Tag Archives: evolution

The Cognitive Dissonance is Strong in This One

Watched an awesome video last night on ABC1 TV Compass program called: Christianity: A History – God and the Scientists; do yourself a favour and watch it (streaming video or download, about 50 minutes). The presenter Colin Blakemore (a British neurobiologist at Oxford University and Warwick University)

interviews scholars and churchmen in order to understand how science transformed Christianity over the last four centuries. He shows how scientists born of the Enlightenment realised that the laws of the universe were there to be discovered, not read about in the Bible. He argues that science is the biggest challenge Christianity has ever had to face, and that it will eventually make religion unnecessary. from ABC Compass

It was a very informative show covering some of the history of science particularly how it pertains to Christianity. Despite Christianity actually starting many universities and initially encouraging thinking, they changed their mind quite quickly when anyone discovered something that went against church dogma (Copernicus, Galileo et al). The church doesn’t come across as being very open-minded (but has it ever?) and some of the methods used to dissuade free-thinking and scientific investigation were rather cruel (an understatement, torture methods used during the inquisition were horrendous), As Blakemore points out, the church didn’t always have to actually physically torture people, sometimes the mere threat was sufficient for people to recant their (correct) ideas. Self censorship is a powerful weapon.

The cognitive dissonance shown by some of the people Blakemore interviewed was interesting, the Vatican astronomer seemed fully conversant with all the latest astronomical findings and seemed quite happy to discuss the earth being 4.5 Billion years old, but some how still managed to fit God into the equation. But the greatest cognitive dissonance shown was by Dr Jason Lisle, an astrophysicist and scientific adviser for the Creation Museum! He fully believes the biblical version of creation that God created everything in six days, that dinosaurs roamed the earth alongside humans, including Adam and Eve. I could hardly comprehend it when Lisle replied to one of Blakemore’s questions with

“If we find some experiment that seems on the surface to disagree with the word of God, we go with the word of God”

at about this stage I think a part of my brain melted from the sheer idiocy. The scientific method, which someone with a PhD in Astrophysics should know, does not allow you to disregard results of an experiment just because you don’t like those results; you have to go where the FACTS direct you, like it or not. I could not understand how someone could get a PhD in Astrophysics and be so deluded, as the title of this blog says: The Cognitive Dissonance is Strong in This One. If you just want to watch Blakemore’s visit to the Creation Museum, including the interview with Lisle, check the link, it goes for about 4 and 1/2 minutes. But be warned, the Stupid It Burns!

the_stupid_it_burns.jpg

Blakemore’s visit to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) left me wide eyed with the sheer enormity of the project, that thing is HUGE. People talk about the majesty of some religious buildings, and I agree some churches are architecturally and/or artistically inspiring, but the LHC is truly majestic in its own right.

How could anyone not be amazed with what science can achieve? How can anyone disregard scientific facts and instead accept what was written thousands of years ago by people who knew no better. We know better now, it has been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that much of what is written in the bible is wrong, that the bible is not a scientific book. So why do so many people still cling to the biblical fallacies, and prefer (misguided) belief over scientific evidence?

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Filed under atheism, Charles Darwin, christianity, creationism, evolution, ID, religion, science

Books – brief reviews

Updated my reading list in the sidebar with some new additions.

The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins.

An excellent lay-persons guide to Evolution. It is such a pity that books like this have to be written to try and counter-act the complete misinformation that the Creationists, ‘Intelligent Designers’ and other narrow minded religious people spout.

Evolution is a Fact, get over it people, especially the misinformed sheep that believe anything if it come from a pulpit.

The saddest thing about this book is that the people who really need to read it won’t, in fact most will flat out refuse to.

It should be compulsory for everyone on the planet to read at least chapter 1 of this book, it would be good if this was freely available to download and read (perhaps it is?), then no one would have an excuse to use the “just a theory” pathetic argument against evolution.

Deer Hunting With Jesus by Joe Bageant.

A book that tries to explain why so many Americans vote against their own best interests, and discusses the class war that no one else wants to talk about, the white American underclass. This book is written in a easy to read story-telling style but covers a lot of topics, including the American health care system (or complete lack thereof), Americans at War, and why so many Americans want a theocratic state ( a rather scary section of the book).

He does get on his soap box a few times, but overall an interesting and thought provoking read.

Blog Update

I have also added tw0 comments to my previous blog post, about my new Kindle eBook reader, that will be of great interest to any Australians who are considering buying one.

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Filed under atheism, book review, books, christian right, creationism, Darwin, education, eReader, evolution, ID, religious, science, unemployed

I love Sciencey Stuff

Yesterday had some very interesting science related articles in the news, here’s a couple of excerpts:

Life’s First Spark Re-Created in the Laboratory

It’s Alive! Since the late seventies scientists have theorised how life may have started, recent experiments have validated some of those theories.

A fundamental but elusive step in the early evolution of life on Earth has been replicated in a laboratory.

Researchers synthesized the basic ingredients of RNA, a molecule from which the simplest self-replicating structures are made. from Wired Science

I admit, I don’t understand half of this stuff (I’m not a molecular biologist or even done any university level science subjects) but I think I understand enough of the fundamentals to understand how and why this all works. I also understand enough to see that no “divine intervention” is required.

I have just started reading “The Selfish Gene” which explains some of the same concepts as in the linked article. Interesting to note, the concepts raised in that book reflect what have now been achieved in the laboratory.

When Sex and Science Collide

Ancient phallus unearthed in cave

Recent archaeological digs have unearthed the final piece of an ancient artifact. That artifact is a “20cm-long, 3cm-wide stone object, which is dated to be about 28,000 years old, buried in the famous Hohle Fels Cave near Ulm in the Swabian Jura.” from BBC News

A “must have” object in every Ice Age ladies collection?

The object is believed to be an Ice Age Sex Aid.

The “object” also appears to have been used to “knap, or split, flints” (sharpen or shape stone knives).

So Ladies, next time your man says he’s “hard as a rock” ask him if you can borrow it to sharpen a few knives. 🙂

There was also an excellent article in the New York Times about some of the female artefacts archaeologists have found dating back 40,000 years. However I can no longer access that article as the NYT wants me to register and log-in. Suffice to say the article discussed the many anatomically correct statues of women and women’s “private parts” that have been found in Ulm and other places. PZ has a story today about the female figurines, with the picture of them.

Quite sex obsessed our ancestors weren’t they? Though some might say  nothing much has changed in the last 40,000 years, has it?

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A Big Day in Science

Two interesting science articles caught my eye today. One about evolution and  one about astronomy.

Evolution

Another ‘missing link’ has been found. From the BBC News comes the story of a fossil found in the Arctic which looks like a cross between an otter and a seal.

A skeleton unearthed in northern Canada shows a creature with feet that were probably webbed, but were not flippers.

Writing in the journal Nature, scientists suggest the 23 million-year-old proto-seal would have walked on land and swum in fresh water.

Great name thay have given it: Pujilla darwini.

Pujilla is an Inuktitut term for “young sea mammal”, and darwini is named after Charles Darwin who contented that land mammals would naturally move into the marine environment via a fresh water stage.

Read the rest of the story here.

Damned evilutionists you may have found another missing link, but where’s the crocoduck fossil? expected fundie question

Astronomy

A ‘blob’ has been found. Also from BBC News, comes the story that astronomers have found  a “Lyman-alpha blob”, which is 55,000 light years across,  and 12.9 billion light years away. Scientists are now wondering how such a large object formed so soon after the ‘big bang’.

“Many early theories of galaxy formation predicted a Lyman-alpha ‘fuzz’ around early galaxies,” said James Geach, an astronomer at the University of Durham who works on Lyman-alpha blobs.

“The problem is that no-one is entirely sure what mechanism gives rise to the extended emission; a number of theories of Lyman-alpha blob formation abound, but all are difficult to test”

Yeah I guess it would be quite difficult to test the creation of a universe, but I’m sure the scientists will eventually come up with a very good theory to explain how these ‘blobs’ formed.

blob‘ – is that the best name you scientists/astronomers could come up with?

Read the rest of the story here.

The scientists don’t have to wonder how the ‘blob’ got there, God put it there. expected fundie statement

Everyday more and more amazing things come to light in the science world; and more and more explanations for how the world and the universe works are discovered. But still there are those that cling to ‘goddidit’, how much further does science have to squeeze god out of the equation before people realise that there probably is no god?

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Happy Birthday Charles Darwin

Happy Darwin Day all.

Happy Darwin Day

Happy Darwin Day

To all those that have problems accepting the Theory of Evolution because they think “it’s only a theory”. Do you also have a problem accepting Gravitational Theory or the Theory of Relativity?

Here’s something for those that can’t accept that the theory of evolution is a valid theory:

You're Friggin Special

You're Friggin Special

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Why Darwin Matters

I’m currently reading “Why Darwin Matters” by Michael Shermer, whilst at the same time trying to follow the comments on Jacks blog. A ‘debate’ involving, amongst other things,  evolution, while people still debate this is beyond me (though Shermer gives some very good reasons why we should debate the ID/Creationists), as my comments will hopefully help show to some extent.

[Yes, I know I should be finishing the several other blog posts I’ve promised various other people, and writing the book review for “The Heathen’s Guide to World Religions”, but … but … but I have no valid excuse.]

Anyway, I have posted the following comments on Jack’s blog, but thought I’d reproduce them here so you don’t have to wade through all the comments on his blog (and possibly have your brain explode):

5 reasons why people resist the truth of evolution:
1. A general resistance to science.
2. Belief that evolution is a threat to specific religious tenets.
3. The fear that evolution degrades our humanity.
4. The equation of evolution with ethical nihilism and moral de-generation.
5. The fear that evolutionary theory implies we have a fixed human nature.

(From “Why Darwin Matters”, Michael Shermer pg30/31)

Those who cavalierly reject the Theory of Evolution, as not adequately supported by facts, seem quite to forget that their own theory is supported by no facts at all.
– Herbert Spencer, Essays Scientific, Political and Speculative, 1891

(A quote from “Why Darwin Matters”, Michael Shermer pg 45)

Note: that quote was written in 1891, and science has found a whole lot more to corroborate the theory of evolution since then.

Creationists often demand “one transitional fossil”, when provided with that fossil they then demand the transitional fossils in-between [paraphrased]. This can be called:
The Fossil Fallacy

The belief that a single ‘fossil” – one bit of data – constitutes proof of a multifarious process or historical sequence.

But we know that’s not the case:

We know evolution happened not because of a single transitional fossil … but because of the convergence of evidence from such diverse fields as geology, palaeontology, biogeography, comparative anatomy and physiology, molecular biology, genetics …

When I read that I thought “how could anyone not understand evolution is a sound scientific theory, how could they try and debunk it with one or two arguments?”. Then I re-read some of Marcus’ and facilis’ comments and I despaired.

(quotes and paraphrasing from “Why Darwin Matters” by Michael Shermer)

I sometimes despair when I see people like Marcus trying every trick in the book to attempt to debunk evolution, as if one person, however educated, or not, they are, could disprove what thousands of scientists in many different field have come to accept as fact during the last 150 years.

I’m enjoying Shermer’s book so far (about half way through) and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in evolution, from either side of the fence. Though the ‘god botherers’ need to switch their godness off whilst reading it, they need to read it with an open mind.

In writing the above sentence I can just hear some religious type saying “but you haven’t turned off your non-godness while reading it”, or “you’re just accepting what these other atheists say” (or something similar).  Just let me say this, first read my about page, then know I studied the bible with an “open heart”, I was baptised because because I believed. BUT, then I started to study the bible more and kept coming up with questions that couldn’t be answered. I started to study (using the term very loosely) evolution and biology and tried to work what I was learning into what I “knew”.  I attended a couple of lectures and invented the term Creatio-Evolutionist (pity I never copy-righted it), an attempt to combine what the bible and religious leaders where telling me with what was known in the scientific community at the time (this was before DNA came into the picture).  Then I misplaced my faith, then I just didn’t care, then I woke up and really thought about it all.

This was when, after reading many texts, I came to the full and complete understanding that evolution explains how we got here and that that is a wonderful and amazing thing.

To the religious readers, if your faith is so weak that in discussing evolution you have to resort to all sorts of fallacies and weasel words, then perhaps your faith isn’t worth keeping. Try to honestly, and openly, read some of the vast quantities of material on evolution (read this for a start), try not to insert a “god of the gaps” or a “goddidit” into your thinking, and try to think of it logically and sensibly. Read “Why Darwin Matters” , or some similar book, and then, I defy you, debate your point with an expert, or highly knowledgeable person, like Shermer or Dawkins, and see how long you last.

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Our Famiy Tree

Catalyst had an interesting segment this week titled The Ultimate Mammal Family Tree, you can watch the video, read the transcript and download the family tree diagram. Worth watching, I think it’s quite a unique way to represent the evolution of the species, when you see the time scale represented like this it’s not hard to see how it happened.

Note to Thump Thump Eyes: I’m still working on that post I promised, truly.

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