Friday, December 14, 2007

Post 30 - Just means that I am slow.

Earlier today the ever-present lady love of my life was rereading some of her bible, specifically genesis, and found herself amazed by some of the claims set out therein. Remember, the bible is the word of god and therefore, though scribed by men, reflects the words, thoughts and intentions of the creator of the universe.

It is nice that mankind has had a constant reminder of our perfect creation and that simple facts, taken in context, have bolstered and reinforced scientific discovery of the means, places and mechanisms set out during our creation.

One can only wonder though, has the original story stood the test of time or should we take a closer look at some of the details. I know, I know. The devil is in the details. But so is the truth, is it not?

Now I looked at 5 or 6 different translations of the bible at the free site (link) and they were too varied and cryptic to compare next to one another. Now I don't want to pick one and then take crap for getting the wrong translation (technically it shouldn't matter but I split literary hairs much thinner than some of the publishers) so I decided to go with a list from these guys.

Here's a synopsis by action and day. I have added comments as to the possibility of this order with the current set of physics [my comments are bracketed, the parentheses are from the original list]

Day One

  1. Watery, formless planet Earth suspended in the darkness and void of space (no stars, no sun, no moon, no planets - except for Earth). [This is obviously a typo with no stars and other cosmic features earth would be a cold dead lump of ice. Since earth contains elements heavier than Iron there had to have been at least one supernova before its creation. There's no other way to create super heavy elements without some catastrophic action occurring before hand. This explanation is also inconsistent with the Heliocentric model of the solar system.]
  2. Light. [One will have to wonder where the light came from since the Sun, moon and stars are days away. Taken literally it's not so hard to imagine but the common 'oh a day back then could have been a million years' argument makes this seem like an awfully long time to be holding a lamp.]
  3. Separation of light from the darkness - and the first indication that the planet is rotating (day and night cycle produced). [The planet rotates, that's fine. But why not just create the sun first to make things easier? If I was going to build a car in my garage I wouldn't wait for 3 days to turn the light on. Even using a temporary flashlight/glowstick/lamp would be clunky and inefficient. Oh well, Day one is over with.]

Day Two

  1. Formation of Earth's atmosphere, separating the water into two parts:
    (a) oceanic and subterranean water
    (b) atmospheric water. [I would like to call Shenanigans here because there are a few details left out. 'Atmospheric water' is never mentioned in any translation of the bible I have been able to find. Most editions allude to...well here's the King James Version: "6And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

    7And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so." Now one has to beg the question. I just checked my physic's book and found no mention of 'firmament.' In fact I had to check wikipedia just to come up with some interesting answers. I will let you judge them.

As I see it this verse only goes to show how the world works. There is the flat, solid overturned bowl of the earth sitting between two great layers of water. One is above the earth and the other is supporting the world from below. Need I only invoke the words 'gravity' and 'outer space' to convey the correct view. The earth closely resembles a sphere with bumps and valleys that rock and sway to the tune of isostasy and tectonic motion. Also the sky is not a layer of water, even atmospheric water it's air with evaporating water in it. Let's move on.]

Day Three

  1. Dry land and oceans. [Fair enough. Spade work on a very large scale could accomplish this. It's odd that there's no mention of the world being a single landmass before breaking up and drifting out into our modern continents.]
  2. System to water the entire land surface using subterranean waters (involving springs or mist, or both). [Oh everywhere on Earth gets water. I guess this place doesn't count for much. No biggie.]
  3. Vegetation, seed-bearing plants, trees that bear fruit. [Here's another example of where the bible doesn't quite shine. Without animals, insects and symbiotic relationships these plants are going to have a shitty time trying to reproduce. If the seven day account is true then that's ok. But if it isn't then god must've taken care of all that pollination. Either that or all the animal and insect species evolved on their own from single-celled creatures. No wait, there's no mention of evolution in the bible so god must have taken care of it.]
  4. Garden of Eden (probably). [And where did that end up? Oh right, it got smooshed in the
    flood way later.]

Day Four

  1. Sun [Bout time! Now god can relax his flashlight hand. I bet his thumb smarted a good bit after so much time. At least now, with a sun, we can justify having a planet out in the middle of nowhere without a universe to pester it.]
  2. Moon - complete with established orbit so as to mark passage of time (months, seasons, and years). [Nice touch, god. Throw in a little reflector action so night time isn't such a hassle for the plants. It should be noted that nearly every translation does not say the sun and the moon but rather the 'greater light to rule the day and a lesser light to rule the night' That stinks. Moonlight is really starlight. Must be another typo right?]
  3. Stars and other planets. [Genesis 1:16 is about as far as I can usually get into the bible before I have to put it down out of principle. To spend this amount of time and then dismissively mention 'he created the stars also' is like writing a book on one skin cell and how it was put together and then casually mentioning that there are six billion other people out there. No big deal though right, this is how the universe came to being.]

Day Five

  1. Water creatures of all kinds. (All that had “the breath of life” were vegetarian.) [Well I hope this includes algae and plankton or a WHOLE lot of fish are going to be pretty hungry. I wonder why there's no mention of the horrific freakishly weird critters that live in the deep dark of the ocean (also in my nightmares) What's weird to me is that terrestrial plants (dry land) all bear weird similarity to sea plants. Stranger still the fossil record and DNA evidence suggest that life came out of the ocean onto land and not vice versa. Typo?]
  2. Birds (all vegetarian).

Day Six

  1. Land animals (all vegetarian): (a) creatures that move close to the ground (small animals), (b) large animals, and (c) animals of use to man as livestock. [We've finally managed to get close to some consistency with natural observation. Land animals did come AFTER sea critters. However I am fairly certain that some fishes had figured out that eating their neighbors works just as well as a survival strategy. I mean there are flesh eating microbes. Come to think of it the emphasis on vegetarian life is a little weird. Oh well, could just be a typo. Spell check much, god?]
  2. Man. [No comments]
  3. Woman (saving the best for last?). [Ah now we come to my favorite part of the bible. God is done and now it is up to people to get busy with the babies. It does seem a little gross that Seth and Cain have to get busy with their sisters but hey. That is out of scope for this post.]
So as we can see it is so easy to forget that the bible is one hundred percent accurate and contradiction free. However, and I know I'm just being difficult and proud here, there are a few questions I have that make me wonder if a couple parts got skipped or shuffled around.

Consider cosmic background radiation. Even the coldest deepest darkest corner of space is about 3 degrees kelvin. Pesky scientists would say that's just residual radiation from the big bang. Maybe. Or maybe god flicked a giant cosmic booger into the great attractor just to be funny.

Earth is round. Why not just make mention of this simple and obvious fact? If you sculpted a world hanging in the void of space and intended it to rotate your options for shape are a little limited. Round or...well round is about all you get. Earth would have been much more interesting as a ringworld but oh well. Maybe next time.

I really worry about that line 'he created the stars also' because there are an awful lot of stars. IN the milky way alone there are hundreds of billions. Our galaxy is not unique either, there are billions if not trillions of galaxies out there. I cannot convey the scope and scale of the universe. No one can. It's like our brain only evolved to suit life on a single planet that would never discover our true place in the cosmos. No wait! I mean its like our brain was designed to only comprehend life on earth and nowhere else ever.

Lastly the whole Adam before Eve thing just makes me wonder. See dudes have a Y chromosome which is basically a retarded X chromosome. See our reproductive gear is much simpler since we don't gestate babies we just spam out the Y's. You'd think that would imply that females would come first and then men would be derived from them but that's not what the bible says so I must be wrong.

I hope at least one person found some enlightenment from this post. I would also like to provide shout outs to Biblegateway and Christian Answers

It has been fun but now I must go. If anyone manages to read this and likes or dislikes feel free to comment as you will.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Every day is a good day to be an atheist...except the day you die.

I feel like I got pwnt at the Y today, and not just because I overdid it in the pool. I overheard some folks talking about their Atheist son and 'what to do' with him because of all the trouble his disbelief was causing.

Being the asshole that I am (hey I can admit fault every now and again) I stuck my big fat nose out and said 'Why don't you just let him believe what he wants and see if he stays an Atheist or comes back around.'

You always know its a bad sign when the three guys having a conversation are all bigger than you and they stop talking all at once.

"Because I don't want him to die and go to hell before he comes to his senses!" Replied the boy's father, a 40+ dude in a decent suit.

Shame, shame on me! I was hoping to be that random person that turned a bunch of angry thoughts into a more contemplative tone. Boy did my judgement fail! If I had a picture of those guys (not keen on the camera in the much hair...bleh!) I'd have to slap the ol' DO NOT WANT caption on it.

Granted I can sympathize with other parents when it comes to a limited number of issues. As the midget continues to grow that list will only grow longer. But it got me thinking about how I would feel if Alex came up to me at some point in high school and said 'Dad, I have done my research and concluded that I believe in scientology'

I would not take something like that lightly. In fact if my 40 year old self is much like my current, soon to be 26 year old self then I can already imagine the unruly tearing dilemma I will face at such a moment. Do I get angry, do I say 'well that's fine by me' or do I just burst out laughing that it was scientology out of all things.

One wonders.

However, and this is partially inspired by watching the Golden Compass last night, I am beginning to find my urge to smite stupidity and weirdness strangely waning. Although I write about it more than ever the actual intrinsic feeling just doesn't match what it once was. Perhaps this is a symptom of age but I wonder if it's a discovery of the limits of my concern.

After all while I do not believe in a lot of the strange, hokey and sometimes just downright retarded beliefs (homeopathic medicine, that means you!) I don't automatically hate on people for having them.

I guess what I really hate is when people limit the freedom of others to believe in what they want. And I say that meaning full well that everyone has the right to talk shit about beliefs of their own and others. Some times this will lead to feelings getting hurt but I would really love to see the way when someone in public could make a statement and it would be socially acceptable for a perfect stranger to say 'prove it, bitch!' And then passersby could join in the discussion.

I get chills just thinking about it.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Malevolent Design

Yes mate you've struck a rich vein of cynical consternation. And yet for all the discomfort caused by the truth distortion I begin to turn my scowl into a wicked little grin.

A revelation has come along sliver by tiny sliver into a cloud of one-dimensional razors. Here it is in short form. The longer version will follow suit later.

Even though I submit that Intelligent Design is undoubtedly false and arrogant beyond measure there are people that will leave this earth with their last thought being 'oh goodie, now i get to go to heaven and see my lord...'

That's when their brain shuts down and they get nothing. Or, to be optimistic and pull straight from the fat teat o' knowledge via Kurt Vonnegut it might be purple and there might be a hum. Hmm.

Before this turns into another tirade, unfocused and unkempt I will submit two simple tidbits.

First: Every one has been to a funeral or found out that someone died and felt like shit because words just don't suffice sometimes. It is very sad and on a day like that an Atheist really doesn't have a lot of comforting things to say. (In case there is any doubt never use the term 'worm food' at a funeral, jesus christ)

But so what. Every other day of your life the Atheist has more reason to be hopeful than the believer. Even though no one is watching, and no punishment or reward is to be had once we doff this mortal coil I submit that every day lived for this life is better than a lifetime just dragging your feet through life thinking about the great big ice cream van in the sky.

Second: Intelligence is a really tricky word. According to wikipedia...

Intelligence is a property of the mind that encompasses many related abilities, such as the capacities to reason, to plan, to solve problems, to think abstractly, to comprehend ideas, to use language, and to learn. There are several ways to define intelligence. In some cases, intelligence may include traits such as creativity, personality, character, knowledge, or wisdom. However, some psychologists prefer not to include these traits in the definition of intelligence.

Lots of words and the exact means and mechanism remains more or less clear to everyone if the definition isn't just a little hazy. I'll use a simple reduction to simply put that an entity possessing intelligence has the ability to analyze and process information in some format(s) that results in probable gains for that entity.

Simple, clunky, like a rollar skate with a severed foot still in it. Intelligence does not at any point require anything like human consciousness. It is hard to believe or accept but the part of our brain that we consider 'us' isn't really the most important. Think of a novice programmer sitting at a grossly over powered computer cluster. The system executes commands with infinitely greater speed and reliability than the human programmer and yet without those inputs the server cannot process much of anything. Consciousness is the hapless nerd, the rest of the brain is the super cluster.

Now in order for intelligence to make any sort of 'design' it has to carry some benefit or there is no gain and therefore no reason to waste energy on it. So there must be a reason not only for the design itself but the results of it as well. For example you can't design a perfect car that's 6 feet wide to drive on 3 foot wide roads.

Since ID relates to biological evolution we'll stick to that as our yard stick and we'll consider the pre-life universe as the 'road' onto which our 'cars' will be built. Certainly the cars themselves will be important as well as the features but so will the roads. And so will the road maker. THAT is where I hope to direct the most visceral of my arguments. For the road and the car function together and not in isolation.

And that interaction, as well as the individual features of both components, and their functions as whole entities is what I will shed my light upon.

And when I do...well, you'll just have to find out.

Ben sad sad man...

How many times have I seen a tiny vial of eye drops and thought...'wow' in that Ben Steinish voice.

More than I care to remember. And I remember the days when Jimmy Kimmel was just a stooge hanging out on Ben Stein's barstool. It was an excellent show, no doubt, but the current contest is not so amusing.

Expelled the movie. What a disheartening venture. A while back I watched a trailer and it struck me as being really awesome because it looked like an honest-to-the-flying-spaghetti-monster truthful look at the purported debate between ID and Evolutionary Theory. *I capitalize ID only to distinguish it from id*

But no. No no no no no. Having updated the trailer one can only wonder what has happened to the man calling roll in Ferris Bueller's day off. He is now apparently an ID proponent. Shame on you, Ben Stein. Shame on you!!

Setting aside my deep seated hatred for the slithery wiles of insinuative religious bullshit just for a moment I would like to make a simple comment. Free speech is awesome, I love it to death and I can't see myself living in an America without it. Your opinion is yours to keep or share or whatever you choose to do with it and that is fine by me.

Science, on the other hand, does not look kindly on 'free' speech. Opinion does not have any effect whatsoever on the speed of light through a vacuum. It does not alter the planck constant nor diminish the grasp of universal gravitation. Science doesn't give a flying fuck what you think unless you can test your theory and make predictions based upon it.

Further setting aside the mounting rage that threatens my blood vessels into flirting with spectacular rupture I concede that evolution is not law. Darwin was not a prophet. DNA is not the new gospel. Moreover there are more holes in the fossil record then there are craters on the moon. (That may or may not be true, FYI)

Ha! You might say. I have fallen victim to my own incomplete theory and there is no other alternative than some dipshit intelligence that spun life into existence. I admit nothing to this except that given the choice between random chaotic evolutionary forces hammering out the ecosystem we see today and some mystical dogooder that actually had the nerve to DESIGN the world this way I would choose the one with better evidence, not with more appealing arguments.

Many creationists are quick to throw out 'Darwin recanted' Guess what? He probably did not and even if he did who gives a shit!? Not me.

I don't care if after publishing 'The Origin of Species' Darwin changed his tune and said that finches were extra-dimensional beings who traveled through time destroying the critters that they did not like. It wouldn't matter a bit.

The idea itself is what comes into question. The modern theory of evolution is not simple natural selection as Darwin observed. It kills me to see how much progress biology has made since 1859.

I also admit freely that Natural selection is not enough to explain the origin of life, the perseverance of weird critters and the genetic diversity that we see in modern life. Luckily in the 148 intervening years between 1859 and 2007 science has come a long way.

There are a number of key features about the theory some are more important to people than others but none are so important, for me, as the genetic similarity that we see between creatures of similar origins. Case in point: Humans look, act and seem very similar to our closest relatives: the great apes.

We do not derive from any modern animal stock but it is easy to see how we could have shared a common ancestor. Naturally things have changed for us, but they have also changed for our primate cousins. Now this raises some interesting questions.

If evolution is a reasonable theory then similar animals would have similar DNA. We can make this point reasonable because if a single species branches into two groups then each of those groups will continue to move apart from each other. Bigger genetic differences imply longer seperation, more mutations and less chance of interbreeding.

Now if all life was designed by an external intelligence why the hell would he/she/it (hereafter referred to as 'shit') design it with such similarity between similar species. If we do not share our ancestry with the great apes WHY THE FUCK DO WE SHARE SIMILAR DNA!?!?!

Is that not enough to make you scratch your head and wonder. What possible reason is there for this deception? What sort of creator would purposefully do such a thing?

Think about it. And then consider, just for kicks, that the great apes have 48 chromosomes. Humans have 46. Whew, that was cloes. Different chromosomes, different species right? ID says that there's not continuity between species and never has nor ever will be. Good thing right?

Wrong. For the explanation just click here.

Tricky eh? The trial that Dr. Miller is referring to related to a school district fighting ID in the classroom. Specifically they were ripping on the science teachers having to read a statement that evolution is 'only a theory' and not the only one out there.


Well they lost, a victory for reason. Here's the problem as I see it. Religious types will kindly ignore previous examples of the church smashing on controversial scientific ideas such as a heliocentric solar system, spherical earth theory and the age of the earth being a few orders of magnitude older than claimed by so called young earth creationists.

Ask anyone if the earth is flat, revolves around the sun or is suspended in celestial aether and you will probably get a laugh and a resounding no. The earth is demonstrably round, the sun demonstrably the relative center of our solar system and radioactive dating methods such as potassium-argon (read more about the process here) prove that the earth itself is billions of years old.

More importantly if you look up at night, with the naked eye, you can see stars that are older than the supposed age of the earth. That is, if you can see the stars from your house. Since the figure fluctuates with new discoveries I'll just say that we presume the universe is older than 10 billion years. I've heard everywhere from 8-15 so I try to be vague.

I have no doubt that the universe is old as balls. True I don't know the exact number of years. I couldn't possibly. We may never have an estimate of the universe's age to within even a thousand years. I personally would be impressed if we could could nail it to within a million (considering the scale of the time needed to evolve a universe) Does that mean we throw out the notion of the age of the universe and demand that only She/He/IT knows?

No! That would be retarded. We don't chuck a good theory because it has loose ends. If we did science would not accomplish much of anything. Then where would we be?

Here's where things get tricky. I agree that science should challenge the status quo. If it did not challenge the status quo then it couldn't function. The very means by which science is accomplished is antithetical to human thinking.

I agree that potential ideas should not be discarded solely because they resist our current understanding. However, ID is not rejected so wholeheartedly by scientists and teachers and people with functioning brains because of moral, political or spiritual conflicts. It is so vehemently rejected because it IS NOT SCIENCE.

Oh but they have biologists and physicists to agree with them. True enough. But contrary to popular myth lone scientists rarely accomplish much of anything. It certainly appears that they have in the past see Einstein, Newton, Galileo and all the big heavy hitters of their respective eras but these men had contemporaries and a knowledge base built from the past up until their lifetime.

Strength in modern science does not derive from loners who have labratories up in dark shady places it happens in teams. You think Intel or IBM freelances chip design out to single people? They don't. You think individuals can manufacture nanoscale equipment? Well guess what, they can't.

I love science, odds are overwhelming that most people that enjoy it are alive today because of it in part or in whole. Now just because something butts heads with the status quo doesn't mean its a valid theory. Belief in anything supernatural will never be scientific BECAUSE if it is not a natural or observable process it cannot be tested, duplicated or verified independently.

Sorry ID, you lose right there. People's insistence that we give credence to nonsensical beliefs simply due to their popularity is not now and will never be anything approaching scientific.

Obviously science does not operate in a vacuum. Most of the research that's being done on planet earth is either to further or create something with tangible economic games. Never mind the benefits to society brought about by computers they sell like hotcakes in the developed world.

Once again I realize how big a piece I have bitten off and only managed to nibble around the edges. Here I will drop a nuke towards the core of the matter. ID is no better than creationism in terms of its usefulness to humanity. Granted it's a little different but it is no better at explaining the nature of the world.

ID serves no useful purpose. It is not testable. What is the criteria for what constitutes design versus happenstance? Species are not clear cut. Life is mutable. Genes are not the sole influence upon the world. People are animals and subject to the same forces, chemicals and weaknesses as any other animal. Culture-bearing creatures or not we are fucking primates!!

What more does it take people? Now I would hope no one makes a decision based solely on an emotional plea for one side or another. Therefore, non-existant readers, I intend to take a stand against this bullshit. And I shall now make this claim that my first, perhaps only, work of non-fiction will be a condemnation of Intelligent Design.

I retain the hope that Ben Stein is just using this movie to lure people in and then blind side them with an opposing message. This I hope, but we shall see.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Time just rolls on...

Over a month has passed but I doubt that I have offended anyone in my absence. Once I get a few things smoothed out I will try and post something with some more substance. In the meantime consider this...