Wednesday, March 21, 2012
I'll do my running commentary routine, as usual. It makes me feel that I am part of a real time discussion. I'm sitting at Onna's computer watching the program, occasionally pausing it and dictating comments onto my iPad.
Krauss seems not to have a good grip on biology. His assertion, gently opposed by Dawkins, that life came from nothing is odd. He contends that life was not, then suddenly was, whereas it is far more likely that there was a continuum in which the self replicating molecules to which Dawkins refers became more and more life like. Consider the virus. It is not clearly alive, or is it? Ask different biologists and they will give differing answers as to how alive this unit is. Some will go so far as to insist that it is clearly a non living semi self replicating construction of chemicals, a structure, not a living thing. Others will state that is definitely alive, by their definition!
Dawkins is witty, as usual. I enjoyed his reference to the first gene as a John the Baptist molecule, that is, the precursor to DNA, probably an RNA variant. Recent studies has shown that RNA could have performed the basic genetic functions, though not as well as DNA.
God of the gaps is indeed careless thinking. I don't think it is
lazy, since evolution deniers will go to exhausting lengths to defend it.
Is life rare? Dawkins suggests it probably is not, In the light of all the planets we are now finding, including many around dwarf red stars and even binary systems (thought to have been impossible--Tatooine lives!) shows myriad "beachheads" exist. However, some astrobiologists wonder if life may be common, but that complex, multicellular life may be rare. Bacteria may be much more common than Tharks and Klingons So many factors limit the viability of complex forms...our own planet was occupied by only bacteria and, presumably, the viruses that preyed on them, for most of its history.
The rare earth hypothesis is interesting in this regard.
Why are there still monkeys? Answer: they fill the monkey niche. Darwin's wedges are the answer. I'll look that up and add it as a footnote. The best answer to this came from a female biologist who replies that this query is like asking, "Since I'm here, why do I still have cousins?"
Why isn't evolution happening now? Answer: bird flu, HIV, hemorrhagic fever, seaweed tolerance in some Japanese, etc.
I find it interesting that both men referred to Einstein's question, "Did God have a choice in forming the universe?" And then so quickly hurried to point out that Einstein was wrong to use the word God, that they practically fell over each other in their hasty urge to correct that terrible error on the part of the great scientist.
I haven't studied this particular issue in any depth. However, it seems to me that Einstein knew exactly what he was saying. And yes, he did mean God. Of course, he did not mean a personal god to whom one could pray, but God as first cause. The prime mover. The god of Aristotle.
I am reminded of the famous tale in which Neil's Bohr, irritated at Einstein's continual declarations that, "God does not play dice with the universe!"; snapped back, "Albert, will you PLEASE stop telling God what to do!"
In the same spirit, I say to Dr. Krauss and Dr. Dawkins, Will you boys PLEASE stop telling Einstein what to believe!
The multiverse. There's a concept that I love! It provides for permanence and a sense of enduring reality. Admittedly, things change within that multiverse, and it is less stable than Hoyle's steady-state universe, nevertheless it provides a sense of security.
The anthropic principle. In the multiverse, it makes sense. However, it does sound disturbingly like the arguments made by creationists. That is to say, things must have been designed. The multiverse answers that reintroducing evolution and therefore natural selection into the formation and survival of bubble universes.
I can not agree with Krauss' typicaIty argument. I do not see why we must be typical in order for theanthropic principle to make sense. All that is required is that we exist because the laws of the universe allow us to exist. Even if our existence is utterly unique in the entire universe or multiverse, the principle still applies.
There may be fundamental physical laws which may be beyond our reach. A disturbing thought, fundamentally different from the limitations demonstrated by Godel. but one which may all too real. I am unwilling, however, to concede that science may not advance to such a level that we will be able to accomplish that which is that now seen as beyond our comprehension. Indeed, which ARE now beyond our comprehension.
Wineburg, "Science doesn't make it impossible to believe In God. It just makes it possible to not believe in God"
Love the tolerance and balance of this quote. Now, how will the fundamentalist, evangelical atheist, Dawkins, respond to what is an inherent attack on his extremism? I'm hitting " play" to find out.
Krause is going on to other issues, Dawkins may just let it go.
Krause, "theologians and philosophers are experts in nothing."
So much for tolerance. It was clever, if shallow. In that regard, how is is possible that scientists do not recognize that every scientist IS a philosopher? A philosopher who adheres to empiricism? Is the education of science students so poor that they know nothing of the history of their own field? Apparently so.
Such a level of ignorance, in those who claim to revere the facts, is appalling and should be embarrassing. But, like their creationist foes, it seems that many scientists revel in their ignorance.
Krauss decries those call him shrill and dogmatic for making scientific statements with which they do not agree. This is beautifully ironic considering how shrill and dogmatic he becomes when he discusses religion.
"You know to be falsehoods." No sir, you mean what you believe to be falsehoods. In fact, even many atheists are not fundamentalist evangelicals like you. Remember the earlier quote from Weinberg! Dawkins needs a 6th grade lesson in the difference between opinion and fact.
And here we go! Mr. Super Genius, Only I Am Right. I understand everything. I know all! I tell all! All who dare to disagree with me are fools or monsters! is at it again. "They are fools! All fools! I'll show them!". Maniacal laughter. How can so brilliant a biologist who is dedicated to rational discourse, be so bigoted and blinded by his hate? Answer, he is only one of us. A poor naked ape struggling to overcome his evolutionary heritage, and sometimes failing.
Atheism is an interesting phenomenon. Bigotry derived from a utopian vision of everyone being just like me is not.
Finally, back to Wineburg! Tolerance is too weak for Dawkins. I am not surprised.
God is an excrescence, a carbuncle on the face of science.
I suggest bigotry is an excrescence, a carbuncle on the face of society.
I suggest intolerance is an excrescence, a carbuncle on the face of Dawkins' otherwise honorable character.
Krause then attacks all religion for what some believe. All atheists are not enemies of religion. All religious are not Jerry Falwell. This is the very definition of prejudice, to declare that all of THEM are...fill in the blank.
And now the ugly truth begins come into focus. An astronomer who teaches accurately, correctly, and factually should not be allowed to teach if his beliefs -- his personal and private beliefs -- are not in line with what is acceptable to Dawkins and Krauss. The same for a medical doctor.
Enter the thought police! Dawkins and Krauss are in favor of creating an atheist inquisition, in which those who dare to disagree with them on a personal, private basis will be forbidden to practice their professions matter how professionally they do so! Do these men ever listen to what they themselves saying? Do they ever think about the consequences of their utopian dreams?
I think they do not. Both appear to be sincere in their desire to do good, but then, so was Torquemada.
"You are an excellent physician, but we think you are a secret Jew. You are no longer allowed to practice medicine." -- Torquemada 1482
"You are an excellent physician, but we think you are a secret theist. You are no longer allowed to practice medicine." -- Dawkins and Krauss 2012
Dawkins on Mormonism:
At the risk of offending a Mormon who might someday read this, I will speak frankly. I have had Mormon colleagues. I have supervised Mormons. I found them to be reliable employees. I found them to be pleasant, enjoyable people. However, I find their theology to be one of the most obviously made up and frankly silly religions ever concocted by a lonely, horny teenage boy. I concede that Scientology is even sillier, but that's not saying much, is it?
But Krauss and Dawkins are prepared to create a religious test for employment! Need I say more? This is shocking! Frankly, this is disgusting! It is also very, very threatening to the existence of a democracy.
Dawkins knows an amazing secret! It seems that every politician he approves, and presumably everyone else that he respects or likes, is a secret atheist! His, and please forgive the use of this term, logic appears to be as follows: All religion is evil and/or stupid. All believers are evil and/or stupid. I know some believers who are neither evil or stupid. Therefore, they are really not believers, after all. They are secret atheists. They're only pretending. Just like every good intelligent person in the world. Yes, just like me.
How can a trained and expert scientist be so irrational and delusional? Asked and answered.
Note: This argument is identical to that used by believers who contend that all morality comes from God. Atheists therefore can't be good or moral. Know a good or moral atheist? He's a secret believer.
This taking and adopting the very arguments he rightly condemns in his opponents is typical of Dawkins and other irrational, sanctimonious True Believers. It is straight from the Radical Republicans' play book.
Krauss..."so that just questioning the existence of God doesn't become akin, in our society, to being evil.". No, you just want the opposite. It is stunning that that you cannot see your own hypocrisy, while being so sensitive to its identical twin in your opponents.
Remember, there are scientists, good scientists, who believe in God.
Bizarrely, the two ended their festival of attacking the intelligence and morality of religious individuas by bitterly complaining about the intolerance of religious audiences toward them! This after THEIR audience displayed intolerance toward those who questioned them.
Krauss says the faithful should understand science isn't about atheism, after having declared repeatedly that science is the implacable enemy of religion. Again, don't these two ever listen to themselves? They flatly and bitterly attacked religion at every possible opportunity, declared it their hated enemy, then they look bewildered and say, "Why don't the religious like us?". Yeah, who doesn't like people who insult and degrade you at every opportunity?
They are at the self pity thing again, so I will repeat... They spend many minutes insulting, sneering at, and very nearly dehumanizing believers, then they wonder why atheists are thought to be enemies of religion. Yeah, how could they think you don't like them?
Women are oppressed because of region. You just attacked the pigeons' delusion in a stimulus response experiment. Look at your delusion. It is the same. Post hoc ego prompter hoc. Religion is the excuse, not the cause.
Darwin expressed this view in a metaphor even more central to his general vision than the concept of struggle – the metaphor of the wedge. Nature, Darwin writes, is like a surface with 10,000 wedges hammered tightly in and filling all available space. A new species (represented as a wedge) can only gain entry into a community by driving itself into a tiny chink and forcing another wedge out. Success, in this vision, can only be achieved by direct takeover in overt competition.