It’s been a while since I’ve been busy.  Hopefully I’ll have some more time to write he and out.  I have yet to read this paper, but it’s only 10 pages and published by Jerry Coyne.  The paper is titled: Evolution.  Guess what it’s about.  Here’s a link.  And yes, it’s free.  Go to his blog if that link fails or if you don’t read his blog regularly.  It’s among the best on these topics.  Here’s the abstract:

American resistance to accepting evolution is uniquely high among First World countries. This is due largely to the extreme religiosity of the United States, which is much higher than that of comparably advanced nations, and to the resistance of many religious people to the facts and supposed implications of evolution. The prevalence of religious belief in the United States suggests that outreach by scientists alone will not have a huge effect in increasing the acceptance of evolution, nor will the strategy of trying to convince the faithful that evolution is compatible with their religion. Because creationism is a symptom of religion, another strategy to promote evolution involves loosening the grip of faith on America. This is easier said than done, for recent sociological surveys show that religion is highly correlated with the dysfunctionality of a society, and various measures of societal health show that the United States is one of the most socially dysfunctional First World countries. Widespread acceptance of evolution in America, then, may have to await profound social change.

I’ll try to write later today.  Anyways, it’s 4am.  Oops.

Why Be Hostile (this does not mean violence) Toward Religion?

Apparently, at least according to Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, atheists have recently committed a terrible, fanatical act. (It’s a terribly ignorant and hypocritical article, so you might not care to suffer through read it.) What did they do? A group of 15 atheists tore up PHOTOCOPIES of the Bible–not even the Bible itself! (Which is still no where near a horrific act!)

PZ Myers elegantly explains how this is absolutely ridiculous. See here. You should read the whole thing as well as frequently check out his blog.

Here are some things he lists that have occurred in the name of religion when asking if atheists have committed these. The answer is obviously no.

  • raping children in our care?
  • hunting for witches in Africa and setting them on fire?
  • rioting over poorly-drawn caricatures of Madalyn Murray O’Hair?
  • stoning women to death for adultery?
  • telling air force cadets to prepare for a righteous armageddon?
  • hypocritical?
  • chopping the hands off thieves?
  • displacing and oppressing people because they live on land Dawkins said was ours?
  • pouring money into California to suppress the rights of gay couples?
  • building compounds and filling them with automatic rifles?
  • lying to children in our educational system?
  • telling women they aren’t allowed to speak at our meetings?
  • flying planes into buildings?
  • chopping bits off baby penises?
  • inculcating shame and guilt in generations of children?
  • ignoring the stewardship of our planet because nature couldn’t possibly allow us to mess it up?
  • denying children medical care because disease is Hitchen’s will?
  • strapping bombs to our bodies and boarding church buses before detonating them?
  • telling poor people they aren’t allowed to use family planning?
  • butchering albinos for body parts we use in our secret ceremonies?
  • legislating death and imprisonment for sexual practices we disapprove of?
  • making women dress up in bag-like tents before allowing them to go outside?
  • dynamiting ancient works of religious art?
  • crusading?
  • chopping off clitorises?
  • demanding special privileges?
  • dismantling the social support network?
  • using our tax-free income to lobby for conservative politicians in our tax-exempt buildings?
  • calling for pogroms and ethnic cleansing?
  • setting our critics on fire?

These bullets are an excellent list of reasons to be so hostile toward religion. Religion has killed and abused millions and millions of people, and it still continues to do so and justify itself with fairy tales.

Oh, and for the hostility aspect. Atheists merely point out the reasons not to believe in a God.  We also don’t want it in the public school system since it is better if people are taught the truth rather than something made up.  When I say hostile, there is no aspect of violence in any way. Atheists prefer to use knowledge.

Science and Spirituality Intersect. Um, No They Don’t!

In Gadadhara Pandit Dasa’s article over at the HuffPo, he tries to claim that spirituality and science intersect.  His article is met with many errors and blatant ignorance with regards to science, scientific theories, and peer-review.

This is my response:

You start off by complaining that you were treated badly at Columbia University. Well, that is because you are terribly ignorant and do not belong there. You even admitted this yourself.

“Not having a background in science, I was a bit uncomfortable with participating, but the group organizing the event really wanted an Eastern/Hindu perspective on how science fits into the Hindu philosophy and tradition. Hesitatingly, I agreed.”

But, since you read a little bit on science, you now claim to be an expert. This does not mean that you have a place at Columbia University.

You also imply there is a difference between spirituality and religion. This is not true. They are both comprised of fairy tales (you might say “metaphors” –same thing) and irrational thinking. They are the same. You then show that you don’t have any knowledge on what science is by saying it didn’t prove the atoms existence. Science does not prove things, it disproves things. Now, we do have pictures of individual atoms. Try searching on Google. There are many results. If you are not capable of this, as is the case thus far, click here. You also go on to attack people for having “faith” in a “few” scientists. Clearly you do not understand the peer-review process.  Furthermore, you do not understand that other scientists repeat these experiments.

You also do not understand that in science, nothing is 100%. This is an important concept. Gravity is not 100% nor is it 100% that our planet is not flat. What scientists do is they look at the evidence and get to the point where there is no reasonable doubt. And that is what we call a scientific fact. Then you attack other things like the Big Bang. You cite an article by Roger Penrose to back you up. This just shows your ignorance, for he is an atheist. Moreover, you admit that there is evidence. That is how we test to see if something exists, occurred, etc.. We look for evidence, religion makes it up. Duh.

You then go on to claim that Carl Sagan supports your view. Again, this is not the least bit true, and surely he would have condemned you for doing this. Carl Sagan was a non-believer. One of his more famous quotes is this.

“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”

You claims are certainly extraordinary.

Next you claim that the Vedic already talked about the multiverse. This doesn’t mean anything. And furthermore, you cite two movies, Contact, and Men in Black. Does this not indicate that you have no evidence, so you need to cite fictional movies? (I’ll get to Carl Sagan in a bit) The Vedic is faith, and hence, has no evidence or anything to back it up. Here is a quote by the world renowned biologist, Jerry Coyne, that elegantly explains my point.

“In science, a falsified hypothesis gets tossed on the scrap heap; in religion, a falsified hypothesis becomes a metaphor.” (Jerry Coyne, WEIT)

Now, you claim that Einstein was not the first to come up with the Theory of Relativity, because a Puranic text did. This is the quote you cite.

“… One’s life endures for only one hundred years, in terms of the times in the different planets… Eternal time is certainly the controller of different dimensions, from that of the atom up to the super-divisions of the duration of Brahmā’s life; but, nevertheless, it is controlled by the Supreme. Time can control only those who are body conscious, even up to the Satyaloka or the other higher planets of the universe.”

Bhagavat Purana

This is not Einstein’s theory. It never has been, and it never will be. This quote is completely irrational.  Someone living 100 years in terms of different planets? What? How does that have to do with sending someone in space and they don’t age as much? We can do that on this planet too, there is no need to travel to other planets. How else would we have done the experiments to show this? We put clocks in a supersonic jet and note the time. You can also do this in space. The point is that you age slower when you go faster and viola! Then it mentions that time is controlled by the Supreme being. Um, no. Where is there any evidence at all for that? Sorry, but this “Original Theory of Relativity” is in no way close to Einstein’s, nor is it a theory.

Next, you say the following.

There is also a story from the Puranas which parallels Einstein’s hypothetical experiment. A yogi, upon exiting the earthly realm for the higher planetary realms, was informed by the inhabitants of these higher realms that millions of years had instantly passed on Earth in the mere moments since he had entered the higher realms. They also told him that all of his relatives and everyone he had ever known was deceased.

You are again claiming that this talks about the “twin paradox.” I see no connection. It talks about a Yogi going from an earthly realm (whatever that is) to a higher planetary realm (again, whatever that is). Then it says millions of years have passed instantaneously on Earth the moment he entered the higher realm. Ok, go do an experiment and get a yogi in space and onto another planet and make millions of years pass on Earth instantaneously.  If you successfully do this and get it peer-reviewed and published in Science (which should be very easy if you did the experiment and the results turned out like I wrote), I will gladly give you $5,000. You will likely even win a Nobel Prize, assuming of course, that your results are reproducible. You next claim,

 We can pass this off as myth or fable, but one should ponder how these texts of ancient India are coming up with concepts that are so close to modern scientific theories.

Yes, we should pass them off as myth or fable, that is what they are. Furthermore, if these ancient texts do indeed bring up concepts of modern scientific theories, how come India is not the most advanced country in the world? After all, you claim they beat Einstein to the chance by hundreds of years. I am not sure how you do not see how ridiculous your claims are.

In your last paragraph, you claim the following.

There is a wonderful synergy between science and spirituality within the Vedic tradition, and I don’t believe there is a real border dividing them. It’s all just wisdom and knowledge, which is what the term Veda means.

This is not true. At all. There is no synergy between spirituality and science. Science shows that spirituality is made up. It has gotten us nowhere, except for a bunch of churches, temples, etc. which attempt to slow the progress of science and oppress minorities. Science has brought us every advancement in the past 400 or so years. From medicine, to cars, to light bulbs, to computers, to airplanes, to spaceships, to yachts, etc. etc. Oh, and for the work Veda meaning knowledge or wisdom, who cares? So a word means that, it doesn’t mean the story contains either. Take for instance, Sarah Palin’s book, Going Rogue, was she really going rogue? No, she was trying to capitalize on her undue fame and make a fortune. The last two sentences don’t really mean anything except that you say,

These truths help us to ultimately transcend the realm of matter, shed the material body we inhabit and endeavor to re-enter the spiritual realm.

This doesn’t mean anything to any logical person. Transcend the realm of matter? How? What? Then you want us to re-enter the spiritual realm. Well, none have us have ever been there in the first place, so it would be terribly difficult to re-enter.

Well, I think I’ve done enough damage on this article for one day. I’m out.

Edit: Yes, I did notice that he claims the universe is 15-20 billion years old.  Usually we say it is about 13.7 ± 0.13 billion. See here.