Wednesday, October 04, 2006

New blog

The blog has moved. The new blog uses wordpress, which is much easier to use, if you know some html; and I know the admins personally.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Atheist Googling

I didn't expect so many interesting links when I googled for 'atheists'.

The first link is about a very courageous Catholic going to an atheist meeting, and guess what, he survived. Well, my experience with such meetings (I went to one in, I think, Palo Alto). is that it was boring. A friend complained about the lack of women.

The third link is an experiment about how to convert to being an atheist. It's easy:

Here’s how to do it. Walk slowly into your bedroom, skip the kneeling by your bedside thing, and lay calmly down on your bed. Close your eyes and begin thinking about Santa Claus, remember to be perfectly silent. Now, compare Santa Claus to God and repeat three times, God and Santa are the same. Soon you will begin to hear jingle bells outside of your bedroom and you will see the red glowing nose of Rudolph. This is the first step to an atheist epiphany. Once you realize that God is actually Santa Claus, your belief in the mythical Armageddon will dissipate into the atmosphere; in other words, it will vaporize into the land of make believe.

Worth a try, I think. Anyway, I always though that telling kids the fairytale about Santa Claus is a good thing. It encourages them to find the truth, and not believe everything they are told. It certainly is a sense of achievement when they find out, and they may want to repeat that for any religion imposed on them.

The fourth link points to an interview with a christian scientist. Not very convincing:

A: Like many scientists, I was afflicted with the mind-set of reductionism: Anything worth understanding can be understood by using the tools of science and basic physical and mathematical principles. Also there was an aspect of plain arrogance; I had developed such a sense of being able to understand everything through my own intellect that it wasn't necessary to contemplate the fact that there might be mysteries beyond that. Those things together led me in my 20s to be a pretty obnoxious atheist.

So, if there are things you cannot find out, there must be a god? Well, we know that there are things we do not know. How, exactly do we then know it's god? Or whatever? We just do not know, and a god needs an awful lot of explanation. And, how is this arrogant? Isn't it much more arrogant to just have no reason, except faith, to believe in a god, moreover, a christian god with all the bells and whistles?

Okay, that's it for today. Oh, you ask for the second link? See yourself. No, I didn't know either.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

9/11 Myths

The German magazine Der Spiegel mentions (german only) the success of the Loose Change, supporting the usual 9/11 conspiracy theories. I do not plan to watch that movie, I do not expect anything new. The article also doesn't mention anything that hasn't been debunked already, but dissapointingly, it doesn't mention that most of the perceived peculiarities can be explained naturally. But I want to take this opportunity to list a few sites that debunk most (all?) of the myths floating around:

One reason I do not buy these conspiray theories is that I believe the current US administration is just too stupid for that.

Rapture and Global Warming Lumped Together

I hear you saying 'wtf?'? That's what I was thinking when I read this op-ed by Zev Chafets in the LA Times. The article is about how Israel takes advantage of the rapturists, and sees nothing wrong with it:

This support [by Falwell and Pat Robertson] takes practical forms. The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews is an American group led by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein that raises tens of millions of dollars from evangelicals for Jewish causes. It is now giving money to update the bomb shelters of the Galilee. Sure, some of these donors may see this as part of a vast cosmic drama. Why not, they're entitled.

Wow. How nice of Jerry and Pat to build shelters for Israelis. And what a good reason to support the christian wackos.

But that's not what I am complaining about now. In this shallow analysis he puts the science about global warming on the same level:

Secular liberals find this scenario preposterous. On the other hand, many of these same scoffers profoundly believe that high-octane gasoline and the profligate use of electric home appliances will heat planet Earth to a doomsday temperature last experienced 420,000 years ago (when, presumably, gas was a dime a gallon and it was OK to leave the TV on all night).

Hello? Contrary to bible myths, there is evidence for global warming.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Odd Weather Patterns in the Bay Area

Last week, until last Monday the heat here was brutal. We had more than 111F (44C) here in the East Bay. On the weekend, there was no relief in the night as usual. Looks like this pattern was unprecedented.

This comment hit the nail on its head:

I'm reading Michael Crichton's "State of Fear" repeatedly to remind myself that global warming is just a hoax devised by money-hungry environmentalists, while driving my SUV with the AC on high and the windows rolled down. Also, drinking bottled water shipped from the other side of the world.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Interview with Al Gore

There is an interview with Al Gore on the German magazine Der Spiegel about his movie. I already read the german version a few days ago.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The 39th Skeptic Circle

... is up. Enjoy the trip. My last post is included!

Monday, July 17, 2006

YEC Discussion with Sprittibee

I am having a discussion with Sprittibee, in this post of her blog. Sprittibee is a creationist who home schools her children. I found this via gnosos. I even stole the title from gnosos... I hope that's okay. She also replied to my post about Globular Clusters.

As I already noted, YECs are not always stupid. I do think that Sprittibee is able to understand, it is just that she has to learn a few things. In her comments, she asks a few very basic questions, all of which should be easily answered by a high school student. I say should, and if a high school student cannot answer these, something has gone terribly wrong with the education system. And anyone who thinks he can make an argument for YEC, has to be able to answer these questions, not to speak of someone who wants to home school her children. That does not mean she is stupid.

These are her question, repeated from her notes of Kent Hovind:

1. Where did all the 90-plus elements come from (iron, barium, calcium, silver, nickel, neon, chlorine, etc)? 2. How do you explain the precision in the design of the elements, with increasing numbers of electrons in orbit around the nucleus? 3. Where did the thousands of compounds we find in the world come from: carbon dioxide, sodium chloride, calcium hydroxide, hydrochloric acid, oxalic acid, chlorophyll, sucrose, hydrogen sulfide, benzene, aluminum silicate, mercaptans, propane, silicon dioxide, boric acid, etc.? 4. How was it determined how many bonds each element would have for combining with other elements? 5. When did these compounds develop from the elements (before the big bang, during the big bang, after the big bang)? 6. When evolutionists use the term "matter", which of the thousands of compounds are included? 7. When evolutionists use the term "primordial soup", which of the elements and compounds are included? 8. Why do books on evolution, including grade-school, high-school and college textbooks not include such important, basic information? 9. Evolutionists are masters of speculation. Why don't they speculate about this?

Why do books on evolution, including grade-school, high-school and college textbooks not include such important, basic information. Yeah, that would explain a lot. Most of these questions were answered in my text books, I am sure.

She then goes on with her own questions, after I explained to her that heavy elements are formed in supernovae:

1. How do we know what elements are in a super novae? 2. How were a sample of these elements obtained? 3. If we add new elements to the chart occassionally, how do we know we have discovered them all? 4. If there are undiscovered elements and we have never been to a super novae to collect samples, how do we then know that they do not use elements that are not yet discovered in their supposed evolution?. 5. If we are not using observable and testable factual real life evidence in our models and simulations, how then can we call them scientific? 6. If we start our research with a pre-disposed idea of the conclusion, is our data not then skewed to reflect that pre-disposed idea?

It is especially number 3 that shows complete lack of understanding. 4 follows from that. And I am not going to repeat basic high schoool physics and chemistry here.

I can answer 5. I think this comes from my post about GCs, where I talk about models for star formation, and how they beautifully fit the observations. Well, basically that's it: they do match the observations. It also isn't true that the input from the models does not come from the observations: the initial composition is observed by in interstellar gas clouds, the physics is observed and well understood, some data are from nuclear bomb tests. Maybe I didn't express it clearly: the age derived from the observation of GCs is not dependent on other observations that the universe is old, and that is why I considered it important.

I think number 6 deserves annother post. Just this much: there are no pre disposed ideas. Nobody came along and said 'I need a universe that is 15 billion years old, please assume this in your models'. It is the other way around: we observe those clusters and derive an an age of 15 Gyears.

Update: Meanwhile, Sprittibee posted part 2 of her series, this post has been included in The 39th Skeptic Circle (cool!) by Mike, and pooflinger discovered the discussion too.

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