Very good questions. Here's my immediate answers...
I find it curious that you seem willing to respond to these questions in some detail, but absolutely refuse to discuss articles which highlight severe conflicts with current evolutionary theory.
1.) Why is the study of origins (i.e., evolution, Big Bang) even important?Study, investigation, knowledge…
What is knowledge and what empirical evidence do you have that proves its existence? Also, where does knowledge (and the Laws of Logic) fit into Herbert Spencer's
five categories: time, space, matter, force and action?
…and learning all form the basis for understanding of the past to ensure survival into the future.
How can we have real understanding of anything since we don’t know if it survived the evolutionary process any better than false understanding?
The very premise of evolution that is present in many species. Bears hibernate. Fish don't go to certain places at certain times of the year, birds fly north for the winter (well, down here they do...). Species learn and adapt based on what has come before.
Studying the hibernation and migratory patterns of certain animals falls under observational science, not historical science. While these things are vital to our understanding of how things in our world operate today, your reply does not address why
we need to know about origins. For example, why do we need to know if Tiktaalik was the first land animal to evolve from fish
Humans use research and scientific method as well as instinct.
I understand the roles “research” and “scientific methods” play, but what part of the scientific process allows for human “instinct”? Also, how is instinct different from "presupposition"?
Speaking of the scientific method, aren’t “historical” sciences severely limited by our inability to observe (Step #2) past events?
2.) What value as a species do we gain by trying to learn how life began?See 1)
As I indicated, you are mixing observational and historical sciences. So referring me back to your reply for the first question really doesn’t tell me what value this adds to our current efforts of survival today.
3.) How does such knowledge impact our current condition? Specifically, knowing how we came about does not directly impact our current condition.
That is not what evolution is about. It is not what the adaptation of species is all about. It's about the increments along the way. What such knowledge and theorising (and the big bang is a theory, I agree with you on that) does is help us to understand that evolution which we can then apply to many facets of life and pass on to future generations. 'Intelligent evolution' if you like... evolving physically and psychologically through knowledge gained.
The point you make about “intelligent evolution” refers back to knowledge and is completely different from “biological evolution.”
4.) Instead of digging up dinosaur bones, carbon dating rocks, and building telescopes to study quasars, wouldn’t it be far more beneficial to spend that money to help feed starving children in Africa and find cures for various diseases? Yes, it probably would. Why not spend all money on feeding starving children in Africa? To single out 3 specific fields of science is ridiculous and not the basis for an intelligent question
I should have been more clear as I was not trying to single out three specific fields. Rather, I was using them as examples.
If, as you say, “knowing how we came about does not directly impact our current condition,” then why continue to fund the research of quasars (per se) over direct threats to human survival (e.g., cancer, AIDS, famine, etc.)?
5.) If, as Professor Provine declared, "there is no life after death… there is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning to life," why do we continue to spend so much time and money to research and study matters that happened millions and billions of years ago? I agree that there is no life after death, but there is indeed life during life.
What empirical evidence do you believe supports Professor Provine’s claim that there is no life after death?
And ethics, knowledge, research and learning contributes to future generations taking that knowledge forward. I've never much been on a quest for the meaning of life…
Do you believe we exist as the mere result of a “cosmic accident” (according to Carl Sagan)?
…other than I think we should gain knowledge, pass on what we know, and then die such that our species is left with more collectively than when we were born. The knowledge to adapt, the knowledge to not build a house in a dry riverbed, the knowledge to not eat those berries, but to eat those ones instead. Examples in their simplest form.
The examples of knowledge you provide of what to eat and where to build shelter are entirely different from trying to learn about our origins. If life has no meaning, and we are the result of a “cosmic accident,” why is man so intrigued with trying to figure out how everything came into existence? And why should we desire to pass that knowledge along to our offspring?
6.) Finally, if there really is "no ultimate meaning to life," why do people get so upset about these matters?Because not everybody does things to enter the kingdom of heaven. We live life whilst we are alive... personally I reckon that when I die my body will be put into a fire, my ashes sprinkled over some meaningful site like West Ham Football Ground or Princes Park, and that'll be it. That's not when it matters. It matters whilst I'm alive.
It is interesting that atheists (i.e., Eugenie Scott, Richard Dawkins, et al.) vigorously defend origin accounts that are completely devoid of a Creator, and vehemently oppose Christians for their belief in God. But ultimately this position is irrational if there is nothing after death. Because if atheists are right and there is no God (or afterlife), and Christians are utterly wrong, what does it matter? At the very point of death atheists would "win" the intellectual discussion, but since we will have just ceased to exist, no one will remember anyway.