Sunday, October 26, 2014

Goo to Zoo to Me



Here are some facts which we each have to interpret.
....wouldn’t you agree that it is also absurd to say that this happened by chance? You might comment that natural selection is a 'non-random process', but going back further you must believe in 'chance' and how did a non-random process evolve from randomness? Is randomness not the right word? Do you think it is reasonable to suggest the universe was always orderly from nothing? Or how would you put it?
Do you just have to shrug your shoulders and say 'existence is weird' and leave it at that?
How do you see the world?  

 I see the world as a scientist, chemist to be precise.
 
Once the plasma of the Big Bang cooled sufficiently for protons and electrons to form, electromagnetics will cause them to form hydrogen.  Gravity clumps up the hydrogen and collapses it eventually getting it hot enough form a star which blows up scattering hydrogen and helium which forms new stars with the carbon – nitrogen - oxygen fusion cycle.  These blow up scattering carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen all over the universe.  These are the main building blocks of amino acids which are found everywhere in the universe.  The other extremely stable compound formed from this mess is water.  No chance just chemistry.

Get these all together on a big rock orbiting a star at the right distance that the water is liquid and all sorts of weird chemistry happens.  Carbon in particular is a promiscuous chemical and joins up with almost anything including itself to form all sorts of stuff including  goo and lipid membranes and bubbles which don’t really dissolve in water but mix with it.  Again no chance just chemistry.

Big complicated carbon molecules with amino acids and bases tend to fold up in ways that keep the amino acids and bases out, again chemistry, carbon bonds tightly to itself and other radicals stick out. Acids and bases sticking out tend to attract other carbon compounds with acids and bases sticking out sometimes end to end sometimes side to side.  The side to side match-ups tend to fall apart, but the end to end are fairly stable.  Still just goo, but some of the goo gets trapped in a lipid bubble which concentrates goo stuff.  But after a while, measured in millions of years, give or take a million, one of those folded goo molecules probably a simple RNA molecule attracts goo stuff sideways in a way that matches up with the RNA.  As mentioned the sideways bonds are weak and the matched goo splits off.  Now there are two replicators attracting goo stuff.  In a while one of the replicators adds something that makes it better able to attract goo stuff, and it becomes the most successful and the other replicators disappear.  In a while a matchup containing thiamine instead of uracil proves to be even more stable and DNA becomes the dominant replicator. Still just goo making more goo. 

When the DNA and RNA start working together to manipulate the lipid membrane we begin to move from goo to zoo.  DNA which splits the lipid membrane when it replicates can be called the beginning of the zoo.  The single cell organisms compete for resources and the most successful live to split again.  Some cooperate with other organisms to be even more successful and become more common.  One group develops a way to react to the environment to compete better for resources and again some compete well enough to replicate and the others die off taking their inadequate DNA with them.  The groups get better and smarter about reacting to the environment in each case surviving long enough to replicate.  This continued for countless generations, each generation getting better at filling its niche on the rock until I won. Hat tip to Mary-Ella Holst from her Lottery 
http://jcarlinsv.blogspot.com/2009/07/lottery.html

Monday, October 20, 2014

Douchbag Tax

Many years ago I proposed a tax with the unfortunate acronym of VAST.  Value Added by Status Tax.
In concept it was very simple: For each category of consumption a basic level of value would be established.  A public bus seat mile for transportation, a simple diner for a meal out, a street market for groceries, a basic Ford or Chevy for a car, a Boston Whaler for a boat, etc.  Any vendor charging more than the basic level value would be required to add a substantial tax based on the price paid minus the basic level.  If a family meal out were determined to have a basic value of $10  restaurant charging $25 would be required to charge tax on the extra $15.  A resraurant charging $100 would charge tax on the $90.  The tax would show on the receipt as the VAST tax.  Each category would have its own rate to give politicians something to argue about, with luxury categories taxed at a higher rate. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Stories as Lore

beliefnet
Should atheists be against these types of creations which spread religious ideas?

No more than I am against the 8 Bibles on my bookshelf.  Good ideas and even new truth can come from anywhere.  Good stories, music, even video if one can resist the temptation to believe.  (Video is so immersive it is hard to be intelligently critical.) 

Humans live and die by the stories we listen to.  Choose them wisely.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Life After Death.

beliefnet

Is there life after death? We can't prove that there isn't life after death.

No, but we can live as if it doesn't matter. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Moral Statements and rules.

beliefnet
10 Commandments and 613 detailed rules were not flexible enough even for a bunch of desert marauders.  And certainly not for the religious groups that followed, using those Commandments and rules as Scriptural truth. 

Any moral system will be local to a defined group, extremely complex and detailed, and interpreted intuitively by the members of the group.  Some moral systems will include Paul's vague stupidity, others will be based on radical humanistic standards.  There will be a lot of workable moral systems in between. 

But even something as intuitively correct and simple as don't steal. Gets mired down in situational ethics, and definitions of what is not to be stolen.  Is a song property that should not be stolen?  At what point from the composer trying it out on a group of friends to a viral iTune does it become wrong to steal it?  And that is an easy one.  What about that baguette thrown into the restaurant dumpster?

It doesn't matter whence, that is a different issue.  For the purpose of this thread throw away all the commandments, all of the rules, all of the laws and follow your conscience.  At the least it will keep you out of trouble with your family, friends, and neighbors.  In its highest form it will keep you out of trouble anywhere.