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Go to: Enemies of Science Can Stop Gloating About the Fast Neutrinos

GermanHumanist's Avatar Jump to comment 21 by GermanHumanist

It's unfortunate that apparently scientists were wrong in assuming they disproved the Universe's fundamental speed limit.

But - this highlights a fundamental difference between science and religion, one which Richard has pointed out numerous times. Science is inherently self-sceptical, it constantly seeks to prove or disprove itself and the hypotheses it proposes.

And most crucially: Science can be wrong, almost by definition, but most scientists generally don't have have a big problem admitting that previous findings were mistaken. Because science seeks truth, and every disproved theory brings science closer to that actual truth. This is an understanding which is shared almost universally by all scientific communities across the globe.

Compare that to religion. Religion (any religion) and its priests, clerics, and dignitaries have invariably a very hard time even admitting the most minor misconceptions in the face of evidence. History is full of instances of scientists being vehemently oppressed by the Church, because they dared question biblical "truth". People like Copernicus, Galilei, Darwin, and many others sparked the ire of clerics and the Pope because they essentially proved the Bible wrong. They had the audacity to present evidence that the Earth isn't flat, that it revolves around the sun as but one of eight planets in the solar system, and that the sun itself is a rather unimportant 4.5 billion year old star in the vastness of our galaxy. And as we all know Darwin led the scientific revolution which directly debunked biblical creation myth.

And yet, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary from nearly all disciplines of science, religious fundamentalists still adamantly insist that the Bible (or even the Qu'ran) is the one true word of their god, that whatever is written in it is the one and only truth.

And another thing - these fundamentalists who are now gloating that science made an oopsie believe that this discredits science as a whole. That a slip-up made by scientists measuring sub-atomic particles somehow means science itself can't be trusted. While at the same time, when somebody disproves religious scripture or dogma, even if you hear religious dignitaries grudgingly admit under their breath that maybe some passages of the Bible should not be taken that literally here and there, they will always insist that this does not mean the Bible itself is generally wrong. It should be the other way round. Science has no self-delusions about always delivering the one true message beyond disproof. Like I said, science can be wrong, and for the most part just shrugs its own shoulders at this fact. But because religion claims that it is never wrong, based on its own self-definition, by disproving even parts of its dogma and mythology you disprove religion as a whole.

Sun, 26 Feb 2012 15:14:21 UTC | #922087

Go to: Jon Stewart Rips Fox News Christians For Comparing Obama Birth Control Mandate To Nazi Germany (VIDEO)

GermanHumanist's Avatar Jump to comment 24 by GermanHumanist

It is always ironic, and sometimes in a strange way amusing how self-styled political pundits who precisely know zilch about 20th century European history (or any other period in history, for that matter) believe they are qualified to draw comparisons. Besides the appalling fact that there is apparently still a large audience out there which actually believes this nonsense word for word.

So in this installment, we are treated to yet another comparison of contraception to Hitler's fascist Third Reich. Birth control is somehow supposed to be similar to the Nazi mass genocide.

Lunacy.

The only thing that remotely resembles my country's abominable fascist movement of the 1930s and 40s is the way in which the American Christian Right and moral crusaders attack people's sexual and reproductive rights. And not content with declaring abortion mass murder, now they are also trying to portray the humble birth control as somehow being just the same. Devoid of any scientific proof to back up this claim (and in some ways even utilizing their own brand of junk science), but as is customary with the Christian Right, simply by repeating the same ideological lies over and over again, to condition its sheeple to believe even the most horrid falsehoods, and influence public opinion to pave the way for repressive and draconian laws and persecution.

And in this respect, it is very much ironic that the Christian Right is in fact yet again the true fascist movement, the true embodiment of everything it accuses its opponents to be. Which was also a strategy that was used by the Nazis - making the Jews out to be Germany's parasites, Germany's downfall, the personification of everything that was wrong with the country. Or as we say here in Germany - everytime you point a finger at somebody, three of your fingers are pointing back at you.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 12:26:38 UTC | #919173

Go to: Depression Defies the Rush to Find an Evolutionary Upside

GermanHumanist's Avatar Jump to comment 31 by GermanHumanist

I would agree that temporary sadness can be a valuable and useful strategy by the human psyche to alert itself to the fact that something needs to change in order for that person to be happy again. After all, humans tend to be endorphin junkies and continually seek experiences which trigger endorphin release. Just think of the endorphin rush that accompanies having succeded in solving a riddle, a math problem, or conquering any other intellectual challenge. I guess in the same way, the lack of endorphins in the brain that is caused by a situation of sadness or discomfort steers us towards attempting to change that situation, and being rewarded for it with resumed endorphin production.

Maybe clinical depression is really just a human trait getting out of control, a very extreme and exaggerated form of evolutionarily useful genetic disposition. It could be similar to persons with anger issues and an extremely violent temper. To a certain degree, healthy amounts of aggression, boldness and assertiveness can make an individual more likely to pass down their genes and dominate over competitors. Another example: perhaps intense social anxiety which keeps a person from enjoying the company of others and interacting with them is also an extreme and exaggerated form of the very useful human tendency to be wary and sceptical of other people, especially strangers.

One of my friends from college was a psychology student... he told me that one time during a lecture about autism and the Asperger spectrum, his professor said, "Believe me, ladies and gentlemen, everyone of you is not only somewhere on the Autism scale, but also somewhere on most scales of any other human behavior imaginable". Perhaps evolution just continually tinkers with the scope of human behavioral disposition, always trying out new permutations and variations of the same human traits. And sometimes that just simply leads to extremes.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 12:00:03 UTC | #909491

Go to: Act of God

GermanHumanist's Avatar Jump to comment 31 by GermanHumanist

Comment 30 by pinball :

One would hope that a theist or at least Christian would give “acts of god” like this some thought.

Jesus deciding to destroy an image of himself? Built and paid for by god fearing Christians, Why do that?

I remember an earth quake in Italy in 1980 killed 3000 people including children in an orphanage and a hundred people who were in church at the time.

Many of the victims of the Haiti earth quake were no doubt Christian too

I once spent a few weeks in the American Deep South one spring while tornado season was in full swing. One morning, I was staying in Birmingham, Alabama, I switched on the local news in my hotel room and saw that the night before, a rural town had been hit pretty bad by a tornado. Some two dozen people had sought refuge in the town's church, and get this -- apparently the tornado steered right towards the church and then went right through it, obliterating everything in its path including the people who were hoping that "God" would spare them because they were inside a church.

Now how do you explain that, dear Deep-South Bible thumpers?

Wed, 11 Jan 2012 13:30:29 UTC | #907307

Go to: Act of God

GermanHumanist's Avatar Jump to comment 29 by GermanHumanist

isn't it amazing how people still insist on something like "divine intervention", when phenomena like this one here can nowadays be perfectly explained by applying principles of physics...

And then you have people who say that yes, it's the result of electric charges tending to favor short distances and thus an elevated and exposed object like a tree or in this case a statue is more likely to get hit by lightning; but it still doesn't mean there was no higher power at work... that "God" merely used the laws of physics to make a resounding point, in this case causing the statue to burn down.

But if "God" is really omnipotent, why did he have to resort to conjuring up a thunderstorm, just to burn down a statue which he apparently took offense at? It seems like an awful lot of trouble to go through, creating a thunderstorm of probably many square miles, just to make a point about not wanting us humans to create images of him (or his son). Why didn't he just let that statue spontaneously self-ignite? Why did he apparently see himself bound by certain laws of physics and electricity, which after all he himself created and should therefore have the power to change at will? And even if we were to accept that "God" simply likes putting on a big show, isn't that very self-indulgent of him, the most perfect of all perfect beings, and therefore proves him to be no better than us humans, whose self-indulgence he purportedly despises?

It's the old Newtonian fallacy... Newton, despite his renown as one of the greatest scientists that ever lived, saw his own work as an attempt to explore and understand the mechanical inner workings of God's great plan.

And in recent times, this way of thinking has even been (re-)adopted by the Catholic Church. Unable to disprove evolution despite all its power and might, it has proclaimed that evolution is reconcilable with the Bible, that it is in no contrast to the creation myths of Genesis, and that the scientific theory of evolution simply explains in detail HOW God's creation took place. A bold and daring claim, if you just merely read the very first passages of Genesis stating that the Earth and everything around us was created in a mere seven days.

Wed, 11 Jan 2012 12:59:39 UTC | #907289

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