Ediacaran explosion:
Along with my habit, not really a moral principle but something I notice about myself, of taking nothing seriously I am bemused by the contention between religion and science.  It’s easy to phrase.  Alan Turing showed that no computer can do abstract reasoning, which people can do.  A computer can do anything science can do, indeed nowadays pretty much does the science while you cannot understand religion without using abstract reasoning.  There just is not common ground for these.  Maybe someday there will be a way found around Turing’s proof.  If a billion bucks will do it, we shall know because that’s the money the government is throwing at it in an attempt to understand the brain scenically.

So I find the “Big bang theory” to be a real knee slapper.  The universe began as an enormous quantity of energy of infinitesimal size and expanded.  Well that’s flat against relativity.  It would have been a black hole.  Besides, remember, “And God said let there be light.”  The whole thing is just too biblical.  I don’t believe a word … maybe I believe a lot of words, but there is a fundamental flaw, which is a story for another time.  Then as people looked at the geological record they found fossils, shells mostly, and they went down and down, changing in species represented but still shells of stuff that might have been ancestors of other shells until thud, before the Cambrian era there were no shells.  All too biblical again.  They even call it the “Cambrian Explosion.”  People don’t talk about it much.  My friends don’t listen much.  But now there are little soft tissue fossils that came earlier.  (The Other Big Bang Economist vol. 416 no. 8953 August 23, 2015 page 64)  It had long been called the Ediacaran era.  (accent on the third syllable) But that really only puts the explosion back one.  It is still no life for a looooong time, and the proliferating species.  It still seems biblical.  In fact the writers of scripture, or their sources, had checked out the fossil record, noticed that the early creatures had shells and appeared abruptly, and came up with the concept that it was all water until the inexplicable appearance of teeming life.  Really.  I mean we aren’t any smarter than they were.  And to prove it, we’re still baffled, though now unwilling to cook up a god to make it all happen. 

But this time I don’t laugh.  I think I can explain it.  What happened was that a gene or set of genes appeared among life forms that at least to a degree shared genes, as we do today, of course.  It’s just rare.  We need viruses to help us do it, and maybe they did.  But when these genes appeared they … ta dah … permitted speciation.  And life gets rolling, vigorous various life.  And at some time there came along the genetic basis for the epigenetic control of population size; you had to wipe out populations that got too big or speciation would destroy them.  Initially it was a pure post-zygotic mechanism, which we share with insects and plants, and then … va, va, va boom … A pre-zygotic mechanism was introduced so we could have better control of population size and thus more complex forms.  Follow the logic.  It doesn’t take long to make a new kind of beetle if you’re natural selection.  They look like they were made in Detroit back when Detroit made cars.  Mammals are more like modern cars – all kinds of stuff working together.  It takes a long time to make one.  Pre-zygotic fertility control rubs out a lot of populations, indeed bids fair to wipe out the human population, but it does let you keep your gene pool tighter, which lets your population as a whole (provided they haven’t invented bicycles and abandoned the rule that all strangers are to be killed long before they figured out why such a rule was ever in place and thus could deal safely with strangers) for long enough to develop nifty things like abstract reasoning.  (I suspect it has something to do with mental dissociation so that the mind really can entertain multiple mutually exclusive ideas.)

There have been 144 visitors over the past month.  I suspect they are a hundred and the who are simply lost and twenty which are actually computer run web crawlers and a few brave but silent ones, and YouTube has run “Babies Triumph Over Evil,” which you can interpret to mean “Evil grows because good people don’t have babies” 121 times since I put it up on April 18 or 144 days ago.  It counts every time somebody goes there, including me when I check it out.  So see?  I don’t check it every day.  I do have some pride.

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