President’s Address: Answering a Theist’s Question

Model of planetary formation in the accretion disk

Hi Troy! I have a question please. First off i respect everyone’s choices and beliefs. I do find some of your posts very interesting. However my question is in your opinion how did we get here? How were things such as trees, flowers,birds, insects, etc…get here on earth? Trust me Troy i by far am not being a smartass. I’m curious to know from your point of view or an atheist point of view. There are something’s i can agree with you but curious of the answer of my question. I hope u respond to my question. I greatly appreciate it!

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This question is more easily explained by a science textbook, but I’ll do a quickie version.

1) Our sun formed from remnants of earlier stars. It is a second-generation sun. How do we know? Because heavy elements, like oxygen and iron and nickel, abound in our solar system, and those elements are only created when a star explodes. How do we know THAT? You can simply watch the process in action through a powerful telescope, there are millions of examples available of different stages of solar system formation.

2) All of the planets, moons and planetismals in the solar system formed from the same disc of material that the Sun did. This called an accretion disc. Here is an animation of one. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwYSRPjjYFM&feature=related

3) The planets cooled. Our planet Earth is in the “habitable zone” of our star – which means that water, which is necessary for life, is in a liquid state here. Any planet that forms in the “habitable zone” of its host star will have the potential for developing life. There are an estimated 120 BILLION planets in the habitable zone of their host star in this galaxy alone, and there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the observable universe, resulting in some QUINTILLIA of habitable bodies. Life is certain to be common.

4) Inorganic material – like sulfur, carbon, and hydrogen – forms ORGANIC material, acids, simple proteins and sugars – when mixed in a dynamic environment. The early Earth was a dynamic environment. Volcanism, lightning and rotational energy kept all of these chemicals mixing and remixing in the presence of energy and radiation for a billion years before….

5) Some of the protein-acid chains became self replicating. RNA, it’s called. Ribo-nucleic acid. It’s NOT alive, but it has the life-like property of replicating itself. Viruses, which are NOT alive, contain RNA. Viruses do not eat, are not mobile, do not excrete, and last forever unless destroyed. Viral RNA eventually inserted itself into these protein-acid chains, resulting in organic structures that reproduce. The first real form of life: bacteria. How do we know this: it has been replicated in the lab. NOT the virus to bacteria part, because that takes a billion years and who has the time? But the inorganic to organic step has been replicated easily. The term for the process is “abiogenesis” or life, from non-life.

6) Once bacteria began reproducing, evolution sped up. Radiation and energy all over the world in different conditions and amounts yielded millions of different varieties of bacteria, all competing for food-energy. Evolution began operating at this point, the most successful competitors (favoring GROUPS of cells over single-celled, and motile groups over stationary groups) survived while the least successful either went extinct or occupied non-competing niches.

7) As groups became larger, organizational principles and complexity emerged, because those with more specialization tended to out-compete simpler forms. Amoeba and other motile single celled animals became dominant and filled the nutrient-rich pools of water. Simple nematodes followed, then tiny fish, like brine shrimp and jellies.

8 ) One of the characteristics of life is that, if an environment is not TOO alien, life will eventually change to adapt to it, because competition pressure constantly drives life to new areas and new energy sources. Eventually, some fish learned to hop into the air for brief seconds, eventually abandoning the water entirely. So on and so on until reptiles, then birds, then mammals, and finally primates emerged.

9) You have to have an appreciation for the length of time this took. Millions, then Billions of years. If the length of time the Earth has existed equals the length of a football field, mammals have only been around in the last inch, and humans have only been around for the last millimeter of that football field.

10) There is no fantasy in the foregoing. Some conjecture, but the conjecture fits the facts. All religions, including Christianity, are fantasy. Their creation stories do NOT fit the facts. In fact, most of the creation stories of the thousands of religions in history, are in direct opposition to the observable facts. They are stories. Fanciful stories invented by people that were ignorant of science. Now that we know the true reasons for the way things began, religion can be abandoned. They were never true, and now they are no longer even useful. They are an artifact of an earlier attempt at understanding.

Ok. I understand and comprehend that. But how was the sun, stars, planets all form? I’m not doubting your information but curious. If i am by chance taking up your time with my curiosity i will understand if u don’t reply. Thanks again Troy!

I already explained how suns and planets and stars formed. You didn’t read my post. Every object of matter, no matter how tiny, exerts a gravitational field. Two tiny particles attract each other, then a third, and so on. Each time it gets larger, the gravity field grows, exerting more force and attracting more and more interstellar gas. I suspect what you’re really asking is “Where did the very FIRST stars come from?” And we already know that there was an event called “The Big Bang” in which the entire Universe formed from a massive explosion. What occurred before that explosion is unknown.

What you’re doing right now is called “moving the goalposts.” I’ve answered your question. Now you say, “Yeah, but what was before that?” Then I answer, and you say, “Yeah, but what was before THAT?” Then, when you reach the point where science has not yet discovered the answer, you will say “Aha! That’s God!”

This is called “The God of the gaps.” It is a rhetorical debate construction that posits anything not currently known is immediately attributed to God, but there isn’t any more reason to attribute the unknown to God than to attribute it to a great space fish.

Nothing CAN be known of the state of the non-Universe before the Big Bang. It is akin to asking the question “What is North of the North Pole.” There isn’t anything “north” of the north pole, because you are at the limit of phenomenon. Likewise, there isn’t anything before the Big Bang that is applicable to us, because we are wholly a phenomenon that exists WITHIN the Universe of space/time, created by the Big Bang.

Note: I am not a scientist. I may have some orders of development reversed, or some timescales inaccurate. This represents my layman’s understanding of a wonderfully complex and awe-inspiring process and phenomenon that, to my mind, far exceeds any wonder or beauty yet proffered by any religion. As Carl Sagan said: “We are starstuff.”

Troy Boyle

President

National Atheist Party


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