscultationes" (lib. 2,
cap. 8, s.2) ... (as translated by Mr. Clair Grece, who first pointed out the passage to me), "So
what hinders the different parts [of the body] from having this merely accidental relation in
nature? as the teeth, for example, grow by necessity... since they were not made for the sake of
{their various roles in biting and chewing}, but it was the result of accident... Wheresoever,
therefore, all things together... happened like as if they were made for the sake of something,
these were preserved, having been appropriately constituted by an internal spontaneity; and
whatsoever things were not thus constiuted, perished..." We here see the principle of natural
selection shadowed forth... {But I think with a bit more of a "modern" emphasis on chance than
Darwin felt comfortable with.}

1655 _Men Before Adam_ argued that Adam "was simply the first Jew"
1714 Bernard Mandeville's _The Fable of the Bees_ argues "that the wealth and strength of
the state depend not upon the virtues ... but upon vices... Nature herself pays no heed... she
defines virtue as any quality that makes for survival... out of that awful struggle... man had
evolved language, [etc]."
***[1735  Benoit de Mail let's (1656-1738) _Telliamed_, an "evolutionary hypothesis," begins to circulate informally
1748 Benoit de Maillet -- Earth's age = 2x10^9 (2 billion)years (book published 10 years posthumously) "our universe
arose out of a vortex... swirling ashes, water and dust from a sun that had just burned up." Based on the supposed
rate of lowering of the ocean water level, concluded the Earth was covered in water 2 million years ago. "First
modern uniformitarian." saw life as an eternal potential of nature, gradually changing from marine plants to human
beings. . "All land plants and animals, Maillet suggested, had evolved from
corresponding  marine organisms; indeed, men and women were evolved from mermen and
mermaids who, like the frog, had lost their tails." "birds had originated from flying fish, lions from
sea lions."
***{1748 "In _L'Homme plante_ (1748) La Mettrie developed the 'great chain of being' into a
theory of evolution."}
***{1749 Buffon's _Theorie de la terre_ postulates a day-epoch interpretation of Genesis, with an
estimated age of the earth of 85,000 years. "The first three volumes of the _Histoire naturelle,
generale et particuliere_ were published." More volumes were added, the last ones (after his death
in 1788), in 1804. Buffon "undertook to describe the heavens, the earth, and the whole known
world of plants and animals, including man. Buffon sought to reduce all this wilderness of facts to
an order and law through the conceptions of universal continuity and necessity. ... One of his
boldest hypotheses was that there are no fixed and unchangeable species in nature..."
{Oh look: a comment from that Darwin fellow} "... the first author who in modern times has
treated {the theory of descent with modification from a common ancestor} in a scientific spirit
was Buffon. But as his opinions fluctuated greatly... and as he does not enter on the causes or
means of the transformation of species, I need not here enter on details."
***{1751 "Maupertuis' _Systeme de la nature_ not only classed apes and men as allied species,
but anticipated in outline Darwin's theory..."}
***{1761 "Jean Baptiste Robinet returned, in _De la Nature_ (1761), to the older idea of
evolution as a 'ladder of beings' ... all nature is a series of efforts to produce even more perfect
1770 D'Holbach's _The System of Nature_ "a highly-charged attack on supernaturalism...'the Bible of Atheism'"
***{1773 "James Burnett, Lord Monboddo, a Scottish judge, was a Darwinian nearly a century
before Darwin." In _The Origin and Progress of Language_..." Man and anthropoid apes are in
the same genus, Human history is not a decline from primeval perfection, as in Genesis, but a slow
and painful ascent."}
1774 Comte de Buffon -- Earth's age = 75,000 years
***{1778 Buffon's _Epoques de la nature_ "founded paleontology by studying fossil bones and
deducing from them the successive epochs of organic life."}
1789-1799 the French Revolution
1793-1794 Reign of Terror -- "senseless slaughter of some 20,000" French citizens. [1793 “Roman Catholicism banned
in France. ‘The Feast of Reason’ in St. Eustace Church, Paris. Kant: _Religion within the Limits of Mere Reason_.]
{1793-1795 Thomas Paine’s _Age of Reason_. "a scathing attack on the Bible" -- much impact in England and America.
Promoted deism -- "Paine believed that only in the study of nature or natural religion could one find the true and
trustworthy understanding of God."}
[1794 Erasmus Darwin: _Zoonomia, or the Laws of Organic Life_.

"Now all we have to do is break the code it's written in."
We've actually already come a long way in understanding the DNA code, what you need to look into is the subject of
epigenetics, the auxiliary codes and factors that work with and control DNA. You certainly are correct in thinking
that the DNA code alone can't account for everything about us.

"... some of evolution’s own awesome creative power."
Say what? Even as an evolutionist, I wouldn't say that evolution had "awesome creative power." For one, it just
sounds too much like a statement of worship, as if Evolution weren't a process of nature but a (new) god. Then
again, as I creationist I've noted on a number of occasions that it seemed an evolutionist was treating Time and
Chance as if they were the gods Chronos and Fortuna in new robes. But clearly, evolution is not a powerful process,
just as gravity is not a strong force -- but just as gravity can be strong because of the concentration of a lot of
mass, so too evolution's "power" is in vast amounts of time. What humans really want to do is transcend the limits
of chance that evolution depends on, and use the power of intelligence to direct our evolution rapidly.

"I may have glimpsed the promised land but I almost certainly won’t live long enough to enter it."
There are scientists alive now who expect human life will be extended, perhaps hundreds of years, before they die,
and maybe it will be possible to transfer their consiousness, memories, and selves into artificial brains that could
last indefinitely, or they could keep transferring indefinitely.

"life originates when the genome develops sufficient “intelligence” (whatever that means) to support living
creatures capable of reproducing themselves ..."
I think for "intelligence" you want to use "information" or "coding" here.

"That “intelligence” develops steadily for four billion years."
See my Timeline sample (far below) to check on this and the following statements.

"...feel the process of evolution..."
Both as a creationist and a hard-nosed evolutionist I would say you're just fooling yourself, playing an imaginary
game to ... well, I suppose stroking your ego would be a form of exercising your self.

"...why have I been given senses..."
See, "why questions" of this nature are not only outside the bounds of evolutionary studies, they're outside the
range of scientific studies. If evolutionary studies do provide an answer, it would be that you weren't "given"
anything, they just happened, and then became requirements for survival. BTW, it's not your senses that are "able to
appreciate..." but your mental faculties. And there again, the answer would be that we just got lucky as our brains
over-evolved beyond what is needed for survival. As I recall, it has been argued that many organisms have gone
extinct due to becoming overly specialized, or being caught up in an "evolutionary race" due to sexual selection and
going too far.
"We would become like gods."
Ah, yes, I had to save this bit for last. You do realize, don't you, that this is the old lie that started all the
trouble, the temptation that finally induced Eve to partake of the forbidden fruit?
Gen 3:4  And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
Gen 3:5  For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods,
knowing good and evil.
Gen 3:6  And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to
be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her;
and he did eat.

[Attach: Dealing with Design, Evo boo-boos, Different Evo Ideas, Uncommon Descent » Neither Matter Nor Magic..., God
was hiding..., Naturalism, Scientism-naturalism...]
Here's some bits of notes I've taken (or copied from various sources, or my creationist friends did) over the years,
which you might find relevant, at least somewhat interesting, and perhaps even helpful:

FRENCH MICROBIOLOGIST QUESTIONS EVOLUTION, according to Science vol 335, p1035, 2 March 2012. French microbiologist
Didier Raoult has discovered many new species of microbes, including a virus of record size, called Mimivirus, but
he is considered controversial because he is very critical of other microbiologists, and of standard theories of how
microbes evolved. Raoult is also critical of aspects of Darwin’s theory, including the importance of natural
selection, and has published a book entitled Dépasser Darwin (Beyond Darwin).

According to Raoult genes can be exchanged between microbes and complex organisms, which means de novo creation of
entirely new species is possible. He claims Darwin’s branching tree of life should be replaced with an
interconnecting network. According to Raoult “Darwin was a priest” and Darwin got the idea of the tree of life from
the Bible. His criticism of Darwin has annoyed other French scientists. David Moreira of the University of Paris-Sud
in Orsay is concerned that Raoult is providing creationists with ammunition and commented “It’s dangerous to say
those things”.

In his book, Implications of Evolution, Kerkut lists 7 basic assumption of
the "General Theory of Evolution."  I don't see how any evolutionists
cannot be bound by all 7 of these (at least in some form).  Therefore,
that would seem a good place to start.
1. Non-living things gave rise to living things (ie., spontaneous generation).
2. Spontaneous generation occurred only once.
3. All life on this planet is interrelated.
4. Protozoa gave rise to the Metazoa.
5. Various invertebrate phyla are interrelated.
6. Invertebrates gave rise to vertebrates.
7. Within the vertebrates, fish gave rise to amphibia, amphibia gave rise
to reptiles, and reptiles gave rise to mammals and birds.

What's also interesting is that he then acknowledged that none of these
assumptions can be experimentally verified.  So, while the lack of
experimental verification doesn't mean they cannot be true, it does mean
they fall outside the realm of empirical scientific study - an area
evolutionists have always claimed the possessor and defender of.

"Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the
real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of
some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in
spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior
commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to
accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori
adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material
explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that
materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to
say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow
that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen."


Dr. Ernst Mayr / Editorial review of his pending new
book, NATURAL HISTORY / May '97; Pgs. 8-11. .  "The point of the book
Press / 1997) is that the great public, and that includes most
biologists, don't hav e the correct image of the science of biology.
Many still have the idea that the physical sciences, physics, and other
mathematical sciences are real science and everything else is inferior
science.  The physicist Ernest Rutherford once referred to the other
sciences as postage-stamp collecting.  Now physics is perfectly good
science, and many things about it don't apply to the other sciences.
(following is included as a direct excerpt from text) -----

"Biologists have to study all the known facts relating to the particular problem, infer all sorts of consequences
from the reconstructed constellations of  factors, and then attempt to construct a scenario to explain the observed
facts of this particular case.  In other words, they construct a historical narrative." ... "Because this approach
is so fundamentally different from causal-law explanations, the classical philosophers of science -- coming from
logic, mathematics, or the physical sciences -- considered it inadmissible.  However, recent authors have vigorously
refuted the narrowness of the classical view and have shown not only that the historical-narrative approach is valid
but also that it is perhaps the only scientifically and philosophically valid approach in the explanation of unique

"Of course, proving categorically that a historical narrative is
'true' is never possible."

"Among the sciences in which historical narrative play an important role are cosmogony (the study of the origin of
the universe), geology,paleontology, phylogony, biogeography and other parts of evolutionary
biology.  All these fields are characterized by unique phenomena. ...
Unique phenomena have long frustrated the philosopher.  Dave Hume noted
that 'science cannot say anything scientifically about the cause of any
genuinely singular phenomenon.' '' ... "However, if we enlarge the
methodology of science to include historical narratives, we can often
explain unique events rather satisfactorily, and sometimes even make
testable predictions."
(Quote 2) Mayr, Dr. Ernst / In his chapter in EVOLUTION AT A CROSSROADS
/ Depew and Webber, Editors / MIT Press / 1985 / Pg. 60 ( I strongly
endorse your reading this summary text.  Chapters by many leading
evolutionists.  All struggling to make it appear the lesser criteria
they now use to qualify evolution as "science" is somehow justified ...
not always successfully. It contains a good deal of acadamese jargon,
but their meaning is clear to careful readers.)  "By expanding the
concept of science so as to include biology in all its aspects, it is
possible to construct a philosophy that is far richer and far more
suited for man than a philosophy largely based on the physical
sciences.  There is no pathway from the laws of physics to man."
(Quote 3)  The concluding paragraph in EVOLUTION AT A CROSSROADS as
written by editors Depew and Webber reads:  "Mayr says that the
generalizations most useful to biologists trying to establish the facts
about some stretch of evolutionary history are embodied in concepts
rather than laws.  They have interpretative dimension in the way they
are to be applied to particular cases in nature.  The interpretative
finesse with which the able inquirer brings concepts to bear on
individual cases can itself prevent the retelling of ad hoc 'just so'
stories (Mayr, 1983).  Thus Mayr implies here what he has asserted
elsewhere:  evolutionary biology can and should maintain its deep
connection with natural history.  But, as Mayr also points out, this
view runs counter to the methodological demands of the received
philosophy of science.  For the interpretative rule of conceptual
models, on which Mayr and Stent place such great emphasis, is precisely
what the progressive testing of hypotheses is supposedly gradually to be eliminating from science, as the latter
prosecutes its search for ever more comprehensive and basic laws.  Faced with a choice between this ideal of science
and reality, it is clear, in Mayr's view, that we
should reject the physicist model of science that generates this

From EVOLUTION AT A CROSSROADS again.  On Pg. 52 Dr. Mayr
tells us:   "It took some time before this was fully realized, but
eventually it became apparent that there are two biologies, the biology
of proximate causations (functional biology) and that of ultimate
causations (evolutionary biology).  The biology of proximate causations
deals with the functional processes of living organism, or to put it in
a different way, with the translation of genetic programs.  Its major
method is indeed the experiment, and it most important question is how.
The biology of ultimate causations deals with evolutionary biology in
the widest sense of the word.  It occupies itself with the origin of new genetic programs, and its principe question
is why.  The two biologies require very different explanatory models, indeed very different philosophies."
---on Pg. 52, Dr. Mayr says:  "Traditionally one encountered statements,
both in the literature of the physical sciences and in philosophy, that
the physical sciences obey strictly deterministic laws, while biology,
as J. Hershel said of evolutionary biology, obeyed the law of
higgledy-piggledly.  There seemed to be a total contrast between the two sciences."

"Dr. Ralph  Lewis,  Prof. Emeritus Biology, Mich. State Univ. in article
titled  "Biology: A Hypothetico-Deductive Science" appearing in THE
AMERICAN BIOLOGY TEACHER; Vol. 50; No. 6; Pg. 6; Sep't. '88 advises:
"During the 50-year life of THE AMERICAN BIOLOGY TEACHER there has been
a change in the general view of method in biological science.  A brief
look at this change and its possible consequences for biology education
may interest those who are searching for ways to improve education at
the high school and college levels.  The change was from descriptive
biology to hypothetico-deductive (HD) biology, that is, to theoretical


The following points are made by Sean Nee (Nature 2005 435:429):
1) For centuries the "great chain of being" held a central place in Western thought. This view saw the Universe as
ordered in a linear sequence starting from the inanimate world of rocks. Plants came next, then animals, men, angels
and, finally, God. It was very detailed with, for example, a ranking of human races; humans themselves ranked above
apes above reptiles above amphibians above fish. This view even predicted a world of invisible life in between the
inanimate and the visible, living world, long before Antonie van Leeuwenhoek's discoveries. Although advocates of
evolution may have stripped it of its supernatural summit, this view is with us still.
2) Common presentations of evolution mirror the great chain by viewing the process as progressive . For example, in
their book THE MAJOR TRANSITIONS IN EVOLUTION, John Maynard Smith and Eors Szathmáry take us from the origin of
life, through to the origin of eukaryotic cells, multicellularity, human societies and, finally, of language. They
explicitly point out that evolution does not necessarily lead to progress, and even refer to the great chain by its
Latin name, scala naturae. But it is impossible to overlook the fact that the "major" evolutionary transitions lead
inexorably, step by step, to us. Similarly, in their recent essay in Nature, "Climbing the co-evolution ladder"
(Nature 431, 913:2004), Lenton and colleagues illustrate their summary of life-environment interactions through the
ages with a ladder whose rungs progress through microbes, plants, and, at the top, large animals.
3) In his recent book THE ANCESTOR'S TALE, Richard Dawkins reverses the usual temporal perspective and looks
progressively further back in time to find our ancestors. Like Maynard Smith and Szathmáry, he cautions us against
thinking that evolution is progressive, culminating with us. He emphasizes that with whatever organism we begin the
pilgrimage back through time, we all are reunited at the origin of life. But by beginning the journey with us and
looking backwards along our ancestry, Dawkins generates a sequence of chapter titles that would read like a typical
chain to a medieval theologian, albeit with some novelties and the startling omission of God.
4) By starting with us, Dawkins regenerates the chain because species that are more closely related to us are more
similar as well, and such similarity was an important criterion in determining the rankings in the classical chain.
But there is nothing about the world that compels us to think about it in this way, suggesting, instead, that we
have some deep psychological need to see ourselves as the culmination of creation. Illustrating this, when we
represent the relationships between species, including ourselves, in a family tree, we automatically construct it so
that the column of species' names forms a chain with us as the top, as in the first of the trees pictured. But the
other construction is equally valid.
1. Lovejoy, A. O. The Great Chain of Being (Harper and Row, New York, 1965)
2. Gee, H. Nature 420, 611 (2002)
3. Maynard Smith, J. & Szathmáry, E. The Major Transitions of Evolution (W. H. Freeman & Co., Oxford, 1995)
4. Dawkins, R. The Ancestor's Tale (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, New York, 2004)
5. Nee, S. Nature 429, 804-805 (2004).
Chemistry guides evolution, claims theory
09:30 20 January 03
(Note how the new theory portrays living things or the process of evolution itself as "responding" to situations and
uses other phrases subtly (inadvertently) suggesting that intelligent reactions were involved. Other phrases
indicate that something simply "had to" have evolved somehow, -- that any step could not have occured without more
guidance than chemical-evolutionary necessity is never considered. Also note that even other evolutionists are,
well, less than impressed.)
Journal reference: Journal of Theoretical Biology (vol 220, p 323)

What is Evolution?      
{A Frequently Asked Questions file from an evolutionist web site,
with comments and added emphasis by David Bump}
<CONTENT="A definition of evolution that is acceptable to evolutionists. [...]
[i.e. one chosen to fit our purpose for the moment.]
All too often creationists spend their time arguing with a straw-man caricature
of evolution.">  [Which, as we'll see, was derived from commonly-accepted definitions
and confusing statements by evolutionists themselves]
[Last Update: January 22, 1993]
Most non-scientists seem to be quite confused about precise definitions of biological evolution.  [Obviously,
whenever a non-scientist talks about evolution, they must be referring to biological evolution in the technical
sense, right?]
Such confusion is due in large part to the inability of scientists to communicate effectively to the general public
and also to confusion among scientists themselves about how to define such an important term.
[So why all the griping about "non-scientists" concepts? Get the beam out of your own eye...]
When discussing evolution it is important to distinguish between the existence of evolution and various theories
about the mechanism of evolution. And when referring to the existence of evolution it is important to have a clear
definition in mind.  What exactly do biologists mean when they say that they have observed evolution or that humans
and chimps have evolved from a common ancestor? [If you're going to include this statement as illustrating
evolution, you're going to blow your attempt at a precise, scientific definition apart before you get started!]
One of the most respected evolutionary biologists has defined biological
evolution as follows:
"In the broadest sense, evolution is merely change, and so is
all-pervasive; galaxies, languages, and political systems all
evolve. Biological evolution ... is change in the properties
of populations of organisms that transcend the lifetime of a
single individual. The ontogeny of an individual is not considered
evolution; individual organisms do not evolve. The changes in
populations that are considered evolutionary are those that are
inheritable via the genetic material from one generation to the
next. Biological evolution may be slight or substantial; it embraces
everything from slight changes in the proportion of different
alleles within a population (such as those determining blood
types) to the successive alterations that led from the earliest
protoorganism to snails, bees, giraffes, and dandelions."

- Douglas J. Futuyma in Evolutionary Biology,
Sinauer Associates 1986
[Here is a "respected evolutionary" biologist who takes note of the broad sense of evolution, puts forth a very
acceptable scientific definition, and then includes THE HISTORY of "evolution" from "the earliest {unknown and
unknowable} protoorganism" to present life forms. Got that? Now note how the writer of this polemic ignores that
last bit entirely, when convenient...]
It is important to note that biological evolution refers to populations and not to individuals and that the
changes must be passed on to the next generation. In practice this means that,
Evolution is a process that results in heritable changes in a
population spread over many generations.
[Note that the writer also acknowledges or defines evolution here as something that is an active function
("process") that takes place over (in the case of "many generations" of long-lived organisms) long historical
This is a good working scientific definition of evolution; one that can be used to distinguish between evolution and
similar changes that are not evolution. Another common short definition of evolution can be found in many textbooks:
"In fact, evolution can be precisely defined as any change."
[Again, perhaps the writer should consider that there are good reasons for standard dictionaries to have broader
definitions than his highly-specialized choice.]
These de finitions are simply wrong. 
[Yes, O all-knowing one! We hear and fall into lock-step!]
Unfortunately it is common for non-scientists to enter into a discussion about evolution with such a definition in
mind. This often leads to fruitless debate since the experts are thinking about evolution from a different
perspective. When someone claims that they don't believe in evolution they cannot be referring to an acceptable
scientific definition of evolution because that would be denying so mething which is easy to demonstrate. It would be
like saying that they don't believe in gravity! 
[Very true - if evolutionists stuck to that very narrow definition about changes in frequencies of alleles, there
wouldn't be any reason at all for creationist scientists to debate with them -- it's all the non-scientific ideas
the evolutionists themselves tack on to their concept of evolution that causes all the problems -- or is it? Is
"changes in allele frequency" what Darwin had in mind?]
Recently I read a statement from a creationist who claimed that scientists are being dishonest when they
talk about evolution. This person believed that evolution was being misrepresented to the public. 
[Well, DUH, this is just what the writer here has been saying, although claiming that it's simply because scientists
are (near totally, apparently) inept at communicating ideas to the public. I'd like to review some of the things
Sagan and Asimov have written in the light of this paper -- think they didn't know what evolution really is, or that
they weren't effective communicators?]
The real problem is that the public, and creationists, do not understand what evolution is all about. This
person's definition of evolution was very different from the co mmon scientific definition and as a consequence he
was unable to understand what evolutionary biology really meant.  [How can the writer imply there is one common
scientific definition after admitting that even scientists are confused about how to define it, and adding to the
confusion by citing definitions of differing scope as acceptable, and using examples that don't fit all them?]
This is the same person who claimed that one could not "believe" in evolution and still be religious! But once we
realize that evolution is simply "a process that results in heritable changes in a population spread over many
generations" it seems a little silly to pretend that this excludes religion! 
[I'd like to know that "person's" exact statement, but at any rate, if you include in this definition the idea that
humans evolved over many generations from an ancestor common to apes also, then the founding text of the Jewish,
Christian, and Muslim religions is cast into serious doubt.]
Scientists such as myself must share the blame for the lack of public understanding of science. We need to
work harder to convey the correct information. Sometimes we don't succeed very well but that does not mean that we
are dishonest. 
[What, then? Lazy, stupid, inc ompetent, apathetic, hypocritical, arrogant..?]
On the other hand, the general public, and creationists in particular, need to also work a little harder in order to
understand science.
[Then WRITE TEXTBOOKS that stick to one limited definition!]
Reading a textbook would help.
[Such snidely sarcastic parting shots are so juvenile! Unfortunately, one could probably find as many "erroneous"
definitions of evolution in textbooks as in dictionaries. Many, if not most or all, creationists have read at least
one evolutionary textbook, and at least one I know of TAUGHT evolution.]

20 Things that (honest) evolutionists (have to) agree about with creationists (and vice-versa)!
1 -- Science only studies the natural world.
2 -- Scientific statements are based on empirical observations.
3 -- The conclusions of scientific research are always open to revision.
4 -- Science is at its best when its statements remain open to debate.
5 -- Astrology is not scientific, it is pure bunk. So is tarot card reading, palm reading, and similar forms of
fortune-telling. UFOs are not vehicles from other planets.
6 -- Recorded human observations about the earth go back no farther than a few thousand years.
7 -- Energy/matter is not created or destroyed, but has a tendency to become dissipated/disordered or settle into a
resting state.
8 -- Observations suggest that the universe has not existed forever, but had a distinct beginning.
9 -- Geological features can NOT be explained entirely by forces operating at the same rate and scale as have been
observed and recorded in human historical records.
10 -- No living cells have been observed to form from raw chemicals by chance.

11 -- No scientific evidence of life existing beyond earth (and earth spacecraft) has been recorded.
12 -- Five decades or more of scientific efforts to artificially reproduce life have failed.
13 -- Mutations have never been observed to produce complex new functions or organs. (The arguments here would
probably involve what is "new" and "complex," or it would be said to be asking too much, not enough time, etc.)
14 -- The fossil record does not show a gradual progression of early, simple life forms evolving into more complex
forms. (Yeah, some evolutionists would argue about this. But honestly?)
15 --  There are especially striking gaps in the expected series: crawling insects to (three kinds of) flying
insects, running/climbing reptiles to rib-gliding reptiles, running/climbing reptiles to pterosaurs,
running/climbing mammals to bats. Only a couple, poorly-preserved possible transitions from lizards to turtles.
16 --  Dinosaurs are really fun to study.
17--  Apes have not been observed evolving into anything, let alone humans. (Again, I hear whining that this isn't
"fair" to expect.)
18-- All humans are the same species and "racial" characteristics are trivial.
19 -- All humans probably share a common ancestor from a few thousand years ago.
20 -- The entire population of humans existing today could have arisen from a single pair a few thousand years ago.
Oooh, a nice round 20, and I wasn't even trying to do that. But as John did, I invite advice on improving the list.


Beyond belief: In place of God

*20 November 2006
*Exclusive from New Scientist Print Edition. 
*Michael Brooks
*Helen Phillips

It had all the fervour of a revivalist meeting. True, there were no hallelujahs, gospel songs or swooning, but there
was plenty of preaching, mostly to the converted, and much spontaneous applause for exhortations to follow the path
of righteousness. And right there at the forefront of everyone's thoughts was God.
Yet this was no religious gathering - quite the opposite. Some of the leading practitioners of modern science, many
of them vocal atheists, were gathered last week in La Jolla, California, for a symposium entitled "Beyond belief:
Science, religion, reason and survival" hosted by the Science Network, a science-promoting coalition of scientists
and media professionals convening at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. They were there to address three
questions. Should science do away with religion? What would science put in religion's place? And can we be good
without God?
First up to address the initial question was cosmologist Steven Weinberg of the University of Texas, Austin. His
answer was an unequivocal yes. "The world needs to wake up from the long nightmare of religion," Weinberg told the
congregation. "Anything we scientists can do to weaken the hold of religion should be done, and may in fact be our
greatest contribution to civilisation."
Those uncompromising words won Weinberg a rapturous response. Yet not long afterwards he was being excoriated for
not being tough enough on religion, and admitting he would miss it once it was gone. Religion was, Weinberg had
said, like "a crazy old aunt" who tells lies and stirs up mischief. "She was beautiful once," he suggested. "She's
been with us a long time. When she's gone we may miss her." Science, he admitted, could not offer the "big truths"
that religion claims to provide; all it can manage is a set of little truths about the universe.
Richard Dawkins of the University of Oxford would have none of it. Weinberg, he said, was being inexplicably
conciliatory, "scraping the barrel" to have something nice to say about religion. "I am utterly fed up with the
respect we have been brainwashed into bestowing upon religion," Dawkins told the assembly.
He was soon joined by Carolyn Porco of the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado, who had been charged with
providing an answer for the second question: if not God, then what? Science, she said, could do at least as well as
religion. "If anyone has a replacement for God, then scientists do." Porco said. "At the heart of scientific inquiry
is a spiritual quest, to come to know the natural world by understanding it... Being a scientist and staring
immensity and eternity in the face every day is about as meaningful and awe-inspiring as it gets."
Astronomers in particular, she suggested, regularly confront the big questions of wonder. "The answers to these
questions have produced the greatest story ever told and there isn't a religion that can offer anything better."
Religious people, she claimed, use God to feel connected to something grander than they are, and find meaning and
purpose through that connection. So why not show them their place in the universe and give them a sense of
connectedness to the cosmos? The answers to why we are here, if they exist at all, will be found in astronomy and
evolution, she said.
A secular icon
Science provides an aesthetic view of the cosmos that could replace that provided by religion - a view that could
even be celebrated by its own iconography, Porco added. Images of the natural world and cosmos, such as the Cassini
photograph of Ear th taken from beyond Saturn, Apollo 8's historic Earthrise or the Hubble Deep Field image, could
offer a similar solace to religious artwork or icons.
The big challenge, according to Porco, will be dealing with awareness of our own mortality. The God-concept brings a
sense of immortality, something science can't offer. Instead, she suggested highlighting the fact that our atoms
came from stardust and would return to the cosmos - as mass or energy - after we die. "We should teach people to
find comfort in that thought. We can find comfort in knowing that everyone who has ever lived on the Earth will some
day adorn the heavens."

"We can find comfort in knowing that everyone who has ever lived on the Earth will some day adorn the heavens"

Like many of the others at the meeting, Porco was preaching to the choir, and there was no more animated or
passionate preacher than Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York. Tyson spoke with an
evangelist's zeal, and he had the heretics in his sights. Referring to a recent poll of US National Academy of
Sciences members which showed 85 per cent do not believe in a personal God, he suggested that the remaining 15 per
cent were a problem that needs to be addressed. "How come the number isn't zero?" he asked. "That should be the
subject of everybody's investigation. That's something that we can't just sweep under the rug."
This single statistic, he said, gave the lie to claims that patiently creating a scientifically literate public
would get rid of religion. "How can [the public] do better than the scientists themselves? That's unrealistic."
DeGrasse Tyson clearly found it hard to swallow the idea that a scientist could be satisfied by revelation rather
than investigation. "I don't want the religious person in the lab telling me that God is responsible for what it is
they cannot discover," he said. "It's like saying no one else will ever discover how something works."
For others, the idea that it is somehow unacceptable for scientists to maintain a religious belief was going too
far. "They're doing science, they're not a problem," said Lawrence Krauss, a physicist based at Case Western Reserve
University in Cleveland, Ohio. Scientists are not a special class of humanity, he pointed out, so it is hardly
surprising that a small number of academy members are also believers. "It would be amazing if that figure were
zero," he said. "Scientists are people, and we all make up inventions so we can rationalise about who we are."
Krauss says he found the meeting at La Jolla a peculiar experience. He is a veteran of campaigns against religious
incursion into science, and testified against the scientific credentials of "intelligent design" in the Dover school
board trial in Pennsylvania last year. "I'm not usually the person who defends faith," he told New Scientist.
Krauss wasn't the only participant who seemed to think some of the more militant speakers were a tad over the top.
Joan Roughgarden, a professor of geophysics and biology at Stanford University, California, described some of the
statements being made as an "exaggerated and highly rose-coloured picture of the capabilities of science" while
presenting a caricature of people of faith. Attempts by militant atheists to represent science as a substitute for
religion would be a huge mistake, she said, and might even set back science's cause. "They are entitled as atheists
to generate more activism within the atheist community," she told New Scientist. "But scientists are portraying
themselves as the enlightened white knights while people of faith are portrayed as idiots who can't tell the
difference between a [communion] wafer and a piece of meat." People of faith are being antagonised, and this is "a
lose-lose proposition", she said.
She also suggested that science, like religion, had dogma and prophets of its own, citing as an example the
"locker-room bravado" of many biologists in promoting the received wisdom regarding sexual selection. What's more,
she said, science's ethics were open to being manipulated - notably by biotechnology companies - leading her to
seriously doubt that a workable morality could be developed by the rationalist scientific community.
Biology rules
This was not a view shared by Patricia Churchland of the University of California, San Diego, who was charged with
answering the question "can we be good without God?". Values, Churchland said, are set by what we care about, and as
social animals we care about mates, kin and insider-outsider relationships. Every human social value and moral, she
said, can be traced back to group dynamics and biochemistry; there is no need for a scriptural mandate. Thus the
answer to the third question of the meeting became an overwhelming yes.
With three positive verdicts in the bag, the mood was clear: science can take on religion and win. "We've got to
come out," urged chemist Harry Kroto of Florida State University, Tallahassee. Dawkins also used the same phrase,
and compared the secular scientists' position to that of gay men in the late 1960s. If everyone was willing to stand
up and be counted, they could change things, he said. "Yes I'm preaching to the choir," Dawkins admitted. "But it's
a big choir and it's an enthusiastic choir."
Kroto certainly declared himself ready to fight the good fight. "We're in a McCarthy era against people who don't
accept Christianity," he said. "We've got to do something about it." His answer is to launch a coordinated global
effort at education, media outreach and campaigning on behalf of science. Such an effort worked against apartheid,
he said, and the internet now provided a platform that could take science education programmes into every home
without being subject to the ideological and commercial whims of network broadcasters. He has schools run by
religious groups firmly in his sights too. "We must try to work against faith schooling," he said.
For all the evangelical fervour, some attendees suggested that a little more humility might be in order. "This is
Alice in Wonderland, it's just a neo-Christian cult," Scott Atran of the CNRS in Paris told New Scientist. "The
arguments being put forward here are extraordinarily blind and simplistic. The Soviets taught kids in schools about
science - religiously - and it didn't work out too well. I just don't think scientists, when they step out of
science, have any better insight than the ordinary schmuck on the street. It makes me embarrassed to be an atheist."
Krauss was similarly critical. "The presumption here was that any effort to respect the existence of faith is a bad
thing," he told New Scientist. "Philosophically I'm in complete agreement, but it's not a scientific statement, and
I've seen how offensive it is when scientists say 'I can tell you what you have to think'. They make people more
< div>afraid of science. It's inappropriate, and it's certainly not effective."
Dawkins, though, is ready to mobilise. The meeting, he says, achieved "probably a little" - but every little helps.
"There's a certain sort of negativity you get from people who say 'I don't like religion but you can't do anything
about it'. That's a real counsel of defeatism. We should roll our sleeves up and get on with it."
From issue 2578 of New Scientist magazine, 20 November 2006, page 8-11
Should science do away with religion?

"It is just as futile to get someone to give up using their ears, or love other children as much as their own...
Religion fills very basic human needs."
Mel Konner, ecologist, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia

"Religion is leading us to the edge of something terrible... Half of the American population is eagerly anticipating
the end of the world. This kind of thinking provides people with no basis to make the hard decisions we have to
Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith

"Religion allows billions of people to live a life that makes sense - they can put up with the difficulties of life,
hunger and disease. I don't want to take that away from them."
Francisco Ayala, biologist and philosopher, University of California, Irvine

"No doubt there are many people who do need religion, and far be it from me to pull the rug from under their feet."
Richard Dawkins, biologist, University of Oxford

"Science can't provide a sense of magic about the world, or a community of fellow-believers. There's a religious
mentality that yearns for that."
Steven Weinberg, physicist, University of Texas, Austin

"Science's success does not mean it encompasses the entirety of human intellectual experience."
Lawrence Krauss, physicist and astronomer, Case Western Reserve University, Ohio

If not God then what?

"It is the job of science to present a fully positive account of how we can be happy in this world and reconciled to
our circumstances."
Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith

"Let me offer the universe to people. We are in the universe and the universe is in us. I don't know any deeper
spiritual feeling that those thoughts."
Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, Hayden Planetarium, New York

"Let's teach our children about the story of the universe and its incredible richness and beauty. It is so much more
glorious and awesome and even comforting than anything offered by any scripture or God-concept that I know of."
Carolyn Porco, planetary scientist, Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colorado

"I'm not one of those who would rhapsodically say all we need to do is understand the world, look at pictures of the
Eagle nebula and it'll fill us with such joy we won't miss religion. We will miss religion."
Steven Weinberg, cosmologist, University of Texas, Austin

Can we be good without God?

"The axiom that values come from reason or religion is wrong... There are better ways of ensuring moral motivation
than scaring the crap out of people."
Patricia Churchland, philosopher, University of California, San Diego

"What about the hundreds of millions of dollars raised just for Katrina by religions? Religions did way more than
the government did, and there were no scientific groups rushing to help the victims of Katrina - that's not what
science does."
Michael Shermer, editor-in-chief, Skeptic magazine

"It doesn't take away from love that we understand the biochemical basis of love."
Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith

Selection from my Timeline file, from the formation of the Earth to 500 million years ago:

4.6B formation of earth (Science Horizons Yearbook, '96, p. 337), moon (rocks (moon? meteorite?) dated from
4.54.7B)& (Reuters, Dec. 2002)
>moon rock (Spec. 13) dated this old, "intensely radioactive" (Pop. Sci. Aug. '70, p. 14)
>Scientists view asteroids as remnants of the "protoplanetary disk,"
>water within salt crystal in meteorite SN: 10/30/99, p. 2845)
4.56B dating of mineral grains in some meteorites
4.54B "Best value for the age of the Earth" (Dalrymple) based on Canyon Diablo Troilite (meteorite)
4.5B Earth's crust just beginning to form [halflife of Uranium]. Age of earth (Discover, July 91)
>20 "Galactic years" (revolutions of galaxy) ago
>Age given for crystallization of "Mars rock" discovered in Antarctica (see 3.6B, 13K) (SAPMC:  p. 19)
> “The Moon's birth, in a collision between Earth and another planetsized body about 4.5 billion years
ago...”(Nature 429, 124 125 (13 May 2004))
4.4B "Evidence from detrital zircons for the existence of continental crust and oceans..." (Nature 409, 175 178
(Jan. 11, 2001)
4.44.3B Setterfield chronology adjustment: 1st extrusion of volcanic rocks, shortly after the birth of
Methuselah, around 4505 BC
4.44B "The last 'Earthsterilizing giant impact' probably" happened during this time (SAPMC:  p. 16)
4.43.9B Moon rocks dated this old (Sci. Am. July 74)
4.3B New estimate of decay of lutetium 176 indicates crust actually this old, not 4.1B (Science, 7/27/01, SN
4.2B Fragments of zircon crystals from Western Australia (Discovering Fossil Fishes, p. 19)
4.1B crust formed
4.09B  The oldest rock yet (?? old source) found... between  Great Bear and Great Slave Lakes, Canada. It
looks no different from more recent granites; believed to be the product of subduction of previous rock!
4B 8 "supercontinent cycles" (at current rate of movement?). Sun strength est. 70% current
> "lack of samples older than 4 Gyr" (Nature 404, 488 490 (2000))
> rock in Labrador claimed to be 4B mantletype rock (Discover, July 91)
> youngest "nearby" galaxies believed to contain black holes (S.N., vol 157, 4/8/00, p. 235)
3.96B Oldest continental crust, in Canada (Science Horizons Yearbook, '96, p. 337)
3.9B Lunar studies indicate asteroid strikes may have kept Earth uninhabitable up to this point.(Also indicated
> Study says bombardment consisted of asteroids, not comets. Supposedly created hydrothermal areas conducive
to the origin of life.(Journal of Geophysical Research Planets, 2/28/02)
> Moon rocks collected in the1970s suggested the moon was blasted in a maelstrom of solar system debris recent
argonargon dating technique of four lunar meteorites rocks ejected at random from the moon's surface and that
landed on Earth same result. no evidence for earlier bombardment. If there were no earlier bombardment, scientists
must jettison theoretical models that assume a steady falloff in the lunar and inner solar system cratering rate
through time. Earth would have been more heavily bombarded. (UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA NEWS RELEASE, Posted: December 2,
3.85 B  Tiny (microscopic?) sphere of graphite found in Greenland indicates presence of life ("Brave New
World," ABC TV, Sept. 2, 1999)(other dating methods place Greenland samples at: 1.5 or 1.71.6BYA.
(Nature, 6/8/00)) Later study fails to find carbon inclusions, throws doubt on interpretation of traces as signs of
> evidence life existed earlier (SAPMC:  p. 16)
> studies suggests life originated in hot water systems (Science Daily web site, 2/28/02)
3.825B Rocks near Hudson Bay (Reuters, Dec. 2002)
Nature 429, 124 125 (13 May 2004)
3800 TO 540 MYA
( ogic%20timepage.html)
Eoarchaean era, 3.83.6B (Nature 429, 124 125 (13 May 2004))
3.8B age of rock used to date earth's crust to within 100500M of Earth's age by neodymium isotopes
> oldest discovered subaerial rock (Discovering Fossil Fishes, p. 19)
> comparison of Hf–Nd isotope data on rocks from Greenland, with similar data on lunar rocks and martian
meteorites, shows that the geochemical signature of the Archaean mantle was partly inherited from the initial
differentiation of the Earth. The features seem to indicate that the planet was still losing a substantial amount of
primordial heat.(Nature 404, 488 490 (2000))
> Asteroid bombardment ended (see 3.9B)
> Mars “ocean” vanished or not until 2B? (SN: 12/18&25/99, p. 390)
>Scientists have known that microorganisms have lived in oceans for about 3.8 B...(Scientists: Land Life Began 2.6
Billion Years Ago, LONDON (Reuters))
3.7B Study finds evidence of life: microscopic globules of graphite ...C12/C13 ratio similar to more modern
deposits (
> Study that “analysed the amount of uranium and thorium in ancient sea floor sediments” claims evidence for
photosynthesis (
Palaoarchaean era, 3.63.6B? (Nature 429, 124 125 (13 May 2004))
3.6B 16 "galactic years"
> "geological traces that are preserved are not much available before" this(Reuters, Dec. 2002)
3.61.3 B Date range given for formation of traces of microbes in "Mars rock" discovered in Antarctica (later
highly disputed) (see 4.5B, 13K) (SAPMC:, p. 19)
> Date given to Caloris crater, a feature on Mercury indicating massive impact. (SAPMC:  p. 29)
3.5B Samples of moon dust “suggest” bombardment of moon & Earth “began to dwindle” (“Meteoric Wallop
may have diversified life” S.N. 157, 3/11/00, p. 165)
> sulphates in rocks in Australia could not have formed without an oxygenrich atmosphere. (Science Daily
webpage, 1/9/02)
> prokaryotic microfossils, cyanobacteria "virtually indistinguishable" from modern forms evidence of 11
distinct species." ... a significant degree of complexity" by at least 3.465B. DNA studies indicate beginning of
eukaryotic life forms. (cf.1.7,1.4,1.2B; 850, 800, 700M).
>(Archaean microbes in Obsidian Pool in Yellowstone park show little change from earliest forms)
>evidence indicates life had become widespread (SAPMC:  p. 16)
> Dr Frances Weston of the University of Bologna in Italy thinks she has found cells [in South African rocks] in
the process of dividing.(THE DAILY TELEGRAPH(LONDON), June 09, 1999, Wednesday, Pg. 20)
> "Scientists are haggling over an ancient chunk of rock that contains either imperfections or 3,500
millionyearold fossils of bacteria evidence of the oldest form of life on Earth." News report on articles in
Nature, 3/7/02.
> South African Barberton greenstone rock formation reinterpreted as mere Quaternary age. (Geology, Vol. 31,
No. 10, pp. 909–912) “no more than 100,000 years old” (Nature Science Update webpage, 30 October 2003)
3.47 evidence of a huge extraterrestrial object impact researchers estimate it was "between 20 and 50
kilometers across...100 times as massive as" the dinokilling K/T impact.(Science News 8/24/02, p. 115,
Science, Aug. 23, 02)
3.46 Evidence of the earliest dry land, in north western Australia (Science Horizons Yearbook, '96, p. 337)
3.235B probable fossil remains of threadlike (?thermophilic?)  microorganisms (Nature 6/8/00, pp. 676679)
3.22.8B Mesoarchaean era? (Nature 429, 124 125 (13 May 2004))
3.2B Australia: the world's oldest oil discovered, suggests that oilforming microorganisms were widespread
very early in the Earth's history...oilforming bacteria may have been among the earliest life, the sulphursprings
that formed the rocks ...the "cradle of life on Earth". (BBC news, 4 August, 00)
3.22.7B Evidence of land mass movement (S.A. Feb. 90)
3 B "age" of 200 yrold lava sample by KAr dating
>Sedimentary rocks over 3BY very rare (Penn State Eberly College Of  Science. Posted 1/21/99)
> The largest deposits of gold, in South Africa, were eroded from 3Byo rocks and deposited in 2.75Byo
formation.(Science, 9/13/02)
> Parts of Australia dated over 3BY (Creation, Vol. 22 No. 2, 2000, p 18)
>The moon "rumbled with volcanism until about 3.0" bya (SAPMC:  p.19)
> Asteroid & comet impacts “tapered off about 3” Bya (“Meteoric Wallop may have diversified life” S.N. 157,
3/11/00, p. 165)
2.82.7B Pisoliths in Australia indicate oxygenrich atmosphere (Science Daily webpage, 1/9/02)
2.82.5B Neoarchaean era? (Nature 429, 124 125 (13 May 2004))
2.7B 12 galactic years
> Evidence (sterane molecules) of some form of eukaryotic life in Australian rocks (Aug. 13 SCIENCE, as
reported in Science News, Vol 156, Aug. 28, 1999, p. 141)
> "Sequence comparisons of smallsubunit ribosomal RNA genes suggest a deep evolutionary divergence of
Eukarya and Archaea; ...2.7B minimum age on this split (05 July 2001 Nature 412, 66 69)
2.6B Organic matter in South African rocks.(Scientists: Land Life Began 2.6 Billion Years Ago, LONDON
(Reuters)) "...very probably represents remnants of microbial mats that developed on the soil surface..."
Photosynthetic bluegreen algae...are a likely possibility... have nearly identical carbon isotope ratios as modern
bluegreen algal mats in fresh water. "... may then imply that an ozone shield developed before 2.6 billion years
ago... would have protected landbased [life].... Development of the ozone shield requires an oxygenrich
atmosphere. ... a growing line of evidence suggesting that the rise of atmospheric oxygen took place more than
2.6 billion years ago." (Nature 408, 574 578, 30 Nov. 2000)
PROTEROZOIC EON  2.6B/2.5B (End of Archean Eon) (old: 590/570/544M) 542M
(Nature 429, 124 125 (13 May 2004))
“The Proterozoic aeon (2.5 to 0.54 billion years (Gyr) ago) marks the time between the largely anoxic world of
the Archean (> 2.5 Gyr ago) and the dominantly oxic world of the Phanerozoic (< 0.54 Gyr ago).” (Nature 431,
173 177, 09 September 2004)
Palaeoproterozoic era, 2.5B1.6B
Siderian period 2.5B2.3B
[(old classification) 1st singlecelled life, inc. bacteria and bluegreen algae(but see 3.5B, etc)]
2.5B Continents formed at least this long ago but 93 miles of continental height could have eroded away i n this
time (Creation, Vol. 22 No. 2, 2000, pp. 18, 19)
> Section of oceanic mantle almost 1 mile long found in China. (GSA Today July 2002)
> Setterfield adjustment chronology: the Archaean/Proterozoic boundary 2500 million atomic years ago, roughly
corresponds with the birth of Noah in 4136 BC.
2.52.1B Sulfur samples from some of the oldest rocks show a 'profound shift' in atmospheric chemistry, could
mark the first flourish of oxygenproducing bacteria on Earth.
2.4B "oldest known" continental ice sheets
2.32.050B Rhyacian period (Nature 429, 124 125 (13 May 2004))
2.3B Laterites [banded iron mineral rocks] indicate there must have been atmospheric oxygen and terrestrial life
> “progressive oxygenation of the deep ocean in response to an increase in atmospheric oxygen”(Nature 431,
173 177, 09 September 2004)
> First eukaryotes formed by two forms of bacteria combining. (S.N. 4/26/02, v. 163, pp. 264266)
2.2B An experimental simulation of nitrogen fixation by lightning, suggests"as atmospheric CO2 decreased ...,
production of nitric oxide from lightning discharge decreased by two orders of magnitude until about 2.2 Gyr.
After this time, the rise in oxygen (or methane) concentrations probably initiated other abiotic sources of
nitrogen. Although the temporary reduction in nitric oxide production may have lasted for only 100 Myr or less,
this was potentially long enough to cause an ecological crisis that triggered the development of biological
nitrogen fixation."
2.22B “...the atmosphere and hydrosphere became pervasively oxygenated between 2 and 2.2 gigayears ago.”
(Nature 425, 279 282,18 September 2003)
2.12.03B increase of oxygen starts abruptly (see 1.5B, 2.52.1, 2.6B)
2.02 Vredfort, South Africa, impact structure, (Science News, 6/15/02, pp. 378380)
2B Edwin Hubble's first result in attempt to date age of universe.
> massive glaciation, uranium decay estimate of age of earth in 1907 (Planet Earth: Ice Ages) oldest Grand
Canyon rocks; 4 supercontinent cycles
> Oldest craters almost this old (S.A. April '90)
> “by 2 billion years ago there were ocean basins” (Discovering Fossil Fishes, p. 19)
>10 oceanfloor cycles (Discovering Fossil Fishes, p. 20, see 200M)
>"Investigators concluded that many [Martian] rocks were deposited by a massive flood at least" 2Bya SAPMC:
p. 35)
> evidence for ocean on Mars? or only until 3.8B? (SN: 12/18&25/99, p. 390)
> Lava on Io 1,900 kelvins, “higher than any known eruption on Earth during the past 2 billion years.” (SN:
10/30/99, p. 156)
> 1st Eukaryotes (“Snowball Earth,” Sci. Am., Jan 2000, pp. 6875)
> Giardia and other diplomonads are thought to be a roughly 2 billion yearold lineage, making them among the
earliest diverging eukaryotes. (The Scientist :: Giardia's sex life revealed, January 26, 2005)
2.050B1.8B Orosirian period (Nature 429, 124 125 (13 May 2004))
1.9B oxygen greater than 1% of atmosphere oldest craters
1.85 Sudbury, Ontario, impact site (Science News, 6/15/02, pp. 378380)
1.81.6B Statherian period (Nature 429, 124 125 (13 May 2004))
1.8B 8 galactic years
> Nine 200Mlong oceanfloor cycles (see 2B)
> “the oxidation of dissolved iron, Fe(II), thus ending the deposition of banded iron formations (BIF)”(Nature
431, 173 177, 09 September 2004)
1.75B Oxygen levels reached a critical level (Discovering Fossil Fishes)
1.7B possible 1st eukaryotes possible algae fossils in China
> layers of granite in the deepest part of the Grand Canyon (S.N. ? before Oct 22, 00)
1.71.5B Newer dating of Greenland samples formerly dated 3.85B. (Nature, 6/8/00)
1.6B1B Mesoproterozoic Era
1.6B1.4B Calymmian period (Nature 429, 124 125 (13 May 2004))
1.6B Three of the major kingdoms of living things animals, plants, and fungi first diverged from a common
ancestor ...earliest date yet obtained by gene studies for this evolutionary event (Source: Penn State Eberly
College Of  Science. Posted 1/21/99)
> 8 oceanfloor cycles (see 2B)
1.5B Oxygen level reaches current value
>  the cytoskeletal and ecological prerequisites for eukaryotic diversification were already established in
eukaryotic microorganisms in northern Australia.(05 July 2001 Nature 412, 66 69)
> Fungi made landfall about 1.5B (Science, 293, 1129 1132, 2001, per Nature web page, Aug 16th, '01).
> fundamental time of divergence between animals, plants and fungi, according to molecular clock study.
Sponges and coelenterates evolved 1.51.2B(
1.41.2B Ectasian period(Nature 429, 124 125 (13 May 2004))
1.4B 1st eukaryotes possibly earlier (multicell seaweeds)? (see 1.6, 1.7, 2, 2.7B)
> Study suggests “elevated levels of carbon dioxide in the ancient atmosphere—between 10 and 200 times the
present atmospheric level.”(Nature 425, 279 282,18 September 2003)
> 7 oceanfloor cycles (see 2B)
1.21B Stonian period (Nature 429, 124 125 (13 May 2004))
1.2B partial rift in what is now Ohio
> Origin of Nematode worms, according to molecular clock
> 6 oceanfloor cycles (see 2B)
>Volcanic activity could produce the entire earth's crust in only 1.2 billion years even with no crust to begin
(Morris, J. '94. The Young Earth)
>evidence for cyanobacteria on land or freshwater (see 2.3B) in the form of mats of bacteria and algae, in cherts
in Arizona ('When algal mats ruled the land', New Scientist, 2 January 1993). (New Scientist, vol 139 issue 1885,
07/08/1993, p 23)
>animals have been evolving steadily into different species for at least 1200 million years (study using gene
sequences) (Penn State Eberly College Of  Science. 1/21/99)
>Molecular clock study claims “chordates and echinoderms branched away from arthropods, annelids, and
mollusks” (Discover, Dec. 96, p. 52)
1.1B Trails of worms or wormlike animals!  ("Fossil Could Push Advent of Animals Back 500 Million Years:
Early Worm Leaves a Trail?", 1998) Critics say maybe only half as old.
>Burst of evolutionary activity produces many multicellular forms (which?) (Discovering Fossil Fishes, p. 26)
1B542M Neoproterozoic Era,
1B850M Tonian period (Nature 429, 124 125 (13 May 2004))
1BYA Two supercontinent cycles estimate of earliest animals?
> molecular clock study claims echinoderms and chordates split (Discover, Dec. 96, p. 52)
> 5 oceanfloor cycles (see 2B)
> 6 Ice Ages in past 1B, about 150M apart, lasting about 50M ea. on avg. (P. E.: Ice Ages)
> Report from UCalDavis of a theory that the early earth was 95% under water and continents appeared
relatively suddenly (only about 200 million years!) (Feb. 2002)
>1B to 800M Earth spinning at faster rate; days only 21 or 22 hours (based on stripes in rocks found in Utah).
> Theory that earth had little topological diversity, shallow seas over 9095% of surface, until supercontinent of
Rodinia rose over a period of about 200M. (Geological Society of America Bulletin, 1/1/02)
>Keplerian motion should destroy the arms of a spiral galaxy in just a few rotations of the galaxy 2001000
million years at most . (Slusher, H. S. 1980. Age of the Cosmos)
993M arthropods (insects and crustaceans) and chordates (vertebrates and allies) said to have diverged from a
common ancestor  as far back as 993 Mya, according to molecular clock study.
950850M planktonic organisms were at their peak (Discovering Fossil Fishes, p. 26)
900 Million years ago 4 galactic years
880 MYA Ice Age?
870M Setterfield: Noah was given the command to build the Ark around 3656 BC, corresponding to 870
million years atomically.
850M600M Cryogenian period (Nature 429, 124 125 (13 May 2004))850M Spitsbergen area under shallow
seas to 600 M; Eukaryotes undergo marked diversification
830M Ice Age?
800M multicellular seaweed, estimate of earliest animals?
> Four oceanfloor cycles (see 200M)
800600M Ice sheets may have reached the Equator, but maybe there was a belt of open water (NATURE, 25
May 00, v. 405, pp. 425 429)
>  Ice Age to 540M? (Discover, April 2000, p. 20)
> "There is genetic evidence that simple plants, such as algae and lichens, colonized the land 800 million years
ago. But no plant fossils from this time have been found." (
800M580M “Sulphidic conditions may have persisted until a second major rise in oxygen between 0.8 to 0.58
Gyr ago, possibly reducing global rates of primary production and arresting the pace of algal evolution.”(Nature
431, 173 177, 09 September 2004)
750M "North America" rifts from Supercontinent of Rodinia (see 4B, 425M)
> up to 4 extreme climate fluctuations 750580M (see 600, 590) (“Snowball Earth,” Scientific American, Jan
'00, pp. 6875)(NATURE, 18 Jan '01, vol. 409, p. 306)
720M Ice Age (Setterfield attributes the tillites explained as “snowball earth” glacial in origin to the Flood, and
claims all the Flood deposits are found in these strata: “Geologically, this event dates from the NeoProterozoic
around 720 million years ago atomically. This closely approximates the time of Noah's Flood, 3536 BC”)
720630 The Cryogenian (ca. 720–630 million years ago)
730M Setterfield correction: 5424 years ago – Flood – Everything completely destroyed. Only post-Flood strata have
macroscopic fossils.
700M(600? 570?) Ediacaran life forms, poss. hydraulic mats; mudburrows, jellyfish, sea pens. Some appear to be
just prokaryotic microbial mats (Geology: Vol. 29, No. 12)
> Controversial theory that continents shifted rapidly: “Evans calculates that the Earth's mantle and crust must
have been moving at well over 20 cm a year, sending the landmasses that eventually became South America and
West Africa scuttling from the equator into the Northern Hemisphere in just 5 million to 10 million years.”
(Nature Science Update, 21 May 2004)
> First (land?) plants, may have triggered this Ice Age(Science, 293, 1129 1132, 2001, per Nature web page,
Aug 16th, '01).
> Queen’s researchers have discovered the mineral ikaite in ... marine sedimentary rocks in the Mackenzie
Mountains of the Northwest Territories and eastern Yukon. This discovery proves that the ancient ocean was
much colder than previously believed...The researchers discovered ikaite at several different levels in what were
believed to be rock formations deposited in shallow, warm oceans during the interval between two ice ages that
extended all the way to the equator millions of years ago. But ikaite forms in shallow water on the sea bottom at
cold temperatures and melts when brought to the surface.
675M 3 galactic years
650M Stripes in Australian rocks indicate moon receding at only 2.5 cm/year (Modern measurements indicate
3.5 cm/year)
600M542M Ediacaran period (Nature 429, 124 125 (13 May 2004))
“... rocks in Australia's Flinders Ranges that record the end of glaciations thought to have covered Earth some
600 million years ago have become the starting point for the Ediacaran.”
600M Varanger Ice Age, "probably the most severe"
> “even the tropics froze over” (“Snowball Earth,” Sci. Am., Jan '00, pp. 6875)
>The Earth might have tilted toward the sun far more than it does today 55 degrees. (article in Nature, per
Flint Journal, Dec 3, '98)
> Three oceanfloor cycles
>Fewness of craters suggests surface of Venus this young (SAPMC:  p.31)
> Fullerene rock with "woody structure"
>Study “suggests that genetic analysis could reveal something about the genes of the common ancestor of all
animals that lived more than 600” mya (The Telegraph (online), 99/7/1)
> “Analysis of genetic divergence indicated the split” between simple radial animals and more advanced
bilaterally symmetrical ones occured.  Vernanimalcula is claimed to be a microscopic bilaterian.
> Controversial theory that estrogen was the first of its kind of hormone to evolve (more than 600M), based on
finding similar hormones in sea hare molluscs (Science News 9/20/03, pp. 180181)
>?Cambrian "explosion" begins?(See 544, also 590, 540, 530)(Prob. old source, rounded)
>?1st brachiopods (some representatives still not extinct)(round figure?)
>one estimate of age of Earth by ocean salinity
600540M End of Snowball Earth. Carbon dioxide levels (from vulcanism?) three hundred times present level
estimated to be needed to thaw (
600500M bombardment of Earth/moon “down to an alltime low” (“Meteoric Wallop may have diversified life”
S.N. 157, 3/11/00, p. 165)

Late Precambrian
>A group of vaseshaped microfossils, the chitinozoans, resemble tintinnids and might represent fossil ciliates;
chitinozoans go back into the late Precambrian.
>Many of the very best cnidarian fossils date back to the time when animals first appear in the fossil record, the
Vendian. (Berkeley Tree of Life website?)(see 700M)
>The oldest fossil fungi probably chytridlike forms from the Vendian Period (Late Precambrian), in north
Russia. Older fossils of Precambrian "fungi" are now usually considered to be empty sheaths of filamentous
cyanobacteria, not distinct enough to be placed certainly.
PALEOZOIC ERA: 570/540/542 251/245/225 M
(Lower Paleozoic to 407M)
(See Nature 429, 124 125 (13 May 2004) for most offical dates at that date)
Cambrian Period 590/570/550/544/542/540 510/505/500/490/488.3 M
>"Tethys was an ocean when trilobites...flourished" Trilobites abound in shallow seas. Many shelled brachiopods,
gastropods, bivalves; also crinoids, graptolites, sponges & segmented worms
> a few mineralized corallike fossils have turned up
>Cnidarianlike embryos associated with the first shelly fossils in Siberia, in the Lower Cambrian Manykay
> The oldest probable uniramian known to date is Cambropodus, from the Middle Cambrian of Utah
590M Global ice age ends, or starts to end (“Snowball Earth,” Sci. Am., Jan '00, pp. 6875)
580M ?end of Ediacaran life? (see 700, 570) 1st macroscopic invertebrate
580M Tommotian life (odd bits of shells) marks transition.  Also trace fossils of burrows.
> Sponge embryos in  phosphate ore, Guizhou, China SEM study reveals ultrastructures, including yolk
granules, ... cytoskeleton, and nuclei. The granules show features matching the periodicity of known invertebrate
yolk granules (various sources (see PrecambChina.txt), Jan 23, 2001)
575M “Until recently ... the Cambrian explosion...was thought to have occurred some” [575Mya, and lasted for
an indefinite period, but new measurements] “show that it actually began 544 million years ago and lasted just a
few million years (Science 261, 1293–1298; 1993)”(Nature 425, 550 551 (09 October 2003))
> fossils of filterfeeders (frondlike creatures which live attached to the ocean floor) that stretched up to two
metres long—defying paleontologists’ ideas about when the first anatomically complex multicellular animals
evolved. (New Scientist, 11 January 2003, p. 13)
570M Ediacaran fossils of “jellyfish, sea pens, worms and others” (?see 700, 580) (The World Unfolds:
Dinosaurs,  '95, published '96)
565M Rangeomorph fossils enigmatic frilly forms, extinct by 540M (SN, July 31, 2004, p. 78)
560M Possible vertebrate fossil in Australia (
555M Study Suggests Macroscopic Bilaterian Animals Did Not Appear earlier. (Science Daily, 9/30/02. Ref.:
PNAS)(but see 600M)
>”The oldest macroscopic fossils that are clearly bilateral are of a mollusclike creature called Kimberella”
550M fragmentary protocontinents  (Planet Earth: Continents in Collision, '83)
> Cambrian explosion begins?(TWUD) (see 600/540/530M)
> "...the Cambrian explosion of 550 m..., the major animal groups evolved over 510 million years." (Nature web
page, Aug. 16, '01)
>?1st trilobites?
>Burgesslike fossil beds in China
>it seems certain that reproduction in twos was well established. (THE DAILY TELEGRAPH (LONDON), June
09, '99, p. 20)
544M(at least) Microfossils from deepsea hydrothermal systems were not reported in Precambrian rocks
(greater than 544M) until recent discovery of filaments dated 3.235M (see)(Nature 6/8/00, pp 676679)
> CAMBRIAN EXPLOSION: “Until recently ... the Cambrian explosion...was thought to have occurred some”
[575Mya, and lasted for an indefinite period, but new measurements] “show that it actually began 544 million
years ago and lasted just a few million years (Science 261, 1293–1298; 1993)”(Nature 425, 550 551 (09
October 2003))
543M “rapid diversification of bilateral animals in the Cambrian explosion”
> Precambrian ended 543 mya (Science 2005 310:1910)
540M  The animal fossil record stretches back to 540 m (Telegraph website 99/7/1)[?"to"??]
> Controversial theory that plants changed atmosphere and triggered Cambrian explosion
> first major explosion of life in the seas(New Scientist, vol 139, #1885, 07/08/1993, p 23)
>fossil record provides uniformly good documentation of life from this point on (3/2/00 Nature 403, 534 537
"Quality of the fossil record through time")
> Chinese fossils include Xidazoon, weird baglike creature with "a prominent, circular mouth ringed with two
concentric circles of plates" and a set of terminal spines at the other end. Possibly the most similar fossil is
Pipiscius zangerli from the Mazon Creek deposits of 300M Illinois.(Nature, 19 August, ?year?'00?)
> Small shelly fossils in early Cambrian sandstone (various sources (see PrecambChina.txt), Jan 23, 2001)
530M "Cambrian Explosion" Burgess shale deposits(515M?), widely varied exotic forms. appearance of most
or all major animal groups, (phyla)(1140 phyla?)
> Radiometric dating pinpointed age of Chengjiang fossils at 530M, 15M before the Burgess Shale. Samples
include: sponge, jelly fish, jellyfish like organism, worm, Alacomenaeus Simonetta(?), Cindarella eucalla (new
genus of arthropod), many different arthropods...  also Algae (4 types), Porifera (10 types), Chancelloriida
(unnamed new genus and species), Priapulida, Lobopodia, Phoronida, Brachiopoda (4 types), Hyolitha,
Hemichordata (2 types), Chordata (Yunnanozoon lividum Hou), possibly Ectoprocta and Annelida, and of
"uncertain affinity":  Facivermis yunnanicus, Eldonia eumorpha (Sun and Hou, 1987), Rotadiscus grandis
(various sources (see PrecambChina.txt), Jan 23, 2001)(see Chinese Cambrian.htm)
> paper clipsize impressions “fossils of two fish that push the origin of vertebrates back ... by at least 30” my.
(Science News, Vol 156, Nov. 6, '99, p. 292) fish named Haikouella already displayed many vertebrate characteristics ...some of the 305 fossil specimens Chen's team has recovered are so well preserved that
paleontologists practically swoon over them.
>Tardigrade fossil(s) in Siberia, Russia (Kuonamka formation, Lena area) Middle Cambrian (approx. 530 M),...
“Regrettably” the fossils are already as specialized and diminished as today's tardigrades
>A few mineralized corallike fossils have turned up in the Cambrian Period
>The oldest fossil uniramians are myriapodlike marine organisms from the Cambrian.
>Tracks indicate animals on land: "Lobster-sized, centipede-like animals...25 rows of southeastern
Canada...had between 16 and 22 legs, and dragged a tail behind them... may well have been
euthycarcinoids...There are no fossils of land plants as old as the footprints, other than remains of mosslike mats
of greenery. But sandstone rocks of this age are notoriously difficult to date. (Nature online, 30 April 2002, ref.
Geology, 30, 391 394, (2002))
>A number of fossils from the Cambrian have been described which look more or less like onychophorans.  ...
Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale form Aysheaia ...rather similar to living forms ...Hallucigenia,  armored with
long spines...Xenusion, from early Cambrian sandstones of eastern Europe ...All of these Cambrian forms
differed from living onychophorans in being marine not appear in the fossil record after the Cambrian
520M "late Cambrian" trilobites "most abundant arthropod"
>Extinction of 80% of existing genera (Report dated 08/14/92)[1st of 5 according to Discovering Fossil Fishes,
p. 214, “end of the Cambrian”](500M? also see 440, 425)
> Arrow worms "The discovery of the Lower Cambrian chaetognath (arrow worm) supports the hypothesis that
all living animal phyla appeared in Cambrian times or even earlier, although only one third of them have been
recorded from Lower Cambrian." (Science vol 298, p187, 4 Oct 2002)
515M Conodonts, small (2 in.), softbodied, eellike, named after their (sandgrainsized) teeth (common "all
but ubiquitous" in rocks dated from 520515 to 208205M), classified as vertebrates because they have true teeth
and evidence of a notochord. (see fish fossils at 530M) 23 separate species, evidence they preyed on other
animals. Science Horizons Yearbook, 1996, p. 359 notes they had muscle for vertical eye movement that
"appears only in vertebrates."
511M  "The oldest fossil crustaceans ever found...tiny, 1/2mm-long... near the beginning [sic]  of the Cambrian
period...very close relatives of modern arthropods like lobsters, crabs and shrimps" (, "Ancient
fossils suggest fuse for Cambrian explosion" 19  July  01)(see Old Crustaceans.txt) “The unusually complete fossil
bears all the distinguishing feeding appendages of a crustacean, including an extra antenna and a jaw.”
( – original report in Science)
510495 Huge stranding event of jellyfish (or up to 7 events), some jellies greater than 50cm, in Wisconsin,
which was about 10 deg. south of the Equator. (GEOLOGY, Feb. 2002, SN 2/9/02)
500M four major land masses before Pangaea. (start of current supercontinent cycle)(PE: C in C)
>Appalachian mts formed, much longer than today, poss. through S. America and Antarctica
> “earlier than about 500 million years ago, the palaeomagnetic data recorded in the rocks becomes
difficult to interpret. Older rocks can be tricky to date accurately, and their magnetic signatures are often
muddied by eons of tectonic movement.”(Nature Science Update, 21 May 2004)
> “the reversion from a benign to a violent solar system about 500”mya (“Meteoric Wallop may have diversified
life” S.N. 157, 3/11/00, p. 165)(see 3.5 B, 3B, 600500M, 400M, 300M)
> ALL (1140?) phyla present (“Snowball Earth,” Scientific American, Jan 2000, pp. 6875)
>Brachiopods(still extant), trilobites abundant
> mollusc Neopilina similar to living ones (Creation, Vol. 22 No. 2, 2000, p 56 (back cover))
>Peripatus supposed ancestor of arthropods etc. (still extant)
> “fossil evidence suggests that the chiton skeleton has changed little since the first appearance of the class in

the Late Cambrian period”(Nature 429, 288 291, 20 May 2004)
>1st chordates?(very old see 515, 530), 1st fish(old see 530M), 1st cephalopods
>Perhaps 80% of genera become extinct in late Cambrian(see 520M)
500-400M fossils showing telltale signs of rampant sexuality  ...shells of  small creatures called ostracods...(THE
DAILY TELEGRAPH (LONDON), June 09, '99, Pg. 20)
“latest Cambrian” Euthycarcinoid fossil (Nature 430, 554-557, 29 July 2004)
Ordovician period 510/505/500/488.3M 443.7/440/438/430/425M
(See Nature 429, 124 125 (13 May 2004) for most offical dates at that date)
“a period of glaciation on a global scale”(D.F.F. p. 214)
[Heyday of graptolites(still extant as pterobranchs), + corals, brachiopods, cephalopods (500M), echinoids,
bryozoans(all still extant). Number of marine families bloomed from 160 to 530, genera from 470 to 1,580.
The marine taxon Tintinnida has a fairly extensive fossil least to the Ordovician.
Many mountain ranges appear, poss. contributing to explosion of animal groups]
identifiable corals began an evolutionary radiation in the Early Ordovician: included taxa known as tabulate
corals, rugose corals, and heliolitid corals.

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