Posts Tagged ‘science’

Quitting Small Group

April 2, 2009

I have quit my Thursday night Small Group (not a Bible Study, which I might actually be more interested in) since UC Riverside is having a lecture series starting up this week on Thursdays. I think the SG leader was a little relieved that I won’t be there any more. I think we all like each other well enough– I know I like them just fine– but who really wants an atheist at a religious meeting? They do prayer requests and have worship songs with a silly little karaoke DVD the church provided and they talk about how being a Christian is way better than having a secular meaningless life with no morals. Seriously. Every time that comes up I wonder if they are going to ask me what I think, but they don’t. I feel like I am the elephant in the room. When it came up the first time, I described the humanist worldview to them and described a universal and comprehensive ethical rule I find compelling. But they clearly don’t buy it since they keep repeating the “no morals” bit. They probably feel sorry for me. They certainly do pray for me, which doesn’t bother me. It’s not my time they’re wasting when they do. One person said a little joke that went something along the lines of, “we’re praying for you whether you like it or not!” Am I supposed to dislike it?

Anyway, the point I was getting at is this free University lecture series, which happens to be on evolution, is taking place on the same weeknight as the Small Group. And that makes me happy. Besides, In-n-Out Burger is on the way to Riverside, and they have a decent Boba Tea shop in town, too. Doesn’t get much better than that. Or, well, it could technically be better if I could afford those things. But never mind.

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It’s a mystery.

January 30, 2009

Do you ever get annoyed when, during a debate with a theist, they retreat into “God is mysterious; we just can’t understand him,” when they are confronted with something contradictory or un-answerable?

 

So then, you say, “But you’ve just told me all this stuff about God; how can he be unknowable?  Either you know him or you don’t.”

 

And then the reply is, “We can only understand what he has revealed to us,” and maybe, “Humans are incapable of fully understanding the mind of god.  We’ll get to learn everything in heaven.”

 

And that’s pretty much a conversation-stopper.

 

But…

 

Were you ever in conversation with a theist who tried to stump you on what banged the big bang?  “Maybe,” they say, “it was God?”

 

And you say, “No, look, just because we don’t know all the details about something doesn’t mean God did it.

 

And they respond, “But you should consider the possibility, if you are as open-minded as you say you are.”

 

So you say, “Of course I will consider it if we find evidence to support it, but we don’t have that.”  (Hopefully, during this discussion, you have already defined “evidence” and explained how a hypothesis needs to be testable, repeatable, and disprovable.)  “Besides, everything we know now about the way the world works was once a mystery that we solved because we found evidence.  So even if something is unknown now, it isn’t unknowable, and we will learn about it someday.”

 

And this may also be a conversation-stopper, though I don’t think it needs to be.  We can talk a lot more about science than we can about Heaven and where it is and how we get there and what we find when we get there.

 

But it occurred to me that these two arguments are very nearly the same; they both simply say, “We don’t know yet.”  If one is invalid, shouldn’t the other one be?

 

Plus, do we really want “conversation-stoppers”?  I’d rather end a discussion with something we agree on rather than one party slinking away wondering why they couldn’t explain the reason the other party’s logic was faulty, and then coming up with a really good reason at 3 AM that night.

Scientific endeavor

December 12, 2008

Well, I guess this is about as much of a scientific experiment as my name is Alice. But I am doing an experiment on myself.

I am coming down with a cold right now, and I am going to affirm, as often as I think of it, that being cheerful and smiling and enjoying myself (responsibly, of course) will help my body fight off infection and get well quickly.

Think it’ll work

I’m going to a nice steakhouse with my coworkers for our holiday luncheon this afternoon, so I’m off to a good start.

Scientific awe

September 5, 2008

I experienced my first ever moment of scientific awe.

 

I realize that sounds a little ridiculous.  What is scientific awe?  Well, here’s an example.

 

I was reading Dawkins on the train to work this morning, and he was explaining the factors that make this universe friendly to life, and how this planet in particular is situated quite nicely so that life can develop here.  He wrote, “The massive gravitational vacuum cleaner of Jupiter is well placed to intercept asteroids that might otherwise threaten us with lethal collision.”  And I had a little moment where I felt aware, on some physical level, of how all these little things are doing something completely innocent (by innocent I mean that Jupiter isn’t out there blocking asteroids on purpose) and perhaps because of it, here I am.

 

Just now I wonder … will anything I ever do measure up to Jupiter, just spinning around the sun, taking asteroid hits so that life could develop on Earth over few billion years?