Sunday, April 15, 2007

Are you there God? It's me, Margaret

So Jeffrey and I have been watching these NOVA shows on the origins of the earth and of life on earth. I have to admit that this last one we've been watching, the origins of life, has been pretty disturbing for me. After chatting with my friend Erin last night about religion (she's harder-core than I am), I started reading "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins. I haven't gotten very far. I guess I've hesitated in the same way that a roller coaster builds in some hesitation as it click-click-clicks up that first ramp -- because I know the ride that's coming is going to be crazy, and fast, and may possibly change me.

And then we started in on the origins of life, and it hit me like a brick how ignorant I am and have been. The reason I could always come back to for believing in God was because of life and the elements. I'd say, everything on earth, if you chop it up and boil it down, is made up of things on the periodic table, right? A ton of carbon, a lot of hydrogen, some oxygen, a few other things. But where does life, and more importantly, growth, come out of those things? What element is nascence? Which one gives crescence? You know? But that was so simplistic and ignorant that I want to cry now.

Because then I found out that more than 50 years ago, a kid at the University of Chicago recreated what was thought to be the composition of the atmosphere here billions of years ago. He stewed it together in a water bath, and then added electrical charge to simulate the lightning that surely would have been pounding the concoction. Sure enough, he created amino acids, the building blocks to life where there was no life. Bam. Just like that. And there have been other experiments since then (light + prebiotic soup = organic stuff).

And then there's the amino acids found in meteorites and space dust -- tiny little bits in a constant barrage aimed at the earth that are rich in life-building materials. So did the organic compounds that make us up come from space?

Do you hear that? It's the rumbling of my foundation being shaken.

1 comment:

jullee said...

All I can say is "Ignorance is bliss." MY ignorance is bliss.