We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

Monday, August 22, 2022

The Last Day of the Dinosaurs - A Processual Evolutionary Account


present day mass extinctions


The Last Day of the Dinosaurs
A Processual Evolutionary Account

by R.E. Slater
August 22, 2022

Occasionally we forget that mass extinctions have come-and-gone on earth. Though this is no help to the present species living in those deadly eras it is a rare enough occurrence which has happened only five times since the birth of biological evolution... however, it is by no means the end of life... perhaps.

At some future Earth date, some five billion years from now, the Earth itself will be burned into oblivion as our solar sun spends all its fuel in one burst of deadly mass irradiating the entire solar system before settling down as a red "giant". Till then, the earth will continue to cycle through mass extinction events until it can no longer.

What I "imagine" will be left in humanity's place may be some type of quantum-like, quasi-biologic sentient form of life. Perhaps filled with our own frailities. Perhaps not. But if it is lucky, it'll carry with it a sense of curiosity, creativity, and the capacity for generative good to the nature around it including its own generalized "species". Isaac Asimov I am not. But it is invariably certain that as humanoid's have evolved in the past - we are now, and will continue to do so, evolve towards something more-or-less than we are currently. As such, life in all its forms is a living, organic process of relational evolution within and without itself. It is how processual evolution works.

Why A Process-based Faith is Helpful

My interest in Process Philosophy and Theology naturally lends itself to Process Religions such as what Christianity might become when it finally understands that it's present course of Western/Hellenaic/Platonistic traditionalism has been less than helpful to its apprehension of our Creator God who is always good and loving and is completely unlike how present day Christians interpret their God. In the next day or so I will go on to share what I mean by this in another post. For now, let's take a look at the subject-at-hand, that is, processual evolution, and how traditional Christianity misunderstands its science.

Now a Processual Theologian or Christian will understand evolution in processual-relational terms. Terms which fit any category: from the elementary particles of the universe to our everyday lives. Let's just say: "Everything Is. And Everything is Becoming." All the rest, all the in-between momentary instances, are process-based events birthing the past to the present; and from the present to the future. Processual evolution (or better, a processual creation) uses what's there to lump along to what could be there... or can be there.

As example, the biology of earth is not unique to our galaxy. There are massive pre-RNA interstellar clouds floating around in our tiny Milky Way. Whether such pre-biotic building blocks are floating about in other galaxies we do not know yet. But here, in our galaxy, millions of asteroids have rained down upon the early earth just as they have throughout the Milky Way on other planetary bodies carrying with them pre-RNA molecular hitchhiker's which have seeded the Earth. And guess what? Evolution used the element which are here, in our galaxy, to create RNA-based life forms in plants, insects, mammals. It's everywhere! Mankind may be unique but not to the rest of the earth or the galaxy. We hold within us the same stuff which can be found everywhere about us throughout the galaxy.

The other thing about process worlds is that they run by entropic processes inhabiting chaotic and random outcomes. But within these entropic processes is the weight of lively, organic arrangement striving for the kind of teleology which makes something out of "nothing". It's how a processual evolution works. It uses the processes and material which is there... in this case, entropy and "positive" teleology (for lack of another word) to help the fiery Earth cool down by initiating biological processes to help it cool down. From acid wind and rain, to photosynthetic grasses and life-giving water; from methane gases to deadly oxygen gases which killed and re-energized other life forms.

A Better Philosophical-Theology Fixes All Bad Theologies

Process Philosophy states that all is in motion. All affects all other things from micro-to-macro processes. All is relational. All is in the stages of being and becoming. And all can become more than "what is presently there" because of the ability within processural evolutionary teleology to rearrange matter striving to be more than it is alone, in combinatory forms. Any religion, even that of Christianity, can grasp the basic science of process-based cosmological metaphysics. Its everywhere around us. Some of the ancients had stumbled across these ideas even as Whiteheadian scholars are re-discovering them today in the quantum sciences.

For any religious faith a key ingredient is to think of a living God who/which is evolving with creation. This doesn't mean God is less God-like than God was. But that God is becoming with the creational cosmos even as it is becoming. In fact, God is within the very substance of spacetime, it's DNA, if you will. Which means the future is always present within God even as the future remains relationally open to what it may become. God does not "determine" the future even though God "inhabits" the future. It's a bit difficult to explain but we call this processual pan-en-theism (not classical theism; and not pan-theism; but panentheism).

When you think about it, all of our understanding of God changes. For myself, I like to lead off with a God who is love at all times within God's Being. Not wrath. Not judgmental. Not condemning. But wholly and completely Love. The rest of this comes due to the brokenness of relational wholeness. When I harm you our fellowship is broken. God doesn't become mad. God becomes sad, and seeks to help us bind up, and make whole, our fellowship. This begins to explain sin and evil. And also the necessity for God to heal creation through God's own Self by a "redemptive process" Christianity calls atoning salvation. But again, that is here in this site and might be covered a bit in the next post or two.

We Live in Process Worlds

Our process worlds lie everywhere around us, in us, and beyond us. It is the way a freewill, indeterminant creation works when set in place by a Creator-God of love. As I have spoken to this a lot we'll move on....

My question then today asks, "How did the dinosaur era end?" When standing within the bowels of Alberta, Canada's Royal Tyrrell Museum it was then-and-there I fully understood how massive the history of biological evolution was. Not only in the acres-and-acres of bones lying about me but also of the massive fossilized range of early marine species lying 10,000 feet above my head along the Burgess Shale Ridges of the Canadian Rockies.

It was like a light turned on; a light I could no longer deny. Many years later - here in this website - I speak at length how my simplistic faith (always a good idea, as faiths go) needed a bit of rewinding. Which I have done. Those several years spent moving from traditional Christianity to a more nuanced form of Christianity became a healthy exercise of writing out my thoughts even as I am doing now with my post-evangelical, Reformed form of Process Thought and Theology. But again, those early articles are here on this site which may tally up to several hundred articles. Each one building on top of the other as I went along rewroting and updating my graduate seminary M.Div. degree from a dad's perspective. A student's. A maturing man of curious faith. Etc.

The Passing of the Dinosaur Era

Concentrating on the last "major" extinction event (there are always lots of "minor" calamitous near-extinction events in world history) there is a wide body of geological evidence indicating that dinosaurs became extinct at the boundary between the Cretaceous and Paleogene eras, about 66 million years ago, at a time when there was worldwide environmental change resulting from the impact of a large celestial object [the size of Mt Everest] with the Earth and from the many vast volcanic eruptions it initiated. Ultimately, the extinction paved the way for the rapid evolutionary diversification of early mammals. What life had survived the asteroid gave way to sulfuric acid rain, climate change, tectonic plate movement, etc., created by the global volcanic eruptions initiated by the shockwaves caused by the six-mile steller rock's landfall deep into the earth's mantel of some 20 kilometers.

[Excerpt]

"Abundant fossil bones, teeth, trackways, and other hard evidence have revealed that Earth was the domain of the dinosaurs for at least 230 million years. But so far, not a single trace of dinosaur remains has been found in rocks younger than about 66 million years. At that point, as the Cretaceous period yielded to the Paleogene, it seems that all nonavian dinosaurs suddenly ceased to exist.

"Along with them went fearsome marine reptiles such as the mosasaurs, ichthyosaurs, and plesiosaurs, as well as all the flying reptiles known as pterosaurs. Ancient forests seem to have flamed out across much of the planet. And while some mammals, birds, small reptiles, fish, and amphibians survived, diversity among the remaining life-forms dropped precipitously. In total, this mass extinction event claimed three quarters of life on Earth."

Here then is a fairly dramatic video recount of the asteroid which ended the dinosaur era. At the end of the vid it puts the human time era into perspective to the great reptilian era eons earlier. Enjoy.

R.E. Slater
August 22, 2022


THE LAST DAY OF THE DINOSAURS
Mar 5, 2022

Dinosaurs ruled the earth for 160 million years. It seemed they would forever dominate the biosphere. But one day their world was destroyed by a huge rock the size of Everest flying from space. This is the story of how the era of ancient reptiles came to an end. The last day of dinosaurs. This is a documentary about the day the dinosaurs died. #Dinosaurs #Asteroid #reYOUniverse


Related References

The Big Five Mass Extinctions - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extinction_event

Last Day of the Dinosaurs is a 2010 Discovery Channel television documentary about the extinction of the dinosaurs. ... It portrays the Alvarez hypothesis as the ...
Original release: August 28, 2010
Narrated by: Bill Mondy

Presented by David Attenborough, the documentary follows the final days of non-avian dinosaurs through the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, similar to ...



Why did the dinosaurs go extinct?

Learn about the mass extinction event 66 million years ago and the evidence for what ended the age of the dinosaurs.

PUBLISHED JULY 31, 2019

Abundant fossil bones, teeth, trackways, and other hard evidence have revealed that Earth was the domain of the dinosaurs for at least 230 million years. But so far, not a single trace of dinosaur remains has been found in rocks younger than about 66 million years. At that point, as the Cretaceous period yielded to the Paleogene, it seems that all nonavian dinosaurs suddenly ceased to exist.

Along with them went fearsome marine reptiles such as the mosasaursichthyosaurs, and plesiosaurs, as well as all the flying reptiles known as pterosaurs. Ancient forests seem to have flamed out across much of the planet. And while some mammals, birds, small reptiles, fish, and amphibians survived, diversity among the remaining life-forms dropped precipitously. In total, this mass extinction event claimed three quarters of life on Earth.

Piecing together what happened has been a massive effort for paleontologists, and theories for what killed the dinosaurs and the rest of the planet’s Cretaceous inhabitants have ranged from the plausible to the downright zany. For now, two leading ideas are battling it out within the scientific community: Were dinosaurs victims of interplanetary violence, or more Earthly woes?

Death from above

One of the most well-known theories for the death of the dinosaurs is the Alvarez hypothesis, named after the father-and-son duo Luis and Walter Alvarez. In 1980, these two scientists proposed the notion that a meteor the size of a mountain slammed into Earth 66 million years ago, filling the atmosphere with gas, dust, and debris that drastically altered the climate.

Their key piece of evidence is an oddly high amount of the metal iridium in what’s known as the Cretaceous-Paleogene, or K-Pg, layer—the geologic boundary zone that seems to cap any known rock layers containing dinosaur fossils. Iridium is relatively rare in Earth's crust but is more abundant in stony meteorites, which led the Alvarezs to conclude that the mass extinction was caused by an extraterrestrial object. The theory gained even more steam when scientists were able to link the extinction event to a huge impact crater along the coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. At about 93 miles wide, the Chicxulub crater seems to be the right size and age to account for the dino die-off.

In 2016, scientists drilled a rock core inside the underwater part of Chicxulub, pulling up a sample stretching deep beneath the seabed. This rare peek inside the guts of the crater showed that the impact would have been powerful enough to send deadly amounts of vaporized rock and gases into the atmosphere, and that the effects would have persisted for years. And in 2019, paleontologists digging in North Dakota found a treasure trove of fossils extremely close to the K-Pg boundary, essentially capturing the remains of an entire ecosystem that existed shortly before the mass extinction. Tellingly, the fossil-bearing layers contain loads of tiny glass bits called tektites—likely blobs of melted rock kicked up by the impact that solidified in the atmosphere and then rained down over Earth.

Volcanic fury

However, other scientists maintain that the evidence for a massive meteor impact event is inconclusive, and that the more likely culprit may be Earth itself.

Ancient lava flows in India known as the Deccan Traps also seem to match nicely in time with the end of the Cretaceous, with massive outpourings of lava spewing forth between 60 and 65 million years ago. Today, the resulting volcanic rock covers nearly 200,000 square miles in layers that are in places more than 6,000 feet thick. Such a vast eruptive event would have choked the skies with carbon dioxide and other gases that would have dramatically changed Earth’s climate.

Proponents of this theory point to multiple clues that suggest volcanism is a better fit. For one, some studies show that Earth’s temperature was changing even before the proposed impact event. Other research has found evidence for mass die-offs much earlier than 66 million years ago, with some signs that dinosaurs in particular were already in a slow decline in the late Cretaceous. What’s more, volcanic activity is frequent on this planet and is a plausible culprit for other ancient extinctions, while giant meteor strikes are much more rare. This all makes sense, supporters say, if ongoing volcanic eruptions were the root cause of the world-wide K-Pg extinctions.

Why not both?

Increasingly, scientists trying to unravel this prehistoric mystery are seeing room for a combination of these ideas. It’s possible the dinosaurs were the unlucky recipients of a geologic one-two punch, with volcanism weakening ecosystems enough to make them vulnerable to an incoming meteor.

<p>This nearly whole, deep-black skull belongs to the most complete specimen of <i>Tyrannosaurus rex</i> on display in Europe, an individual nicknamed Tristan Otto. With 170 of its 300-odd bones preserved, this scientifically important but privately owned skeleton is currently at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, Germany. Discovered in 2010 in Montana’s famed Hell Creek Formation of the late Cretaceous, the 40-foot-long fossil took four years to excavate and prepare.</p>

This nearly whole, deep-black skull belongs to the most complete specimen of Tyrannosaurus rex on display in Europe, an individual nicknamed Tristan Otto. With 170 of its 300-odd bones preserved, this scientifically important but privately owned skeleton is currently at...

PHOTOGRAPHY BY GERD LUDWIG

But that notion depends a lot on more precise dating of the Deccan Traps and the Chicxulub crater. In 2019, two independent studies looked at geochemical clues from Deccan Traps lava and came to slightly different conclusions, with one paper suggesting the volcanoes played a supporting role in the dinosaurs’ demise by causing pre-impact declines, and the other saying the eruptions came after the impact event and may have played only a small role in ushering along their end.

This debate may rage for years, as scientists dig up new clues and develop new techniques for understanding the past. But whether space invaders or loads of lava are to blame, it’s clear that scientists studying the dinosaurs’ last gasp are revealing vital lessons about the effects of dramatic climate change on Earth’s inhabitants.