Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Response to Rabbi Adam Jacobs' "The God Test"

Here is my response to "The God Test" questions.

1) No, teaching animals to eat humans is stupid because they may easily make the leap to attacking people to eat them. That's why we avoid that. We also don't eat other humans because you get terrible diseases that way. Look up kuru and Creuzfeldt-Jakob disease.

2) I'd try to get along in hopes we could do something to survive. For a tsunami in particular­, all that would be needed was a raft to take us to deeper water for the duration. If we were going to die for sure, however, I would not really care much about what the other person did. (I'd like to note, however, that it's an evolutiona­ry response to life or death situations to try to procreate. Those who do so are more likely to have their genetic material propagated into the future.)

3) I totally don't follow the logic on this one. The majority of people do feel love, and it has evolutiona­ry advantages­. Since we experience it positively and our consciousn­ess is the sum of our experience­s and instincts, love is valuable. This applies to morality and beauty too, and the sense of shared experience and community we get from art. Creativity can mean survival. These are evolutiona­ry advantages that feel "good" to us because they are advantageo­us to us as a species. The best way for humanity to survive becomes the "good" we strive for. Rather than losing their meaning, virtues such as kindness, selflessne­ss, love and generosity become essential.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Welcome, new island!

The Canary Islands are experiencing the birth of a new island, with a resurgence in undersea volcanic activity at El Hierro. Recent video of the eruptions from the surface is available here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Science in America

I just wanted to point out that New Scientist, from the UK, has a feature running on science in the US. It has a good variety of information and editorials on topics from respect for scientists as a profession to acceptance of evolution. Check it out!

Censoring creationist failure

So, a creationist and a scientist have a debate. Scientist wipes the floor with creationist, who then decides that he will not allow the record of the debate to be publicly released, not even with his presence and words removed. Does that mean science "wins"?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

More extrasolar planets!

Astrobiology magazine reports that three more planets orbiting other stars have been discovered, as well as a "mystery object" that may be another planet or just another small star. All are orbiting dying stars, but the information gleaned from them may be helpful in finding other extrasolar planets and learning about planetary systems.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Obama disappoints

I'm not surprised, but Obama denied both petitions to remove "under God" from the Pledge and the money. Nonetheless, I find it extremely disappointing. His reasoning was terrible. Government endorsement of a specific deity is absolutely not a part of the "public square".

Today's dose of crazy

A few things caught my eye today. First, the US Military has apparently been teaching some strange ideas about American religious beliefs to foreign students. Specifically, the US is a Christian country and freedom of religion is the freedom to interpret the Bible yourself. Anything else is part of an evil liberal plot to defeat Christianity.

Only slightly lower on the crazy scale are the young Earth creationists. Having studied geology in college, these guys drive me mad. They calculate the age of the Earth by adding the ages of the people in the Bible, rather than by using any sort of scientific method. Recently at the Geological Society of America's annual meeting, creationists presented their "research". In a prior year, they had led field trips. So to me, it seems like a bit of semantic dodging and half-truths are required in order to be accepted by both communities. Isn't it strange how people are willing to lie, contradicting one part of the book they live by, in order to prove another part of that same book to be literally true? How does one justify that?