Posts Tagged ‘Science

20
Feb
12

Phony ‘-ologies’

Rick Santorum, the William Jennings Bryan Memorial Presidential Candidate, says of his opposition to Obama,

It’s about…some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible… .

I say that Santorum has some phony biology, geology, climatology, ecology, and (probably) darn near any other ‘-ology’ that exists – because he bases (or imagines he bases) EVERYTHING on the Bible. Well, the Catholic Bible maybe. There are other Bibles, which I expect that he regards as ‘impure’ at best.

But then, what I have to say about Santorum is irrelevant, isn’t it? He wasn’t talking about THOSE ‘ologies’, as he made perfectly clear:

The Catholic church has a Theology that says this is wrong…the President of the United States is exercising his values and trumping the values of the church.

There, now it’s settled. Move along now. There’s nothing to see here. There *is* something to see below the typographical flourish.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Santorum’s prompt revisionist explanation for his recent judgemental comments is that “I was talking about the radical environmentalists.” His objection is to

…things that frankly are just not scientifically proven, for example, the politicization of the whole global warming debate… .

Ohhhhh ! So Santorum IS talking about my ‘-ologies’. Pardon me, his superior level of intellectual disposition has left me a wee bit confused.

Well, of course he is referring to the scientific ‘-ologies’ as well as to theology. William Jennings Bryan was not the first, and Rick Santorum will not be the last, to couple scientific viewpoints to morality, theology, etc. It is that coupling which promotes “politicization” of specific scientific topics, narrowly discussed only in superficial and emotional terms that the lay public willingly assimilates. The bulk of science proceeds irrespective of this phony coupling, producing a continual stream of advances in human knowledge to the betterment of all – even of those who would eviscerate science.

It has been done before. It can happen in America. The Soviet Communist fascist state decreed which scientific principles were acceptable to its ideology – or theology: “Whatever you want to call it, it’s a [sic] different moral values.” The resulting stagnation of science left the USSR with viable scientific work only in those fields which were relevant to such words as ‘bomb’, ‘gun’, and ‘rocket’.

It is beyond dispute that the Santorums of the world feel morally threatened by science. It is disputed only among the fearful and the ignorant that science is the one area of human endeavor where we may, if we permit ourselves, reach truths with minimal blemish from our preconceptions.

This is why the best leaders heed the guidance of those who are especially knowledgeable in biology, geology, climatology, ecology, physics, chemistry, and many more fields of science. Hindu, Moslem, Jewish, Buddhist, Christian, and atheist scientists will have different theologies. Their scientific work is objectively unrelated to, and unbiased by, personal ‘-ologies’.

We must have the best leaders, else it may happen as in the Scopes ‘Monkey’ trial. That judge expunged William Jennings Bryan’s Santorum-like testimony. The harsh Judge of History could expunge all of President Santorum’s theology, and the shreds of America’s great scientific culture, from prominence in the world.

03
Dec
10

Science Gave Us Josef Mengele

And science also gave us Josef Mengele‘s experiments and vivisections on pregnant women during WWII. Science cannot even tell us what energy is. They don’t know what it is.
God created the universe.

This was the last comment that I responded to in a discussion which was supposed to be about an interesting and important bit of scientific research. Some folks cannot bear to see science discussed openly and critically. My response is that certain polemic tactics are unsuitable for discussion. I will not participate in a discussion with this pathetic person again. This person is not a singular blemish on rationality and decency: there is filth such as “Cuomo’s Anti-Christian Worship Of Science Once Led To Medical Atrocities Committed By The Nazis“.

I offer, here, in contrast to the blatantly false assertion above, some of the things that Religion – Christianity in particular – and Science have actually given us. These things are not a comprehensive, or even a balanced, list. This is a blog serving only to rid the world of at least a fragment of the vicious lie quoted above.

Christianity has given us justifications & rationalizations for many cultural and social errancies. This list begins with slavery and the suppression & subjugation of women. Those alone are almost enough.

Old and New Testament scriptures have been misinterpreted by Christians, causing the Christian religion to become an imperialistic war-mongering religion, whose adherents have believed that they were instructed by God to invade the homelands of non-Christian peoples, take possession of their lands and resources, annihilate many of the indigenous inhabitants as well as subjugate and exploit the remaining innocent indigenous peoples. – Thomas Ivan Dahlheimer

As for atrocities comparable to Mengele’s, Christianity has given us a portion of those: assaults upon peoples with other religions ; assaults upon other Christians, such as The Troubles in Northern Ireland ; associations of Televangelists such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson with thugs Charles Taylor and Efraín Ríos Montt ; and a substantial list, “What About Atrocities That Have Been Done in the Name of Religion?“. The “What About …” list is a Christian source which classifies religions such as Islam as “Atheist”.

Yes, Nazis have contributed. We know of The Holocaust which killed millions:

German Christian Movement Badge

By defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord- Adolf Hitler, ‘ Mein Kampf ‘

Many historical figures, who are familiar to my readers, have offered their candid observations about Christianity:

I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good… Our goal is a Christian Nation. We have a Biblical duty; we are called by God, to conquer this country. We don’t want equal time. We don’t want pluralism. – Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue

‘O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; . . . help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land. . . . We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love.’ – Mark Twain, published posthumously in 1923

During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.” James Madison, April 1, 1774

Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause. – George Washington, letter to Sir Edward Newenham, June 22, 1792

Hitler Youth Day Badge 1933

Mengele’s semi-divine Fuhrer’s contributions may be perused at “Hitler’s Christianity“.

What of Science? There isn’t a single religion that can offer reliable predictions about anything in Nature. Even if “Science cannot even tell us what energy is”, it does a great job of faking it. Science has created mankind’s supreme mastery of energy. In forms from the dense to the diffuse, common folks use energy in ways for which no religion has offered the slightest whiff of a contribution.

Science has created cures for an immense array of diseases and maladies. Science (and, interestingly, Big Government and World Government) has succeeded in a historic public-health project – the eradication of smallpox, which was a major source of misery and death.

Do not be mislead. I continue my Christian life for its substantial value. The example of Christ is essential to my life. Science is also a central element of my life. May we all appreciate our religions, or lack of religion, and our understanding of the natural world objectively and without propagandistic accusations.

14
Nov
10

Settle It Therefore In Your Hearts

5 And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said,

6 As for these things which ye behold, the days will come,
in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

7 And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be?
and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?

8 And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name,
saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.

9 But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified:
for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.

10 Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:

11 And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences;
and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.

12 But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you,
and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons,
being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake.

13 And it shall turn to you for a testimony.

14 Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer:

15 For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.

16 And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends;
and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.

17 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.

18 But there shall not an hair of your head perish.

19 In your patience possess ye your souls.

Pastor Eisenhauer spoke to us today about this passage, which quotes the Christian God Incarnate. I have heard many sermons and comments about it in my decades of attention to the Christian Scripture.

There are certain themes that are frequently used. It has certainly been popular throughout my lifetime to emphasize Verse 12, regarding persecution. During my re-awakening as a Christian, during college, I was introduced to Russia for Christ. The persecution of all religions was (and is) a fixture of communist regimes, among others. There have been, and are, many organizations, such as Russia for Christ, which are concerned with religious persecution.

Persecutions and wars and natural disasters have been cited nearly continuously as evidence that the ‘End Times‘ are very close. The cautionary words of Verse 9 have been frequently ignored, even to the point of self-styled Prophets naming Anti-Christs and predicting sequences of events to come, even with dates certain. There are some who believe that their actions can speed events of Biblical Prophesy. Others cling to Verse 17, “ye shall be hated” to justify either simple obnoxiousness or religious sociopathy. Such selective adherence to the scriptures is the most foolish of devotions.

Prediction is most often the realm of science and Engineering. The predictions inherent in a scientific hypothesis are the means by which it may be tested, possibly falsified (the most glorious event in science!), and sometimes found to be worthy of trust as a practicable theory.

Engineering is the most explicit use of prediction. Engineering is a discipline which applies scientific theory at its most predictable level. Engineering work must be correct to a high probability, for lives, property, and time are often at risk.

This passage from the Book of Luke exemplifies Christianity’s valid avoidance of specific prediction. It instead emphasizes continuity of faith – integrity, patience, and trust.

Despite a plethora of commentary on this passage, I have never heard or read (not that I have read scholarly commentaries, which tend to be thorough) an exposition of Verses 13-15. I doubt that I ever will. The testimonies that I have heard and read are not consistent with Verses 14-15. Those testimonies have been dissapointing for being consistently practiced, repetitious, and uninspired. They have generally exhibited a reliance upon tradition and a self-pitying, complaining style. This has been a major factor in my disaffection with Christianity as it is practiced. Complaining is MY job, a blogger’s work. It is not the work directed by Jesus of Nazareth.

In your patience possess ye your souls.

27
Mar
10

Why I Have Always Wanted To Be A Teacher

One of my earliest friends at Caltech, Dr. K, gave me some excellent advice. After I described some of my twisted history from Caltech, he told me that I needed to write an essay on Why I Have Always Wanted To Be A Teacher. Being the open-minded procrastinator that I am, his advice languished on my frontal lobes for months. You may now witness my active response to his friendly and expert advice.

I am the son of a man who loved Science. Dad had an inquisitive and creative mind. Recreation and work were intertwined in his mind, for no recreation could go unstudied, and no job could escape at least a small exploitation for pleasure. It was unavoidable that I would be introduced to Great Wonders, by reading the perpetual supply of National Geographic magazines, by watching the great and beloved ‘Mr. Wizard‘, Don Herbert, or by faithfully reading The Amateur Scientist in ‘Scientific American‘ every month.

I have always loved Science and found joy in discovering nature.

School did not provide the stimulating experiences that I had at home. My classroom experiences were generally frustrating, especially for being a child who tried hard to behave well and as expected while other kids disrupted class.

I can make a difference in students’ experiences as a Teacher.

Several Teachers, in a few special moments that demonstrated their love for others and their ability to teach more than an academic subject, touched my life. My 4th-grade Teacher gave me a simple reassurance, something no other Teacher had devoted one minute to, that saved me from a debilitating personal shame. My 8th-grade Journalism Teacher, in a triumph of practicality over dogmatic control, used my sotto voce whisperings to admonish noisy classmates on the proper way to talk in class. My Senior English Teacher came to my defense when classmates protested my use of a word that they did not know. They complained about the ‘egghead’ vocabulary that ‘no one’ could know the meaning of. She told them that they were the ones who needed correction, and that they should take the opportunity to learn. She told them that I would not have used a word without knowing its meaning. Then, she trusted me enough to put me on the spot and asked me to define the word I had used.

My classroom experiences occasionally included valuable contributions to my life from Teachers.
I want to be like them.

My excellent public-school performance, dandy SAT scores, and guidance by Dad in writing college applications led me to attend the California Institute of Technology – Caltech. This was big-league stuff, a very selective admission to a great incubator of Scientists. I wanted to be a great Physicist. I discovered, through difficulties in college, that I did not yet have the discipline needed to achieve significant things in Science. I also was experiencing a period of spiritual growth, which gave me a heightened concern for the education of the general population, as compared to the education which advanced students experienced. I became determined to contribute to the advancement of Science understanding for the great majority of students who would not become Scientists.

Science research does not need me. Science education needs me.

Caltech did not appreciate my newly-asserted attitude. Caltech liked (oh – I checked: they still do) to quote Theodore Roosevelt, who, in an address at the Throop Institute (later Caltech) on March 21, 1911, called for “the one-hundredth man … with … cultural scientific training …”. They actually take that to mean Science first, culture second. That is fine, but it did not match my goals. When my academic struggles re-occurred, I had the privilege of meeting with the Academic Review Board. They were dis-impressed by my goal to teach, and I was offered an explicit and involuntary opportunity to study elsewhere.

Elsewhere was home. I returned to Springfield, attended MSU (then SMSU), and did what I could to end the agony of college. That meant taking the path of least resistance – a Physics degree. It also meant that, with a newly-acquired fiance, I did not have vast credentials to acquire the necessary employment to provide for The Kids’ Mom. I finagled a job as Test Equipment Technician at the Zenith TV factory. This evolved, in successive steps on the path of least resistance, into an Engineering career.

It was an accident of my life’s history that I did not start my career as a teacher.

The years as an Engineer were not devoid of contact with teaching. The Kids’ Mom was a Teacher (and a mighty good one). I provided occasional help for her preparation for Math and Science classes. Also, as occasionally happened in college, someone (often a co-worker) would need tutoring.

Tutoring, and helping a little with class prep, were too-infrequent
and eagerly-sought opportunities to teach.

Tutoring was strangely unsatisfying. No student ever needed to be tutored twice. Typically, they would seek tutoring while struggling with C‘s and D‘s. After a tutoring session, their test scores would raise by two or three grades – to A‘s and B‘s. They felt comfortable with the material and could handle it without further help.

I can accomplish the ultimate goal of teaching: teaching students to teach themselves.

One of the terminal conversations that I had with my last Engineering boss included a very brief discussion of mentoring. I suggested that my skills and experience were being misused, and that I could, as a minor element of my work, convey my skills and experience to other Engineers. That suggestion was not received favorably. The expedient of assigning me to plug some leak in the dike was judged to be necessary and a 100% full-time commitment.

The biggest disappointment from my Engineering career is that my employers placed no value on mentoring, and refused to devote resources to perpetuating experience and knowledge.

The Little Red-haired Girl has been amazingly supportive, despite the equally amazing frustration of the situation, during my hiatus from employment. She has listened patiently while I re-examined the prospect of becoming a Teacher. She told me “Go for it“. I love her for that. I also love her for being a Teacher – a person who was truly born to teach music. It makes me feel good to be close to such a fine Teacher.

It may not be a coincidence that both The Kids’ Mom and the Little Red-haired Girl are Teachers.

I have recently begun helping in several Middle School Science & Math classes for a few hours a week. It’s a good thing.

Today, Ms. C let me play Teacher. Her 6th-grade Science class got a short presentation on applications of quartz and other piezoelectric materials. It’s a big and noisy class (usually), but they were all quiet and pasted their eyes on me for 10 minutes! They eagerly asked interesting questions and they were interested in each other’s questions.

Today, I tutored a student, ‘Bob’. Bob has certain personal distractions that interfere with learning. I can see that there is progress despite the difficulty, and that my little academic assistance may make it a bit easier, some day, for Bob to overcome the distractions in life.

I have always wanted to be a Teacher because I can do it well, I can make a real difference, and I care about the people I teach.

16
Mar
10

The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Creation Truth

Our buddy, Johnny Kaje, got us going yesterday with ‘Day One-ish of the Big Silly Jesus Circus: Lies About Dinosaurs‘. This is a perceptive article by someone whose viewpoint is ‘reality-based’. Start there, and then come back here (ya gotta promise to come back!).

Dr. G. Thomas Sharp, founder of the Creation Truth Foundation, does presentations regarding what he considers to be the greatest threat to Christian families: secular thinking, especially “Darwinian evolutionism” (sic). Today, I attended a session ‘Mount St. Helens’ of his 3-day seminar.

Be Sharp, DoctorSharp {it is difficult for me to repeatedly use the appellation of “Dr.” for a title bestowed by a Bible College – yes, I know of some fine institutions – but I’d have to see some bona fides first} is not the sort of Intelligent Design Luddite that we usually encounter. He offers a sort of Creationist antithesis to I.D.. He makes no attempt to establish scientific validity for his beliefs: “If this were a scientific issue, it would already be solved … but, it’s religious” and “Creation and Evolution are 100% biases”. He asserts that his viewpoint and that of science are both exclusively religious.

His homogeneous tactic, spread like smooth peanut butter to the very edges of a world-view sandwich, is to show that science is defective, even stupid (a word which he never used, offering instead the equivalents of condescension and derision). The logic sequence which he re-iterates is: Since ‘science’and religion are really both religious, and since science is defective, then, ipso facto, his religious view is correct. He made zero effort to establish any credibility for (his) religion. Such an effort would probably have been superfluous for most of the audience.

It is difficult in this space to analyse the deficiencies paraded before us in an hour. Smart’s comment at 50 minutes is exemplary: he said that since the talk was to be about Mount St. Helens (not yet discussed), he had “10 minutes to talk about the good stuff”. It felt like I had been confronted by a burglar who, instead of taking my valuables, devoted much time to sticking me with a knife before saying “oh, yeah – I came here to get valuables”.

How does a person receive a Ph.D. (with an ‘emphasis’ in the philosophy of religion and science) and yet exhibit such an utter lack of organization? Also, his intellectual rigor was, at best, mortised. This is why I do not grant Bible Colleges the same assumed respect that I apply to my hometown state university.

There were many (many, many) other deficiencies in simple content. Try these:Engineering is like a Triceratops Butt

“Mount St. Helens was the smallest known volcano in the history of record keeping.”

But it formed the “biggest land debris slide in the history of record keeping.” {He insisted upon repeating the strange phrase “land debris slide” subsequently.}

“Fossils are not made by dying.” But this “probably includes dying.” {I think that this might have been an example of profundity.}

“The Heavens are where the birds fly.” {His Biblical exegesis is as poor as his science.}

Regarding a geological process: “how long it would take based on observable reality.” {“Observable reality” being incorrect, in his view.}

We “can’t put creation / evolution predictions in a test tube and test them.” {Which would be pointless, regardless – “observable reality” being bogus.}

“Geological uniformitarianism is the result of the lusts of men.” {I heard of another guy who says that rape is the result of the lusts of women. These statements leave the stork as the best explanation for pregnancy.}

I’m not a scientist.” {This one is ok by him, by the majority of his audience, and by me.}

15
Jan
10

Criteria of Truth – observations

Criteria of Truth
1  Authority
2  Coherence
3  Consensus gentium
4  Consistency (mere)
5  Consistency (strict)
6  Correspondence
7  Custom
8  Emotions
9  Instinct
10  Intuition
11  Majority rule
12  Naive Realism
13  Pragmatic
14  Revelation
15  Time
16  Tradition
 – from Wikipedia Criteria of Truth

→ Hey! Criteria, meet observations




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- Edward R. Murrow

Intellectual Property Notice

All original material Copyright James R. Stone 2010, except where specifically noted. Some images licensed under Creative Commons, or GNU Free Documentation License, or unlicensed and public domain.

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