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The Earliest Emergence of Life

by Ardea Skybreak

So many things have changed on this planet in the past 3.5 billion years or so that it is very difficult to re-create in a laboratory exactly the same conditions as existed back then—just the right “mix” of temperature and energy and just the right proportions of chemical compounds (such as methane, ammonia, carbon monoxide, water vapor, etc.) that existed in earth’s early atmosphere.

But even though no one has yet been able to fully recreate the emergence of simple life forms in a test tube, scientists are getting closer all the time to being able to do just that. Beginning with Stanley Miller’s famous experiments in the 1950s, a number of lab experiments have demonstrated that some of the basic chemical building blocks of life (including sugars and the basic components of proteins and DNA) will actually begin to coalesce (“self-assemble”) spontaneously (on their own) given the right physical and chemical environment!

To qualify as a “life-form”—rather than as an inanimate (non-living) object—a bit of matter has to have two main characteristics:

1) The ability to actively extract energy from the outside environment (such as when living plants derive energy from the sun, or when living animals derive energy from eating) and,

2) The ability to replicate itself: to qualify as “alive,” matter has to be able to make copies of itself (though not necessarily perfectly identical copies) and in replicating itself it has to be able to “pass on” at least some of its characteristics to its descendants.

On this planet at least, all life-forms also form some kind of membrane or compartment— such as a cell membrane—which serves to contain the replication and energy-tapping mechanisms and keep them relatively separate and distinct from the rest of the outside world. Most scientists today think that the earliest living organisms on earth were little more than self-replicating protein molecules enclosed in a simple membrane, and that all subsequent life-forms evolved over millions and billions of years from these simple beginnings.

 

For a number of decades now scientists have been conducting experiments aimed at trying to recreate the initial steps in the emergence of life on this planet. Back in the 1950s, Stanley Miller’s famous laboratory experiments were the first to prove that very simple chemical reactions could in fact produce some of the simplest “building blocks” of life: he showed for instance that simply sending jolts of electrical energy (similar in effect to lightning bolts striking the early earth) into a mixture of methane, ammonia and water (chemicals which are known to have been present in the environment of early earth) ends up producing some new chemical compounds, including amino acids and sugars. This was a very exciting discovery, because amino acids and sugars are fundamental building blocks of the more complex molecules found in all living organisms! Given that lightning, methane, ammonia and water would have been abundant in the early stages of our planet’s history, and (importantly!) given that there would have been no creatures around yet which could eat any amino acids or sugars being produced through such simple chemical reactions, the early oceans could well have become rich and concentrated “soups” of these “building blocks” of the more complex organic molecules found in all living things. And other experiments have also shown that such substances can assemble themselves spontaneously into more extensive “films” or “mats” of interacting compounds. It is easy to imagine such mats clinging to the ancient rocks or drifting in the ancient seas, serving as early templates for the assembling of more complex molecules.

 

Some more recent laboratory experiments have even demonstrated that certain simple sequences of amino acids (short bits of RNA for instance) will sometimes self-replicate, or make copies of themselves, even in the absence of any protein enzymes (which until recently were thought to be absolutely required for this process to occur), and these new bits of RNA have even been observed beginning to evolve on their own! Given the right mix (or chemical “soup”), fatty acids—which are key components of living cell membranes—have also been shown to assemble spontaneously, suggesting that some kind of similar process may well have been involved in the formation of the very first living cells. Again, the first living cells are likely to have been little more than tidbits of self-replicating DNA or RNA molecules surrounded by a simple membrane.

 

Experiments investigating and demonstrating how earliest forms of life might have emerged on this planet have been going on for only a few decades, so there is obviously still much to discover about these processes. But what has already been learned through these experiments clearly demonstrates how some of the first steps involved in the development of primitive life could have taken place spontaneously (without the hand of any divine “Creator” or “Intelligent Designer”) in the primeval chemical “soup” of this planet. Beyond that, it is very important to understand that, while every detail of the process of the earliest emergence of life hasn’t yet been fully worked out, scientists do know that life evolved after it emerged. And as we will see, there is actually a great deal of concrete evidence and proof of how this process has actually taken place over the past 3.5 billion years.

 

The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism; 8:2006
Ardea Skybreak

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The threat of superstition to metaphysical maxims and social progress

Superstition is the symptom of a malfunctioning brain when it is confronted with reality that becomes overwhelmingly incomprehensible to its frail frame and when life events become beyond one’s control. It is the expression of our brain when it attempts to give meaning to life events in an irrational form. Superstition as the expression of the lowlyself has always derailed the pursuit of real truths and the pursuit of wisdom; it does not matter what form it takes and in what era, language or culture it evolves; it has always driven mankind away from reality and the scientific method. It does not matter whether it is the superstition of Apollo at Delphi or the superstition of Allah at Mecca or the superstition of Buddha at Tibet or the superstition of Jesus at the Vatican. All of these systems are given to vagary and delirium rather than reason, reality, commonsense, and evidence. Superstition has always created a corrupted culture and it has been the enemy of individual liberty, freethought, and discovery; starting from the days of Aristotle till present times.

 

I observe today that the influence of pseudoscientific and superstitious intitutions who beat the drums for human thralldom, suffering and extinction has gone far to the extent that it has become a custom nowadays in all cultures not just to frown on realism and a crime to call one self a skeptic in many countries nothwithstanding the overwhelming evidence for the monistic nature of metaphysics; but, people nowadays ask you atleast three times repeatedly before their brain makes sense of what you have said and what you are as a prudent rational man of reason and nature who never falls for chicanery and superstition. This shows the extremely low stage of intelligence and wisdom level of most societies today. The Church as another temple of superstition in our era just like the ones which preceded it like the temple of Delphi is breathing down the necks of politicians who make critical decisions concerning society and they are under the spell of mythologists who influence their policies; they seem to be comfortable with a society inudated in myth and lost in error. Look at Saudi Arabia for instance with due respect for its people and leadership I think I need to be harsh in saying that it is the most superstitious society in the world next to the Vatican; nothing innovative and futuristic comes out of that place except Iron age rhetoric and extreme ideology due to the corrupte culture they possess.

 

It is really unfortunate to see the world inudated in false theories and going down the peril avenue towards madness. Pseudosciences seems to be expanding like a wildfire despite the relentless struggle by few sensible people to combat their erroneous foundational premises and their chicanery. Rather than demonize and ban pseudosciences policy makers nowdays drag their feet to perform their jobs of protecting society from extinction that myth and pseudoscience bring forth; actually the war seems to be on reality, evidence, and Nature which really is a travesty. We assume that politicians are intelligent; we give them the benefit of the doubt; but, I think we need to reconsider that position because nowadays most leaders are unfortunately as shallow as the advocates of irrational systems and their followers.

 

Irrational and superstitous institutions must be super excited with their influence on political parties and society all over the world. But the problem is that this influence which results in the crusade on reason and science will only drive the society into peril. There will be no progress in a world of superstition, dogma, individual thralldom and dejection of the material world. Some politicians assume that unsupervised science is dangerous to society. When an advocate for skepticism and science emerges they seem to be quick to supress that voice; their lowly self takes over their personalities; they go ahead and ban funding to research like stem cell and cancer; they ban websites advocating reason and science; they seem to be trepidated about the idea of frankenstein science. But, their trepidation is not grounded on facts because modern science today is so weak that it can’t even solve simple infectius diseases like HIV and can’t replicate the human brain to create artificial brains.

 

Thus, this is the grave threat that superstition presents to the our world. It controls politicians; influences their policies, retards scientific progress, encourages ignorance, dejects natural axioms, advocates suffering and pain, disregards indivdual liberties, and introduces all other evils into our society. Thus, I think it is important to recognize the negative contributions of all types of pseudosciences inorder to create a society free from the corrupted culture that superstition creates. It is important that we train the next generation in a culture free from superstition; so that our posterity will endure a better existence than we should have or did.

Evolution: The Inconvenient truth

Some people find it offensive and morally degrading to consider that they are just one of the many animal species that transmutated and evolved from a single primitive life form that emerged from the sea on this piece of fertile rock we call earth. They deject the theory of evolution not on basis of evidence but on emotive grounds. In spite of numerous millions of years of fossilized evidence of bones that fill the cabinets of University archives all over the planet; they capriciously reject reality to become delirious and out of touch with the physical world. Evolution is not a dogma but a theory that can be dismissed at any time if new discovery or evidence deems it to be so.

 

The beautiful thing about Science is that following the scientific method it starts with observation, hypothesis, theory and finally law or natural fact. During the process of investigation there is testing of theories over and over again for inconsistencies or consistency to dismiss or affirm that whatever we are trying to establish as a fact is indeed a fact. It is not founded on subversive, threatening, emotive, or monetary agenda to deceive humanity like all pseudosciences but it is founded on pure reason and naturalism. Evolutionary genetics has passed this test and stood the challenge of time― actually the passing of time did not devalue its place in history but enriched it with new evidence of fossils especially from the African continent. Africa has become a bounty hunters paradise for paleontologists and anthropologists who reaffirm Darwin’s hypothesis of missing links that get discovered frequently that are closing the gap between modern man and primitive hominids.

When scientists try to discover or prove something they try extensively to rid their theories from personal, and emotional bias by employing several methodologies. Science is not a political campaign or discipline it is a metaphysical investigation tool. Thus, when Darwin went ahead and published the descent of man in 1871; his ideas was founded on the scientific method based on observation of man’s anatomical structure, his internal visceral organs, vestigial organs, embryological development with other similar animals and other physical factors that anybody can observe. In short, on ideas and concepts that are rational and palpable.

Evolution clearly presents man’s origin; but, that is just half the story uncovered in the quest for the complete theory of life― we know where we come from in biology but still we have no idea where the Universe came from in Cosmology. In order to solve this mystery I think we can learn something from evolutionary biology itself: meaning if all the creatures that ever set foot on earth branched off from one another and there is no independent creation of species starting from the dinosaurs to modern humans then I think we can apply this logic to the Cosmos itself by stating that the Universe must have branched off from something natural which preceded it.

Any ways, returning to biology we understand that there are several unanswered questions that we must address like why is there mutation? Why do species evolve? Is it just adaptation to their environment? Is evolution fortuitous or run by Universal computation? The questions are just numerous. Creationism can never be the answer to these questions because can we designate something which makes mistakes divine? Why are there terrible errors in ‘creation’ like birth defects and malformations if life is really the work of an infallible author? What type of God creates a world where his creations are mandated to eat each other and without which they cannot survive and incur health complications even if they wanted to be vegetarians? What type of god creates a world of cannibalism? If you are a creationist I would say to you that it is obvious everyday science has to correct and deal with the silly defects made by your god like cleft lip and palate, dwarfism, prognatism, conjoined twins at the hip or head, syndactyly, congenital diaphragmatic hernia, congenital pyloric stenosis, autosomal trisomy like down syndrome, autism, Klinefelter syndrome and so on. If we see defects as well as marvellous things in nature together side by side can we honestly say that life is intelligently designed?

Anyhow I think there is nothing degrading with being called an animal because that is what we all are; we reproduce, give birth, look, behave and nurse our young like any animal in the animal kingdom; thus, our origin can never be distinct or superior to the rest of the animal species. We must always be realistic follow the evidence and keep a sharp rational mind when we analyse metaphysical concepts. Hype and naivity should never cloud our judgement.

In short, as a conclusion I would say that evolution is definitely half the story to our origin; but the rest of the story is still missing and know body knows the complete story ―even Darwin was agnostic on this basis. Nobody knows why there is evolution may be this is an irrelevant question but I would say to creationists that you need to come back to your senses and observe the evidence; try to be rational and embrace the currently available data provided by scientists through years of arduous labor of research and help your fellow humans uncover the rest of the story to our strange, bewildering and confounding Universe rather than being capricious and subversive like little children; it is time to grow up.

PDF available

 

Vetting Creationism: What is Exorcism?

During the Dark ages and Medieval time exorcism was seen as some sort of medical procedure by ancient peasants and farmers to threat several illnesses like epilepsy, and several other mental and physical maladies that medieval technology did not understand― this occurred of course due to the weakness of natural science at that moment of human history where life was very miserable for our ancestors at that time compared to our high tech health care today. Today technological progress has made a tremendous leap forward to provide several solutions to mankind’s myriad problems. At the dark ages where mysticism and the church were very dominant people practiced trepanations and exorcism to treat ailments from epilepsy to other unknown pathologies. The experts at that time were part time farmers and part time priests―who tried to alleviate the suffering of people in their primitive society from several issues. But, today creationism and its tool kit of several solutions which it thinks and provides as a remedy for mankind have expired and are defunct to the stage if applied today cause more misery and pain than which already have existed; even at the middle ages creationism and its tool kit of several products like metaphysical theories, ethical theories, esoteric medical remedies and so on where not based on the scientific method but on pure suppositions, hype and error.

Today despite the defunct nature of creationist theories and its components we have what is called exorcism which today has a very different agenda; it is a tool used to maintain a totalitarian control over society and the interests of the church. Now, what does this mean you might ask: Listen carefully—exorcism is not a method of ‘helping’ people rather it is a method of dispelling ideas or ideologies from the subjects minds or soul that is contradictory with the church; ‘possession’ is interpreted as a possession of ideas especially rational ideas about our origin and metaphysics begotten by free thought and rational investigation of reality that could kill the ideas of the church. Any idea that is contrary to their nonsensical and irrational concepts of fairytales and myth has to be destroyed and dispelled out of the minds of people. Ideas like evolution, multi-planetary existence, multiverse theory, the rotundity of earth and so on are a threat to the dogmatic and inflexible concepts of the church. Which are basically the obsolete ideas of ancient farmers formulated in an attempt to explain reality.

According to the church people are only required to have mythological and defunct ideas inculcated by the church and the church likes to own their minds. Free thought and inquiry is a threat to their strangle hold over society; because new discoveries will always create problems to the inflexible doctrines of the church. Hence, it is combatted fiercely and its exercisers are stigmatized, exorcised and even executed like Bruno. If an individual begets new ideas by his labor of investigating reality which is different from the myth of the church―then they cry he is possessed! Thus, he must be exorcised to destroy that idea out of his mind— meaning brain washed and re-indoctrinated by creationist nonsense.

 

 

The devil as a fictive character has severed them very well is scaring and controlling the society. Considering that human rational faculty and brain power are not really that developed which facilitates the expansion of irrational nonsense and pseudo sciences in our society. The human brain has made Logic a taboo subject that should never be discussed or practiced in the society as a method of unraveling nature’s secret; because it is just too mathematical, demanding, painful, and dull even though it is effective. As I have said elsewhere—the human brain is advanced for our bodies but to frail for all of reality. That is the reason that pseudosciences and mythologies gain a strong foot hold in a society which is so challenging for us to disprove and dispel through logical discourse and scrutiny. Because we are not really fully rational creatures; thus, it will be challenging to deal rationally with irrational humans.

Our origin is a huge mystery that our brain is struggling to solve; in this attempt man has come up with several theories; but a theory needs to be tested in order to verify its veracity and those schools of thought which stand against testing and demonstrability are institutions like the church which defend dead hypothesis with a brave face and combat any new idea that we get from several years of sedulous investigation of nature. These people are a hindrance to human progress and advancement into the future.

So, finally if I was a president of a country I would have banned all pseudosciences which are a hindrance to social progress, scientific discovery and futurism. These systems challenge individual liberty, new breakthroughs and high quality of life that humanity could have enjoyed. Their totalitarian techniques of maintaining control over society like exorcism is a source of stagnation, suffering and unhappiness of man which needs to be identified and expelled from the culture of society in order to create a better future for all mankind. A free and philosophical society is the only one that can unravel the secrets of human origin and provide a high tech future that our posterity can and must enjoy.

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