Thursday, May 17, 2007

Life is Random, Get Over It

I have been blogging for a month or so about what I don’t believe in. It’s time to take a stand and state for the record what I do believe in. I would like to state, for the record, that I do not speak for all atheists – just this one. I truly believe that life is random.

In a comment, Bible Student states that I worship a religion of common sense and reason. Thanks for the compliment. I fully admit to being a polytheist and I worship the gods of rationality AND probability. Even though I believe life is random, I do have hope. The decisions that I make affect the randomness. I am not an alcoholic and I am not a Christian, yet the serenity prayer makes so much sense to me (modified for atheists):

I need to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

That’s what I base my hope on. There are things that I can control and things that I can’t. If I focus on the stuff that I can control by consistently making good decisions, my life seems to go pretty well. Every once in a while, bad things seem to happen, but I can will my way through it by making good decisions. Over time, I like to think that I have learned from my experiences and these lessons guide me to help make better decisions.

The rough patches of my life were not predestined in order for me to learn a lesson. They were either a result of bad decision making or random. I do not need to believe in the supernatural to feel better about myself or my life. My faith in myself , my family, and my friends carry me through.

OK, so I’ve laid out the concept that stuff happens and I am in control of my destiny, how can this possibly compete with heaven? What do I have to offer someone? Here are the gifts I plan to give to my son:

The Gift of Life

This is the only life we get and it could end at any time. I could get ill or hit by a bus tomorrow, so that means today counts! Life is wonderful and meaningful. If I do not like aspects of my life, I have to make decisions for change. My happiness is my responsibility and I accept that. I have the power to make myself happy and to care for my family. There is no afterlife, so this life must fully be appreciated in every moment.

The Gift of Reason

Since I am responsible for my decisions, I need to make my decisions carefully. I need to be comfortable with this responsibility. I need to constantly learn to ensure that I make the best decisions possible.

The Gift of Morality

I know right from wrong and it’s my responsibility to raise my children with good values.
It is my responsibility to ensure they know they need to leave this world better than they found it.

The Gift of Forgiveness

Strange concept for an atheist, huh? I do have experience with forgiveness… When I was a younger man, I dated a girl who was pretty and nice and sweet to me. I was a dick to her. I know this. I lacked the maturity and the honesty to say to her that I couldn’t give her what she wanted. When I broke up with her, I was spiteful and hurtful because I lacked the emotional intelligence and honesty she deserved.

I met this girl in a chance encounter years later and I looked her in the eye and said, “Hey pretty lady, I’m sorry that I was jerk to you when you were so sweet and nice to me.”

And she smiled and said, “I understand. You were young. You didn’t know how to handle yourself. You have said you were sorry, and it’s OK.”

She hugged me and kissed me on the cheek and I was forgiven with no supernatural interference. It happens all the time. I can be a jerk to my wife in the morning and then IM her in the afternoon and she says, “It’s OK. I forgive you.”

Sometimes I get too hard on myself. I make a decision and the outcome isn’t what I expected. I analyze and analyze to try and figure out how I got to the outcome that I got. If I made a mistake, I forgive myself and move on.

The Power to Change

Life throws curveballs and one path may seem right at the time and then later it’s not. I do not ask the supernatural for intervention or guidance. I am responsible for change. Nothing in this life is written in stone and there are always options if we look for them.

All five of my gifts are observable and open for analysis by a third party. My gifts will guide my son to be a good person and reach his potential. They will guide his life and empower him to make the difficult decisions that he will face in his life. None of my gifts require the divine. All of them should give him hope. They are all free to him so long as he is willing to accept the awesome responsibility of being in charge of his own life. Life is random, get over it – take responsibility and make good decisions.

43 comments:

Wil said...

Great read, it's quite admirable.

MasterJediDan said...

Wow...pretty good set of morals there.

Bible student said...

@ AW

I can’t take accept the compliment. The last thing you said in your opening post on the An Unlikely Mormon Apologist page was:

“why can’t we just make up an even better religion based on common sense and reason?”

I swiped it from you.

There is a word for what you’ve got, I’ll remember it.

John said...

Wager, just wanted to let you know your blog has become an almost daily check for me.. just have to see what you might write next. ;)
Other than the nonsense of the few thumpers that have seemed to have attached themselves to your blog. It would be a great read every post.

You might want to look to blocking their ip's. To be honest, their nonsense has gotten to the point that I almost do not even want to look over the comments. I have yet to see anything other then typical thumper BS!

BTW - this latest was a top notch post, it seemed to be from the heart. And to be frankly honest, you seem to be one hell of a top notch guy. I would be happy to buy you a beer, if your ever in the Chicagoland area -- For no other reason other than to just celebrate life!

Quite a few of your comments could very well be taken as my own. I love to see a fellow atheist express their take on life to the masses - please keep up the blogging.

Life is an amazing thing, isn't it!! The only thing that has been starting to get to me - is it's too freaking short!! You blink an your 42, an both your kids are in college, you have been married 22 years to an amazing women - an it seems like only a long weekend.

I would really like to stress that you need to enjoy the time you have. Look up at the stars now an then, isn't it freaking AMAZING!!

I really do wonder how anyone can look at what we do understand about the universe or multiverse if you will and think there is some invisible pink unicorn that created it all..

I just fail to comprehend how anyone can lookup at the night sky an be satisfied that "god" did it as an answer. I really do feel sad for these weak minded people.

I'm not sure if we should blame their parents for the brainwashing, or them for the failure to see past the nonsense their parents fed them.

Most every kid gets to an age, an realizes that santa an the tooth fairy are just make believe - why is it they do not take the next logial step when it comes to religion?

I think I was like 9 when I realized the crap they were trying to feed me in catechism was nonsense.. when the nuns could not answer a simple question "where did god come from" I knew I had outgrown religion ;)

This is about the same age you find out the truth about santa - is it not? Why is that god survives the light bulb turning on about all the other childhood stories?

I just hope that your blogging might in some way flicker the on the light bulb for some of these poor souls?

To be utterly honest, I really do feel sorry for those that waste so much of their flicker of consciences in prostration to some imaginary friend.

To be honest, I weep for the future, it really saddens me to have to fathom how religion has survived this long? Can we really as a species be that freaking stupid? That our answer to what we see when we look up at night sky -- is the "sky father" created it? Really??

Please keep up the exchange of info!

zilch said...

AW, I'll go along with your list of gifts too. I can't say that I always know right from wrong, since I don't believe in any ultimate source of morality, but I get along pretty well playing it by ear.

John- I too feel awe when I look up at the stars, or look at a fossil or a child. The natural world is a wonderful and incomprehensibly complex place, and the worldview religion gives us is simple and smallminded in comparison.

For instance, according to Young Earth Creationists, the world is only about six thousand years old. Science tells us that the Universe is over fourteen billion years old. If we were to write a history of the world, one century to a page, the Creationist book would be a slim paperback. But the volumes necessary for a scientific history would need a bookshelf ten miles long. What an impoverished way of looking at this mindboggling world of ours religion offers us!

Ilja said...

@ Wager

Although you didn’t intent to speak for others, you do for me. There are other ideas that i personally have come to find helpful in making the right decisions, but the ones you’ve named are IMO a solid foundation for everyone who chooses to take his life into his own hands.


@ John

“I'm not sure if we should blame their parents for the brainwashing, or them for the failure to see past the nonsense their parents fed them.”

I think it’s a tough thing to realize that nothing will happen/move/improve unless you stand up and do it yourself, the other alternative being “god has a plan for me, for everything else, so i don’t have to. I can just pray, read the bible day after day and everything will be good.” Not everybody is willing to take the hard way and make decisions based on own judgement that can turn own faulty afterwards, if you can pass on the responsibility to the bible where you’ll find the so-called only true answer to anything. Sometimes we all like to lean back for a while and let the others do the thinking, and some people choose this for life because they see it work for others.

BEAST said...

Hi.
I am an atheist from Singapore, and I was introduced to your blog, which I have put up a link to (www.atheisthaven.blogspot.com).
While I would have trouble deeming qualities such as reason and forgiveness as "religion" and "gift" respectively (These two words seem to hint of a Creator).

Nonetheless, I think you hit the jackpot with your point that us humans do control our own destinies, and this salient truth should really be the guiding point as to how we lead our lives, without looking to the sky and wonder if some alpha male is looking up for us.

Regards
The Beast

Bible student said...

@ John

Why is that God survives the light bulb turning on about all the other childhood stories?

Real faith, can only be in something real. You might believe your imaginary friend, but what is that worth.
Trust is built on trial, as is faith.

@ Ilja

That’s a pretty whimpy believer. The Bible encourages guiding your life with wisdom, knowledge and discernment. (Proverbs 2:1-6)

Mike said...

the "gift of life" aspect really shines... because it helps us all out when you live life for the now as opposed to pissing it away or making a mess here because it doesn't matter to you... you've got your golden ticket to heaven so fuck everybody else during this mortal life...

Mike said...

John wrote:
> Other than the nonsense of the few thumpers that have seemed to have attached themselves to your blog. It would be a great read every post.

You might want to look to blocking their ip's. To be honest, their nonsense has gotten to the point that I almost do not even want to look over the comments. I have yet to see anything other then typical thumper BS!
<

I don't think it sends a terribly effective message to answer irrational dogma with totalitarian intolerance. The best thing is to engage the weak fiercely, not to ignore them.

MasterJediDan said...

@ John

Nice post. I agree with you 100%, the universe is so awesome! I mean, just look around you. Everything is so complex, so awe-inspiring, so amazing. This is why I don't see evolution happening. I don't see it just coming together on its own. I mean, the complexities of life still amaze scientists. I just don't see a 1 in 1 * 10 ^ 10000000 chance happening and forming it all. I see an awe-inspiring creation made by someone else. I also have to agree with you on the point that you shouldn't waste your life because it is short. I'm only in high school, but my life as a kid has already flown by. I agree with Atheistwager too, that we should take advantage of every moment and make life as good as possible instead of just wasting our time here on earth.

To address the IP address blocking, what the heck? Sounds like you're being more one-sided than some Christians I know. We're here to discuss life and to find answers. I came here because I didn't want to be spoonfed religion anymore, and I wanted to see what atheists believed. I saw the blog on Digg, and decided, hey, why not check it out. If I was really one-sided, I wouldn't even be here, I'd just go along with what I'm taught in church. Instead I'm here, trying to learn stuff from everyone here. To sum up the IP thing though, this blog isn't yours and isn't made for you, so live with it. Besides, I have a laptop, so it wouldn't do much in the way of stopping me from posting.

Atheistwager said...

@John
Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate them. I do respectfully disagree with you. I can offer up my opinions and every once in a while a teenager drops a line and says they are inspired. It makes me feel good. If they are going to not live in a world bound by dogma and faith, I have helped to show them that it is indeed possible. Some are too far indoctrinated and that's OK. An entire new generation will take over at some point. More of them will be guided by science and rationality. It will encourage the generation after them to do the same. If this were not a blog but a book and written 500 years ago, I would be burned at a stake. Humans are outgrowing blind faith. It might take several more generations but it will happen and hopefully it will be a bloodless revolution.

As to blocking IPs, I plan to do no such thing. I may disagree with Bible Student and MJD, but I value their participation. I have received a thousand or so comments here and so far have deleted exactly one. MJD has tendancy to randomize the heck out of conversations, but that's OK because there usually is some relevant point back to the post or it leads to an interesting conversation.

The only rule for getting your post deleted is to ramble aimlessly with no point whatsoever while seeking to draw traffic to your own site and derailing the conversation here. Also, threats of violence will not be tolerated. Other than that you can say what you want.

@Beast
Your blog rules. Seriously, great stuff! I am honored to be linked to you. I understand your point about the useage of the word "gift" here. I thought that those on the fence would prefer this term. My use of "gift" doesn't imply a creator as I am talking about the gift of spending time and giving knowledge to my toddler.

@MJD
Keep on posting, I enjoy your comments. There is a HUGE difference between intelligence and wisdom. I don't doubt your intelligence at all. A little more life experience will provide you with plenty of wisdom.

Miracle said...

Great post AW. You are a very inspirational writer. I completely agree with what you hope for. It seems as we're not to altogether different in our philosphy on life :).

Ilja said...

@ MJD

Just allow the possibility, that some of the wonders of the world are the result of random processes, have no clear plan or intention behind them and are therefore quite difficult to understand. The world is not made for us, we just have happened to evolve into it, in millions of years, by chance. If you don’t understand something, it’s okay, nobody does, no need to make up some almighty being to explain everything. Just keep an open mind and enjoy the stay as long as it lasts, because there’s probably nothing more than this one life.

Scientific American: 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense

MasterJediDan said...

Thank you Atheistwager.

@ Ilja

I still see too many questions that evolution hasn't answered. Like, for example, how did evolution decide that we should have two kinds of animals, female and male? Why do we need them both to reproduce, wouldn't it just be simpler for evolution to just have one kind of animal and have it reproduce by itself? (kind of like bacteria do) And why are there different kinds of reproduction, like hatching eggs, with reptiles; being born live, with mammals; and asexual reproduction, as with bacteria? The questions go on and on, and here is something else to think about: World population growth rate in recent times is about 2% per year. Practicable application of growth rate throughout human history would be about half that number. Wars, disease, famine, etc. have wiped out approximately one third of the population on average every 82 years. Starting with eight people, and applying these growth rates since the Flood of Noah's day (about 4500 years ago) would give a total human population at just under six billion people. However, application on an evolutionary time scale runs into major difficulties. Starting with one "couple" just 41,000 years ago would give us a total population of 2 x 10 ^ 89. The universe does not have space to hold so many bodies. Think about it. Atheistwager may be right, there may not be a god, but evolution isn't the answer.

brenden said...

No matter how unlikely our seemingly complicated situation may appear, a creator god must be less likely because he is inescapably more complicated.

On top of that, if you look at every remotely complex thing as proof of the need for a creator, why do you not see the need for a creator of the creator? Why can't the universe be the ultimate existence?

brenden said...

@ MasterJediDan

Evolution states that being evolve to fit their environment. This is a perfect explanation as to why things are different among species.

Bacteria reproduce by cell replication. This can be achieved because bacteria have so few cells. Now try to imagine a human splitting in half to make a new human. Certainly not the most efficient way to do things, rather than slowly allocate resources to a growing embryo over a course of months. Incidentally, some bacteria do need a male and female.

Please read this: http://members.cox.net/ardipithecus/evol/lies/lie019.html

The most important note is that population growth is not constant. Sometimes it goes down.

MasterJediDan said...

@ Brenden

This is getting to be a really old argument. How would the population go down? Even in war-torn countries with diseases like AIDS (like Africa), the population still grows.

brenden said...

@ MasterJediDan

If the population growth averages out like that, it should be feasible to count how many humans there were at any given point in history. With an average population growth of 0.5, there were about 13 people around when Egypt was building the pyramids. Thirteen.

A population can only grow when there is sufficient or surplus resources available to that population. Once there are not enough resources to sustain the population, the growth rate drops.

Population goes up, people eat all the food, there isn't enough to support the population, people stop having children and people die. When there are more people dying than being born, the growth rate is below zero. It's very simple.

At this very moment, Japan's growth rate is about -0.088%.

Ilja said...

Yeah, like in many industrial countries as well, the USA being an exception. If every couple has 2 kids, the population doesn’t grow. If some of them have only one or none at all, the popolation decreases.

There were periods of major extinctions in the past, the most recent being the last ice age, ~12.000 or something years ago. It’s cold, crops don’t grow, people starve, population drops.

“I still see too many questions that evolution hasn't answered. Like, for example, how did evolution decide that we should have two kinds of animals, female and male? […]”

The biology actually already has the (most plausible) answers, you just don’t know them. Find a decent book about evolution that’s not written by christians or creationists and read it (“Selfish Gene”, maybe, haven’t read it though), or maybe grab yourself a biologist and let him explain. Well, i am one, but sorry, that’s a lengthy topic that i don’t feel like explaining right here right now :)

In short, to sexes allow to reproduce sexually, which has brought many advantages with it, because the offspring is provided with a random set of qualities (randomly chosen from both parents) that allow to adapt to altering environmental conditions. Those who fit better, survive better, have more offspring. Those poorly adapted die out.

And it’s not like the male/female scheme is the only one there is, there are many species that are both at the same time, or first male, then female (hermaphrodites, read the article for some examples), it’s just not the case among mammals.

MasterJediDan said...

@ Brenden

So what you're telling me is that you believe that something as simple as a brick building can't be formed by random chance (without the help of a being)(we've never seen it) while something as complex as the human body can?

brenden said...

Chance is only a very small part of evolution. "Chance" might be the term for the circumstances allowing the development of life on this particular planet, but evolution favours those who adapt to their environment. Reproduction allows for a certain level of difference between beings, and the more fit each one is to their environment, the more likely they are to survive and pass on their genes.

To bring back in another one of your failed questions, sexual reproduction allows for this kind of genetic diversity, which is why you could see humans and other sexually-reproducing creatures to be significantly more evolved than bacteria.

To summarise: Humans are advanced because slight differences caused by sexual reproduction have been evolutionarily favoured over time. Asexual bacteria are comparatively simple because their environment does not require complexity and their reproduction method does not allow for as much diversity.

If it were all down to chance, we most certainly wouldn't be here.

brenden said...

An interesting sidenote: As buildings are the products of humans, you could say that they are the concrete representation (no pun intended) of human's evolving architectural understanding. This way, the brick building is a product of evolution – human evolution. The brick building is somewhere between a teepee and a modern skyscraper.

MasterJediDan said...

@ brenden

I guess you could say that buildings "evolved" from a tent to a skyscraper, but it required the thought and action of a being to do it.

I can see that you and I are never going to get over this debate though, so let's just quit now rather than continue to fill Atheistwager's blog with useless comments about whether or not evolution or creation is true.

Ilja said...

@ MJD

If you are serious about forming an informed opinion about evolution, your best and only choice is to take the time, make the effort and read up on the topic. There is more than enough published empirical evidence that the processes, that have in the long term lead to the evolution of species, are going on right now, and sometimes fast enough to be observable for a human within his limited lifespan. If you, however, don't really care and are just curious, what the fuss is all about, then why should anyone devote his time to convince you? It's a choice you have to make.

If you find the thought, that our existence is the result of a long chain of random events, unsatisfactory, then remember, that the bible also doesn't give any motive why god has bothered creating the world in the first place. He is supposed to just have done it because he can, because he thought he might as well, why not? Think about it for a while: he cannot have done this out of his endless love for the humankind because at that time, there was no humankind yet. So what is his goal? Create some creatures, put his laws on them, millennia later judge them all, put those who pass the test into heaven, and burn rest?

Is this any less random than the empirically supported process of evolution? I think not.

Miracle said...

@MJD

I wanted to help you out with your thoughts on evolution and faith. They are not exclusive. I hold to the same God as you do, but I think evolution is very capable to be true. I'm not a scientist so I don't really argue the matter and would fail fall short of anyone actually studied on it. If it is something that could be bugging you in terms of the Bible go out and read genesis 1 again. Without any notes or theological thoughts, ask what is it trying to tell me. The answer is simply, "God created it all". The 7 days are a purely poetic way of saying that it was God (sorry atheists for the Christian chat). Its not a passage to say how God did it, but that God did do it. This is why evolution doesn't really affect my faith.

Atheistwager said...

@ilja

I never looked at the whole Genesis story from this perspective before! You're right, how random to create a species, give them some ambiguous laws, and then judge them. Thanks for the laugh and making my day.

brenden said...

@ MJD

You ask the cliché creationists questions, and I give you the answers. They're hardly useless comments until you chose not to read them purely because you refuse to comprehend them.

You've run out of questions, haven't you? Go on, use the ontological argument or something.

Miracle said...

@ilja

you are not entirely correct. The Bible does give a motive for why God created the world. He wanted company. It might be a little simplistic and its point is to say that God has a concern and wants to be part of our existence, but read Genesis 1/2 again and you'll see that it basically says that God was lonely

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Ilja said...

@ Miracle

But in the end, it’s still down to that we are here for his entertainment, right? And if we don’t behave, then he’ll put us in hell for the rest of eternity. Hardly the loving father figure and the manisfestation of boundless love the bible wants us to believe in.

If i am to decide between having no higher goal in life than to reproduce, and following god’s arbitrary laws for some unclear purpose, i choose the former. I would even say, religions have emerged to give people who realized, that the point of their existence is not clear, some kind of hope, stability and direction, and in fact they arguably do this. But the question about god’s motives rather gives me the uneasy feeling being a subject in some experiment that i don’t understand and cannot stop participating in. And frankly, i prefer a life built upon the rules of nature (that i can learn by observing the real world) and a death where the lights go out and the drama is over forever.

zilch said...

Last try. I don't know why my links work in the preview but get screwed up when I post them. Any ideas? Here goes again:

@ MJD- If you really want to learn something about evolution, there's lots of information out there. A good place to start is here, the talkorigins folk's explanation of macroevolution.

But I agree that AW's blog is not necessarily the best place for a debate about evolution. There are lots of other forae for that, for instance .

A site with many useful links is
here. A good book explaining how small changes can accumulate to create our complex living world is Climbing Mount Improbable, by Richard Dawkins.

MasterJediDan said...

@ Brenden

I could ask you countless other questions. Like, for example, what about the dinosaurs? You claim that they died when a large meteorite hit the earth, yet according to evolution, wouldn't they have been the fittest to survive? And if a meteorite really did hit the earth, then why did only the dinosaurs die? Why didn't man die too? We're not really impregnable to the climate change that a meteorite would have brought about to the earth. And while you could say that the animal we evolved from survived, or that we simply evolved again from another animal in the chain below us, why didn't the dinosaurs do that to? My point being that I could go on and on with more questions about evolution. I have another one waiting if you really want it.

Ilja said...

@ MJD

Of course you can have lots of questions, and among them will be many that no one can give an answer to. Because no one of us was around millions of years ago. We simply don't know. What do you want to prove anyway?

Of course explaining everything as the work of god is very convenient. But does this say anything about how the world really is? No. I can convince myself that the sky is a hollow sphere with bright dots painted on it, and find it very convenient, but will the sky be that way just because i think so? No. So you a free to believe the world was created by god, or whatever you want, but that doesn't mean anything at all. Each religion believes it's right, and you with your Christian view are just one among many.

But the hard task is to collect evidence, think about why it implies, collect more evidence, think again, repeat from step 1. Also called "science".

Look at this: Science vs. Norse mythology, and i hope you realize, that if you find the right side funny, that the Christian world view is just as ambiguous and ridiculous as the one on that picture. Or, if otherwise, please let me hear why it's not.

MasterJediDan said...

@ Ilja

I do find it funny :D. There is, however, one fatal flaw. If Homo Sapiens (man and woman) appeared nearly 500,000 years ago, why has there been no signs of civilization until around 10,000 BC? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilization
The cavemen wouldn't have sat around for approximately 490,000 years doing nothing. I mean, look at how much we have advanced from ancient Rome (about 0 AD) to now (2007 AD). We have gone from small, scattered cities to giant nations. We have also gone from metal swords to lasers, missiles, and atom bombs. We have also gone from exploring simple islands to exploring the moon and the planets. And all this development has happened in 2000 years. Just 2000. Now, doesn't it sound hilariously stupid to believe that man sat around for 490,000 years doing nothing?

Miracle said...

@ilja

entertainment = sock puppets

It does not say anywhere that we are here for his entertainment. We are here for his companionship. Does that include entertaining.. yes. I am entertained by my 2 year old son.

Also, hell has origins in ancient greece not in the Bible. The Bible dates older than the greek mythologies and prior texts do not have any references to a hell. The earliest manuscripts actually refer to afterlife as pure dust: no heaven, no hell. A little while later, the Bible grew to say that hell is an afterlife without God. It makes sense that those who do not desire his company (chosen this life or afterlife is debatable) will not accompany him in the afterlife. God is not interpreted in the

gotta go... I'll finish the thought later

Ilja said...

@ MJD

The good part is, that i find your Christian version of creation just as funny, and you cannot do anything about it, because from the atheist point of view, the Norsemen and Christians are both equally mislead. Unlike you, i admit not have answers to everything in the world, and that's okay with me, because what i do know are facts that can be challenged and confirmed anytime, anywhere. How about yours?

From History of technology:

• Olduvai Stone Technology 2.5 million years ago (scrapers; to butcher dead animals)
• Auchelean Stone Technology 1.6 million years ago (hand axe)
• Fire used since the Paleolithic, possibly by Homo erectus as early as 1.5 Million years ago
• Clothing possibly 100,000 years ago.
• Stone tools, used by Homo floresiensis, possibly 100,000 years ago.
• Domestication of Animals, ca. 15,000 BC
• Pottery ca. 11th millennium BC

For why the traces of early cultures are so rare, look up Erosion and do the thinking.

And on a personal note, it's not that important to me to know how old is the Earth and when the modern civilization really kicked off, because it doesn't help me with my daily life. And god has proven himself just as useless, while on the other hand i'm thankfully using scientific achievements most of the time (who invented cars, electricity or the Internet?). That's why i prefer to stick to science: because i see that it works. First hand knowledge.

@ Miracle

Please finish your thought, as it seems to lead into an interesting direction.

zilch said...

@mjd: ilja has answered some of your questions well, so I'll just add a couple of things. You asked:

"Like, for example, what about the dinosaurs? You claim that they died when a large meteorite hit the earth, yet according to evolution, wouldn't they have been the fittest to survive? And if a meteorite really did hit the earth, then why did only the dinosaurs die?"

Okay- good questions. Why did the dinosaurs die if they were fit? Well, being fit means being well adapted to the conditions an organism normally encounters in its life. But, as Monty Python said, "no one expects the Spanish Inquisition", and evolution simply didn't prepare dinosaurs for a chunk of rock the size of Manhatten hitting the Earth at about 50,000 miles an hour.

It was not only dinosaurs that went extinct- about half of all marine species were wiped out, too, including the ammonites, the plesiosaurs, and the mosasaurs. Clams, mussels, and marsupials were hit hard too.

But not all dinosaurs died out. One group survived and flourished, and is still around today: the birds. Dinosaurs did leave descendants after all.

You ask: "If Homo Sapiens (man and woman) appeared nearly 500,000 years ago, why has there been no signs of civilization until around 10,000 BC?"

1) No one knows when our ancestors first started to speak, but it's estimated to be somewhere between 30 and 100 thousand years ago. Without speech, no civilization.

2) I could just as well ask you: if civilization started ten thousand years ago, why have some Stone Age cultures persisted until the present day? What have the Yanomamo been doing for the last ten thousand years- twiddling their thumbs? All kinds of conditions have to be present for civilization to develop.

3) The development of culture and civilization is exponential, not linear. Like population growth, it starts slowly and then takes off. Just look at the speed of scientific advance: practically nothing until about three hundred years ago, and now more and more, faster and faster. I can't remember the exact figure, but something like 90% of all scientists who have ever lived are alive today.

brenden said...

@ MasterJediDan

I see you have not run out of stupid questions.

1. Evolution has no defence against a large meteorite hitting the earth and wiping out the larger animals. Survival of the fittest has to do with adapting to greater fit an environment, not to protect against a huge chunk of rock changing the environment of most of the earth in a short timespan.

After the global climate change, dinosaurs were no longer the fittest, and they didn't survive.

2. Humans were not around with the dinosaurs. Humans were not around with the dinosaurs. You have been watching too much Flintstones.

3. Following this, humans have only evolved once. There was no re-evolving after a wipeout. After whatever killed off the dinosaurs, the overall earth climate was different and being a dinosaur was no longer evolutionarily favoured and the mammals could take over.

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