Catching God’s dice being thrown

Einstein famously said “Quantum theory yields much, but it hardly brings us close to the Old One’s secrets. I, in any case, am convinced He does not play dice with the universe.”  Astronomers have caught the dice being thrown (at least as far as the origin of life is concerned).

This post will contain a lot more background than most, as I expect some readers won’t have much scientific background.  The technically inclined can read the article on which this is based — http://www.pnas.org/content/115/28/7166

To cut to the chase — astronomers have found water, a simple sugar, and a compound containing carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen around newly forming stars and planets.  You need no more than these 4 atoms to build the bases making up the DNA of our genes, all our sugars and carbohydrates, and 18 of the 20 amino acids that make up our proteins. Throw in sulfur and you have all 20 amino acids.  Add phosphorus and you have DNA and its cousin RNA (neither has been found around newly forming stars so far).

These are the ingredients of life itself. Here’s a quote from the article — “What I can definitively say is that the ingredients needed to make biogenic molecules like DNA and RNA are found around every forming protostar. They are there at an early stage, incorporating into bodies at least as large as comets, which we know are the building blocks of terrestrial planets. Whether these molecules survive or are delivered at the late stage of planet formation, that’s the part of it we don’t know very well.”

So each newly formed star and planetary system is a throw of God’s/Nature’s/Soulless physics’ dice for the creation of life.

As of 1 July 2018, there are 3,797 confirmed planets around 2,841 stars, with 632 having more than one (Wikipedia).  And that’s just in the stars close enough to us to study.  Our galaxy, the milky way, contains 400,000,000,000.

Current estimates have some 100,000,000,000 galaxies in the universe.  https://www.space.com/25303-how-many-galaxies-are-in-the-universe.html.  That’s a lot tosses for life to arise.

Suppose that some day life is found on one such planet.  Does this invalidate Genesis, the Koran?  Assume that they are the word of God somehow transmitted to man.  If the knowledge we have about astronomy (above), biology etc. etc. were imparted to Jesus, Mohammed, Abraham, Moses — it never would have been believed.  The creator had to start with something plausible.

 

 

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Comments

  • John Wayne  On July 16, 2018 at 10:39 am

    Contemporary science fiction stories set in the future contain quite a few religion-themed conflicts. They range from belief-based wars against other sentient races, civil struggles within a given government system, to conflicts between splintered groups of humanity that emigrated to support those beliefs. These all seem like possible places we will end up.

    I would guess that a minority of people will interpret the discovery of extrasolar life as a repudiation of major religion. If we bump into other sentient life and can communicate effectively, I would guess that our religious participation would be governed by how that species views faith (if they don’t have religion, our tendencies will go down; if they are all Catholics … )

  • Friedelcrafty  On July 16, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    A thought that occurred to me in the shower this morning was that the nuclei of the atoms in my body are over 13 billion years old.

    My beef with the creation myths has always been that, given the aforesaid age of the universe, God has been twiddling his thumbs for a hell of a long time waiting for intelligent life to arise and worship Him. I sure hope He has hobbies.

  • John Wayne  On July 16, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    Maybe the other races He created are more interesting. See what happens?

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