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The origins of Man

Discussion of everything related to the Theory of Evolution.

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The origins of Man

Postby genovese » Wed Sep 12, 2007 5:48 am

When did Creation of Man take place?

If we accept current Evolutionary theory, life seems to have started in the water around 4 Billion years ago.

° Probably between 3,5 and 3 billion year ago a symbiotic fusion occurred between mitochondria and the early eukaryotes.

° Around 1 billion years ago a symbiotic fusion occurred between chloroplasts and eukaryotes to form plants.

° Homo Sapiens emerges around 250,000 years ago.

At what stage in the evolution of Man does God appear to have created him?

If Creation occurred from the very beginning, then a major fusion of two species occurs around 3 billion years ago when mitochondria became an integral part of eukaryote cells.
For two species to “fuse” to form an improved species is not a common occurrence in Nature. (This almost falls into the realm of Science.Fiction.)

So at this stage of evolution I am inclined to ask “has God got Homo Sapiens in mind yet or is the fusion of these two species simply God playing with what he has already created to see what will happen? Could he not have given us oxidative phosphorylation without stuffing another species into our primitive origins? Is this a case of ” let’s use the bits that we already have working?”


2,75 billion years after this incredible fusion, Homo Sapiens finally emerges. Is this the stage when we should be saying that “The Creation of Man has occurred”? Is this the moment when the “soul and Free Will” were implanted into Man in the garden of Eden?

It seems a shame that Christianity ever became involved with Science. I suppose that before the age of enlightenment they were the Scientists and the Keepers of Morals of their time, for not many people were able to read or write or had the time to do anything but try to survive. Christianity is based on the teachings of Jesus. Why therefore did the church not keep to that and forget Genesis and the old Testament? It could, after all, concentrate on morals and keep out of pure science. It has been proved wrong on this subject on so many occasions, that it is a wonder that it still persists with it.
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Postby alextemplet » Thu Sep 13, 2007 5:41 am

What, pray tell, is your point? Does it really matter what God was thinking when the first eukaryotes evolved?

And before you go knocking the Church's role in science, remember that it was a Jesuit priest who came up with the big bang theory. The Vatican is one of the largest funders of scientific research in the world, and many clergymen have made many significant contributions to science. Remember Mendel? He was a monk, was he not?

For the Church to throw out the Old Testament would make about as much sense as the US throwing out the Declaration of Independence. The Old Testament is God's first and original covenant with His people, and the foundation of all law and morality. In fact, Jesus did not add or change a single law; He only explained how the Old Testament laws should be understood and applied. The New Testament would be worthless without the Old Testament, since all we would have then would be explanations of laws we'd thrown out. Not very valuable, is that?
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Postby genovese » Thu Sep 13, 2007 2:30 pm

I accept the valid point that you make about the Old Testament.

alextemplet says "What, pray tell, is your point? Does it really matter what God was thinking when the first eukaryotes evolved?"

No, of course it doesn't matter. But the CHURCH has always insisted differently; that we humans are something very special and not like any other animal. If we are so different and special, why are we totally dependent on another species for our own survival?
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Postby alextemplet » Thu Sep 13, 2007 9:11 pm

So being special means we have to be completely independent of all other life?

The Church does describe humanity as something special, mainly because we alone among the lifeforms on this planet are capable of controlling the environment and changing the world around us. No other species can shape the world the way humans have. In the eyes of the Church, this gives us a special status and also a special responsibility to protect and care for our planet. This view is backed up in Genesis when God gave Adam "dominion" over the earth. "Dominion" means "to rule," which means that we are free to harness the natural resources around us as long as we take responsible care of them.

I think it's common sense that we are in fact special compared to other lifeforms on this planet, but I still don't understand what this has to do with the evolution of eukaryotes.
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Postby genovese » Fri Sep 14, 2007 5:18 am

"..but I still don't understand what this has to do with the evolution of eukaryotes."

I must have a stronger imagination then if I am the only person to attach such importance to the fusion of one species with another, whilst at the same time maintaining that one half of that fusion is special (in the eyes of God) but the other half is there for us to use as we want to (but in a responsible manner).

To me it is a bit like, Hitler being told that his mother was Jewish, or a white racist finding out that his grandfather was coloured.

The implication of this event (to me) confirms that we are nothing special apart from our well developed brain compared to other species and that the existence of the supernatural is merely a function of our brain.
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Postby alextemplet » Fri Sep 14, 2007 6:22 am

I think you must have a very strong imagination, as I am almost certain you're stretching this too far. The evolution of eukaryotes was no doubt important in the story of life on earth, but to say "that one half of that fusion is special (in the eyes of God) but the other half is there for us to use as we want to (but in a responsible manner)." is to say that humanity existed as a species even at this early stage. This, of course, is false.

I suppose you would also imagine that saying that humans and apes share a common ancestry is like saying that Strom Thurmond and Martin L King, Jr. are first cousins.

And you explained my point perfectly: "we are nothing special apart from our well developed brain compared to other species" Exactly! Our intelligence and technology gives us an ability to control and manage our planet that, if we care about its future, we should use responsibly.

However, to say "that the existence of the supernatural is merely a function of our brain." makes about as much sense as saying that the existence of helium is only a function of our brain.
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Postby genovese » Fri Sep 14, 2007 8:15 am

OK, for ease of comprehension, let me bring things down into their simplist forms.

The church (at least the Vatican) insists that Man has a soul whereas animals do not.
Unfortunately, having invented “the soul” they do not specify its location, which leaves me free to suggest that it resides inside the brain and since animals do not possess a soul then it probably resides inside that part of the brain which we possess but animals do not possess. ie in that part of the brain which can function at a higher level than could ever occur in an animal.

Mitochondria are related to certain bacteria rather than to man. Therefore mitochondria do not possess a soul. They are therefore sub-human or inferior to man in a religious sense.

Mitochondria represent a certain percentage of our body weight ( say 5, 10 15%?) but they probably represent 95% or more of our ability to function as human beings.

So, let us now see what happens if we remove the mitochondria from the "higher part"of our brains. What kind of animal or vegetable are we left with? What has happened to the soul?

I would suggest that the soul no longer exists. In other words, the whole concept of the soul and of God only exists thanks to mitochondria that gives us the energy to invent it in the first place. And then religion has the audacity to suggest that animals and all lower creatures are merely there for us to look after. From what I have just outlined, I would suggest the opposite- that if it wasn’t for a certain animal, religion wouldn’t exist.

That is the reason why, the theory of symbiosis with mitochondria , shook my imagination. It was a “revelation” in an anti-religious sense. Had Galileo produced it instead of his theory of the solar system, he would, no doubt, have been threatened with more than ex-communication by that body, which you claim to be very interested in science.
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Postby alextemplet » Sat Sep 15, 2007 12:23 am

Your mistake is that you consider the soul to be a physical property. By its very nature the soul is spiritual, and thus is not tied to any particular physical location within the body.

I personally believe that all life has a soul, since it doesn't make sense to me how it could possibly be any other way. In a scientific sense, there is no real difference on a chemical or molecular level between something being alive and something being inanimate; it's all just chemical reactions of one sort or another. However, there is a very real distinction between life and non-life. Each part of a living thing, on its own, cannot in even the wildest definition be considered alive, but when put together in the right way, life exists. Also, consider a freshly-dead organism that has not yet begun to decay. It contains all of the cellular and molecular parts of life, but is not alive. There is a very fine line between life and non-life that cannot easily be explained by conventional means. That is why I think that all life must have souls. I consider the soul to be the essential spiritual component that makes something alive, makes all the assembled pieces spring to life. It simply doesn't make sense to me how it could be any other way.

As for mitochondria, certainly we cannot survive without them, but on the whole our living bodies are comprised of very many non-living components. That doesn't surprise me at all, and I still think you're trying in vain to draw a theological conclusion that simply isn't there.

As for Galileo, that is a perfect example of why the Spanish government should never have been allowed to interfere with Church affairs!
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Postby genovese » Sat Sep 15, 2007 5:16 am

Alextemplet says "I consider the soul to be the essential spiritual component that makes something alive, makes all the assembled pieces spring to life."

I don't really want to get into theological argument and would rather stick to biology, but to suggest that it is the soul that makes something alive is pushing things rather too far. Where in biology have you read this as a theory? Does this mean that plants have souls and presumably so must mitochondria?

Does the church actually support this theory?

If the difference between Life and Death is something to do with the soul then my 30 years of medicine must seem to be an awful waste of time. The cost of Health Care could be reduced dramatically, for if we cannot define or know precisely where the soul is we may as well close down the hospitals.

But coming back to mitochondria. That symbiotic fusion in the story of evolution is, to me, the greatest step that occurred. Even Darwin, with his great 'eye-opening' theory did not predict such a thing as being possible. Of course, it is just a theory as such, but if the theory is true it is truly amazing.
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Postby alextemplet » Sat Sep 15, 2007 3:40 pm

Once again I believe you are drawing conclusions that simply aren't there. First of all, don't pretend you mean this to be a biological discussion when your entire point from the beginning was to argue against the existence of a deity; this has been a theological debate from the start and remains so. Secondly, whether or not a soul exists has nothing to do with medicine. Medicine by its very definition works solely on the physical properties of life; the soul by its very definition is spiritual and thus another matter entirely.

I agree; the synthesis of early mitochondria-like bacteria with prokaryotic organisms to form the first eukaryotes probably was one of the most important events in the evolution of life on earth. Once again, however, I fail to see any theological implications.
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Postby genovese » Sat Sep 15, 2007 4:44 pm

"Once again, however, I fail to see any theological implications". If plants, mitochondria and all living things (whatever that definition is) have souls, as you seem to have suggested, then there would be no theological problem from my point of view. But are you sure of your theological facts? What does the church have to say on that subject? If only humans have souls, then I do see a problem from a theological point of view.

You haven't clarified your point about life being attributable to a soul. Where do you get that bit of information from and what does it mean?

"Medicine by its very definition works solely on the physical properties of life..." Where did you get that bit of information from? Ever heard of the placebo effect, bed side manner, counselling, advice on Health matters, Preventitive medicine, Psychological Medicine, etc. etc. etc.?
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Postby alextemplet » Sat Sep 15, 2007 9:13 pm

I already told you why I think all life has a soul; it simply doesn't make sense to me any other way.

I concede your point as far as medicine having to do with more than just the physical. Surely it can have emotional and mental effects as well, but certainly not spiritual. As the soul is spiritual by definition, it lies outside the reach of medicine.
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