Tag: Science (home)

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" (I found it!) but "That's funny ..."

permalink source: Isaac Asimov
tags: Genius, Science

God runs electromagnetics by wave theory on Monday, Wednesday,and Friday, and the Devil runs them by quantum theory on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

permalink source: William Bragg
tags: Physics, Science

If scientific reasoning were limited to the logical processes of arithmetic, we should not get very far in our understanding of the physical world. One might as well attempt to grasp the game of poker entirely by the use of the mathematics of probability.

permalink source: Vannevar Bush
tags: Science

The conflict is thus no longer between faith and reason but between a reasonable faith and a faithless reason.

permalink source: Robert Morgan
tags: Apologetics, Science

Whenever anyone says, "theoretically", they really mean, "not really".

permalink source: Dave Parnas
tags: Humor, Science

Immaterialty of the soul. When philosophers have subdued their passions, what material substance has managed to achieve this?

permalink source: Pascal
tags: Reductionism, Science

Science is the refusal to believe on the basis of hope.

permalink source: C.P. Snow
tags: Science, Hope

There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.

permalink source: Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi
tags: Humor, Science

It has just been discovered that research causes cancer in rats.

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Humor, Logic, Science

Old chemists never die - they just fail to react.

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Humor, Science

A closed mouth gathers no foot.

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Wisdom, Science

Finagle's First Law: Science is true. Don't be misled by facts. Finagle's Second Law: No matter what the anticipated result, there will always be someone eager to (a) misinterpret it, (b) fake it, or (c) believe it happened according to their own pet theory. Finagle's Third Law: In any collection of data, the figure most obviously correct, beyond all need of checking, is the mistake. Corollaries: 1. Nobody whom you ask for help will see it. 2. The first person who stops by, whose advice you really don't want to hear, will see it immediately.

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Humor, Science, Trust

A couple of months in the laboratory can frequently save a couple of hours in the library.

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Discipline, Science

Cole's Law: Thinly sliced cabbage.

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Humor, Physics, Science

Laws of Experimentation: 1. If reproducibility may be a problem, conduct the test only once. 2. If a straight line fit is required, obtain only two data points. 3. Under the most rigorously controlled conditions of pressure, temperature, volume, humidity, and other variables, the organism will do as it pleases. 4. If at first you don't succeed, transform your data set.

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Humor, Science, Trust

When J. B. S. Haldane, remowned British physiologist and philosopher, was asked what his studies of nature revealed about God, he replied, "An inordinate fondness for beetles."

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Biology, Science

How Things REALLY Work Grand Prize Winner: When a cat is dropped, it always lands on its feet, and when toast is dropped, it always lands with the buttered side facing down. I propose to strap buttered toast to the back of a cat; the two will hover, spinning inches above the ground. With a giant buttered cat array, a high-speed monorail could easily link New York with Chicago. Runners-up: If an infinite number of rednecks riding in an infinite number of pickup trucks fire an infinite number of shotgun rounds at an infinite number of highway signs, they will eventually produce all the worlds great literary works in Braille. Why Yawning Is Contagious: You yawn to equalize the pressure on your eardrums. This pressure change outside your eardrums unbalances other people's ear pressures, so they must yawn to even it out. Communist China is technologically underdeveloped because they have no alphabet and therefore cannot use acronyms to communicate ideas at a faster rate. The earth may spin faster on its axis due to deforestation. Just as a figure skater's rate of spin increases when the arms are brought in close to the body, the cutting of tall trees may cause our planet to spin dangerously fast. Honorable Mentions: Birds take off at sunrise. On the opposite side of the world, they are landing at sunset. This causes the earth to spin on its axis. The reason hot-rod owners raise the backs of their cars is that it's easier to go faster when you're always going downhill. The quantity of consonants in the English language is constant. If omitted in one place, they turn up in another. When a Bostonian "pahks" his "cah," the lost r's migrate southwest, causing a Texan to "warsh" his car and invest in "erl wells."

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Humor, Science

Scientists say they're trying to clone Rhesus monkeys in an effort to provide a genetically identical supply of animals for research. "The clones would be reproduced from tiny bits of the existing monkeys' DNA, also known as Rhesus pieces."

permalink source: Ira Lawson
tags: Humor, Science

A theologian and an astronomer were talking together one day. The astronomer said that after reading widely in the field of religion, he had concluded that all religion could be summed up in a single phrase. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," he said, with a bit of smugness, knowing that his field is so much more complex. After a brief pause, the theologian replied that after reading widely in the area of astronomy he had concluded that all of it could be summed up in a single phrase also. "Oh, and what is that?" the astronaut inquired. "Twinkle, twinkle, little star; how I wonder what you are!"

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Science, Theology

As a young lad, I remember reading a story about Sir Isaac Newton that left a profound impression on me. He had worked for hours on his scientific inquiries into the very core of the physical universe, exhaustedly laboring by candlelight. By his side over the weeks sat his beloved dog. On one occasion when Newton left the room for a moment the dog jumped up to follow him and inadvertently bumped into the side of the desk, knocking over the candle and setting the papers ablaze. All that seminal work was reduced in moments to a pile of ashes. When Newton returned to his study to see what remained of his work, his heart was broken beyond repair. Rescuing what little was left of the room, he sat down and wept with his face in his hands. Gently stroking the dog, he said, "You will never, never know what you have done." [great illustration of our inability to comprehend the magnitude of our sins]

permalink source: Ravi Zacharias, Just Thinking Spring/Summer 2000 p 6 (triennial newsletter)
tags: Depravity, Science

"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled."

permalink source: Richard Feynmann
tags: Physics, Truth, Science

British naturalist and explorer Alfred Russel Wallace independently invented the theory of evolution by natural selection in 1858, nearly scooping Charles Darwin, who published first. Nevertheless, Wallace's research led him to another important discovery, one that geologists still enshrine on their maps: Wallace's Line. While exploring the vast 2,500-mile Malay Archipelago, Wallace noticed what kinds of animals lived on each island as he traveled farther from the mainland peninsula. He found that he could draw a boundary down the narrow Macasser Straight, which runs a twisted course between the islands of Bali and Lombock, and between Borneo and the Celebes group. Wallace's Line--an ocean channel only 15 miles wide--separates tigers from marsupials and trogons from cockatoos. The animals on either side of it, he wrote in 1858, "differ as much as those of South America and Africa. Yet there is nothing on the map to mark their limits. I believe the western part to be a separated portion of continental Asia, the eastern the fragmentary prolongation of a former Pacific continent." Wallace had no way to observe the sea floor directly, and in his day nothing was known of tectonic plates. On the basis of animal distribution alone he deduced that the eastern island groups must have been separated from the western for much longer than any individual islands were separated from each other. A hundred years later, geologists and oceanographers found the reason and the proof: Wallace's Line traverses an area of intense crustal activity, where the northward-moving Australian plate interacts with the western-moving Pacific (Asian-derived) plate. In addition to bringing two different geographic clusters of animals and plants close together, the plates' enormous pressures on each other and on the Eurasian continent has given rise to the most concentrated volcanic activity on Earth.

permalink source: Zooba Email
tags: Science, Evolution

Bob Hill and his new wife Betty were vacationing in Europe, as it happens, near Transylvania. They were driving in a rental car along a rather deserted highway. It was late and raining very hard. Bob could barely see 20 feet in front of the car. Suddenly the car skids out of control! Bob attempts to control the car, but to no avail! The car swerves and smashes into a tree. Moments later, Bob shakes his head to clear the fog. Dazed, he looks over at the passenger seat and sees his wife unconscious, with her head bleeding! Despite the rain and unfamiliar countryside, Bob knows he has to carry her to the nearest phone. Bob carefully picks his wife up and begins trudging down the road. After a short while, he sees a light. He heads towards the light, which is coming from an old, large house. He approaches the door and knocks. A minute passes. A small, hunched man opens the door. Bob immediately blurts, "Hello, my name is Bob Hill, and this is my wife Betty. We've been in a terrible accident, and my wife has been seriously hurt. Can I please use your phone??" "I'm sorry," replied the hunchback, "but we don't have a phone. My master is a doctor; come in and I will get him!" Bob brings his wife in. An elegant man comes down the stairs. "I'm afraid my assistant may have misled you. I am not a medical doctor; I am a scientist. However, it is many miles to the nearest clinic, and I have had a basic medical training. I will see what I can do. Igor, bring them down to the laboratory." With that, Igor picks up Betty and carries her downstairs, with Bob following closely. Igor places Betty on a table in the lab. Bob collapses from exhaustion and his own injuries, so Igor places Bob on an adjoining table. After a brief examination, Igor's master looks worried. "Things are serious, Igor. Prepare a transfusion." Igor and his master work feverishly, but to no avail. Bob and Betty Hill are no more. The Hills' deaths upset Igor's master greatly. Wearily, he climbs the steps to his conservatory, which houses his grand piano. For it is here that he has always found solace. He begins to play, and a stirring, almost haunting, melody fills the house. Meanwhile, Igor is still in the lab tidying up. His eyes catch movement, and he notices the fingers on Betty's hand twitch, keeping time to the haunting piano music. Stunned, he watches as Bob's arm begins to rise, marking the beat! He is further amazed as Betty sits straight up! Unable to contain himself, he dashes up the stairs to the conservatory. He bursts in and shouts to his master: "Master, Master! ... The Hills are alive with the sound of music!

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Science, Death

A U.S. Forest Service researcher announced in August that her team had discovered the largest living thing ever found, a 24-centuries-old fungus, covering 2,200 acres in the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon; DNA testing confirmed that the underground, stringlike structure was all the same organism.

permalink source: News of the Weird Dec 22, 2000
tags: Age, Science

Clues to mystery of sticky geckos By Keay Davidson EXAMINER SCIENCE WRITER June 8, 2000 "Super Glue with legs," you might call them. They're Tokay geckos -- big, sometimes nasty-tempered lizards that resemble miniature dinosaurs. Their feet are almost unbelievably sticky, which allows them to scamper across walls and ceilings with ease. With so much ease, in fact, that scientists at Berkeley, Stanford and elsewhere are investigating an astonishing possible explanation for their stickiness based on invisible micro-forces of the atomic world. If verified, the hypothesis might lead to products, such as super-sticky adhesives for use in outer space and the ocean bottom, says UC-Berkeley biologist Robert J. Full. The Tokay gecko is "a large, nasty animal whose bite can be quite severe," says one of Full's colleagues, biologist Kellar Autumn of Lewis and Clark College in Portland. Its feet are marvels of evolution -- pads covered with millions of microscopic hairs that stick to ceilings with astounding force. In Thursday's issue of Nature, Full, Autumn and their colleagues report the first measurements of the strength of gecko hairs, technically known as setae (pronounced "see tee"). The Nature article's authors are Full, Autumn and two engineers, Ron Fearing at UC- Berkeley and Thomas Kenny of Stanford University. "The hairs themselves are so sticky that if we were able to fit a million or two of them onto the surface of a dime, it would be enough to lift a small child," Autumn said in a phone interview. That's so unbelievably strong that it might require a bizarre explanation, the scientists say. While most other creatures might use well-understood means -- such as Velcro-like hooks -- to clamber up trees, walls and other surfaces, the gecko's unbelievably strong stickiness may require a more exotic explanation, the scientists say. Since at least the 1960s, some scientists have suggested that setae tips are so tiny that they can exploit molecular-size forces that are normally unavailable to living creatures. One possibility is van der Waals forces, which are negligible on the scale of everyday life, but are fairly strong in the short distances between molecules. (Van der Waals forces are named for Johannes Diderik van der Waals, a resident of the Netherlands who won the 1910 Nobel Prize in physics.) Of course, the van der Waals forces between a single gecko hair tip and molecules in, say, a wall, would be extremely weak -- too weak to support a foot-long gecko as it scampers around a ceiling like Donald O'Connor in "Singin' in the Rain." But add up the combined van der Waals forces of millions of hairs on a gecko foot, and you've got, well, one really sticky gecko. The scientists caution that the van der Waals explanation remains unproven. But it once might have seemed crazy, and now it has gained credibility, thanks to their measurements. The hypothesis is feasible because the measured strength "falls right in the middle of the range of van der Waals" forces that one would expect for millions of gecko hairs, says Full, head of the Poly-PEDAL (Performance, Energetics, Dynamics, Animal Locomotion) Laboratory at UC-Berkeley. While that doesn't prove the van der Waals hypothesis beyond a doubt, it certainly makes it a prominent contender in the gecko-hypothesizing department. Another possibility is that a different type of inter-molecular force is involved: electrical attraction between oppositely charged particles in the hair tips. Whatever its cause, the gecko's stickiness is a dramatic example of Mother Nature's creativity and cunning. Evolutionary biologists have long marveled at how nature continually finds ecological niches for animals to exploit, then gives them amazing tools with which to exploit them. Consider bacteria, which orient themselves in liquids by detecting Earth's magnetic field. So when humans invented buildings with ceilings, geckos quickly recognized the ceilings as an unexploited ecological niche -- blissfully free of predators and deliciously crowded with edibles, such as bugs. As energetically as pioneers entering the Old West, geckos entered the world of walls and ceilings thanks to sticky powers developed over millions of years for clambering up less arduous structures, such as trees. The great evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin argued that life forms evolved when nature eliminated those that were less fit. The stickiest geckos were presumably more likely to survive than those that kept slipping off trees (perhaps into some predator's jaws). That's especially true in tropical lands where hurricanes are common, Autumn says. "A lot of geckos live in areas prone to hurricanes," Autumn says. "Perhaps their (stickiness) prevents them from being blown away." Geckos -- there are about 850 types, ranging in size from a few inches to a few feet -- aren't the only creatures blessed with super-stickiness; so are insects called kissing bugs. And that, say the scientists, illustrates another one of Mother Nature's traits: When she likes a particular biological function, she invents it again and again in unrelated life forms. The most celebrated example of such convergent evolution is the eye, which was independently evolved in numerous unrelated life forms. (c)2000 San Francisco Examiner Examiner Hot News

permalink source: Keay Davidson, San Francisco Examiner
tags: Science

The mouse is an animal, which, killed in sufficient numbers under carefully controlled conditions, will produce a PhD thesis.

permalink source: The Journal of Irreproducible Results
tags: Science

All science is dominated by the idea of approximation. When someone tells you that they know the exact truth about anything, you are safe in inferring that you have heard from an inexact person.

permalink source: Bertrand Russell
tags: Mathematics, Truth, Science

I suppose that every age has its own particular fantasy: ours is science. A seventeenth-century man like Blaise Pascal, who thought himself a mathematician and scientist of genius, found it quite ridiculous that anyone should suppose that rational processes could lead to any ultimate conclusions about life, but easily accepted the authority of the Scriptures. With us, it is the other way `round.

permalink source: Malcolm Muggeridge, Jesus Rediscovered [1969]
tags: Apologetics, Science, Epistemology

For centuries people believed that Aristotle was right when he said that the heavier an object, the faster it would fall to earth. Aristotle was regarded as the greatest thinker of all time, and surely he would not be wrong. Anyone, of course, could have taken two objects, one heavy and one light, and dropped them from a great height to see whether or not the heavier object landed first. But no one did until nearly 2,000 years after Aristotle's death. In 1589 Galileo summoned learned professors to the base of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Then he went to the top and pushed off a ten- pound and a one-pound weight. Both landed at the same instant. The power of belief was so strong, however, that the professors denied their eyesight. They continued to say Aristotle was right.

permalink source: Bits & Pieces, January 9, 1992, pp. 22-23.
tags: Science, Authority

"Sigma Xi, the international honor society for scientific and engineering research, polled its members about religion and found that 41 percent of Ph.D. scientists reported that they attended church on a typical Sunday. Another survey found 52 percent of biologists identifying themselves as Christians. M.I.T. professor Alan Lightman adds, "contrary to popular myth, scientists appear to have the same range of attitudes about religious matters as does the general public."

permalink source: Chuck Colson, January 5, 2004 Breakpoint commentary
tags: Apologetics, Science

Most advances in science come when a person for one reason or another is forced to change fields. --

permalink source: Peter Borden
tags: Science, Creativity

""There may be signs of (God’s) existence, but they point both ways and are therefore ambiguous and so prove nothing... The wonders of the universe do not convince those most conversant with the wonders, the scientists themselves."

permalink source: Walker Percy
tags: Apologetics, Science

1. Wealth without work 2. Pleasure without conscience 3. Knowledge without character 4. Commerce without morality 5. Science without humanity 6. Worship without sacrifice 7. Politics without principle

permalink source: Mahatma Gandhi, "Seven Blunders of the World," http://oll.temple.edu/ih/IH52/Liberation/Gandhi;
tags: Money, Politics, Science, Knowledge, Worship, Pleasure

Admonished for his lack of familiarity with modern science, the Indian mystic Sundar Singh asked, “What is science?” “Natural selection, you know, and the survival of the fittest,” he was told. “Ah,” Sundar Singh replied, “but I am more interested in divine selection, and the survival of the unfit.”

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Science, Grace

In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.

permalink source: Terry Pratchett
tags: Science, Evolution

The History of the Universe in 200 Words or Less Quantum fluctuation. Inflation. Expansion. Strong nuclear interaction. Particle-antiparticle annihilation. Deuterium and helium production. Density perturbations. Recombination. Blackbody radiation. Local contraction. Cluster formation. Reionization? Violent relaxation. Virialization. Biased galaxy formation? Turbulent fragmentation. Contraction. Ionization. Compression. Opaque hydrogen. Massive star formation. Deuterium ignition. Hydrogen fusion. Hydrogen depletion. Core contraction. Envelope expansion. Helium fusion. Carbon, oxygen, and silicon fusion. Iron production. Implosion. Supernova explosion. Metals injection. Star formation. Supernova explosions. Star formation. Condensation. Planetesimal accretion. Planetary differentiation. Crust solidification. Volatile gas expulsion. Water condensation. Water dissociation. Ozone production. Ultraviolet absorption. Photosynthetic unicellular organisms. Oxidation. Mutation. Natural selection and evolution. Respiration. Cell differentiation. Sexual reproduction. Fossilization. Land exploration. Dinosaur extinction. Mammal expansion. Glaciation. Homo sapiens manifestation. Animal domestication. Food surplus production. Civilization! Innovation. Exploration. Religion. Warring nations. Empire creation and destruction. Exploration. Colonization. Taxation without representation. Revolution. Constitution. Election. Expansion. Industrialization. Rebellion. Emancipation Proclamation. Invention. Mass production. Urbanization. Immigration. World conflagration. League of Nations. Suffrage extension. Depression. World conflagration. Fission explosions. United Nations. Space exploration. Assassinations. Lunar excursions. Resignation. Computerization. World Trade Organization. Terrorism. Internet expansion. Reunification. Dissolution. World-Wide Web creation. Composition. Extrapolation? Copyright 1996-1997 by Eric Schulman . This piece was the inspiration for the book A Briefer History of Time and led to the Annals of Improbable Research Universal History Translation Project . Reprinted from the AIR , Volume III, Number 1, January/February 1997, page 27. http://members.bellatlantic.net/~vze3fs8i/hist/hist.html

permalink source: Eric Schulman
tags: Science, Creation

I'll have my first Zambian astronaut on the Moon by 1965 ... [W]e are using my own firing system, derived from the catapult ... I'm getting [my astronauts] ... acclimatised to space travel by placing them in my space capsule every day. It's a 40-gallon oil drum in which they sit, and then I roll them down a hill. This gives them the feeling of rushing through space. I also make them swing from the end of a long rope. When they reach the highest point I cut the rope. This produces the feeling of free fall. - Edward Mukaka Nkoloso Director-General of the Zambian National Academy of Space Research November 3, 1964

permalink source: The Experts Speak, p 261
tags: Mistake, Science

A team of US physicists has proved a theorem that explains how our objective, common reality emerges from the subtle and sensitive quantum world... The Los Alamos team define a property of a system as 'objective', if that property is simultaneously evident to many observers who can find out about it without knowing exactly what they are looking for and without agreeing in advance how they'll look for it." The full article "Natural selection acts on the quantum world" is fascinating (and accessible to non-scientists). http://www.nature.com/news/2004/041220/full/041220-12.html

permalink source: Natural Selection Acts On The Quantum World
tags: Science, Postmodernism

Some philosophers legitimate their claims about mind by citing the evidence of cognitive psychologists; some cognitive psychologists seek legitimacy in the discoveries of the neuroscientists; some neuroscientists look for support in the research of of molecular biologists; some molecular biologists explain the electrical activity of neurons with the concepts of the physicsts; and all stand gazing in awe at the mathematicians, who, staring straight ahead, worry occassionally about the shaky foundations of their elegant equations. The members of each scientific discipline, like children trying to join a more powerful group, seek to persuade others by announcing who their friends are.

permalink source: Jerome Kagan, An Argument For Mind, 18
tags: Science, College

Physicists come in two colors. One group tries to find a mathematics that will explain a set of reliable observations. The second group attempts first to imagine the physical event behind the observation. Werner Heisenberg belongs to the first group, Paul Ehrenfest to the second. Psychologists can be assigned to two comparable groups. Some try to model, logically or mathematically, the mechanisms behind the learning of associations. A larger group broods on the psychological and biological processes that occur when an association is formed. The history of all the sciences suggests that the collection of evidence in the service of proving a conjecture is most useful when the synthetic notion originates in prior, trustworthy observations. This strategy can be dangerous in immature sciences, like psychology, that have a meager store of reliable facts.

permalink source: Jerome Kagan, An Argument for Mind, pages 32-33
tags: Psychology, Science

I would not have arrived at the notion of relection-impulsivity if I had not recorded the latency to each grouping. Investigators should record as many variables as they can, even those that at the time seem only marginally relevant.... This experience taught me to trust evidence as if it were a slag heap with a pearl of extreme beauty hidden within it. The task is to find it.

permalink source: Jerome Kagan, An Argument for Mind, 62
tags: Science, Research

Many books published over the past quarter-century claim that because self-interest in present in all animal species, humans need not feel ashamed of consistently catering to self first.... Yet anyone with a modest knowledge of the natural world--and minimal inferential skill--could find examples in nature that support almost any ethical message desired. If you wish to sanctify marriage, point to pair-bonding gibbons. If, however, you think that infidelity is more natural, nominate chimpanzees. Elephants should be emulated if one believes that women should be in positions of dominance, but elephant seals are the model if you believe that men should dominate harems of beautiful women. Nature has enough diversity to fit almost any ethical taste.

permalink source: Jerome Kagan, An Argument for Mind, 163-164
tags: Science, Morality

The least aggressive chimps are the most subordinate in their group. The exact opposite occurs in humans. The most violent adolescents in America are among the poorest and least powerful in their society because the causes of killing in apes and humans are different. Thus ethical decisions regarding the prevention and punishment of crime should not be based primarily on the scientific facts investigators gather on animals.

permalink source: Jerome Kagan, An Argument for Mind, 167
tags: Science, Ethics

The idea that religion can be studied as a natural phenomenon might seem to require an atheistic philosophy as a starting point. Not necessarily. Even some neo-atheists aren’t entirely opposed to religion. Sam Harris practices Buddhist-inspired meditation. Daniel Dennett holds an annual Christmas sing-along, complete with hymns and carols that are not only harmonically lush but explicitly pious. And one prominent member of the byproduct camp, Justin Barrett, is an observant Christian who believes in “an all-knowing, all-powerful, perfectly good God who brought the universe into being,” as he wrote in an e-mail message. “I believe that the purpose for people is to love God and love each other.” At first blush, Barrett’s faith might seem confusing. How does his view of God as a byproduct of our mental architecture coexist with his Christianity? Why doesn’t the byproduct theory turn him into a skeptic? “Christian theology teaches that people were crafted by God to be in a loving relationship with him and other people,” Barrett wrote in his e-mail message. “Why wouldn’t God, then, design us in such a way as to find belief in divinity quite natural?” Having a scientific explanation for mental phenomena does not mean we should stop believing in them, he wrote. “Suppose science produces a convincing account for why I think my wife loves me — should I then stop believing that she does?”

permalink source: Darwin's God, New York Times Magazine, 2007-03-04, by Robin Marantz Henig, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/04/magazine/04evolution.t.html?ei=5090&en=43cfb46824423cea&ex=1330664400&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=all
tags: Apologetics, Science, Evolution

Labeling Is Not Understanding

Even when historians try to be objective, the introduction of a scientific approach to Christian history often has not been very enlightening, because scientific methods have been very poorly understood and inappropriately applied, not only by historians, but equally by many social scientists who have tried their hands at history. The original sin is to confuse naming with explaining - to mistake concepts for theories.

permalink source: Rodney Stark, Cities of God: The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome, 17
tags: Science, History

Einstein Was A Deist

One particular evening in 1929, the year he turned 50, captures Einstein's middle-age deistic faith. He and his wife were at a dinner party in Berlin when a guest expressed a belief in astrology. Einstein ridiculed the notion as pure superstition. Another guest stepped in and similarly disparaged religion. Belief in God, he insisted, was likewise a superstition. At this point the host tried to silence him by invoking the fact that even Einstein harbored religious beliefs. "It isn't possible!" the skeptical guest said, turning to Einstein to ask if he was, in fact, religious. "Yes, you can call it that," Einstein replied calmly. "Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion. To that extent I am, in fact, religious."

permalink source: Walter Isaacson, Einstein & Faith, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1607298-2,00.html
tags: Science, Faith

Einstein Admired Jesus But Did Not Worship Him

Shortly after his 50th birthday, Einstein also gave a remarkable interview in which he was more revealing than he had ever been about his religious sensibility.... To what extent are you influenced by Christianity? "As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene." You accept the historical existence of Jesus? "Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life." Do you believe in God? "I'm not an atheist. I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws." Is this a Jewish concept of God? "I am a determinist. I do not believe in free will. Jews believe in free will. They believe that man shapes his own life. I reject that doctrine. In that respect I am not a Jew." Is this Spinoza's God? "I am fascinated by Spinoza's pantheism, but I admire even more his contribution to modern thought because he is the first philosopher to deal with the soul and body as one, and not two separate things." Do you believe in immortality? "No. And one life is enough for me."

permalink source: Walter Isaacson, Einstein & Faith, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1607298-2,00.html
tags: Apologetics, Science

Einstein Had Little Patience For Either Atheism or Traditional Theism

But throughout his life, Einstein was consistent in rejecting the charge that he was an atheist. "There are people who say there is no God," he told a friend. "But what makes me really angry is that they quote me for support of such views." And unlike Sigmund Freud or Bertrand Russell or George Bernard Shaw, Einstein never felt the urge to denigrate those who believed in God; instead, he tended to denigrate atheists. "What separates me from most so-called atheists is a feeling of utter humility toward the unattainable secrets of the harmony of the cosmos," he explained. In fact, Einstein tended to be more critical of debunkers, who seemed to lack humility or a sense of awe, than of the faithful. "The fanatical atheists," he wrote in a letter, "are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who--in their grudge against traditional religion as the 'opium of the masses'-- cannot hear the music of the spheres." Einstein later explained his view of the relationship between science and religion at a conference at the Union Theological Seminary in New York. The realm of science, he said, was to ascertain what was the case, but not evaluate human thoughts and actions about what should be the case. Religion had the reverse mandate. Yet the endeavors worked together at times. "Science can be created only by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding," he said. "This source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion." The talk got front-page news coverage, and his pithy conclusion became famous. "The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." But there was one religious concept, Einstein went on to say, that science could not accept: a deity who could meddle at whim in the events of his creation. "The main source of the present-day conflicts between the spheres of religion and of science lies in this concept of a personal God," he argued. Scientists aim to uncover the immutable laws that govern reality, and in doing so they must reject the notion that divine will, or for that matter human will, plays a role that would violate this cosmic causality.

permalink source: Walter Isaacson, Einstein & Faith, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1607298-2,00.html
tags: Atheism, Science

Scientists Seem To Lean Towards Irreligion For Nonscientific Reasons

Is knowledge of science somehow in conflict with being religious? Childhood religious background, not exposure to scientific education, seems to be the most powerful predictor of future irreligion. Those scientists raised in almost any faith tradition are more likely to currently be religious than those raised without any tradition.<sup>12</sup> In addition, scientists who describe religion as important in their families as children are much more likely to practice faith currently.<sup>13</sup> When compared to the general population, a larger proportion of scientists are raised in non-religious homes.<sup>14</sup> When one considers that many more scientists come from non-religious homes or homes that were nominally religious, the distinctions between the general population and the scientific community make more sense. A large part of the difference between scientists and the general population may be due more to religious upbringing, rather than scientific training or university pressure to be irreligious, although these other possibilities should be further explored. <i>The footnotes are as follows:</i> <sup>12</sup> The exception is among academic scientists raised Jewish, who do not differ substantially in their religiosity from those raised with no religious tradition. <sup>13</sup>Another way to examine the impact of religious upbringing is through predicted probabilities. For instance, consider two sociologists who are male, in the 18-35 range, born in the United States, have no children and are currently married. One was raised in a Protestant denomination and religion was “very important” while growing up. The other was raised as a religious “none” and religion was “not at all important” while growing up. Analyses of the RAAS survey reveals that the former has a predicted probability of 14 percent for saying that he does not believe in God. This compares to a 54 percent chance of the latter saying he does not believe, a striking difference. These differences do not offer conclusive evidence about the causes of disproportionate self-selection of scientists from certain religious backgrounds into the scientific disciplines. They do, however, offer potential for explaining the differences in religiosity between scientists and the general population. <sup>14</sup> In the 2004 GSS, 100% (n=60) of the respondents who were raised Jewish say that they are religious “liberals.”

permalink source: Religion and Spirituality among University Scientists, by Elaine Howard Ecklund, Feb 05, 2007, http://religion.ssrc.org/reforum/Ecklund/
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Science

Ignorant Christians Undermine The Faith

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion. [found via http://helives.blogspot.com/2007/06/augustine-on-christians-spouting-bad.html]

permalink source: Augustine, De Genesi ad litteram: 1.19.39 translated by J.H. Taylor, Ancient Christian Writers, Newman Press, 1982, volume 41.
tags: Science, Ministry

Math and Reality

Mathematics is a way of describing nature but not necessarily of understanding it.

permalink source: Kip Hodges, director of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University, as quoted in The Canon by Natalie Angier, page 28
tags: Mathematics, Science