"Alien Edens" -- Evolutionary Biologist Richard Dawkins: 'Life Exists Elsewhere in the Universe'
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May 09, 2011

"Alien Edens" -- Evolutionary Biologist Richard Dawkins: 'Life Exists Elsewhere in the Universe'

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It's no accident that we see stars in the sky, says famed Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins: they are a vital part of any universe capable of generating us. But, as Dawkins emphasizes, that does not mean that stars exists in order to make us."It is just that without stars there would be no atoms heavier than lithium in the periodic table," Dawkins wrote in The Ancestors Tale -- A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution, "and a chemistry of only three elements is too impoverished to support life. Seeing is the kind of activity that can go on only in the kind of universe where what you see is stars."

"It's an astonishing stroke of luck that we are here." That was Dawkins' evolutionary message at a recent speech to a packed auditorium at the Christchurch, New Zealand. "Every animal owes its existence to an astonishing list of contingencies that might not have happened. With so much chance and luck it might be thought that evolution itself is a process of pure chance, but nothing could be further from the truth."

It was predictable, for example, that eyes and ears would develop in different species, and they had done so independently several times over, Dawkins said. "Natural selection is the great engine of the predictable side of life, but it cannot start without certain prerequisites."

Dawkins said it was his gut feeling that there has been another stroke of luck that would have developed life elsewhere in the Universe.

"There are billions and billions of planets out there, so there could be millions of planets that have life on them, but the origin of life could still be a staggeringly good stroke of luck," he said.

To Richard Dawkins believing in God is like believing in a teapot orbiting Mars. Dawkins said that a sense of gratitude had developed as an essential part of human societies. This meant humans had an overwhelming desire to give thanks, even when there was no-one to give thanks to and this, in part, had given rise to religion.

Dawkins sees himself as a "religious non-believer" who's career has revolved around Darwin's view that all was 'produced by laws acting around us' described so powerfully by Darwin in the Origin of the Species:

"Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving -- namely, the production of the higher animals -- directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."

Casey Kazan


http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch/3438156/Stroke-of-luck-led-to-life-on-Earth
Posted at 12:16 AM | Permalink


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Human Vision Traced to 600-Million Year Old Hydra (A Galaxy Classic)


Our eyes that scan the farthest reaches of the universe had their origin in the simple hydra, a members ancient group of sea creatures that along with jellyfish, belong to the phylum cnidaria that first emerged 600 million years ago and are still flourishing, according to scientists at UC Santa Barbara.

"We determined which genetic 'gateway,' or ion channel, in the hydra is involved in light sensitivity," said senior author Todd H. Oakley, assistant professor in UCSB's Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology. "This is the same gateway that is used in human vision."

Oakley explained that there are many genes involved in vision, and that there is an ion channel gene responsible for starting the neural impulse of vision. This gene controls the entrance and exit of ions; i.e., it acts as a gateway.

The gene, called opsin, is present in vision among vertebrate animals, and is responsible for a different way of seeing than that of animals like flies. The vision of insects emerged later than the visual machinery found in hydra and vertebrate animals.

"This work picks up on earlier studies of the hydra in my lab, and continues to challenge the misunderstanding that evolution represents a ladder-like march of progress, with humans at the pinnacle," said Oakley. "Instead, it illustrates how all organisms -- humans included -- are a complex mix of ancient and new characteristics."

Casey Kazan via University of California - Santa Barbara

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Comments

Where was that photo taken? Titan?

Yes.

Lol, no, it's Pandora!

Lol, no, it's Pandora!

Lol, no, it's Pandora!

Dawkins, if it's true that life is a result of coincidence, given the massive size of possibilities, then why wouldn't it be equally possible for a teapot to orbit Jupiter?. Just sayin. Given that we have yet to find even the smallest microbe of life outside of our planet let alone our solar system, I don't think the conclusions you draw have any real merit. I do agree that "in theory" there could be millions of civilizations. "In theory" it makes sense, but your staunch approach of explaining your hypothesis is in vain. You have not one shred of evidence, but "in theory" you might be right. Get some evidence cowboy.

@Joe Griffin - You're dumb.

@Joe Griffin - I am dumber for having read your comments. "In theory" you might have a brain too.

Please explain to me how one can be a religious non-believer?

Wow, OK that makes a lot of sense dude.

www.anon-web.es.tc

I was just wondering. Dawkins said that all was 'produced by laws acting around us'. The 'laws' must have their own creator. They can't just exist on their own. No? Even tiny bits of things made up a huge thing, the tiny bits of things must have their source. It's just my point of view. That is why people believe there is a superior creator called GOD to give thanks to. Even though several different religions exist, the main point is that they all believe that there is a creator of all those that exist in the whole universe. Just sayin :)

It is the sound my wife make in bed last night.

Thanks for sharing this important info with us.

Great job done keep it up.

This is what i was looking for.

Aliens on another planet? This dorkings has a very fertile imagination telling adult fairy tales cloaked in science. The idiocy of this idiot.

Wow, this passes for journalism? No facts or statistics. An opinion without substantiation on the existence of God. Fire the pundits and news analysts. Just the facts. I'm more than capable of interpreting the facts and developing my own opinions, thank you very much.

"It's an astonishing stroke of luck that we are here." God I almost want to puke when i hear a "scientist" say that.

His rationale at first glance might make sense to some. We have not as of yet found evidence of life elsewhere, therefore life could quite likely be an extraordinary lucky coincidence.

However his belief that life is based on luck falls apart if you consider that the existence of matter and stars etc are miracles of evolved complexity to begin with. Especially in the light of no existence - life is just a small step forward.

A more solid assumption is that we and life exists precisely because evolution is not an aspect of creation it is creation - and emergent properties of increasing complexity (life->consciousness-etc) are natural NOT luck. We could represent the edge of this process so the universe is still in the process of saturating itself with life and consciousness - that is why we have not discovered it yet.

Its not luck - its just appears to be uncommon right now. Hello Dawkins your supposed to be a scientist, so please look for laws and the like and stop proselytizing.

Those who believe in ghosts are those who have seen them, likewise often those who believe in God have a direct experience. I know there are many powers beyond mere sight, because I have experienced them. I did not eat too many poppy seeds first, or any other excuse used to deny or explain the reality away. I cannot explain every power out there, but I do know there are sentient powers. why some see this and some do not, I do not know. But, if life can develope here, why not other kinds of life far before us? Why can't they be in a spiritual dimension by now? If we can control genes...why could some greater power not have done the same but on a grander scale? This seems likely to me, given what I have experienced. It may be likely that we need both the believers, those able to see a spiritual dimension, and an empirical scientific form of measurement also to really be at our best. And so both view points have great good to offer, as long as each conduct themselves with the ethics that is the bench mark of or greatness as humans. I would be much happier to see more respect given to both the scientist and the one who feels and sees something greater, beyond the five senses. I would let like to see greater compassion and responsibility from the scientists who destroy the life they study and shame us in the process. I would also like to see those devoted to their various religions be more tolerable to those who see differently. Dawkins' religion is his science. He peddles it well, and I am grateful. However, denying something because too have never seen it is similar to what the religious do when denying science.

Tell you what if you take all the stars , planets what have you, and you have to win the lottery....
think about it, sometimes there is no winner....
We won.

Earth

Evolution is outright malarkey! Evolutions stench is suffocating humanities intelligence & commonsense.

It's not luck. It was planned. It was designed to be successful for our benefit.

I totally agree with him. The wow signal is some good reasoning. It would be unreasonable to think we were the only ones in such a vast amount of space.


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