Monday, February 26, 2007

A story rewritten...

About the time I stopped flirting with Deism I began writing more stories and using more metaphors for things instead of being more reasonable/intellectual. Here's one from about that time, now modified a bit.

A story of a creature of the earth, the earthling/Adam and its Maker.

One day a Man said, "I think I will make a mini-me." He will be like Me but very, very mini, a tiny little one, like Me...but mini. Then this mini-me will have me to talk to and it will be nice for him. I like to make such nice things, so I will make him. And so He made Himself a tiny little mini. He was like that, making things. He also made Himself many other nice things but left something out. Now He and his mini had some conversations about many things, so many things. For He had made many nice things. One day, the mini-him said, "I noticed something after naming everything, you know!" But He just laughed...then said, "What is that?" And he replied, "Well, after the first couple of course I noticed." He laughed again, He liked to laugh. But then He said, "Oh...alright." So He made the mini-him go to sleep and then split the mini-him in two so that he could be a couple too.

...the mini-him woke up and said, "What happened?" But the Man just said, "I am the Maker and what I make is good!"

"Whoa, Man! You are right." replied the mini. Then the Man said, "Of course I am. I am always right. I AM that I AM! Every jot and tittle is always just so."

"Yes, every tittle...I say, some tittles seem rather titillating..." But then a voice said, "Don't you have work to do?"

"Wait, she talks too?" The Man just laughed....and as He walked away He heard, "How's my figure?" and thought, "The code I used to form that one will be hard for my little fellow to figure out! I figured her to be a well-rounded type of being and so it is, after all. Haha..."

The End

A few theological points....I don't believe that God has some sort of physical image as we know it which he then made man in. If one looks to all the scripts of scriptures in order to grasp the concepts being expressed throughout them then it becomes clear that God is a Spirit that has a separate type of ontological status altogether. The closest we could get as physical beings are statements such as "God is light." and so on. Given God's transphysical/spiritual ontological status no graven image is to be made because all such imagery is based on physical things. And in the end it is humbling for God to take on the physical form of a man in the Christ as the metaphoric Light of the world and so on.

All that is to say, it seems that being made in the image of God is a reference to man's spiritual nature and his status as a sentient being with a capacity for words, will and whim.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Using your imagination...

A fellow blogger has begun collecting Darwinian stories, if she keeps at it long enough I suspect that she'll find an evolutionary story similar to "How the red squirrel secured its nuts." fit to any set of empirical observations about squirrels, even if they contradict each other.

Evolutionary stories can be imagined in order to explain how the squirrel lost its nuts or gained its nuts, why the squirrel went nuts or didn't go nuts, and even why the squirrel has big nuts.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A breath of fresh air...

Charlatanism is the rule among many scientists, so it's good to see someone go against it every once in a while:

“The history of organic life is undemonstrable; we cannot prove a whole lot in evolutionary biology, and our findings will always be hypothesis. There is one true evolutionary history of life, and whether we will actually ever know it is not likely. Most importantly, we have to think about questioning underlying assumptions, whether we are dealing with molecules or anything else.”Jeffrey H. Schwartz, Professor of Biological Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh, February 9, 2007, Source

Cf. Uncommon Dissent

Saturday, February 17, 2007

A critic of censorship....

Michael Egnor, neuroscientist and ID supporter commenting to a journalist:
One of the things that has flipped me to the ID side, besides the science, is the incivility of the Darwinists. Their collective behavior is a scandal to science. Look at what happened to Richard Sternberg at the Smithsonian, or at the sneering denunciations of ID folks who ask fairly obvious questions that Darwinists can't answer.

The most distressing thing about Darwinists' behavior has been their almost unanimous support for censorship of criticism of Darwinism in public schools. It's sobering to reflect on this: this very discussion we're having now, were it to be presented to school children in a Dover, Pennsylvania public school, would violate a federal court order and thus be a federal crime.

I know what you're going to say: 'but criticizing Darwinism from the perspective of ID in schools violates the First Amendment Establishment Clause'. The Establishment Clause was written to prevent the establishment of a national denominational church, such as the Church of England, that would suppress other denominations. Do you honestly believe that this discussion we're having now, which is just the kind of discussion of Darwinism that Judge Jones banned in Dover, establishes a national church? Which denomination? It's a vapid argument.

In distorting the Establishment Clause beyond recognition, Judge Jones ignored the First Amendment clause that most of us (and especially journalists) feel is at least as important as the Establishment Clause: the right to freedom of speech. Jones censored this discussion in public schools, using the enforcement power of the federal government. Not a peep from science journalists about freedom of speech. Not a peep.

The discussion we’re having now is obviously scientific, not religious. Journalists and scientists should be the first to speak out against criminalization of scientific discussion in any arena. In this debate, they seem to have no problem with it. You (Mike Lemonick) should be ashamed of your silence about (or even support for) this kind of censorship.

Not a single notable Darwinist, to my knowledge, stood up for freedom of speech. If things were reversed, I and most of my ID colleagues would strongly oppose criminalization of this discussion in any forum, even if it would further the ID point of view. Censorship, enforced by criminal sanctions, never has a place in science, in any venue. All scientists, and journalists, should agree that.

If you want us to all get along, stop making discussion of our side of the argument in schools a federal crime.
(From the science blog of TIME)

He argues well in the thread.

Friday, February 16, 2007

A history of carbon dioxide?

Recently an editorial published in the News Journal contained numerous statements about history, although I'm relatively certain that the author feels they are scientific statements that are subject to verification/falsification. Usually statements about the ancient past cannot be falsified and therefore they cannot be verified empirically. If ancient history can be made a science or there is a "historical science" it is certainly a soft and malleable type of knowledge/scientia that is subject to small amounts of empirical verification.

When I read or see historical science on PBS and the like, the effect achieved by layers of assumptions stated as verifiable fact seems to demand assent in an "overwhelming" way. I think that is the sort of effect that those who believe in the Darwinian creation myth are quite taken with. An "overwhelming" psychological effect brought about by claims of science and assertions of fact and so on is not actually empirical though, nor necessarily reasonable, sometimes it isn't even logical on its own terms.

On to the editorial:
Over the past four and a half billion years of Earth's history, there have occurred at least five catastrophic mass extinctions, and perhaps a dozen lesser ones, of most plant and animal life. They were caused by the volcanic eruption of carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, trapping heat and raising temperatures with disastrous consequences.

Vulcanism is substantially over, but a new culprit has arisen - mankind.

How do we know this? Earth's history is embedded in the layers of sedimentary rock laid down over millions of years.
(A brief history of CO2
Wonder how much harm it can do? Consider extinction
By Robert M. Busche

It seems traditional now for scientists to state numerous assumptions as if they are empirical facts. For instance there is the history of the uniformitarian school in geology. Uniformitarianism is the assumption that current processes are responsible for the majority of rock formations and the like, as opposed to catastrophism. The established school for now is uniformitarianism and so the average geologist generally reads earth's history out of the rocks by assuming that current processes are responsible for it all as a matter of principle. But blind adherence to such a principle is like setting an hourglass full of sand down in front of a bunch of toddlers and then assuming that you will be able to come back and measure how much time has passed by how much sand is left. A uniformitarian assumes that nothing has happened to change the rate of the passage of sand through the hourglass because they view current empirical observation as the key to its history, even when it is proven empirically that toddlers nock things over and play with them.

Without the blinders of uniformitarianism it can easily be seen that cataclysm and catastrophy may be the rule rather than the exception when it comes to reading history out of rocks. Therefore you can't necessarily read a million years into a thin layer of sediment.

The editorial goes on as if every interpretation based on uniformitarian assumptions is an empirical or historical fact:
In examining these layers, scientists have found some layers practically devoid of fossil remains. The age of these layers has been estimated by several analytical procedures.
The earliest of these mass extinctions occurred 245 million years ago at the close of the Permian epoch, when carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere peaked at 3,000 parts per million. The second, 190 million years ago in the Triassic period, had carbon dioxide at 1,300 parts per million. The third, 170 million years ago in the Toarcian period, had carbon dioxide at 2,000 parts per million. The fourth, 100 million years ago in the Cenomanian/Turonian, had carbon dioxide at 1,300 parts per million. And the last, 54 million years ago in the Paleocene epoch, had carbon dioxide at 950 parts per million.

These extinctions do not include the demise of dinosaurs when an asteroid hit the Earth 65 million years ago.

It's interesting that geologists allow themselves at least a little of their old focus on catastrophism and cataclysm. Apparently only asteroids are allowed to be posited these days. Note that before Charles Lyell and a conspiracy* of uniformitarian geologists took over much more was allowed, even the Great Flood that so many ancient people recorded as history. For as neocatastrophists are quick to point out, it can be observed that usually a toddler tips the hourglass that uniformitarians have assumed sits still. Yet Lyell built his intellectual house on such sand and was so sucessful in getting others to follow that uniformitarianism is now generally established and treated as fact by geologists. In fact, the sort of fellow who wrote this editorial probably really believes that he can read a vast history for the earth out of rocks or that someone has read the history of the earth out of rocks. We don't know isn't an answer with much prestige or political power, after all.

As for me, I don't know. But I do know that reading rocks based on faulty or questionable assumptions like uniformitarianism and then passing off your story about the past to the public as a "scientific fact" is intellectually dishonest, no matter how many times your average nature show does the same. All assumptions should be layed bare and people should be allowed to make up their own minds about the past based on empirical facts without being "overwhelmed" with storytelling.

*The reason I noted that Lyell and others engaged in a conspiracy is because that's what is in some personal letters published after their success. Things along these lines: "One of ours got the position at my university..." are a conspiracy. Once a set of ideas are part of the establishment they are what everyone is taught and the conspiring of like-minded individuals is no longer necessary.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Global Warming

There was an interesting letter in the News Journal today on the topic.

Climatologist is right to be skeptical of alarmist data

A Feb. 1 article referred to a global warming skeptic, Delaware climatologist David Legates. Legates' skepticism is substantiated by the scholarly literature. There is no solid statistical correlation between the minor increase in temperature and fuel emissions.

I came to the University of Delaware Geography Department to pursue a Ph.D. in climatology, after completing my master's degree in environmental science at Johns Hopkins. Throughout my years at both institutions climatologists and climate researchers have always been skeptical about alarmist data regarding global climate change. Why quote the worst-case scenarios when much more accurate models are more probable?

Climate can change by a few degrees and not indicate catastrophic change -- and it has many times in the past. Carbon dioxide has been in larger atmospheric concentrations than the present with cooler estimated temperatures.

The public must remember that human-induced climate change is still scientifically unproved. The data is inconclusive and must be scrutinized. I'm proud to attend a university with faculty brave enough to challenge the alarmist data and get to the truth. John Van Stan, Newark
I'm glad to see that there are some people around who are skeptical when it comes to science and some aspects of the scientism of our day. Not to say that they are cynical or reactionary, just skeptical in the traditional way that they are supposed to be. It seems to me that there are a number of reasons to be skeptical on this topic.

For instance there is the apocalyptic tone typical to those who believe in global warming, something that naturally draws forth skepticism given humanity's long history of false prophets. Prophesying the Great Doom and expecting people to change the way they live based on faith is something typical to religion. Not that I have anything against religion or even the notion of catastrophe and the Great Doom, especially given that the earth as we know it will certainly come to an end. (That is to say, it will be uninhabitable and therefore ended as far as life and the capacity for knowledge/sentience goes.)

Greens don't seem to understand that Nature and the earth have clearly been fit for Life, yet the music of the spheres by which we live is constantly going out of tune and ultimately every living thing in the universe is most likely destined to die. Generally Greens are not the sort of people who will admit to the sort of God that would fit and form Nature for life while also eventually letting every single bit of life die, so they shift to an odd sort of faith of the supposed good of Nature and the Earth rather than admitting to the nature of God and so having to deal with the archaic issue of good and evil. Greens are also generally a curious mixture of Left and Right (more leftist blurring than righteous definition), so they are usually among the first to claim that a mixture of elements are somehow evil incarnate. Sometimes even naturally occuring chemicals like carbon dioxide seem to become a blinding "pollution" in their Leftist minds.

You have to wonder at the distinctions they are assuming. There's never much of a clear distinction of principles with the Leftist mind. For instance, on the one hand the earth is overpopulated and yet on the other "pollution" is usually defined as that which harms human life or habitability. I.e. if it causes people to die then it is pollution...yet if less people exist then that is a good thing. For after all, then there will be less pollution and Mommy Earth will be saved!

It seems to me that a Christian view of things is more balanced and consistent. We can't "save the planet" anymore than we can move the sun, yet the moral imperative we feel to garden the Garden in our own small way while making a life for ourselves in harmony with it is a God-given part of us.

Related posts: It's global warming, so get out your ear muffs.
Global warming, global cooling and global excrement

Wednesday, February 07, 2007's been a long time.

It's going to take me a little while to get back into blogging now. I've read three or four books that are worth writing about in the time I've been gone. I also have some windsurfing pictures from a trip to Florida.

There's plenty to write about I suppose, there always is. But I'm tired now, so here's a picture of a sleeping chipmunk instead: