Saturday, November 18, 2006


Quote of the day: "I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life, I absenteed myself from Christian assemblies." - Benjamen Franklin

Interesting quote from good old Ben. Is it true that all truly deep thinking humans ultimately come to the conclusion that faith and religion lead either to no where or at lest to no good? Certainly it has been the case that religion encourages one to stop thinking and give one's self over to faith. If true questioning is allowed to follow its natural course some very big unanswerable questions naturally arise. Religion then has to take the fall back position that some things are by their nature un-answerable . . . . which makes them holy. I contend that the existence of things being un-answerable by their nature is impossible and in any case how would that make them holy? What does holy even mean?


A good friend of mine, an admitted theist, and I tried to carry on a reasonable back and forth on atheism/theism. It was interesting and frustrating. The short version is that it turns out there is no arena in which to have such a discussion. No common ground. The discussion turned out to be simply arumentative. My friend continually took the tack that science doesn't really know anything either. Trying to drag skepticism down to the level of mysticism. I argued, of course, that my claims were repeatedly testable by independent investigators - something theists can never claim. After a bit we just let it go as the whole discussion became uninteresting.

Evolution Thoughts

You'd think that a well thought out and established pardigm like evolution wouldn't find a place in a blog about religion. Of course we all know better due to the tempest in a teapot created by a few fanatical 'Creationists'. Like giving your faith in magic a new name would put it on par with a skeptical, self correcting scientific theory. Some thoughts on the matter. . .

Darwin didn't start out thinking, "I'm gonna go find me some evidence for evolution". The idea of evolution itself evoloved from the preponderance of the evidence. You'd have to be a complete idiot to deny in what direction the evidence points. A 'Creationist' on the other hand pretends he is a scientist even though he only has one axe to grind and is blind to all else. This is not the healthy skepticism in which truth is ultimately discovered

No one actally working in the field of biology/anthropology/you name it...pays any attention to creationist thought. The paradigm of evolution and natural selection is the template for all study in these many fields...BECAUSE IT WORKS! The press can make it look like an even handed argument and a close contest. There is no contest at all in working science. Just another way to get people to watch your news show.

Actually, one of the more interesting arguments against natural selection is the existence of the eye. The argument goes somethingn like this: Since evolution makes ever better versions of things, how could an eye evolved from a less than perfect eye? What good would an eye be that couldn't see? Therefore the eye must have been created all at once by a superior intelligence.

There are at least 3 things wrong with this argument.

1. At every stage of evolution an organism is perfect. It is not a faulty working version of a later stage. It doesn't work that way. Improvements are made but not to correct bad design but only to improve already working design.

2. There is a nice sequence of designs from which the modern eye has evolved. The latest version which uses a lens to create images on a retina did not come from a version that made bad or out of focus images. It evolved from light sensing organs which are usefull to turn oneself toward the light. Here's a brief article about this. Also, November '06 National Geographic has a nice series of diagrams showing how the eye may have evolved from basic light gathering cells. It is interesting to note that starting with a cell that is a little sensitive to light evolves to putting that cell at the bottom of a tube. This gives you a little directionality. The tube then began to close up at the top creating a pin hole which, as all kids used to know, is a basic pin-hole camera. That is, it is a basic image former with no lens per se. Lens and iris are then improvements on this already functional design.

3. As with all things like this, to say that 'God made it' is no answer at all but only opens up a whole new line of inquiry. If God did it, HOW did he do it. If there is an effect there must be a cause. To say God did it is to say I don't understand. This should not be an end to thinking but a beginning.

That's it for now...have a reasonable day!