Thursday, November 29, 2012


Sometimes I get to thinking.   Yes, that's dangerous, and my bank account finds the nearest offsite ATM to hide behind.  But not tonight.

Tonight, I am remembering a site or a post somewhere I saw recently that talked about the Universe and how it was, we now think, started from basically nothing.

That alone is an astonishing thought - that this whole big universe, stem to stern, 13 something billion light years across, untold numbers of billions of tons of matter, suns, nebulae, gasses, and planets began from a single speck of...nothing.  In a flash, all of a sudden there it was, expanding at nearly the speed of light and over the next thirteen something billion years, it developed all of those things we read about and see up in the sky at night.  Stars, untold numbers of them spinning around in galaxies of equally untold numbers, being born, aging and dying in often spectacular explosions, the light reaching out over the cosmos, feebly lighting up our night for a few brief weeks before they fade into the star's equivalent of senility and old age or collapse into a black hole.

How the elements of life come together after millions of years drifting through the void after being flung out into the darkness in the smashing explosion of the death of a star, only to develop

I am amazed by the manner in which these heavier elements - carbon, iron and so forth, dead matter from the interiors of stars, developed over millions of years into the stuff of life.  Life which has drifted, swum, crawled, wiggled and dragged itself out of the sea and through millions of years of evolutionary pressure through the process of natural selection, became human.

Became, among other things, me.

Ok, no, that's not me, but dang, it's pretty isn't it?  Kind of scary too.

Astronomy is beautiful, isn't it?  The beauty of how it all came together, not randomly, but in a very odd way, almost casually, but with increasing deliberateness.  The development of the earth's ecology, eventually, just seemed to demand that some creature would develop intelligence to deal with the pressures that its surroundings placed on its ability to survive.

In fact, it would seem that there are really more than one species that have developed intelligence - dolphins, elephants, any number of predators seem to have some measure of it as well, and finally, the hominids.  Don't discount dogs and cats, who have responded to thousands of years of domestication by matching fairly well with human behavior patterns.

I am constantly struck by the beauty of this earth and the many and varied life forms who inhabit it.  How life has expanded its habitats to include even the most hostile places on earth, whether that is the extremes of the Arctic or the blasting heat of underwater volcanic vents.

Many say that life just seems so perfect as it is, and call it a miracle, giving credit for that miracle to a god who supposedly did it all in just short of a week.

I say that science has given us the much better, much more fascinating truth - the truth of the long, amazing evolution of matter from the heat and chaos of the beginning to the elysian fields of the green, green hills of earth.


Ed Haines said...

Lawrence Krauss' book, A Universe From Nothing may be the book to which you are referring. Blogging heads has a couple interviews with him on the subject. The book is a great read and is available on Kindle so can be highlighted and reread at will. Perhaps the most interesting section is his rather brief discussion of God in which he makes clear that having a God is not necessary in order to understand creation of the universe at this point. It is not so much that there is "no God" as that God is not needed for that explanation. Many of us also believe man capable of being moral without being coerced into that behavior by a God making It also unnecessary for morality. Ultimately, one must face up to the question, "Why do we need God?" At this point, I do not see any answer to that query so choose to not worry about whether or not It exists.

Linda Norby said...

I wonder how some people would react if their god was taken away from them..if somehow their eyes were opened, and they had to acknowledge that their beliefs were only beliefs.

My guess is that a bunch of people couldn't take it, and the depression would be tremendous.

Robert Ahrens said...

Linda, you're probably right. Some people just can't handle it, they need the security of some kind of guidance from something or someone bigger than themselves.

This kind of knowledge has to be taught from childhood on. It is better that way.