Archives for category: Science

First, if it seems to be trying to catch your attention by sensationalizing and instilling fear, be skeptical. I’m astounded how many fake news stories I’ve seen about things getting worse at Fukushima. No, they aint! One can no longer trust news sources. One must find multiple sources and evaluate each one. It is generally difficult. Do the hard work, or be duped. Sadly, fake news seems to be more abundant than actual factual reporting now.

Source: Radiation Levels Not “Soaring” At Fukushima Daiichi | ANS Nuclear Cafe

Advertisements

Eternity is not a long time. It is characterized by the absence of time.

It is unreasonable to try to describe eternity in concrete quantifications. It is even more than infinite, more than infinities and what mathematics and number theory can tell us about such.

Eternity is less comprehensible than the vastness of space. We cannot comprehend size. There is too much. We deceive ourselves into thinking we know something about it because it is easy for us to measure things from fractions of micrometers to thousands of kilometers. But the vastness is beyond that, beyond our ability to reason or analogize.

A rough approximation of the basics of small goes like this: If you place a sewing pin in the middle of the field of a domed football stadium, and then increase one of the iron atoms, proportionally, to where the nucleus was the size of the pinhead, then the rest of the atom would be close to the size of the domed stadium, and the electrons would still be too small to see even with a microscope. And that is only the beginning of small. Consider the Planck Length, at 1.6 x 10^-35 meters.

That brings us to a beginning of comprehending how utterly incomprehensible size and space really are. Think of all the empty space, the percentage of volume, within the atom, and remember that atoms cannot approach one another closely under the conditions in our living world. What we call solid matter isn’t solid in any quantitative mathematical sense.

Then we go the other way. There are many examples, and graphics, and short videos, and these help us realize that our whole planet is incomprehensibly tiny in light of the approximate 8.6 x 10^26 meters estimated for the observable universe. Then, how much bigger is what we can call space-time? Yeah, we don’t get it.

Eternity is even more. We don’t even have anything to compare it to.

We try to use time to comprehend eternity, especially since we do understand time, but we can’t.

We pretend we consider time. We always ask what time it is, but we don’t care. We know we have limited time, so we prioritize. Keeping time helps with that, but we don’t consider time, and we really don’t know, nor care, what time it is.

We all know we have very limited time, especially when we consider the span of history, and prehistory, and the time of the universe. We all die young. One hundred years is longer than most of us get, but even that is short. A single human life is a trivial amount of time in the scheme of history.

Yet, so many manage to do something of significance, by human reckoning. All of us do something significant for our loved ones. Sadly, that is sometimes a sad thing, but most of us have our moments where we positively affect others and improve our world. We don’t all get our 15 minutes of fame on the big stage, but we all do for a few.

Still, there are a few names that gained worldwide fame, and lost it. A few names have survived the millenia, but no name is known by every living soul on earth. Eventually, no name will be remembered among human descendants that we know today. If we continue for eons, it all obviously matters to us, but sooner or later, after some long time, all of humanity and our descendants will be gone, even erased. Even if we assume humanity spreads throughout the galaxy, even if we assume some means of spreading to many galaxies, eventually, it will all be gone. Millions of year? Billions of years? Even if we assume our descendents persist to the end of the universe, it will then all be gone.

See, we know where we sit there. We can comprehend the time. We know it all turns out insignificant in the end, but it is significant now, and some of us are better at using it well than others, but then again, “well” is subjective. Do we define doing well as becoming famous? By doing something important on the grand scale? Don’t we mostly define it as doing what we need to do, fulfilling our obligations, coming through when people are depending on us? Yeah. We advance mostly by people just doing what they need to do. We hold back the night by each of us keeping our candle and doing what good we can, and refusing to do something wrong, at least most of the time. Time. It will end.

All of space-time will end.

Will there be nothing then? Or will there be something still?

I am as confident of being there to see what it is, and I am as confident about it as I am of anything in the future.

Eternity. Don’t ask what will happen after some time. There is no time. We can’t think of before and after. That pertains to time, to space-time.

What will be after space-time is gone is simply unknowable.

In the meantime, don’t get hung up on how long things take. They really don’t take long.

 

 

I came across an article about, Near-Death Experiences: Understanding Visions of the Afterlife, by John Martin Fischer, Benjamin Mitchell-Yellin.

I’m writing a bit more below the block quote, but in response to an article in Slate, I posted, to Facebook, the following:

Quite interesting. I don’t suppose I’ll read the book, but the article is interesting.

They talk of meaning. Generally meaning must be more than physical and naturalistically materialistic.They do qualify meaning as meeting reality, relevant in the waking world, as it were. I suppose one can hold meaning to only mean so much. Kinda meaningless, though.

He describes some evidences taken as establishing reality and some more-than-natural essence (supernaturalism, of course), but everyone will weight such differently. I particularly don’t accept the argument that blind folk having visual content in their NDE makes it more real and stronger evidence of supernatural, because I don’t see sight as evidence of supernatural.

I agree in general with his statement, “We offer an explanation of NDEs that is naturalistic but that also preserves the beauty and meaning of these experiences. NDEs are awesome, wondrous experiences. We explain how they can have these characteristics within the context of the natural world.” Where I diverge is I do not accept that such ephemeral essences of beauty, meaning, awe, wonder, etc. can be explained purely in context of the natural world.

Ultimately, universally speaking, we’ve had 13 billion years to find some evidence of the foundation of meaning, the underlying and overarching reality that is more than our natural universe, and the only real evidence we have is our sense of awe, our sense that there must be more. The fact that it just seems wrong that the truly good is impermanent. The fact that we know there is such a thing as good, even when people disagree exactly how to define it, is our only real evidence that there is anything real at all.

I am more than a random confluence of quarks, strings, and quantum states, and I honestly am not sure I will ever consider that proven. I do honestly believe that sooner or later, in terms of a human life or in terms universal, I will step out of time, space, matter, and energy, and enter eternity. It is my true desire to be ready. I and my understanding are not all that I am, not all that is, not the sum of all that matters to me. There is something more. I call it God. I endeavour with open heart to be subject to God and that which can truly be called good.

We take the reports very seriously; indeed, we take them at face value. People really do have NDEs with the content they report. And they are beautiful—deeply and profoundly transformative in positive ways, altering their moral and spiritual outlook, and diminishing their fear of death. We offer an explanation of NDEs that is naturalistic but that also preserves the beauty and meaning of these experiences. NDEs are awesome, wondrous experiences. We explain how they can have these characteristics within the context of the natural world. We do not have to give up the tools of science in order to understand NDEs, and we do not have to give up the beauty and awesome nature of these experiences in order to explain them in terms of the natural world.
We believe that the key to reconciling naturalism with the deep meaning of NDEs is to recognize two important parts of the human attempt to come to grips with the world. One part of this inquiry seeks understanding, and the best way to achieve understanding is through science. But another part involves seeking to feel comfortable and at home in the world; this is not merely a cognitive project, but one that engages our emotions.
Stories are the best way to achieve this kind of emotional resonance. Human beings strive to understand the world, but we also aim to be at home in it. Thus, we are storytellers as well as scientific inquirers. Near-Death Experiences: Understanding Visions of the Afterlife explains how storytelling and scientific understanding fit together in a coherent way. Seeing this helps us to present a naturalistic interpretation of NDEs—an interpretation that is nevertheless deeply respectful of these awesome experiences.

He addresses the deep meaning, yet what can that mean in a purely naturalistic context?

He asserts the best way to seek understanding is through science, yet it is not the only way, and “best” is lacking. Science is our only repeatable way to verify reality and how things work. Whether it is best or not is subjective and depends on value, which itself is subjective. Subjective things can be monitored over time for evaluation, but so much of what is involved depends on the individuals examining and evaluating.

Scientific investigation lets us share our investigations and findings. It helps me check you, and you check me, to try to ensure that we are not fooling ourselves, and we really must admit we are the easiest to fool. Check Scott Adams’ (Dilbert) blog. He likes to point out how we fool ourselves and can hardly do differently. (But that is a different topic.)

As a Christian, I hold certain views of eternity, the afterlife.

I like to say eternity because it necessarily steps outside time, and time, space, matter, and energy, are all that is, all that makes what nature is, all that can be called naturalistic and materialistic. Science has us convinced the universe is not eternal. It is well confirmed, and thorough thinking confirms it. Nature is temporary. Our universe, all that is and all we know of it, is only about 13 billion years old. Science differs on how it might end, and how much time will elapse before it ends, but no scientific evidence suggests our universe will continue. It will end.

If there is no eternity, there is, in a very real sense, nothing, nothing at all.

Is it reasonable to suppose that in 100 years I will be exactly as I was 100 years ago?

It is a possibility. I accept that, but nothing in me can believe it. There is more, and I am, and always will be, part of that more.

If all that is me, all consciousness, all essences, ends up as it was before me, then nothing different can be supposed of the universe. If all the matter comes apart, all the energy dissipates, all the subatomics cease, even space will cease to be, and time. With no time, there is nothing. With no time there is no time to change. There will be nothing, nothing in any sense we can understand from science. Only the supernatural can still be, and it must be eternal or exists not at all.

Back to NDEs, I suppose all such experiences are limited by our brains, by our understanding, by all that makes us individual. Near death experiences, out of body experiences, are necessarily limited by ourselves, by our capacities. Even if such a spiritual experience exceeded all bounds of human intellect and capacities, the experience could be retained in this natural life only as some vague knowing, with no expressible understanding. That is, anything learned or experienced beyond natural capacity while unconstrained by anything natural would be lost as soon as it was restrained to the natural world, body, and mind.

In short, there either is only the natural, or there is more. I believe it is inherently impossible to quantify the supernatural in any way. I likewise hold it impossible to find any naturally observable phenomenon that exceeds natural scientific investigation and explanation with the laws of nature. I still believe in miracles, but I expect we will always be able to explain the ones we can catch and quantify, but miracles are not always so. Some miracles are truly unique, and such cannot be investigated and quantified. Some things just can’t be explained. Even science tells us that.

Watch these:

Nine Months that Made You

Find the episodes on TV or watch online. The first episode is available already, and the remainder should be available shortly after airing. (Episode two aired just before I decided to write this note.)

We must stay open minded, and we must learn. We do not have full truth, and we cannot, but we can know more, and we can understand each other better.

Do you part, and do your research. These shows are a good start for many concerns at the forefront today.

This image is pasted in as a link from PBS.

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/02/07/a-note-about-bad-losers-and-global-warming-on-super-bowl-sunday/

A story well told and worth my time.

I offer here a hodgepodge of thoughts provoked by the author, Caleb Shaw.

For context, read the article, quoting:

“It continued long after the Boston Tea Party sparked a Revolutionary War, where the good idea of Liberty cost the young nation 1% of its population. A half-century later Oliver Wendell Holmes demanded doctors wash their hands (a decade before Louis Pasteur got the credit for discovering germs), and inadvertently this caused a crisis in the Church at a time when New England was the “Bible Belt,” (because germs were an invisible power other than God.) Not long after that other redefiners pushed the radical idea that slavery should be abolished in all places, which rather than mere paper legislation inadvertently led to the horrible slaughter of the Civil War, which cost nearly as many American lives as all the nation’s other wars combined.”

Along with the author’s point, I’m emphasizing the lack of vision in those who saw germs as an affront to God’s supremacy. How small minded can people be? If you think like this, I assure you, your God is too small. (Reference JB Phillips.)

Also, “redefinition is no laughing matter, and nothing to take lightly. You can’t blithely reform things like the Ten Commandments or the American Constitution, without facing reverberations of a magnitude that is far from blithe.”

Also, “When we experience loss we replay it in our minds. The psychologists may call it “Post Traumatic Stress”, but we are replaying the films of the past game, noting the mistakes, and planning to play better in the next game. We own a craving to improve.” And that is good, if we have our foundation firmly grounded in something greater than ourselves, and if we keep proper perspective and proportion.

Also, “politics does involve winners and losers, and a rule book called our laws, and the temptation to “amend” the laws, and to “redefine” how the game is played, and even what constitutes “winning”. It requires we be civil, if we are to call ourselves “civilized”, and that we follow certain set procedures we call “civil procedures”. And here again we see two basic types of laws that restrain man within certain limits: Physical laws and spiritual laws.”

I believe in these laws, and I am convinced we cannot attain the good of them by ignoring that which is inconvenient within them. There aren’t any politicians in the limelight today that I think are trying to account the full perspective of such law. The foremost of the conservatives seems willing to compromise anything for the sake of political expedience. He says one thing, and many repeat what he says, but does another. Perhaps that will get us by, perhaps it will buy us time, but it will fix nothing.

Feynman taught us the truth that we are easy to fool, but nature will not be fooled. So, we must try hard not to fool ourselves. We still have a problem, though, because of how shortsighted we humans are, especially en masse.

Caleb Shaw goes on to relate a personal anecdote about a shortsighted friend who didn’t listen to her plumber. But this friend of his learned. It may have cost her monetarily, but she could afford the lesson with respect to time and life. Hopefully she learned well and became wiser for her future. With many things, nature is too forgiving, too long suffering. Nature will not be fooled, but she is never in a hurry. Mostly, she just doesn’t care. Nature operates by laws, and to our detriment, those laws often allow for extremes in human suffering, suffering we humans caused, and could have prevented, had we just not been so shortsighted.

“The physical laws are easier to deal with, because they are more obvious, though not always clear to a layman. […] Physical laws represent Truths that will not be mocked.”

Sadly, nature often affords us far too much time to dig our own graves, as it were.

The global warming alarmists assert that we are being shortsighted by continuing to burn fuel to keep ourselves alive, but they ignore history, and they especially ignore prehistory as revealed to us by the palaeosciences. The facts in evidence show clearly it is shortsightedness that leads to alarmism. Shortsightedness has always lead to alarmism. It is so again. In this case, the evidence available shows that it has been warmer in the past, much warmer, many times. The available evidence shows clearly that cold kills and warmer is better. The earth clearly is an equilibrium machine, and with all the water, it has lots to work with. The nature of the universe is to alleviate imbalance. Emergent phenomenon self-organize to increase the efficiency of dissipation. Complex dissipative systems arise, grow, and grow more complex to alleviate imbalance more efficiently. If energy in the global system increases, the global system doesn’t warm appreciably, it just runs faster and grows more complex. It grows more complex with living systems, communities, and entire ecosystems, and it grows more complex in its weather and transport systems in atmosphere and ocean. These factors attain from extra energy and from extra resources, such as carbon dioxide that allows plants to flourish and use water and nutrients more efficiently. It matters not how the extra becomes available. Nature simply uses it to more efficiently dissipating differences and imbalances. Nature doesn’t care. Nature just works, and it has worked to keep earth’s climate quite constant for as far in the past as we can tell. As well as we can tell, for over two billion years, the approximate average temperature of the planet in absolute terms has been 290±8 Kelvin. That is constant within less than 3%. Reference http://scotese.com/climate.htm. Note that he currently draws the graph well into the future. Note where he marks “today.” I like to emphasize this quote, “During the last 2 billion years the Earth’s climate has alternated between a frigid “Ice House”, like today’s world, and a steaming “Hot House”, like the world of the dinosaurs.” I like to also point out that most of the time in the past it was hot-house. Life has always prospered during the warm periods. You will notice a spike in temperature in the Tertiary. It was in the Tertiary, near this hot time, that primates first evolved. Also, the ungulates. Obviously, we primates, and our tasty grass-eating co-inhabitants love warmer climate, much warmer, relatively speaking, plants too, and they especially like more carbon dioxide. Regarding temperature stability, bringing things even closer to home, note that for the last several centuries temperature has varied only about 1%, and for the last century, including through today, it has varied no more than about 0.1%. That is better than the air conditioning system in your insulated house. Don’t you think our water-covered planet is regulating itself with weather and circulation systems? Such a regulating system would necessarily run faster with more energy available. It would necessarily increase in complexity and efficiency, and that is why there is so much evidence of such stability.

Caleb continues, “Spiritual laws are harder to deal with, because they often run counter to more selfish laws that politicians deal with, that are tantamount to a sort of Law Of The Jungle. For example, a politician needs to curry favor among constituents, and this sometimes tempts them to hand out money and jobs inappropriately, with the money diverted from the people and the job it was earmarked for. In the case of the levees of New Orleans, very little of the money Washington sent to improve the levees was actually spent on the levees, while a lot went to various sorts of “inspectors”, and to lawyers involved in endless environmental lawsuits. The result of this was that, when Katrina arrived, the levees were not ready to hold back the flood. It did not matter that the Law Of The Jungle had been obeyed, when The Law Of Nature arrived.”

It is internal, spiritual even, what drives politicians, and therefore, politics. Greed and lust for power often override our better angels. Eventually, though, truth wins out. Nature, be it physical or human, will not be fooled long enough to get away with disregarding truth. Our sins will out. We do reap what we sow. Sure, there are those con artists that get away with it, but others pay the price, especially those close to them. It is a sad legacy. In truth, it is a sad life. It is only delusion that lets an evil man justify that he is simply winning. Truth will not be mocked.

Regarding many things in politics and government, especially with regard to education, I assert that it is not about the money. That is, more money will not fix the problems. (For that matter, less money will not fix the problem on its own either.) Mr. Shaw adds, “Politicians always claim they need more money, but money is useless if corruption misappropriates it.” Is that a truism? Regardless, it is obviously true. Corruption exists in all power structures, because power corrupts. (If you deny that, you need to step into the real world and shun your fantasies.) The US education system has lost sight of the point of education. The US education system from the local school, through the board, through the district, and State, and Fed, is only about power and control. It is especially true of the unions. A union, by definition, pits the unionized against the “boss.” There is no getting around the fact that the boss of the school is ultimately the parents. All of the machinery of the school system from the classroom teacher through the superintendents, including State Superintendents, align against the parents, and thereby, the students that they claim to try to serve. That is an inherent opposition that cannot work. It is a fundamental, unavoidable conflict of interest. It is fundamentally a conflict, a coercive tool of the educational system against the very customers it pretends to serve.

Coercion is evil.

Compulsory educational attendance laws are fundamentally coercive.

Coercion is evil.

The government education system is founded on evil. It cannot thrive.

We are not Borg. Resistance is far from futile. Resistance does actually succeed most of the time.

Referring to Boston’s Big Dig, failed bureaucratic weapons for the military, bad bridges, and other government-sponsored engineering and science, Caleb correctly observes, “The sad fact of the matter is that we are likely to see more of these costly mistakes, not fewer, as long as we allow the political Law Of The Jungle to rule science and engineering. The sooner we erect some sort of barrier between politics and science the better off we will be.”

I agree.

I point to separation of church and state. The churches, indeed, all religions, in the United States have flourished since the founding primarily because the government leaves them alone. It is only in recent decades with meddling from secular wimps that problems have arisen. Yet, even in the repressive government climate of today, there are many communities among us with churches practically on every corner, including multiple Christian and non-Christian religions.

Where would we be with science if government had the same hands-off restrictions with research and laboratories as with religion? Of course, the paranoid raise the alarm. They imagine atrocities and insist on government regulation. Well, frankly, many do the same with religion, especially certain sects regarded as dangerous. If not for our longstanding laws and traditions, the world would be the worse, unimaginably worse, and no man would be allowed to express freedom of religion.

The same separation should be applied to education and state.

Consider: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or education or scientific research, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

This rule has been the soil within which the roots of liberty and self-determination have flourished. Should we not expand the scope of this rule, this requirement, to such obviously bedeviled essentials of society? Government has disrupted and corrupted so many fundamental goods in our lives. We must restrict government from our educational and scientific institutions.

My proposal will not eliminate abuses and failures, but it will rid us of the institutions that perpetuate failure and prohibit accountability.

Caleb Shaw makes many good points in the article at WUWT. I thank him and Anthony for hosting it.

Finally:
The gods of the copybook headings with terror and slaughter return.

Would to God we would learn our lessons and quit repeating the mistakes that cause so much of our suffering and loss.

A side distraction that I came across while running searches:
http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange1/current/lectures/kling/paleoclimate/

Interesting points and subtle details.

Faith in reason is the trust that the ultimate natures of things lie together in a harmony which excludes mere arbitrariness. It is the faith that at the base of things we shall not find mere arbitrary mystery. The faith in the order of nature which made possible the growth of science is a particular example of a deeper faith. — Alfred North Whitehead (British mathematician-philosopher), Science and the Modern World, Free Press, NewYork, 1967 (originally published 1925), available at Google books.

(Snagged from http://www.sciencemeetsreligion.org/)

No degree needed. Well stated.

Climate Concern is Mis-directed | Somewhat Reasonable.

Truth often hurts, especially for the truth teller.

http://www.acpeds.org/tragic-day-for-americas-children

“Dr. Michelle Cretella, President of the American College of Pediatricians in response to the SCOTUS decision today stated, “[T]his is a tragic day for America’s children. The SCOTUS has just undermined the single greatest pro-child institution in the history of mankind: the natural family. Just as it did in the joint Roe v Wade and Doe v Bolton decisions, the SCOTUS has elevated and enshrined the wants of adults over the needs of children.“”

They reference their court brief:

http://www.acpeds.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/Amici-Brief-FINAL.pdf

Which begins:

“The American College of Pediatricians (ACP) is a nonprofit organization of pediatricians and healthcare professionals dedicated to the health and well-being of children[…]. ACP’s Mission is to enable all children to reach their optimal physical and emotional health and wellbeing. To this end, ACP recognizes the basic father-mother family unit, within the context of marriage, as the optimal setting for childhood development, but also pledges its support to all children, regardless of their circumstances. ACP encourages mothers, fathers and families to advance the needs of their children above their own, and is committed to fulfilling its mission by encouraging sound public policy, based upon the best available research, to assist parents and influence society in the endeavor of childrearing.”

Note: “…also pledges its support to all children, regardless of their circumstances. ACP encourages mothers, fathers and families to advance the needs of their children above their own…”

We must all pledge to support all children regardless of their circumstances. We must all put the needs of others, especially the needs of our children, above our own. We must take care to not harm ourselves in serving the needs of others, but it is much more difficult to guard against self-serving, than to over serve. It is much easier (even more natural) to be selfish, than to be considerate of others.

Read the brief and decide for yourself. In the meantime, I’ll quote this, “…the four most recent studies, by Dr. Mark Regnerus, Dr. Douglas Allen and two by Dr. Paul Sullins, report substantial and pertinent negative outcomes for children with same-sex parents.”

At this page, http://www.acpeds.org/same-sex-marriage-not-best-for-children, they say:

“While the debate over the legitimacy of same-sex marriage can be viewed from many perspectives, there should be little debate about the effects it has upon children: Same-sex marriage deliberately deprives the child of a mother or a father, and is therefore harmful. The College has sought to defend the child’s position in this debate from an objective, scientific standpoint. Below you will find convincing evidence of the fundamental value of the married, father-mother family unit to the optimal development of the child.”

They provide lots of information and references.

It seems their efforts are in good faith and are well grounded. Common sense supports their assertions. Of course, common sense doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny, but it usually does. It also seems likely the organization is somewhat biased, but facts are stubborn things, and bias either way tends to fall off under scrutiny. It does appear to be an entirely legitimate and qualified organization, acting in good faith. Judge for yourself.

The sad fact is that science, especially the social sciences, are corrupted by power and politics, also by fame and Facebook-likes. Even scientists want to be liked. When there is political pull to be gained, power and prestige, even the simple accolades of reporters and strangers up for grabs, fallible humans, even hardened scientific researches, fall victim of confirmation bias and self-deception. And as Feynman said, we must not fool ourselves, but it is so easy to do so when someone pats us on the back for it.

The fact that is inarguable, people have elevated the wants of adults above the welfare of children. The SCOTUS continues to codify it.

 

The media hates the church. Much of the left hates the church. Most of the radical environmental movement hates the church. When the enemies of the church support something the Pope says, it might mean they take his words out of context or twist them. With Ladato si, that is not the case. It can only mean the Pope has made statements detrimental to the church.

The Pope has espoused political power. Political entanglements harm the church. History is clear on that point. The Laudato si does more harm than good, more harm for all, especially more harm for the church.

Writing for First Things, of course, R.R. Reno reviews Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Sihttp://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2015/06/the-return-of-catholic-anti-modernism. Excellent.

I’ll likely be of similar opinion once I’ve read it myself.

I look forward to Maureen Mullarkey’s comments. She doesn’t pull punches, and she has a keen eye for seeing through the ornamentation and fixing on the essential truth in a presentation. Perhaps a characteristic of an artist.

I think Reno finds a key when he notes the inconsistency of the Pope aligning with science consensus, while at the same time condemning it. Reno says, “In this encyclical, Francis expresses strikingly anti-scientific, anti-technological, and anti-progressive sentiments. [and anti-modern]” If I understand Reno’s use of progressive, I would say antigrowth, antiadvancement. When I use the word progressive, I’m generally talking about the leftist ideology that is akin to socialism. I’m not inclined to suppose the Pope anti-progressivist in this sense. He seems to have socialists leanings as well as I can tell.

Reno indicates the Pope was speaking against globalization, and probably specifically as related to China and its impressive recent growth. I think it is quite important to recognize that China will not pay attention to the Pope, nor to any policies or edicts from outsiders that hinders its continued growth. China is far too big and far too poor to entertain notions of slowing growth and increasing per capita wealth. They have the resources in raw material and manpower. They will use it. They will burn fossil fuels and nuclear fuels as fast as they possibly can. They are finding that fouling one’s nest is a bad thing. They are becoming ever more conscience of decreasing pollution. As their growth and wealth increases, they will afford more and more means of keeping it clean. That is a good thing on the whole.

I note this Reno quote, including a Francis quote:

Another feature of modernity and its faith in progress has been a political commitment to liberty, equality, and fraternity. To be modern is to believe that, for all our flaws, Western societies are more democratic, more egalitarian, and more inclusive than any in history. This is not the Pope’s view. The West is rapacious. He quotes one source approvingly: “Twenty per cent of the world’s population consumes resources at a rate that robs the poor nations and future generations of what they need to survive.”

I find that sad. The Pope seems to not understand that commerce and freedom are not zero sum. The more the better-off produce, the more is available for all. The 20% consuming are also producing, and they are producing far more than they are consuming. Energy is a particularly good example here. We need to bring the poor, the undeveloped communities up to the power levels of the west. Ask any missionary in undeveloped lands about how important electricity is, and how often they have to manage without. Inexpensive, reliable electricity (and fossil fuel) is the key to lifting the truly poor out of poverty and oppression.

Reno says:

In effect, the present world system created by European and North American modernity—the world made possible by Newton, Locke, Rousseau, Ricardo, Kant, Pasteur, Einstein, Keynes, and countless other architects of modern science, economics, and political culture—is an abomination. Francis never quite says that. But this strong judgment is implied in his many fierce denunciations of the current global order. It destroys the environment, oppresses the multitudes, and makes us blind to the beauty of creation.

If Reno has captured the intent of the Pope, I strongly disagree with the Pope. The modern world is what we have to work with. I know the Pope put some emphasis on personal, individual responsibility. Yes, I agree. Be the change you want to see in the world. The modern world is actually, quantifiably, verifiably better than any before. MLK Jr. is still correct in his observation that the moral arc of the world bends slowly, but it bends toward justice and freedom. The fact is, the doomsayers may be right, but they have yet to be, and there is more evidence now than ever before that things are actually getting better.

I agree with R.R. Reno. I may alter this and that after I’ve read for myself, but I agree with what Reno says. I agree that the Pope seems to be leading in a dangerous direction. I believe society as a whole is experiencing pain associated with bad choices. I see from history and observing our world today that our choices will continue to be bad until the pain gets much worse. The better choices rest in freedom and respect for the individual at all levels in all of life’s stages and ages. We must first do no harm. We must work with and for others. We must cherish each his own. We must not coerce. We must allow all possible latitude as rational, cooperative children of God. When each of us, well, most of us, can view everyone as equal and of inestimable worth, then we will be back on the right track. Till then, over consumption will continue. The Pope cannot change that. However, market forces correct for such. Shortages result. Pain and suffering ensue. People wise up and work then.

The gods of the copybook headings come to mind.

The world will not overheat if we burn every last kilogram of coal, oil, natural gas, and even the methane clathrates. The systems are hydrodynamic and biologically buffered. Dissipative systems emerge, and the will get as complex as necessary to push back against any perturbation. 1,000 years from now, assuming something else doesn’t extinct human beings, no one will ever think of high CO2 levels, unless maybe they are trying to figure out how to raise them back up some.


Willis’ article is well presented and insightful. The comments, particularly those of RGB, are quite valuable. Some of the comments are good examples of what not to do. Some are educational and valuable.

Willis and RGB contribute greatly to WUWT, and they are among the greatest minds of our time. If you research the site, with the built-in search or your favorite search engine, you will find a wealth of knowledge and insight.

You will understand the global climate better if you read this article and the comments. The time spent reading will prove worthwhile.

While RGB points out that CO2 physically acts to increase global average surface temperature, Willis shows (in this and prior articles) that CO2 is not the only factor, and as RGB points out, more heat doesn’t necessarily mean hotter; it can instead mean faster, or slightly larger dissipative emergent phenomena.

Carbon dioxide is an essential ingredient in life. We must have it, and it has been deficient in the environment throughout human existence. It is likely still deficient. CO2 is no more a pollutant than O2 and H2O. Oxygen is a killer. Water, even more so. We humans suffer more expense and direct tragedy already, directly due to these other two essential ingredients of life than any plausible scenario associated with CO2.

We will burn all of the fossil fuels unless a genius breakthrough occurs. We will run out of all of it before CO2 even begins to become a true concern to the well being of humans and the biosphere.

Mostly, I agree with RGB (and Willis routinely expresses full solidarity with this sentiment) when he says that climate related policies, and even the vast sums spent on climate research are harmful to the least among us. The Pope wants us to respect the poor. That starts not with only small kindnesses, but with cheap energy by every means available.

RGB is correct when he says:
“At heart, all poverty is energy poverty. The units of energy are the units of work, and work, one way or another, is wealth.”

http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/

Watts Up With That?

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

I got to thinking about how I could gain more understanding of the daily air temperature cycles in the tropics. I decided to look at what happens when the early morning (midnight to 5:00 AM) of a given day is cooler than usual, versus what happens when the early morning is warmer than usual. So what was I expecting to find?

Well, my hypothesis is that due to the emergence of clouds and thunderstorms, when the morning is cooler than usual, there will be less clouds and thunderstorms. As a result the day will tend to warm up, and by the following midnight it will end up warmer than where it started. And when the morning is warmer than usual, increased clouds and thunderstorms will cool the day down, and by the following midnight it will end up cooler than when it started. In other…

View original post 1,665 more words

I always enjoy reading BioLogos. The site is an extraordinary resource in so many regards.

I shared this on my Facebook page without comment. Then I shared it again with a short comment.

http://biologos.org/blog/embracing-faith-accepting-ambiguity

Now, after reading it a second time, I just have to write more.

This young woman opens her story in a depression suffered six years ago. Her depression was at least part physical, but it seems clear it primarily arose from a lack of truth and understanding. She had never found sound teaching and solid information. She had been led to believe she had only one option, of accepting or rejecting fundamentalism. She described it as thinking her only options were a fundamentalism she could no longer believe, and empty agnosticism. While certainty is certainly absurd, claiming ignorance in the ultimate sense is, in my view, irrational. I consider agnosticism as the abandonment of all reason.

Our story-teller explains that her upbringing had been fundamentalist, Pentecostal, and settled. She said any questioning was simply not accepted. The truths were known. That was not much different from my own upbringing, but my Baptist grandfather was a man of science. (An eye doctor, but he could have been anything, from a machinist to a physics or mathematics professor. He was a practical engineer, inventor, tinkerer.) He helped me learn to question everything from my earliest years.

I forget how early I started. I never accepted any notions of a young earth. From earliest school days, the unimaginable age of the earth and universe were given. I would unreservedly rebuff any assertions regarding merely some few thousand years for earth. It was just not reasonable.

It took me longer to come to grips with evolution. Gradually, by about 20 years of age, I accepted that biological evolution and common descent were simply how God created man from the dust of the earth. I accepted it based on general science, but since some of the breakthroughs of genomics, there is simply no excuse. Nothing, absolutely nothing in any aspect of every facet of science having anything to do with life in any way, including human life, makes sense without a Darwinian evolutionary framework. Theodosius Dobzhansky made this statement in the early 1970s, long before I realized it. Theo was, and remains, right. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nothing_in_Biology_Makes_Sense_Except_in_the_Light_of_Evolution. It has only been recently that I became aware that people have been thinking like I do for so long.

These words of hers are particularly worth repeating:

Nearly every day for the first year or two after we moved, I prayed the words of the Roman centurion over and over and over again, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” Sometimes it was all that I could manage, but over time I realized that I wasn’t clinging so hard to those words anymore, and I became more sure that even if everything else that I had ever believed passed away, I knew that Jesus was the Son of God, and that was enough. From there I began slowly and painfully and uncertainly reworking my faith.

I don’t suppose I’ve ever fallen so deep, but I’ve had similar times. Jesus is enough. Sometimes, that is all that matters, all that is real.

By the way, it has never been any aspect of science that has hurt me, only people, usually in betrayal of trust.

Impressive list of authors she found to help her learn truth: Matthew Paul Turner, Madeleine L’Engle, C.S. Lewis, Donald Miller, Scot McKnight, N.T. Wright, Timothy Keller, and Greg Boyd.

She mentions that questions specifically about evolution didn’t come up with her for a long time. She’s not specific, but I suspect it was after college and marriage. For me, it was early. I accepted it very young, but drew a distinction at the special dignity of humanity being in the image of God. I now can hardly even remember what my arguments were. I now see the miracle of in-breathed-ness as simply something God did at the right time, and science and biology will never be able to define it, much less pin down the when of it.

Mainly noting for my own mental processing, she indicates they had four children in the space of about six years up to last year, 2014. She mentioned being busy as a mother. Busy indeed. Blessed indeed. They thought to homeschool as an interim. Liked it. Kept homeschooling. Again, blessed!

Another quote-worthy comment:

As I began researching which curriculums I wanted to use next year, I realized that all of the Christian homeschool science curriculums were likely to be written from the young-earth creationist perspective. I did not want that for my kids, so I began researching other options. That’s when I discovered BioLogos. The BioLogos team helped me find a science curriculum, but much more than that, they helped me to practically and articulately answer questions of how faith and science can be reconciled.

To this, I relate! Ask my wife. She too.

Our family moves in fundamentalist and Wesleyan circles. It comes with the territory of taking one’s faith seriously and homeschooling, especially when raised that way.

I expect to run into young-earth views and antievolutionary views, and I expect some derision, but I don’t expect hate and viciousness. Sadly, that is exactly what we occasionally see. Sometimes first person, in the flesh. Other times, more secondhand. There are periodicals we used to get, but not anymore. We dropped/avoid such because of articles that call me sinner, or compromiser, or worse, because I don’t accept their take on a few bible verses that they interpret in nontraditional ways. (Yes, check the history. YEC is a modern, post-WWI phenomenon that was based primarily in fear, but also in racism–which included southern US racism, anti-German racism, and anti-Semitism.) It is hardly compelling, but it is noteworthy that the majority of Christians reject young-earth notions and accept evolution, at least in a general, nonspecific sense.

So, for our family, finding or assembling curriculum for our scientifically inclined boys has been a challenge. My elder son is as adamant about all things science, and more so than me, with the exuberance of youth. The younger cares less about all things controversial, but the intricacies of all of creation enthrall him. That includes most all scientific topics as well as all things artistic.

Many talk about “world view.” They use it as a code word meaning narrow fundamentalist dogma.

To me, worldview must be summed in commitment to truth. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Jesus is truth. I cannot cotton to lying for Jesus. I’m certain Jesus doesn’t either. Clinging to a narrow interpretation of certain scriptures does not make a worldview. Simply refusing to accept obvious, demonstrable facts and processes is dishonest. In all practical aspects life, that is lying. I seem to remember scripture explaining that liars have their place in the lake of fire. Literalist somehow have a more liberal view on that than I do.

Our story-teller explains that her growth and realization was slow, gradual, even halting. She supposes it is that way for most of us. I suppose so too. I tend to forget, though, that I have been at this longer than she has lived. I literally have been building my faith, my views, my understanding of all things science for over four decades now. Hardly any time at all. I’m still such a novice. However, I have much more experience than most people addressing such issues.

Life is a nonstop journey, with scarcely time to rest. Thank God there is a rest in Him. Still, though life is often hard, and often challenging, even thrilling, it can be so ridiculously shallow if we don’t deliberately dig deep. There is more to everything. The ultimate question, why, is never completely answered. There is always more. There will always be more. Always.

If you didn’t click the link and read her article, you really should, especially those last two paragraphs.

 

Good article here at The Breakthroughhttp://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/issues/nuclear/five-surprising-public-health-facts-about-fukushima.

My summary is that the scare over the nuclear incident harmed many immediately and long-term, the data and facts show little danger ever existed from the nuclear plant problems and long-term danger is too little to detect. The reaction was the problem, not the nuclear fallout. Fukushima was tragic for several reasons. The nuclear problems were minimal, and our engineering was sound. It was simply overwhelmed by the forces of nature, forces which we are now accounting for better. The net result is this nearly inconsequential contribution to the horrific disaster will be even less in the future.

Journalist Will Boisvert said of the forced evacuations and initial restrictions imposed by officials, “another instance of alarmism that causes more harm than the risk it’s trying to avert.”

That statement is particularly important. The ancient truism, “First, do no harm.” Don’t make matters worse when there is no real and quantifiable likelihood of making matters better in the long run.

Not only were people directly and immediately harmed by the forced evacuations, substantial resources were diverted from obvious use in alleviating immediate suffering of thousands. We really need better education in these matters. The information is available. We don’t need research and grants. The information is already accumulated. It is a matter of personal initiative. And I’ll state frankly that LNT is false and its use and imposition causes harm, harm that cannot be justified.

We live in a radiation filled environment. Millions of years, and we are going strong. There is a threshold for all types of radiation, and most of what we encounter with all sorts of radiation exposure are simply not dangerous. We will live longer and die happier if we just don’t worry about it.

Of course, yes, that can be taken too far, but we have a long way to go from where we are before we need to start worrying about not worrying enough.

Awesome! A four-times lensed view of Refsdal, the first exploding star we can see through a supermassive lens.

Hubble image

The four yellow dots indicated with arrows are the one exploding star, lensed and mirrored by the gravity of the galaxy between us and that exploded star.

Apparently this is relatively common, the lensing and mirroring of distant objects by closer masses. However, this is apparently the first super nova we have observed.

Note, we are observing a star explode today. The star is 9.3 billion light years away.

One light year equals 5.87849981 × 10^12 miles. One light year distance is nearly 6 trillion miles. Thus, the light from the exploded star has travelled 54,670,048,233,000,000,000,000 miles, 54.67 x 10^21 miles, or over 54 sextillion miles. (Trillion, quadrillion, quintillion, sextillion, septillion…) Since the speed of light is constant at 186,000 miles per second, for us to observe it right now, it has to have been travelling for 293,924,990,500,000,000 seconds, which, of course, works out as about 9.3 billion years. (Thus the convenience of the light-year as a unit of distance that gives us a natural measure of how long the light took to travel that far.)

In other words, we are observing today something that happened billions of years ago.

Now, this article, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150305140437.htm, talks a little about the star and the galaxy (and the galactic cluster in the vicinity) that is lensing it, and it tries to explain simply. It does a good job.

I’m writing to point out the use of models in their work.

We see the exploding star today. We are observing it. We can measure the spectrum of the four yellow spots and determine they are, in fact, four images of the same thing, the same exploding star. There aren’t four, just one.

We need cosmological models that include real-world mathematical constructs to make sense of four images of the same thing around a galaxy roughly halfway between us and the exploding star. We need very good and precise mathematical models to be able to explain the four images positioned as we see them. We can use the mathematical models as predictive tools. These astronomers are using these tools to predict that the images will change in certain ways, given our understanding of the intervening galaxies and space, and if our models are correct, the images will change as predicted.

Probably, however, what we see will change slightly different from predicted, and the astronomers, physicists, cosmologists, and mathematicians will get busy and improve the models to make them fit what we actually observe.

Observational science.

Look at it. Figure it out. Test what you figured. Change what you figured. Do it again.

When the real world behaves as you expect all the time, every try, then your model works and you can have some confidence that you are not fooling yourself. We do this all the time when playing catch. We instinctively construct a physics-and-mathematics (calculus) based model in our head, and if our bodily-coordination is good, we throw and catch and have some fun. Mathematical models are good things.

The caution is that we must not fool ourselves, and we must keep in mind that we are the easiest to fool.

Test, check, recalculate, have others check the work, the tests, and the calculations, and do it again. Then we are observing the world and interacting effectively with it and learning.

In cosmology and astronomy we learn all the time. Lots of things change as we figure better ways to test and better ways to watch and observe. We keep looking, and there’s so much to see that we cannot help but learn and improve our models.

For me, the fascination of the article, of knowing that the lensing is going on and the event is dynamic, the fascination is watching to see how the scientists change their model of dark matter. Dark matter is scary stuff. Not because we cannot see it, but because it is so hard to figure out. It has the stench of magic about it. The more we figure it out, the more we wash away the magic, but until we can routinely model it accurately, and until we can observe it and test it, it is difficult. Science observes. Dark matter is really hard to observe. Wind is something that at first glance is hard to observe, but we know how to observe it. We model the matter and energy involved, we can compute it in detail. Then we watch what the wind does. We watch the trees sway, we watch the leaves blow, we feel the breeze on our faces and blowing through our hair. (Nice, isn’t it.)

Once we have dark matter down like wind, no problem. Until then, it is intriguing to watch and see what we have been getting wrong and how we are correcting.

Journal Reference:

Patrick L. Kelly et al. Multiple Images of a Highly Magnified Supernova Formed by an Early-Type Cluster Galaxy Lens. Submitted to arXiv, 2015 [link] http://arxiv.org/abs/1411.6009

You can download the 17 page paper here:

Cite as: arXiv:1411.6009 [astro-ph.CO]
(or arXiv:1411.6009v3 [astro-ph.CO] for this version)

Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). “Hubble sees supernova split into four images by cosmic lens.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 March 2015. .

http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2015/08

http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2015/08/image/

http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2015/08/image/e/format/web_print/

Again, awesome.

%d bloggers like this: