Evolutionary Predecessors to the Flat Earth

People once thought the earth was flat.

I think this concept falls flat. In the WAY olden days, people didn’t hop into their Lexus with GPS, and chat on their cell phones to find a latte on the flat earth.

The ROUND Earth is so logic laden, it defies explanation. Anyone with even the slightest tendency to discern ‘how things work’ should come to ‘believe’ the earth is probably round.

Let’s go back in time: Your home is a campsite. Most likely, this is where the majority of people spent their time. You notice the sun rising over yonder past that big tree in the morning, then setting over the lake in the late afternoon. You can’t help to notice that it does this every day.

Every evening the moon comes up from the direction of that big tree, and goes down over the lake.

An Earth-centric Universe seems a logical premise to those without modern technology, but a flat earth? Really? Where do the sun, moon, and stars go, after descending beyond the lake? How do they come back up, (and in the same approximate spot,) every day? Are they rolling across the underbelly of the flat earth until they push out and ‘rise’ over the big tree? Do the oceans spill out over the edge? Why do the waves keep crashing into the shore?

Seems round is more logical – – like the shape of the moon!

I also don’t see how evolution precludes creation.

Evolution is proof that life comes from life. This forms the foundation for every single cell within any evolutionary process, ever.

Life didn’t evolve from non-life. The first life was not evolution: that process began after life.

The core of evolution is it’s most tangible proof : life never produces life – – without a living predecessor.

The evolutionary process has nothing to do with life’s inception.

Every life came from the life before. Without this mandate, evolution would be unable to operate – in theory or in practice – even for a nanosecond.

The moment any life isn’t a byproduct of evolutionary processes, evolution’s explanatory power becomes flaccid. If abiogenesis could ever be proved, it would disprove evolution is needed for life. Nothing more, nothing less.

Even God is powerless to defy evolutionary processes more than that.

That is, more or less, the dawning of a rapidly expanding universe within the conceptual confines of science.

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62 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Michael Muller
    May 15, 2012 @ 22:56:01

    Life on earth started as a chemical reaction during the very early volcanic period, not by a person up in the sky (or rolling across the underbelly of the flat earth) waving a wand and making us puff up out of nothingness. If the flat earth concept now seems like a naive fairy tale, so should the grey haired man on the cloud chair with the wand.

    My 2c.

    Reply

    • arthuriandaily
      May 17, 2012 @ 07:01:13

      Mik: Those 2 cents don’t even begin to pay the enormous debt that evolution owes to life itself. As stated, evolution’s primary proof is – life comes from a life before.

      There isn’t a single operation – in theory or in practice – evolution can muster without this premise.

      Evolution is proof positive that life cannot come but from another life. Without this premise, Evolution cannot exist. There has never been an instance where this was not true, and the theory rests everything on this basis. Evolution is entirely indebted to prior life.

      Reply

      • Michael Muller
        May 17, 2012 @ 10:17:30

        This is the classic chicken and egg conversation. However, it has finally been determined by science that the “chicken” did in fact come first. Evolutionary records prove this.

        The question you’re asking is when was that very first instance of life, and how did that come about. What was the event that transitioned existence from No-Life, to Life. Well, science claims it to be the Big Bang.

        What came before that? No one knows. But if one needs to believe in a spiritual entity that did the creating, that initiated that explosion out of nothingness, in my mind one would be at the same level as people who believe in the stork and tooth fairies. Just because you don’t know what actually happened doesn’t mean you have to believe in the Giant Space Goat.

        Unless, of course, it makes you feel better.

      • arthuriandaily
        May 17, 2012 @ 13:28:06

        Not really, Mik. Evolution proves ONLY life begets life. If evolution is not needed for life, then evolution fails to explain much.

        Life began from a non-evolutionary process. This happened only a few times. Evolution did the rest.

        If this is true, though, what exactly did evolution accomplish? The non-evolutionary processes which are capable of creating life from lifelessness… Did this non-evolutionary process happen? Proof of this would be proof that evolution isn’t the only means to life, and that would be the first such proof, ever!

        Did the non-evolutionary life happen once, and once only? If non-evolutionary processes are capable of creating life from lifelessness, it seems absurd to assume this happened only once, don’t you think? What if this happened only a few dozen times, or a few thousand? What would prevent this non-evolutionary process from occurring today?

        Evolution is proof that this cannot happen.

      • Michael Muller
        May 18, 2012 @ 10:43:31

        Evolution is not a proof of anything. Evolution is a consequence of life. It is not a force or an intention. It is not a spontaneous adaptation or a plan. It is a consequence of offspring DNA aberrations that potentially can provide positive (or negative) results for descendents of a group. It is a statistic. Evolution is, itself, just a pattern of cause and effect. Without life, there would be no such cause and effectual patterns, and thus nothing to call “evolution.”

        So, the phrase “evolution is needed for life” is a non sequitur. Life would just exist in a static non-changing state without it.

        “Life began from a non-evolutionary process. This happened only a few times. Evolution did the rest.”

        I guess I’m on the fence with this one. On one hand it appears to me that all life came from the big bang, but that’s not really true. All life _potential_ came from the big bang, and merely required the right set of conditions for it to actually happen.

        On Earth, it appears that many billions of years ago some chemical compounds happened to be near each other, under the right conditions, to spark a life-event (essentially some amino acids that started jiggling around) and over time, through descendant DNA mutations, and the success of some of these descendants enabled their descendants to survive better. And so the pattern repeated itself over and over, and continues to do so.

        Can the original life-event spark be considered an evolution of the base elements?

      • arthuriandaily
        May 18, 2012 @ 20:50:28

        I am referring to evolution science. Science makes predictions, and offers proof. The best prediction that evolution can make is that life came from a prior life. Evolution science predicts that every known life came from a prior life.

        Evolution is a force. Life cannot exist in a static non-changing state.

        Time began at the big bang, as did space. Life happened later. Much later.

        Every known life verified by science is a result of evolution. If life could ever form – hands free, via non-evolutionary processes – it would be the first instance known to science.

        That would be really exciting. It would turn the scientific community on it’s ear.

        This would be a non-evolutionary life. Science has never observed this.

        Evolution science predicts this is not possible.

  2. Jim Wynne
    May 19, 2012 @ 09:18:03

    This all brings to mind what Darwin observed about ignorance being more likely to generate certainty than knowledge is. Science makes predictions and offers *evidence*, not “proof.” There is no evidence for special creation. “Evolution science” does *not* “…predict that every known life came from a prior life.” That might be an *assumption* of evolution theory, but it’s certainly not a prediction. You’re confusing reproduction with evolution.

    It all boils down to the fact that your primary assumption–that abiogenesis is impossible because we’ve never actually observed it happening–is a simple argument from personal incredulity. We’ve never observed special creation either.

    Reply

    • arthuriandaily
      May 19, 2012 @ 21:03:13

      As I mentioned in an earlier response: Every known life verified by science is a result of evolution. If life could ever form – hands free, via non-evolutionary processes – it would be the first instance known to science.

      That would be really exciting. It would turn the scientific community on it’s ear.

      This would be a non-evolutionary life. Science has never observed this.

      Evolution science predicts this is not possible.

      If evolutionary science predicts life can arise from a non-evolutionary process, I’d like to hear about that.

      Reply

      • Michael Muller
        May 20, 2012 @ 22:07:37

        > Every known life verified by science is a result of evolution.

        Wrong. Every know life verified by science is a result of procreation. Evolution is just a process whereby certain descendents are favored over others, and thus change the statistical makeup of a localized species.

        Here’s an example:

        There is a large population of rabbits in a snowy area of a northern country. The percentage of the rabbits in this local population is 99% white fur, and 1% non-white fur. Typically the non-white fur rabbits get picked off by the eagles in that area.

        However, due to global warming, there is less and less snow. In fact, the area these rabbits live in now has large patches of land NOT covered by snow. As a result, the percentage of the local rabbit population with brown fur has dramatically increased, as they are now harder to spot in some locations, while the white-furred rabbits are now easier to spot.

        Another, better example:

        In another neighborhood, there is another large population of rabbits. One family has regular shaped teeth that can open the nuts from the trees that have been in that area for millenia. Another family has developed slightly different shaped teeth, which allow them to open the nuts of a new tree to the area that came with the human settlers.. Both lineages survive without any problems because there are plenty of nuts to go around.

        Then one day, the humans that came into the area realize the older trees are good for making houses out of and start chopping them down. Unfortunately they were the kind that produces the nuts the regular-toothed rabbits can eat easily. As a result they start to die off because they have a hard time opening the other newer-tree nuts. Within a few years, they are gone from that area.

        The new-tooth rabbits continue to thrive, and some of their grand children and great grand children move to other areas with different nuts. The rabbits with teeth that can handle those other nuts do well, and continue to produce offspring that can best open those nuts. Over thousands of years the mouths of those rabbits are very different, as is their digestive tract. And apparently they can now climb trees, too, because the more protein-rich nuts are still on the trees and can only be gotten to by climbing. That of course took another few thousand years to develop.

        THAT is evolution. Having babies isn’t evolution. Survival of a species based on their ability to survive, or sheer luck, is evolution. There is no force. It’s merely happenstance, and situational, and typically can be seen only after many, many generations have passed, although sometimes it happens within a single generation.

      • arthuriandaily
        May 21, 2012 @ 14:56:22

        But before there were even species – even before the slow growth of the central nervous system forming simultaneously with the brain – there were no babies reproducing. There was no sex among the stromatolites. But even before this… perhaps billions of years before this, was there ‘survival’ of those who were able to breed the best?

        No. There was evolution, not breeding.

        Evolution predicts that the simplest life form will become a more complex form, and all forms will form from the subsequent formations.

        I have a problem with the Central Nervous System forming simultaneously with the brain. Not that I disbelieve they are codependent, but that there was ever a survival mechanism which produced the CNS is astounding.

        Before the CNS, there were plants. They have survived – and thrived – far better than any subsequent thinking organism. What would the vehicle have been? Natural selection? Selecting on a (yet) nonexistent brain in order to give that organism a better chance for survival? Surely the brain has innumerable survival advantages, but not OVER the pre-brain species. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes wouldn’t be conceived – let alone produced – for billions of years, at this point.

        Would this be selection pressure? A certain region or climate required a brain to survive? So the mindless plant gave rise to a thinking organism, allowing the thinking organism (with the mind of a worm, at best,) to survive better, as the parent plant went extinct?

        I see no advantage to a brain in the world before thought.

      • Michael Muller
        May 21, 2012 @ 17:11:13

        > But before there were even species [...] No. There was evolution, not breeding.

        No. Before breeding there was splitting.

        I’ll say it again, evolution isn’t a progenating force or act. It is an overarching foot print over the millenia. It is the echo of choices made, and environments lived in. Evolution doesn’t create. It is simply the medium that time passes through. It creates nothing. it kills nothing. It is a statistic.

        A living being doesn’t “evolve” — its species does, over many generations.

      • arthuriandaily
        May 22, 2012 @ 08:17:49

        “I’ll say it again, evolution isn’t a progenating force or act. It is an overarching foot print over the millenia. It is the echo of choices made, and environments lived in. Evolution doesn’t create. It is simply the medium that time passes through. It creates nothing. it kills nothing. It is a statistic.”

        This is entirely untrue. Evolution is a force. Origin of the Species talks about the vehicles of evolution, as do all neo-Darwinians. You can’t have something (evolution) which is nothing – able to produce (split, reproduce, branch, etc.) without a vehicle. The vehicles of evolution are random mutation and natural selection. In addition, there is ‘selection pressure’ which is outside of evolution, but which acts upon life and changes the evolutionary development.

        The most intriguing questions are always the inceptions. The first brain is wholly inexplicable from a non-brain predecessor. You might say, “We know it happened because we’re here,” but that wouldn’t be very compelling. So how did the non-brain species slowly evolve a brain, and why?

      • Michael Muller
        May 22, 2012 @ 16:25:08

        > Origin of the Species talks about the vehicles of evolution, as do all neo-Darwinians.

        You’re referring to a document from 1859 — the very first paper on the theory, which is now 153 years old — as the final word on evolution?

        > The vehicles of evolution are random mutation and natural selection.

        These are two different things. Random mutation is simply birth aberrations. Someone’s offspring has larger ears for some reason. If it doesn’t make a difference survival-wise, then it has no effect over the generations.

        If, however, the larger ears allow the new offspring to hear predators better and survives long enough to mate and have their own offspring, which also has larger ears, and they in turn survive long enough to procreate, then you now have an example of natural selection.

        This is not a “force”. Calling it a force implies there’s something behind it… a cause. This is simply an effect of a purely randomized situation.

        > In addition, there is ‘selection pressure’ which is outside of evolution, but which acts upon life and changes the evolutionary development.

        Exactly. That’s it in a nutshell, and is all there really is.

      • arthuriandaily
        May 22, 2012 @ 17:26:10

        Mik, You said: “This is not a “force”. Calling it a force implies there’s something behind it… a cause. This is simply an effect of a purely randomized situation.”

        I said: “In addition, there is ‘selection pressure’ which is outside of evolution, but which acts upon life and changes the evolutionary development.”

        You replied: “Exactly. That’s it in a nutshell, and is all there really is.”

        These statements run far afield of the Science of evolution. Evolution scientists would tell you evolution is a ‘process’, and that it is not random. You can’t say that man has ‘evolved’ from lower primates, and also suggest it really means ‘nothing has happened’. Evolution happened.

        Darwin isn’t the final word on evolution, but he is revered by the scientific community. After Darwin there was Gould, who took many Darwinian concepts and expounded on them. Currently there is Dawkins, who makes evolution into a veritable religious experience. Neo-Darwinian thought actually chaffs ‘Origin of The Species’, almost everywhere.

        An effect always has a cause.

    • Michael Muller
      May 20, 2012 @ 21:43:49

      > You’re confusing reproduction with evolution.

      Exactly.

      Reply

  3. Uglyhip
    May 19, 2012 @ 13:41:22

    Hang on. Are you really arguing that your inability to conceptualize a flat Earth model means the ancients couldn’t have done it either? It’s true that people have known the earth to be round for well over two thousand years, but there definitely have been ancient cultures, all over the world, which assumed the Earth to be flat. The evidence for it is all over the place, despite whatever tou think the difficulties are with holding such a model in one’s head. Your argument would be tantamount to my saying that there’s no way Christianity has ever existed anywhere, because I can’t work my mind around things like the Trinity or the crucifixion-as-atonement.

    Here’s one thought which may help: If the Earth is round, how does the stuff on the bottom not fall off? Yes, we know the answer is gravity, but the ancients simply thought of stuff as falling “down” in an absolute sense, not “in” in a relative sense.

    Reply

    • arthuriandaily
      May 19, 2012 @ 21:11:03

      I’m hanging. Yes I have a hard time believing the flat earth was ever a popular conception. I have a hard time believing that people didn’t recognize the spherical rotation of the sun, the moon, and the stars, or that someone would watch waves crash onto the shore every day without rectifying that the water hadn’t fallen off ‘the edge’ of the flat earth. Without any instruments or equipment, it seems spherically inclined, for those inclined to more than a casual observance.

      That is what I am saying.

      Reply

  4. corio37
    May 20, 2012 @ 18:33:07

    But if life did come spontaneously into being right now, how would you ever know it? Not tigers and elephants, remember, but tiny unicellular organisms with a brief lifespan that would only survive and reproduce once out of every million times? If one of those was just coming into being in your left nostril right now, would you know it? Would anyone know it, or would it just die unrecognised within a few seconds? Wait, there’s another one under your left middle fingernail! No, sorry, it’s gone.

    We don’t see evidence of the origin of life because it’s a) microscopic and b) probably fairly rare and c) we don’t know where to look. IF you can solve those problems, and THEN show it’s not happening, THEN you have the right to deny that it ever happens: but until then there’s no reason to think it’s not going on right now.

    I’m betting that you have never seen a cold virus reproduce. By your own logic, that should be enough to convince you that it never happens.

    Reply

    • arthuriandaily
      May 21, 2012 @ 13:24:10

      Corio: You are another in a long line of people who argue against a point I am not making. I apologize for being unable to counter your claim, as it didn’t counter mine.

      What do you think the chances are for life to come about spontaneously? Has any species ever come from a non-evolutionary process? Is it possible?

      According to evolutionary science, such a thing is absurd.

      Every known life verified by science is a result of evolution. If life could ever form – hands free, via non-evolutionary processes – it would be the first instance known to science.

      That would be really exciting. It would turn the scientific community on it’s ear.

      This would be a non-evolutionary life. Science has never observed this.

      Evolution science predicts this is not possible.

      If evolutionary science predicts life can arise from a non-evolutionary process, I’d like to hear about that.

      Reply

  5. Michael Muller
    May 20, 2012 @ 22:11:47

    There are also many tribes who thought the world ended at the next ridge and they never went there to actually check because the tribe elder scared the shit out of them all with stories of fire and death. I mean, it’s where the sun comes from every morning, right? Gotta be pretty hot over there.

    Flat earth? There be monsters here, matey.

    Hey, don’t go by Boo Radley’s house — it’s haunted!

    Reply

    • arthuriandaily
      May 21, 2012 @ 15:05:19

      That may be true, but it doesn’t mean these were the brightest tribes in The West. As I said, stars, the moon, and the sun all rotate around the earth the same approximate way every day.

      Stand with your arms stretched outward like a cross. The sun comes up where your left arm points. It is directly over your head (or close enough) at mid day. In the evening, it sets where your right arm is pointing. The moon begins to rise where your left arm points…

      You get the idea. To think you could live 30 years, and not pick up on the sun moon and the stars insistence on rotating the same way, day after day, year after year…

      What would a flat-earther imagine they would see if they could lie on the edge, and peer back over the rim of the flat earth?

      Reply

      • Michael Muller
        May 21, 2012 @ 17:06:51

        > Stand with your arms stretched outward like a cross.

        People believe what they’re told. 99% of the population at any given time are sheep who follow or do as they are told, even more so back in the dark ages and before that. If the tribe elder said the sun lifted out of a pool of fire on the other side of the ridge every morning, then that was your reality.

        Other tribes believe the world to be round, though much smaller, and sacrificed their own children to the Giant Space Goat.

        People 1000 years from now will look at us and shake their heads in disbelief about the shit we believe in now, and why we can’t bend space to see the far end of the universe at will.

        “Wow, can you believe that people back in the 21st Century still believed in gods?”

      • arthuriandaily
        May 22, 2012 @ 07:34:29

        “People believe what they’re told. 99% of the population at any given time are sheep who follow or do as they are told, even more so back in the dark ages and before that. If the tribe elder said the sun lifted out of a pool of fire on the other side of the ridge every morning, then that was your reality.”

        Isn’t it also your reality that the star formations move across the sky in the same direction as the sun, day after day? Isn’t it also your experience that you have never seen the edge, and that no matter how far you have walked, you haven’t gotten very close to it? Wouldn’t your experience show the phases of the moon don’t jump around – Full moon one night, sliver the next, half the next, then full, then sliver? The full moon has never stayed full for weeks, it has always been (visually) reduced, gradually.

        What to make of the mountains, and the oceans? The mountains go WAY up. When you can climb to the top you can see for long distances. If the earth goes up this much, it must be at least this thick downward, no?

        The oceans are uber-tricky. Since down is only one direction, on the flat earth, why doesn’t all the water spill out over the edge?

        I’m not saying I can’t believe anyone ever believed the earth to be flat. I do find it hard to believe the leading thinkers wouldn’t pick up on such a plethora of observable, repeatable data. Even before science had parameters.

      • Michael Muller
        May 22, 2012 @ 16:13:22

        > Isn’t it also a ‘long ago reality’ that star formations move across the sky in the same direction as the sun, day after day?

        Yeah, the people back long ago were pretty dumb.

      • Uglyhip
        May 21, 2012 @ 19:19:00

        What they would imagine depends on the precise flat-earth model in question. But one definite possibility is simply that they would imaging seeing a blue daylight sky, with the sun somewhere or other. I’m not sure what’s too difficult about that, conceptually. The round earth seems much weirder if you assume that there’s a general tendancy for everything that isn’t in “the sky” to fall “down” in an absolute sense.

        If the Earth were spherical, then our tribe must coincidentally live on the very topmost point, right? And (unless the Earth were almost unimaginaby large, which it actually is) you wouldn’t go too far in any direction before it would get too steep, eventually falling over. In fact, that’s yet another argument for a flat earth – the curvature within any normal human range is always very very close to zero.

        As for the evolution stuff, you are simply seeing syllogisms were there are none. It is not an ironclad “rule of evolution” that all life forms derive from other life forms; it’s just a basic principle that happens to be true for almost all life forms, just with at least one historical exception. The Evolution Logic Police didn’t pop up some four billions years ago to try to prevent an otherwise entirely ordinary chemical process from occuring on the grounds that one part of that process could be labeled as “not life” and another (with numerous very gradual changes in the middle) as “life”.

  6. Uglyhip
    May 22, 2012 @ 10:01:28

    I should add that while (sans gravity) one might imagine all the water spilling off the round earth, this wouldn’t have to be the case for a flat one, so long as the outermost part is land and not water, so the earth would be a sort of enormous lake with a shoreline and islands within the lake.

    As for how a brain could possibly have an array if gradually-distinct predecessors, well, even today there live species with a wide array of “brainishness”; it’s just a continuum in the degree of centralization of the nervous system. Plus, all human brains manage to develop in the womb from cells which are definitely not brains, so it’s not like there can’t possibly be a continuum there.

    Now, one is free to say that God has to intervene to make either infant brain development or a species’ brain evolution possible. It should be obvious that this doesn’t mean the events in question didn’t-happen-period. (Theistic evolution is a valid possibility.) That’s like saying “a virgin could only give birth with divine help, thus, a virgin has never given birth”, a syllogism that only makes sense from an atheist perspective. If we do in fact have lots of evidence that the apparent miracle of gradual brain evolution took place, then we can reasonably suppose that it did, one way or another.

    Reply

    • arthuriandaily
      May 22, 2012 @ 14:18:22

      I’m repeating myself from other responses, but here goes: Isn’t it also a ‘long ago reality’ that star formations move across the sky in the same direction as the sun, day after day? Wouldn’t your experience also include never seeing ‘the edge’? No matter how far you have walked, you are unable to get near it – – at all! Wouldn’t your experience show the phases of the moon don’t jump around – Full moon one night, sliver the next, half the next, then full, then sliver? The full moon has never stayed full for weeks, it has always been (visually) reduced, gradually, then back again.

      What to make of the mountains, and the oceans? The mountains go WAY up. When you can climb to the top you can see for long distances. No edge in sight. If the earth goes up this much, it must be at least this thick downward, no?

      The oceans are uber-tricky. Since down is only one direction, on the flat earth, why doesn’t all the water spill out over the edge?

      I’m not saying I can’t believe anyone ever believed the earth to be flat. I do find it hard to believe the leading thinkers wouldn’t pick up on such a plethora of observable, repeatable data. Even before science had parameters.

      Uglyhip said: “It is not an ironclad “rule of evolution” that all life forms derive from other life forms; it’s just a basic principle that happens to be true for almost all life forms, just with at least one historical exception.”

      Name one evolutionary exception to the non-ironclad rule. One that is accepted by evolutionary science, and can be explained through the vehicle of evolution.

      Reply

      • Uglyhip
        May 22, 2012 @ 18:34:56

        Well, one obvious “exception” is the first life form, whatever that was (although there was no single “first” life form, any more than there was a particular second at which my grandfather went from being “middle-aged” to “old”). The manner in which the first life arose may be called semi-evolutionary. Whichever combinations of molecules were better at self-replication naturally persisted. (Molecules can certainly self-replicate without being alive, eg, crystals.)

        You’re getting hung up on a notion that since very very very very nearly 100% of life is and was, according to biology, descended from other life, then we can sort of round that up to 100% and then treat the origin of life as an amazing “gotcha” exeption to evolution. But that’s simply not how it works. After all, under (for example) young earth creationism, God doesn’t create every living thing, living things were made by other living things, well over 99% of the time – with just two exceptions per species, thousands of years ago. (In the case of evolution, there’s a bit more of a detailed scientific exploration of the mechanisms involved than with creationism, of course.)

      • arthuriandaily
        May 22, 2012 @ 18:49:50

        Uglyhip: I asked: Name one evolutionary exception that is accepted by evolutionary science, and can be explained through the vehicle of evolution.

        You said: “You’re getting hung up on a notion that since very very very very nearly 100% of life is and was, according to biology, descended from other life, then we can sort of round that up to 100%…”

        The first life cannot be explained through evolutionary processes. Evolution – it has been stated by many – is what happens after life appears.

        Therefore, it does not qualify as an exception. Inception is not an exception. The rule remains intact.

  7. Uglyhip
    May 22, 2012 @ 18:40:27

    By the way, the phases of the moon don’t really have anything to do with the earth’s shape, nor do the regular movements of the stars, so I’m not sure why you’re bringing that up. If you ignore relativistic and Newtonian effects, etc, then the universe may as well be revolving (in complex ways) around a flat earth. The only astronomical exception I can think of is lunar eclipses, but to the untrained, those don’t seem different enough from phases as to warrant any explanation beyond “the creature that eats and remakes the moon decided to do things slightly differently this time”.

    Reply

    • arthuriandaily
      May 22, 2012 @ 19:21:22

      Uglyhip: The moon is shaded by the earth. Not the flat earth, but a very curved earth. This makes a curved shadow on the moon.

      I realize this much is not instinctive, but it is still evidence, and it is right there, observable throughout known time. A lunar eclipse would be an inexplicable event. Don’t know how you would rectify that logically without better knowledge, though.

      Reply

      • Uglyhip
        May 22, 2012 @ 19:50:24

        Just so we’re super-clear on this, lunar eclipses are caused by the earth’s shadow on the moon, but lunar phases are not – they’re simply a result of viewing the moon at different angles relative to the sun, and they would be pretty much the same in a geocentric flat-earth universe (if we allow for said universe “orbiting” around a disc-shaped or rectangular earth). You probably already knew that and were only making a point about eclipses, and I guess that’s a point I’m willing to concede as a possible stumbling block for flat-earthers.

      • arthuriandaily
        May 23, 2012 @ 07:37:34

        Right, Uglyhip. The lunar eclipse would appear to be a freaky thing – inexplicable – even if you ‘intuited’ the earth shading the moon (phases) to indicate that we were standing on an orb in an orbit.

      • Michael Muller
        May 23, 2012 @ 08:54:51

        > Just so we’re super-clear on this, lunar eclipses are caused by the earth’s shadow on the moon

        Ancient stupid man thought it was the mutant space goat god putting its thumb in front of it, and so they cowered in their caves, beating their wives and children in homage. Ancient smarter man would instead kill an animal they caught earlier that day and then eat it, insuring they would live another day. See? Evolution and survival of the smartest.

      • arthuriandaily
        May 23, 2012 @ 16:38:03

        Evolution as Path

        “Some scientific disciplines—geology, archeology, astronomy,
        and evolutionary biology among them—deal not only
        with general processes and mechanisms, but also unique
        historical particulars. In addition to its incarnations as a
        “fact” and a “theory,” evolution also can be discussed in a
        third distinct capacity, namely, as a “path” (Ruse 1997).
        Evolution as path deals with the factual details of life’s
        history, such as the degree of relatedness of modern species
        to one another, the timing of splits among lineages, the
        characteristics of extinct ancestors, and the major events
        that have occurred over the nearly 4 billion years of life’s
        saga.”

        Evolution as Fact, Theory, and Path
        T. Ryan Gregory
        Published online: 20 November 2007
        # Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2007

  8. tildeb
    Jun 05, 2012 @ 17:58:59

    I’m glad you’re interested in evolution. Dan Dennett describes it as probably the most important idea ever because it is a theory of unity and I agree. It’s a breathtaking insight into how life has has come to be what we find today. But I have to say I’m disappointed you didn’t do much investigation of what evolution means because even a cursory inquiry would reveal it says nothing about abiogenesis nor pretends to answer this unknowable question (whereas creationists everywhere pretend their stories do).

    As for the spherical earth, yes, the ancients knew quite well that the earth was curved. Any sailor could have told you that. It’s scripture that insists its flat but, hey, it sort of looks that way. Why would Iron Age goat herders and failed merchants think any differently?

    The assumption you make about planetary motion, however, is not intuitive because everything appears to revolve around the earth. Just lie down some evening and watch everything revolve around you!

    Very sophisticated models of how this could be were developed and heavily influenced the early christian church and its dogma, for example. (To assume people like Ptolemy were idiots reveals a staggering lack of education on the part of the the opinion holder.) This also shows yet again how ‘scripture’ always reflects temporal knowledge and intuition of the times and no ‘revealed’ insight into the actual workings of the universe. Too bad, because the reality of such a critter as a ‘god’ would be rather handy to turn to in times of need. But alas…

    Reply

    • arthuriandaily
      Jun 06, 2012 @ 08:06:32

      tildeb: Thanks for the comment. You said, “The assumption you make about planetary motion, however, is not intuitive because everything appears to revolve around the earth. Just lie down some evening and watch everything revolve around you!”

      I agree, and this point is in my post.

      As for abiogenesis… Evolution claims all life comes from a preceding life. How does this fail to reveal what evolution means?

      Try reading the post again.

      Reply

  9. tildeb
    Jun 06, 2012 @ 09:56:00

    When you said ‘people’ once thought the earth was flat, I wanted to raise the point that a flat earth (like the moon as a second source of light) is promoted only by scripture and requires faith-based belief to be held in greater esteem than the reality we share. In this regard, the Ancients were far more advanced in astronomical knowledge than those who pretended that their faith granted them equivalent revelatory knowledge. You seemed to be surprised that this anti-intellectual hierarchy that equates faith-based belief to be equivalent to reality-based knowledge could become so widely accepted when reality offered so much contrary evidence. Welcome to the world of incompatibility between faith and reason, a world we still inhabit fighting exactly this same battle. One needs to look no further than evolution to see the same massive ignorance (belief in creationism) holding fast against the inevitable advance of probably the strongest product of science ever produced, namely understanding natural selection. Note the key word: natural.

    It is this relentless pressure on populations over time that drives evolutionary change. But, like our sun-centered galaxy, this is not intuitive. Creationists, like those pious flat-earthers enabled by belief, are opposed to allowing reality to arbitrate what is true about it and they, like the earth-centered believers, fail to appreciate how the reality of evolution can also be counter-intuitive yet true.

    When you write, If abiogenesis could ever be proved, it would disprove evolution is needed for life, you reveal a rather profoundly anti-scientific stance. There is exactly zero evidence for any interventionist agency anywhere in the chain of life. But paleobiology reveals decreasing biological complexity back into deep time so it is a reasonable inference to suggest abiogenesis occurred at some point. After all, life is. All the requisite chemical building blocks we find in all life today were available then and, when we add time, produce a reasonable hypothesis for the inevitability that life would come from non life. But this hypothesis for a natural creator-free abiogenesis in no way undermines or alters the fact of this natural process we call evolution by natural selection.

    Reply

    • arthuriandaily
      Jun 06, 2012 @ 17:31:24

      So, tildeb, do you believe that life evolved from non-life? Did this happen once? Twice? Dozens of times?

      Can you name me the evolutionary explanation for this life?

      Reply

      • Jim Wynne
        Jun 06, 2012 @ 18:07:02

        You keep saying “evolution claims…” Who makes those claims? Please cite a source. Why does there have to be an “evolutionary” explanation for abiogenesis, given that in the study of evolution, the original source of life is irrelevant?

      • arthuriandaily
        Jun 06, 2012 @ 23:01:18

        Evolution is life begetting life. That is paired down to it’s simplest definition. No life has ever been studied which has not been a result of evolution. Evolution cannot even begin to explain a non-evolutionary life. In fact, it follows that any such life would be – according to evolutionary theory – impossible.

        Evolution theory has life begetting life. Supernatural life is outside the scope of evolution, and it doesn’t match the mandates for life which the theory has posited. Neither does abiogenesis, or any life preceding from a non-evolutionary process.

        This is not predicted by evolution: it has never been observed, can’t be tested, and – – according to the theory, not possible.

      • tildeb
        Jun 06, 2012 @ 20:09:24

        As I already wrote, paleobiology reveals decreasing biological complexity back into deep time so it is a reasonable inference to suggest abiogenesis occurred at some point. This means it is quite reasonable to hypothesize that biotic life arose at least once and then became subject to the natural process of evolution for its selection. Evolution as a fact means natural selection is operant (which is why vaccinations work, for example); evolution as a theory holds the mechanism to be natural selection (which explains why its products are anything but random).

        I cannot think of how we might ever capture evidence for this common ancestor other than similarities in genetic form but I do know that red and blue algae arises in almost pristine sun induced glacial ice melts so I suspect (predict?) flora will predate fauna. How many times this has occurred is not knowable; what we do know is that most life forms genetically examined are kin. There are some intriguing possibilities for other life forms to have arisen within isolated biospheres such as deep sea chimneys but these are very early days in such inquiries.

        Your final question is self-answering: this life – regardless of what species you care to choose – is one product out of many millions that has successfully evolved to date.

      • arthuriandaily
        Jun 11, 2012 @ 11:20:38

        Tiledib: You wrote, “paleobiology reveals decreasing biological complexity back into deep time so it is a reasonable inference to suggest abiogenesis occurred at some point.”

        How is that a reasonable inference? The smallest life form known to science is wildly complex. To posit that life decreased – going back in time – to something other than what science defines as life is to redefine what constitutes life from known scientific findings.

        Clearly ‘nothing’ didn’t evolve into a ‘little something’. A small change in non-life has never produced life, and subsequently violates the tenets of evolution.

        No matter how much you play with non-life, you can’t produce life. Not even the simplest life.

        Bill Gates said: “DNA is like a computer program, but far, far more advanced than any software we’ve ever created.”

        The smallest fabric of life is wildly complex. It cannot be reduced beyond this complexity without failing to be life.

      • tildeb
        Jun 11, 2012 @ 11:49:09

        If you knew anything about archaea – the world’s smallest life form found to date – and recent advances in knowledge about them, you might think differently.

        See that period at the end of that last sentence? There’s room there for about 40 million of the little boogers. And they thrive in the most inhospitable of places. These can form into scum algae like the kind found in Antarctic ice melts previously mentioned but they also do well in pools of arsenic, heavy metal waste pools, thermal vents, and so on. They do well because they need almost nothing except common elements to reproduce.

        If life can be generated in the lab from non living elements, how will you cope if you have already decided it’s impossible?

      • arthuriandaily
        Jun 11, 2012 @ 22:07:40

        Common elements weren’t common 4 and a half billion years ago. Aside from that, I haven’t decided on it’s impossibility. Science has – to date – found that it is not possible, and evolution has placed itself firmly outside of this jurisdiction.

        To prove abiogenesis, you would need a completely hands free experiment. This could never be accomplished in the lab.

        Can you honestly say: it is reasonable to infer that a life form – with less complexity than any scientifically viable life form – once existed?

      • tildeb
        Jun 11, 2012 @ 23:03:32

        Sure they were. That’s why they’re common.

        And it’s an exciting discovery because the same elements are common throughout the planets, which means they may be a precursor to life – and not just carbon based. They do well almost anywhere in any conditions… including extremely acidic AND alkaline environments at very high and very low temperatures. Very cool find.

        So we don’t know how abiogenesis came about but we seem to be looking in the right direction. There certainly isn’t any evidence for an intervention anywhere else along the timeline of life we have access to so to postulate an intervention is a far more unlikely event than, say, a meteoric seeding or a random event.

      • arthuriandaily
        Jun 12, 2012 @ 17:16:17

        It seems pretty random. You have an extremely complex organism emerging from lifelessness without a simplified predecessor: immediate complexity emerging from non-life.

        And even with the potential versatility of such an organism, (perhaps being a viable life beyond our atmosphere,) there is no indication that it has ever emerged elsewhere in the universe.

        If it is not random, what could it be? Directed?

      • tildeb
        Jun 12, 2012 @ 19:50:21

        The organism you see as complex are really local processes following pretty simple chemical bondings. I know it looks very complex – just as flocking or schooling behaviour looks very complex and guided – but broken down to its simplest units are clearly unguided local rules that produce the appearance of complexity and design. Consider just your self: from a single cell to trillions… in only nine months, following the local recipe of your shuffled DNA. What I’m trying to express – badly, of course – is that complexity is an emergent property of local yet fairly simple chemical processes. The crystal structure of various rocks, for example, produced by cooling magma is the same as the crystal structure of certain viruses. That’s just the way certain chemicals bond. And there is no reason to suspect these local processes are any different anywhere else. If you ask biologists, many will tell you that they too suspect life is out there because the elements are out there. It’s a pretty big universe to think we should have some indication of life beyond the earth. But looking is rather expensive.

        I mention ‘random’ as much more reasonable in comparison than assuming intentional intervention: because if you combine certain elements and feed it energy over a vast period of time, I wonder if certain combinations we call ‘life’ are inevitable. Perhaps not. Perhaps it was one in a billion chance, which sounds pretty random, but in the presence of more than 100 billion galaxies, is ‘random’ really the best word?

      • arthuriandaily
        Jun 13, 2012 @ 21:09:45

        tildeb: you said, “The organism you see as complex are really local processes following pretty simple chemical bondings. I know it looks very complex – just as flocking or schooling behaviour looks very complex and guided – but broken down to its simplest units are clearly unguided local rules that produce the appearance of complexity and design.”

        The flagellum is hardly random, nor does it have an ‘appearance’ of design. In fact, billions of years after the flagellum floated within an organism upon the sphere we call earth, man designed an outboard motor. This wasn’t a very original design, after all, since it has been inside bacteria for billions of years.

        You went on to say: “I mention ‘random’ as much more reasonable in comparison than assuming intentional intervention: because if you combine certain elements and feed it energy over a vast period of time, I wonder if certain combinations we call ‘life’ are inevitable. Perhaps not. Perhaps it was one in a billion chance, which sounds pretty random, but in the presence of more than 100 billion galaxies, is ‘random’ really the best word?”

        No, it is far to improbable for random to even enter the equation, really.

  10. tildeb
    Jun 13, 2012 @ 22:52:55

    I want to mention the lottery fallacy to show that highly improbable events should not be understood to be unlikely. I know that sounds a bit pedantic but no matter how improbable the odds might be, a lottery – if held long enough – will always produce a ‘winner’ in the same sense that with chemical interactions, time, and natural forces, even highly improbable events will likely happen. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, highly improbable events happen all the time (look at the odds of you from a particular sperm out of millions multiplied by the 7 billion people currently alive on the earth: the odds are so long as to be intuitively impossible… yet here we all are!.

    We have to be careful not to look backwards and think something is so improbable that it cannot be possible. Life is. We got here somehow and introducing the notion of a planned intervention to explain complexity does no such thing; it merely raises far more complexity than looking at the evidence and understanding that local rules makes complexity emerge.

    Reply

    • arthuriandaily
      Jun 14, 2012 @ 13:54:08

      tildeb: “I want to mention the lottery fallacy to show that highly improbable events should not be understood to be unlikely. I know that sounds a bit pedantic but no matter how improbable the odds might be, a lottery – if held long enough – will always produce a ‘winner’ in the same sense that with chemical interactions, time, and natural forces, even highly improbable events will likely happen.”

      BAD: That is true, for a single instance. But when you speak of life you are talking about a one in a million chance of an A, followed by a one in a million chance for a b, followed by a one in a million chance for a c, and so forth, until you have a to z.

      tildeb: “highly improbable events happen all the time (look at the odds of you from a particular sperm out of millions multiplied by the 7 billion people currently alive on the earth: the odds are so long as to be intuitively impossible… yet here we all are!”

      BAD: If you get 25 one-in-a-million chances – in the correct order – you haven’t won. You need the 26th. After 25 statistically improbable sequentially-specific events, you can’t just ‘hold your cards’ and wait for that one in a million chance for the 26th, you have to start again and hope for that a, then b…

      When you talk about improbability, there are different levels. When you need a multitude of wildly improbable events to happen sequentially, it is effectively impossible. ‘Life’ isn’t a singularly improbable event, it is a specific sequence of improbabilities lining up in the only sequential combination specifically designed for (or could even allow) life.

      Reply

  11. tildeb
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 15:07:34

    If your alternative is some kind of magical POOF!ism, then I fail to see how the improbability is reduced. It seems self-evident that the magical agency itself greatly increases the necessary complexity.

    Reply

    • arthuriandaily
      Jun 18, 2012 @ 17:20:28

      tildeb, I ask you: an alternative to what? The Big Bang? That moment when matter was smaller than a tick – – then exploded and expanded to become the universe?

      The alternative to that is poof-ism?

      Reply

  12. tildeb
    Jun 18, 2012 @ 20:16:23

    Did you notice the word If at the beginning of that sentence? That’s why I asked. Life is. The universe is. What’s your explanation if not natural abiogenesis? POOF!ism, as in some intentional agency bringing life into being?

    Reply

    • arthuriandaily
      Jun 18, 2012 @ 20:51:33

      Abiogenesis is far from natural. It has never been observed, and it has never even been tested and proven to be possible. It has only been posited as the only possibility – – barring a supernatural cause.

      If you believe in evolution, you believe life before a brain. Let’s go back, billions of years ago to very early life on our planet.

      Name the advantage of a Central Nervous System: In a world without a brain, what does the ONLY individual on the planet with a CNS have?

      Reply

  13. Lenoxus
    Jun 19, 2012 @ 16:20:51

    In a world without a brain, what does the ONLY individual on the planet with a CNS have?

    This common argument is one of the creationist claims answered by TalkOrigins. I would like to add a bit to it, however…

    This bears resemblance to the continuum fallacy, along the lines addressed by this essay. You seem to be assuming that there is some cutoff we can draw between organisms that do and don’t have a central nervous system. This is like assuming that because everyone is either rich or not rich, there must be some precise number of pennies of net worth at which the distinction can be made. (And wealth, unlike the many things involved in a CNS, is just a single variable!)

    In addition, you are assuming that each part of an organism’s systems that we can verbally distinguish — like “brain” and “central nervous system” — must have developed separately. It’s a bit like assuming that a six-foot-tall man must have been born as a pair of feet, which then grew some legs, knees, etc. In evolution, most of the interlinked traits occur concurrently, each part affecting the evolution of the other, which of course creationists will declare is somehow even more improbable than separate development.

    Reply

    • arthuriandaily
      Jun 28, 2012 @ 15:09:43

      Lenoxus, you said, “assuming that each part of an organism’s systems that we can verbally distinguish — like “brain” and “central nervous system” — must have developed separately.”

      If you believe this, you obviously don’t understand how evolution works.

      Reply

      • Uglyhip
        Jun 28, 2012 @ 20:41:34

        Right. And I don’t believe it. I was sort-of accusing you of believing it, insofar as you though it made sense to speak of the “first” organism with a CNS, and of this organism somehow lacking a brain. You have to understand that “brainishness” and “CNS-ness” comes in degrees; we don’t talk about the “first” creature with either of those traits any more than we wonder about the first “fast” cheetah outrunning its “slow” parents.

      • arthuriandaily
        Jun 29, 2012 @ 18:17:27

        I do understand that there wasn’t a ‘first’ CNS creature. Just the same way that there wasn’t a ‘first’ penis. There were little nubs for thousands of generations which performed no function until one generation produced a slit… which still wasn’t the first penis, because all those other non-slit pre-penile nubs were evolving into the expandable protrusion capable of excreting liquid. Is it possible this didn’t happen in conjunction with the corresponding internal organs simultaneous formation over billions of years, which allowed water to be passed from the mouth and excreted from the penis?

        I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, I’m saying it is mandated by evolution. I have yet to hear a good explanation as to why a CNS gave any advantage over other species in a pre-CNS world. While only an appearance, it’s appearance is one of directional fortitude. In fact, it’s history is one of directional fortitude.

      • tildeb
        Jun 29, 2012 @ 17:22:48

        Arthuriandaily, you misquote Lenoxus. He said you are assuming, not him. His understanding of evolution is not brought into question here; your assumption is.

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