Good heavens! You’re the science minister…

At least Edwin Poots was only the culture minister…  The Fianna Fáil junior minister “with special responsibility for science”, Conor Lenihan, may believe the party has been “very damaged”, but he’s also got reason to thank his lucky stars for the recent controversy about Brian Cowen’s under par interview.

At the start of the week the Irish government’s Minister for Science had been due to officially launch an anti-evolution book, “The Origin of Specious Nonsense[Link? – Ed] You can google it yourself.

The Irish Times report notes

According to the book’s website Mr May says evolution “cripples sanity, promotes myths and obscures reality”.

He also said anyone who teaches evolution is “either ignorant or deliberately suppressing the known scientific facts.

“It [evolution] is a toxic poisonous mind virus which destroys the hearts immune system against hope and common sense,” he added.

The report adds

Mr Lenihan said he is not launching the book as Minister for Science but rather as a TD because Mr May is a constituent of his.

And everyone would notice he wasn’t wearing that particular official hat at the time…

Except that, as a subsequent Irish Times report noted, he had initially been described in promotional material for the launch as the “Minister for Science” – and there’s no indication of when that reference was removed.

Speaking to The Irish Times last night, [the book’s author John May] said Mr Lenihan had agreed to launch the book some weeks ago, but had since requested that his description as Minister for Science be deleted from publicity material about the launch.

Mr May said this had been done “immediately”. He said Mr Lenihan had agreed to launch the book as “I am a friend and a constituent”.

But he was so “embarrassed” by the insults against the Minister that he had asked him to withdraw.

Which the Minister readily agreed to do…

Speaking from Galway earlier last night, Mr Lenihan said while he “remained to be convinced” by Mr May’s arguments, he would be attending the launch in a personal capacity and as he believed “diversity of opinion is a good thing”. However following Mr May’s request he has withdrawn from the launch. [added emphasis]

“Remained to be convinced”?  You mean you still think there’s a possibility he could be right?!

At the Guardian’s Comment is Free, Eoin Butler passes judgement

So why on earth did Lenihan agree to launch his book? In his only public statement, the minister’s spokesperson claimed that he had only planned to attend in his capacity as May’s local TD and that he did not necessarily agree with the book’s central thesis (such as it is.) That would mean that he did not see (or perhaps was not even aware of) any conflict between his duties as the country’s minister for science and the endorsement of such a profoundly unscientific book.

It would be nice to say that the spokesperson was definitely bending the truth here, and that the minister couldn’t possibly have been so stupid. But I would hesitate to do so in this instance.

……….

As far as this preposterous book goes then, the only consideration likely to have weighted on Lenihan’s mind is whether helping to launch this book would help garner a few extra votes for him at the next election. When it seemed that it might, he agreed to help. When he realised that it wouldn’t, he withdrew. It was gombeen politics, nothing more.

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  • Greenflag

    ‘the only consideration likely to have weighted on Lenihan’s mind is whether helping to launch this book would help garner a few extra votes for him at the next election. ‘

    Indeed and a few votes at various stages of the count in a 4 seater constituency can make the difference between the election and defeat.

    Hard to believe that Conor’s brother our Finance Supremo is an Oxford man . I wonder which God he believe in 🙂 ?

    Milton Friedman or Maynard Keynes?

  • joeCanuck

    Yes, gombeen politics.
    What really matters is what children are taught. Can any of our southern friends tell us whether or not evolution is taught as a scientific fact in their schools?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    You put it rather oddly.
    Surely you dont expect a junior minister for science to “thank his lucky stars”.
    Unless of course you think astronomy is a science.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    and er….astrology.

  • Wan

    @ JoeCanuck

    Yep, evolution is taught as fact.

  • “Milton Friedman or Maynard Keynes?” …. Two top notch fraudsters should they be masquerading as anything other than snake oil salesmen, Greenflag?

  • Pete Baker

    I don’t, but he might…

  • Greenflag

    Who is this May and from where does he hail . A quick peep at his website reveals he’s a former marriage counsellor and former several other things as well as being a ‘poet’.

    So not a scientist then and not a biologist but a ‘controversialist’ and most probably a con man .
    In for a penny in for a pound and hopefully there are enough gobshites in Ireland to buy his crap .

    Junior Minister Lenehan must be a desperate man having to scrape the barrel for votes 🙁

    Mr May’s anti evolution thesis seems related to that of the late 19th century critics of evolution in the UK , some early 21 st century critics in the USA, in the backward Islamistans, and even in parts of ‘creationist’ Antrim .
    Apparently ‘evolution can’t be true because there are still monkeys and gorillas ? 🙁 and babies are born without ‘wrinkly skin’ which as any adult who has lain in a bath for more than a day is simply not possible without divine intervention 🙁

    So Cowan’s one beer or two too many saved Lenihan from making an even bigger eejit of himself 😉

  • Seymour Major

    Could this be some sort of political grand strategy to build bridges with the DUP and create an all-Ireland institute of ministerial ignorance.

  • Rory Carr

    “Evolution is a fantasy of farraginous farcical fatuous feculent facile facetiousness and my book shall lead the charge against this UNSCIENTIFIC HOAX worldwide.”

    Or so says the author of The Origin of Specious Nonsense, John J May and I find it hard to argue with that without resorting to almost as many f-words as Mr May. However, since I have already exhausted my quota for today during the second half of the All-Ireland Final I think I will let Mr May have the field, he clearly is, as they say here in Tottenham, “a finker”. Or something like that.

  • joeCanuck

    C’mon, Rory. You could have given us a “feck” at least.

  • Evolution could not possibly have happened because some, perhaps most, babies are born with smooth skin, or not. A pity that when Mr May fell from the tree he, apparently, landed on his head.

  • Seymour Major

    Perhaps the following might provoke a “feck”

    The report that Sarah Palin, a creationist, looks as though she is running for President in 2012

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-11319207

  • Alan Maskey

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Origin-Specious-Nonsense-John-May/dp/1907179712/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1284919475&sr=1-1
    He is doing well in Amazon (cf end of comment)

    Ho hum. Mr May cannot spell “altar”. What else? He seems reasonably well organised. He got his (self published) book into a few shops, has set up a reasonable website, with credit card facilities but no Paypal.
    I woulde guess a local Protestant (= Christian in Mr May’s site) chuurch got on to Lenihan and he went ahead without thinking.
    His ten commandments are not bad. They rhyme and could probably be put to rap.
    At least he got a Cavan, Ulster, Ireland company to design his site, not like PSF.

    As regards Amazon: please note his sales rank (97, 456 in amazon.co.uk) and that he got two negative reviews, one of whom admits to not having read the book. But yet 27 people comment, mostly negative on it. Wanna be liberal atheists should play fair and not spam Amazon with 1 stars on books they have not read. Nor should others of course but these holier than thou morons seem to be serial cheats.

  • Seymour Major

    Wanna be liberal atheists should play fair….

    I agree. They can publish their own book if they want to.

    It is rather irritating that certain groups set themselves up as the thought police and use the crudest of methods to shove their opinions in people’s faces.

  • Greenflag

    Perhaps they (certain groups) are returning what was given unto them by similar methodology at an age when their minds were still malleable ? Most of my ‘clerical ‘ teachers were fair but we had a few crude thugs for whom the only way to insert the right thinking into any would be heretical head was with a fist 🙁

    On balance the Pope can be pleased with his overall reception I would think . Blessed Newman is now on his way to Haloville first class . They say he deserves it . The Pope thanking the British people for standing up alone iN Europe to the evil of Nazism was I thought a memorable comment especially given the Pope’s national origin .

  • Alan Maskey

    Seymour Major: Sarah Palin running on the Republican ticket for US President would be excellent for religion. Why? Because it would bring tens of millions of Americans back to God in a flash. I would put money on this. Sarah Palin could single handedly start a stampede of Americans back to God. However, as all those Americans would be Democrats, only able to credit their good fortune to He Who does not crack jokes, that might be bad news for the GOP.

  • Greenflag

    The Pope thanking the British people for standing up alone iN Europe to the evil of Nazism was I thought a memorable comment especially given the Pope’s national origin .

    A nice touch indeed considering his background. Two birds with one stone? springs to mind…

  • I heard the author JJ May being interviewed on TodayFM during the week – he freely admitted that Conor Lenihan had agreed to launch the book without really knowing anything about the content. However, that’s not really an excuse. This is, after all, the same minister who was so (ahem) tired and emotional that he fell asleep while being interviewed on the radio a few years ago at a previous FF ‘think-in’.

    Shiniest pebbles, the beach etc.

  • Pete Baker

    That interview also further calls into question when it was that the Minister for Science requested that that reference was removed from the promotional material for the book’s launch.

  • Alan Maskey

    People obviously get the politicians they derserve. The Irish certainly do.
    Still, these FF think ins seem to be good crack. Hibernai long ago said the hookers of Lesson St in Dublin have their best weekends wehn the FF Ard Fheis is on.

  • Cynic
  • Would the same strident, mocking voices here be equally critical of Stephen Hawking’s muses on alien life and the nature of galaxies and existence. Is he also to be condemned as an idiot and fool?

    I imagine this morning you will rise and toil for nothing more valuable than colourful slips of paper, printed 24/7 at practically zero cost, to easily control your every thought and action. Very smart beings? Or just little simply programmed virtual machines?

  • Seymour Major

    AmanfromMars,

    Who is mocking or condemning Stephen Hawking?

    Hawking is a scientific theorist and one of the most brilliant scientific minds of our time. It is right to be open minded about his theories.

    Theories are not the same thing as facts of science and nature, which have been proved beyond doubt. Evolution fits into the latter category. If a politician denies it, then it is absolutely right that his political judgment should come into question.

  • joeCanuck

    The Scientific Method is not particularly difficult to understand. People, usually scientists but not always, make observations; from these observations they try to deduce patterns. From the perceived patterns they try to propose universal laws and make predictions. If the predictions can be verified by further observation or experiments, they are accepted as the best explanations of nature to date, although still always falsifiable ans subject to revision.. The predictions must be falsifiable to gain acceptance amongst the scientific community. Hence, because of lack of verification or repeatability , cold fusion for example, the theories are rejected by the general scientific community. People who would deny the scientific method usually have other agendas to propound; often superstitious religious beliefs. Good luck to them.They will see the light eventually or will die in ignorance. Not that theer is anything inherently wrong with that, or dangerous, so long as they remain a small minority. I must confess, though, that American (USA) opinion makes me somewhat nervous.

  • Big Maggie

    “The deadly daily drip of pernicious poisonious [sic] percolation of Darwinian…”

    A good rule of opposable thumb is to mistrust those who use the multi-alliteration. Aleister Crowley was unusually fond of it. Need one say more? :^)

  • Alan Maskey

    All stil “working” hard at 1am. People obviously get the politicians they derserve.

  • Big Maggie

    Crowley was decidedly odd and grew more so! I wonder do some realise how close they sail to such ‘oddities’.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Conor Lenihan – The Prince Phillip of Irish politics.

  • Rory Carr

    Interestingly the philosopher, Mary Midgely was on Start the Week with Andrew Marr on BBC Radio 4 just earlier today where she declared her concern for the increasing tendency of selfish individualists (think Thatcher’s acolytes, think speculators and bankers and their drummer boys) to justify their ruination of society by reference to a crude misreading of Darwin and the concept of the ‘selfish gene’, for which she does not blame Darwin and points to the very social and co-operative nature of genes that is so necessary to their survival.

    She made no mention of having read Mr May’s opus but I think that we can safely take it that she has not and probably (to use the philosophical term) ‘won’t be arsed’ to read it either.

  • “Theories are not the same thing as facts of science and nature, which have been proved beyond doubt. Evolution fits into the latter category. If a politician denies it, then it is absolutely right that his political judgment should come into question.” …. Seymour Major 20 September 2010 at 7:39 am

    Seymour Major,

    There was a time, which in real relative terms was as only yesterday, when the earth was flat and science and nature were virtually unknown in facts, which are only voiced opinions widely supported and usually just automatically so, by the many who wouldn’t know any better or care to express an reasoned and imaginative opinion about anything.

    And religions appear to only exist despite or because of there being no available scientific or natural evidence of the facts/beliefs that they present/pimp/push. How very convenient is that. Is it a brainwashing?

    And I agree with you here …. “It is rather irritating that certain groups set themselves up as the thought police and use the crudest of methods to shove their opinions in people’s faces.” …. Seymour Major 19 September 2010 at 7:47 pm

  • Alan Maskey

    The Selfish Gene is Dawkins’ baby. Prattle prattle. A simplistic idea from a simpleton for simplistic minds.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Joe,

    I agree, in the main, with what you say here. However, with regard to evolution, something I believe by the way although in jumps not smooth progression, I can’t think of a single prediction that was verified by observation. Can you?

  • Big Maggie

    Rory,

    “She made no mention of having read Mr May’s opus but I think that we can safely take it that she has not and probably (to use the philosophical term) ‘won’t be arsed’ to read it either.”

    LOL!

    Why would she read it? There are thousands of such books in circulation, self-published or otherwise. They amuse me.

    I had an evangelist call to my door on Saturday with a couple of leaflets on Jesus. He began to rant about the “perfection” of god’s universe, and how perfectly we humans had been “designed”.

    Unfortunately for him, I’d just finished reading Dawkins’s magnum opus, The Greatest Show on Earth. The prof writes at length about the mess that is our external workings. He wondered what a real designer would produce were he or she asked to redesign the heart and its valve system. Dawkins concluded that the design would likely resemble the manifold of a car engine. Simple, practical, easy to repair and less subject to stuff going wrong.

    Hard to argue with that—while remaining honest.

  • Greenflag

    Precisely -Seymour well said;)

  • Greenflag

    On the matter of perfect ‘design’ there is the ‘appendix’ an utterly useless appendage which can up and kill one when it decides to burst . In the middle ages it was “God’s will ‘ Nowadays if they can get you to a hospital quickly you live .

    And then there’s the male human reproductory mechanism which does an unnecessary tour of one’s innards before reaching it’s destination -reminds me of some CIE bus routes 😉

  • Rory Carr

    Maggie, I am surprised at you agreeing with Dawkins’s crude comparison of a motor vehicle with a human being and finding the motor vehicle to be superior in design, which it most certainly is not, in efficency – ditto and as for the motor engine being easier to repair, this hardly takes into account the body’s propensity to heal itself time and time again and its ability with just a little care to run effortlessly for decade upon decade. Besides which, whenever would even the most ardent automobilophile (I made that one up!), Jeremy Clarkson clone have the audacity to claim that a motor car could ever be as beautiful as a human creature?

    We may feel a bit sad when an old faithful banger finally packs it in but that is from a mixture of annoyance at the inconvenience and nostalgia associated with the years we had it but it is hardly akin to the deep grief we experience at the loss of a loved one.

    It is this kind of cold but flippant nonsense which is totally unecessary to any argument that causes such unease with Dawkins and his eternal search for self-publicising controversy. Serious scientists don’t feel the need and are much too busy actually working to spend their time courting publicity for the populist, coffe table books of the type that seems to be Dawkins main, indeed only, concern these days.

  • Greenflag

    So 99.99% of the world’s molecular biologists and natural scientists and physicists and chemists and rocket scientists are simpletons and or possess simplistic minds ?

    Next time you climb down from that giant turtle that supports the entire Earth on it’s back will you stand back a few thousand miles and check to see if the Earth is still flat or has it become rounded ;(?

    Dawkin’s bunghole is more intelligent than your frontal cortex ! gobshite !

  • Greenflag

    Rory ,

    ‘Jeremy Clarkson clone have the audacity to claim that a motor car could ever be as beautiful as a human creature?’

    I can think of a few cases in which Clarkson may be closer to the truth than some of us would want to admit ;)?

  • Big Maggie

    Rory,

    “I am surprised at you agreeing with Dawkins’s crude comparison of a motor vehicle with a human being and finding the motor vehicle to be superior in design”

    I probably put it badly in my haste to leave the house. Prof Dawkins wasn’t making a crude comparison at all. Rather he was demolishing the premise of Intelligent Design, which proposes that we and the rest of the animal kingdom function so wonderfully well that we must have been designed by a chap who knew his business.

    Dawkins demolishes this argument with many examples, including the insane detour taken by the vas deferens that Greenflag adduces—”CIE bus route” LOL!

    “It is this kind of cold but flippant nonsense which is totally unecessary to any argument that causes such unease with Dawkins and his eternal search for self-publicising controversy.”

    Sorry but that’s your take. Dawkins’s book delivers the coup de grace to ID and those who would doubt the reality of evolution. This is what he set out to do and I’m grateful to him for it. He’s equipped ordinary people like me with enough argument to defend real science in the face of the hokum that is ID. There is no controversy among true scientists, and by true scientists I mean those who follow the scientific method and have no agenda that involves the literal “truth” of Genesis.

  • Greenflag

    Yes Maggie -The planet can do with many more Dawkins . When 40% of Americans believe evolution is not a fact then there is work to be done . Dawkins, Coyne, Rubin, Fortey , Ridley , and similar popularisers of science are needed more than ever .

    ID to be credible must include the design of all of those extra terrestrial comets and asteroids which every couple of hundred billion years smack into the Earth causing the extinction of 95% of life forms (at least in one instance ) and from 30% to 75% in others . So having designed the life forms we are expected to believe that the ID then designed the means for their periodic extinction ?

    Sounds more like an unintelligent mass murderer with a sideline in picking ‘chosen ‘ peoples for special attention until he tires of their whining and has them exterminated too .

    Mark Twain’s ‘Letters from the Earth are a positive anti dote to the ID mongers 😉

  • Rory Carr

    It strikes me that Dawkins, in his attempt to discredit Intelligent Design, by positing how much more efficient etc. his own superior intelligence (or the collective intelligence extant) might have coped in creating the universe really only falls right into the hands of the evolution deniers. By his ridiculous comparisons of the human system with the internal combustion engine he crudely dehumanises humanity and allows free rein to the ID crowd to point to his lack of respect for humanity and thus to assist them in discrediting evolution as a whole – for who wants to be seen as nothing more than a poorly made machine?

    I also happen to think that many biological, anthropological and medical scientists who themselves are in awe at the beauty of the way the human body is assembled and all its various interlocking and dependent functions will not be very happy at this populists’ trite dismissal of that which inspires and informs their life’s work.

    Dawkins, to my mind, in his populist self-promotional zeal, is as big a aid to the anti-Darwin ID fundamentalists as any Southern Baptist zealot with whom I see his relationship as symbiotic. They feed off each other while the bucks roll in.

    Since there is no need whatsoever to attempt any proof for the non-existence of a divine creator in the absence of any verifiable scientific evidence to the contrary (unless some of you think that there might be some ‘God evidence’ out there that needs testing to destruction and refutation) why the hell does old Dawkins feel the need to be banging on all the time trying to show that there cannot be a God responsible for the Whole Damn Thing? If he spent a fraction of his time attempting to discredit the existence of fairies we would write him off as as big a fool as Conan Doyle or WB Yeats.

  • Greenflag

    Rory Carr

    ‘why the hell does old Dawkins feel the need to be banging on all the time trying to show that there cannot be a God responsible for the Whole Damn Thing? ‘

    On the other hand

    ‘why the hell do the Churches and ID people feel the need to be banging on all the time trying to show that there is a God responsible for the Whole Damn Thing even though they have never a) seen this God b) spoke directly to this God or ID creature .

    If they spent more of their time attempting to discredit Transubstantiation and being saved by ‘grace’ and the immaculate conception etc etc then we would’nt write them off as being as big fools as Conan Doyle or WB Yeats or would we ? 🙁

    It seems Dawkins is proving somewhat haemorrhoidal to your comfort Rory 🙂 . Irritation is I believe how the pearl in the oyster is formed 😉

  • Pete Baker

    Guys

    We’re drifting somewhat away from the actual topic into an area of discussion that, trust me, you’re not going to resolve online.

    Hint – the actual topic has nothing to do with Dawkins.

  • Big Maggie

    Pete,

    “Hint – the actual topic has nothing to do with Dawkins.”

    Perhaps not but that didn’t stop you quoting him in your headline :^)

    Apart from that it was inevitable that he’d be referenced in a discussion of a book whose title shows contempt for Dawkins’s inspiration, the great Charles Darwin.

    Rory,

    I take issue with so much you say in your last comment that I don’t know where to begin. But let me in defence of Richard Dawkins repeat that he did NOT compare our inner workings to an internal combustion engine! He was making the point that contrary to what the god-botherers believe, we are NOT perfectly designed and that if a genuine designer were to rework our heart and circulation system then the resulting overhaul might have more in common with the sleek lines and efficiency of the manifold etc than with the mess we have inside us now, having endured many millions of years of evolution with all the hit-and-miss biological experimentation that that entailed.

    I wish I could be more specific but I’ve since lent the book to a biology teacher who’s head and ears into it. I strongly recommend it and you could do worse things than buying a copy.

    “why the hell does old Dawkins feel the need to be banging on all the time trying to show that there cannot be a God responsible for the Whole Damn Thing?”

    He doesn’t. He wrote one book on the subject, The God Delusion—which has the great line, “Religion’s power to console doesn’t make it true”—and that was it. His latest book deals with the overwhelming evidence for evolution. He wrote it as a buffer against faith schools both here and in the USA that are trying to deny our young people access to science lessons in favour of irrational belief masquerading as science. He has his work cut out for him and I wish him well.

  • Pete Baker

    “Hint – the actual topic has nothing to do with Dawkins.”

    Perhaps not but that didn’t stop you quoting him in your headline :^)

    Touché, Maggie.

    But that’s not a quote in the title.

    Apart from that it was inevitable that he’d be referenced in a discussion of a book..

    And that’s not the topic.

    It was gombeen politics, nothing more.

    By ignoring Conor Lenihan you’re letting him off the hook.

    Perhaps a reminder of the suggestions for improvements by the media would help?

  • Seymour Major

    Pete,

    Have a heart. Threads drifting off topic is part of the entertainment of commenting on a blog.

    Let the people have their rant, I say

  • Congal Claen

    The earth is 4.5 billion years old. The universe about 13.5 billion. According to Dawkins, etc (sorry Pete) life was/is inevitable because of evolution. If this is all true how come we haven’t heard a single signal from any alien life. Surely the universe should be teaming with life. Lots of which should be far more advanced than us as they’ve had a 9 billion year head start. So, where is it?

    BTW, I believe in evolution but don’t think it explains the start of life. That’s a leap of faith I’m not willing to make.

  • Seymour Major

    Congal,

    I dont accept that it is necessary to treat the theory, that life originated from a series of chemical reactions out of non-life, on the basis a “leap of faith.”

    It is right to be open-minded as to how exactly life came about but I think it is entirely reasonable to draw an inference that the theory is correct, on the basis of what has been discovered so far.

    I believe that mystery will be cracked within my lifetime, in any event. The following recent discoveries, made in recent years, point to scientists moving ever closer towards solving that problem.

    Amino acids, one of the building blocks of life, have been discovered in meteorites which came from outer space. Scientists have discovered that life exists in the most extreme conditions of acidity, temperature and pressure. Some of these extreme conditions were much more the norm on and below the surface of the Earth when the first signs of life appeared.

    Just a few months ago, it was announced that scientists developed the first living cell to be controlled entirely by synthetic DNA. I would suggest that it is only a matter of time before the technology is devoloped to create all of the components of a cell synthetically.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Seymour,

    There’s a big difference between amino acids and self replicating organisms. It’s obvious that life is going to be made from whatever existed at the time. It’s the how that is the leap of faith.

    However, that ignores my main point – why no sign of life from other parts of the universe? Considering they would have a 9 billion year head start how come not a word? I’d be expecting to be inundated.

    So, “I think it is entirely reasonable to draw an inference that” there is no life in other parts of the universe “on the basis of what has been discovered so far.” – silence. Should that change, well, I’d have to reassess. However, at this point anything else is surely a leap of faith. Can you suggest any logical reason why we haven’t heard from them?

  • Greenflag

    ‘why no sign of life from other parts of the universe? ‘

    Why do you assume ‘life’ in other parts of the universe would be ‘intelligent’ or even intelligent enough to transmit identifiable radio signals ? . As of now we Earthlings have been transmitting radio waves into space only for the past 50 years or so . If perchance there is a highly advanced intelligence somewhere around the 50 light year mark right now they might be looking at the ‘Nazis’ marching off to war etc etc . Understandably they might refrain from contact ;)?

    The logical reason is that while there may be billions if not trillions of life forms throughout the universe most of it will be microbial . Microbes don’t do experimental physics . That’s all life was on Earth for the first couple of billion years microbes and algae . Evolution is not deterministic . While life is constantly evolving there is no signpost anywhere pointing to the inevitable emergence of ‘intelligence ‘ . Life forms can be complex and survive millions of years with a huge variety of species minus ‘intelligence’ of the type that could say understand calculus and then one day it’s all gone or 95% of species and then newer life forms emerge to fit the ‘new’ environment and take over the ‘lebensraum’ of predecessors. Think of the dinosaurs .

    For humanity to emerge on Earth required a long series of fortuitous events . Somehow or other our ancestors be they a particular echinoderm or furry mammal or whatever always managed to avoid extinction in the various armageddons that have rained down on the planet over billions of years .

    From what is being discovered re far distant stars and the size of planets and distances of said planets from their suns it seems that our Solar System model is also unique . So Life may be rarer than we might expect and intelligent life may be rare still or even non existent in our galaxy.

    And when we look around at our wee earth today some of us might think that it ‘intelligent ‘ life has yet to make an appearance on Earth too 😉 ?

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Greenflag,

    I didn’t assume that life would be intelligent in other parts of the universe. I said that I would expect SOME of it to be intelligent. Especially, with the head start they had. I find it amazing that in a universe “teaming” with life we’re the only intelligent form. That’s even less believable than us being the only life.

    You start your reply with “there may be billions if not trillions of life forms throughout the universe”. But then end up with “Life may be rarer than we might expect”. That isn’t logically consistent.

  • Greenflag

    Congal Claen ,

    ‘That isn’t logically consistent.’

    It may not appear to be but it is . On the surface of your own body there are probably a trillion plus microbes . Inside your gut billions more -Multiply by the number of humans on the earth and the millions of other life forms not counting the number of underearth bacteria and you are soon beyond numbers . So before one even leaves this planet there are already billions/trillions of life forms .

    The assumption that ‘intelligence’ is somehow an evolutionary destination not just on Earth but everywhere else is just that- an assumption . For a hundred million years or more our direct ‘mammalian’ ancestors kept their heads down and grew no larger than a large rat and kept well out of sight of the dominant Dinosaurs. Only by the chance impact of that mini asteroid into the Gulf of Mexico and Yucatan some 65 million years ago and their subsequent extinction were ‘mammals’ allowed the ‘lebensraum ‘ to speciate and evolve . Even then it required the fortuitous closing of the Panamanian Isthmus 10 million years ago to set off the weather pattern changes in East and Southern Africa which forced some of our primate ancestors down from their trees .That and 15 or so Ice Ages over a couple of million years is how we got here . Chance .

    We are the only animal that can kill at a distance and we acquired this talent through our ‘developing ‘ intelligence over a couple of million years . The biologists tell us that we too nearly became extinct about 75,000 to 100,000 years ago when ‘humanity ‘ was reduced to a couple of thousand people due to environmental conditions worsening . Remember too that Australopithecus Africanus was a lot stronger than we are with a brain the size of that of a human baby . And yet Australopithecus ‘ruled’ the Earth for a million years without hindrance and probably would still be on top if those ‘Ice Ages’ had’nt intervened ?

    I can’t imagine Earth is the only life sustaining planet in the universe . But as to whether SETI will ever prove successful I’ll wait and see . It’s early days yet in the search . I would think that if there is no answer back in say the next 2,000 years then if we are still around we may have to conclude we are ‘alone’ at least as an intelligent life form?

    Might not be a good idea to find Aliens anyway . We should remember when we (Europeans ) went to Oceania and came face to face with the Tasmanians an isolated people who had been isolated from mainland aborigines for 10,000 years . The gap between the white man of the time and the Tasmanians was in cultural/material terms 10,000 years . we know what happened to the Tasmanians . Coming into contact with aliens say 30,000 years ahead of us could be a terminal experience . After all if they are flying around the universe presumably it’s for a purpose and not just to visit Disneyland ;)?

  • congal claen

    Hi Greenflag,

    So, you believe that life started spontaneously and independently throughout the universe. By some process not yet known. This life evolved through the relatively simple process of natural selection. But, despite the millions or billions of instances of these life forms, only on earth has life evolved to our level. Despite a 9 billion year lag. Not once during the billions of years and the billions of lifeforms did “intelligence” evolve to our level. I personally find that very hard to believe…

  • Greenflag

    ‘you believe that life started spontaneously and independently throughout the universe. ‘

    That it started spontaneously yes -exactly how we don’t know but scientists are closing in on a result. independently throughout the universe I don’t know . If the scientists discover life forms with say DNA entirely different from anything that is found on Earth then ‘independent’ origination of life would seem likely. All life on Earth is one . We are all stamped with the original code. If astronauts ever get to land on other planets or moons in this solar system and find life forms with similar DNA to Earth forms then it can be at least hazarded that the Earth was seeded with life from elsewhere .

    The Earth and it’s myriad life forms can survive without humanity and it’s ‘intelligence’. It has done so for 99.99% of it’s existence . Were humans to disappear off the face of the earth by means of a direct gamma ray strike or an aberrant solar flare say 100 times the norm tomorrow , some life would remain and being life the whole shebang would start off again but next time around such life would not necessarily evolve into beings with the ‘intelligence’ to become aware of the universe in which they live .

    ‘I personally find that very hard to believe…’

    Given the vastness of the universe and the hundreds of billions even trillions of stars I can understand why you might think so . But until I see /hear or have it proved I’ll remain not certain either way .

  • Seymour Major

    Congal Green

    Not once during the billions of years and the billions of lifeforms did “intelligence” evolve to our level. I personally find that very hard to believe…

    I agree with Greenflag.

    The Earth is a unique planet in the sense that so many things had to be in place for it to bear life. It is like the small bowl of porridge which Goldilocks selected. Everything had to be "just right."

    Not to near nor too far from the Sun. It has a moon which helps to steady its motion. These are just two of the many features, arising out of many coincidences which have enabled life to begin and high forms of life to flourish.

    I am quite satisfied that there is a possibility that we have the highest forms of life in the Universe on this Planet. But am also open minded about it.

    With respect, your difficulty seems to be knowing when and when not to reach a conclusion.

    We are living in an age when the the overwhelming majority of scientists are ethical about the way they evaluate and determine scientific and natural fact.

    When a scientist is trying to find a missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle, he will go that extra mile to prove it and get it accepted by his community as mainstream science. This ethos is extremely important, not just for scientists but for all of us who want to know what is right to accept, remain circumspect about or dismiss.

  • Well, you did compress faux-academia, real research, gombeenism and the failings of dynastic politics into the singularity of the book launch. Should you be shocked that it exploded under all that weight in a Big Bang and went in unpredictable directions? You are just practising gonzo science here …

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Seymour/Greenflag

    If life is spread throughout the universe, as you have already suggested, it won’t have been seeded. The universe is expanding and that rate is accelerating. To measure it we use relativistic Doppler shift which is only noticeable approaching the speed of light. Seeding via comets or meteors would be very localised. Relatively speaking ;0) So, either you’ll have to decide on life being very localised to this part of the universe or it sprang up independently throughout the universe.

    You also mention that “intelligence” is not a predetermined outcome for life through natural selection. I agree with that. However, based on the only known system ie earth, it is fairly clear that life trends towards higher lifeforms. There are setbacks along the way and certain high level lifeforms may be wiped. But, those that remain evolve – higher. So, it is perfectly logical to suggest that that would happen with other lifeforms in this “teaming” universe. They may not even be carbon based. Maybe silicon. But, natural selection should be universal and I’d expect similar outcomes. Which ultimately means we should have heard from them. But, we haven’t. So, it is perfectly logical to suggest that life hasn’t evolved to our level. Which also suggests life didn’t start as it’s one way traffic when it does. Which means we’re alone. As Dave Gahan might say, “Enjoy the Silence”.

    Seymour, I find your faith in scientists touching. But, badly out of touch with reality. Scientists are the same back stabbing, arguing fekkers as the rest of us. Look how Newton essentially wrote Hooke out of the history books. And it still happens. Did you read any of the emails relating to Climategate?

  • Greenflag

    Congal Claen,

    ‘If life is spread throughout the universe, as you have already suggested, ‘

    The word IF is important . I thought I made it clear that I don’t know . I did say its hard to imagine that there is no life beyond the Earth . Some meteorites I believe show evidence of once harbouring microbial life forms .

    ‘Seeding via comets or meteors would be very localised.’

    Every human being in the world carries within him/or some traces of elements such as iron , copper etc etc . None of these elements existed in the early universe’s first couple of billion years . These elements were created deep within evolving stars and spread throughout the universe by super novas . Microbial life may have ‘hitched’ a ride as matter was ejected beyond solar system boundaries ?

    We just don’t know –yet.

    Seymour’s faith If I understand him is not based on ‘scientists’ as individuals but on the scientific method . Nobody is suggesting that all scientists are above reproach in their private or public personas.

    As for not hearing from anyone ? In a universe thats 13.5 billion years in existence -50 years is almost nothing .

    The search for truth and usefulness continues and all because a corrupt politician three hundred years ago one Francis Bacon wrote his New Atlantis which helped to propell humanity forward from being abject dogmatists and superstitious followers of tradition, towards the new enlightenment with a new way of thinking . It’s still only beginning 🙂

    I would not be as certain as you are that we are ‘alone’ but neither am I certain that we are not .

    It’s a bit like the God question . You may or may not believe in a God that is your prerogative . But you cannot prove there is a God just as I cannot prove there isn’t a God . Now if God decides at some point to make himself/it/herself known to all by appearing in person at a book launch in Eason’s and then follows his book launch with appearances on the Late late Show and addresses the UN , House of Commons and the Dail, Knesset , Duma and Bundestag etc then I’ll have a problem disbelieving 😉 Ditto for a big or little Green Man from a planet orbiting Sirius who pitches up complete with saucer and a credible explanation for his/her delinquent crop circling ;).

    The Russian astronomer N.S Kardeshev when speculating about intelligent civilizations in the universe predicted that a planetary civilization would go through three general phases . Our modern world according to him is a Phase 1 civilization which is restricted to drawing it’s energy resources from a single planet . Phase 2 occurs when the entire parent Solar System is utilized with the giant planets being dismantled and displaced to use their raw materials (Sounds risky to me )

    Phase 3 occurs when whole sections of a galaxy are exploited . Unimaginable with our present physics .

    We on Earth at this time are coming to the end of Phase 1 . Phase 2 is not guaranteed 😉

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Greenflag,

    “IF”

    I know you said if. The point is the “if” has consequence. That consequence is that we should hear from the life, as natural selection would predict. That we don’t suggests the “if there is alien life” becomes “there is no alien life”. And that means we’re rather special.

    ‘Seeding via comets or meteors would be very localised.’
    “ Microbial life may have ‘hitched’ a ride as matter was ejected beyond solar system boundaries ?”

    You’ve missed what I’m saying here. The matter would not traverse between galaxies due to the expansion of the universe. It may seed between solar systems. But that would still be local within a galaxy. A big place, but miniscule compared to the universe. That’s why I put the smiley when I said it’s relative.

    “As for not hearing from anyone ? In a universe thats 13.5 billion years in existence -50 years is almost nothing .”

    You’re also not getting this point either. We aren’t just looking at a window of 50 years. When you look at a star you’re looking back in history to the time when that light was emitted. It could take billions of years for those photons to arrive here. Same with any signal from any alien. The window is billions of years for any alien to have sent a signal to here. And nothing has come yet.

    “I would not be as certain as you are that we are ‘alone’ but neither am I certain that we are not. It’s a bit like the God question.”

    Actually Greenflag, I’d more or less agree with you here. Taking the “certain we’re alone” line was me playing devil’s advocate – ironically enough. What I was trying to show is that from a logical and scientific perspective it is possible to believe in God. They aren’t mutually exclusive, despite what posters on here or the title of this thread suggest. For instance, the guy who taught me Quantum Physics (not that I grasped too much of it) is an elder in a local church here in Belfast.

  • Greenflag

    Congal ,

    I’d rather say that IF has consequences and not just consequence ditto with IF NOT . What they may is contingent on what is discovered out there in the void .

    ‘That consequence is that we should hear from the life, as natural selection would predict. ‘

    Natural selection does not ‘guarantee’ that an ‘intelligence’ will evolve on any particular planet or on any or all planets that may harbour life . Had the Earth not gone through several Ice ages over the past 2 million years we would not be here . If you could rewind the human evolutionary clock back to Australopithecus and let it restart there is no certainty or assurance that Homo Sapiens would emerge again in another 2 million years . I think that before any definitive certainties are drawn that we should wait to see /discover if life does indeed exist elsewhere in our Solar Sy

    ‘The matter would not traverse between galaxies due to the expansion of the universe.’

    Fine But how many stars are within the Milky Way Galaxy ?

    We can leave the Andromedas etc for the next generation 🙂
    I did notice your smiley

    ‘You’re also not getting this point either.’

    Am too 😉 ‘And nothing has come yet ‘ A fair point but it assumes that life has not only evolved on other planets to a stage of civilization similar or more advance than our own? It has taken almost one third of the time from the existence of the universe to the present 4.5 billion years for humanity to reach this point of development why would it not take a similar period elsewhere if at all ? Again to assume that life will always evolve to a technological type civilisation is an assumption based on if not in licensed premises 😉

    Re ‘nothing has come yet ‘ I believe that there has been one signal which was quite a short radio wave burst a few years ago but which has not yet been repeated ? Perhaps very advanced civilizations use a physics which makes use of the quantum world in ways which we not yet imagine ?

    ‘For instance, the guy who taught me Quantum Physics (not that I grasped too much of it) is an elder in a local church here in Belfast.’

    Ah well I’m sure he was/is a good man and good luck to him if he can balance both into his world view . I have a healthy respect for anybody who delves deeply into the Quantum world and emerges with sanity intact 😉

    Perhaps he knew that one of major errors of the great Martin Luther (who knew nothing of mathematics or astronomy) was to declare that Copernicus was a fool , and that his theories about the Solar System were anti biblical and intolerable ?

    ‘What I was trying to show is that from a logical and scientific perspective it is possible to believe in God.’

    That may be and I won’t deny it but I can also hazard that from a logical and scientific perspective it is possible for me to win the National Lottery – but I would’nt bet on it 😉

    And now that Mr Hawkings has introduced another spanner in the works and there is talk of the Higgs Boson / God particle perhaps it’s time to recall Monsieur Voltaire’s words as he lay on his death bed . Voltaire a brilliant figure of the enlightenment and atheist was confronted by a clergyman who asked to at least before he passes this mortal coil to renounce Satan and all his works ?

    Voltaire refused saying that this was no time (on his death bed ) to be making enemies of anybody 😉

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Greenflag,

    A lifeform with intelligence in general is more successful than the exact same organism without intelligence. Therefore over time natural selection should tend to select intelligent lifeforms. There may be setbacks from time to time. But, the same course will be commence. Who’s to know there may well have been intelligent life on earth before humans that we just haven’t found any evidence of. A long shot I know. But we’re discussing little green men here ;0)

    The Milky Way is local. So, if life is widespread in the universe it sprang up independently. That’s hardly that mind blowing. I’ve heard it said that life could have started many times here but wasn’t successful and died out only for it to happen again. The suggestion being that life was enevitable. But you can’t have it both ways. If it’s so enevitable, that means some of it should at least be up to our level of sophistication somewhere in the universe. It’d be arrogant to think otherwise. However, that’s the problem. We haven’t heard from them…

    Remember, although it’s taken 4.5 billion years on earth, other parts of the universe have had 3 times as long. Unless they were slow learners. Which rather backs up my support for Grammar schools ;0)

  • Rory Carr

    Maggie, Greenflag and Congal might wish to listen to this short (10 minute) interview with Marilynne Robinson ( check her out here:

    http://bit.lyaXBKZ6)

    on BBC Radio 4’s Thinking Allowed (about 18 minutes in) programme yesterday afternoon in which she articulates my own misgivings about the Dawkins/Hitchins mob much more clearly than I ever could.

    http://bbc.in/ajg0nk

  • Rory Carr

    Sorry – try this link for the Wiki entry on Marilynne Robinson:

    http://bit.ly/aXBKZ6

  • Rory Carr

    Yes, it works. Curse this lack of a preview facility. When will we ever have it restored? Why are we wai-aaii-ting?

  • Alan Maskey

    Rory: This was well worth listening to. However, Dawkins would (try to) trump her by bleating out, Gradgrind like, that there is no evidence and that science say etc etc. I think you are right to say his books are coffee table material but it all seems to be a drawing room type debate where people, Messrs May, Ratzinger and Hitchens included, can jump in from almost any angle, informed or otherwise they choose.
    Abucs has recently given a link to an interesting post on the recent resurgence of religion in Europe and elsewhere. I would imagine, over the next few decades, that atheism wil continue to grow in the educated classes and that adherence to religion will continue to grow in groups that procreate more, and that, as a consequence, this debate wil never be resolved.

  • Big Maggie

    Rory,

    Marilynne Robinson LOL. Next you’ll be selling us on Karen Armstrong, her fellow-traveller. I loved this by Ophelia Benson:

    Armstrong summarizes Robinson in several excruciating paragraphs of uncomprehending formulaic nonsense, then winds up with a final deepity:

    If we are indeed completely in thrall to the selfish gene, why not throw all constraint to the winds and just be selfish – individually and collectively, in our politics, social arrangements, financial and economic dealings? We saw during the 20th century (not to mention the first decade of the 21st) what can happen when the “me-first” mentality is given free rein.

    She seems to have derived her understanding of the selfish gene from Mary Midgley, or perhaps the back of a cereal box.

    A deepity on the back of a cereal box! :^)

  • Driftwood

    My favourite Quack is Deepak Chopra.

    Quantum Flapdoodle!

    http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2010/09/20/5144889-how-to-spot-quantum-quackery

  • Driftwood

    Ah yes Marilynne Robinson:

    http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/from_divided_minds_a_specious_soul/

    Complete bollocks. Chicken Soup for the soul indeed.

  • Congal Claen

    You need to read a bit of McGrath, Driftwood. Attended a mighty fine educational establishment…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alister_McGrath

  • Driftwood

    Congal
    doesn’t state if he was in the elite ‘Rathkeltair’ house like my good self, but then he got relegated to Methody so he cannot have been the brightest star in the Green high at that time.

  • Driftwood

    “There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.
    There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”
    — Douglas Adams (The Restaurant at the End of the Universe)

  • Congal Claen

    True. I was from the fort on the top of the hill meself…

  • Greenflag

    Rory ‘

    Thanks for that link . I listened because I trust your take on most issues . Her misgivings imo after just one listen seem to amount to me – to her objection to the ‘strident; ‘ultra confident’ certainties of both Dawkins and Hitchens as to the non existence of a deity and the utter nonsense of all religion when viewed through the spectrum of present day scientific discovery , knowledge call it what you will .
    Theres some truth in that . I would not call either of the gentlemen ‘shrinking ‘ violets’ or cool as cucumber detached scientists/authors .

    Once upon a time our ancestors beleived in several Gods . Ancient Celts worshipped trees , oak groves , wells , Ancient Germans stool back in awed respect from the giant forest tree known as Yggdrasil (it eventually succumbed to Charllemagne’s ax men ) Cultures all over the world imagined Gods too numerous to mention to help explain ‘natural phenomena ‘ as well as to deal with questions of life and death and man’s purpose or place in the cosmos .

    A few thousand years Monotheism took root among the peoples of western Asia . The Jewish people were iirc the first to opt for the one God model – Perhaps economic developement at the time had crowded out the competition and a very early form of capitalism had worked it’s magic in subnerging all the smaller gods into the one giant Wal Mart of a God ?

    Christianity was next up (I’m omitting the far eastern religions due to my lack of knowledge of the detail ) emanating from Judaism’s one god model by harking back with the variation of the three in one i.e multiple god model of Father , Son and Holy Ghost . In addition a female(Mary -mother of God ) was added to the top three in another hark back to earlier multi god religions of the near east .

    After several centuries the one God and only one God model was rammed down people’s throats by Mohammed and this religion was spread by the sword and the shedding of blood not seen on a scale until a few centuries later when the Crusaders turned up to reclaim Jerusalem for the Church wading again through bloody slaughter .

    It’s those aspects of ‘religion’ which your average ‘atheist’ finds disconcerting and irrational . To those who say that ‘atheists’ like Stalin and Hitler committed worse slaughter the atheists reply is that neither expected to be rewarded in heaven or a heaven for their efforts .

    The other side of ‘religion’ the positive side is the story of civilisation . The developement of art , architecture , the renaissance , reformation , great monuments to mankind’s reach for the unreachable -the Alhambra -Taj Mahal -St Peters Basilica -Westminster =etc etc etc. All of these constucts owe their existence to mankind’s faith .

    I suspect that Robinson fears that all the throwing out of the God bathwater must also result in the throwing out of all the ancillary cultural , artistic , educational and historical connections that have accompanied religion down through the ages . The fear that perhaps St Peters will be turned into a giant Karaoke stadium or Westminster Cathedral will be used to host rock concerts ?

    I have good news for her . Shure even a hard boiled atheist like myself would object to such sacriliges 😉

  • Greenflag

    Congal ,

    I’ll reply to your points above later today . In the meantime here’s a couple of references to both persuade you of the ‘we are probably alone ‘ thesis and another which (a bit dated ) seems to opt for the crowded universe option

    a) Rare Earth
    “Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Univere’
    Peter D Ward & Donald Brownlee

    b) ‘The Next ten Thousand Years ‘

    ‘A Vision of Man’s Future in the Universe ‘
    Adrian Berry

    The Intro to the above is by the eternal Patrick Moore

    And lastly to reduce the ‘long shot ‘ you mention above to an almost sure thing along with actual hard evidence there is

    c) ‘BIg Brain ‘ The origins and future of human intelligence ‘

    by Gary Lynch and Richard Granger

    Although there is no evidence that their (Boskop Man’s) skin colour was green the skeletal evidence is so remarkable that most primatologists fail to mention the find .
    It conflicts with the standard convention onward and ever upward path with regard to man’s evolution at least in respect of brain size .

  • Greenflag

    Congal Claen,

    ‘A lifeform with intelligence in general is more successful than the exact same organism without intelligence. ‘

    There are several different ways to interpret that comment . If you are referring to the natural world within a species fair enough or even competition between two classes such as mammals vis a vis marsupials . I’m sure dolphins are more intelligent than crocodiles but neither is any good at contract negotiation or differential calculus . To make and or receive contact from elsewhere in the universe presumes an intelligence with tool making capacity . The Primate line was not pre ordained by evolution . Instead it’s development is due entirely to a fortuitous planet wide extermination of the species dinosauria which had been dominant for 200 million years . Posit no mini asteroid hitting the Yucatan gulf region and no tectonic closing of the Panamanian Isthmus and Tyrranosaurus Rex would be still King of the jungle as it were ! It’s tools were it’s teeth .

    ‘The Milky Way is local. ‘

    Sometimes you can overdo on the big picture . There are 100 billion stars in the MWG of whom 80 billion are ruled out on the basis of size , life expectancy and other factors . Of the remaining 20 billion not all will have solar systems and it’s become evident that our particular solar system far from being a standard model or average one appears to be unique . The assumed belief that rocky planets (Earth , Venus , Mercury and Mars like planets would be found closest to the star with the gas giants further out is now seen to be not necessarily the case .

    So finding solar systems even broadly similar to the Earth’s in our galaxy may not be easy and they may be very rare indeed . And then even when one is found then the other factors like planet size, distance from the star , the possession of a moon to correct planetary wobble , having a molten core which gives out a protective magnetic field to protect any nascent life from cosmic rays , and having a planetary surface which is covered by tectonic plates -seem to be all necessary preconditions to leading to us!

    ‘So, if life is widespread in the universe it sprang up independently. ‘

    Locally within galaxies and or solar systems is what I think you mean . If so I can accept the possibility .

    ‘ I’ve heard it said that life could have started many times here but wasn’t successful and died out only for it to happen again. ‘

    If at first you don’t succeed try try again . But once it catches hold life clings on and if you don’t believe me next time you are in the high country have a look at some lichens.

    ‘But you can’t have it both ways.’

    Why not ? It may be possible that life started and became extinct in some galaxies and thrived in others ? We just don’t know.

    ‘ If it’s so enevitable, that means some of it should at least be up to our level of sophistication somewhere in the universe.’

    While I’m prepared to hazard that life may be inevitable in this universe It doesn’t necessarily follow that an eventual technologically advanced civilisation will result .

    ‘Remember, although it’s taken 4.5 billion years on earth, other parts of the universe have had 3 times as long.’

    No they haven’t .During the first couple of billion years of Star formation life as we know it could not have existed .

    The Sun used to be fainter in the past, which is possibly the reason life on Earth has only existed for about 1 billion years on land. The increase in solar temperatures is such that already in about a billion years, the surface of the Earth will become too hot for liquid water to exist, ending all terrestrial life.

    Won’t matter then I’m afraid whether you are a grammar school boy or no eh ?

    Have a gander if time permits at some of the above recommended literature . Having read them all Ihave come to the tentative conclusion that our kind of ‘intelligence’ may be very rare in this galaxy and maybe we are alone in this local area . I believe how we can even begin to measure the possibilities of similar ‘intelligences ‘ elsewhere in other galaxies will depend on the extent to which we find other life forms in our solar system over the next several decades .

    Finding life elsewhere in this solar system particularly a form of life with no relationship to the Earth dna coding will be a red letter day for both scientists and people and perhaps even religions all over the world !

  • Driftwood

    Carl would concur.

  • Greenflag

    Driftwood ,

    Thanks for that link . Brings back pleasant memories .The genius communicator with the hypnotic voice (for me anyway) or at least so it seemed at the time . He passed away too young at age 62 fourteen years ago from a bone marrow /pneumonia complication .

    Have all the books 🙂 Must get my hands on the DVD series -Has to be worth reviewing in light of discoveries since Carl ‘s passing . 500 million people around the world watched that series .

  • Driftwood

    Greenflag
    looks like your ‘repartition’ idea might be allowed to bear fruit.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/frontpage/2010/0924/1224279588522.html?via=mr

    Unsure where NI fits in though?

  • Greenflag

    Unsure where NI fits in though?

    Perhaps a non contiguous province of Namaland 😉

    McNally is one of millions who bemoan the fact that the guillotine and it’s attendant decapitation festivities are no longer in vogue for our financial services sector wretches and their political sychophants i.e our Government . But Ireland is not alone in this phenomenon . I read that the GOP in the USA have issued a new electoral pledge for the upcoming election in November which is essentially an even more right wing stance than that which worked so well during the Bush/Rove/Cheney years 🙁

    Some people are destined never to learn from their mistakes eh ? . A little arsenic is a tonic -more than a little is toxic – a whole lot puts an end to all pain and the patient as well .

    The Icelanders I read are putting their former government on trial for crimes which amount to economic and political treason . No political asylum then for our western politicians in Iceland then eh ? Anyway I’m sure they’ll get a warm welcome in the Cayman Islands – Ansbacher are still in business and Wall St continues with it’s lemmingitis:(