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The Third Rock Forum - Science

Article Title
Dawkins' Dilemma
Paul G
Topic Section(s)
Submitted : 22-11-2010 15:36
Amended : 10-11-2014 14:53
Status : Approved:  
Likes : 0
Dislikes : 0

Given Time

That out of nothing something comes
belies the maths of other sums,
suggesting nought, far less than small,
amounts to something after all.

If we accept what’s here is here,
though what is here remains unclear,
how, out of all this inert splurge,
could what we know as ‘life’ emerge?

Yet odder still, we have to tell
how from a single living cell
chance - random, purposeless and blind -
knocked out the template of the mind.

A simple message now is taught -
from nought through dust and cell to thought.
From slime to Mozart in his prime
is just what happens, given time.

It’s really difficult to see
how all this fits with entropy.
I sometimes even need to query
‘survival of the fittest’ theory.

‘O flightless, feathered reptile, strive
for aeons just to stay alive,
not knowing those long finger things
will in the end support your wings.’

OK.  No quibbling.  Here we find
the stuff of matter, life and mind,
unplanned, unwanted, undesigned.

Yet here’s a thought on which to muse,
a question reason can’t refuse -
how is it more from less ensues?

At least please try to tell me why
life should exist and multiply.
Why should a virus of no use
commit itself to reproduce?

Why should a single cell decide
its role in life was to divide;
and then combine for all its worth
to promulgate all life on earth?

“That’s just the way it is, my friend”
is not an answer I’d defend.
Is it not really rather odd
to favour chance instead of God?
You call all God-believers fools
but they at least explain the rules.

“What rules?” you ask in feigned surprise.
The rules that govern seas and skies
and time and space and all we know -
whence came the rules that make it so?

“You really do not understand:
the rules inhere – they are not planned.
much less bestowed by a creator,
a notion that occurred much later.

“It’s simple really, evolution
affords a rational solution;
Evolution gives a stir
and makes things better than they were.”

That’s no more cogent, I’d suggest,
than simply saying ‘God knows best’.
Indeed, apart from change of name,
it’s saying very much the same.

I’m having trouble I confess
with this idea of more from less
It will be seen as rather tragic
if science starts to sound like magic.

And when you say the rules “inhere”
I have no doubt you are sincere;
You sound as though you’re sure you’re sure
but what you mean remains obscure.

Are you suggesting from the start
the rules that govern all formed part
of some primeval churning drum
of hydrogen and helium.
It’s not my nature to deride
but where did all the rules reside?

Nor is it I’m so keen on God
(He’s often seemed an evil sod)
but if you wish to steal his glory
you need a more compelling story.

The God in whom the faithful trust
turns every devotee to dust;
you need to tell me, if you can,
what magic turned dust into man. 

Copyright: Paul Georgiou December 2006


Status: Approved
Reply Date : 23-11-2010 18:43
Author : georgebundle

Given Time, Apes become Homo-Sapiens. Grunts and screams, signalling food, fear and danger, become syllables of sounds and form words; words that signal food fear and danger. Words develop and signal desire and anger as well as food fear and danger. Words create Thought.

Given much more time, words signal Papa, Mama, Shelter, Home, Family, Neighbour and Chief. Thought begins to separate likes from dislikes. Thoughts develop Reason and create a link between Cause and Effect. As time passes, words signal Superior and Inferior. Words form Concepts. Concepts create Tribes and Nations.

Concepts separate Facts that are essential for survival from Perceptions that reside in emotion. Perception creates new concepts like Superior Beings which Rule over Fire, Light, Wind, Storm and Rain; and creates Relationships like Friends and Enemy.

The concept of Superior Beings, given time, creates Gods, and the Perception of Gods requires Religions. Religions Create Churches. The perception of Relationships creates partisanships and conflict. Partisanships and conflicts require Parties, Confrontation between Perceptions and War. Perceptions override Reason and the link between Cause and Effect.

Given Time, homo-sapiens become confused and vulnerable by having Thoughts, Concepts and Perceptions too many to understand. Facts that signal food, fear and survival no long have relevance. Home Sapiens exist on Instinct of the Apes and on the Perceptions of their own. No need for Reason.
Status: Approved
Reply Date : 15-11-2013 11:15
Author : Paul G
A description is not an explanation
Your succinct summary of what we think happened is fine but it ignores the deeper questions. Why did these things happen? Why should things evolve? Entropy tells us that ordered states tend to degenerate into disorder. So what is it that, from the Big Bang onwards, in our very particular universe, seems to have worked in the opposite direction. It's not good enough to say "That's just the way it is". Or at least, it's not rational; nor is it scientific. We live in a universe that seems to be ordered: i.e. subject to rules which our enquiring minds can understand. Why should that be? Is it not literally almost infinitely more likely that any universe, if it spontaneously came into being, would be chaotic - not subject to discernible universal laws? And that ignores the deepest of all questions: why is there a universe? Why is there something rather than nothing? After all, despite the best efforts of Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins to magic one or more universes out of the hat, it still seems reasonable to echo King Lear: "Nothing shall come of nothing. Speak again."