This is really grand. Our adventure begins with an article at the website of National Public Radio by Marcelo Gleiser, a Brazilian physicist and astronomer who is currently Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Dartmouth College. His article is Moving From Creation Of The Cosmos To Human Life, which says, with our bold font:
A few years ago, I presented a lecture at an astrobiology conference where I explored the connections between the universe and life, including intelligent life.
In short, the four ages are: the physical, the chemical, the biological and the cognitive. Although they can be arranged chronologically from the Big Bang onwards, they are still ongoing; they don’t end, their boundaries being somewhat fluid. The physical age goes from the Big Bang to the formation of the first stars, when the universe was around 200 million years, or so, old. Before this first time, there were no chemical elements to speak of, only the lightest ones, forged in the first minutes of cosmic expansion: hydrogen, helium, lithium and some of their isotopes.
As the first stars formed, they lived their short lives to generate heavier chemicals and new stars, in a cycle of creation and destruction that still goes on today. These stellar life cycles create the elements of the Periodic Table. The stuff you have in your body — the calcium in your bones, the iron in your blood — are the remains of stars long gone. That this star stuff got organized to the point of becoming animated, thinking matter is nothing short of wonderful.
The biological age gets started here and, potentially, even before this in other spots across this galaxy and, of course, across other galaxies in the cosmos. For one thing unites all of these processes, the fact that the laws of physics and chemistry are the same all over. This makes it plausible, but not necessary, for life to be a repetitive phenomenon across space.
That life here evolved to generate a species with cognitive awareness is almost surprising. But, hey, here we are!
In any case, the four ages are all interrelated — and if we worked here, who knows what’s out there? We can only find out if we look.
That’s a big excerpt, but it’s a good article. Each “age” generates more complexity and therefore more possibilities, climaxing (as far as we know) with life — and finally intelligent life. It’s a good way to think of things.
As you might imagine, that article caught the attention of the Discovery Institute. Their response to it at their creationist blog was written by David Klinghoffer, a Discoveroid “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist), who eagerly functions as their journalistic slasher and poo flinger. His post is titled Understatement? Physicist Finds “Cognitive Awareness,” as a Product of Evolution, “Almost Surprising”, in which he refers to and quotes a bit from Gleiser’s article and then says, with bold font added by us:
What he [Marcelo Gleiser] doesn’t say is that each of these “ages” is the focus of a phase of evident intelligent design, explicated by ID advocates.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! He links to and quotes from several Discoveroid articles, which we’ll ignore, and then tells us:
As understatements, Gleiser’s formulations are equaled — no, topped — by his next sentence: “That life here evolved to generate a species with cognitive awareness is almost surprising.” Get that. It’s “almost surprising,” but not quite.
Maybe it’s not surprising to us because such things are comprehensible as the result of natural processes. Ah, but Discoveroids see things differently. Let’s read some more from Klinghoffer’s powerful article:
That the universe evolved from not even nothing, not even a vacuum, in such a way as to produce a thoughtful scientist coding his words in the English language, weighing the history of the cosmos for a readership of fellow carbon-based life forms able to decode the characters that form his article, which they receive over the Internet, and consider for themselves the quality of his ideas — this falls just a hair short of coming as a surprise to Dr. Gleiser.
Unlike Gleiser — who must be a godless fool! — Klinghoffer finds this to be not merely surprising, but quite impossible — but for the benevolent intervention of the Discoveroids’ mystical designer — blessed be he! — without whose meddling nothing would exist. He finishes his essay with this:
I don’t mean to be hard on him. I can only imagine the pressure in the academic science world to downplay the wonder and astonishment at such a result — Gleiser himself, not to mention every other human being — coming about by the interaction of blind, dumb, undirected forces alone. When you are treading so close to the perilous frontier of intelligent design, you choose your words with all caution.
So there you are. Like all creationists, Klinghoffer gazes at the universe, slips into an impenetrable mental fog, commences to drool, and “understands” it all as the obvious handiwork of a supernatural magician. That’s their “scientific theory,” and they’re furious that the scientific world doesn’t agree with them.
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