23 September 2008
So why is it that people still insist on believing the bible? That’s a question that just baffles me. Just read the damn book through, and tell me you don’t see glaring problems with such a so called perfect book. Even the seemingly familiar stories of the creation, the flood, the exodus, etc all break down on so many levels. The fables in them are so blatantly obvious, one wonders why a rational adult would still cling to those stories.
I’m not going to try to “disprove” the bible here. It’s been done so many times, and repeatedly, it would be a waste of effort to even type it up. Of course, for every argument against the bible, you have some mental contortionist that has explained their way out of it. Now, I gotta wonder, why would the perfect word or some perfect god need any explanation? Again, just seems so manufactured.
Then you look at sexism and slavery. These are concepts that we have come to realize are immoral. Yet nowhere does this perfect being of love say, “Slavery is naughty, don’t do it.” Or “Women are not property, treat them with respect.” Again, what the fuck is perfect about such an imagined creature. Oh yeah, it’s just a projection of our own wishes and desires when someone wrote this crap over 2000 years go.
Then look at the new testament, just for shits and gins… First of al, it was all written 80 to 150 years after the events… It was written in Greek as opposed to the native languages of the supposed authors. And again, no actually historical verification.
Sure, both the new and old parts mention things that happened around them, lists actual kings and such amongst the goofy fables. But that doesn’t make it true. That’s like asserting “Ghostbusters” is true because New York City is a real place… This is what passes for logic in a Christian mind I suppose. Although I do know a few folks that seem intelligent, that still hold on to these childish beliefs. Why is that?
Does the human race have so much invested in religion and irrational beliefs that we can’t put them aside? Sure, there would be a lot of child molesters, I mean priests out of work. Lots of useless buildings. Billions in assets would belong to imaginary friend societies… Can you imagine what good could be done if all that energy and money was poured into something actually worthwhile? Yet people will do anything to cling to these irrational ideas.
Is it something deeper? Are we psychologically programmed to believe these silly tales? We’ve been making them up since the dawn of time. Although we have less need of them as we come to understand more. I can only hope that as a species we’ll start to outgrow the need for any religion.
Oh well, just a random blog entry from 35,000 feet. I just see a lot of theitards around me with their crosses, and a book that says the bible is true because the bible says so. Sometimes I feel like I’m one of the few sane people left in this country.
20 September 2008
Even that website says we're all still here! Hmm, it's on the internets, so it must be true, right? Okay, here is my attempted layman's explanation for why we are still here, and why we will continue to be here, no matter what they do at LHC.
FIRST OF ALL, no particles collided in this test. All the protons that were injected into the LHC were all going the same way. This is just a test. Had it been the end of the world, the above website would have let you know.
Now, assuming that particles are smashed together, which will happen in the future, I bet the above website will continue to display "Nope" for a long time coming. Why? Well, there are three (well really two, but snoopygirl mentioned one that was just too hilarious to ignore) primary concerns, and I hope to address them.
Black Holes: Black holes are naturally formed by gargantuan stellar masses collapsing in on themselves and overcoming all nuclear forces through gravity. In the case of the LHC, there is math that gives the possibility of subatomic particles colliding with enough ENERGY to create subatomic particle sized black holes. HOWEVER, given the amount of mass involved, these black holes would be so small that Hawking Radiation would cause them to nearly instantaneously evaporate. The neat trick here is that the math that predicts the possibility of their appearance, is the same math that assures their evaporation. Kinda neat that! Furthermore, these black holes are sooooo small, that they have only an infinitesimal chance to even react with anything! As I once said, an atom is 99.999999999999999% empty space. So even IF said black hole encountered a particle, gobbled it up, and somehow grew, it would still be so small that Hawking Radiation would have it evaporate nearly instantaneously anyway. (But wait, it just gained mass and is near an atom! It's going to get more particles! Actually no, the resulting surrounding charge would drive the black hole away from the source of said matter, driving it towards another area of the atom, thus giving it time to evaporate.)
Strangelets: Okay, these are a bit more tricky. There are theories on the fringe of particle physics that thinks that if enough "strange" quarks are bound together, it creates a state of matter that is highly energetic and unstable. Now, the problem here is that anything with a strange quark decays rather quickly (in particle physics scales) via weak interaction. In order for them to be stable, some rather fantastic events need to occur. Delving into the math of all this, the energies from the LHC AND Cosmic rays are relatively equal. So, if the LHC is about to create strangelets, then cosmic rays can also create strangelets. Well, since the planet has been around for billions of years, the safe bet is to say that these energy levels have no chance to produce strangelets, and we'll continue to be around. Just to be sure, check the website!
I do find it funny that you'll accept a strangelet, which has no empirical evidence, but evolution, with mountains of evidence is continually denied... Just a curiosity!
Other Dimensions: Okay, this one cracked me up. What particle physicists are talking about here are higher order dimensions. Not alternate planes of existence. According to theory (which we're trying to empirically test), these dimensions are small. So frightfully small that they are unobservable without the LHC. If anything were "living" in those dimensions, they would most likely be killed by the nearest passing electron (comedy if you can get it). Since these dimensions are already here (according to theory) all around us, seeing evidence of them should have no effect what so ever on them after we know they are there as opposed to before when we didn't know they were there.
If you are actually interested in REAL science, I am always available to talk about it. If you want to read up more about things, I suggest the Bad Astronomy blog. Dr Phil Plait is a funny and engaging writer.
Yeah, so I am stuck in the Panhandle of Florida, or lower Alabama as many call it. If it wasn't for the incredibly beautiful beaches, and a great job, I'd really want to move out of here. The theitardery that goes on here is simply amazing!
So, come november, Amendment 2 is up on the ballot. Basically this is the "Marriage Amendment" bull that the far right use to bring out the masses. Now the local pastors are reving up their intollerant masses:
Not only that, but these gems of literature were published in the opinion section:
Called By god: http://www.nwfdailynews.com/opinion/sarah_11248___article.html/john_real.html
Palin: god's pick: http://www.nwfdailynews.com/opinion/presidential_11249___article.html/palin_vice.html
Needless to say, I dispair more and more being a rational thinker. And what gets me down more are the comments some folks make on these stories. It's simply amazing to read the vile filth they write in the name of their god(s).
So, what do you do if you live in an area like this to keep from going into a deep dispair (or on a homicidal ramapge)?
08 September 2008
So this week the Large Hadron Collider will go online. It's an incredible piece of machinery, that will hopefully truly expand our understanding of the universe. Yet, there are people (mostly in the US), that are protesting this device, fearing that it will destroy the earth. They cite things like "strangelets" and "micro black holes" amongst much worse non-sense.
Okay, what's that got to do with the title of my post? Well, it just seems that the US is falling further and further behind in any scientific endeavours. Not only that, we seem to be getting less and less scientifically literate. To be scientifically literate, you only need to (for example) understand an article on protein synthesis in a major news paper. You don't need to actually be able to go into a lab and perform the synthesis. In the United States, if you are a college graduate, you will probably have a 28% chance of being scientifically literate. If you have a High School education, then that chance is down to 7%.
To the people that are afraid of the LHC destroying the world, perhaps some words from a scientist that works there:
"What I would say is that it is not sensible to hold an opinion in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Whilst I understand that much of the language of particle physics is opaque, there does come a time when it is worth accepting the views of experts. The analogy I would give is the design of aircraft wings - I am happy to trust an expert in aerodynamics to get it right rather than offer my own opinion about what shape they should be. It’s really the case that the particle physics community are sensible, rational human beings who go about their research because they believe that exploring the subatomic world is good for our civilization, not to mention interesting. It is also true that if anyone, including myself, had any doubt about the safety of what we are doing, we would stop immediately. I and all my colleagues consider our personal safety and the safety of our families to be FAR more important than the search for the Higgs particle - indeed, if the risk were even as high as 1 in a billion, or whatever people quote, then I would be campaigning with you to stop it."Yet for some reason, people who can't even tell the difference between a boson or a fermion, think they can read an in-depth paper that they can't really understand and interpret it correctly.
And it goes further. Our lack of scientific literacy leads to bad policy decisions by our leaders. We engage in futile (but perhaps well intentioned) efforts to do things that are frankly just plain stupid. And speaking of stupid, how many of you actually know that the earth revolves around the sun? Statistically, 20% of you have it backwards!
All this, along with our horrible standing in education competence, leads me to believe that Americans must be afraid of science. Why else would we develop such an anti-science culture?
What are your thoughts on this subject?
Sure enough, the first reply nailed it: "The more science, the less church is believable. I think that pretty much sums it up." Granted, considering the audience, I didn't want to be too in their face about it, so I softened things up a bit, especially in my follow up comments.
Today, not 24 hours after posting that, I see a blog on the paper about the LHC destroying the wold: http://tinyurl.com/5gbvv3 Read the link at the danger of theitard idiocy, but it's frikkin entertaining/scary.
Sam Harris has touched on the subject as well, but it seems that we are slowly forcing ourselves into a third rate society of illiterates. And I lay the blame squarely at the feet of religion. Yes, yet another reason as to why it's such a poison to the advancement of our species.