My Actual Homepage - Go here for more info.


I plan to put a graphical banner here eventually...

Amazon Contextual Product Ads

17 August 2009

Scientific American: Origins

I just got an email about the Scientific American Magazine: Origins project. I think that it would be a good moment to spread the work about this since it seems to be a pretty good collecion of science in one place attempting to tackle those deep issues that the ignorant say only humans contemplate (behavioral studies have shown that other animals also contemplate these things, but they are smart enough not to make up religions yet). Anyway, here is the introduction for you:

A Greek statesman who lived in the sixth century B.C. put forward the first explanation, shorn of theological trappings, that captured the essence of all things living and inanimate. Thales of Miletus noticed that water could exist as a liquid, gas or solid and posited that it was the fundamental constituent of matter from which the earth’s denizens—men, goats, flowers, rocks, and whatnot—somehow sprang forth.

As with all natural philosophy (a pursuit now known as science), Thales’ observation immediately provoked an argument. Anaximander, a disciple of Thales (today what would be called a graduate student), asked how water could be the single basic element if rock, sand and other substances appeared to be devoid of moisture.

The bickering about beginnings and the nature of our existence has not ceased in ensuing millennia, although Thales’ aqueous cosmology persists only as a passing citation in histories of philosophy and science. A definitive answer to the identity of the most basic ingredient of matter—and how it could ultimately lead to a world populated by iPhones and reruns of American Idol—still eludes today’s natural philosophers.

In early April a colloquy of 70 leading scientists assembled at Arizona State University to launch an Origins Initiative to ponder such questions as whether infinitesimal, stringlike particles may be candidates as the latest substitute for Thales’ vision of a wet world. An urge to deduce beginnings energizes the entire scientific endeavor—and of course that extends into the realm of biology. Appropriately, this year’s 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species coincides with a significant advance toward the milestone of demonstrating how life sprang from inanimate matter. A British team of chemists showed that one of the basic building blocks of life could form spontaneously from a warm soup of organic chemicals.

The immediacy of these themes is why this single-topic issue of Scientific American is devoted to origins in physics, chemistry, biology and technology. In the following pages, a physicist grapples with the overarching question of how the universe began. A chemist addresses possible ways in which life first started, and a biologist takes on what has made the human mind different from that of any other animal’s. Then a historian of technology contemplates the first computer, perhaps the most extraordinary invention of the human mind. A final section provides brief chronicles of the inception of dozens of physical and biological phenomena, in addition to a series of remarkable human inventions.

Whether related to rainbows, antibiotics or paper money, beginnings—and the stories they generate—serve as an endless source of fascination about the world around us.

25 comments:

JD Curtis said...

Lunk? Can I count on the aforementioned individuals referencing these statistics cited by the Wistar Institute while groping for answers?

I won't hold my breath.

JD Curtis said...

Hey, Lunkster, while surfing the net tonight, I came across the following by your favorite "asshat". Check out this three minute video from William Lane Craig that is remarkably on topic for this thread.

Ivan3man said...

Hey, JD. The link to the Wistar Institute doesn't work -- you forgot to include the URL within the HTML tags.

JD Curtis said...

Sorry Ivan 2nd attempt Wistar Link The way I link articles, you would think I was an atheist or something ;-)

JD Curtis said...

Lunk must be of town or under the weather or something. He easily would have popped a hemmorroid going batsh-t over this post by now (under normal circumstances).

Ivan3man said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ivan3man said...

JD, the man is currently busy in the process of relocating 1500 miles to the north east so that he can take on a new job (and probably to get away from the likes of you creationists in Florida!), and then having to find a new house, etc.

JD Curtis said...

I see. All this stuff is secondary. Best that he takes care of his personal business first before I humiliate him by exposing how truly weak the philosophical underpinnings of his demented and illogical worldview really are. Less probability of him going off the deep end that way.

Larian LeQuella said...

JD, getting called "demented and illogical" by the likes of you is a compliment! I'm not sure what colour the sky is in your world (probably whatever your pastor tells you it is), but I must say that I am happy to be away from fucking retards like your kind.

Oh, and again, you FAIL at a basic understanding of citing something that is in to be even acknowledged... And you also FAIL at understanding the example I pointed out to you. Oh yeah, you're a fucking MORON. Are you allowed out in public unsupervised? Faith is RETARDED.

Hey Ivan3man, I bet you a Guinness that JD STILL won't understand...

And yeah, I'm slightly busy. No blogs for me for a while.

Ivan3man said...

JD, with reference to that William Lane Craig video and the so-called "Intelligent Design", I'll refer you to this PDF file: IS THE UNIVERSE FINE-TUNED FOR US?

Ivan3man said...

Larian, it appears that you have upset JD -- no response yet.

JD Curtis said...

I hope that atheism doesnt become more popular. There are already enough godless individuals who believe in fairy tales.

"The reality is that the New Atheist campaign, by discouraging religion, won't create a new group of intelligent, skeptical, enlightened beings. Far from it: It might actually encourage new levels of mass superstition. And that's not a conclusion to take on faith -- it's what the empirical data tell us.
"What Americans Really Believe," a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians....

This is not a new finding. In his 1983 book "The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener," skeptic and science writer Martin Gardner cited the decline of traditional religious belief among the better educated as one of the causes for an increase in pseudoscience, cults and superstition. He referenced a 1980 study published in the magazine Skeptical Inquirer that showed irreligious college students to be by far the most likely to embrace paranormal beliefs, while born-again Christian college students were the least likely."

Link to the apologetics website The Wall Street Journal

Larian LeQuella said...

A.) Quoting a book from 1983? Is that as current as you can get?

B.) Most Americans are Fucking Idiots! Considering most are indeed religious. And then most can't even find the US on a map without political markings/boundaries. Most can't even name the three branches of government. Of course, that is due to the total massacring of rational thinking at the hands of the fuckwads at AiG with their "wedge document". Along with that sort of thinking that is so predominant with just following whatever someone tells you.

JD, I bet you'd be great in the Army. (Ivan, you think he'll understand that reference?)

Ivan3man said...

JD, I read that Washington Post article last year. I think that the reason why the more traditional and evangelical the respondent, the less likely he/she was to believe in superstitions is that extreme religious groups are generally highly intolerant of other beliefs. For instance:

Deuteronomy 13:6 If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;
13:7 Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth;
13:8 Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him:
13:9 But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.

13:10 And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

So, if your brother, son, daughter, wife, or friend tries to get you to worship another god, "thou shalt surely kill him, thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death." If Bible-believers followed this one, they would have to kill many of their own family and friends.

Also, an atheist is someone who knows what not to believe, but an agnostic is someone who does not know what to believe -- that's the trouble with some so-called "non-believers"; what they need is not religion, but the need to think critically.

JD: "There are already enough godless individuals who believe in fairy tales."

Mark Twain: "You believe in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, burning bushes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories, and [yet] you say that WE are the ones that need help?"

So there!

As for that Wistar Institute boast, "Wistar Destroys Evolution", that sucks like a cheap whore!

Ivan3man said...

Larian: "JD, I bet you'd be great in the Army. (Ivan, you think he'll understand that reference?)".

Well, this should help: GI Schmo.

JD Curtis said...

The Baylor study was from 2008 along with the WSJ article. It cites the other 2 studies from '80 and 83 to show that the irrational behavior of atheists is nothing new. Please learn to read before commenting.

Along with that sort of thinking that is so predominant with just following whatever someone tells you.

Mind-numbingly stupid. why do you think that there are people who arent Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses or Islams? Because people can examine the evidence for themselves and determine which idea best fits for them. If my pastor came out on Sunday speaking about Cosmic Ice Theory, I'd think that he was working too much lately. If Dickie Dawkins embraced it tomorrow, you two would be asking where the webpage is.

I think that the reason why the more traditional and evangelical the respondent, the less likely he/she was to believe in superstitions is that extreme religious groups are generally highly intolerant of other beliefs.

There's a saying in this country Ivan. "If you don't believe in something, you'll fall for anything." I think it' quite apt in this situation of describing your co-religionists.

As for that Wistar Institute boast, "Wistar Destroys Evolution", that sucks like a cheap whore!

Yes, thats it Ivan. My entire worldview is in tatters from top to bottom. Simple use of the word "whore" makes every fact cited in the above linked article inherently untrue and I cover myself in ashes and don sackcloth. Right.

Mark Twain.....So there!

From the earlier cited article..."According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life's monumental "U.S. Religious Landscape Survey" that was issued in June, 21% of self-proclaimed atheists believe in either a personal God or an impersonal force. Ten percent of atheists pray at least weekly and 12% believe in heaven."

When do you think they'll get their act together? Twain must be just SPINNING in his grave;-)

JD Curtis said...

You guys should really focus on the minority of your co-religionists that have such beliefs. How do you think an "Embrace Nihilism" campaign would go over within your flock?

Larian LeQuella said...

Flock? That's a religious term. We aren't sheep. And if Dawkins embraced an irrational idea, then I would have to say that he's lost it. Many rational people lose it (just look at how many religious people there are that are actually quite intelligent, they have obviously lost some grip with reality to embrace fantasy. Mostly out of fear I would say.).

And I don't think it's really pertinent to say we should focus on any segment of the atheist movement, because all atheists are very different from each other. The only commonality is that we don't (generally) believe in imaginary friends. Other than that, atheists are just as diverse as theists.

Ivan3man said...

JD: There's a saying in this country Ivan. 'If you don't believe in something, you'll fall for anything."

I believe nothing without evidence; I question everything without proof; I trust no one without credentials.

RE: "Wistar Destroys Evolution".

Where the bloody hell is the Earth shattering news in that article? I see absolutely no evidence offered in peer-reviewed literature whatsoever!

You creationists are in denial like Monty Python's Black Knight!

"... 21% of self-proclaimed atheists believe in either a personal God or an impersonal force. Ten percent of atheists pray at least weekly and 12% believe in heaven."

Those so-called 'atheists' who behave irrationally are generally those who do not know what the term means or implies, and have simply jumped on the atheist bandwagon because they think it's 'cool' to wear that lable in the current Zeitgeist.

JD Curtis said...

Flock? That's a religious term. We aren't sheep.

Ivan might have had an excuse to spout-off such Atheism 101 blather given that he resides in the country formally known as Great Britian. I expected more in the way of history of your denomination given that you (allegedly) live in the US.

Quote: "A federal court of appeals ruled yesterday Wisconsin prison officials violated an inmate's rights because they did not treat atheism as a religion.
"Atheism is [the inmate's] religion, and the group that he wanted to start was religious in nature even though it expressly rejects a belief in a supreme being," the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals said." Link

At least in this country (US) the courts consider it a religion (Albeit a non-theistic one). Atheism is not the opposite of religion but rather the opposite of theism.

I believe nothing without evidence; I question everything without proof; I trust no one without credentials.

Let's take a look at this, shall we?

(From Freedictionary.com) Evidence:
[as it supports existance of God in bold] 1. A thing or things helpful in forming a conclusion or judgment: The broken window was evidence that a burglary had taken place. Scientists weigh the evidence for and against a hypothesis.
2. Something indicative; an outward sign: evidence of grief on a mourner's face.
3. Law The documentary or oral statements and the material objects admissible as testimony in a court of law.

Odd how atheists demand a different definition of "evidence" that cannot be found in any dictionarry in the English-speaking world.

Where the bloody hell is the Earth shattering news in that article?

Where is it incorrect re: evolution?

I see absolutely no evidence offered in peer-reviewed literature whatsoever!

Peer-reviewed? This is tottering on tautology. Science fetishists are always moving the goalposts. Just so we are clear on definitions here...

Definition:Science fetish = includes 1) the belief that any statement by a scientist is a) inherently credible, and b) science; 2) the belief that science is the only reliable method of determining facts; 3) the belief that the truth of a statement is dependent upon how many scientists agree it is true.

Those so-called 'atheists' who behave irrationally are generally those who do not know what the term means or implies, and have simply jumped on the atheist bandwagon because they think it's 'cool' to wear that lable in the current Zeitgeist.

Putting aside the "impersonal force" for a moment, a good number of atheists belive in some sort of afterlife. Do either of you? I'm only curious, thats all.

Ivan3man said...

JD says: (From Freedictionary.com) Evidence:
[as it supports existance of God in bold] 1. A thing or things helpful in forming a conclusion or judgment: The broken window was evidence that a burglary had taken place. Scientists weigh the evidence for and against a hypothesis.
2. Something indicative; an outward sign: evidence of grief on a mourner's face.
3. Law The documentary or oral statements and the material objects admissible as testimony in a court of law.


At definition #1; how the bloody hell did you arrive at the conclusion that "thing or things" means "it supports existance [sic] of God"? The term "thing" or "things" could imply any kind of object(s): The Flying Spaghetti Monster; Russell's Teapot; or your ding-a-ling dangling inside your trousers, which you obviously use to think with!

At definition #2; is this something indicative of a nebula, or an outward sign from god? -- CLICK HERE.

At definition #3; in law, evidence in its broadest sense includes everything that is used to determine or demonstrate the truth of an assertion. Giving or procuring evidence is the process of using those things that are either (a) presumed to be true, or (b) were themselves proven via evidence, to demonstrate an assertion's truth. Evidence is the currency by which one fulfills the burden of proof -- often associated with the Latin maxim, semper necessitas probandi incumbit ei qui agit; the best translation of which seems to be: "the necessity of proof always lies with the person who lays charges."

As a general rule, the less reasonable, less coherent and less embedded within conventional knowledge a claim appears, the more proof it requires. The scientific consensus on cold fusion is a good example. The majority of physicists believe this is not possible, since believing that it would work would force the alteration or abandonment of a great many other tested and generally accepted theories about nuclear physics.

In cases where the referent of a positive claim is of an uncommon or immaterial nature, or is unaccompanied by an explanation of causal mechanisms, a default to belief in the claim is not warranted. The proper default is skepticism. Here the burden of proof lies with the positive claimant, not with the skeptic. If one man claims Thor is real, and another claims Thor is not real, they do not share equal burden of proof. The onus falls upon the positive claimant to the degree that the claims falls outside the corpus of scientific knowledge.

If a claim contains an absurd or illogical concept such as the claim of a square circle, the entire claim can be dismissed on the grounds of incoherence without invoking burden of proof.

JD: "Where is it incorrect re: evolution?"

Here: 15 EVOLUTIONARY GEMS [PDF].

Oh, JD, you might want to wear these to protect your creationist beliefs before reading that document.

Ivan3man said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ivan3man said...

JD: "Peer-reviewed? This is tottering on tautology. Science fetishists are always moving the goalposts. Just so we are clear on definitions here..."

Now you're whining like a bloody 3rd grader... I will refer you to the answer I have given above with regard to the burden of proof.

JD: "[A] good number of atheists belive [sic] in some sort of afterlife. Do either of you? I'm only curious, [that's] all."

IMHO, the only afterlife that exists after death are* the goddamn worms consuming the stiff that's buried six feet under -- that's why I favour cremation!

* I deleted and then re-posted this comment because of a minor grammatical error -- I wrote "is" instead of "are". D'oh!

Larian LeQuella said...

The 7th court of appeals is WRONG. Atheism is a religion like bald is a hair colour, or NOT collecting stamps is a hobby. The prisoner and the court were totally fucked up, and should have their biases corrected.

Ivan3man said...

*Crickets*