The pictures below are of lakes in my favorite wilderness area to backpack into. I do not want to say exactly where they are because it is not well known and I want to keep it that way. I know, I'm selfish. I'll just say It's here in Colorado where I live and that there are many beautiful lakes, elk, deer and moose (who are protected in the area. Therefore they don't really have a fear of humans and they have many times walked right through our camp sites!!). The lake we usually camp at is around 11,000 feet above sea level.
This might be a long post so grab a cup of coffee and settle in.
Back? O.k. here we go!!
First I want to post some more quotes from Richard Dawkin's book, "The God Delusion."
In "Climbing Mount Improbable," I expressed the point in a parable. One side of the mountain is a sheer cliff, impossible to climb, but on the others side is a gentle slope to the summit. On the summit sits a complex device such as an eye or a bacterial flagellar motor. The absurd notion that such complexity could spontaneously self-assemble is symbolized by leaping from the foot of the cliff to the top in one bound. Evolution, be contrast, goes around the back of the mountain and creeps up the gentle slope to the summit: easy! Another favorite metaphor for extreme improbability is the combination lock on a bank vault. Theoretically, a bank robber could get lucky and hit upon the right combination of numbers by chance. In practice, the bank's combination lock is designed with enough improbability to make this tantamount to impossible - But imagine a badly designed combination lock that gave out little hints progressively - the equivalent of the 'getting warmer' of children playing Hunt the Slipper: Suppose that when each one of the dials approaches its correct setting, the vault door opens another chink, and a dribble of money trickles out. The burglar would hone in on the jackpot in no time.
However small the minority of planets will just the right conditions for life may be, we necessarily have to be on one of that minority, because here we are thinking about it.
Once the vital ingredient - some kind of genetic molecule - is in place, true Darwinian natural selection can follow, and complex life emerges as the eventual consequence. But the spontaneous arising by chance of the first hereditary molecule strikes many as improbable. Maybe it is - very very improbable, and I shall dwell on this, for it is central to this section of the book.
Now suppose the origin of life, the spontaneous arising of something equivalent to DNA, really was a quite straggeringly improbable event. Suppose it was so improbable as to occur on only one in a billion planets. And yet ... even with such absurdly long odds, life will still have arisen on a billion planets - of which Earth, of course, is one.
Each species is well fitted to its particular way of life. Could we get away with the 'huge numbers of planets' argument to explain all these separate illusions of design? No, we could not, repeat not. Don't even think about it. This is important, for it goes to the heart of the most serious misunderstanding of Darwinism. The evolution of life is a completely different case from the origin of life because, to repeat, the origin of life was (or could have been) a unique even which had to happen only once. The adaptive fit of species to their separate environments, on the other hand, is millionfold, and ongoing.
GOI: Interesting stuff and on a related note: There is a great article in The New York Times on the evolution of morality from chimpanzees. I was especially interested in how the chimpanzees show empathy, consolation and peacemaking abilities. Chimp and human DNA by the way is 95-98.5% identical.
Next, I'd like to write about Elizabeth Edwards and her desire for John and her to continue their run for president. There are many people who are criticizing this decision and saying it is taking advantage of her health for donations to the Edwards campaign and ultimately votes. This kind of thinking makes me sick, sick, SICK to my stomach. It is of course a brave decision to devote oneself to serve America despite one's health. This is what our brave soldiers do everyday in Iraq and many who are wounded want to go back into service in one manner of another and they do. And they are of course heroes--and so is Elizabeth Edwards. Anyone who wishes to serve America despite their health is a hero-period.
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