So, this morning, I was at my local coffee shop as I am most weekdays between bus runs. I do the editing on my husband's books so I had my laptop with me. My wallpaper is a picture I found online sometime back of a double helix with the word atheist extending from it.
Every Tuesday, a church group meets for socializing at this coffee shop from the local Nazarene Church. I usually just stick in headphones with music so their imbicilic ramblings don't drive me insane. I had yet to do this, having just booted up my system. I have had this wallpaper for quite a while and actually put it on there because of said group and their chatter. Anyway, no one had ever said anything about it previously. Today there were a couple of new people there. I was sitting there with my back to them and one of the women comes over and asks me what the double helix meant to me combined with the atheist label because she had a doctorate in biology and used the double helix to signify the complexity of god...ummmm...I am ashamed to say that this caught me off guard and all I could say was science.... afterwards it occurred to me that a good response would have been "that science can overcome any mythology". Any other good responses?

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Every time someone wants to allege that something like DNA has to have a supernatural origin, I find myself coming back to two words: Physical Chemistry.  Now, granted that I am not a chemist or a Chem-E (chemical engineer), but what I understand of physical chemistry is that it's the study of what is possible within the chemical realm, the dynamics of why certain reactions can happen and others can't, as well as the properties of individual elements as a product of their electron orbital arrangements.

It seems to me that a progression might be studied as to just HOW self-replicating molecules such as DNA developed as a function of PhysChem.  It would probably be a very long and intricate description (appropriate, as from the time Earth was created to the first known life was around 600 million years!), but I suspect an answer is there ... and the answer sure as hell ain't "god!"

And when god-claimers assert that the development of self-replicating molecules such as DNA is unimaginably improbable without their god... DNA might well not have arisen in many possible alternate universes, but because we're here, observing our universe, this reality we have must be one conducive to the origin of intelligent life as we know it.

If the universe were in fact designed by a creator god with a special interest in human beings, and a particular benevolent concern for our welfare, it sure doesn't look like it! "God's plan" is indistinguishable from no god and no plan. Victor Stenger examines many aspects of this in God: The Failed Hypothesis.

Of course, it's a giant leap from "there's a creator god who cares about us" to "this particular religion is the path to your best life / getting the seriously good divine rewards / avoiding the seriously horrific divine punishments"! The believer trying to win you over must recognize that billions of people on this planet are devout believers in (at least) tens of thousands of false religions, who know in their heart that their religion is true and can give all kinds of "proofs" of it; why should his/her religion be any different? As Homer Simpson said, "what if we picked the wrong religion? Every week we're just making God madder and madder."

With so much evidence that Homo is a long way from sapiens, they are saying a benevolent god did it?

If I were a god I would ask my co-gods to send them a few lightning bolts.

define "Homo"  from the Greek: “one and the same."

define "sapiens" from ancient Greek: "wise, sensible, judicious"

Therefore, Homo sapiens means the one and the same, wise, sensible, and judicious.

The early human did not understand birth, life, disease, death, love, hate, gravity, motion, weather, stars, seasons, or lightning. These were all beyond the control of the early human, therefore, these factors must be from some magic power, they believed.

A familiar way to make sense of the unknown was and is to humanize uncontrollable and unpredictable factors. They imagined gods with human forms and with names that represented power for good or bad events in their lives. Clans and tribes shared the names and personalities of these imagined deities; neighboring groups or those who had different names and powers for their deities appeared to be enemies, thus inter-tribal conflicts and wars emerged. "Your god must be the same as my god or you are my enemy!"

Ah! There is the rub, modern man has not grown into a wise, sensible, or judicious man.  Old myths live throughout the ages to modern times. Modern man has the capacity to destroy, not only his neighbor but all living things on Earth. 

The Earth will survive and thrive, living things may not, unless we grow up and think, reason, communicate, negotiate, and compromise, looking for solutions that protect the rights of each life with liberty and justice. 

No, Joan:

1) not “homo” from the Greek: “one and the same”,

2) nor ”homo” the combining form meaning “same”,

3) but “Homo” the genus of primates of which humans are [believed by some] the present-day representatives. (OED)

All of which proves only that I too know how to be a pedant.

The earth will survive, as will living things such as perhaps the malaria-carrying mosquito or the ebola virus, unless as you say we grow up....

 Oh! You hit a soft spot, Tom, I have often been called "pedantic." My character flaw is what I do to thrive, i.e. as a person trained to submit, yield, forgive, turn the other cheek, crucify myself daily in imitation of the crucified christ, and rejoice in my crucifixion, ,I have to physically stop, breath, and think. NO! I don't have to do any of those things. I am fully human and not defined by others, I can think for myself. I know! It sounds childish and I am not proud of my learning so easily to be dependent, subordinate, passive, and helpless.

Now, back to homo. You correctly cite OED that defined homo as, "1.The genus of primates of which modern humans (Homo sapiens ) are the present-day representatives."

However, the etymology of the word, homo, is from Greek, homos "one and the same." I like to think of Homo sapiens as meaning human, male and female, African, Indian, Alaskan, and Pacific Islands Natives, Asian, and Caucasian fitting in that category.  

I don't think all beliefs are valid and some simply are stupid. 

Therefore, Christina, I think humans evolved without the aid of god/s and for those who put their faith in some superhuman power, whether it is from ancient historical traditions and values or from evolution guided by god, those traditions come from the minds of Homo sapiens. 

My thinking is fundamentally based on the realization that if god exists, that superhuman power would be universal, not tribal, and certainly not the kind of god referenced in the Bible by god-only-knows how many denominations.


Christina, a famous member of England's Parliament long ago said the best speeches are given in a carriage on the way home.

Something in you told the woman that to you the double helix meant science, and then implied that you have work to do and don't have time for a debate. Something else in you wanted a debate and a better reply came later. Welcome to politics.

I believe you hit the nail on the head there Tom.

"The best speeches are given in a carriage on the way home." Good quote, Tom. It's easier for me to come up with a better response much later - always.

I too often miss opportunities to express my respect for those who cast off superstitions and require evidence before making claims. Those who pretend to know that god exists have nothing to offer me and I have heard all the blather about other people's gods that will last a lifetime. 

Incidentally, Christina, I have many relatives in the St. Maries and Emida cemeteries. One of my grandmother's sisters (the English family) owned the grocery store in Emida and another of her sisters (the Middleton family) lived in the house outside of Emida that had a barn below and the living quarter above. They grew and delivered fresh vegetables to the mining and lumbering camps of the region. 

Small world :-)  I am a transplant, myself.  I have been here 2 1/2 years; moved here from Iowa City, Iowa.  It is definitely a bit of culture shock for me.  

How are you doing, Christina? It has been over a year since we chatted. 




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