“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Saturday, November 27, 2004

“Attempts to reconcile science and religion are usually doomed to failure … because nearly all religions make claims about the real world - the domain of science - that don't stand up to scientific scrutiny. Faced with these difficulties, advocates resort to circumlocution, sophistry or absurd speculations that offend both scientists and believers.” -- Coyne

Saturday – time for a backlog selection.

On May 16, 2002, LI wrote about a conference at Yale concerning the birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The NYT reported on the conference with the faux infantile credulity that newspapers always give to the religious (as long, that is, as they aren’t Moslem). LI, at the time, obviously found the mental pap being purveyed in this conference a little hard to stomach.

We talked, this week, with a friend of ours who teaches at a well known university in Dixie. She complained about the young-earthers in her class, a term that was new to us. She explained: young-earthers actually believe that the earth has been around for 6,000 years. Give or take a divine day. This startling fact comes from that gorgeous relic of barbarism, the Bible.

My friend was thinking of going to the physics department and asking about how to handle these children, who come equipped with various stories about the unreliability of radioactive decay datings and such.

We didn’t take this too seriously until we read the latest Gallup poll on the subject. Now, LI has a healthy mistrust of polls on topics of deep belief, since we don’t believe that these beliefs can be successfully articulated in a narrow Q and A format. Nevertheless, there is something startling about the fact that only one third of the American public believes in evolution, and half believe that God created humans 10,000 years ago.

Well. We think that there is something lukewarm about rejecting Darwin and not going whole hog. Surely, if we are going with the Bible, the universe was created five days before those human beings, which means that the universe is about 10,000 years old. LI is distressed that the consequences of this are not enough known among those who would be bold for Christ. As it says in Revelations, "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth."

Yes, friends, you risk hellfire by overlooking the Satanic component of Newtonian physics.

Consider: it wasn’t until around 1680 that the speed of light was calculated to be a finite number. A Danish astronomer, Ole Roemer, calculated the speed of light by noticing a discrepancy in the orbit of Io around Jupiter – a discrepancy according to the calculations that depend on the Newtonian science of gravitation – and using that discrepancy to calculate the time the light took to go from Io to the earth.

Roemer’s calculations have been refined since, so that we know that light travels at 186,000 miles per second.

Now, according to the astronomers, the stars we see in the heavens are not as we see them in the heavens, for precisely the reason that light isn’t instantaneous. Big setback, actually, to the astrologers. But if the universe was created 10,000 years ago, than the oldest stars we see in the heavens are merely 10,000 light years away.

We can make inferences from this about the closeness of those stars – a closeness which, by Newton’s laws, and by the magnitude of these stars, would result in a veritable fireworks display each night, as stars would be drawn into each others orbits. Furthermore, the kind of radiation that would result from these supernovas would surely have long wiped out life on earth.

Meaning – that Newton and Roemer are the children of the Deceiver. Boldness in Christ surely requires us to believe that light is instantaneous, or we might as well burn the Bible for trash. Heaven and earth might pass away, but if light was instantaneous for Moses, that's good enough for me.

It is time to put stickers on our high school science text books reminding our students that Newton’s laws are just theories.

Another note about this post – the philosopher we mention, Richard Swinburne, should really be cleaning up in Crusader America. To get a taste for just how bad a philosopher he is, go to this article. It is a tissue, from beginning to end, of dumb assumptions Christmas giftwrapped in the language of analytic philosophy (the better to impress the gulls). Notice in particular how he accedes to science in certain crucial ways – for instance, on the pesky speed of light issue – but then shoehorns in data from a collection of texts, the Bible, in which the whole picture of the universe was different – essentially different. We would have much less reason to believe Darwin if, in the Origin of the Species, he devoted a chapter to the inhabitants of Atlantis, who all lived to be nine hundred years old. Of course, the Bible is full of nonsense of that variety.

Thursday, May 16, 2002

A couple of days ago LI indulged in that infantile positivism that makes our fair readership grimace and pretend not to know us. We made fun, that is, of the Yale Philosophy department's "probability theory and Jesus is my fave philosopher" conference. Or whatever it was called. We might have even implied that, between the News of the World's interviews with the Alien that advised Clinton, and Yale's faculty's attempts to prove the verity of the gospels, integrity, honesty, and science are all on the News of the World's side. As a followup, we recommend Jerry Coyne's mugging of a soft focus book by Michael Ruse that attempts to meld Darwinism and Christianity into the cutest little choir of Christmas decorations you ever saw.

The first paragraph actually solves our problem with the probability argument for the resurrection. If you will recall -- or even if you won't -- the post was about a NYT story involving a man who seemingly combined all the charming physical characteristics of Santa Claus and Charles Manson -- a Mr. Swinburne -- dispensing this shaky, if not downright dishonest, argument:

"Mr. Swinburne, a commanding figure with snow-white hair and piercing blue eyes, proceeded to weigh evidence for and against the Resurrection, assigning values to factors like the probability that there is a God, the nature of Jesus' behavior during his lifetime and the quality of witness testimony after his death. Then, while his audience followed along on printed lecture notes, he plugged his numbers into a dense thicket of letters and symbols � using a probability formula known as Bayes's theorem � and did the math. "Given e and k, h is true if and only if c is true," he said. "The probability of h given e and k is .97"

Mr. Coyne's article gives us an even better argument for Jesus' resurrection -- that is, if we are truth table freaks. Coyne reports on a recent radio interview given by some pius geneticist. The talk got around to the virgin birth. Well, the geneticist rather unhappily conceded, that is an, uh, anomoly. So where, a questioner wanted to know, did Jesus' Y chromosome come from? The geneticist dug through his bag of tricks, and came up with the answer that maybe Mary's two X chromosomes carried a piece of a Y chromosome. He didn't, according to Coyne, go any further with this fascinating discussion. But Coyne reminds us that for this to have happened, Mary would have to be a sterile man.

Well, the Light (capitalize that Light, editor) flashed before my eyes. Because but bien sur! If Mary were a sterile man, there is no Jesus. If no Jesus, no crucifixion. If we simply put this in truth table terms, we have two falses. Well, two fs make a t, as we all know. So Jesus not only resurrected, he trailed fishes and breadsticks out of that gloomy tomb! Mr. Swinburne should definitely write an article about this, making the argument that if c is true, that is Mary is a bachelor living in New York, and d is true, the Y chromosome determined Jesus' sex, there is a .97 percent chance that Giuliani is Jesus's father. No wonder the late mayor hated it when artists kept making fun of his bundle of joy!

Limited Inc is contemplating making a pitch to Yale. Surely, bearing such truths, a tenured position is waiting for us. We could definitely use the money.

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