I'm pretty new to this site, having found it after being given RD's wonderful book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' for Christmas, which opened my eyes further to the wonder of scientific discovery.
Last night after listening to a recording of RD and Lawrence Krauss in their 'Something from Nothing' discussion, and watching Brian Cox's excellent new programme on the origins of life and evolution, 'The Wonders of Life' I went to bed with my mind whirring with questions. I tried to remember some of the more frivolous ones this morning, and thought I'd post them here, not as a means of obtaining firm answers, but as a way to provoke discussion.
I don't think that many of these have definitive answers yet, but I'm sure there are people who read this site who may have some interesting opinions. Hopefully they will stimulate some discussion, anyway.
1. Bearing in mind what we know about the creation of the universe, is it inevitable that life on earth (and potentially throughout the universe) is composed as it is (i.e. carbon-based relying on DNA to self-replicate/reproduce). Or could other forms of life be imagined, based on the laws of physics of this universe remaining as they are.
2. Is it inevitable that intelligent life is mammalian, and evolved from primates?
3. By extension, if intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe it should be expected to take a similar form?
4. Should we expect that life elsewhere in the universe is more advanced than us? Is there any reason to think that, apart from the fact that to make contact with us much greater technological sophistication would be required.
5. What would life on earth be like if the dinosaurs had not become extinct?
Also, as a cheeky aside which I can't resist, the above are all examples of questions that religion can offer nothing at all towards an answer, but where science can or one day might.