Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sacred cows make great hamburger

Seems some of the folks in Islam are in a tizzy over "Draw Muhammad Day." And it would seem Facebook, that bastion of free speech (assuming they agree with it), has taken down the page that goes with it. So, once again, the terrorists have struck a blow against freedom.

Is it offensive if someone draws a picture of your holy man? If that's the sort of thing that offends you, I'd suggest a five gallon enema and a ten mile hike! How can a society expect to rise above the level of mindless, superstitious savagery if they can't handle a little offense like adults?

As for the picture included here, I'm not saying I drew it. I'm not saying I didn't. I'm just posting it here for the artist.

Monday, May 03, 2010

The Bone of Contention

The quote that got my sister's Bible toting friend all worked up was this:

"In my searching, I have arrived at the opinion that Christianity has an unblemished record of utterly failing every legitimate scientific challenge to its claims since Galileo peered into the night sky." Nathan Phelps, son of Westboro Baptist Church leader Fred Phelps

And in re-reading it, I can't find a single flaw in Mr. Phelps' logic. Whenever religions, Christianity in particular, and science find themselves at odds, sooner or later, science wins out.

You can pray over Brother Darryl's physical affliction or you can rely on science based medicine to effectively treat it.

You can dogmatically say that the Earth is the center of the universe or you can see the Earth as the tiny, fragile speck of space dust it is and marvel in its rarity and fragility.

You can say that a single page of text trumps all scientific evidence and that man is the result of a whim of some supreme being or you can look at that evidence with an open mind and a skeptical eye and see that grand web of life that arose on Earth to see the marvelous interconnectedness of that life and how rare and precious each species is.

The point is this: science doesn't make our universe any less grand. In fact, the revelations of science have shown us what a truly incredible cosmos we occupy.

I have a fairly thorough understanding of optics on the quantum level and the mathematics of refractive indexes.

And I think rainbows are pretty.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

So what of love? What of science?

On my Facebook page, one of my sister's long time friends, who insisted on having me as one of her Facebook friends, took exception to something I'd posted that spoke in favor of science. Here's the quote directly from what she wrote, typos and all:

And what makes the son of a false pastor an expert on something he seems to know nothing about. Its more than just science. Can science explain love, not just a chemical reaction but sacrifiial love.

Now let's start by saying that in her Facebook profile, the author of the above lists only the Bible under books, has "worship music" as her number one music choice and identifies as a Christian and a Republican. So you can imagine that we're not going to see eye-to-eye.

However, I have to be honest. Science can't explain love. At least not yet. And perhaps it never will. But this doesn't mean that its inability to answer this question in any way invalidates the rest of science. Nor does it give validity to religion or any other belief system that relies on mysticism and the supernatural.

Once again, I'm faced with someone who thinks if they find one potential "weakness" in science, it proves that their system is right. But let's be perfectly clear on this one point. Even if a religious person manages to somehow prove that all the learning, teachings and discoveries that science has provided us are somehow completely and utterly false, it still doesn't prove their religious beliefs right. It ignores other possibilities. It creates a false dichotomy.

I will never claim that science proves religion to be false. It has, on numerous occasions, shown that certain ideas and beliefs held by religious people are false. We now know that the Earth actually moves. We know that the Earth isn't flat. We know that its impossible for stars to fall from the skies (meteors aren't actually stars... elementary astronomy).

Yet I don't have to prove that religions are false. I'm not making the claims. Those who claim them to be true have the burden of proof. If you make a claim, you'd better be ready to back it up, particularly if you insist that those claims give you some kind of special authority to govern how my children are taught, what I can and can't say, why we'll go to war or how I live my life.

And, no, your own book doesn't prove a damned thing except that someone at some time in the past wrote a book.