Tuesday, August 23, 2005

SCIENCE VS GOD

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Picture of how Christians used to debate scientists.

By Elaine Meinel Supkis

This summer, the NYT promised to give more time to the Christian right wing and try to understand them by pandering to them. This assault on the saner side of America continues. From the NYT:
At a recent scientific conference at City College of New York, a student in the audience rose to ask the panelists an unexpected question: "Can you be a good scientist and believe in God?"

Reaction from one of the panelists, all Nobel laureates, was quick and sharp. "No!" declared Herbert A. Hauptman, who shared the chemistry prize in 1985 for his work on the structure of crystals.

Belief in the supernatural, especially belief in God, is not only incompatible with good science, Dr. Hauptman declared, "this kind of belief is damaging to the well-being of the human race."

But disdain for religion is far from universal among scientists. And today, as religious groups challenge scientists in arenas as various as evolution in the classroom, AIDS prevention and stem cell research, scientists who embrace religion are beginning to speak out about their faith.

"It should not be a taboo subject, but frankly it often is in scientific circles," said Francis S. Collins, who directs the National Human Genome Research Institute and who speaks freely about his Christian faith.
This is so silly. The reason scientists don't talk about religions---yes, that is religion with an "s"---is simple.

It is inappropriate.

If one wants to spend time talking about religion, one does this "off hours". I know for a fact that many scientists think about sex a lot. But they don't do that while doing scientific work unless they are studying living things---then it is a very vital part of the work and it can't be done by closed-minded homophobics, for example. They toil away at proving their mental illness is really a good thing. This is the same with people trying to understand the universe. If they are out to justify the existence of a particular god/goddess/pantheon of gods then they are not on a scientific quest but on a campaign to justify their pet beliefs.

A word of warning comes from Britain. From the BBC:
That is why there is furious bewilderment here in the universities and the higher levels of business at the chilly indifference - not to say hostility - of the Bush White House to science. Actually, I've seen a movie like this once before and I know how it ends.

When I was a science reporter in Britain in the 50s, it was a thrill to visit the centre of government research, the National Physical Laboratory at Teddington, Middlesex. It was hallowed ground.

I was in the lab where Watson Watt did his breakthrough work on radar in time for the Royal Air Force to find the Luftwaffe in the invisible skies and win the Battle of Britain.

I stood in awe before that much-photographed early computer - the wall-length monster called ACE - designed in 1945 by the wartime code-breaker, Alan Turing. It was then the fastest in the world, spewing out instant answers to reams of calculations I was allowed to feed into its innards.

You would have thought that the National Physical Laboratory would be the darling of every British Government. Not so. I was invited to visit at that time because they were concerned the government did not fully appreciate that science in peace was as vital as science in war.

The researchers were doing what they could on a tiny budget and even that was about to be cut. Not just in the government, but in business and society, there was a general indifference to science and scientific education that seems odd today.

The consequence of that inertia in government and lethargy in business was that the US came to dominate the computer industry, despite all the brilliant work of Turing at Manchester University and others at Ferranti.
Let's not forget who broke the genetic code! One of the problems that plagued Britain was the fuddy duddiness of keeping up appearances of a huge empire as it collapsed utterly to the point that they were on the verge of losing Wales, the earliest and closest conquest.

Whenever empires collapse, they fall apart intellectually, too. They cease creating and concentrate on keeping the imperial pretensions going despite not being able to afford it. And guess who is very deep in the red right now?

Imperial America!

True to the nature of all declining empires, we over expand and yet can't hang onto even placid provinces much less hot beds of insurrection like Iraq. To pay for the pomp and ceremony, our rulers are ruthlessly cutting the heart out of our science research. Even as they dream wild dreams of conquering Mars and the Moon (redux) they can't afford a trip downtown. The inventor of the internet and personal friend of Al Gore, Van Cerf laments the collapse of federal funding for new science ventures. Both the hard research and the allied applications are being cut.
He's the mathematician who is often referred to as the "father of the internet". From 1972 to 1986, he was one of the key people in the US Defense Department who made it possible for distant and different computers to exchange packets of information - and that's the foundation of the internet on top of which rides the world wide web today.

Nothing daunted, he is now working on the protocols for planet to planet communication. In short, he knows whereof he speaks. And Cerf has just emitted a cry of pain.
So Bush and Cheney will send people to Mars but they won't fund research in communicating with said pioneers. This shoestring budget mentality is destroying the space program. Generous money flows into weapons/spying/killer robot research but that is all classified so it contributes nothing to the continuing dialoge of scientists discussing nature and reality. It is a locked box in a morgue. And it shows up only when ready to kill.
Funding university research for that has been falling through the first Bush term and is now about half what it was in 2001.

All told, anyway, America now ranks sixth in the world in the percentage of its wealth it spends on R&D. Yet the downward trend isn't solely the result of the parsimony of "the hick in the White House", as one motor mouth put it.

It is largely a reflection of rising educational standards around the world, so it's a comparative decline. In real terms, no single country can even come close to matching the US in the total scientific investment by government, corporations and foundations.

So what is there to worry about? Well, there are some facts Americans find hard to swallow after decades of striding the frontiers of science. Fewer of the Nobel prizes go to American scientists, down to about half from a peak in the 90s. Papers from Americans occupied 61% of published research in 1983, now the total is just under 29%.
Back to the NYT need to obsess about beliefs in god/gods, that is utterly immaterial. A scientist can believe in any rotted thing he or she wants so long as it is private and doesn't leak into their work. The minute their pet beliefs interfer with scientific work, they are discredited because they are stupid.

Yes, dumb scientists are not scientists but just plain dumb.

I know that many scientific verities fall hard, look at the debates over cosmic matters, the old guard clings to whatever they were taught in school while new comers assert something different, but the debate is based on evidence and proof and verifiable data. Not pet beliefs. For example, debate rages over whether the universe is expanding or contracting. I assert it appears to be expanding but it really isn't, the vast, absolutely huge gravity pools created by monster black holes (there are only a couple thousand and of those, only a few dozen super gigantic ones!) have stretched space/time to the point where it will "break" suddenly...when they merge with each other. For all galaxies are falling towards bigger galaxies and this means, you can't have a one directional universe. We won't go backwards in time when the merger happens simply because we are not shrinking, the space/time plane is bigger than ever but the slope of it is downwards, not outwards.

This can be debated and exciting information coming in from our satellite observatories as well as the great complexes of observatories on earth, give us more and more data to chew on and fight over. But at no point can one simply assert there is a god doing these things unless one worships Lady Luck, the gal who rules our fates. She is nasty. She places odds on whether or not asteroids will annihilate us!

The Church has always been hostile to science. The first astronomer who asserted the earth went around the sun, Giordano Bruno, was burned at the stake in 1600! The Catholic Pope could not allow him to live. He and his contemporary, Gallileo, were forbidden to talk about the universe. Today, for religious bigots to complain about scientists not talking about religion, is to laugh. I know of no Christian burned at the stake by astronomers!

Christians hated historians, too. Any historian looking into the magical stories of the Christians immediately uncovers all sorts of funny stuff they want buried. This is why research into the origins of the Christian/Judiasm complex is attacked if it shows, at is inevitable, that the god created by these tribal groups was picked up from other gods created by other humans. The whole belief system rests on deceptions about itself. Pretending that Mary wasn't a tart who got pregnant out of wedlock but was this pure woman that god, with less sense of fun but more like a surgeon, instead of becoming a swan or a bull, simply transplanted his semen into a woman...gads, talk about funny! Anyway, one isn't supposed to look closely at this or any other fairy tale.

Just like the resurrection stuff. Unhinged followers of a cult leader claim he really didn't die. But only they could see him. This supposedly triumphant man who didn't die was too scared to show his face in public? What was he afraid of? Being executed?

It is sad, reading that part of the Bible for the people show typical powers of group delusional thinking. Doubting Thomas was put in his place by the eager solicitations of his close cult friends who had to toil hard to reprogram him. In the end, he gave up and joined them in delusion.

Getting followers should have been a snap for Jesus if he really did rise from the dead for all he had to do was go out into the world and say, "Hey, I'm not dead yet!" Then the marvels of his divinity would have been obvious for this hijacker of the Piscean triumph over the Aries sacrificial lamb would have been obvious to everyone.

But you see, it is all about the stars, what star clusters rise in the East on the Vernal Equinox. They change over time as the Zodiac moves through the various houses as our wobbly earth shifts relentlessly every rotation, the stars aren't fixed vis a vis the earth. The faith of astrologers is just as annoying. They still pretend, to this day, that the star positions of 2000 years ago are the same as today.

Supposedly, I am a Libra according to their charts only I am not. Born in mid October, I am a Virgo, the virgin. I also had a child out of wedlock but I didn't go around pretending that kid was a god. Gads. Burn me at a stake!

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