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When presidential candidates get together onstage for a group discussion it's often called a debate. But real debates have well-defined scoring determining a winner as sure as the Super Bowl. Real debates have real coaches and real star players. And on any given Sunday, the underdog can prevail. But they're entertaining, as was watching engineer turned science educator Bill Nye (Seen on Daily Kos here) going up against Creationist Ken Ham. Oddly, one person telling Ham to please STFU was Pat Robertson:

“Let’s face it, there was a bishop who added up the dates listed in Genesis and he came up with the world had been around for 6,000 years,” Robertson began. “There ain’t no way that’s possible … To say that it all came about in 6,000 years is just nonsense and I think it’s time we come off of that stuff and say this isn’t possible.”

“Let’s be real,” Robertson begged, “let’s not make a joke of ourselves.”

Some advice for any news networks looking for someone to represent science when covering this: there's an entire blog full of talented professionals with loads of public speaking experience called the Panda's Thumb and a whole degreed faculty who do this for a living called the National Center for Science Education. Both institutions feature dedicated spokespeople armed with zippy one-liners and camera-friendly smiles.
  • Phil blogging at Bad Astronomy responds to 22 classic creationist points of malarkey and I swiped the same questions and followed suit.
  • A new preserved human footprint has been found dating to almost a million years earlier than when Ken Ham claims the world was created.
  • Enough of that messy wet science! The quantum computer goes commercial:
    Advocates claim quantum computing could be more powerful than standard silicon processing in that its small scale of operations can simulate problems too large to be represented in traditional computing systems. D-Wave markets its machines, which it started selling in 2011, as very large co-processors, handy for solving complex optimization and machine-learning problems that could overwhelm classically designed computers. Google has invested in one of D-Wave's computers and is evaluating the results.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 06:00 AM PST.

Also republished by SciTech.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Bill Nye: ". . . from whence—whence . . ." (23+ / 0-)

    I don't know that it makes him a great debater, but at the very least you have to respect Bill Nye for being willing and able to correct his usage on the fly.

    •  wince (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Alice Olson, eeff, Pinto Pony, palantir

      You can't make this stuff up.

      by David54 on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 06:20:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Debate... (7+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tb mare, Caj, Aunt Pat, RonK, annan, antirove, pvasileff

      "Creationism" is not the opposite of science. It's impossible to engage in a debate of the two. This is where the religious right has succeeded- in pushing the notion that they're even related at all.

      "Creationism" belongs in mythology class, science belongs in science class.

      Knock twice, rap with your cane

      by plok on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 07:10:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Creationism (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tb mare, Aunt Pat, RonK, thomask

        No, it belongs in religion classes eg. sunday school and comparative religions classes.

      •  Ham's goal is to have a debate in the first place (9+ / 0-)

        Ken Ham has been challenging scientists and professors to debates for a long time, with the same basic results that we see here.  Why would he do that over and over, if the other side is always the clear "winner?"  

        The answer is:  Ken Ham does this for exposure, and for the opportunity to flog his wacky ideas in legitimate venues.  He debates college professors so that he can bring creationism onto college campuses, and so his people can distribute literature outside the lecture hall.  College professors think they're handing this guy his ass in a debate, but they're just being used to bring creationism into the school.

        The debate allows Ham to spread an idea that is normally blocked from mainstream routes of dissemination.  It takes his ideas from a 4AM Christian radio show and puts it in regular newspapers and on CNN.  The scientist who agrees to debate him is essentially being used for his or her mainstream credentials, to get him in to places where he would normally be disallowed on account of being a crackpot.

        It also gives the false impression that there is a debate to be had, that there is uncertainty or scientific controversy over whether the Noah myth really did happen.  

        This is the same tactic used by all sorts of denial movements, from creationism to Holocaust denial to 9/11 trutherism.  Regular people think that you can take a bogus idea and scientific reality and settle the matter in a debate, but propagandists have a different set of goals.  They want to have that debate, and have it again, and again, regardless of the outcome.  They want to promote a bogus claim that won't stand on its own, and so they try to get it in front of as many people as possible, and try to portray it as a legitimate idea discussed by legitimate people.

        Ken Ham wanted to have this debate, and he knew exactly how it would turn out---because simply having the debate is a win for creationism.

        Taking jokes seriously is the exact mirror activity of laughing if someone says they have cancer. --jbou

        by Caj on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 08:30:57 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree with you 100%. A"debate" is worse (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest

          than a waste of time and air space. It plays into the hands of RR and serves their purposes and no others. It does nothing to promote science among the wing nuts.

          "There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats ..." - Kenneth Grahame -

          by RonK on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 09:13:35 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually, Nye is smart for doing this... (4+ / 0-)

            I agree with you on why Hamm is doing it, but I respectfully disagree with your contention that it's a waste of time for scientists/professors to engage. Science is at a real danger on the grassroots level, being attacked by the far right with little resistance from the scientific community. It is a slow rot. Firmly entrenched in science as the accepted standard, the left believes ignoring this is best. But as this rot permeates our schools and is taught to new generations, it has the danger to grow in size. Look at anti-science tea party representatives who are winning elections. No, they are not a major threat to take over the majority or White House any time soon, but rot grows and consumes. Nye and others are trying to reach kids in these communities to give them an alternative to what they are being told by their parents. Ham may wish that this added exposure legitimizes his platform, but it doesn't. People already firmly on the side of science aren't going to be pulled over by his weak arguments. Nye's genius is that creationist minded parents are exposing their children to a different school of thought, something they don't get at bible school.

            You wrote "It also gives the false impression that there is a debate to be had."

            Ham's ideas are no more legitimate than those that believe civil rights should be decided by a majority vote, but debate is merited because like any small problem, when left unchecked it grows larger.

            •  Thanks for your coment. I see your point about the (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RiveroftheWest

              insidious nature of this creeping anti-science and agree that it must be cut off or stemmed  somehow. I guess that it depends on who is listening to the program. If there were viewers with some degree of an open mind, then more power to the voices on the air.
              I would be interested in knowing the composition of the audience that watched the debate and how they saw it play out.

              "There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats ..." - Kenneth Grahame -

              by RonK on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 11:33:55 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Ham is using this to flog DVDs (3+ / 0-)

          for the money, to keep his troubled Creation Museum afloat. He means to push it as part of the Teach the Controversy curriculum that advocates of "Creation Science" Creationism and "Intelligent Design" Creationism have been pushing.

          However, selling the Ham-on-Nye debates to Creationist Christian homeschoolers and Christian private schools means that the children of Fundies will be exposed to real scientific arguments, questions, and methods, some of them for the first time, and will discover not only the arguments, but how and where to learn more. The Fundies are operating on the supposition that seems obvious to them that Ham won the debate on their terms. But that does not mean that their children will all see it that way.

          The Religious Right is losing millions of adherents a year to the normal cycle of death and the new generation gap caused by mass media, mobile phones, and the Internet. See The Incredible Shrinking Church, by former Southern Baptist Convention President Frank Page, for an inside view.

          As on many issues in the War on Science and the War on Everybody Including Each Other, doubling down makes things worse, even as many of them tell themselves that getting purer and louder and nastier can make up for declining numbers.

          So Ham's problem is that having the debate legitimates Nye and science among at least the children of Creationists.

          Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

          by Mokurai on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 10:45:24 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  What's the saying... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest

          perhaps attributable to Dawkins or to Hitchens when declining an invitation to a "debate" with a creationist:

          "Yes, while I am sure it would look good on your resume, I don't think it would look good on mine."

          "It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important." Martin Luther King Jr.

          by Arabiflora on Sun Feb 09, 2014 at 01:36:09 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  looking for an out (8+ / 0-)

    As I wrote last week, my wife has the answer to creationists--6000 years ago, god created the first man and woman to have a soul--before that, men were just beasts (my wife is not so sure many men have evolved past that).  If you sat that to a creationist, he might see the light, the out--and walk away satisfied.  That's necessary, we need real science in science texts--Americans don't need anything extra to make them stupid--we have FOXNEWS for that.

    Actions speak louder than petitions.

    by melvynny on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 06:14:16 AM PST

  •  That million-year-old footprint? (15+ / 0-)

    Strom Thurmond.

    Legal means "good".
    [41984 | Feb 4, 2005]

    by xxdr zombiexx on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 06:18:38 AM PST

  •  Better than Nye v Ham, let Robertson debate Ham. (12+ / 0-)

    Now that would be good tv. It would create millions of atheists overnight.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 06:20:11 AM PST

  •  What can we prove (7+ / 0-)

    Nye "the guy" should have pointed out one other thing that can be proven, which is that tall, unbelievable tales are inflated and errors are interjected with each telling.

    GAWD and the Bible are analogous to the story of the fish that got away.

  •  "Let's not make a joke of ourselves." (16+ / 0-)

    That is a quote for the ages.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 06:23:15 AM PST

  •  "Let's not make a joke of ourselves." (17+ / 0-)

    Sorry, Pat.  That horse has left the barn.

    The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain, is floating in mid-air, until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life. Jane Addams

    by Alice Olson on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 06:23:23 AM PST

  •  This clip shows Nye doing an excellent job! (13+ / 0-)

    I was one of the hand wringers that feared this would give too much play to the creationists and that Nye would not be able to get empirical evidence across to the audience in a way that could be understood easily. I was completely wrong, Nye's responses were elegant and clear and the other guy didn't really have much to offer to refute the data and instead just repeated that he would not question the word of god. So I relearned the old lesson I learned in grammar school that it is better to debate than to avoid craziness.

  •  But...but...but Satan Put Fossils on Earth to (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hohenzollern, palantir, RonK

    deceive us all about the age of the planet and mankind.

    And radioactive dating and the rest of science is a lie.

    (Ku Klux Kristians have already made a joke of themselves.)

    (And Pat Robertson is getting wiser with age.)

    (And GOD is NOT a Republican -- GOD loves the poor and disenfranchised, unlike rethugs.)

  •  Local LTE to Rep. Himes (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    palantir, Mary Mike, Naniboujou

    This is what you get when people refuse to use reason and logic.

    "Live right. Think left." Gregory Peck

    by bookwoman on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 06:54:20 AM PST

  •  The problem with Ham, as well as the problem with (14+ / 0-)

    many who reject what Ham advocates, is that he (mis)uses the Genesis text out of context.

    Plenty of folks out there who are able to take the Bible seriously, and have the background to do so, understand that nothing in the Bible was written to anyone in the 21st century. Ham's problem is that he would interpret it as if it were not only written to him and in this day and age but that the only interpretation that is proper is the one he imposes on it in this day and age.

    His problem is that he's an arrogantly ignorant man. Many of his critics make a similar mistake of concluding that his interpretation is representative and reflects the true meaning of the text. Wrong.

    Genesis, first, foremost, and always, is a religious text, addressing religious questions in a time and place in the past, subverting and co-opting the "established reality" of that day to set out a different way to view a relationship between the divine and humanity and between humanity and each other. It is the lead book of a long line of holy scriptures brought together by the Jewish people in exile. Why the books were brought together and for what purpose is lost to the ages.

    (I, for one, think the redactors wanted to make the point that human existence is one long shaggy dog story if it's not ultimately about helping each other. After all the same OT that gives us the flood also gives us the minor prophets who reminded them that mercy and compassion always comes ahead of religious practice and authority)

    Those who embrace creationism are essentially fundamentalists, whether they realize it or not. And fundamentalism, as Marty Marty has set out, is not rooted in one religion, but is a societal movement, originating in society change and fueled by fear. Those whose privilege and entitlement (i.e. Franklin Graham et al.) are threatened by thoughtfulness, peace, and compassion. Put another way, not interpreting the Bible to create insiders and outsiders (after all, the Bible ultimately teaches that everyone, even Jesus, is an outsider) means that the religious empires that the likes of Graham enrich themselves from have nothing to do with true religion.

    This is what the likes of Ham are ultimately defending, and it is the likes of Ham that Bill Nye was refuting. This is, however, not true religion and Ham's take on the Bible is incompetent bordering on slanderous.

    If anything, Nye was the wrong person to take Ham on: after all, Ham can whine about the atheist and his followers will ignore any good point that Nye made.

    The person to take him on - and likely get assaulted on the stage - would be a competent OT scholar who understands the background of the creation account.  No competent scholar will argue that Genesis has anything whatsoever to say about modern science. Good book: Nahum Sarna, "Understanding Genesis," Schoken Books, from 1966.

    My idea of the ideal GOP speech invariably involves negligent intoxication together with breathing helium for that special vocal nuance.

    by Superskepticalman on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 06:58:25 AM PST

  •  thanks for this feature - again - DS. We need all (10+ / 0-)

    the science we can get.

    I thought the debate was a success. No true believer was going to abandon the biblical security blanket, and no scientific thinkers were going to suddenly reject the need for evidence, but . . .

    At least some people were exposed for the very first time, to a passionate science evangelizer and a very long list of things that make scientific understanding more plausible and satisfying than rejecting anything not in an ancient and re-written book.

    As I noted in an earlier comment, the notion of Ham's that there are two divisions of science, observation science and historical science, is his attempt at a wedge issue, de-legitimizing every attempt at understanding what we were not there to see ourselves.

    And in response, I note that this troublingly close to what we think when we're two and play peek-a-boo. If you don't see it, it isn't real. I wish to point out to mr. ham that even when I duck out of sight, I still exist.

    Fear is the mind-killer - Frank Herbert, Dune

    by p gorden lippy on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 07:06:19 AM PST

    •  This (4+ / 0-)
      If you don't see it, it isn't real.
      is an interesting attitude for someone who worships an invisible God.

      I realize "If you don't see it, it isn't real" is your summation and not a quote from Hamm, but it describes what he was saying in a nutshell.  Can he not see the naked irony in that?

      No?  Ach!  Then I guess irony's not real either.

      Ted Cruz president? Pardon my Vietnamese, but Ngo Pho King Way.

      by ZedMont on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 08:47:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Why didn't Nye debate Ham's Religion? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    palantir

    Facts are not debatable while opinions are.

    A fact is a statement that can be proven true or false. An opinion is an expression of a person’s feelings that cannot be proven. Opinions can be based on facts or emotions and sometimes they are meant to deliberately mislead others
    Evolution is a fact, Ham's nonsensical religious beliefs that he portrays as science are nothing more than opinions he pulled out of his ass.

    And yet, Bill Nye let himself get drawn into a false debate about a scientific fact, while Religious opinions were considered off limits.  To the uninformed (most of the population) he gave the impression that the fundamental principle of Evolution was something that was uncertain and could be debated.

    And have you ever noticed how the right wing nuts, whether they be the religious nuts, or your everyday GOP science denialist, always try to use science to give legitimacy to their absurd pseudoscience claims?

    They know deep inside that science is our best path to understanding the physical realities that surround us.  They know that they are just pulling BS opinions out of their ass and they need to lie to the people around them so they have to wrap those opinions in the truth of science.

    •  Nye was not about to directly attack Hamm's (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pollwatcher, RiveroftheWest

      religion.  While it might have given him some personal satisfaction, it would have immediately snapped shut a lot of minds.

      Yes, I know their minds were shut when they got there, but Nye was so good that I think he may have planted some seeds of doubt in those minds which were even slightly cracked open.

      Internal doubt is a greater enemy of religion than external facts, because it can lead to self-discovery of the truth.

      Ted Cruz president? Pardon my Vietnamese, but Ngo Pho King Way.

      by ZedMont on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 08:55:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nye accepted, to play by anti-science rules (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wonmug

        If I told you that the earths gravity was caused by little tiny creatures holding everything down on the earth, the science response would be to ask where's my verifiable data to prove that assertion?  Ham was free to ask this of Nye, but Ham's sources were off limits for Nye.

        What was portrayed as a legitimate debate, and what many people who don't understand Evolution surely thought was a debate about science, was in reality a pseudo-debate that could never occur in real science.  The few persuadable people were given the false impression that this was a legitimate scientific process, when it wasn't.

        I would much prefer that Nye make a video with an actor giving the same arguments as Ham, but using the rules of science.  Any argument that has no verifiable data can be dismissed, while arguments supported by facts, can't simply be rejected in favor of an opinion.

        Bottom line, this fake debate was a wash at best in the world of public opinion, and possibly gave people the wrong impression that there are legitimate alternatives to Evolution that should be taught in schools.

  •  The problem with creationists is .... (8+ / 0-)

    that any change in their world view in their minds is a bow to satan. If you have an absolutist mind set than you are trapped in your opinion.

    I think that satan is probably a metaphor to cover human tendencies to do evil (I do believe that within the context of civilization evil does exist - anything that disrupts society and causes harm to people - the actions of Charles Manson, Hitler,  and Stalin come to mind, but these are easy targets and it is often more complicated than that.) I'll go further and say that I don't think souls exist.  But the difference between me and a creationist is that if someone brought me solid empirical proof of the existence of souls I would be forced to change my opinion.

    I fully admit that I don't know all the answers and that I might be wrong.  At the moment the evidence for evolution by Natural Selection is overwhelming, as is that for global climate change, the age of the universe, and such physical properties as gravity, the speed of light and the Laws of Thermodynamics. Until someone demonstrates that these are false, I'll stick with them.

  •  Anyone who travels the western US (9+ / 0-)

    as much as I do, and does so with open eyes and an open mind, would have a difficult time accepting any of the young-earth scenarios. The patterns of erosion and deposition, multiple layers of lava clearly deposited at different times, the still-visible effects of the floods from Lake Missoula at the end of the last ice age, all point to an ancient and constantly changing planet.

    Seen from an airplane window, the erosion patterns become even more clear.

    To believe that some deity waved a magic wand to make all of this happen at once is to wipe the slate clean on your sense of wonder.

  •  Agree. The problem is Biblical "Literalism"... (10+ / 0-)

    When viewed as myth & parable, the Old Testament is pretty interesting. Why did the Bronze Age Jews say that God took six days to create the Heavens and Earth? A truly omnipotent God would have just snapped his fingers and been done with it, right?

    The "six days" gives poetic recognition to the idea that natural creative processes occur over time. That's an astute observation by Bronze Age people who lived short lives and seldom traveled more than a day's walk from home.

    I like to put it this way: If you look for truth in the Bible, you'll miss the wisdom.

    Or, as Joseph Campbell would say, "It's a metapher!"

    “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
    he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

    by jjohnjj on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 07:24:04 AM PST

  •  I'm a card-carrying biomedical scientist... (6+ / 0-)

    ...as well as a card-carrying Christian. First career as a professor of biology at a top-10 (whatever that means) U.S. research university, second career as a founder of a successful biotech company, current career as a consultant to other biotech companies. Adolescence as a stoner wannabe seeker after enlightenment, early adulthood as a strident non-believer (whatever that means), and the last 25 or so years very active in the Presbyterian church. And I have absolutely no trouble reconciling these two halves of my being.

    Science and religion are BOTH belief systems. The former is a set of beliefs regarding how the physical universe works. Science isn't good because it is 'proven' or 'fact.' It is a frequent occurrence that scientists generate compelling data that seem to have the weight of 'proof' and constitute a 'law,' only for us to realize some years later that we scientists were simply wrong about that...the story is more complicated than we thought...so we formulate a newer, better 'law,' test the bejeezus out of it, and if the data hold up we accept the new law (until such time as it proves necessary to re-evaluate it). Science is 'good' simply because it WORKS. The whole point of science is to come up with ideas that work...that enable us to successfully predict "what will happen if I do this?", or to successfully connect seemingly unrelated events, or to explain in a compelling and logically consistent fashion why things are the way they are. As soon as an idea stops working we abandon it, and come up with a better one...better in that it 'works' better. And it just so happens that Darwin's theory of evolution powered by natural selection works incredibly well.

    Religion, too, is of course a belief system. But, for me at least, it is not a belief system regarding the physical universe (thanks, but I'll take science every time for that), but rather a belief system regarding man's moral universe (a subject on which science is, quite properly, silent). How should we behave? Why? Who cares? Give me one good reason to get out of bed in the morning? Should I kill that guy? Why does bad shit happen? When religion 'works'...when it makes us better, stronger, happier and more moral people...it's good. When it doesn't work, it gets replaced (or SHOULD get replaced) with a set of beliefs that work better. For me, my liberal Presbyterian belief system works great. It helped me raise two fine, morally grounded kids. It provides me with a large, close, and supportive community of like-minded individuals I really love, ranging from flashy transvestites to cantankerous old ball-capped bubbas with one thing in common...we respect each others' beings, as well as all the beings around us (which we codify by saying that we're all children of God...whatever that means). My religion's music and poetry and fellowship give my soul wings.

    If I was a literalist I would, of course, have a helluva time reconciling my science and my religion. I know damn well the earth isn't 6,000 years old, eating properly cooked pork is perfectly fine, and stoning adulterers to death is a really bad idea. But when I say "I'm a Christian" that means that I strive to follow the teachings of Jesus, who didn't express an opinion on any of those abovementioned issues. As for the rest of the Bible, I take what works (for me)...the Song of Solomon, for example, and Ecclesiastes 3:1-8...and I leave the rest. Just as I do in science. And I sleep very well at night.

    Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho

    by DocDawg on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 07:42:59 AM PST

    •  The problem of course... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aunt Pat, RonK

      ... is replacing the poisonous religious traditions with less malignant ones. Religion has no method of self-correction the way scientific investigation does.

      I disagree that Jesus did not express an opinion on Old Testament nastiness In fact the stoning of adulterers you mentioned is direct from him (Matthew 5:27), I can provide more examples of Jesus supporting that stuff you (wisely) reject if you want to see it.

      In my atheistic opinion, I think that what moderate Christians need is what River Tam suggests here:

      Everything Right is Wrong Again - TMBG (lyrics)

      by GreenPA on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 08:17:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Matthew 5:27 says nothing about stoning (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        enhydra lutris

        adulterers.

        I would say that Jesus interrupted the stoning of an adulteress; however, that story - one of my favorites - was apparently added after the fact.  It is not in the earliest extant manuscripts of the Gospel of John.

        Ted Cruz president? Pardon my Vietnamese, but Ngo Pho King Way.

        by ZedMont on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 09:04:04 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  The verse you cite, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RonK

        Matthew 5:27-28, says (in the King James version), "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." Jesus does not say here, or even suggest, "stone adulterers to death"...that notion is from the Old Testament, which is what Jesus is referring to as "said by them of old time." What he is saying (to me, anyway) is that our moral universe isn't composed just of the actions we conduct in the physical universe external to us, but also (and perhaps more importantly) the thoughts and feelings we harbor in our "hearts." He's saying (to me, anyway) that in order to be truly moral we not only need to struggle to avoid immoral acts, but also to struggle to avoid immoral attitudes. And I couldn't agree with him more.

        Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho

        by DocDawg on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 09:08:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  okay I that one wrong, sorry (0+ / 0-)

          ...what Jesus actually says is that not only Adultery gets you to hell but "just looking" does too.

          Here's the rest just so you know Biblical scholars agree Jesus and early Christian teachers did not reject the OT the way modern Christians have taken to.

          In Matthew 5:18-19 Jesus says he supports everything his dad did in the Old Testament.

          In Luke 16:17, Jesus says Old Testament law will never change.

          2 Timothy 3:16, says all scripture is valid.

          2 Peter 20-21, says that scripture is not open for personal interpretation.

          In Mark 7:9-13 and Matthew 15:4-7 Jesus criticizes people for not executing their disobedient children.

          1 Peter 2:18 says that slaves should obey their masters, echoing the slavery rules and guidelines in Exodus.

          Everything Right is Wrong Again - TMBG (lyrics)

          by GreenPA on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 09:39:15 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Nope, still pretty much wrong on all counts (0+ / 0-)

            Several of the verses you cite are not Jesus's teachings. As for the others, I won't waste everyone's time here arguing with you about it, but will just say in passing that your one-liner interpretations strike me as remarkably mean-spirited and shallow simultaneously.

            It's funny, you know; rabid anti-evolutionists insist on picking little individual things out of context and misinterpreting them..."Well, you know, we've only found a single Lucy skeleton," or "On page 127 of Origin of Species, line 13, Darwin clearly was incorrect in saying...." and they believe that this invalidates the entire edifice of evolutionary theory. Just as, in like manner, rabid antitheists (as opposed to atheists) will pick a single line of scripture, interpret it in the most bizarre fashion, and believe that this invalidates any possible moral value of religion. I guess I fail to see the difference.

            Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho

            by DocDawg on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 10:27:28 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You're partially right... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              godlessmath

              My interpretations up there are rather pithy and not a full treatise on flaws in the Bible. You can find that sort of thing if you want by better writers than I, many of them even Christian.

              I'm not making the claim that the Bible is all bad stuff there's lots of stuff I like in there too. And to a large degree, many Christians emphasize the good and ignore the bad, and that's just super.

              The difference is that Origin of Species is not a sacred text, the errors there have been more or less corrected by later writings. If Darwin were alive today he might write a second edition of Origin and no one would think twice about it.  But the Bible has been more or less preserved for two thousand years and people react strongly if one suggests taking out the garbage.

              Everything Right is Wrong Again - TMBG (lyrics)

              by GreenPA on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 11:09:36 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Jesus was clear on the old law. (0+ / 0-)

              Nothing Jesus said contradicts the OT claim that "adultery deserves stoning." The only point Jesus made is that no person on Earth is qualified to actually execute this punishment, due to everyone being a sinner. The Judgement is reserved to God.

              But this fact, again, does not change the fact that "adultery deserves stoning" is true according to both the OT and NT, something I think is false. Adultery does not deserve stoning, even if it so happens nobody is qualified to actually stone an adulterer.

    •  The main difference is... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dewtx, godlessmath, wonmug

      ...one of those two is testable and provable. The other isn't. That's why one of them isn't actually a belief system.

      Regulated capital serves the people, unregulated capital serves itself.

      by Alumbrados on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 10:36:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Science to me is not a belief but a process. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wonmug

      Or to use a slightly more accurate term for "science": "the scientific method". Now the scientific method is a self-correcting, verifiable and reproducible process for understanding the workings of the universe and nature. That's what I love about science—it doesn't matter what I believe about nature, it matters what I can discover and figure out about nature. Now a question more related to belief/philosophy/religion might be why does the scientific method work so well? But I'm less interested in the why science works than in the circumstance that it does work and how to use that method to glean out more understanding about nature. I loved what Bill Nye said in response to the question about what could get him to change his mind about evolution vs. creationism (i.e., science). "Evidence!" he said. That's science in a nutshell.

      Another related question might be why mathematics as a tool or a language of science works so astonishingly well to describe nature and make predictions. Now did nature produce mathematics or was mathematics simply a tool that was found to describe nature and the universe concisely and accurately? Again this is a question which could border on another belief/philosophy/religion question that I personally don't care about compared to the fact that mathematics is one of the most useful tools (along with observation, measurement, reasoning, etc.) in the scientific method.

      And also remember that all science is approximate—science is based on measurement which always has measurement error associated with it, experimental, statistical, or systematic. In physics, we treat the speed of light in a vacuum as a constant with a precise value (in fact it's now defined as a constant so that lengths can be determined from the speed of light and the standard for time). However, what this means is that the speed of light in a vacuum has been measured by different independent groups to the same value within their small experimental error, so we treat it as a constant of nature, as Einstein predicts. If a newer and more precise measurement yields a reproducible value outside the previous experimental bounds, then science would look at the speed of light again and re-examine it's nature—i.e., "Evidence" as Bill Nye said.

      But approximations are not all bad. We know that Einstein's General Theory of Relativity is a more accurate description of gravity than Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation. However, we only see a noticeable difference between the two when we're near high gravitation fields (e.g., the orbit of Mercury, the bending of light by the sun or distance galaxies, or neutron stars and black holes), or looking at the structure of the universe at its largest scales (i.e., cosmology), or doing measurements of high precision (e.g., GPS requires a correction for Einstein's General Relativity on the gravitational difference in frequency of the timing clocks in the GPS satellites compared to similar clocks in GPS receivers on the ground in order to achieve the best position determination). But for calculating the orbital path for a trip to the moon or Mars, Newton works just fine and is a lot easier to use than Einstein, which is just what NASA does. But even Einstein's General Theory is known not to be complete—it describes the transport of gravitational energy as a gravitation wave, but it doesn't incorporate any aspects of Quantum Mechanics. Einstein doesn't say anything about what will happen when a gravitation wave approaches energy densities high enough to result in detectable quantized particles of gravitation, or gravitons—i.e., the old particle vs wave conundrum of Quantum Mechanics, but this time for gravity. Needless to say there is no commonly accepted theory for Quantum Gravity at present, but there are many theorists hard at work on many ideas and hypotheses for Quantum Gravity and we'll just have to wait to see what the future holds and which measurements will support which hypotheses and turn the supported hypotheses into theories.

      As a retired physics professor I always said to my students on the first day of their first-year physics class, "You don't have to believe anything I'm going to tell you in this class. If you want, you can do all the experiments and math yourself and discover personally for yourselves everything I'm about to teach you this coming year. That's the beauty of physics and science."

      Finally being a physicist, let me end with a few quotations from my personal and professional hero, Richard Feynman.

      First, I like Feynman's way of describing science:

      "The principle of science, the definition, almost, is the following: The test of all knowledge is experiment. Experiment is the sole judge of scientific “truth.” But what is the source of knowledge? Where do the laws that are to be tested come from? Experiment, itself, helps to produce these laws, in the sense that it gives us hints. But also needed is imagination to create from these hints the great generalizations—to guess at the wonderful, simple, but very strange patterns beneath them all, and then to experiment to check again whether we have made the right guess." — The Feynman Lectures on Physics, 1963

      and

      "Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts." — The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, 1999

      Lastly regarding the argument that some people invoke to prove their existence of god because you truthfully say "I don't know" to some question of nature or science so therefore [insert agent of your choice here] must exist (i.e., the argument from ignorance, which I don't cotton with.) Here's Feynman:
      "Some people say, “How can you live without knowing?” I do not know what they mean. I always live without knowing. That is easy. How you get to know is what I want to know." — The Meaning of It All, 1998

      and

      "I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I’m not absolutely sure of anything and there are many things I don’t know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we’re here, and what the question might mean. I might think about it a little bit and if I can’t figure it out, then I go on to something else, but I don’t have to know an answer, I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without having any purpose, which is the way it really is so far as I can tell. It doesn’t frighten me." — The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, 1999

      But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, ... there are few die well that die in a battle; ... Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; — Shakespeare, ‘Henry V’

      by dewtx on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 10:49:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I can't disagree with much or any of what you said (0+ / 0-)

        except to say that over a lifetime in science I've come to the personal conclusion that, for me, science is indeed a belief system. Aside from the merely trivial (you have to believe that the universe as you perceive it is in fact 'real' and not just some fever dream hallucination you're having...which is untestable, and therefore a belief), more serious beliefs include:

        1. That the data upon which a scientific idea is based are real (i.e., not just made up). Scientific fraud does happen; not nearly as often as financial fraud, or religious fraud, but it happens. In principle, it can be caught, and it sometimes is (which is how we know that it happens), but in practice most non-earthshaking scientific observations are never replicated. This is actually a big deal in science today.

        2. The data are correct, and correctly analyzed. Because most data are never replicated, I have to believe that your instruments were properly calibrated (and, so often, they're not) and used, that you responsibly double-checked your work to catch dumb mistakes (ditto), that you properly applied the correct statistical tests (outside of physics research this is hardly ever detailed), and the like. Again, if you publish something earthshaking, like the claim that the neutrino has a measurable mass, then somebody's going to double-check that. But very little science is earthshaking, so very little of it ever gets replicated.

        All of this is why reputation is so tremendously important in science. One is naturally more inclined to trust the results of a scientist whom one believes to have a good reputation. And "reputation" is a belief.

        The guy who first taught me how to use a microscope cautioned me to be very careful with it, because "believing is seeing." Science is conducted by people, and people are weak and fallible.

        As regards your comments concerning "prove[ing] the existence of god," all I can say is that this concept is alien to me. I'm a Christian, but I'm not interested in proving the existence of God, not even to myself. Proving the existence of something...and even the very notion of "existence"...is the domain of science, the domain of the physical universe. As I said above, for me the domain of religion is the moral universe. Completely different domain, and one that science can't illuminate. Render unto Science that which is Science's, and unto Morality that which is Morality's. A lot of people get this confused, as did I for many, many years.

        Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho

        by DocDawg on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 01:23:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  What's that I hear you say? (0+ / 0-)

          "Dude, what's all this cr*p about a 'moral' universe? There's only one universe, and that's the physical universe!" I have to say I believe this is wrong, and here's a little thought-experiment you can conduct to perhaps prove that to yourself:

          Stare at a light source emitting light at a wavelength of 650 nanometers. Name the color you see. If you're an English speaker, you'll say "red," as would I, because that's what we were both trained to name it. But there's nothing "red" about 650 nm light. That "redness" is your internal perception; that "color" you see exists only in your head, not in any law of physics. Now consider the possibility that that perception you have when you look at 650 nm light is the perception I have when I look at 450 nm light...what we have both been trained to call "blue." In other words, when you look at a "red" light you see the color I see when I look at a "blue" light. OK, so let's test that, to see whether or not everyone has the same perception when they look at 650 nm light. Oh...wait a minute...it turns out there's no way to test that. It's untestable (or, if you can, please convince me otherwise...I've been mulling over this one for about 40 years, and have yet to come up with a test). We'll never know whether or not you and I share the same perception when we look at 450 nm light. It's as though you and I occupy two different perceptual universes, almost like black holes, between which there can be no communication (at least regarding color perception). This is especially bizarre because I think most of us will agree that our perceptions are based strictly on our nervous systems, which function strictly according to the laws of chemistry and physics...and yet, even within this one physical universe, there are embedded some 6+ billion different perceptual universes that cannot communicate.

          Oh yeah, there's more than one kind of universe.

          Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho

          by DocDawg on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 02:04:05 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You seem to be confusing two things (0+ / 0-)

            You seem to be confusing two things: the universe, which by definition includes everything there is to include and one's vantage point or frame of reference within that universe.

            I'm pretty sure we can put people in an NMRI or PET scanners  and study the relevant optic neuronal pathways used by individuals to observe different wavelengths of light and observe whether or not such individuals have statistically comparable responses along any particular measurable dimension or process within the brain.  From this we could in principle deduce whether or not there are significant differences in these responses that may or may not correlate with measurable differences with respect to morphology or physiology among these individuals and whether or not these make any statistically significant difference with respect to measurable differences in their behavior.  However, regardless of the outcome of such experiments, it may tell us that the universe as perceived by one observer may be different than that of another observer at a different position in that universe or that for all practical purposes there is no meaningful difference between observers.  In no instance would any such experiment lead to a conclusion that there is more than one "universe".

            •  Can you spell 'tautology'? (0+ / 0-)

              "The universe, which by definition includes everything there is to include."

              And sure, an MRI or PET scan might be able to demonstrate that two people looking at the same wavelength of light activate exactly the same neural pathways (except that that's bloody unlikely...it's extremely unlikely that any two brains have exactly the same neural pathways), but going from that to the conclusion that both must then be experiencing the same 'color' perception is also a tautology, because it requires the assumption that identical neural activity patterns in two individuals will generate identical color perceptions in both...which is pretty much what the experiment was attempting to test.

              Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho

              by DocDawg on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 07:30:24 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Mathematics is the study of patterns of (0+ / 0-)

        whatever kind. Therefore if there are patterns of any kind in nature, math covers those patterns.

        Sometimes we do math, and then find that kind of math in nature, as in the application of group theory, invented to analyze polynomial equations, to the Eightfold Way for subatomic particles that led to our understanding of quarks. Sometimes we look at nature, and realize that we have new patterns to use in new kinds of math, as in Fourier's Analytical Theory of Heat, where Fourier derived the Heat Equation, and then invented Fourier analysis as a tool for solving the equation.

        The only way this doesn't work is if nature does not follow a pattern, which would be the case if miracles occurred. We have not encountered this problem.

        Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

        by Mokurai on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 03:47:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well (0+ / 0-)

          "The only way this doesn't work is if nature does not follow a pattern, which would be the case if miracles occurred. We have not encountered this problem."

          Actually, for these we study stochastic processes and employ methods, such as Ulam's Monte Carlo Method, and then make statements couched in measure theory and probability theory.

          Recently, some mathematicians/physicists are arguing that the universe "is" math.  However, this doesn't make sense to me, since math contains contradictions and multiple inherently undecidable but irreconcilable models of logic, such as those proposed by Godel and Cohen concerning the Axiom of Choice.  How could the universe be contradictory in any sense other than a particular phenomenon being undecidable based on observations of limited scope?

      •  Thank you for your comments (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dewtx, RiveroftheWest

        Philosophically I couldn't agree with you more.

        The life and works of Richard Feynman are an inspiration for all scientists, even for ichthyologists such as myself.  There is a very definite joy about being part of the same process of scientific discovery as the greatest minds of all time.  Although there is little prospect of either attaining or being deserving of fame, there is always something very exciting about holding in my hands the very specimens collected by Charles Darwin or used by Georges Cuvier to describe the species.  Likewise, reading the ideas of Gauss, Newton and other famous scientists and mathematicians and trying to apply them to one's own life and work gives one a special joy and connection to science, the world, and the universe that transcends one's beliefs and provides insight into what is truly important.

        I too share Professor Feynman's view that science can help us not be frightened, especially of the reality that, like Prof. Feynman and other humans, I am little more than a very oddly evolved and specialized fish.  It is only through science that we will determine whether or not that early experiment of our ancestors, who had the courage to leave the water, will prove ultimately to be an evolutionary success.  Sometimes being humble enough to recognize reality is the greatest challenge of all.

    •  Some religions are only belief systems (0+ / 0-)

      There is also observational and experimental religion, as in Zen Buddhism. As the masters say,

      Even if what you say is true, if you do not know why it does you no good.

      Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

      by Mokurai on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 01:52:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Where does the physical world end and begin? (0+ / 0-)

      The problem with trying to place science and religion into completely separate spheres that will never overlap is that it makes religion completely without consequence. If religion has nothing to say about the physical world, or of  the "moral universe" has no connection to the physical world, then it is of no consequence to us. We live in the physical world.

      To put it another way, I could posit the existence of a universe X, completely disjoint from our own, a universe which operates on completely different rules than our own. I could explicitly state that anything I say about universe X has zero relevance to our own. I may come up with some amusing stories about universe X, but that is all they would be, amusing stories.

      No, the only way for religion to be relevant, is for it to make some claims about the physical universe, the sort of claims which science can also determine to be true or false. Otherwise it is just useless.

  •  Bill Nye did a great job. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    foresterbob, RonK, dewtx, RiveroftheWest

    I thought his point was to promote real education about science. The rest of it was just filler.

    Good job, Science Guy!

    •  In this regard (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, Nance

      I totally agree with you and Mr. Nye, particularly when he was making the point that the consequences of the difference between a scientific view and a religious view of the world have profound effects upon our economy, our standing in the world, and the quality of the environment we find ourselves depending upon for survival as a species or as individual lineages of our kin.

  •  on D-wave (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MoonlightGraham

    Yes, they got someone at Google to buy one. No, it's not currently a usable device and serious experts (Scott Aaronson) say their architecture means that it's not even on the pathway to ever being a real quantum computer.
    A post-doc friend here downloaded a standard algorithm quickly, ran it on his laptop, and beat d-wave's speed on their favorite benchmark by a huge factor as well as getting a better optimization result.

    So sure, maybe you should buy their stock, because they're great salespeople. Just don't buy their computer.

    Michael Weissman UID 197542

    by docmidwest on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 08:42:15 AM PST

  •  My son (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annan, pvasileff, dewtx, RiveroftheWest

    --then six years-old--was talking on and on about dinosaurs, as he often did at that age, when a mother of another child who was nearby approached him and said, "Sweetie, there are no more dinosaurs because they all died out in the Great Flood when Noah built the Ark."

    "Oh no," he replied. "If you look at the layers of sediment in a core sample of the earth, you can see the fossil history...." (or something very much like that and more--he talked this way at this age and earlier).

    The woman stood there for a moment in silence, then just sort of walked away.

    I don't think he changed her mind any more than Bill Nye changed Ken Ham's, but both exchanges were interesting to watch. Very fun to watch my son innocently, (he really just loved sharing his knowledge), using information he had gathered, just shut someone up.

    •  Ken Ham teaches otherwise (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest

      He says that enough "kinds" of baby dinosaurs went on the Ark to reconstitute all of the species, but that most went extinct after the Flood. He even suggests that medieval dragons might have been surviving dinosaurs, but did not bring up the Loch Ness monster.

      The Dilbert comic strip posited in 1989 that there was no evidence for dinosaurs dying out, so they must still be around. Thus we got Bob the dinosaur, his mate Dawn (the Nobodysaurus) and their son Rex. All of them had been hiding behind Dilbert's couch.

      Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

      by Mokurai on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 04:06:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest

      If there is value to be recognized in all this it is that we need more "white knights" than simply relying on Mr. Nye.  Scientists everywhere need to engage people in the joy of scientific discovery and more importantly the methods and details of science.  We need a culture of science far more than we need culture warriors.

  •  Perhaps, the most pertinent comment on the whole (0+ / 0-)

    blog is the one addressed to Pat Robertson, who remarked something about "not making fools of ourselves":  "That horse left the barn a long time ago."

    And, of all those who have made fools of themselves - and go right on making fools of themselves, braying in the barns with steeples every Sunday - no one is a bigger fool than Pat Robertson himself, with his idiotic "predictions" about what his silly notion of his imaginary "god" tells him  is going to happen, because the Nation isn't following Pat Robertson's idiotology.

    Superstitious ignorance, and arrogantly stubborn stupidity, are NEVER worth wasting time on, by attempting to conduct intelligent debate with them!  And, for the most perfect example of both these "fundamentals/fundamentalism" of Western belief-systems/religions, one needs only to take a brief look at the imbecilic nonsense called "creationism", and its proponents, the "creationists".

    •  I respectfully disagree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest

      It is only by conducting intelligent conversation that we have any chance of convincing people that intelligent conversation and debate are not only worthwhile, but also more likely to move the larger cultural debate toward actually addressing problems that not only affect us all, but to also solving problems that can not be solved by avoiding intelligent conversation and debate.  

      The reality is that we live on a rapidly deteriorating and ever more crowded planet.  Thinking that we can solve the problems inherent in that reality by ignoring the thoughts, actions, however mindless, and their consequent effects of those we vehemently disagree with or attempting to impose our own without dialog are probably the surest ways to failure.  

      For this reason I applaud Mr. Nye and his approach to interject reason and respect into what might otherwise seem as though it were a useless exercise.  Likewise, I encourage others with knowledge of science to both encourage it and to  share it with those who have less or sadly none at all.  Leaving people uneducated is not a solution to the problems posed by either ignorance or zealotry.  Instead, we need a much broader understanding of science and how it can be used to address problems that may seem to be only of a cultural or religious nature.

  •  To most layman, Science is accepted on faith. (0+ / 0-)

    When Bill Nye makes an assertion about the cosmic microwave background, I don't feel compelled to check the math or start building a horn antenna in the backyard.

    I have faith that if I were to do so, I would be able to replicate the results of prior experiments.

    My personal conviction that science-based knowledge is True results mainly from the indoctrination I received in grade-school. I adhere to that conviction mainly because my peers do also.

    Not so different from religion, really.

    I can see how - in the public at large - the fundies can say, "your group consensus is no better than my group consensus".

    Public arguments over evolution and global warming rarely rise to the level of evidence. It's mostly about "who's more credible".

    “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
    he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

    by jjohnjj on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 01:19:05 PM PST

    •  Well, now, wait a minute (0+ / 0-)

      Although elsewhere in this thread, as both a religionist and scientist, I maintain that both religion and science are belief systems (and so I agree with you there), they are, in fact, very different belief systems. I can, in principle, test my scientific beliefs (provided you give me enough money). I can't test my religious beliefs, no way, no how. So, in that respect, they're two very different kinds of belief systems. Of course, one isn't 'better' than the other, any more than pistachios are better than double-entry bookkeeping. They function in two different domains, and any attempt to compare them, compete between them, or debate them is just a waste of time, however much fun it may be.

      Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho

      by DocDawg on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 02:33:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Science is not a belief system (0+ / 0-)

        Science is a method for deciding among different "belief systems" on the basis of empirical observational and utilitarian values defined within the context of experiments.  If I had to guess, I would say religion and "faith" are not methods in any sense comparable, but rather form of defense mechanism or subterfuge used by the brain to avoid the unpleasantness of fear and confusion surrounding the unknown, particularly that surrounding death.

        In any event, modern advances in neurobiology are making strides in our understanding of how the difference actually physically manifests itself within the human and animal brain and what happens when the brain seems to function without it, most notably in organisms with relatively weakly developed or not highly evolved brains.  

        Fun it may be, but for science the relevant issues are how the experiments are designed and what results are obtained and what can be logically deduced from the results.  I agree that the analogy of a mathematical (set theoretical) map (morphism) is useful in understanding this, and that the domain and codomains of science and religion are different as are probably as well the operators of the mappings themselves, and in many respect incomparable.  Probably, the more general notion mathematical notion of relation is more useful than that of a function, despite the complexity of the Cartesian product space involving so many different anatomical parts and physiological processes.  However, the physical and conceptual domains are NOT mutually exclusive, your false assertion notwithstanding.  

        •  Religion does not have to be nonsense (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest

          Buddhists are taught to verify teachings. Many do not, of course, and there are even violently Fundamentalist Buddhists, but that does not change the core teaching, which flatly contradicts all religions of revelation.

          Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

          by Mokurai on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 06:17:03 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Really? (0+ / 0-)

      "I have faith that if I were to do so, I would be able to replicate the results of prior experiments."

      You must have a very strong faith, particularly in your math skills.  I'm still still struggling with elementary, yet fundamental ideas in real analysis, topology, and measure theory.  I can't imagine myself yet having the ability to deduce the frequency of background radiation from the Big Bang.  I guess I'm still hopeful of having my own conceptual big bang, but as yet have no faith that it will occur any time soon.

      At least, if folks are beginning to talk about credibility, then  there's a chance that notions of probability theory may soon follow.  Then again, perhaps its only an expression of the reality that a continuous but nowhere differentiable function under Brownian motion will eventually be completely space filling and that eventually we may stumble upon every fact only to discover it still provides us no understanding.

      •  The frequency distribution of background radiation (0+ / 0-)

        from the formation of neutral hydrogen, which occurred about 380,000 years after the big bang, can be derived to a good approximation from the Planck equation for black body radiation combined with the temperature of recombination, which is about 3000 K, divided by the red shift since then, z~1100. You can look up more precise values.

        A more precise calculation to account for the tiny anisotropies in the background requires using a model of cosmic inflation. I can point you to people who do that sort of thing and who thus worked out the age of the Cosmos since the Big Bang and the value of the Hubble Constant from WMAP data, but I don't know how to do it myself.

        The frequency distribution in the various forms of energy from the big bang cannot be computed using known physics. We can at best go back to the Planck time, 10-43 second later, and that requires us to make conjectures about suitable extensions to the Standard Model to describe the unification of the electroweak, strong, and gravitational forces. We know a good deal more about succeeding epochs as the various forces separate from each other, up to the inflation epoch, at 10-32 second. After that the current Standard Model with dark energy works quite well.

        Various people attempt calculations on these various states from time to time as we come up with new conjectures and as we get better computers. It is not difficult to find out who the most prominent of these people are using general-purpose and scientific search engines. You can get an overview from the references in Wikipedia's article on the Big Bang, and from pages linked from there.

        Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

        by Mokurai on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 08:57:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  What dimensional space do you live in (0+ / 0-)

        if "a continuous but nowhere differentiable function under Brownian motion will eventually be completely space filling"?  Break on out to the beautiful 3-D world!

        Michael Weissman UID 197542

        by docmidwest on Sun Feb 09, 2014 at 10:12:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I can show you how to test much of modern (0+ / 0-)

      science by simple observation. First-graders, when challenged, can think of half a dozen observational proofs that the Earth is round. Third graders with a video camera, or anybody with a DVR, can trivially verify Galileo's theory of gravity, which gives parabolic paths for thrown, hit, or kicked objects such as baseballs and basketballs. Any schoolchild can verify conic sections with a flashlight, and then the parabolic path of water from a water fountain.

      A few more observations and simple experiments take us up through Copernican, Keplerian, and Newtonian astronomy and gravity, conservation of energy and momentum, classical optics, acoustics, geology, electricity and magnetism, and most of the rest of classical physics. A considerable amount of chemistry (baking powder, for example) and biology (yeast) are within the scope of the kitchen, and there are books on kitchen science.

      One can do basic experiments in Quantum Mechanics, too. Einstein explained the photoelectric effect used in every light sensor and digital camera, and you verify that it works every time you take a cell phone pic. The math involved is quite simple, nothing like the math in Brownian motion or Special Relativity, which Einstein also worked out. But you can see Brownian motion in a microscope, and we can verify Special Relativity through communications with satellites. General Relativity, too. Both are needed for GPS to work.

      You can see quantum interference in sunlight on your thumbnail, and it used to be possible to see quantum noise on analog TVs not tuned to an active channel. You can buy cheap lasers at the drug store or stationery store, and do elementary interference experiments at home. My son used a gas laser from an old typesetting machine to make holograms for his school's science fair.

      Anybody not mired in poverty can afford a telescope of modest size or digital oscilloscope software for a home computer. In fact, such software is included at no charge in the One Laptop Per Child XO, and in standard Linux distributions, including Edubuntu. I wrote a market study in 1995 on Personal Instruments, hardware and software. Far more is available now. Even most poor people can get to a telescope party on occasion, and use a computer at a library.

      What you cannot do at home is build and operate major science equipment such as giant telescopes (especially space telescopes) and accelerators, or X-ray imaging and other things that produce harmful radiation. But schoolchildren can sometimes get observing time on Hubble and other major instruments, and anybody can access the data from NASA and NOAA (including global warming measurements) and other science organizations. Astronomy Picture of the Day gives daily examples with explanations, including visual examples of General Relativity, such as gravity lenses.

      You might have a problem with some of the math used in Quantum Mechanics (partial differential equations and infinite matrices) and Relativity (non-Euclidean geometry, tensor analysis, and differential geometry), but you can understand a fair amount of the results from them, like light being bent by gravity, or the formation and observation of neutron stars and black holes, even if you can't calculate the results yourself.

      Now compare that with the first and second century argument over Jesus appearing as a man or only in the form of a man (homoousios vs. homoiousios), which led to fist fights in the streets. Or full-immersion baptism vs. sprinkling, or wine vs. grape juice for communion, or any of the other imponderables that people use to distract themselves from helping the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the stranger (immigrant) among you.

      Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

      by Mokurai on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 05:24:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Failing of Science Education (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest

      I agree that it is true that most laypeople take science on faith, and that is due to a misunderstanding of what science is and does. To give you an example, you say:

      "I have faith that if I were to do so, I would be able to replicate the results of prior experiments."

      I don't have faith that if I were to run my own calculations and lab experiments, that I would get the same results. This because it is possible previous results are in fact wrong, and somehow all those scientists overlooked something. This is the correct attitude to have in science, all those kids in high school rolling balls down a plank of wood are just as much verifying the law of gravity as they are checking their understanding of it.

      This is exactly why fundies are wrong when they claim their group consensus is just as good as ours, because "group consensus" is not what they are selling. When Nye stands up and tells us about background microwave radiation, he is telling us that is the best explanation of current data available. When Ham tells us about Jesus Christ being our savior, he is claiming no evidence to the contrary is even possible.

  •  Where do you derive *objective* meaning of life? (0+ / 0-)

    From the slate article, on answering creationists questions. A better way to answer it is this:

    Same place people of religious faith get it, from what other people said gives life objective meaning.

  •  For those who take the Bible literally, (0+ / 0-)

    especially the Old Testament...

    Remember that incest is a forbidden sin.

    Eve was actually a part of Adam's body so she was his clone and yet they had sex and children.  Is that even worse than incest?

    So all their children were the produce of, effectively hermaphroditism.  Those children had no one to have sex with but each other.
    So all of Adam and Eve's grandchildren were the product of incest, or cloning.

    No matter how you translate it we are all the product of incest and anyone we have sex with it is incest.

    If you take the Old Testament literally.

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