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Monthly Archives: May 2006

Why Creationism is Wrong and Evolution is Right

This is absolutely key

The most important difference between evolutionists and creationists, Prof Jones concluded, is that scientists are always prepared to say, “I don’t know”.

“If there weren’t any unknown parts of evolution, bits we don’t understand, it wouldn’t be a science,” he said, “That’s one thing that believers never say, because it’s all written down in a big book.”

(Steve Jones speaking at the Hay Festival)

The crucial difference between creationism and evolution is not that one provides a better fit of the data than the other. The difference is that one is a generative, empirically-driven, scientific theory and the other isn’t. As a research programme, Creationism isn’t even wrong. Science helps you work out what you don’t know, and how you’re going to move into a position of knowing it. Creationism has no account of what isn’t known or of how to go about finding it out.

If it wasn’t for us…

Extract from Gary Younge’s new book Stranger in a Strange Land

I have always found America exciting; but, for better or worse, never exceptional. Its efforts at global domination seemed like a plot development in the narrative of European empire rather than a break from it. Even as the French lambasted secretary of state Colin Powell’s presentation to the Security Council, protesters in Abidjan, the capital of Ivory Coast, waved American flags and placards saying: “Bush please help Ivory Coast against French terrorism.” There was precious little moral high ground to go round. Yet everyone, it seemed, was making a stake on it.

So it was with great bemusement that I found myself having to absorb abuse from white, rightwing Americans, who harked back to the Declaration of Independence of 1776 and the second world war to justify military aggression in Iraq. They badgered me as though their own reference points represented the sole prism through which global events could possibly be understood. As if the struggle for moral superiority between Europe and the US could have any relevance to someone whose ancestors were brought to the Americas as slaves and whose parents and grandparents lived through the war under European colonisation.

“If it wasn’t for us, you would be speaking German,” they would say. “No, if it wasn’t for you,” I would tell them, “I would probably be speaking Yoruba.”

Links for 18th of May 2006

the capacity for bewilderment

The truth is that we are only potentially homo sapiens. We are set apart from the animals precisely by the fact that we are born without any clear guide as to how to deal adequately with the problems of our human condition. The great marvel and misery of humanity is this capacity for bewilderment. This is not, of course, to deny that human being have instincts; it is to affirm the fact that each of us is required to find our own non-instinctual answers to the problems of life, free and happiness (instinct is silent in the face of all the above questions). The sum total of answers we give to the problem of our relationship with the universe, we call religion

David Edwards, Free to be human – intellectual self-defence in an age of illusions, p12

we’re dancing animals

Kurt Vonnergut talking about when he tells his wife he’s going out to buy an envelope:

Oh, she says well, you’re not a poor man. You know, why don’t you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I’m going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. And, see some great looking babes. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don’t know. The moral of the story is, is we’re here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don’t realize, or they don’t care, is we’re dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we’re not supposed to dance at all anymore.

Interview Public Broadcasting Service (2005)

to be truthful means …to lie according to fixed convention

What then is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms — in short, a sum of human relations, which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.

We still do not know where the urge for truth comes from; for as yet we have heard only of the obligation imposed by society that it should exist: to be truthful means using the customary metaphors – in moral terms, the obligation to lie according to fixed convention, to lie herd-like in a style obligatory for all…

‘On truth and lie in an extra-moral sense,’ The Viking Portable Nietzsche, p.46-7, Walter Kaufmann transl.

There are men who, however much they search…

There are women who, however you may search them, prove to have no content but are purely masks. The man who associates with such almost spectral, necessarily unsatisfied beings is to be commiserated with, yet it is precisely they who are able to arouse the desire of the man most strongly: he seeks for her soul — and goes on seeking.

Nietzsche, in Human, all too Human R.J. Hollingdale tr

The everyday Christian

If the Christian dogmas of a revengeful God , universal sinfulness , election by divine grace and the danger of eternal damnation were true, it would be a sign of weak-mindedness and lack of character /not/ to become a priest, apostle or hermit and, in fear and trembling, to work solely on one’s own salvation; it would be senseless to lose sight of ones eternal advantage for the sake of temporal comfort. If we may assume that these things are at any rate /believed/ true, then the everyday Christian cuts a miserable figure; he is a man who really cannot count to three, and who precisely on account of his spiritual imbecility does not deserve to be punished so harshly as Christianity promises to punish him.

from Nietzsche’s Human, all too Human R.J. Hollingdale transl.

the tiresome, monotone real world

But synthetic worlds, he [Edward Castronova] admits, have grown so powerful and their architecture so intricate that they are now in direct competition with our daily lives, and the growing exodus or migration of young adults into these mythical worlds must reflect the tiresome, monotone worlds that the players inhabit in the real world. Their online existence, he says, “is better than the alternative, that is, a daily life on Earth, which seems to show no progress towards anything.

– James Harkin in The Guardian

Links for 1st of May 2006