Tea Party Apocalypse: A Pliny Halloween Treat

"Well, that's your trouble boy. Shootin 'em in the head don't do shit. Their brains ain't what's controllin 'em. Never was, I suspect."

Sheriff Tyree's admonition to Chuck seemed a bit condescending in that uneducated-but-smarter-than-you style that flourishes in the rural south, but it was true enough. Shooting them in the head really didn't do shit save splattering a bunch of truly friggin repugnant corruption about. More often than not, the 'about' was likely to be your shoes or your hair. It was sticky and stanky as hell particularly in the hair.

These weren't your garden variety George Romero or Lucio Fulci zombies out there. No, not so lucky. These were Tea Party Zombies. I’d seen ones with their heads blown clean off and they still moved about clutching some inane homemade sign. They would move around, bump into things, and get caught in a corner just like one of those old electric football game players, my brother had as a kid, but they could still cause damage. You needed to put them down once and for all.

"See, they run on bile. So yall hafta be sure and shoot 'em in the liver. Otherwise they likely to just keep comin."

Sheriff Tyree was a walking encyclopedia of practical zombie information and he seemed to delight in the fact that here at last was a criminal element that would never get the benefit of council or require a pesky trial. He liked that the only ‘technicalities’ that complicated his job now were things like the relative advantage of say a Winchester 300 magnum or a 308 Marlin.

Doc Solesky chimed in as well. "Sheriff's right. I dissected one of those hideous creatures and the gallbladder was huge. It was bigger than a softball! Never seen so much bile from one creature." Clearly he'd never met Sara Palin or Rush Limbaugh.

Oh, sorry, I forgot to introduce myself. My name’s Jake. Far as I know, I'm the last survivor in my family.

Chuck and his sister had just shown up yesterday. Their survival alone to this point was nothing short of miraculous. Ralph, one of the token Yankee’s, theorized that the confederate flag plate on the front of their SUV had something to do with it. May have worked as a Bagger smoke screen. Hard to know but here they were. They might come in handy soon, if as nothing more than extra bait. In a tight spot extra bait was a blessing. Creating a target rich environment so to speak. Better odds of escape.

I had learned a lot myself over the last few weeks. I'd fallen into a coma after the 2008 elections and awoke 2 years later in an abandoned room at a rehab center. A lot had changed. The existence of the Tea Party Zombies was a change I'd had a hard time believing in but here they were in the rotting flesh. What actually had caused the Tea Party Zombies in the first place, was open to debate. Nobody knew for sure. Few people bothered to call them Tea Party Zombies. Some used the shorthand of TPZ's. But most just called them Tea Baggers or just baggers. The first ones afflicted by the plague seemed to have been susceptible to an airborne pathogen of some kind that robbed them of any logical faculties. Others succumbed after a bite. There didn't seem to be any rational reason as to why average people had suddenly lost their memories for recent events, gone berserk and paranoid, created raging signs with poor spelling and grammar, and started to eat brains. It didn't matter at this point anyway because they had. Cause and effect didn't matter much now to the survivors anymore than it ever had to the Baggers. Living through the day was all that counted now. Use your head or a bagger would use it for an ash tray.

It had been hard for me to come to grips with the fact that here was a group of creatures that looked sort of human but clearly weren’t. I’d almost lost my own sorry cabbage a couple of times early on when I’d tried to get through to a couple of them, not knowing what had happened. It was no use at all. Reasoning with a brain eating zombie is not a productive use of your time. Better to just shoot them in the liver and be done with it.

Our group was a loose collection of survivors from all walks of life. In addition to me and the others I've mentioned there were about 20 more. A eclectic group. The teen sibs, Tom the grocer, the sheriff, the doc, a couple of engineers, but thank god, no lawyers.

Baggers were everywhere but they really were dense around this place. Just our luck we’d made it to the little shopping center in the dark only to find that a Denny’s, a KFC and a MCL were right next door. Grease matched up well with brains apparently. The group needed to relocate fast. Supplies were running thin at this little urban mall in any case. Plus the baggers were instinctively congregating at the doors in anticipation of Black Friday even though weeks away. Brains weren’t the only things the Baggers wanted to consume.

There was a big city bus a block away that would do nicely as a form of urban tank to get us into the country side. But that meant running the gauntlet through a crowd of baggers. Having a functioning human brain made you a tasty target for their mob. At least they weren’t organized. Each one would fight all the others for the contents of your skull.

We were comparing ideas about the best way to get to that bus. Chuck’s baby sister Cora suggested that everyone could make a sign and pick out some costume from Spencer Gifts.

“That way we might all blend in enough to get to the bus.”

It wasn’t the stupidest idea anyone had heard lately but Ralph wasn’t so keen on that idea.

"That's fine and dandy for all you white folk but I can carry all the signs in the world and it won't fool them a bit!"

Ralph was right about that. The average TPZ's skin had been pretty pale long before they had taken to cranial cuisine.

Outside the locked gates of the mall the baggers slogged about with their signs. Sometimes the spelling was so bad that it was hard to know what they were trying to convey. But what could you expect from brainless zombies. Many chanted religious slogans by rote but I doubted that the answer to the question ‘what would Jesus do?’ had ever been to go forth and eat brains. My last Sunday school had been years ago but I couldn't recall that part.

We talked a while about the best way to get to the bus, but pretty quickly concluded that our standard approach was best. I agreed that it was the best bet but wasn’t all that happy about it for obvious reasons.

It was my turn to be the rabbit for roundup. Roundup was our nickname for the standard escape plan. It wasn't the safest job in town. True, the TPZ's were mostly over weight and slow as hell but there were a lot of them and they could pop out of an unexpected hole at any moment. One bite and you were a goner. It wasn't quick and it was ugly to watch. First sign was a fever and chills followed by a memory loss, narcissism, and hoarding. Then paroxysms of shouting made up historical facts. Before long you'd find them slowly creating an error laden sign on a discarded piece of cardboard and you'd better shoot them in the liver by then or the next moment they'd be trying to eat your brain.

The rabbit's job wasn't safe but it was simple. Go out and get the attention of some Baggers and draw them into some kind of kill zone or away from the main body. Depended on circumstances. If culling the herd of baggers was the goal the kill zone could be Claymores, fertilizer bombs, diesel oil and old rags, or tapes of Oprah. Get enough of them in one place to make it worthwhile to blow them up or burn them out. The Harley brothers preferred the 'plinking' method. Get them out in the parking lot and shoot them from the roof. Not real sporting but war isn’t. In a past life the Harley's would likely have supported some of the same causes as were reflected by the Baggers' signs, but when ever would there be open season to shoot people? To them it was best to enjoy it while it lasted.

I’d come up with a variation that was ironic and effective. We had come upon a military convoy with some Claymore’s in boxes and found some DVD players in another truck. We’d set up a claymore right behind the DVD vid screen and play some old Fox News tapes we found and loaded onto some blank discs. The baggers would all fight to get a view of the screen. And in so doing would line up perfectly in the ideal directional kill zone for the claymores. I was glad to get rid of baggers and finally find a constructive use for Fox News.

My rabbit costume was easy. It was an old Obama Halloween mask. It worked great with the baggers. That Obama mask would have rousted them from eating even Noam Chomsky's brain. They could not resist. Particularly if you chanted, "Yes we can!, Allah Akbar!, or kill the fetus!" while wearing it. Get them stirred up enough to chase you and the others could escape. Let them chase you for a while then either give them the slip and double back to the group or deploy the last resort.

It was Ralph who had stumbled upon the last ditch defense when trapped by a mob of the Baggers. He had been cornered in an abandoned camera store at the mall when he picked up a camcorder intent on nothing more than throwing it at them as a last resort when they had all stopped and started flashing their signs into the lens while hollering about tax and spend. It was instinctive - see a camera and start ranting. Ralph was cool and clever enough to slowly exit the store with the camera up to his face as if recording. Once out in the mall he ran like the devil before the Baggers figured it out.

One thing was for sure. Bagger activity was getting worse the closer we got to November 2. Time to get out of the city and into the country. There were still baggers but you could see them from way off and, plink, that was that. Tomorrow we would get the bus and move out.


These baggers had been organized. It chilled me to the bone to realize that. That’s the only way they could have gotten Chuck, the doc, and the Harley boys. We’d been ambushed and never got near that bus. I almost didn’t make it back.

Somewhere out in that mob was something that could control the baggers. They were dangerous enough when they were flitting about on their own agenda. But bring all that brain eating craziness together with focus and we were all screwed. We were dead unless we could figure out what was happening and kill or destroy it.

We were all pretty quiet for the next few days while we tried to regroup. Then it made a mistake that changed everything. I was up on the roof doing some recon when it happened. A bunch of baggers congregated around some shadowed figure about 2 clicks up the road. Next thing I know, this group goes off and a new group assembles. Went that way for hours and each time the little group of baggers seemed like they were up to some organized mischief that didn’t bode well for us. And the thing kept disappearing into a building just out of rifle range.

We argued for hours about my plan. I finally convinced the Sheriff to go along. Once he was on board the rest folded as well. An assault on bagger central. Try and take out that thing pulling the strings. No finesse what so ever. Run straight at them and shoot from the hip. Shotguns primarily. Less chance of missing the liver that way at this range. Anyone left at the end would try to take out the leader. We’d see what happened then. Not much of a plan but the details were easy to remember.

We rushed out and caught them by surprise. They weren’t used to people with living brains coming out firing from the hip. Guess they expected us to always try and talk our way out of trouble or be more subtle. No, this time the direct approach was all we planned. It was rush, run and shoot. Mowing them down in waves. The creature in charge hadn’t anticipated what we’d do. Never expected it. Thought we’d wait for its soldiers to pick us off. Guess again bucko!

We all made it to the building and fought through to a large auditorium where it was surrounded by garden variety baggers. It was hideous in an HP Lovecraft sort of way but it explained a lot. Tom the grocer was right on top of it but he hesitated and the drone baggers were on him before he could move. The leader was a contorted mutant. A full sized adult body carrying a wretched naked imp growing out of its abdomen. It was the hellish little horror that was giving orders while smiling a satanic little grin. It laughed as Tom the grocer was pulled down by the baggers. The grotesque little parasite didn’t see me coming though.

I shot the vile thing in the head. Right between its beady little pig eyes. Then I shot it in the liver. It was dead for good this time. Sheriff Tyree shot it a half dozen times as well. A few others took their turns until it was pretty well pulped. At once, the baggers lost cohesion and turned on one another giving us time to escape. As we trotted away toward that bus the Sheriff smirked at me.

“Jake, boy, why’d you shoot it in the head? You know that don’t kill ‘em.”

I smiled back for the first time in quite a while. “No, but it did wipe that crappy little smile off the bastard’s face, didn’t it.”

Tyree smiled a huge toothy grim and laughed out loud. “Damn straight! Today has been a good day, all in all.”

It was strange but I couldn’t help but agree.


Recognizing a Keen Insight - my first Guest post of a sort...

This takes me all the way back to the idea of time and procedural development: DNA just exists, it can be modified by RNA and proteins to exist in a different state, but itself acts as nothing more than memory [short term (epigenetic modification) and long term (mutation)]. "Life" is the procedural existence of this memory and is influenced by the interaction of inputs with this memory.
Jared from Mors dei left this little snippet attached at the end of our last discussion thread. I repost it here because I think it is rare that such a keen insight is ever so succinctly stated in the blogosphere. Think about this one.


Some Philosophy Worth Considering

Can thought exist outside of time?
Is the second law of thermodynamics a requirement for memory?

NO LURKING! Share your thoughts.


Spontaneous Creation: Probability's Choice

What follows are some high level thoughts about the problems with some common deist arguments. I don't have any problem with people believing as they wish. - faith is after all a personal thing. I have a problem with people twisting logic and bits and pieces of science to either make their arguments or discredit science. Or claiming that science is akin to a religion. It isn't. Some deists love to cross the Yalu River of epistemology to attack skeptics and then retreat when pursued. Pliny’s tired of that tactic, so here goes. I will argue that a lot of what some will claim is beyond our ability to know, isn't.

Can a universe just happen? That is a pivotal question and one that is a cornerstone of deist arguments. But one that may not be out of our reach particularly if we build a case starting from some very basic premises. I'll start with the most basic - the probability of spontaneous emergence versus divine creation.

The Probability Argument: Probability is the likelihood of an event occurring divided by the number of possible outcomes. Deists argue that the probability of the universe spontaneously coming into existence is very, very low. No argument there if we are talking about the set of all possible events. Maybe not if we are talking about the set of all possible universal origins. The Deist slight of hand at this point is to posit that a 'first mover' creating the universe is more likely. Such claims aren't supported by facts, just strong assertions. The argument goes, it's far easier to imagine that the mysterious prime mover can create a universe than to imagine it occurring spontaneously. It may be easier for many to imagine but there are at least 3 big problems with the argument - Time, the problem of delayed origins, and the problem of structure.

Time: Probability calculations deal with the incidence of an event, i.e., the percentage of new events with respect to a population of events for a given period of time. That last part is the crux of the issue - time. In our example the incidence of events that lead to a Big Bang would be low amongst a set of all events that could occur. But probability doesn't deal with the prevalence of an event or the percentage of existing events within a given population for a given period of time. Probability arguments are more about will something occur than has it already occurred. This is critical. One, time is a characteristic of a universe where entropy is a driver. Time, as we know it did not exist prior to the Big Bang. Therefore incidence (or the likelihood that something will happen) potentially has no bearing to the discussion of universal origins. Where time is absent, the probability that something that is possible could in fact occur (be prevalent within the population of all possible events) becomes moot. Absent time, any viable possibility will likely be present in the set of possible events. Once it occurred time becomes a factor, but not before. Therefore, it is reasonable to state that the probability of spontaneous origins of the universe is irrelevant when time is excluded from the debate, and if possible, it would have occurred. In the end, probability becomes far less important than possibility. Absent time the whole argument boils down to which, if either, of our two contending explanations is actually possible.

Possibility: If time is excluded the next factor to consider is the limit of what is possible. Is it possible that a universe could spring into existence? We have evidence that, at the quantum level, at least, particles do in fact spring into existence from time to time. And that's just something we have been able to observe in the last few years. Can vastly larger amounts of energy come into being under certain circumstances when time is not a factor? Not to be glib, but the difference from a particle and a universe blasting into existence is a problem of magnitude not a limit of possibility. There is no scientific limit that says no. And if it happened that way, there is also science to explain how an irregular soup of extreme energy could condense in all sorts of ways convenient to humans over a period of say, 14 billion years. Is it a common event? Fortunately for us, no. There appeared to be just enough heterogeneity in the singular event of the Big Bang that over time the structure we observe (and from which our bounty flows) could come into being - at the expense of creating more disordered than ordered states. (Remember, the vastness of the universe allows for a lot of nooks and crannies to fill with disorder to feed the needs of entities that crave structure like ourselves.) Science suggests that such an event is possible and absent the limits of time, the prevalence of such an event, within the set of all possible events should be high enough to account for us. After all, one such event is all we need. Absent time, all possibilities become eventualities. (Suggesting that the multiverse theory might not be a bad one.) But this line of argument spells trouble for the deist. Even absent time there is no logical reason to assume that impossible events could occur. Science suggest that the Big Bang is not an impossible event. Ok so far. The question that we can now turn back on the deists is this; What is the likelihood and possibility of the prime mover? Is the prime mover an impossible event? The problems of delayed origins and structure suggest that such a thing may not be possible.

Delayed Origins: Deists conveniently side step the problem of where did the all powerful first mover come from. But consider for a moment that all the deist really is doing when they say the universe had to have a creator is push the problem of spontaneous creation back to before the Big Bang. That's cheating but they don't always get called on it. At some point you have to account for the origins of the prime mover. The prime mover has to be created or just be. The ‘just be’ option isn't reasonable. We’ll return to that later on. If a huge quantity of energy with minimal variation in it is hard to imagine then a fully formed super being just blinking into relief stretches credulity far, far, far more. To be fair, the time problem would suggest that, if possible, even this scenario might be present in the set of all eventualities. But the self organizing super being? Is that possible? No, because of the structure problem.

The Structure Problem: Disembodied beings are the mainstay of religion and its modern descendant, science fiction. But are they even possible? This is central to deism and any variation. Certainly we have no extant science to describe intelligence without physicality. The argument must hedge on either the evolution of nonphysical super intelligence (transcendence) or the spontaneous creation of a wholly formed super being with some type of nonphysical structure. Reality will require some type of structure upon which to hang all this mental power both to support things like thought and memories, and to allow the entity to interact with its environment. Structure requires raw materials. Maintenance of structure requires enormous energy. A body, even a non-corporeal one’s gotta eat to live. A human needs about 1200 to 1600 Cal/day to live. An elephant consumes 150 - 170 kg of vegetation per day, and a Blue Whale 5 - 6 metric tones a day during the feeding season; Imagine what a god would have to eat in a day. Particularly one able to create a universe from simple ingredients. The energy required would be orders upon orders of magnitude higher than that required to spark the Big Bang in the first place - how likely is that - how possible. Against what backdrop or framework would (could) such an entity hold itself together and interact with the Uberverse? Astute readers might note that this discussion seems predicated on an entity behaving in a manner similar to life in this universe where entropy and time are factors. Yes it does. The notion of thought without the arrow of time (needed for any self-aware entity) is impossible on many levels; some obvious some not. But that is a big subject that will be addressed in a later post. For now it is enough to say that thought without history - without time - is nothing but a jumbled mess. For this reason we can discount the possibility of spontaneous incorporation of super powerful entities outside of time. And they would have to have existed outside of time to have created the universe.

What about evolution of such an entity (I admit it’s a bit cheeky to be discussing the evolution of a god used by many to discount human evolution but you know how Pliny loves his irony...). Evolution requires two things; an abundance of naturally occurring options and mechanisms to stratify the reproductive success of those options in future generations. Neither of these can violate basic physics in the process either. No magic is permitted. Greater organizational complexity must be payed for by robbing Peter to pay Paul - entropy of the system must increase overall. In biological systems we can think of entropy as metabolism - an entity has gotta eat to organize and maintain. And it pumps heat and waste products into its universe in order to obey the laws of physics. Absent active intake of new sources of energy there is no way to maintain let alone grow. All processes within a living entity (physical or otherwise) require energy. The larger or more involved the process (or the entity) the more energy is required.

A super being faces obstacles on both sides of the evolutionary equation. A source of supernatural source material and the energy requirements needed to sustain the survival of a naturally selected super being. Remember we aren’t just talking Superman here - we are talking about a being that creates universes! For such a thing we have no mechanisms that can account for that via any kind of incrementalism. How does a thing evolve to not need a body? In two words - it doesn’t. It would have to contain or be able to co-opt existing non-corporeal substrates to be able to gain any advantage. Can such a thing occur? Not from what we can infer. Evolution is repackaging, reordering, duplicating, etc. existing biological structure that gains advantage. Not creating and testing new avenues of structure using different raw materials. So gods evolving seems out of the picture.

Absent gods, can we get here - to where we are in the schema of creation? Only if we can explain the spontaneous emergence of life.

Life?: Could life spontaneously emerge? Certainly if a universe can why not life within it? But life faces problems that the universe did not - life must contend with a defined set of parameters and the clock, for time is a player once the universe exists. Can science explain spontaneous origins within a period of 10 billion years? As it turns out, yes. What follows is a very cursory story of a possible creation event.

In the beginning there were the elements. Forged in the hearts of dying stars. Scattered about by explosions so big that we don't have words to do it justice. Some of those elements happened to condense along with many others to form a rocky planet just far enough from its primary star to have liquid water. Through well known chemical processes these became compounds including lipids, amino acids and nucleic acids. No magic save physics was required to reach that point. Nucleic acids could become RNA strands through self-catalyzing reactions that can be mimicked in a lab today. Lipids could form globules encasing small quantities of fluid and any random compounds so engulfed. Peptides could form from the amino acids. All these things can be replicated today. There appear to have been ample avenues for these events to have occurred on the primordial Earth.

And so it probably went for some very long time until perhaps through countless random mutations of unstable nucleic acid strands a sequence of base pairs had enough affinity for a particular set of amino acids that they came into proximity long enough and frequently enough to create a peptide that made that particular strand less unstable. If so, it might have stoked the first fires of natural selection. How at such a primitive level? If it were more stable it might catalyze more copies of itself and begin to represent a larger and larger percent of the available strands. Natural selection is simple reproductive success. We tend to think of it only in the context of living systems but in pre-life conditions, reproductive success may be nothing more than greater chemical stability and superior catalysis. Is that enough to favor one arrangement of compounds over another? - just ask DuPont or any other chemical manufacturing company. Perhaps the strands were aided in this by being surrounded by the lipid globules preventing dilution of the reactive elements allowing for more reactions. Maybe not. But this imagining once again does not require magic beyond organic chemistry.

Although all these reactions were merely the product of simple chemistry at some point perhaps either a random mutation in a nucleic acid strand or a random combination in a peptide created from raw amino acids created a new sequence. One that made it easier for our more stable nucleic acid strand to be created from random nucleotides floating about. A catalyst. The first enzyme. Back and forth it went for time beyond imagining. The addition of a new peptide making it easier to create a new peptide or nucleic acid strand or visa versa. Natural selection by chemical stability and the ability to replicate from the primordial soup. (Remember - creation of the options for selection is random but natural selection is very nonrandom and an extremely powerful driver.) In time enough of these accidents accumulated that a tally of useful bits could be immortalized in a strand of nucleic acid sequences. Maybe some combination made it more likely that those lipids would aggregate around the reactive mass of more complex compounds. And the principle players required to make a cell were brought together. For now, all powered by the heat of the earth’s creation. There may have been many contending arrangements fighting for supremacy but eventually some structures centered around using DNA provided just enough stability to improve their replicative success and just enough chemical divergence to ramp up the engine of selection. The other contenders hadn't a chance. Soon the victor's descendants would stumble upon a chemical arrangement that would allow them to gather a small part of the enormous energy of our local star. But physics still ruled. Organizing that all that energy required a larger component of disorder within the ecosystem. As a consequence they would pollute the atmosphere with a terrible poison - oxygen. A pollutant that would turn out to greatly accelerate local disorder (satisfying thermodynamics) but also provide the ample power needed for more complex life. A billion or two years later, one family of their distant descendants would ponder and argue the nature of existence.

There are other far more sophisticated and detailed explanations and theories for what started the engine of creation here on Earth but the point is simply that it need not have been helped along by any mystic hand. Did it happen just this way - probably not exactly, but it could. It requires no retreat into metaphysical realms where magic of some sort is applied. Now we have a spontaneously emerging universe and spontaneously emerging life within it. None of which requires any journey into the unknowable. With the trail of reasonable science this becomes by far the more likely explanation. It requires neither a first mover to kick start it nor a maintenance crew to keep it going (the maintenance crew considerations actually do face known hard science that discredits the need for frequent tuning).

There are other issues facing the deists. I’ll close with a couple more.

Missing Energy: If you dial your TV to a station without a signal, you’ll see snow. Some of that snow is energy left over from the Big Bang - an echo across 14 billion years of creation itself. It still gives me shivers. The Big Bang left a signal (and a whole lot more of course...). Immense as it was, it still had to play by its own rules. Forces, energy, mass effects, gravitation, all these things play by the rules and leave traces even if we haven’t figured them all out yet. A visitor or tender of a universal terrarium of sorts would have to leave a trace - either by disrupting reality’s structure or by leaving energy traces in its wake. So if gods are about they are leaving a mark somewhere. And science should be able to find it. Nothing yet. (Dark Matter and Dark Energy? sorry, no joy but that is a long post for another time). This returns to the structure problem - what is a god's finger and how does it move stuff about, absent one? Alteration, movement, effects - all require a mechanism to transfer energy from one thing to another. Where does it come from, how did it come to be, where are its fingerprints - lots of hard questions without deist answers. Fortunately the mechanist doesn't need to answer these 'angels on the head of a pin', level questions. Testable mechanisms exist.

The Anthropic Principle: This universe of ours seems really well tailored to our needs, therefore it's evidence of design or so the argument goes. Not really and I'll limit my rebuttal to two things. One, the old correlation is not causation truth. Is it really surprising that we as life forms would in fact find ourselves in a universe that makes life possible? Would life evolve in a universe that didn't have the structure to support life? Of course not. We live because of the good fortune of being in one possible universe that allows us to exist in the first place. There's no other place we could be! Finding that a universe within which life evolved can in fact support the evolution of life is not a big revelation. Finding life in one that didn't would be a far more compelling argument for having had some help.

Perhaps even more damning is he fact that 99.99+% of this universe of ours is really, really hostile to life. Gamma ray bursters, black holes, super novas, hard vacuum, solar flares, asteroid bombardment, galaxy collisions, stellar nurseries, etc. - not exactly a cake walk. Life can exist - but just barely. Maybe not hostile but at least supremely apathetic.

The credibility problem: Nonbelievers often say that if there was some science, say, in the Bible then we would all believe. The equation for calculating the area of a circle, the structure of DNA etc., but that isn’t true. All that would prove is a superior knowledge of science not proof of divine origins. Certainly not enough to prove that the authors actually created a universe. Tecumseh’s brother, The Prophet, gained power by predicting an eclipse by reading a farmer’s almanac. Not exactly divine revelation but sufficient amongst a group of scientifically uneducated people steeped in mysticism. A graduate student transported back in time could have created a compelling Bible account for science and creation that would be convincing. But not divine. The true skeptic is going to require a lot more - some sort of treatise by Victor Frankenstein, “How I did It!” with charts and graphs I suppose... Many like myself believe that when all the mystery is stripped away, we will be staring at the face of - mathematics.

So now I will end this with by simply saying that the theory of spontaneous emergence of the universe and of life within it is a reasoned probability based upon what we know and can infer. Time may tell...


The Gods of the Gaps: a Simple Metaphor

The theory of evolution is an extraordinary scientific achievement. The richness of detail and the amazing complementary data from many disciplines, not to mention its predictive successes all speak of a very refined framework. But like all science there are gaps in what we know. A lot of people get fixated on the fact that the theory of evolution has a few holes in it here and there - a missing transition species here, an undefined biochemical mechanism there, etc. Scientists don't seem as concerned about this as the lay public because they see a very different path than does the average Joe.

Imagine that you come upon the scene below.
Now imagine that you are asked to suggest a plausible explanation about what the missing section looked like. Not too hard, is it. Now imagine a slightly larger gap like the one below.
Is it any harder to deduce what the path looked like on the basis of these images? Would your first inclination be to imagine a wild and circuitous route like the one below leading 'who knows where'?

Probably not. You might not know the exact details of how the bridge was constructed but you probably wouldn't imagine it levitated...