Monday, June 22, 2009

Adios Darwin-baby

Suppose—just suppose—we tossed Darwin's Theory of Evolution out the window. What, then, are we left with?

Creationism, many would say. And that's what creationists want us to think.

(They probably won't say Intelligent Design. With Darwin's Theory gone, there's no longer a need for the ruse of ID and so everyone involved would speak openly of Creationism.)

Not quite. We're still left with Evolution. Darwin didn't invent Evolution. It was already widely accepted in the scientific community that creatures on Earth were evolving through a process of mutation. What no one could agree on was how. Darwin solved that puzzle with his theory of Natural Selection. "Survival of the fittest."

So the baby isn't thrown out with the bathwater. Worse, we have to change it's diapers. Evolution is still functioning right under our very noses.

So, we have to get rid of Evolution itself. Is it that easy? Sure, we slap a gag rule on the classrooms, insist "Evolution is a theory, not a fact," and other forms of propaganda. Darwin's face appears on the video screens and the students scream abuse and hurl spitwads at it.

Yet when hauling out the mural of evolution and burning it into the back of the schoolyard we're still left with Biology. We try to assemble a new mural of life on Earth and there's this big piece of the puzzle missing—and no one can explain why. There is no alternative explanation. (Note: "God" explains nothing.)

So we have to find an answer, an explanation that makes sense. That means Science. And Science means asking questions. And here's a big clue: "Biology" does not mean "begat."

So we get rid of Biology. We open up the high school yearbook and find a bunch of smiling faces under "First Year Creationism." Evolution is a dirty word scribbled on the bathroom walls. There is still Science to contend with.

The Science with a capitol "S". Brain-child of the ancient Greeks, bastard step-child of the Dark Ages, re-born in the Renaissance, clothed in the Age of Reason and finally finding a home with Sir Issac Newton. Now it's a tough old bastard and getting it out of the schools is going to be a long, hard fight. There will be blood, trust me.

See something odd or remarkable. Ask a question why. Suggest a possible answer. Re-create the conditions. Duplicate the event. Record the process and the results. Compare the results to your possible answer. Revise the possible answer to meet the results. Welcome to Science. It's that simple.

Because it's so simple and so thorough there's no way to stop it. Ask the question, "Why do creatures mutate in the wild?" and the whole facade comes crashing down. Six days and then kick-back gives no explanation, no insight.

But, say, we get rid of Science. Nobel laureates languish in prisons. Stephen Hawking appears on national TV to renounce Science and repent of his heresy. (Except it didn't go very well. Stephen managed to override the pre-scripted recant programmed into his voder and made a passionate speech defending Science and freedom before he was yanked off the air. His current location is unknown.) OK then; problem solved.

Not quite. There's still Nature to contend with. You know, Nature? As in war, famine, pestilence and death? The four reasons we need Science like right frickin' now? (And we have religious leaders who want to ride them right into a theocracy?)

Feynman said that Nature won't be fooled. Neither can it be ignored. And Hurricane Katrina is a perfect example of what happens when we ignore the data, when we don't use the science providing the data.

Take the final step: Remove Nature from the school curriculum. Except it's not a school anymore. So let me ask again: What, then, are we left with? Many would answer, "God." And that's indeed all we have left. A religious seminary, with the students eyes firmly fixed on heaven while the world all around them degenerates into a living hell.

It's strange how Darwin's Theory, reviled as the ultimate materialist philosophy, has such devastating spiritual consequences should we reject it. Perhaps it's because in the rejection we willingly embrace ignorance, turn our eyes away from a truth about ourselves—the knowledge we need so our people do not perish.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Piled Higher and Deeper

During the development of nuclear physics one question haunted physicists: Could a nuclear chain reaction be sustained? Yes, there had been bench-top reactions but they were to study what particles were being emitted when atoms were split.

Predictions from existing theories were uncertain; either a chain reaction would exhaust itself and slow down to a halt, or else the reaction would immediately "wildcat" and surge out of control--with disastrous results.

By 1942 one successful experiment to create a chain reaction had been done at Columbia University. But that was to initiate a chain reaction on a large scale. Once initiated, it was halted.

Now with the pressure of the second world war and fears over NAZI "hard water" experiments, the question of a sustainable fission reaction was vital. Physicists lobbied President Roosevelt to create a nuclear weapons program, but Roosevelt and his advisors were not convinced a nuclear weapon could be created--nor would even work.

Enrico Fermi had a simple solution: Build a reactor and create a sustainable nuclear chain-reaction. With limited federal funding the physics department of the University of Chicago stacked a giant cube of graphite bricks interspersed with small globes of uranium fuel.

After careful manipulations of the control rods, the first self-sustaining nuclear chain-reaction was created December 2nd, 1942. It ran for 28 minutes and then was shut down by inserting the safety control rods.

All of this, the construction, the operation of the power pile, the timing of the sustainable reaction were exactly calculated by Enrico Fermi. Observers and co-workers were astonished at Fermi's ability to accurately predict every phase and step of this operation through the manipulation of his slide rule.

The formula crucial to his calculation's was the Special Theory of Relativity first proposed in 1905 by Albert Einstein. E=MC2 predicted atomic energy, demonstrated how a nuclear fission chain-reaction was possible and showed how much energy was needed to initiate this chain-reaction.

In order for this formula to work, in order for Fermi's pile to be successful, in order for a sustainable nuclear chain reaction to take place C2, the speed of light squared, had to be a constant. Were C2 a variable, Fermi's calculations would have been useless. No atomic energy, no power pile, no sustainable chain-reaction, no Manhattan Project, no atomic bomb. No Cold War, no nuclear medicine, no X-rays, no CAT scans.

With the speed of light proven a constant instead of a variable, radioactive half-life decay is also established as a reliable scale of measurement. With this the existence of the Earth is shown to be measured in the billions of years, not mere thousands.

Day after day the overwhelming evidence for the evolutionary development of the Earth and its lifeforms accumulates. The speed of light not only helped us unlock the atom, it shines a light upon the vast scale of time we developed from--and have inherited.

The re-insertion of the control rods ended the chain-reaction, proving we could both initiate and control this incredible power. We held the reins in our hands; we could stop it, shut it down. No such ability, no such predictions have arisen or will ever arise from a religious text. The assertion the whole of our universe and the power it contains can be comprehended through a set of ancient tribal laws and myths is not just delusion, but madness.


Enrico Fermi (Wikipedia)

The First Reactor (Dept of Energy)
Note: There is a link at top left of page to download a 6meg PDF file.

An excellent overview and history of atomic physics is the book The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Cheating at Hopscotch

The study of Evolution is now so vast and in-depth (itself a refutation of any mythology) it's opponents are now able to hopscotch their way through, picking an ambiguity here, a disputed detail there and a freely mis-quoted extract or two just to liven up the mix.

Presenting such generalities as facts to a mostly untrained audience makes their con game easy. Since they are generalities they must be refuted in detail, requiring an expertise most people don't have. And whose eyes tend to glaze over when presented with a 1040 tax form.

There is a vast difference between the innocent uneducated and the willfully ignorant. Such people as Jonathan Wells trade on this ruthlessly, with self-serving questionnaires like 10 Questions Every Student Should Ask Their Biology Teacher. Many teachers who teach biology are teaching it as a secondary class. Asking them to be fully conversant on prehistoric atmospheric oxygen levels, a highly specialized piece of knowledge, clearly shows this is a test designed to fail most biology teachers. (And how the hell is this even relevant to a junior Biology class? This is a matter of biogenesis, taught at the college level.)

Even if these "10 Questions" were true--which they are not--Evolution would still exist. Darwin's theory could be disproved and Evolution would not vanish like a soap bubble. We would be left with a phenomenon in nature with species adapting through a process of mutation, with some mutations severe enough to give rise to a new species. This will not and can not go away. The stasis of the Bible is shattered with every fresh observation of evolution in Nature.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Let's Review

With all the hoopla and noise surrounding the efforts to suppress or outlaw the teaching of Evolution, a summary of the main points would be helpful:

  1. Evolution does not address the origins of life.
    1. Organisms mutate to adapt to changes in their environment.
    2. Thus a new species can arise from existing species.

  2. Evolution does not address the existence of any god.
    1. The existence of a Creator cannot be proven nor disproven using evolution.
    2. Evolution is a mechanism, not an intelligence.

  3. Evolution is not a "religion" within science.
    1. This is a creationist myth:
      1. Creationists call it Darwinism to make it sound like a cult.
    2. Religion operates on faith; Science operates on facts.
    3. Study of Evolution does not require atheism.

  4. Evolution occurs whether we "believe" in it or not.
    1. It is a process occuring in nature.
    2. Evolution was accepted by scientists long before Darwin, but what "triggered" it was not known.
    3. Darwin proposed changes in the environment favored a process of "natural selection."

  5. Darwin did not "invent" evolution; evolution is a natural process.
    1. Discrediting Darwin has no effect on Evolution, nor on Darwin's Theory.

  6. Evolution is a fact; Darwin's theory explains how it works.
    1. "A set of simple statements predicting a broad range of responses."
      1. The Book of Genesis does not qualify as a theory.
        1. Nor does the Gospel of John.

  7. Evolution is widely accepted by the scientific community.
    1. There is no "controversy." (Creationists wish there was.)
    2. There are arguments about how evolution works, but not about it's existence.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Creationism is not the only myth we can subject to critical thinking. Take ghosts, for example:
  1. If ghosts are the spirits of people who have died and thus returned, then why aren't they everywhere?

    1. Millions die every year.
      1. In a couple of decades there would be billions
    2. "Spirits" are considered eternal.
      1. So we should be hip-deep in them. (And we have no way to get rid of them.)
    3. Only a handful of sightings per month.
      1. Most are readily explained.

  2. If ghosts are the spirits of the dead who have returned to fulfill a mission or purpose, then why aren't they?
    1. Say one percent of 1,000,000 have the "will-power" to return; thus at least 10,000 every year.
      1. Yet all they can do is appear and disappear, drift around, and speak through mediums.
      2. Otherwise they are firmly nailed to one location and can't leave it.
    2. Incidentally, if they have returned to watch over and protect us, why aren't they?
      1. Standing in line at a mac-fast-food joint.
        1. Noooo! Don't eat that--it's bad for you!
      2. Filing an income-tax return.
        1. Noooo, don't file that! The IRS will audit you!

  3. If we see a ghost at one location, why don't we see them everywhere?
    1. Ghosts don't obey the laws of physics.
      1. So they're not restricted to space and time.
    2. The place haunted is "special" due to a traumatic event.
      1. Traumatic is determined by the person going through it.
        1. Yet there are no ghosts haunting street corners or intersections.
    3. The place is haunted due to "special" geophysical forces.
      1. Even with a restricted combination of these "special" forces, we're looking at thousands of potential locations scattered across the globe.
        1. So we could go ghost-hunting with Google Earth.
        2. And all these "special" locations are conveniently on dry land.
            (I don't include the Devil's Triangle 'cause that's aliens, not ghosts.)
      2. If these combined "special" forces are geo-magnetic, then re-creating them in a lab will produce ghosts.
        1. We could go from bench-top to full-scale industrial ghost production.

  4. So we can conclude these basic Ghost Guidelines for the future:
    1. People do not return from the dead.
    2. Ghosts have no reason to come back.
    3. Ghosts are not everywhere thus they are nowhere.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hero = Zero

Do you honestly mean to suggest some creeped-out bigoted old man who takes a rifle and shoots up a museum and kills a security guard is some kind of cultural hero?

Are conservatives that desperate for an icon?

Seriously, we're going to open up school textbooks 50 years from now and he's going to be described as some avenging vigilante of justice? At a museum doing him absolutely no harm whatsoever? Killing a security guard who mean't nothing to him?

He is touted as a victim of the Obama administration who finally snapped. Never mind his impoverishment was the result of policies formulated during 12 years of Republican control of Congress. He is now an icon, and icons generate myths.

Yes, we grasp at a thistle of truth and it's nettles pierce our skin with consequences. The Holocaust happened. It must not happen again. Yes, there are those who seek power who deny it happened. So we know them for the moral cowards they are.

In a huge archive in Berlin are countless files and paperwork. We have the names, we have the dates, we have the places and often we have the faces as well. The horrors are better documented than our own Civil War. And that is something we must ensure never happens again either.

Wireless Danse Macarbe

Isn't it a shame about Rush Limbaugh? His slow descent into madness is sadly the stuff of advertising revenue and commercial exploitation. I would be outraged over what he says, but clearly he's no longer responsible for his words or actions.

We all froth with outrage and stinging rebuttals for his deluded fantasies; but seriously folks, it's not worth it. All he has to offer is hate--hatred and fear.

In some ways I could even pity him, surround by sycophants and cads who reaffirm his delusions so he will keep saying them and advertising money will flow into their coffers. They high-five him after each show and say, "Great work, Rush--you sure told them!" But in their minds they think only of him as ratings gold, the ass who will bray at each goad.

We are witnessing not just the death of newspapers but also the demise of radio. The brain is dead, but the dinosaur carcass doesn't know it yet, as it flops and writhes while slowly expiring.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

And Just What is This Supposed to Accomplish?

So some good Christian burns a working business and puts several people out of work just because they were showing too much skin. I think this qualifies as petty and vindictive.

Maine Topless Coffee Shop Destroyed By Arson Fire

I wouldn't be surprised if the reason it was burned by some infantile vigilante was because the town council was reluctant to shut the place down due to it's bringing so much tourist money to the town.

"The state fire marshal's office concluded it was arson after investigators, aided by a specially trained dog, sifted through the shop's ruins. Officials would not say how or where the fire started, but said evidence was taken to the state police crime lab for analysis."

How it should read:
"The state fire marshal's office concluded it was domestic terrorism after investigators, aided by a specially trained dog, sifted through the shop's ruins. Officials would not say how or where the fire started, but said evidence was taken to the state police crime lab for analysis."

What's next? Shooting the town's doctors?

Culture War? What Culture War? The only people shooting guns, detonating bombs and burning places down are the Christians.