Sweet Crystaline

Reposted from: http://www.livescience.com/space/080925-am-diamond-life.html

Singer, Key to the universe

Singer, Key to the universe

Shooting up the charts and past Adam’s rib as the potential building block for life on Earth are diamonds…

Diamonds May Be Life’s Birthstone

By Michael Schirber, Astrobiology Magazine

One of the hurdles in origin-of-life theories is that the pieces that make up complex biomolecules do not readily come together by themselves. A group of scientists proposes that diamonds provided a kind of “workbench” for biomolecule manufacturing on early Earth.

Not long after its formation, our planet was — according to astrobiologists — awash in a primordial soup that contained the rudimentary ingredients of life. The fly in the “soup” theory, however, is that the small molecular bits likely needed outside help in order to latch together into the long, complex biomolecules that living organisms use.

Some scientists have suggested that the surfaces of minerals on the early Earth provided an organizing platform upon which the building blocks of life could assemble. Recent studies of diamond suggest that its surface would be especially good for this. Continue reading

Comfort, Cameron, and Bananas

As you all probably know, I love to pick on Ray Comfort’s brand of religious faith — the kind of faith that is condescendingly righteous and all-consuming, the kind of faith that is so certain it can even tell when people don’t really believe the things they say they believe, such as when he says:

There is a difference between being a “believer” and being a Christian. Every sane human being is a “believer” in God’s existence. Some people pretend He doesn’t exist (atheists) but they know He does.

But what you may not know is that Ray joined up with Kirk Cameron (from “Growing Pains” “fame”) a few years back to present “scientific proof” of God’s existence. The proof was a banana. That’s not metaphor; the proof was actually a banana — more specifically the perfectly “designed” nature of bananas for human consumption. What many have pointed out since then is that modern bananas have been genetically altered to their present shape and size… by us.  In any case, here is a clip from that presentation. Enjoy!

A Wonderfully Accurate Analogy to Intelligent Design

I don’t know this person, but he/she is a good analogizer, and it goes great with my picture from yesterday… (posted from http://community.livejournal.com/metaquotes/6823581.html), Continue reading

Watching Evolution

Some creationist somewhere is right now making the claim that, “In all the time scientists have been ‘watching’ for evolutionary change, they’ve never ‘caught’ a species transitioning into another one.” Well, the easy response to that remark is that all species, everywhere are in the midst of transitioning — the complicating factor is how damn slow it all is. So I decided to make a picture to bring some perspective to evolution’s immense sluggishness…

Notice the red spot in the top left corner of the image below. That is actually a scaled representation of how long we’ve been on the “look-out” for evolutionary changes, about 150 years. On the scale that we’re working on here, you can see that 150 years appears almost as a dot, but it does have a little length. You can see that the red portion is at the end of a longer, squigglier line that ends at the box labeled “Homo sapiens,” that’s the point on this timeline where our species first showed up (about 200,000 years ago). The next even longer and squigglier line terminates at a box labeled “Homo erectus.” In the current “species” discussions around human evolution, Homo erectus is considered to be our direct previous ancestor, originating about 1.8 million years ago.

Continue reading

If It Feels Good, Do It

I am often perplexed by other’s perplexity. In this particular case, it’s the oft-repeated, “I can’t see how science can explain where goodness comes from,” or “Evolution just can’t account for morality.”


Well, first, several good books explain the connection between evolutionary theory and morality (the last one I read was The Moral Sense, by James Q. Wilson), but even at an intuitive level, morality just makes sense when you consider humans are social by nature.

To ask the question, “Why be moral if there is no god?” Is to misunderstand that we don’t have a choice in whether we “should” or “shouldn’t” be moral — we are moral, and we are moral because we have had to be moral, otherwise we would not be here. Now there are clearly some folks who are “more moral” than others, but how do we judge what is more or less of a moral act?

Here’s a list. On the top is really bad stuff, and on the bottom is the not so bad…

Continue reading

Nazis, Evolution, and the Theo-Illogical Mind

I was reading a recent blog post by Dinesh D’Souza in which he manages two such flagrantly appalling misapplications of logic, that I feel compelled to review them…

The first is an example of the backwards Appeal to Nature fallacy that I pointed out the other day. I think I will start referring to this as the “Unappeal of Nature” fallacy. The typical Appeal to Nature fallacy is usually employed to make moral judgments about acts based on their natural- or unnatural-ness. That which occurs in nature is considered “good” and that which does not is “bad.” When it comes to evolution, however, the fallacy is twisted in an odd way.

As an argument against the acceptance of evolution D’Souza states: 

Nazis repeatedly invoked Darwinian evolution and that Nazi doctrine used “survival of the fittest” as a virtual recruiting phrase.

Linking evolution to Nazis is a fairly common technique of creationists. The general argument follows these lines: Continue reading

Unnatural Gays and Natural Evolution?

An example of the Appeal to Nature fallacy is something like this: Animals are not gay, so being gay must be unnatural; therefore, it is bad. 

It think it is pretty easy to see that simply because something is “natural,” it is not necessarily “good”. Viruses, cyanide, and cannabis are all natural, yet we brutally slaughter our colds, we seldom serve cyanide Jell-o brand gelatin at dinner parties, and we spend billions per year in an attempt to stop jam-band fans from partaking upon the ganja.

And yet, this “logic” is so compelling to some that they fear recognizing evolution (as the natural process by which humans have come to exist) would require us to enact the strictest types of “Social Darwinism” and to do so would be “right.” This viewpoint is the basis of the failed Ben Stein joint “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” and of the many faith-based decision makers who embrace what is “natural” when it suits them — and vilify it when it does not… 

But we are not bound to be mirrors of the natural world; we have both logical and emotional facilities given by nature and which may be used to evaluate nature. We are no more bound to be socially-darwinian than we are bound to be socially-electro-magnetic or socially-quantum. Oh, and by the way, homosexuality occurs in nature.