Monday, October 27, 2008


In an attempt to reconcile Darwin and faith , a christian theologist presents a god that is continuously engaged in the creative process through undirected natural selection (Scientific American, Nov 2008).

Why do we absolutely require an intent behind everything? Does something like a universe necessarily abslolutely require an intent to be and become?

I think it comes from our survival instincts (the animal again) when we need to predict what our predator will do next. For this we have learned to imagine intent, and now there's even a part of our brain that's been identified, closely related to the empathy centers, as active when we try to find a meaning to something, and I'm pretty sure this brain area lights up when religious people think of and/or relate to god, and the creation of the universe.

In Other News

There is apparently an increase in the numbers of biology teachers that promote creationism as a valid hypothesis... I'd love to hear their own personal compromise between this idea of intent and what the whole of science seems to be revealing, that the universe just grew.

As I said in the first post of this blog, " I have now come to the conclusion that pretending, teaching or preaching anything else (than up-to-date scientific knowledge) is dangerous." and I might add, should be fought.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Disintegrating Moon

It must have been quite an impact! It happened during the new moon so it was not seen by anyone. But now the moon is disintegrating. Fragments should begin to fall on us in a day or two. Impact on the tides will be catastrophic. Earth's orbit will change. Nowhere to flee.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ignorance Is Fear

"When disease in a small village on the edge of the rain forest can travel to an international travel hub within the incubation period of virtually any known disease of concern, this kind of policy endangers everyone, including all US citizens."

The kind of policy mentionned in the above quote is the ban on U.S.-made vaccine exports towards certain "threatening" countries for fear that the vaccines be turned into chemical weapons. A spectacularly innate bureaucratic decision basted in ignorance; scientific ignorance, lack of or wrong knowledge, and ignorance of potential consequences.

Just one example that shows how ignorance can hurt. How ignorance allows fear to foster pure danger, danger for all.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Death: Loosing The Self

We are going to die, one day.

Hard fact to accept, ingest and digest. First because we never like to think about our own termination, the consequences appear too unpleasant. And it is something we cannot really conceive of. Those who have been through the experience do not talk about it, in fact we can never tell what happens when we die. The living understand the death of someone else, their grief, loss, the sudden absence of personality and the decaying of the body, the biology of death we can map and understand.

But the subjective experience of the loss of self, is most probably impossible to grasp, not enough time to build an idea. And no means of communicating it to someone else, after the fact.

There's also the difficulty of giving meaning to the apparent futility of death when considered coldly, outside the reassuring fantasies of cults and religions. I think it is the hardest path to thread. From the angle of our genes however, it's another matter. Death becomes actually the price we pay for having sex, we must die but our genes will survive.

Death is necessary for the continuation of other lives, of Life itself. Small consolation, but the only one available right now from observation.

I strongly recommend viewing the five parts of this documentary : not always easy to watch as someone has accepted that his own death be filmed and some cold hard facts about physical and mental death are difficult to integrate. But I think we should get to know as much as possible about the only absolute certainty we can entertain: we will die, one day, and our self will dissolve into nothing.

There are no proofs of an afterlife.
Is ignorance really bliss?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sense of Humor

No sense of humor.

Because of the sacred nature of religious beliefs (mild or accute) the
beholders will rarely allow any kind of jokes about faith. About their own faith. Some of the more sincere won't even laugh at jokes about other faiths. Some seriously addicted people are sometimes able to see their own condition in a humorous way, they can laugh at their sorry selves. Not those addicted to religious faith.

So, even if I enjoy it immensely myself, I don't think faith-humor is a successful strategy to convince the religious of the folly of their fantasies. Those who believe will still think it is "sacrilegeous". And they will refuse to see the funny side revealed in the joke.

Catholics are against abortions.
Catholics are against homosexuals.
But, I can't think of anyone who has less abortions than homosexuals! --

- George Carlin

Most passionately religious people would benefit from seeing their own system of beliefs as they see the other ones around them in the world. How are Allah, Yahveh, Thor and Jupiter erroneous and God rigtheous?

And for those who forgot, let's remember that atheism is a non-prophet organization.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Studying real evolution through artificial means.

Darwin-at-Home, a project harnessing individual computers has been used to study how artificial (virtual/digital) creatures can evolve. Evolution: that's how the actual living things have become more complex, sophisticated, adapted - through minute changes from generation to generation, over time.

In this video, we see artificial creatures who have evolved (from various initial object shapes) the ability to walk. In this case of course, there were gods involved: the researchers who initiated the project. As some mildly religious persons will say, God laid out the rules and told us to procreate and populate this universe under our our free will and our own responsibility.

My own opinion is that the evolution process is an entirely probabilistic affair, with the help of the brute force of an extremely high number of random interactions between components.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mathematics, Truth and Doubt

Mathematics is the only religion that can prove it's a religion.


Truth: If you get it wrong you'll get crunched, in an evolutionary world. Truth is important in a sort of deeply ingrained way. This plant is toxic, fire is dangerous but it keeps you safe, Earth rotates around a star, there are truths all over that we need to hold for true if we want to live. Most life is not advanced enough not to abide by nothing but seeking the truth about the world they are seing.

But we are sophisticated primates, humans, and in the worldviews we've been having for a while now there are these surrogate peceptual objects that we hold in our minds to study later, and we do have imagination, memories and imagination. That's how we needed to invent doubt. The most efficient tool to gather truth.

We should spread doubt.