Atheism/Dear Jeff-

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Question
I hope that you are doing well.

Jeff, reviewing your literature and other resources to the best of my ability thus far, too much of it goes "Over my head," by admission.

To be CLEAR, the theory of evolution/non Creation themed existence must rely on two facts, correct (?)-
1)Single celled organisms are responsible for (Us) man today, and that-
2)These original single celled organisms, first identified in the pre-Cambrian period, would've then produced for OTHER single celled organisms on their own (RNA/DNA)-

Unfortunately, this is, by admission, like forcing you back into a 4th grade/elementary scientific classroom, understandably, but my follow up question will be fairly key, I think, based on your response.

I can't possibly thank you enough again if you find the time to respond, sir-thanks again for your valuable time.

Kevin

Answer
Hey Kevin,

I sometimes gets distracted by the detail and forget to articulate the big picture! I hope this clarifies some things.

Evolution does indeed hold that mankind are descendants of single-celled organisms. The fact that this occurred is documented and again I'd recommend those books [23][25-27]. Here are Wiki resources as a primer [59][60]. We can identify all the steps in between single-celled organism and mankind, in fossils, genetic techniques, and other lines of evidence. We can identify when the critical transition steps occurred, what those species were like, and the best explanations for why they occurred.

The scope of the theory of evolution typically ends at the first single-celled organisms (with RNA). From that point on, organisms survive and replicate where they pass their genetic information on to their descendants (first with RNA then with DNA). At that point, the logic of evolution (one might say, the law of evolution) takes place and necessarily develops successive generations into organisms of increasing complexity and increasing adaption to the environment. That is also the point at which our evidence for our ancestry is also the best - we can trace our RNA to that point, but it is much harder trace our ancestry to life (or life-like entities) before RNA. This is another Wiki resource on RNA life [61].

Just to be clear the Cambrian period began about 500 million years ago, the evolution of multicellularity began about 2000 million years ago, and the first single-celled organisms 3500-4000 million years ago[60]. As I described in the last response, our fossil record only goes back to a little before the Cambrian period, but genetic techniques allow us to see which organisms are most closely related and in what order they deviated from the same ancestral lines.

So I hope that clears everything up. The theory of evolution, both as a history biological change and a mechanism for that biological change, begins at singled-celled (RNA-based) organisms. Before that you have abiogenesis[62] built on something closer to non-equilibrium thermodynamics[63] and uniformitarianism[64] than evolutionary biology.

I discuss the origins of life slightly more in a previous AllExperts[65].

Links:
[59] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_history_of_life
[60] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidence_of_common_descent
[61] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RNA_world_hypothesis
[62] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis
[63] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-equilibrium_thermodynamics
[64] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniformitarianism
[65] http://en.allexperts.com/q/Atheism-2724/2009/10/living-things-non-living.htm

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Jeffrey Ellsworth

Expertise

I am well versed on the arguments for both sides about the existence of God and am especially aware of the philosophical ramifications and psychological reactions to atheism. Also, if you have a question about atheism as that pertains to Science or Skepticism, I may be an especially good pick. However my knowledge of non-Judeo-Christian religions and Biblical archaeology is generally limited to knowledge about directions to more informative resources.

Experience

I've been an atheist for 14 years now, open about it for 9 years after being raised in a Roman Catholic family. In that time I have held many different philosophical perspective on the subject and had different emotional and psychological reactions to atheism. I have absorbed many internet articles, video debates, atheist publications, and secular podcasts in my process of understanding and supporting the atheist movement. I routinely hold conversations on the subject.

Publications
One article in If Journal, an interfaith publication.

Education/Credentials
I have a BS in Physics and Mathematics from the College of William & Mary I am pursuing my Ph.D in Physics at Indiana University at Bloomington. I have very little formal training in philosophy or sociology.

Awards and Honors
I was president of the William & Mary Students for Science & Secularism before graduating.

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