The Genesis of Time Travel

 

 

Doctor Who Genesis

In an alternate reality,  people believe that the Universe was bootstrapped into existence by the efforts, of  a time-traveller the Once and Future Man.

They are wrong.

Theirs and a multitude of other universes, the multiverse, were catapulted into existence, unintentionally when an experiment on mind-control across time went awry. The scientists of the original universe had discovered that while they could not transmit matter backwards across time, they could transmit ideas.

They amused themselves by leaving coded messages of their interference, in the literature and art of the past.  They knew the explanation for the smile of the Mona Lisa, and exactly how Jonathan Swift was able to prophesy that the two moons of Mars would be discovered by a non-European scientist.

Providing evidence that you have changed your own timeline is difficult; something our experimenters discovered only after their experience with La Giaconda.  They had successfully changed the famously melancholic beauty, into a lady with an enigmatic smile. As far as the rest of the world was concerned, she had always had that smile.

No reason to believe is a good reason not to believe.

They realised that if their funding was to be maintained, they were going to have to provide independent evidence, that such changes had been made.

Jonathan Swift was their first target, he was easy to find.  They managed to get incorporated within Gulliver’s Travels claims that were only discovered after Swift’s lifetime, to be scientifically and historically accurate.  This then became their modus operandi.  They had the original authors incorporate information into their texts, that could be verified by modern science, but which could not have been known at the time that the text was written.

Sometimes the changes they made, did not get transmitted across time.  They eventually discovered to their horror that these changes were associated with rips in the fabric of time and space, rips that had in some cases given rise to other universes.

Among those universes you will find the universe of the Once and Future Man, and ours. Some evidence of the activities  of the unintentional creators can be found in both  universes. For instance the Mona Lisa has her enigmatic smile, and Jonathan Swift makes his prophetic claims about the moons of Mars.

The tears in reality that brought about the genesis of these two systems, appear to be linked ironically enough to the different interferences made to the Ancient Hebrew scripture, in  Genesis Chapter 1.

In the universe of the Once and Future Man, their ancient scripture gives an account of creation, that is exactly in accord with the findings of modern science. It was this accord that led to the belief  in the Time Traveller.

One of their greatest philosophers, Bertrand Russell, expressed his faith and admiration in this man, a Man not subject to the natural force of time,  in his famous 1952 essay, “Is there a Time Lord,”  in words that are identical to those made by our Bertrand Russell.

Man in so far as he is not subject to natural forces, is free to work out his own destiny.  The responsibility is his, and so is the opportunity.

Bertrand Russell Is there a God? Commissioned, but not published by Illustrated Magazine in 1952

This belief in the reality of time-travel was encouraged by those in the originating universe, who had long since stopped interfering with their own time-line.  But  were using the same technique to misdirect those in the secondary universes so that they did not develop the potentially disastrous ability to manipulate their past through mind-bending.

It was initially believed that the reason for the failure of transmission of the changes to Genesis 1, was that the description of reality, was too different, from the worldview of the Ancient Hebrews.

So the version that our universe obtained was less detailed, and more in accord with what had been there previously.  For instance, the creation was recorded as taking place in days rather than aeons..

The Hebrew writers of the pre-interference script, played down the importance of the sun and other heavenly bodies.  Understandably enough.  They wished to distinguish clearly, their beliefs from the ‘superstitious’  astrological beliefs of the Babylonians, who at that time held them captive. This bias remains in the Genesis account of our universe.

The mind-benders, noted that the description of the separation of land and sea that the writers of the original text had used, ‘let the waters under the heaven be gathered together into one place and let the dry land appear,’ had a parallel in what  modern science had discovered about the history of the earth.  There really had been a time, in fact more than one, when all the waters of the earth had been gathered together into one place, and a dry land had appeared.

This is the state the earth was in at the start of the Mesozoic- the age of dinosaurs.  Rather than trouble the ancients with an account of the monstrous beasts that roamed the earth, or the fact that the giant dry land of Pangaea was breaking up, the scientists picked on something else that clearly marked the later part of Day 3 as the Mesozoic. The flowering plants -the angiosperms, originated in that era.

The scientific name for flowering plants, angiosperms, means enclosed seeds, and it is this defining feature  that they used  as part of their efforts to provide proof that they had interfered across time. As this quote from Genesis demonstrates.   ‘And the earth brought forth….. the tree yielding fruit whose seed was in itself ……..And the evening and the morning were the third day.’ 

The Mesozoic ended with a massive bang, an asteroid hit the earth, and the subsequent environmental disaster, is linked to the extinction of among other things the great sea reptiles, and the dinosaurs.  The scientists seeded the recovery from this period of celestial disruption into the Genesis account as Day 4.  A sort of return to normal service, when the two great lights and the stars again appeared in the skies.  (The idea that the celestial bodies were made at this time, was a later addition, possibly but not necessarily made independently of the scientists.)

The whales originated as part of the earth’s recovery, from the asteroid linked environmental disaster. The scientists decided that these should be the defining feature of Day 5, along with the radiation of modern type birds that occurred at around the same time.

There was obviously a problem in ensuring that the animals that they labelled great sea monsters, and other living creatures, should be clearly identifiable as whales rather than fish, or the previously extinct great sea reptiles.  They did this rather neatly by portraying God as speaking directly to them, something that happens only one other time in Genesis 1, when he speaks to people.  Whales being the only sea creature that there has ever been any reason to believe might be capable of understanding language.

“And God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas,”  portrays God as speaking directly to the whales, this was put directly beside his communication about birds in an attempt to emphasize the point being made, “and let fowl multiply in the earth.”

Being satisfied that they had identified Day 5 as beginning no earlier than the Eocene period, they then considered which features should be used to identify Day 6, as later in time again.

They decided that the use of the term living creature, had been established sufficiently clearly as meaning a creature with whom it is possible to communicate, so they used this phrase at the start of Day 6 to describe the hominids that we evolved from.  They also recorded the other creatures that shared the grasslands that were our ancestors home, the grasslands that came into being around 1o million years ago: the ruminants (cattle), the  4-legged predators (creeping things), with everything else included in the catch-all beasts of the earth.

Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind, and it was so.

Then the reference living creature vanishes from the list, to be replaced by man, who is given dominion over the earth.  And with this the scientists stopped their interference, convinced that they had adequately placed their, “Kilroy was here.”

They were mystified as to why these changes didn’t show up in their ancient scriptures; and it was sometime, before physicists made the link between their activities and  various rips in the fabric of space and time.

As a consequence of this discovery a new program was set up by an international commission. It was entasked  with policing their earth’s timeline to make sure no more interference was caused; and also to make sure that  scientists in those universes that had come into being as an accidental artefact, did not acquire the knowledge necessary for time interference.

Efforts were made to ensure that those of us living in the secondary universes, did not come to an understanding of what consciousness is. As it was this knowledge that had made the across time mind-bending experiments possible.

They didn’t actually implant the belief, held by many scientists in our world that the purpose of science is to oppose religion, but it was one that they encouraged the development of. Regarding it as something useful to distract those who might otherwise have directed their talents to finding out what was really going on.

Sometimes, just sometimes the interferers sense of humour gets the better of them, and you will find their in-jokes incorporated into our universe.

One such joke was recorded as part of a report by Massimo Pigliucci  on a naturalism (the view that everything that is, is part of one reality) workshop held in 2012.

During the roundtable introductions, Dawkins (as well as the rest of us) was asked what he would be willing to change his mind about; he said he couldn’t conceive of a sensible alternative to naturalism. Rosenberg, interestingly, brought up the (hypothetical) example of finding God’s signature in a DNA molecule (just like Craig Venter has actually done). Dawkins admitted that that would do it, though immediately raised the more likely possibility that that would be a practical joke played by a superhuman — but not supernatural — intelligence.

Massimo Pigliucci From the Naturalism Workshop Part 1 2012

Richard Dawkins is actually making a sensible, if rather tautological point, when he says that any outside being interfering with our earth would not be supernatural.  Once you define the natural realm as meaning all that is, then by definition, any existent being must be a natural entity.  The joke lies in the fact that he treats superhuman , rather than natural, as the opposite of supernatural.  Our accidental creators are vastly entertained at the notion of themselves as superhuman intelligences.

The notion that they might have left their, ‘Kilroy was here,’ on DNA is a useful distraction, from the reality of where they did leave it.  They know from experience that the Ancient Hebrew Scriptures, are a much better place to acquire literary immortality, than  mutation and transposon vulnerable DNA.

Of course their real purpose in intervening in this conference was to distract these serious minds away from the problem described vividly, if rather histrionically, by the philosopher Jerry Fodor, in the following quote, the problem of consciousness.

“If it isn’t literally true that my wanting is causally responsible for my reaching, and my itching is causally responsible for my scratching, and my believing is causally responsible for my saying… if none of that is literally true, then practically everything I believe about anything is false and it’s the end of the world.”

Jerry Fodor as quoted by Sean Carroll in Downward Causation 2011

What is the relation, between feeling thinking and doing. How do you get a machine, albeit a biological one to experience pain, itching etc.  And if thinking is in anyway causal, how is it done. How we experience the world feels vastly different from the mechanistic explanations that science is delivering. It isn’t enough to say that our experiences are an emergent property, a sort of lusus naturae.  As Jonathan Swift pointed out in Gulliver’s travels, this kind of explanation, is just as much an attempt to deny ignorance, as were the occult explanations of earlier times.

After much Debate, they concluded unanimously that I was only Relplum Scalcath, which is interpreted literally, Lusus Naturae, a Determination exactly agreeable to the modern philosophy of Europe, whose Professors, disdaining the old Evasion of Occult Causes, whereby the followers of Aristotle endeavoured in vain to disguise their Ignorance, have invented this wonderful solution of All Difficulties, to the unspeakable Advancement of human Knowledge.

Jonathan Swift  Gulliver’s Travels 1726

(Jonathan Swift had that which a more gentle satirical novelist, Terry Pratchett, described as the gift of first sight, the ability to see what is really there.  It will not surprise you to learn that the scurrilous attacks upon him by intelligent people such as George Orwell, were the result of our accidental creators efforts to discredit him and what were for their purposes anyway his dangerous ideas.)

The fact that these serious scientists and philosophers are using the argument, Relplum Scalcath, is not unfunny. Our accidental creators do like their little joke. George Orwell accused Jonathan Swift of what can only be described as having the gift of prophecy. But it  really is no secret as to   how come  Swift writing in the early 18th century, could have described so accurately the behaviour of 21st Century scientists. The alternate universe civil servants, are manipulating the scientists behaviour to match that described by Swift.

So focused have they caused  our philosophers and scientists to be on the notion that the purpose of science is to oppose religion, that they are terrified to admit their ignorance in case a supernatural being might be tempted to crawl into the gap.

Not every scientist at the Moving Naturalism Forward Workshop had been implanted with the idea that consciousness was an emergent feature. The  civil-servant who was tasked with minding biologist, Jerry Coyne, has the kind of sense of humour that almost lost him his job.  He has managed to convince the man, who blogs at. ‘Why Evolution is True,’ that the fact that we are subject to the laws of physics, proves something, that if it were true, would be a bigger threat to Darwin’s theory of evolution, than any number of fluffy bunnies hopping around in the Pre-Cambrian Era.

Jerry Coyne believes that as we are collections of atoms whose behaviour is completely determined by the laws of nature, that consciousness has no role to play in decision making.

He quotes the results of experiments done by Benjamin Libet in the 1980’s, which showed that actions that we would normally think of as volitional, had been initiated, before the conscious mind was aware of them, as evidence that consciousness plays no part in our decision making.

To understand why Coyne’s interpretation of these results causes a problem, for Darwinian’s consider the following  hypothetical scenario.

A man is wired up for a brain scan, and then kicked in the groin.  The evidence shows that his hands had moved to protect his testicles, before he was consciously aware that he had been hit, and before he had experienced pain.

This if it were true, would be absolutely consistent with the response being an adaptation, operating, more quickly than conscious processes, to maintain something extremely important in evolution by natural selection, reproductive fitness. One up for Darwin.

But Professor Coyne’s hypothesis is that even in the long-term,  consciousness is not the kind of thing that can have any effect on the physical universe, and therefore that any subsequent actions  that the man took towards his assailant, could not be affected by his conscious experience of pain. And if this is the case it therefore follows logically, although obviously not to Jerry Coyne, that pain and all  other complex conscious effects can not be the product of evolution by natural selection.  Evolution can only select for features that have a material effect on the world.

In standing firm against the notion that consciousness can have an effect on the physical universe, Coyne believes that he is taking a stance against religious superstition.

In reality he has thrown open the front doors and laid down the red carpet for creationists and the intelligent design brigade.

A complex non-adaptive feature or better still range of features, is just the kind of thing that intelligent – designers are looking for.  Although fortunately for Jerry’s guardian civil servant, the kind of god who would inflict pointless confabulations and  purposeless pain on his creation, is  not the one whose existence they  are trying to prove.  So they are not likely to alert his charge to the problem.

It was an incident that took place at the naturalism workshop that almost caused the alternate universe joker to lose his job.

….We all agreed that dualism (often called “nonphysical libertarian free will”) is dead, and that our decisions are determined largely before we become conscious of “making” them.  Surprisingly, Steve Weinberg was the one person who seemed to disagree with this, saying that his consciousness had a “role” in making his decision. I claim that consciousness of making a decision may be merely a phenomenon that follows a decision made unconsciously, and, indeed, may have evolved just for that purpose. That is, confabulating may be an adaptation.

Jerry Coyne Moving Naturalism Forward :My Summary 2012

Coyne’s surprise that someone, whose wisdom he respects as much as he does physicist Steve Weinberg’s, believed that consciousness had physical effects might have led him to, question his own views, if the civil servant had not taken emergency action, and implanted the confabulating notion.  But even then if he had not been further distracted by the free-will problem, he might have had time to realise that evolution is only going to select for deceptive systems that do have an effect on the material realm.

It was the real problem of pain, “How do you get something that is basically a moist machine, to experience pain, and react to it?” that led the scientists of the original universe to the discovery that they are trying to prevent our scientists from making – the  nature of consciousness.

Jerry Coyne is not the only thinker in our universe whose thought processes  have been manipulated.  It was their idea to initiate the belief in our universe that the real problem of pain was, ‘Why does God allow?’

They also, within our universe, corrupted the thinking of René  Descartes. The ‘evil genius, ‘ that he mentions as deceiving him, is yet again an example of the interferers bigging themselves up.

In the original universe, Descartes most famous quote was a response to the death of his much loved young daughter, ‘I am in pain therefore I am.’ In our universe this courageous life affirming statement, embracing the reality that our nature is to be a feeling animal, has been deleted, and replaced with the insipid, ‘I think therefore I am.’ And the claim that to be human is to be a rational animal.

Jerry Coyne has clearly fallen hook line and sinker for the myth that he is a rational animal. More so than Descartes, who first had to convince himself that he was not deluded before he could accept that he existed as an agent, an I, who could trust his own rationality.

Jerry Coyne, thinks that he is deluded and that he has no agency, and yet at the same time he believes he can trust his own rationality.  Immoral as it may seem, I feel a strong urge to high five his guardian deceiver, on a job well done.  Especially after reading this.

The illusion of agency is so powerful that even strong incompatibilists like myself will always act as if we had choices, even though we know that we don’t. We have no choice in this matter. But we can at least ponder why evolution might have bequeathed us such a powerful illusion.

Jerry Coyne What Scientific Idea is Ready for Retirement 2014

Notice what we are being asked to ponder.  If he had asked the question, ‘How has evolution bequeathed us such a powerful illusion?’ he might have been directed towards the realisation that evolution can only act on those things that make a material difference to the universe.

He is however right that he doesn’t have free will. Not because consciousness doesn’t have an effect on the physical, but because he is the victim of a deception.

 

Postscript:

I don’t know how the correlations between Genesis 1  and the  scientific account of the order in which modern life on earth arose. But they are there.

I agree with Jerry Coyne, that he does not have free will, but not because consciousness doesn’t have real effects on the world.  For humans to have freedom, they have to have the truth.  Jerry Coyne’s ability to recognise truth shows signs of having been suborned by a deceiver. I think the theory of evolution can explain how an innate deceiver could have been selected for. Therefore even though I don’t know how consciousness works, I think it is rational to assume that the innate deceiver, something that works using confirmation bias, is not an occult entity, or an external agent from another reality.

We are social animals, who very frequently bond on shared ideas.  Holding views vastly different from those in ones social group is likely to make social bonding more difficult, and on average thereby decrease our reproductive fitness.

In an environment where those who hold different views are demonised, being seen as a staunch upholder of the correct view, is likely to increase social status, and especially for the male of the species, at least in primitive societies, their reproductive fitness.   It should be no surprise in these conditions to find adaptations in existence, that serve to disguise from those who have a chance to gain high status within their communities, the flaws in their logic.

And it is my hypothesis that it is these deceiver instincts that served to derail the thinking of both René  Descartes and Jerry Coyne. Although obviously I can’t rule out evil geniuses, or alternate universe civil servants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Is there a Time Lord?

Eyes in Space

Bertrand Russell in his 1952 essay, Is there a God? demonstrated that there is clear evidence that the omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient, god of traditional western philosophy doesn’t exist.

The argument he made wasn’t new. It can be found in the, allegedly ancient Greek, Epicurean paradox.

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?

If evil exists, and there is evidence that it does, any God that exists must be, less than omnipotent, and/or less than omnibenevolent.

The god of traditional western philosophy therefore does not exist.

From this perspective, it is difficult to understand why Russell chose to conclude his argument with this rather weak conclusion.

My conclusion is that there is no reason to believe any of the dogmas of traditional theology and, further, that there is no reason to wish that they were true.

Bertrand Russell Is there a God? Commissioned, but not published by Illustrated Magazine in 1952

Why go for the, ‘no reason to believe,‘ option, when he could have gone for the option, not only is there no reason to believe, but there is good reason not to believe?

Perhaps it is because he understood, that his argument, like the Epicurean paradox isn’t an argument against the existence of God, merely a claim that he has been mislabelled.  Any God that might really exist doesn’t meet the standards set by the philosopher’s definition, of maximal greatness.  And is therefore not the god of traditional Western Theology.

There are ways of understanding the concepts of omnipotence, and/or evil that appear to falsify the Epicurean Paradox, but all of these arguments are like the paradox itself, arguments about definition, rather than fact.  Why bother?

While it is peculiar that Russell claimed merely that there was no reason to believe that, for which there was very good reason not to believe; it is not at all strange that he should say that there is no reason to wish that such a monster as he describes , should exist.

Peter Capaldi as Dr Who

Peter Capaldi as Dr Who

This is not the God of the human heart, the God that is loved.  That God, like Peter Capaldi’s Time Lord, in the BBC series Dr Who, is the God that, no matter what the appearances may be,  cares  about us, has our back.

Within Christianity, where you find the notion of God’s Omnipotence being pushed as a sign of orthodoxy, there you will also find that while the lip service is being offered to power, the adoration isn’t going there.  It is bestowed on Christ, or  on the Lady Mary.

Beings that the Bible tells us had the characteristics of that which, in the very last sentence of his famous essay, Bertrand Russell recognised as ultimate greatness; i.e. there were occasions when they were not subject to natural forces.

Man in so far as he is not subject to natural forces, is free to work out his own destiny.  The responsibility is his, and so is the opportunity.

Bertrand Russell Is there a God? Commissioned, but not published by Illustrated Magazine in 1952

This abstraction of Russell’s, this Who’s the Daddy of Man, is every bit as much a supernatural being as the one he has spent the rest of the essay demolishing.

If you can find any part of humankind that is not subject to natural forces, then naturalism is falsified.

One of the things that I find interesting about Bertrand Russell’s, ” Is there a God,” and Richard Dawkins , “The God Delusion,” is that they both concentrate on disproving the existence of a god, that logically can’t exist.  In Dawkin’s case he ends up arguing not that the impossible god doesn’t exist, but that his existence is just very improbable. From the point of view of a theist this argument is just funny.  This is just a version of the ontological argument.  If that which exists beyond the universe is infinite, and if there is any probability of this god existing at all, then Richard Dawkin’s has proved that the existence of the Impossible is certain.

Many of us experience life as though we are, at least on occasion, interacting directly with a consciousness not our own.  I am not necessarily adverse to Richard Dawkin’s hypothesis, that this is just the imaginary friend experience carried on beyond childhood.

This certainly seems the most probable explanation. but then as discussed earlier, probability arguments don’t really work, when you are dealing with a possible infinity.

Consciousness, and by that I don’t mean information processing, but the ability to feel: pleasure, pain, emotion, is peculiar.  I know that it is something that can be achieved in a machine, because I am a biological machine, and yet I don’t understand how it is done.  I am amazed to be living on a planet, where the dust has given rise to this mystery.

Consciousness is so amazing that it doesn’t strike me as necessarily ridiculous to believe that the universe, or even the multiverse is part of a  process aimed at its reproduction. Nor does it strike me as necessarily impossible that this feeling of other consciousness, that some of us experience, has a reality that extends beyond the human.

However I do think it is reasonable to look for evidence, before jumping to the conclusion that this is either true or untrue.  The rational position is strict agnosticism, because while we have reason not to believe in celestial teapots – we know what china teapots are, and how unlikely it is that one, could not only get into orbit, but also survive in the extremes of outer space ; we don’t even understand how consciousness is created in ourselves.

It has occurred to me that the position of  any God who wanted to prove that he wasn’t a figment of our imagination or part of a con , might be similar to that of a time travelling alien out to save the world.

This is a position I dealt with in previous posts, “Is There a Teapot?” and “Beginnings Chapter 1.”

In the Alternative Universe of,  “Is There a Teapot?”  the holy scripture is the, “Book of River Song.”  And the contents of “River Song,” prove the falsity of the alternate Bertrand Russell’s claim the one that is equivalent to our Bertrand Russell’s, “there is no reason to believe any of the dogmas of traditional theology.”

In ironical voice, where he mocks the over certainty of the adoctorists, Russell says that there is no reason to believe any of the teachings of River Song.

This is of course not true. For instance the book  states that the earth had  a beginning (Beginnings Chapter 1 verse 1) and that there is more than one universe, i.e. the host of the heavens. (Beginnings Chapter 2  Verse 1) It would be very strange if a book containing as much information as River Song was not in agreement with modern  knowledge in some places, even if entirely by accident.

 Linda Bailey Is there a Teapot? June 2013

In this universe the same holds true, there is good scientific reason to believe that the earth had a beginning, and this was true even in 1952, when “Is there a God,” was written, and there is reason to believe that there is a multiverse i.e.more than one universe.  And in our universe Genesis 1:1 tells us that the earth had a beginning  and Genesis 2:1 talks about a plurality of heavens. (N.B. The word that is translated as heaven in Genesis 1:1 in the King James Bible, is identical to the word that is translated as heavens in Genesis 2:1.  The Hebrew word is in the plural.)

Of course as in the alternative universe, these two correlations are compatible with coincidence.  Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

It would take a lot more co-incidences between ancient scripture and modern science, to leave   coincidence an improbability.

In the alternate universe of “Is there a Teapot?”  The first chapter of their holy book, Beginnings Chapter 1, a fusion of Genesis 1, and our scientific story of the earth’s history, provides these co-incidences by matching exactly the scientific discoveries of their scientists with the ancient scriptures.

There are reasons, apart from the fact that I have a clear recollection of having made it up, for believing that this alternate universe does not exist.

Firstly, if scripture is to be passed through time, it requires its first hearers, and at least some of every succeeding generation, to hold it in enough reverence to ensure that it is copied and passed on.  This is extremely unlikely to happen if it portrays a world that is vastly at odds with that which the  first generation, and to a lesser extent subsequent generations believe to actually exist.

Secondly it is likely that a science, that served only to confirm scripture would be regarded as a minor branch of teapotology, their equivalent of theology, and held in no great esteem. It would be unfit to independently verify anything.

This is not true in our universe, where some religious fundamentalists attempt to gain respectability for their interpretation of scripture, covering it with a great big fig leaf labelled Scientific Creationism.

It isn’t just fundamentalists who have attempted to force a correlation between scripture and science, a point made by Stephen Gould in “Bully for Brontosaurus,” in a chapter entitled Genesis and Geology.

There he recounts the tale of a dispute, which took place in the late 19th century, between a former British Prime Minister, William Gladstone , and the biologist,Thomas Huxley.

Gladstone, based on his reading of Genesis made a probability argument for the existence of God. He argued that the appearance of animals in Genesis: first the water population, then the air population, followed, by the terrestrial population, and lastly man – is what the fossil record shows.  He argued that this was such a great coincidence that it could only be achieved by the writer of Genesis being gifted beyond belief, or divine intervention.

This argument doesn’t say a lot for Gladstone’s maths.  When ordering 4 different objects or pieces of information, there are only 24 different permutations. If in an exam you were asked to place 4 events in temporal order, you would have a 1 in 24 chance using straight forward guesswork of getting the answer correct.  This is more probable than throwing a double 6 in a dice game, not something that is generally thought of as proof of divine intervention.

Of course there is a 23 in 24 chance of getting the order wrong, and Huxley didn’t waste too much time in proving that the order that Gladstone was suggesting was incompatible with the findings of what was then modern science.

Huxley pointed out that there is clear evidence from the fossil record and from the morphology of birds and bats that terrestrial animals existed before the animals of the air.

He also argued that Gladstone should have included the plants in his argument.  (When you are ordering 5 pieces of information, there are 120 different permutations.  There is only a 1 in 120 chance of getting the temporal order correct by chance.)

Huxley wanted the plants included in the argument because he had noted that the description of the plants given in Genesis 1:11-12, the fruit trees, and other plants with enclosed seeds, identified them as angiosperms, the flowering plants.  These appear late in the fossil record, but are the first living organisms to be listed in Genesis.

Modern Scientific evidence shows that flowering plants diversified during the Cretaceous period, the last portion of the age of dinosaurs. And that there is some evidence that they may have been in existence throughout the age of dinosaurs.

In fact had Gladstone had access to modern scientific knowledge, been a bit better at statistics, and had gone for Genesis ordering correctly the times for the diversification of modern type lifeforms rather than first appearance of water, air and land animals, he could have argued that there was only a 1 in 120 chance of the following correlation happening by chance.

The flowering plants, which Genesis records as sprouting forth in the latter half of Day 3, scientific evidence shows as diversifying in the latter part of the age of dinosaurs, the Cretaceous.

The age of dinosaurs ended with a mass extinction, which modern science links to an asteroid collision with the earth around 65 million years ago.

The next readily identifiable creature mentioned in Genesis is the whale.  The word which is translated  as whale in the King James Bible, is more literally translated as great sea monster.  These appear in Day 5 in Genesis.  The first whales  appear in the fossil record around 55 million years ago.  This coincides with the diversification of modern bird groups. Winged fowls are mentioned as multiplying in day 5 of the Genesis account.

The rise of widespread grassland about 15 million years ago, resulted in a burst of animal diversification, a proliferation of  grazing animals, predators and the bi-pedal apes – our ancestors and related species. This happened after the origin of whales, in the same temporal position as Genesis describes the earth bringing forth, the living creature, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth. Another co-incidence.

Modern man, the not very modestly self-identified Homo sapiens, is a late appearance on the scene of life, according to both palaeontologists and Genesis.

And if you take into account the non-biological events mentioned there are still more co-incidences.

The flowering plants arose during the age of dinosaurs, the Mesozoic Era. The period prior to the start of the age of dinosaurs, the Permian, had seen the formation of the supercontinent Pangaea. When tectonic plate activity had resulted in smaller continents coalescing into one large continent, with one would suspect the mother of all continental weather systems – a dry land. This was surrounded by one ocean Panthalassa.  Or as Genesis 1:9 has it all the waters of the earth gathered into one place and the dry land appeared.

It is surprisingly easy to correlate the events of Genesis 1, with the findings of modern science.  Something I had fun with when I wrote, Beginnings Chapter 1.

It answers a question, that I asked of God, when I was teenager.  If you wanted us to believe that you created the world that really exists, why didn’t the Bible get it right.  I hadn’t at the time figured out that he hadn’t written the book himself.

The Genesis account was capable of telling the people for whom it was originally written that God had created the real world. It is still capable of telling us that God made the world that really is.  That makes it a fairly amazing piece of writing.

What it cannot do is prove the existence of God. There is no matter of fact that could make this a necessary conclusion. Even an inability to think of another explanation, would not prove that such an explanation did not exist.

To go from believing to not believing in God, or vice-versa is a paradigm shift. Not a matter of merely thinking one less or one more thing about reality, but a total change in the way you view reality.   A paradigm shift is, and I sympathise with those atheists who object to the phrase, always “a leap of faith.”

Douglas Adam’s provided a much better metaphor in his Dirk Gently novel, “The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul.”  It’s like, ‘a turn through half a molecule,’  everything is the same, and yet everything is different. A metaphor that works both ways.