The Science - Science Fiction thread

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  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 7,471
    @Darth and @Anon don't get me wrong, I'm not out here trying to 'convert' (or would that be de-convert?) anyone out of his/her belief(s). I'm just using (light) logic for the fun of it. What I share with you guys is a lust for wondering, enjoying and discovery. I can be amazed by just about anything out there. I can be thrilled by a buggy landing on Mars and be awestruck by the pictures send from space. But I can also wonder about the beauty and elegance of the honeybee. All I want people to do is question just about anything. Question science, question religion, question what politicians are doing.

    IMO the whole concept of god is a psychological trick, based on our instincts to live in small groups with one leader. We have those instincts for that was our survival tactic whilst running around on the plains. (Organised) religion uses the same trick. It's always Us (the right ones, believers in the right god) against them (Pagans, heretics, etc.). It's all about forming groups who can count on eachother. And even though I'm a natural loner, I do have the same instincts. However in my family we've learned to recognise them and neglect them. I'm not saying it's a good thing though, people find genuine happiness amongst their own group. They satisfy a sense of belonging.

    What I find fascinating is that in this we are a bit catlike. If you put a group of housecats together, they'll form a social structure similar to that of lions. One male leader with a group of females doing most of the hunting. But they can also operate like loners, like cheetahs do.

    Anyway, i digress. I was just having a little fun with the concept, and don't forget, disagreeing is the whole basis of science as we know it ;)
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    Thank you gentlemen for elevating the debate to a somewhat higher quality than usual around here.

    I would like to address Darths rather honest comments as I fail to get my head around them.

    You are clearly an intelligent guy who appreciates the wonders of the universe through science but then you say that you believe in God. In my mind I fail to reconcile this wholly, to my mind, contradictory position.

    You point out all the holes in scientific knowledge such as the inside of black holes and the cause of the big bang which are of course true but I don’t understand why you, as someone who seems to have a sound grasp of the laws of physics, should then decide in your head that God is the best thing to rush in to fill those vacuums in our understanding any more than the well known flying spaghetti monster?

    As you say theres no harm in believing in God as a hobby as long as you keep it to yourself and it doesn’t affect anyone else but I’m interested in why you make the decision to take a leap of faith on such an improbable theory?

    I take it you drive or take flights but on the basis of believing in the existence of God you shouldn’t as the statistical likelihood of dying in either form of transport is infinitely higher than there being a God; yet you choose to believe in God but not that you will die the moment you get in a car or plane. I’m sorry but I fail to understand the logic of that position.

    Or is it that you are employing a form of Pascals wager in that deep down you don’t believe but you are just hedging your bets in case?

    In any event, as you seem to be someone who understands and accepts the physical laws of the universe I also fail to see what God does for you. If we say that God takes over at the point where our laws break down at best he is responsible for setting off the big bang which granted is pretty impressive but everything that followed was cause and effect. So the most you can say about him is that he set everything in motion but after that left us all on our own. So I don’t understand how people can take any solace in him because as we have seen through history he is either unable or unwilling to intervene. Hes like a father who left the moment the mother was pregnant so anything the child grows up to be is no thanks to him. Mind you now I am tempted to think of Johnny Cash’s ‘A Boy Named Sue’ so perhaps the point is He just leaves us to work everything out for ourselves?

    I like your question on why is it we humans have developed emotions and feelings which is a whole different philosophical area and is perhaps as big a mystery as the origins of the universe. However I would be willing to bet it is the result of some sort of chemical reaction rather than God and for all we know all animals may have such feelings and self awareness but are just without sufficient evolutionary development to have the means to communicate them to us.

    I guess to sum up I find it confusing how you say you can understand and appreciate science yet still ‘believe’ as to me they are fundamentally opposing positions.

    I don’t mean to criticise here and as you say you are perfectly entitled to believe what you want and I hope it brings you some happiness in your life but it just seems to me a rather curious position to take.
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    edited August 2012 Posts: 22,020
    @TheWizardOfIce

    Firstly, friend, I feel by no means criticised by your comments, which, I must confess, I have read and reread with great pleasure. Religious beliefs are, on the whole, a confusing subject matter, especially when painting them on the same canvas with science.

    Let me perhaps start from a different point. I developed a genuine Christian belief (but swiftly molded a version more befitting myself out of that) a few years before I began to seriously study science. Then the time came when physics and chemistry brought me lots of pleasure, wisdom (I hope this doesn't come off as too arrogant) and general insight in the universe. I became very critical towards everything, even openly questioning the first atomic models though I hadn't learned a thing about quantum physics yet at that point. My teacher, back then, praised that sceptic attitude and when the newer atomic models were introduced in later years, my earlier suspicions where confirmed. Thus, I began to think of myself as a scientist with a firm loyalty towards the empirical methods and also towards Popper's argument of falsification. On the day of graduation, I decided I could now officially consider myself a scientist; that piece of paper beautifully phrased what had been in my blood for so long.

    But one curiosity remained. Throughout all those years of school and college, after all those books on the subject of science, its goals and methods, my spiritual beliefs never vanished. Obviously I shook off pretty much all varieties of biblical 'spectacle', leaving fancy miracles and omnipotent saints at the door. The Church, to me, is what it is: an institution forged by people, ruled by people and abused by people to commit terrible atrocities on other people. While I take pleasure in visiting my town's church for its beautiful art, historical meaning (when my town had fallen under Nazi occupation in WWII) and its quiet, serene atmosphere, I by no means treat it as holier ground than my living room or the forests I like to take a walk in all by myself. So you see, I am a very liberal religious person, treating God as a spiritual companion, not as a demonic force that orders me around or instils fear in my heart, nor as the god all men and women on Earth should worship exactly like I do.

    Some people stay clear by means of talking to a psychiatrist, playing jazz, listening to opera's undisturbed, slowly emptying a bottle of whine, feeding pigeons or little ducklings near a lake... Others seek out for themselves extreme sports, questionable substances, experimental forms of art, each time meant to drain the body and mind of negative, stress-related energy. And then again, some people believe in an existence which may not be easily defined through human vocabulary, or physical terms for that matter, in whom they seek comfort and perhaps guidance, someone to talk to, a dimensionless friend if you like.

    Of course it is inevitable after a while to start asking existential questions concerning God, because unlike jazz or sports, here one assumes an entity rather than merely taking part in a particular human activity. Being a scientist makes it even harder to avoid such questions, but it makes answering them all the more intriguing. To be fair, as a scientist I can be certain of many things but I am by no means certain of anything god-related. There's only out-of-the-box reasoning, really, trying to fill in the blanks, and feeling satisfied when more or less succeeding. Obviously, I do not apply any empirical methods here and I must treat religious falsification as almost contradictory. Since the truth can never be known, what's there to falsify anyway?

    I appreciate that you refer to me as someone who has a more or less intelligent view on things, through my scientific understanding of the universe that is. However, as far as my theorizing about God is concerned, I certainly wouldn't claim any level of intelligent thinking, nor any lack thereof. I think that Faith has little to do with being intelligent. It's so personal a matter, an inner-universe ambition so to speak, that logic reasoning is not on the menu. This is precisely why I find it so hard to talk about it, because I don't think any two people can possibly be on the same page in matters like these, which is different in the case of science, of course.

    Lastly, you are correct when you say that linking the physical mysteries of the universe to the mysticism of religious beliefs may not entirely stand the test of logic and scientific integrity. And emotions are indeed the result of biochemical activity, no doubt there. I guess I was merely attempting critical interjections to a discussion that dealt with disproving something from column A by means or arguments derived from column B, when both columns are nothing alike. By deliberately supplying partially false arguments I was hoping to demonstrate that by the same logic (a by no means stable one), perhaps God could be kept in the scientific game as much as out of it. I was merely playing the devil's advocate in a discussion that, while interesting and educational, didn't quite work with waterproof lines of reasoning.

    Overall, I don't encourage getting science and religion mixed up too intricately. Science is about people discovering the building blocks of the universe and the forces that govern their behaviour. Religion is about an individual expression of vague and dimensionless feelings and desires. I suppose it's like love. I express it through poetry, which only my girlfriend gets to read. I feel it though it's hard to explain (and in fact I don't think it needs explaining). It manifests itself in the most private, intimate moments shared by no other people than my girlfriend and myself - of course. And obviously I won't even bother trying to find mathematical expressions that help me to explain and predict the outcome of every romantic pulse that flourishes inside me. Religion is a bit like that. It's entirely disconnected, for me at least, from anything worldly and by all means it's my business and mine alone. While I respect certain forms of communal religious celebrations, I fear they are often too impersonal, too doctrine-infused and too much on the brink of stimulating people into the most insane forms of hatred towards those who don't think the same way. We all know where that could lead to after all...

    I have not problems with people who dismiss religion as bogus. In fact, I find processing their arguments interesting and stimulating. My favourite all-time author, Dr. Isaac Asimov, who besides being a great Sci-Fi writer was also a scientist with great didactic skills and someone who enjoyed philosophizing about a great many things, never concealed his personal animosity towards religion. Arthur C. Clarke, my second favourite all-time author, took this even further, although his novels were astonishingly spiritual at times. Yet I do not feel personally attacked, nor do I feel my Faith weakened by the respect and intellectual authority both men still command, even after their death. Again, you will find an extremely modest believer in me, something who will admit to believing when asked (the alternative would be foolish and weak anyway), but the true content of my beliefs are my business alone. My girlfriend doesn't have any religious beliefs and if we ever have children, they can make the choice for themselves. I will never try to hold religious sway over my family. In fact, I am a lot stricter in other matters. I won't tolerate nonsense like 'the Big Bang Theory is false because the Bible / Koran / ... says so'. But if they need a private moment, as long as it doesn't involve hurting themselves or others (physically or intellectually), or if they don't, frankly I won't care. And I will never mention to my girlfriend the things I contemplate when I seek half an hour of privacy, walking through the forest, so long as they involve my take on spirituality. In fact, she knows I have some Faith, but we never speak about it, and as far as I'm concerned, it will never be brought up. I don't want her to experience any discomfort from this in her entire life. Her happiness is my mission in life, and religion shan't ever be my tool in achieving that goal; I may be principal about a lot of things, but religion isn't part of it. In fact, I'm only principal about showing religions that nonsensically try to disprove scientific fact on the basis of what is written in some book or what it preached by some figure of religious authority to the door. I am a scientist and a believer, very defensive in terms of the first, completely liberal in terms of the latter.
  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 7,471
    @Darth great post! i'd love to react now but I don't have the time. As an entrepeneur even sundays are workdays. All I'll say now is that i find it very intriguing you're using the concept of (a) god passed down through our western culture to, let's put it this way, 'fill in the blanks' (not in a scientific, but more in an emotional way). I personally used to think my Grandfather was around to help me on my merry way. I guess we all use something to fill those emotional blanks. Anyway, got to go, but still, great post!
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    DarthDimi wrote:
    @TheWizardOfIce

    Firstly, friend, I feel by no means criticised by your comments, which, I must confess, I have read and reread with great pleasure. Religious beliefs are, on the whole, a confusing subject matter, especially when painting them on the same canvas with science.

    Let me perhaps start from a different point. I developed a genuine Christian belief (but swiftly molded a version more befitting myself out of that) a few years before I began to seriously study science. Then the time came when physics and chemistry brought me lots of pleasure, wisdom (I hope this doesn't come off as too arrogant) and general insight in the universe. I became very critical towards everything, even openly questioning the first atomic models though I hadn't learned a thing about quantum physics yet at that point. My teacher, back then, praised that sceptic attitude and when the newer atomic models were introduced in later years, my earlier suspicions where confirmed. Thus, I began to think of myself as a scientist with a firm loyalty towards the empirical methods and also towards Popper's argument of falsification. On the day of graduation, I decided I could now officially consider myself a scientist; that piece of paper beautifully phrased what had been in my blood for so long.

    But one curiosity remained. Throughout all those years of school and college, after all those books on the subject of science, its goals and methods, my spiritual beliefs never vanished. Obviously I shook off pretty much all varieties of biblical 'spectacle', leaving fancy miracles and omnipotent saints at the door. The Church, to me, is what it is: an institution forged by people, ruled by people and abused by people to commit terrible atrocities on other people. While I take pleasure in visiting my town's church for its beautiful art, historical meaning (when my town had fallen under Nazi occupation in WWII) and its quiet, serene atmosphere, I by no means treat it as holier ground than my living room or the forests I like to take a walk in all by myself. So you see, I am a very liberal religious person, treating God as a spiritual companion, not as a demonic force that orders me around or instils fear in my heart, nor as the god all men and women on Earth should worship exactly like I do.

    Some people stay clear by means of talking to a psychiatrist, playing jazz, listening to opera's undisturbed, slowly emptying a bottle of whine, feeding pigeons or little ducklings near a lake... Others seek out for themselves extreme sports, questionable substances, experimental forms of art, each time meant to drain the body and mind of negative, stress-related energy. And then again, some people believe in an existence which may not be easily defined through human vocabulary, or physical terms for that matter, in whom they seek comfort and perhaps guidance, someone to talk to, a dimensionless friend if you like.

    Of course it is inevitable after a while to start asking existential questions concerning God, because unlike jazz or sports, here one assumes an entity rather than merely taking part in a particular human activity. Being a scientist makes it even harder to avoid such questions, but it makes answering them all the more intriguing. To be fair, as a scientist I can be certain of many things but I am by no means certain of anything god-related. There's only out-of-the-box reasoning, really, trying to fill in the blanks, and feeling satisfied when more or less succeeding. Obviously, I do not apply any empirical methods here and I must treat religious falsification as almost contradictory. Since the truth can never be known, what's there to falsify anyway?

    I appreciate that you refer to me as someone who has a more or less intelligent view on things, through my scientific understanding of the universe that is. However, as far as my theorizing about God is concerned, I certainly wouldn't claim any level of intelligent thinking, nor any lack thereof. I think that Faith has little to do with being intelligent. It's so personal a matter, an inner-universe ambition so to speak, that logic reasoning is not on the menu. This is precisely why I find it so hard to talk about it, because I don't think any two people can possibly be on the same page in matters like these, which is different in the case of science, of course.

    Lastly, you are correct when you say that linking the physical mysteries of the universe to the mysticism of religious beliefs may not entirely stand the test of logic and scientific integrity. And emotions are indeed the result of biochemical activity, no doubt there. I guess I was merely attempting critical interjections to a discussion that dealt with disproving something from column A by means or arguments derived from column B, when both columns are nothing alike. By deliberately supplying partially false arguments I was hoping to demonstrate that by the same logic (a by no means stable one), perhaps God could be kept in the scientific game as much as out of it. I was merely playing the devil's advocate in a discussion that, while interesting and educational, didn't quite work with waterproof lines of reasoning.

    Overall, I don't encourage getting science and religion mixed up too intricately. Science is about people discovering the building blocks of the universe and the forces that govern their behaviour. Religion is about an individual expression of vague and dimensionless feelings and desires. I suppose it's like love. I express it through poetry, which only my girlfriend gets to read. I feel it though it's hard to explain (and in fact I don't think it needs explaining). It manifests itself in the most private, intimate moments shared by no other people than my girlfriend and myself - of course. And obviously I won't even bother trying to find mathematical expressions that help me to explain and predict the outcome of every romantic pulse that flourishes inside me. Religion is a bit like that. It's entirely disconnected, for me at least, from anything worldly and by all means it's my business and mine alone. While I respect certain forms of communal religious celebrations, I fear they are often too impersonal, too doctrine-infused and too much on the brink of stimulating people into the most insane forms of hatred towards those who don't think the same way. We all know where that could lead to after all...

    I have not problems with people who dismiss religion as bogus. In fact, I find processing their arguments interesting and stimulating. My favourite all-time author, Dr. Isaac Asimov, who besides being a great Sci-Fi writer was also a scientist with great didactic skills and someone who enjoyed philosophizing about a great many things, never concealed his personal animosity towards religion. Arthur C. Clarke, my second favourite all-time author, took this even further, although his novels were astonishingly spiritual at times. Yet I do not feel personally attacked, nor do I feel my Faith weakened by the respect and intellectual authority both men still command, even after their death. Again, you will find an extremely modest believer in me, something who will admit to believing when asked (the alternative would be foolish and weak anyway), but the true content of my beliefs are my business alone. My girlfriend doesn't have any religious beliefs and if we ever have children, they can make the choice for themselves. I will never try to hold religious sway over my family. In fact, I am a lot stricter in other matters. I won't tolerate nonsense like 'the Big Bang Theory is false because the Bible / Koran / ... says so'. But if they need a private moment, as long as it doesn't involve hurting themselves or others (physically or intellectually), or if they don't, frankly I won't care. And I will never mention to my girlfriend the things I contemplate when I seek half an hour of privacy, walking through the forest, so long as they involve my take on spirituality. In fact, she knows I have some Faith, but we never speak about it, and as far as I'm concerned, it will never be brought up. I don't want her to experience any discomfort from this in her entire life. Her happiness is my mission in life, and religion shan't ever be my tool in achieving that goal; I may be principal about a lot of things, but religion isn't part of it. In fact, I'm only principal about showing religions that nonsensically try to disprove scientific fact on the basis of what is written in some book or what it preached by some figure of religious authority to the door. I am a scientist and a believer, very defensive in terms of the first, completely liberal in terms of the latter.

    Thanks for your honesty. I still fail to see how a scientist can believe in something without any evidence but if it gets you through the day good luck to you as you keep it very private and are not bothered about forcing your views on anyone else. If only all religious people could follow your example Sir. You should be the Messiah.
  • Harry Harrison, writer whose book became Soylent Green, dies at 87
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 22,020
    RIP

    I'm unfamiliar with his work though. Could you tell me more about him?
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 22,020
    An exciting essay on Creationism by my favourite author.
  • Samuel001Samuel001 Moderator
    edited December 2012 Posts: 13,340
    Sir Patrick Moore has died age 89.

    He passed away at home after a brief spell in hospital.

    RIP

    :(
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 22,020
    A great astronomer. RIP
  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 7,471

    Don't worry, just grab your paintball gun and we'll all be allright!
    http://www.blastr.com/2012/10/mit-student-says-we-could.php

  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 22,020
    In any case, this isn't one that could pose real threat to us. Here's another intriguing possibility. ;-)
  • Posts: 1,817
    @DarthDimi, what do you think of Richard Feynman?
    I watched the interview called "The Pleasure of Finding Things Out" and I was fascinated by his ideas, not only about Physics but also on science, knowledge and religion ("the special stories".)
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 22,020
    Very interesting man. I have some of his notes though I find them very complex mathematically. Required additional studying for me but if I can find the time, I will do what I can. :-)
  • Posts: 1,817
    I've seen there's a collection called "The Feynman Lectures". I suppose they are very valuable to many students and teachers.
    And who would you say it's your favorite Physicist, @DarthDimi?
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 22,020
    0013 wrote:
    I've seen there's a collection called "The Feynman Lectures". I suppose they are very valuable to many students and teachers.
    And who would you say it's your favorite Physicist, @DarthDimi?

    Not an easy question, @0013. ;-)

    I'm fond of some of those 19th century physicists like Maxwell and Thomson, but so do I greatly respect the likes of Planck, Seaborg, Rutherford, Bohr, Einstein... It's tough for me to pick just one. ;-)

    You?

  • Posts: 1,817
    DarthDimi wrote:
    0013 wrote:
    I've seen there's a collection called "The Feynman Lectures". I suppose they are very valuable to many students and teachers.
    And who would you say it's your favorite Physicist, @DarthDimi?

    Not an easy question, @0013. ;-)

    I'm fond of some of those 19th century physicists like Maxwell and Thomson, but so do I greatly respect the likes of Planck, Seaborg, Rutherford, Bohr, Einstein... It's tough for me to pick just one. ;-)

    You?

    I don't know them as well as you probably do, but I found Feynman to be a very interesting man, but I'm also fascinated by the wide geniality of John von Neumann. I simply can't even understand many of the contributions of the latter, but how can one person innonvate in math, quantum theory, economics (game theory), and also program the first computer...? von Neumann is one of the biggest minds to walk on earth, despite his hawkish opinions.
    As in my field, which is Political Science, my favorite is Adam Przeworski.
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    edited June 2013 Posts: 22,020
    I’m a scientist – I never apologize for the truth
    By DarthDimi


    Earth was once thought to be flat. The heavens were considered a solid structure pulled over the Earth in the shape of a hemisphere, touching our planet at its farthest horizons. That is, if our flat disk had any boundaries at all, for perhaps Earth was simply a solid plane that stretched out endlessly. Even when the notion of a spherical Earth was finally accepted (at first only by a mere few), Earth was for the longest time believed to be an unmoving ball suspended at the centre of the ever rotating kingdom of the stars.

    Such views failed to hold up as strong scientific evidence against them was gathered by the likes of Galileo and Newton. Yet despite solid proof, some people were still unwilling to drop age-old ideas overnight. The Catholic Church, for example, forced Galileo to publically denounce his crazy theories, which he did for the sake of his own life. Logical reasoning, often following patient observations of the sky, was at first insufficient to convince many people, some of whom, we need to stress, merely pretended not to accept the truth for various reasons. But the fact remains that we know now, from photographs taken from space, from successful applications of Newton’s laws in technology (space travel, satellites, Mars landings) and from so much more, that those scientific concepts of old were basically correct. So why is it then that science has to always compete with stubbornness and inertia?

    Science often produces counterintuitive ideas. A flat Earth makes more sense to most people than a spherical Earth because from where we stand, Earth does indeed look flat and a spherical Earth introduces the problem of gliding off. The Earth doesn’t feel like it’s moving yet the Sun does notably move (it wakes up in the East, reaches its highest point in the South and goes back to sleep in the West, day after day after day…). So why would the Earth be orbiting the Sun when obviously it is the other way around? Scientists, apparently, turn our every day experiences upside down and inside out. Why would we believe such craziness?

    Because good scientists do not advance theories out of the blue. They conduct research, thoroughly test their hypotheses, allow others to falsify and/or verify their conclusions, and then subject those conclusions to even more severe stress tests. There’s no such thing as ‘just a theory’ in science like there is in police detective work on TV. A theory takes a long time to come into existence and once it’s generally accepted it is still treated with caution by scientists because better test equipment and a higher level of scientific sophistication might, in time, lead to modified or even radically altered versions of the theory. Such has for example frequently been the case with atomic theories in the past couple of centuries. In any case, science is honest. Unlike dogmatic religions, magic and superstition, science is open to criticism and continues to improve upon its own insights and theories. It persistently strives to better itself rather than to inflexibly cling to ancient views. After all, we know we do not fall off the spherical Earth because thanks to science we understand how gravity works. The same gravity explains why heliocentric views make sense while geocentric views do not. Well then, if science is a sincere and self-correcting structure, why does it take so much effort to get so many folks on the science wagon?

    The main problem, no doubt, is ignorance. Science uses math and previously established laws and principles to further expand its understanding of the universe. But to those who are scientifically illiterate or mathematically uneducated, whatever valid arguments or evidence a scientist brings to the table, read like gibberish. Religious fanatics, by contrast, use simple words and a lot of showmanship to combine simple ‘truths’ with easily digestible doctrine. Many a good soul falls for the trap of good sounding shams, whilst staying badly informed about the validity of science, its methods, achievements and repeated victory over superstition and magic. What can we do about that?

    Education is the answer. Even our youngest need to be well taught in the importance of science as our only chance for survival in the coming era of man, in the mechanisms behind scientific research, in all sorts of ethical implications to science’s seemingly unlimited desire for more knowledge and skills, and in its painful history full of obstacles imposed by fellow men. It’s easy then. Let’s educate our kids some more in the field of science. The problem is that certain political systems allow mad men to be elected as governor, mayor, minister… When they find their electorate gravitating more towards deceptive religious charades than to correct scientific reasoning, they abuse their power to mingle in school affairs and replace Darwinian Evolution with Creationism, Big Bang Theory with Genesis 101, condoms with aids, … It’s absolutely distressing to see how in this day and age, in which the importance of science cannot be overstated in our fight against the major challenges we are facing in our nearby future, scientific education is actually regressing in certain parts of the USA! In the Bible Belt it is practically forbidden to explore nature beyond the scope of the Old Testament. And while so many beautiful and amazing scientific advances are made in so many scientific disciplines, more and more people find themselves blinded from the truth, resorting to crazy talk. The mind reels when one thinks about where this is about to take us. We need a gazillion of well-educated scientists to fight our own self-destructive nature, yet instead we find many more people denouncing science as if they even have the intellectual choice to do that!

    I’m not sorry if a heliocentric solar system stands in the way of your religious pride. I’m not sorry if Darwinian Evolution makes you feel more modest in this universe than does the Bible. But I do feel sorry for you if you willingly slip back into the Middle Ages by putting a preacher’s words above those of a science text book. I do feel sorry for you if you rather squeeze out nonsense about the Earth being less than 10 000 years old when there’s undeniable proof it is in fact closer to 4,5 billion years old. I’m not sorry if nature can be explained satisfyingly without using the word ‘God’ even once. Above all, I will be sorry to find our species exterminating itself because stupidity rather than sanity triumphed in the final hour before our inevitable demise.

    But whatever happens, you will not blind me from the truth. For I am a scientist and I will not apologize for the truth.
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    edited June 2013 Posts: 9,117
    DarthDimi wrote:
    I’m a scientist – I never apologize for the truth
    By DarthDimi


    Earth was once thought to be flat. The heavens were considered a solid structure pulled over the Earth in the shape of a hemisphere, touching our planet at its farthest horizons. That is, if our flat disk had any boundaries at all, for perhaps Earth was simply a solid plane that stretched out endlessly. Even when the notion of a spherical Earth was finally accepted (at first only by a mere few), Earth was for the longest time believed to be an unmoving ball suspended at the centre of the ever rotating kingdom of the stars.

    Such views failed to hold up as strong scientific evidence against them was gathered by the likes of Galileo and Newton. Yet despite solid proof, some people were still unwilling to drop age-old ideas overnight. The Catholic Church, for example, forced Galileo to publically denounce his crazy theories, which he did for the sake of his own life. Logical reasoning, often following patient observations of the sky, was at first insufficient to convince many people, some of whom, we need to stress, merely pretended not to accept the truth for various reasons. But the fact remains that we know now, from photographs taken from space, from successful applications of Newton’s laws in technology (space travel, satellites, Mars landings) and from so much more, that those scientific concepts of old were basically correct. So why is it then that science has to always compete with stubbornness and inertia?

    Science often produces counterintuitive ideas. A flat Earth makes more sense to most people than a spherical Earth because from where we stand, Earth does indeed look flat and a spherical Earth introduces the problem of gliding off. The Earth doesn’t feel like it’s moving yet the Sun does notably move (it wakes up in the East, reaches its highest point in the South and goes back to sleep in the West, day after day after day…). So why would the Earth be orbiting the Sun when obviously it is the other way around? Scientists, apparently, turn our every day experiences upside down and inside out. Why would we believe such craziness?

    Because good scientists do not advance theories out of the blue. They conduct research, thoroughly test their hypotheses, allow others to falsify and/or verify their conclusions, and then subject those conclusions to even more severe stress tests. There’s no such thing as ‘just a theory’ in science like there is in police detective work on TV. A theory takes a long time to come into existence and once it’s generally accepted it is still treated with caution by scientists because better test equipment and a higher level of scientific sophistication might, in time, lead to modified or even radically altered versions of the theory. Such has for example frequently been the case with atomic theories in the past couple of centuries. In any case, science is honest. Unlike dogmatic religions, magic and superstition, science is open to criticism and continues to improve upon its own insights and theories. It persistently strives to better itself rather than to inflexibly cling to ancient views. After all, we know we do not fall off the spherical Earth because thanks to science we understand how gravity works. The same gravity explains why heliocentric views make sense while geocentric views do not. Well then, if science is a sincere and self-correcting structure, why does it take so much effort to get so many folks on the science wagon?

    The main problem, no doubt, is ignorance. Science uses math and previously established laws and principles to further expand its understanding of the universe. But to those who are scientifically illiterate or mathematically uneducated, whatever valid arguments or evidence a scientist brings to the table, read like gibberish. Religious fanatics, by contrast, use simple words and a lot of showmanship to combine simple ‘truths’ with easily digestible doctrine. Many a good soul falls for the trap of good sounding shams, whilst staying badly informed about the validity of science, its methods, achievements and repeated victory over superstition and magic. What can we do about that?

    Education is the answer. Even our youngest need to be well taught in the importance of science as our only chance for survival in the coming era of man, in the mechanisms behind scientific research, in all sorts of ethical implications to science’s seemingly unlimited desire for more knowledge and skills, and in its painful history full of obstacles imposed by fellow men. It’s easy then. Let’s educate our kids some more in the field of science. The problem is that certain political systems allow mad men to be elected as governor, mayor, minister… When they find their electorate gravitating more towards deceptive religious charades than to correct scientific reasoning, they abuse their power to mingle in school affairs and replace Darwinian Evolution with Creationism, Big Bang Theory with Genesis 101, condoms with aids, … It’s absolutely distressing to see how in this day and age, in which the importance of science cannot be overstated in our fight against the major challenges we are facing in our nearby future, scientific education is actually regressing in certain parts of the USA! In the Bible Belt it is practically forbidden to explore nature beyond the scope of the Old Testament. And while so many beautiful and amazing scientific advances are made in so many scientific disciplines, more and more people find themselves blinded from the truth, resorting to crazy talk. The mind reels when one thinks about where this is about to take us. We need a gazillion of well-educated scientists to fight our own self-destructive nature, yet instead we find many more people denouncing science as if they even have the intellectual choice to do that!

    I’m not sorry if a heliocentric solar system stands in the way of your religious pride. I’m not sorry if Darwinian Evolution makes you feel more modest in this universe than does the Bible. But I do feel sorry for you if you willingly slip back into the Middle Ages by putting a preacher’s words above those of a science text book. I do feel sorry for you if you rather squeeze out nonsense about the Earth being less than 10 000 years old when there’s undeniable proof it is in fact closer to 4,5 billion years old. I’m not sorry if nature can be explained satisfyingly without using the word ‘God’ even once. Above all, I will be sorry to find our species exterminating itself because stupidity rather than sanity triumphed in the final hour before our inevitable demise.

    But whatever happens, you will not blind me from the truth. For I am a scientist and I will not apologize for the truth.

    Without doubt the wisest, most lucid and erudite thing I have ever read on here (my own posts aside obviously).

    This should be required reading in every school.

    I humbly tip my hat to you in adulation Sir which is not something the Wizard does lightly.
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 22,020
    Without doubt the wisest, most lucid and erudite thing I have ever read on here (my own posts aside obviously).

    This should be required reading in every school.

    I humbly tip my hat to you in adulation Sir which is not something the Wizard does lightly.

    @TheWizardOfIce
    Thank you kindly, sir. :)>- :)>- :)>-

    Let's just say I've been both angry and terrified since the day I discovered that many folks actually choose unnatural ideas over that which can be arrived at via mathematical logic and objective methods, in all fairness and openness and with countless of applications and further explanations derived from it.

    Idiocy is everywhere these days.
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    edited February 2013 Posts: 9,117
    DarthDimi wrote:
    Without doubt the wisest, most lucid and erudite thing I have ever read on here (my own posts aside obviously).

    This should be required reading in every school.

    I humbly tip my hat to you in adulation Sir which is not something the Wizard does lightly.

    @TheWizardOfIce
    Thank you kindly, sir. :)>- :)>- :)>-

    Let's just say I've been both angry and terrified since the day I discovered that many folks actually choose unnatural ideas over that which can be arrived at via mathematical logic and objective methods, in all fairness and openness and with countless of applications and further explanations derived from it.

    Idiocy is everywhere these days.

    Thats why America terrifies me as much as Iran - if you 'come out' as an atheist you wont get near the White House.

    Can anyone outline the inherent difference between George W with his finger on the button and receiving his instructions from 'God' and Ahmedinajad getting hold of a nuke in terms of threat to global security?
  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 7,471
    Darth, I don't know what riggered you to post this, but I love statements like these. They give hope for the future. Therefore I'd like to borrow your text? Some girl from South Africa has befriended me on FB, why I don't know, I don't know her, but she seems a religious fanatic. This seems the best post I could make to introduce myself.
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 22,020
    Darth, I don't know what riggered you to post this, but I love statements like these. They give hope for the future. Therefore I'd like to borrow your text? Some girl from South Africa has befriended me on FB, why I don't know, I don't know her, but she seems a religious fanatic. This seems the best post I could make to introduce myself.

    @CommanderRoss
    Be my guest, dear friend. :-)
    Please let us know how she responded. :)
  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 7,471
    well, she unfriended me again without saying a word, so she must've thuoght me to be someone else. but i'll keep it for a next opportunity!
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 22,020
    well, she unfriended me again without saying a word, so she must've thuoght me to be someone else. but i'll keep it for a next opportunity!

    Or she ended up so disgusted by your derisive lack of religious self-slavery and your demonic attempts at assuaging her own unconditional dependence on certain biblical dogmas, that she unfriended you and - perhaps - organized a hunting party to get you burned at the stake. ;-)
  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 7,471
    DarthDimi wrote:
    well, she unfriended me again without saying a word, so she must've thuoght me to be someone else. but i'll keep it for a next opportunity!

    Or she ended up so disgusted by your derisive lack of religious self-slavery and your demonic attempts at assuaging her own unconditional dependence on certain biblical dogmas, that she unfriended you and - perhaps - organized a hunting party to get you burned at the stake. ;-)
    I hope so! she's quite a looker! :-D She and her girlfriends are more then welcome to hunt for me. That burning though at the stake though... well.. i know more fun things to do..

  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 22,020
    Tell her that meteor in Russia was a punishment from the Heavens to those who don't attend Church enough. ;-)
  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 7,471
    DarthDimi wrote:
    Tell her that meteor in Russia was a punishment from the Heavens to those who don't attend Church enough. ;-)
    I'd rather tell her those rocks from space are the first signs of the upcoming apocalypse, and the safest place to survive the end of time is my bed. That has so many inconsistencies in one sentence, it's like the bible, so she must fall for it :-D

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