January 10, 1946: Project Diana

Tuesday, January 10, AD 2017

Scientific advances from World War II revolutionized our world and beyond.  Sixty-one years ago the experiment of the United States Army Signal Corps, called Project Diana, in bouncing radar signals off the moon bore fruit.  Radar took 2.5 seconds to make the round trip of almost half a million miles.  Thus radar astronomy, along with the United States space program, was born.  Careful calculations had to be made each day to account for the Doppler effect.  Moonbounce radio communication is still used by some amateur radio operators.

E. King Stodola, the scientist who served as the technical director for the project, recalled it in 1979 during an interview conducted by his daughter, Cindy Stodola Pomerleau:

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7 Responses to January 10, 1946: Project Diana

  • “But it was a very significant…”
    Ideed it was. Our understanding of the size of the universe is a series of calculations of multiple steps, the first step being the size of the earth’s orbit around the sun. Thanks to the observations of the transits of Mercury and Venus across the face of the sun we had some idea of the true value of our orbit’s size. This radar technology was soon extended beyond the moon to the planets and near-earth asteroids of the inner solar system, and so we ended with a much better value to use. Observations such as those of the Hubble Space Telescope are valuable but would be less so without this technology.

  • If they could muster up enough power to send a signal all the way to our NEAREST star, Alpha Proxima,, it would be a round trip of EIGHT AND ONE HALF YEARS !
    Timothy R.

  • Yes, Timothy, which is why radar observations beyond the inner solar system will likely never happen, let alone outside the solar system. Inverse square law of radiation.
    But, since we know the size of the earth’s orbit, parallax observations of Alpha and Proxima Centauri give us their distance well enough.

  • I calculated once how long it would take our fastest spacecraft to reach Alpha or Proxima. It involves so many thousands of years, one way, that, unless wormholes do exist, and we find a way to use them, we
    ain’t going nowhere !
    Timothy R.

  • We actually have an idea of how to make wormholes (as in, we had an idea of how to split atoms in 1920). What we haven’t figured out yet is how to move the other end of the wormhole to where you want it. As it stands right now this ‘idea’ would only get us to the other side of the room. But hey, it’s a start.

    Actually, we can with nearly current technology reach about 1/3 or the speed of light, so the nearest stars are ‘only’ two centuries away at the most. This is true even if the EM drive being tested now doesn’t work; if it does then future ships won’t need fuel other than than for electricity. The real problem is we can’t build this stuff economically without better robotic technology, and that technology just might get us killed.

  • I’m still fascinated with the idea of using a gigantic SAIL ! Think of it ! Sailing ships would be back in vogue !
    Timothy R.

  • And besides, TomD, I would risk my life for a chance to see a faraway World, a place that hasn’t been spoiled by man.
    Timothy R.

On the Moral Duty to Vaccinate Your Children

Thursday, October 30, AD 2014

There is nothing quite as soul crushing as reading a thread on Facebook or social media regarding vaccinations, especially when well-intentioned but seriously misinformed Catholic parents express their outright refusal to vaccinate their children. This anti-vaccination fervor has been sparked by long-discredited studies as well as well as celebrities of shall we say less than dubious credentials.

Not all opposition to vaccination is based on groundless fears about autism or other health issues. Some Catholics also have concerns about the nature of vaccine research and the possibility that vaccines contain aborted fetal tissues. The Rational Catholic discussed this topic, and puts to rest some of the myths surrounding this line of attack, and he quotes from the National Catholic Bioethics Center:

Parents may vaccinate their children because by doing so, they are not involved in any illicit form of cooperation with the original abortion. Many Catholic experts concur that cooperation today is not really possible in an event that was over and done with many years ago. Because the abortion occurred long ago, and for reasons completely unrelated to vaccines, it is untenable to conclude that vaccine recipients today somehow cooperate in the original abortive event. Moreover, there is no ongoing use of recently aborted material for vaccine preparation; the lines obtained 30 or 40 years ago are the only abortion-derived lines being used currently for vaccine production. In sum, then, by vaccinating their children, parents do not illicitly cooperate in evil, nor otherwise engage in wrongdoing. If pharmaceutical companies or other agencies derive fetal cell lines from elective abortions, those companies or agencies, not the parents, are guilty of immoral cooperation in the evil of abortion.

The Rational Catholic has another pair of posts that delve deeper into vaccines, and goes so far as to argue that not can Catholic parents vaccinate their children, they have a moral obligation to do so. Again, quoting from the Catholic Bioethics Center:

Focusing in on your central question, there is indeed a moral duty to immunize one’s child and so help preserve the public good through the use of scientifically established and clearly beneficial programs of vaccination. The chickenpox vaccine may be an exception to this rule, as the risks resulting from this disease are not great. As for the rest, for example, measles, mumps, and rubella, these are important childhood vaccinations and parents have a special duty to care for and love their children. Children cannot make these decisions for themselves and so depend upon the prudential judgments of others.

Unfounded fears about possible adverse effects do not overcome the objective duty to make use of immunizations. To make a sound moral judgment, the individual Catholic must properly inform his or her conscience. That means that one must seek to determine whether fears are based in reason and fact, or they are instead merely — if I may put it this way — superstitions. A correctly formed conscience will come to the conclusion that immunization is a moral obligation.

For those who remain “invincibly ignorant,” and who refuse to acknowledge facts, they must follow their conscience even though it is ill formed.

Of course not everyone will be convinced on this issue, no matter what evidence is out before them. But hopefully all parents – Catholic or no – will at least mediate on the potential harm they are doing to their children and other people’s children by refusing to vaccinate them.

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28 Responses to On the Moral Duty to Vaccinate Your Children

  • “A correctly formed conscience will come to the conclusion that immunization is a moral obligation.”

    WOW! What a meddling do-gooder stretch of the gospel. Exactly how far do you take that? Because the gov’t says we need to get a shot, we are sinning if we don’t?

    “Moreover, there is no ongoing use of recently aborted material for vaccine preparation; the lines obtained 30 or 40 years ago are the only abortion-derived lines being used currently for vaccine production.”

    Who exactly is taking the responsibility of proving this unprovable, very politically correct statement? And what are the limitations on it? Only here in the US? Only in their state? Anywhere in the world? If the companies using those lines from 30-40 year old abortions could not make a profit from it–they would cease using them. I want the names of the companies that are using 30-40 year old abortion materials and the names of the inoculations that are being made from them, and where they are currently being distributed/given. If this is so morally acceptable, there should be no problem with us being given that information.

    “Not all opposition to vaccination is based on groundless fears about autism or other health issues.”

    There is a huge difference between saying something has not been proven and that it is unprovable (i.e. groundless.) They are not the same.

    ” That means that one must seek to determine whether fears are based in reason and fact, or they are instead merely — if I may put it this way — superstitions.”

    Well, my best friend’s 1 year old granddaughter’s doctor said that an inoculation she recently received is the cause of the horrible, disabling, incurable juvenile arthritis the child has developed. That is a fact.

  • “The chickenpox vaccine may be an exception to this rule, as the risks resulting from this disease are not great.”

    Even this is an incorrect value laden judgement. Try having a debilitating outbreak of shingles for an extended period of time like I and friends of mine have had!! My extended family out to the 4th cousins had the measles and mumps as children and have had no lasting effects from those diseases. Please note: I have a large family.

    Another point of contention for me & my well developed conscience is the giving of Hepatitis B inoculations to newborns in their 1st 24 hours of life when they do not have their full immunity. Are their studies that show this is good for the barely born babies? I don’t know about your neighborhood, but I have never lived in a place where there was an ongoing rampant outbreak of Hepatitis B–although I did work in a neighborhood several years back which was experiencing a large number of Hepatitis B cases in adults who lived immoral lives–however I was in my late 30s at the time (hardly a new born and was never exposed directly to my knowledge.)

    The folks who make and market these inoculations nor the developmental stages at which the government administers them to children are run past God for His approval. It is the FDA that approves them. An incompetent, behemoth of an unaccountable politicized federal bureaucracy.

  • “Because the abortion occurred long ago, and for reasons completely unrelated to vaccines, it is untenable to conclude that vaccine recipients today somehow cooperate in the original abortive event.”

  • “Because the abortion occurred long ago, and for reasons completely unrelated to vaccines, it is untenable to conclude that vaccine recipients today somehow cooperate in the original abortive event.”

    . . . but that was in another country,
    And besides, the wench is dead.

  • Spare me.
    And yes, my kids did eventually get vaccinated. Vaccines, like any other drug, have side effects. For most people, minor, but not for all. My grandmother’s death was hastened by a bad reaction to a vaccine (granted, that was many moons ago.)
    If vaccines work as well as they are purported to work, then the vaccinated should have NO fear of the un-vaccinated.

  • Isn’t his one of those prudential decisions that a Parent must make?

  • If vaccines work as well as they are purported to work, then the vaccinated should have NO fear of the un-vaccinated.

    Gonna repost this link from the main body of the article.

    Isn’t his one of those prudential decisions that a Parent must make?

    I suppose in the same way that deciding whether to feed and shelter your child is a prudential decision.

  • You are a braver man than me Paul! I only write about relatively non-controversial topics like the use of the atomic bomb!
    I am all in favor of vaccination and my bride and I paid meticulous attention to having our kids vaccinated. My paternal grandmother passed on to me grim family history of the conditions that existed in the days before widespread vaccinations for common diseases.

  • I don’t blog as often as I used to Don, so I gotta make it count.

    By the way, despite my admittedly sarcastic (and for that I apologize) reply to Anzlyne, I am willing to concede that vaccinating your kids is not exactly a magisterial must on the order of Baptism. There is some room for debate on the theological imperatives, and in a sense I regret that the post may have over-emphasized that aspect of the issue. That being said, I do not view this as something akin to natural child birth, breastfeeding, cry it out, and other parenting issues that are matters of judgment and circumstance. The decision to not vaccinate one’s children is something based on junk science and fear mongering, perpetuated by celebrity dullards who have done untold damage by spreading their ignorance and stupidity.

  • Yes, this is one of those cases in which parents must make prudential decisions.

    The Vatican has said that parents must avoid tainted vaccines with ethical alternatives. They have also said that to use tainted vaccines is “very remote mediate material cooperation” with evil.

    Furthermore they said one must weigh the risk of cooperating with evil and violating ones conscience versus the well-being of ones children and the population at large.

    They consider the lack of ethical alternatives to be moral coercion.

    Please read the Vatican’s statement before jumping to the conclusion that vaccination is a moral imperative.


  • A critical part of the the Vatican document states:

    As regards the diseases against which there are no alternative vaccines which
    are available and ethically acceptable, it is right to abstain from using these vaccines if it can be done without causing children, and indirectly the population as a whole, to undergo significant risks to their health. However, if the latter are exposed to
    considerable dangers to their health, vaccines with moral problems pertaining to them may also be used on a temporary basis. The moral reason is that the duty to avoid passive material cooperation is not obligatory if there is grave inconvenience.
    Moreover, we find, in such a case, a proportional reason, in order to accept the use of these vaccines in the presence of the danger of favouring the spread of the pathological agent, due to the lack of vaccination of children. This is particularly true
    in the case of vaccination against German measles.

    In other words, if there are no alternatives, and withholding vaccination will cause potential harm to the population, then it is morally licit to vaccinate, and in fact would almost appear to be a moral necessity.

    Parents who do not immunize their children against rubella would be responsible for the malformations and subsequent abortions of malformed fetuses that might result from a pregnant women being infected by the unvaccinated child, both the study and Msgr. Suaudeau said.

    In this case, the parent would be in “much more proximate cooperation with evil” than if he had accepted a morally questionable vaccine to begin with, he said.


  • Interesting, from the CDC:

    “Nearly everyone in the U.S. got measles before there was a vaccine, and hundreds died from it each year. Today, most doctors have never seen a case of measles.

    More than 15,000 Americans died from diphtheria in 1921, before there was a vaccine. Only one case of diphtheria has been reported to CDC since 2004.

    An epidemic of rubella (German measles) in 1964-65 infected 12½ million Americans, killed 2,000 babies, and caused 11,000 miscarriages. In 2012, 9 cases of rubella were reported to CDC.”

    Except measles has begun to make a comeback, with multiple communities around the U.S. suffering outbreaks in 2014.

  • Well, if vaccines are going to be mandated for “health and safety” reasons, then so should breastfeeding. No, breast is not best. Breast is standard. Formula feeding is substandard feeding, although certainly better than starvation. Breast-milk has many antibodies and nutrients that formula does not have and will never have. Formula fed babies have more ear infections, allergies, more prone to obesity, and the list goes on. See more at
    Mothers who breastfeed have lower rates of breast and uterine cancers. (I really ought to say that exclusively formula feeding mothers have higher rates of those cancers, since the human female body was designed to nurse the infant, not use a bottle.)

  • Oh, yes, let us not forget handwashing. It is a moral duty to wash your hands with soap and water.
    I remember reading an article many, many years back written by some “virus hunters” who remarked that a lot of epidemics could be stopped by soap, water, and bleach.
    Soap, water, and bleach brings us to the “proper” sanitation angle. I don’t doubt vaccines have been helpful in stopping things like polio and small pox, maybe chicken pox as well (from which people do die, so I am not sure why it would not be morally required to get the chicken pox vaccine if others are required.) Better sanitation methods (especially the clean water we take for granted in the West) are very much a part of stopping diseases.

  • Well said, Paul.

    It was interesting hearing my mother in law’s opinion on vaccination:

    “My sister *died* of diphtheria.”

    Bonus: her father crawled into a bottle for thirty years after watching his baby girl die.

    Yeah, we vaccinate. There’s something to be said for listening to the painfully-earned wisdom of your elders.

  • Dr. Salk’s original polio vaccine used a live virus –children were deliberately infected with a weakened strain so that their immune system could develop the antibodies necessary to fight off a full-blown polio infection. There was a real chance of contracting full-blown polio. I don’t know how many, but it’s a fact that children were crippled as a result of taking the vaccine.
    And yet, fully aware of the risks, and in spite of them, parents lined up to get their kids vaccinated. Because they knew what polio was. Today, we have to invent our own anxieties.
    Normally we don’t bother with flu shots. This year, between that entero-virus going around, and idiot health care workers traipsing about after sojourns in the hot zone, I got my kids vaccinated. Because if there are flu-like symptoms in my house, I don’t want to be thinking “it’s just the flu.”

  • Donald R McClarey wrote, “My paternal grandmother passed on to me grim family history of the conditions that existed in the days before widespread vaccinations for common diseases.”

    I am not yet seventy and I was vaccinated for smallpox, a legal requirement under the Vaccination Acts. I believe the last outbreak in the UK was in Bradford in 1962, originating from a child recently arrived from Karachi. Twelve people died. The French authorities took it seriously enough to require everyone entering the country from the UK to produce a vaccination certificate.

  • A little more than 14 years ago, before my 1st child was born, and my doctor told me that I needed to stop eating turkey sandwiches for lunch because I was pregnant, I researched vaccines. I made the informed decision to delay, and spread out the (and, oh the horror, decide to not get certain) vaccines that my children had to have. Every day, I praised the Lord that there were no adverse reactions. In 2011, we were looking at doing foster care. The state required the hepatitis B vaccine for our children (not the adults for some reason), and against my better judgment, I let my kids get the vaccine. My oldest son’s hair fell out (alopecia areata). I used “alternative” medicine and essential oils to help his hair grow back. I praise the Lord everyday that the adverse reaction wasn’t worse, and that his hair grew back. Have you done any research on the vaccine craze for the Gardisil Vaccine? “Over my dead body” would be my only answer to my children’s pediatrician on that one. Go to the VAERS website, choose 2014 and look at the 18,000 reported vaccine injuries. And look at the Died? column. It’s not empty. if your family hasn’t been adversely affected by a vaccine, you should be praising the Lord in Heaven.

  • Missy wrote, “look at the 18,000 reported vaccine injuries. And look at the Died? column. It’s not empty.”
    Granted, but in 2012, there were some 528,000 cases of cervical cancer and 266,000 deaths.
    Where does the balance of risk lie?

  • Gardasil does not protect against cervical cancer; it helps stop the spread of a couple of different strains of HPV that contribute to its cause. It does not stop all cases of HPV.
    Abstinence before marriage and being faithful to one’s spouse would also stop the spread of HPV, and do a far better job of it.

  • I wonder how many parents that are concerned with their moral duty and frog march their children to every vaccination and flu shot available, recognize how this behavior compares in importance to family outings once per month to the Sacrament of Penance. Which activity matters most? Which activity is most frequently carried out?

  • Non-sequitur. One can be pious and still take care of basic health care needs of kids.

  • But how many practice health care for their eternal life. Our Lord said that the way to heaven is narrow and few go there. Since this is a catholic forum, it begs the question, how many follow our Lord’s advice for an eternal reward. Does an immunization or flu shot rank higher. It is not a “non-sequitur” at all. A poor choice indeed to inject a red-herring. Nice try.

  • “Abstinence before marriage and being faithful to one’s spouse would also stop the spread of HPV, and do a far better job of it.”
    True, but no woman can totally exclude the possibilities of her husband’s infidelity or of rape. The same can be said for an HIV vaccine should one be developed, or any other vaccine for STDs.

  • No, it is very much a non sequitur, Rick. A parent must safeguard both the physical and spiritual well-being of their children. It is not an either/or proposition. If some people ignore the latter, that is not an excuse for others to ignore the former.

  • No one addressed WHY a newborn baby must begin Hepatitis B inoculation before they are 48 hours old and have relativey small immunity to anything in this new world they entered. Let me encourage you to look into the connections between inoculations and non-Autism cognitve disabilities.

    I took the flue shot or 10 years and developed a version of the flu from the shot and then got a 2nd version of the flu as well for the majority of the same years. Yes, I know that the nurses have told me that there was no live virus being injected into my body. So how come my arm swelled for days, and I ended up with fever within 24-72 hours everytime?

    re: “I made the informed decision to delay, and spread out the (and, oh the horror, decide to not get certain) vaccines that my children had to have. Every day, I praised the Lord that there were no adverse reactions. In 2011, we were looking at doing foster care. The state required the hepatitis B vaccine for our children (not the adults for some reason), and against my better judgment, I let my kids get the vaccine. My oldest son’s hair fell out (alopecia areata).”I am all for spacing inoculations out and waiting until children are older and have some immunity to this world they come into before illiciting such immune responses from their new little systems. The rush to innoculate them has more to do with gov’t funded day care from 6 weeks of age than it does the welfare of the child in this nation.

    Re: “By the way, despite my admittedly sarcastic (and for that I apologize) reply to Anzlyne, I am willing to concede that vaccinating your kids is not exactly a magisterial must on the order of Baptism. There is some room for debate on the theological imperatives, and in a sense I regret that the post may have over-emphasized that aspect of the issue.” The article says that it is a moral imperative and that a properly formed soul would make that decision. Again, the gov’t is propogating these things-not God.

  • I do not agree with annual flu shots or most of the vaccinations offered. I hope some parents do the research and discover how ineffective some of these injections are and the real negative side effects. Just consider the HPV vaccination and why it was developed and how little it works. Each parent should pray this has no long lasting impact on their children. We will know in about 25 years.

  • And I pray that most parents aren’t as ignorant and misinformed as you, Rick, at least for their children’s sake.

Popular “Science” Shuts Down Comments

Tuesday, September 24, AD 2013




Popular Science is shutting down comments.  Why?  Well I guess because robust debate can be bad for science:

A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to “debate” on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.

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11 Responses to Popular “Science” Shuts Down Comments

  • The origins of climate change and evolution are their examples of “scientific certainty”?

    Not that “scientific certainty” is all that good of a phrase; I can think of some things that are certain that sciences has verified, but popular theories aren’t them!

  • I made the first comment on the story below, and was responded to in various ways, mostly just ad hominem attacks, but when I tried to respond back to these comments of others, I was unable to because I was censored off the site.

  • Hm, someone should ask them what they think of Galileo. See how long it takes them to realize the hypocrisy.

    Every scientific theory is one experiment away from obsolescence.

  • More astounding is the credentialed imbeciles’ utter lack of self-awareness. They’re not searching after truth, but building the agenda.

    Their “scientific certainty” is ideology.

    They unwittingly take whole chapters out of the playbook of the Medieval Inquisition, sans enhanced interrogation techniques.

    Meanwhile, the Obama regime is acclerating the US crash-dive into bankruptcy by executive order – dismantling coal-generated electricity capacity.

  • I deal with these people all the time. They are invariably liberal progressive Democrats and they have dominated nuclear energy forums. They are die-hard materialists, and tolerate absolutely no dissent from their creed of atheistic evolution, global warming, etc. They denigrate anyone who has religious faith – and openly and without apology – and they think that just because they are smart, they know everything and are godlike in intellect. They disregard that most scientists who created this edifice of science on which they stand were themselves Christian. Invariably they are shocked to learn Roman Catholic Belgium priest Father Georges Lemaitre came up with the idea of the Big Bang as a consequence of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, or all the other scientists who were Christian (e.g., Louis Pasteur, etc.). They refuse to read anything that bona fide modern scientists like Dr. Hugh Ross (a Protestant) or Dr. Stephen M. Barr (a Roman Catholic) have to say (read Dr. Barr’s book, “Modern Physics and Ancient Faith” – it is freaking GREAT!). When they are told that Pope Pius XII dealt very intelligently with the Theory of Evolution in his encyclical “Humani Generis”, or Pope John Paul II discussed the unity of truth in reason and faith within his encyclical “Fides et Ratio”, they shut down and refuse to read those too. They are so “open minded” that anything which opposes their preconceived world views they discount as the myth of a sky god. They don’t even want to hear what and who Yahweh is – the creator of the sky, the one who is outside of space and time, matter and energy. They are the most obnoxious, intolerant, divisive, inconsiderate, and unkind group of people you would ever encounter.

    BTW, everyone should have the links on science below as internet favorites – one is Catholic and the other is Protestant. And everyone should educate himself in science. We shouldn’t let ourselves be bamboozled by these liberal materialist miscreants. As St. Peter wrote, we should ever be ready to give a defense of the faith that is within us. And one last thing: every Catholic should read “Humani Generis” (I taught an apologetics class on it one time) and “Fides et Ratio” – they are on the Vatican web site. There are no excuses for being ignorant any longer.

    Magis Center or Reason and Faith with Father Robert J. Spitzer

    Reasons to Believe with Dr. Hugh Ross

  • If only the US Bishops had such righteous indignation over the Deposit of the Faith!

    You would think these scientism freaks have suddenly found religion by suspiciously adopting their own doctrine of infallibility.

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  • Popular Science? You mean it’s still around?

  • Popular Science? You mean it’s still around?

    How much longer until the 100th anniversary of Pop Sci’s prediction of the flying car?

  • Science, falsely so-called, provides only confusion when used in politics and the courts to push an agenda. For instance, many people think there is such a thing as marriage between humans who share the same sexual apparatus, when it is impossible for marriage and offspring to occur when two of the same gender attempt to couple together. When grown men and women fight over whether there is such a thing as “Gay Marriage,” it confuses children who need to have guidance in these matters that is simple and straightforward, and certainly not a matter to be argued about. Some of the gravest scandals have been perpetrated by the scientific community. And openly discussing matters with children present that should be left to academics behind closed doors is an example of this.

Right, Left and Science

Wednesday, January 9, AD 2013

Daniel Sarewitz has a post at Nature in which he decries the trend among many scientists of acting as shrill Democrat partisans:

The US scientific community must decide if it wants to be a Democratic interest group or if it wants to reassert its value as an independent national asset. If scientists want to claim that their recommendations are independent of their political beliefs, they ought to be able to show that those recommendations have the support of scientists with conflicting beliefs. Expert panels advising the government on politically divisive issues could strengthen their authority by demonstrating political diversity. The National Academies, as well as many government agencies, already try to balance representation from the academic, non-governmental and private sectors on many science advisory panels; it would be only a small step to be equally explicit about ideological or political diversity. Such information could be given voluntarily.

To connect scientific advice to bipartisanship would benefit political debate. Volatile issues, such as the regulation of environmental and public-health risks, often lead to accusations of ‘junk science’ from opposing sides. Politicians would find it more difficult to attack science endorsed by avowedly bipartisan groups of scientists, and more difficult to justify their policy preferences by scientific claims that were contradicted by bipartisan panels.

Go here to read the rest.  The comments to the article are instructive and reveal the battle going on within the scientific community regarding partisanship:

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19 Responses to Right, Left and Science

  • Valuable insights Donald. Bookmarked for review. Thanks.

  • Maybe I’m a Romantic, but I thought back in the day there were massive rewards for successfully demonstrating scientific findings were false. If there wasn’t such a system, there should. Couple that with an iron-clad rule that Congress can make laws based on scientific conclusions only if they have been subjected to rigorous and multiple double-blind researches as opposed to models.

  • I published in Science journal in 1999, and thus maintained a subscription off and on since then. Two years ago, we cancelled it because we were sick of the constant bombardment in the mail with literature asking us to donate and support extremely left liberal political policies, in the name of science. They were unabashedly partisan.

    For a while I was just curious to know how far it went — it was Obama this and Obama that, global warming this and global warming that, save our universities from anti-science people, etc. — until I’d had enough. I contacted them a few times to tell them I saw right through the partisanship and was disappointed. No response, just kept asking me for money.

    Very disappointing.

    Also, if you notice, much of what they call evolutionary discoveries are directed at trying to demonstrate that our ability to think evolved (so they can say there is no soul, no God), and that all kinds of sexual deviancy are really just normal evolutionary developments.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking article, Don.

  • It’s an interesting subject, but I’m not sure that I agree with the Nature editorial. The goal shouldn’t be balance in politics among scientists; it should be the removal of political considerations from science.

    A side note, but an example: when did we start listening to Nobel non-Peace Prize winners for advice on peace? Every year you see a group of physicists or whatever issuing their policy prescriptions on human rights and politics. The kind of person who wins a Nobel Prize is very smart, but he may typically be one who throws himself completely into his work. Better a smart person’s advice than a dumb person, but better someone who’s smart in the field he’s talking about than someone who’s spent the last 30 years looking at bacteria in a college lab. Of course the bacteria guy is going to think that Republicans are anti-science. He read it in the one newspaper article he’s seen in the past decade.

    The ugly parallel that I thought of when reading the article was racial balance. These days, we judge committees on whether they “look like America”. We root against a football team if they have a mostly-white coaching staff. But color has nothing to do with their quality or sportsmanship. Likewise, I don’t want to see a bipartisan scientific report filled with policy recommendations. I want to see sound science stated clearly, with costs, benefits, and risks spelled out for the policy expert and voter to consider.

    The missing virtue is humility. Science requires humility. Like its Enlightenment relative America, it requires checks and balances because it knows that humans are fallible. A humble scientist would never endorse a candidate as a representitive of his field of study.

  • I was a Radiation Monitoring System Engineer at a Westinghouse Pressurized Water Reactor about a decade and a half ago. The following statement in the article is 100% correct:

    “We have the example of distinguished Taiwanese scientists begging that attention be paid to the inadvertent experiment of exposure of thousands of persons to radiation by accidental contamination of reinforcing bars with cobalt 60. That inadvertent experiment seemed to show that the risks of radiation have been vastly overstated, and that, of course, threatens the radiation hysteria industry.”

    This effect is called radiation hormesis. More about this is discussed here:


    Please go to the right bottom side of PDF page 15 or physical page 35 to start reading about the Cobalt-60 contamination of structural steel in a Taiwanese apartment complex that led to an apparent rise in health and longevity of the residents.

    The current radiation exposure limits mandated by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission are so absurdly low that exposure to these limits is completely inconsequential. The fact of the matter is that a little radiation is GOOD for you.

    About 1.7 billion years ago a naturally occurring deposit of uranium in Okla, Gabon, Africa went critical and fissioned on and off for hundreds of thousands of years:


    The result was a subsequent proliferation of all manner of various life forms through the central part of the African continent.

    Junk science? That’s the anti-nuclear groups of UCS, WISE and NIRS, and the rest of liberal progressive Democrat Academia. That’s why when a previous contributor here referenced Academia for his source of information on all things nuclear and radiation, I just about puked. How about some really truthful information, say from a submarine reactor operator, or a radiation health physicist, or a commercial nuclear power engineer? Liberal professors in colleges and universities are just about “done educated into imbecility”.

    One more thing: I do not agree with materialistic evolution, either, and for good scientific reasons. The following web site run by astrophysicist Hugh Ross who is an Evangelical Protestant Christian has a ton of information that reconciles the fossil record with what the Bible says:


    The two things I believe in? Science and Divine Revelation in the Bible, Tradition and the Church. Pope JP II said in his encyclical Fides et Ratio that they go together, and he was 100% right. That encyclical ought to be required reading for every Christian regardless of denomination.

  • “A side note, but an example: when did we start listening to Nobel non-Peace Prize winners for advice on peace? ”

    Or, considering some of the Nobel Peace Prize Winners, any Nobel Prize winners on the subject of peace.

    People can be very bright in one area of life and complete idiots in others. One of Bertrand Russell’s wives noted that he was unable to boil water for tea even after she gave him written instructions as to how to do it. One of the problems in our society currently is that too much power has flowed to the legal profession and our government’ awash with laws and regulations that no one can fully comprehend and which are often contradictory, is proof of that sad fact. We have confused glibness, credentials and technical expertise in narrow fields of knowledge with wisdom and as a result have often exiled common sense and broad experience of life from our decision making process.

  • A side note, but an example: when did we start listening to Nobel non-Peace Prize winners for advice on peace?

    The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Linus Pauling, Le Duc Tho, Yasser Arafat, Bernard Lown & Co., Desmond Tutu, Rigoberta Menchu, Jimmy Carter, Albert Gore, and Barack Obama. Of course we are listening to someone else.

  • Legal “experts” mishandling things at the beginning, journalists misreporting things at the end. The actual experts in the middle don’t stand a chance.

    And then, after all that is done, non-experts getting equal say. Everything from youtube to evangelical Bible study encourages each person to weight his opinion equally against the people who’ve actually studied the subject. (And comment threads permit the same thing.)

    I made a comment on Foxfier’s “culture war” thread about the importance of learning how to filter information. The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that this skill is *the* skill for the information age. Oh, I’ve got a good one: let’s say that we’ve left the information age and entered the excess information age. Handling garbage statistics and disguised opinions is increasingly important.

  • I was recently told by a good friend who work at a local large college – specifically with sheep reproduction – that there is no difference in stem cells. Adult and embryonic is all the same just simple stem cells. I was going to comment but I knew it would go no where and mean nothing if I did… But the obvious is missing from that thought process. I am sure if the emrbyo had a chance to say something it would be different…

  • Robert: ” I am sure if the emrbyo had a chance to say something it would be different…”
    The embryo has much to say. Scientists do not and often refuse to listen. The speaker in the video says that he is for Embryonic Stem Cell research. Informed consent from the sovereign person who is created equal to every other human being in the human species, self-evident truth, is forbidden. Embryonic stem cells are human body parts taken wihout consent or permission from the sovereign person.

    Stacy Trasancos: “Also, if you notice, much of what they call evolutionary discoveries are directed at trying to demonstrate that our ability to think evolved (so they can say there is no soul, no God), and that all kinds of sexual deviancy are really just normal evolutionary developments.”

    Some scientists say that there is no soul, no God. Man’s ability to think may have evolved, but man’s soul is metaphysical, no material parts and therefore cannot change or evolve. Man’s sovereign personhood is created and endowed to him by our Creator. Unalienable rights are not legislated for him by the state. The Majority of One, often discarded. Man recognizes the magnificent sovereign person as who he is created. The magnificent design of man’s body and soul dictates respect. The human being exists because God exists. God is life. If the human being is alive, then God is his life. Beauty does not need reason to exist, cannot sized or counted or captured.
    Scientists tell us that man only uses 11 % of his brain. This coming from a man using only 11% of his brain. If man’s thinking evolved, this means that 89% of science is faith. 89% of the atheist’s brain is religious. It is not all very scientific.
    Sexual deviancy in animals, I have observed scientifically, is a matter of dominance, not of lust. Lust is peculiar to man and is not of beauty and virtue.

  • I am not sure that the solution proposed by Sarewitz in the Nature article would be a complete fix for the problem. Having token dissenters or token conservatives in the academy and on journal boards will help, but will not change what I think is the real problem. There are a lot of scientists doing bad science out there and their peers, the academy, and the science journals are not calling them on it.

    Many bemoan the lack of scientific literacy among non-scientists, but the real problem is lack of scientific literacy among actual scientists. There is a lack of understanding of basic logic and confusion about what science can be certain of. The abuse of statistics by scientists is widespread. It lends itself to great parody. My favorite is this:

    Besides the token conservatives, some additional solutions would be:
    1. Better training of scientists in logic, science theory, and how statistics can be miss-used (Mann’s hockey stick would make the perfect case study).
    2. Total transparency in the peer-review and article acceptance processes at science journals.
    3. The insistence that all papers include links to all raw data, program codes used and any other information needed to completely reproduce the author’s work.
    4. The insistence that anything written in a summary of a paper actually be supported by the facts presented in the body of the paper. (Anyone who’s looked at the IPCC reports knows exactly what I’m talking about.)

    I work in the energy industry. My industry is the perfect storm of multiple bad sciences (environmental extremism, global warming alarmism, nuclear paranoia) and idiotic government policies derived from them. I can’t express the level of my frustration at finding out that the extension of the wind energy production tax credit had been included in the fiscal cliff deal.

  • If I recall correctly Bertrand Russell wrote (in Why I am not a Christian) that what distinguishes a scientist from a religious believer is his innate scepticism, a stance that enables him ever able to change his theories in the light of experiments and experience. He can change his current beliefs as easily as he changes clothes without feeling much angst about it. Now this may have been true of Russell. the philosopher, mathematician and all-round gadfly; though I suspect that he like most others who turn away from Christianity , did so for reasons having to do with Jesus Christ’s severe injunctions on sex (which in fairness none of us can live by except through Grace,) rather issues of pure science. But this is not true of the average scientist working today. There is an inertia associated with the years of study and ideological training that cannot be easily jettisoned without impacting his career and life prospects, hence much of his defensiveness. Most people would have a warm feeling reading how Gottlieb Frege set aside ten years of work logic on account of an apparently decisive objection from Russell, but few of us would be as sanguine at the prospect.

    The modern scientist is a victim of the “Renaissance Man” effect wherein he has to be knowledgeable in a host of subjects. The average physicist knows far more than Einstein did in 1905, (the papers he wrote that year can be read by a diligent physics freshman,) but is unable to make a decisive contribution because of the sheer numbers of physicists at work today and the overwhelming complexity of the field. This is apart from the peer review process, where the editors are ever ready to spot any plagiarism unlike the case with Einstein where got away without attribution in at least two of his papers.

    The prestige of science today, has little to do with the work of the current generation of scientists, much of the science that has impact on our lives were the work of natural philosophers working in the empirical tradition of the nineteenth century as exemplified by such (most of whom were religious) men as Faraday, Maxwell, Babbage, Boole, Pasteur, Edison, Parsons and Kelvin to name only a few. To them and their influence on subsequent generations we owe the electric generators, telephones, engines, radio, penicillin, electronics and all the impressive systems and gadgetry without which modern life would not be possible. The Wright Brothers were mechanics.

    In those days it was possible to conduct experiments with very little money. According to Steven Weinberg it took only about sixty pounds of His Majesty’s money for Ernst Rutherford and his assistants to establish that an atom is mostly empty space with a hard centre. The search for the Higgs particle on the other hand required the use of multi-billion dollar facilities and subsequent examination for resonances by hundreds of highly-qualified scientists. A maverick scientist begging for cash to run an experiment counter to the prevailing orthodoxy would thus be on own, for who in government is prepared to go against a cabal that has billions of dollars behind it. The fear of being labeled a flat-earther, and losing one’s job is ever present

    Dissidence must be made costly in order to keep the plum jobs and financial backing, and is largely suppressed by blatant hypocrisy.Thus we have the spectacle of the global warming scientists who even while drawing billions from the government teat, and denying the contrarian scientists the same, accuse the sceptics of being in the pay of Exxon or Shell. As the fable of the Emperor’s new clothes indicates such a level of untruth cannot be sustained without the cooperation of legions. And the legions don’t work for free, they too demand their pound of flesh, hence we have a situation where if it is indeed the case that there is global warming, a neat solution would be to build more nuclear reactors which produces no carbon dioxide to replace the coal-fired generators. Instead we have the anomaly that thanks to the greens everything else except nuclear power is considered.

    Such ideological cooperation is apparent in many fields, and is clearly evident in the nonsense about the spread of AIDS. It is has been clear for many years now that homosexuals are seven to ten times as likely as normal people to get AIDS, (and let’s face it the sodomites among the heterosexuals are not queuing up to admit to sodomy) thus a valid hypothesis is that sodomy causes AIDS. But try to get funding to test this on a large scale. The howls of protest from Obama down to the kindergarten teachers, with possibly a jeremiad from Marvin Heir about a hidden plan for a second Holocaust this time of homosexuals, would quail any such attempt. Or for that matter try launching any studies into IQ differences between races.

    In totality then, given the nexus of patronage, ideology, money and influence that the practice of science in the US has to deal with, the confederates find a natural home Democratic Party. And thus the same type of fools who write books such as The Republican War On Science would never consider subjecting the Democrats to the same. This even as the average Republican tends to have a better education and greater common sense.

    For similar reasons it is usually the engineers having a comparable education with physicists, but not beholden to patronage and having to build reliable working systems instead of imaginary hand-waving, who tend to be skeptical of Darwinism and other grand theorising that have little support by way of clear experiments.

  • please read : … the confederates find a natural home in the Democratic Party …

  • @Paul

    I, too, was skeptical of macro-evolution for a time, but the fact that the Church recognizes there is no conflict between evolution and Christianity and, indeed, now seems to subscribe fully to the theory, has helped assuage my doubts, which were admittedly not based on science. I am of the opinion that strict creationists and Genesis literalists suffer from a lack of imagination and an unfortunate tendency to limit the genius and power of God.

    The more interesting question to me has to do with how certain Catholic doctrines should be understood in light of what we now know about evolution. I speak specifically with regards to the ensoulment, the origin of our species, the unique nature of man, and common parentage.

  • @ JL,

    Thank you. I refer the reader to Pope Pius XII’s encyclical, Humani Generis:


    The Pope states in paragraph 37:

    “When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents.”

    We know the Pope was correct because in 1987, geneticists in the journal Nature examined the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from 147 people across all major racial groups. These researchers found that the lineage of all people alive today falls on one of two branches in humanity’s family tree. One of these branches consists of nothing but African lineage.The other contains all other groups, including some African lineage. The geneticists concluded that every person on Earth can trace his or her lineage back to a single common female ancestor who lived around 200K years ago. Because one entire branch of human lineage is of African origin and the other contains African lineage as well, the study’s authors concluded Africa is the place where this woman lived. The scientists named this common female ancestor Mitochondrial Eve. There was one Adam and one Eve exactly as Pope Pius XII states.

    Now I also refer the reader to Dr. Gerhard Schroeder’s work (he is an orthodox Jew and a physicist who does REAL science):


    Please click on the “Articles” field in the horizontal bar near the top of the page. I summarize with math equations Dr. Schroeder’s thoughts on correlating days of creation with the 13.73 billion year history of the universe here (the equations are the same as those for radioactive decay which as a former Radiation Monitoring System Engineer, I do know something about):


    The one theological problem I have is this. Romans 5:12 states, “Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned.” If old Earth History Creationism is therefore correct, then death pre-existed Adam’s sin and that is not consistent with what St. Paul wrote. So this means that I am not as smart as I think I am because I can’t figure all this stuff out. But just because I can’t figure it out does NOT mean that science and divine revelation are inconsistent. Rather, it means that I am a fallible human being who “sees through a glass darkly now.”

  • @Paul

    Thank you for the references. Humani Generis is clearly something I must read on the matter. I’ve also heard that the-Cardinal Ratzinger’s “In the Beginning…” is particularly insightful. I’ll get to your other resources when I have the time and the resolve to plow through scientific text (which might admittedly be never!).

    Perhaps Paul refers more to spiritual death than the biological variety? The capacity for the soul to turn away from God and thus be lost? Whatever the case, the intersection of evolution and Catholicism is highly fascinating and extremely difficult for me to fully understand.

    The doctrine of common parentage is one to which I know Catholics must assent, but evolution still raises all sorts of questions and complications. If one species of near-humans was evolving toward human status, how did only two cross this threshold? What happened to the rest? Did they become “human” biologically, but, for whatever reason were not ensouled? And what can be said of other humanoid species, such as the neanderthals? Their apparent capacity to create art seems to cast doubt on GKC’s dichotomy of degree and type, a notion that I always found very explanatory and romantic. Were they not ensouled?

    I also do not quite fully comprehend Church teaching on Original Sin. I tend towards explanations of it and its effects as a sort of gradual propensity of man to turn away from God, thus resulting in a fallen state of creation, to which all are born into. However, the Church has consistently, as far as I know, maintained that the Fall was a single event in history. If this is the case, then I have no way of understanding how such a condition is transmitted from one generation to the next. Sin doesn’t seem like something that can be passed on through genetics, and Jesus clearly condemns this Jewish belief. So how then is the stain of original sin, something intrinsic to humans and not an extrinsic condition of their reality, passed on from father to son?

    Clearly lots of questions. But the dearth of answers, as you indicate, is hardly an indication that the Church’s theology is wrong nor incompatible with science. I just feel like a petulant, impatient child who wants his mother to refine an explanation of something in light of what he just learned in science class.

  • Folks, I taught an Apologetics course on Mitochondrial Eve that JL and I briefly disucssed here. This is the substance of that course. It demonstrates that there was a real Eve, and one day we will be able to demonstrate that there was a real Adam, too. Yes, I plagiarized shamelessly from Dr. Hugh Ross, Dr. Gerald Schroeder, Pope Pius XII, etc.

    A geneticist, Dr. Wesley Brown, in 1980 noticed that when the mtDNA of two humans is compared, the samples are much more similar than when the mtDNA of two other primates — for example, two chimpanzees — is compared. Brown found, in fact, that the mtDNA of two humans has only about half as many differences as the mtDNA of two other primates within the same species. This suggests that humans share a much more recent common ancestor.

    In 1987 geneticists in the journal Nature examined the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from 147 people across all major racial groups. These researchers found that the lineage of all people alive today falls on one of two branches in humanity’s family tree. One of these branches consists of nothing but African lineage. The other contains all other groups, including some African lineage. The geneticists concluded that every person on Earth can trace his or her lineage back to a single common female ancestor who lived around 200K years ago. Because one entire branch of human lineage is of African origin and the other contains African lineage as well, the study’s authors concluded Africa is the place where this woman lived. The scientists named this common female ancestor Mitochondrial Eve.

    Evolutionists maintain that the Mitochondrial Eve was not the first — or only — woman on Earth during the time she lived. Instead, this woman is simply the most recent person to whom all people can trace their genealogy. According to them, there were many women who came before her and many women who came after, but her life is the point from which all modern branches on humanity’s family tree grew. If true, then why is she the only one to have successfully passed down her mtDNA?

    When the researchers in the 1987 study looked at samples taken from 147 different people and fetuses, they found 133 distinct sequences of mtDNA. After comparing the number of differences among the mtDNA samples within races, they found that Africans have the most diversity (that is, the most number of differences) of any single racial group. This would suggest that the mtDNA found in Africans is the oldest. Since it has had the most mutations, a process which takes time, it must be the oldest of lineages around today.

    The two distinct branches contained the mtDNA found in the five main populations on the planet:

    New Guinean

    Researchers found that in the branch that was not exclusively African, racial populations often had more than one lineage. For example, one New Guinean lineage finds its closest relative in a lineage present in Asia, not New Guinea. All of the lineages and both of the two branches, however, can all be traced back to one theorized point: Mitochondrial Eve.

    So how did Eve end up being humanity’s most recent common ancestor? We shall investigate that, as well as some arguments lodged against the Mitochondrial Eve theory. But first, what is DNA, what are mitochondria, and why do scientists use mtDNA to track lineage?

    Biologists have been aware of mitochondria since the 19th century. In the late 1970s the value of using the DNA within mitochondria to track ancient human history became clear. Mitochondrial DNA differs in a few key ways from nuclear DNA — the variety of DNA located within the nucleus of each of one’s cells determines eye color, racial features, susceptibility to certain diseases and other defining characteristics. mtDNA, on the other hand, contains codes for making proteins and carrying out the other processes mitochondria undertake.

    The genes carried in the form of nuclear DNA are the result of a merger between mother’s and father’s DNA — this merger is called recombination. mtDNA, however, is derived almost exclusively from the mother. This is because the egg of a female human contains lots of mtDNA, while male sperm contains just a bit of mitochondria. A function of a single mitochondrion is generating power for the cell containing it, and sperm use a few mitochondria in the tail to power their race towards the egg for fertilization. These mitochondria are destroyed after the sperm fertilizes the egg, and thus any mtDNA that could be passed on from the father’s side is lost.

    This means that mtDNA is matrilineal — only the mother’s side survives from generation to generation. A mother who gives birth only to sons will see her mtDNA lineage lost. Examination of mtDNA so far has yielded only rare and unusual cases where paternal mtDNA survives and is passed onto the child. Mitochondria are also valuable to evolutionists because copies of the exact same mtDNA one has can be found in cells throughout one’s body. Within each cell, too, there may be thousands of copies of mtDNA. Conversely, the nuclear DNA in a cell usually contains just two copies. It is also easier to extract mtDNA than nuclear DNA, since it is found outside the fragile and more rapidly decaying nucleus of the cell.

    What all this adds up to is that a one’s mtDNA is the same as one’s mother’s, since there is no recombination to form a third version, distinct from both one’s mother’s and father’s but a combination of both. This makes mtDNA much easier to track from an anthropological standpoint. Humans have been around for a long time. In the hundreds of thousands of years we’ve been walking the planet, our numbers have grown. How is it that only about 200K years ago a single woman became the great-grandmother of us all? Does NOT human history go further back than that? We will now examine how humanity may have come close to extinction, setting the stage for Mitochondrial Eve to leave her enduring legacy.

    It was estimated that Mitochondrial Eve lived about 200K years ago. With a margin of error included, she would have been alive between 500K and 50K years ago. Given that Eve is thought to have lived during a time when there were other women alive, how is it that all of us alive today descended from her alone? There are a couple explanations for how only Eve’s mtDNA alone could have survived Most likely a combination of converging factors is responsible.

    The likeliest possibility is that an evolutionary bottleneck occurred among humankind while Eve was alive. This is a situation where a large majority of the members of species suddenly die out, bringing the species to the verge of extinction. This sudden decrease in numbers is NOT due to any kind of failure to adapt. Instead, it’s more likely the result of a catastrophe of some sort, for example, the result of a comet hitting the Earth or a super volcano eruption. Afterward, just a few members remain to repopulate the group and continue to evolve. Bottlenecks are suspected to have taken place at different times in humanity’s history Thus, it is credible that an event like this could have taken place during Eve’s lifetime.

    A 1998 report concluded that about 70K years ago, humanity was reduced to only about 15K people on the whole planet. With very few people spread out across the planet, humankind was on the verge of extinction. The event that caused the near-loss of our species was an eruption of Mount Toba in Sumatra. This volcanic eruption was so immense that it:

    Lowered global temperatures
    Killed off the animals and plants that nourished humans, and
    Spurred the coldest ice age the planet has seen, lasting 1,000 years.

    The Mitochondrial Eve theory evokes similar scenarios. IF the human population was reduced dramatically, AND there were NOT many women around to bear children, THEN the stage is set for one “Lucky Mother” to emerge as a most recent common ancestor. It is possible that after a few generations, the mtDNA of the other women died out. IF a woman produces only male offspring, THEN her mtDNA will NOT be passed along, since children do NOT receive mtDNA from their father. This means that while the woman’s sons will have her mtDNA, her grandchildren will NOT, and her line will be lost. It is possible that this was the cause of Eve emerging as the sole “Lucky Mother” who in essence gave birth to us all.

    Alternate Hypothesis – A reviewer of this presentation asked: Is it truly Eve we are talking about or is it not more likely that the “Lucky Woman” was Noah’s wife? She fits the conditions described exactly…except the literal readers of the Bible would place her more in the 5,000 – 10,000 BC range. While the Bible states we have one common mother in Eve, the events that have occurred since then would seem to make it impossible to ascertain what she was like. Only Noah’s wife, or the wives of his sons could be the focal point of our mtDNA since the Flood. And the Flood provides exactly the kind of cataclysmic event that would have created a bottleneck as described in this presentation.

    The reason why this alternative does not seem tenable is that the Great Flood of Noah appears to have been a localized event around the Black Sea area instead of an inundation that flooded the entire planet. If a world-wide flood had occurred, then today there would not be massive fresh water lakes with separate salt water oceans because such a flood would have equalized salt content everywhere. There are additional archeological reasons to think this was localized around the Black Sea area, as well as linguistic reasons pertaining to the use of the word “land” or “earth” in the Genesis account. One only objection to a world-wide flood is the migration of all diverse species from Antarctica in the south and the Artic in the north, and from North and South America that would be required across the vast oceans to the Middle East where Noah was located so that they could be housed in the great Ark for the duration of the flood. Such is simply non-feasible.

    Now back to Mitochondrial Eve. Although talk of genetic mutations and DNA sequences makes it seem complex, at its core, tracking mtDNA is based on a deceptively simple notion: People whose ancestors were once closely related should have almost identical mtDNA. mtDNA can undergo mutations over time, but it takes time for these mutations to occur. Logically, the fewer there are, the less time has gone by since two families’ ancestors diverged. Those people who have just a few differences in their mtDNA sequences would be more recently related than those sequences which bear many differences.

    Let us suppose your great-great-grandmother on your mom’s side — whom we’ll call Mildred — had a sister, whom we’ll call Tillie. Both shared identical mtDNA which they received from their mother. But imagine that Tillie and Mildred had a terrible argument, and Tillie moved across the country, while Mildred’s descendants — including you — stayed put. Tillie and Millie never spoke again. Both women gave birth to girls, and so their matrilineal mtDNA was passed on. But as the generations continued, the families of the two grew less and less aware of the existence of the other branch, until neither line was aware of the other. But the two lines are about to be inadvertently reunited. Researchers placed a national advertisement asking for test subjects for a study of recent human population trends using mtDNA for mapping. By coincidence, you and a distant cousin of yours on Tillie’s side of the family both decide to volunteer. After they collect a DNA sample from you, the researchers compare your mtDNA to the sequences from the other candidates. Lo and behold — they find that two volunteers are cousins. Comparing your mtDNA to your cousin’s, the geneticists should be able to tell about how long ago Tillie and Mildred had their argument. If they checked the local populations of your area and your cousin’s area, they should also be able to tell whether it was Tillie or Millie who migrated, by finding which population shared more of the mtDNA present in your family line. More people with the same mtDNA means that that sequence has been around longer. What’s more, they can also conclude that since you and your cousin share similar mtDNA, you have a most common recent ancestor, the woman who is mother to Tillie and Mildred. Since it takes a while for mtDNA mutations to occur, it would be pretty difficult for these imagined geneticists to pin down you and your cousin with accuracy. But when this technique is extrapolated over a period spanning tens or hundreds of thousands of years, it becomes much more viable. Not everyone accepts the Mitochondrial Eve theory, however.

    Evolutionary mapping through the use of mtDNA is inexact. As mtDNA study continued after the late 1970s, scientists discovered a property known as heteroplasmy — the presence of more than one sequence of mtDNA found in the same person. Even within a single person, there are differences between mtDNA that make comparing one person or group to another tricky. The 1987 study of the Mitochondrial Eve came under attack when it was pointed out that the “African” population the researchers sampled was actually made up almost entirely of African-Americans. Is it possible that in the few hundred years since Africans had been imported to the Americas against their will that African-Americans’ mtDNA had mutated enough so as to render the sample useless? In the face of the criticism, researchers took an additional sample of Africans living in Africa, but found virtually the same results.

    Another problem with mtDNA study is the differences in the rate of mutation. If a particular sequence of mtDNA was concluded to develop a mutation in 1,000 years, then would two strains of mtDNA from the same lineage with two mutations have diverged about 2,000 years ago? This is how researchers decided Mitochondrial Eve was living around 200,000 years ago. The researchers assumed that mtDNA mutates at a consistent rate. However, the rate of mutation for mtDNA is uncertain and immeasurable. If we look at the rate of mutation among a whole group of organisms, say, all people alive today — called the phylogenetic rate — we might conclude that mtDNA mutates at a consistent rate. But if we look at a single family line within that larger group — the pedigree rate – we will most likely find an entirely different rate of mutation.

    Since the “mutational clock” used by the researchers was called into question, they expanded the date for Eve’s existence to between 500,000 and 50,000 years ago. Decades after the Mitochondrial Eve study was published, the results are still hotly debated. Are we all descended from a most recent common ancestor who lived 200,000 years ago? Can mtDNA even tell us precisely? These questions remain unanswered by science and frame the future work of evolutionary geneticists. But the 1987 study changed the way we think about ourselves as humans. It pointed out that somewhere down the line of history, we are all related.

    Genesis chapter 2 states the following:

    The LORD God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being. Then the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and he placed there the man whom he had formed…The LORD God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it. The LORD God gave man this order: “You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and bad. From that tree you shall not eat; the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die.” The LORD God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.” …So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The LORD God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man, the man said: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.”

    Pope Pius XII stated: “When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parents of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now, it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the teaching authority of the Church proposed with regard to original sin which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam, and which, through generation, is passed onto all and is in everyone as his own” (Humani Generis 37).

    The story of the creation and fall of man is a true one, even if not written entirely according to modern literary techniques. The Catechism states: “The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents” (CCC 390). Conclusion: If there is no Fall, then there is no Redemption.

  • “The missing virtue is humility. Science requires humility” (Pinky)
    True True .. and really so does every field of study and every method in search of truth

  • Very interesting essay and discussion…regarding human evolution:

    Even if in some sense true, it seems to me that it had to have reached ‘Omega’ (at the Incarnation?). Perhaps now its locus is entirely spiritual (i.e. we ‘evolve’ if/as we become holier, saintlier, imitating Christ), leading us to the Kingdom of God.

Science Si! Scientism No!

Thursday, December 6, AD 2012

Above all, do not attempt to use science (I mean, the real sciences) as a defence against Christianity. They will positively encourage him to think about realities he can’t touch and see. There have been sad cases among the modern physicists. If he must dabble in science, keep him on economics and sociology; don’t let him get away from that invaluable “real life.” But the best of all is to let him read no science but to give him a grand general idea that he knows it all and that everything he happens to have picked up in casual talk and reading is “the results of modern investigation.” Do remember you are there to fuddle him. From the way some of you young fiends talk, anyone would suppose it was our job to teach!

                                        CS Lewis, The Screwtape Letters


Austin L. Hughes at The New Atlantis has a first rate look at science and scientism:


An additional strength of the falsifiability criterion is that it makes possible a clear distinction between science properly speaking and the opinions of scientists on nonscientific subjects. We have seen in recent years a growing tendency to treat as “scientific” anything that scientists say or believe. The debates over stem cell research, for example, have often been described, both within the scientific community and in the mass media, as clashes between science and religion. It is true that many, but by no means all, of the most vocal defenders of embryonic stem cell research were scientists, and that many, but by no means all, of its most vocal opponents were religious. But in fact, there was little science being disputed: the central controversy was between two opposing views on a particular ethical dilemma, neither of which was inherently more scientific than the other. If we confine our definition of the scientific to the falsifiable, we clearly will not conclude that a particular ethical view is dictated by science just because it is the view of a substantial number of scientists. The same logic applies to the judgments of scientists on political, aesthetic, or other nonscientific issues. If a poll shows that a large majority of scientists prefers neutral colors in bathrooms, for example, it does not follow that this preference is “scientific.”

Popper’s falsifiability criterion and similar essentialist definitions of science highlight the distinct but vital roles of both science and philosophy. The definitions show the necessary role of philosophy in undergirding and justifying science — protecting it from its potential for excess and self-devolution by, among other things, proposing clear distinctions between legitimate scientific theories and pseudoscientific theories that masquerade as science.

By contrast to Popper, many thinkers have advanced understandings of philosophy and science that blur such distinctions, resulting in an inflated role for science and an ancillary one for philosophy. In part, philosophers have no one but themselves to blame for the low state to which their discipline has fallen — thanks especially to the logical positivist and analytic strain that has been dominant for about a century in the English-speaking world.

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6 Responses to Science Si! Scientism No!

  • Thank you, Donald. Now shared on Facebook and at my blog. BTW, this same idiotic anti-science attitude on the part of liberal leftists permeates everything they say and do. We face it constantly in the nuclear energy industry with their idiotic fear mongering, their deliberate ignoring of the facts, or distortion thereof, and their hype of useless crappy renewable junk energy. Sure, not the same thing as this topic, but the attitude of those who worship science is the same everywhere. They really do not know science and they do not want to know science.

  • They use the “scientific method” the way a drunk uses a lamppost: for support not illumination.

  • T. Shaw, it’s all the same. These kinds of people want to:

    Legalize dope smoking
    Mandate teaching of atheistic evolution in public school
    Shutdown safe, clean, cheap nuclear power plants
    Rely on useless crappy wind mills and shiny tin foil solar mirrors
    Outlaw guns, Bibles, wearing of Rosaries and Crucifixes, and public prayer
    Remove Christmas Trees and Nativity Scenes
    Parade half-naked sodomizers in civil rights parades
    Murder unborn babies

    The analogy of what a drunk uses a lamp post for is very apt. They are the drunk smoking dope while leaning on the lamp post.

    PS, I’ll be damned before they remove my Bible, my statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary or my Crucifix in my office at work, and I don’t care how many hateful stares I get as I do my lunch time walk in the hallways with a cane in one hand for my bad leg and praying my Rosary in the other hand. Everytime they want an answer about some esoteric nuclear equation, they invariably come to me.

  • I haven’t visited The New Atlantis’ site in a while, but from what I remember they’ve had some really provocative articles about science.

  • From my pottish reading, at the time when Sir Karl proposed his falsifiability criteria, two malign systems, Marxism and Freudianism which had scientific pretensions, held the minds of many who considered themselves intellectuals. It was apparent to him and to many others that these enterprises were essentially fraudulent, especially when they claimed the mantle of science; in that they had equipped themselves in such a way as to be rendered immune from any attempts at refutations. Any attempt at refutation would be met by the Marxists with accusations of a lack of class consciousness or by the Freudians as the outworking of some suppressed desires in the unconscious. They were closed self-referential systems that made sense only to their votaries. This is in itself may not be so bad for the rest of us, had they not then claimed in the name of their pseudo-scientific cults the right to reorder societies and morals to forment violence and anarchy. By his simple device of genius, Popper made all their scientific claims moot. Hence the howls of protest from another corner, that of SJ Gould who was both a marxist and a darwinist, which is yet another one of these irrefutable systems. For the darwinist could apparently explain both statis and change; if for aeons nothing happened: moss and lichen were all that were, this is because there were no selective advantages for the darwinian mechanism to work on. But the Cambrian Explosion which brought forth a whole swathe of bodily forms, (in a time period that any sensible person would realise was too short for their development through the accumulation of small beneficial changes) is also an example of natural selection in action. Thus Darwinism can explain both the profusion of forms and their nonexistence.

    The religion of man-made global warming too shares the hallmarks of the above, the same type of lies, the same cultish behaviour of the votaries, the same denigraton of those who oppose them as unintelligent dolts to be cast to the outer darkness and so on.

    His scientific epistemology is one of humility, we can be truly sure only when we are wrong, since we know at least that we are wrong.

    Sir Karl followed truth wherever it may lead, in later life he and Sir John Eccles developed a philosophy of mnd the three worlds, that accepted something like Plato’s theory of Forms since there really is no other way to account to for the awesome complexity of the mind.

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27 Responses to Well That Was Humbling

Faster Than Light?

Monday, September 26, AD 2011

29 Responses to Faster Than Light?

  • Technically, Einstein’s postulates of Special Relativity (and thus General Relativity) don’t need the speed of light in vacuum to be the absolute speed limit, it only requires that there is a maximum! Now we will be talking about neutrino-years as measures of distances 😉

    Also, I, an astrophysicist-in-training (getting my PhD in a few), can assure you that GR works, and I can give an example that everyone uses on a regular basis: global positioning systems.

  • Unlike religion or politics, science will mercilessly pursue the evidence with repeated experiments

    Gotta love the totally gratuitous swipe at religion. What does the author (who identifies himself as a physicist) know about religion that he can make such a blanket statement? Has he himself mercilessly pursued the evidence regarding religion, or has he been a bit blinded by ideology?

    To some extent, his slam on politics is also inaccurate – polticians are notorious for following the opinion polls (i.e, evidence) of what the people want so they can tell them what they want to hear. Entire industries are built around it.

  • Dear Mr. Kanos,

    Please push your fellow scientists to work aggressively on this matter.

    I figure I have only forty or so years left until I face Judgment and there are a number of things that I’d like to do over. Being able to make time go backwards – I have specific dates in mind – would be quite useful to me.


  • *chuckles* There’s always a good chance that Einstein’s work, like that of those before him, is just very accurate where we can apply it and from where we’re looking. Part of why I like Star Trek’s FTL-by-slightly-changing-dimensions trick. (Come to think of it, isn’t there a theory that everything we think we know about space is only ‘true’ from a perspective like our own?)

  • I follow Lewis on that. It’s all picture-making.

  • A neutrino is an electrically neutrally particle that only weakly interacts with matter. It comes in three varieties or “flavors”: the electron neutrino, the muon neutrino and the tau neutrino. Each variety can be matter or anti-matter. Normally, a neutrino is given off in beta decay of radionuclides (for conservation of momentum), in fission events within nuclear reactors (my job speciality), and in fusion events within the sun.

    In the a beta decay where a neutrino is produced, a positron (the anti-matter beta) will be emitted from the nucleus and there will also be a gamma photon. However, if that decay produces an anti-neutrino, then an electron (the regular matter beta) will be emitted from the nucleus and there will also be a gamma photon. The rule of thumb is simple: regular electron means an anti-matter electron neutrino and a positron means a regular matter neutrino. These neutrino emissions are of the electron variety. Muon and tau neutrino emissions require much high energy levels.

    There is an issue with neutrino emission from the sun. Apparently electron neutrino emission is one third to one half of what the standard solar model predicts would happen from fusion within the sun (hydrogen nuclei fusing to form helium nuclei and releasing vast amounts of energy due to the conversion of mass into energy because hydrogen and helium nuclei occupy different positions on the binding energy per nucleon curve). Supposedly this deficit in electron neutrino emission could only happen if the neutrinos could switch flavors (e.g., transform from electron neutrino to muon neutrino) or oscillate. The oscillation implies that neutrinos have mass. Unfortunately I don’t have the time or mathematical ability to discuss this intelligently beyond reiterating what the scientists say.

    Now anything that has mass (like a neutrino or yourself or myself) cannot exist at light speed. The reason why is that the higher the velocity of a particle, the greater its mass until at light speed its mass is infinite:

    m = mo / [SQR ( 1-v^2/C^2 )]

    As velocity (V) approaches light speed (C), [(V^2)/(C^2)] approaches one. One minus one is zero. The square root of zero is zero. Rest mass divided by zero is undefined.

    So……we now have a report from CERN that neutrinos (I suspect electron neutrinos – I shall have to read the whole thing) have been found at greater than light speed. Of course, what’s true for the electron neutrino might likely be true for its muon and tau cousins. And if neutrinos do go faster than light, then there is a fundamental problem with the Theory of Relativity. There would also probably be something wrong with our understanding of the weak nuclear force under which beta decay (and neutrino emission) occurs, and the strong nuclear force (which binds quarks together into protons and neutrons, and keeps the integrity of the atomic nucleus). I wonder what Richard Feynman would say?

    We live in interesting times. (But I hope I didn’t make any embarrassing mistakes above.)

  • Whatever you say Paul! When it comes to science, other than the history of science, I retreat to History!

  • The Special Theory of Relativity is not Einstein’s in any meaningful sense. It was all worked by Larmor, Fitzgerald and Poincare before he came on the scene. (I do not have to warn you that you will come across a fair number of far-right sites if you google this.) Poincare was the scientist who gave the STR its modern garb. This is why all modern accounts start with something called the Poincare invariant and Poincare ‘boosts’ abound in calculations. Einstein’s gimmick was to take what others had painstakingly discovered, through experiment or profound examination of the foundations and declare them postulates. Thus he gets all the credit as a seer, whereas a great mathematician like Poincare (all of whose works the student Einstein read without acknowledgement), who did not accept that we needed to change our conceptions of space, time and simultaneity to the extend that the later development of relativity have it, is branded an unimaginative fellow – a ‘conventionalist’ if will. The hagiography surrounding Einstein is one of the wonders of the world.

    I do not know enough of the mathematics of the General Theory to handle it, but the claim that the viabilty of the GPS system proves the General Theory of Relativity is wrong. (See the internet discussions on this.)

  • I should have written – all of whose relevant works the student Einstein read…

  • I think Ivan is correct. Just look at the equation m = mo / [SQR ( 1-v^2/C^2 )] and you’ll see the Lorentz-Fitzgerald contraction as clear as day: ( 1-v^2/C^2 ). George Fitzgerald and Hendrick Lorentz came up with this in the late 1800s. I’ll leave the history to Donald. 😉

    I don’t know about the use of Global Positioning System devices proving or disproving relativity, but there are many confirmations in nature. For example, the bending of light rays around the sun was observed in 1919 as a confirmation of General Relativity which is built on Special Relativity – again, another history lesson in Donald’s court. A second example: the increase in particle masses as their velocity approaches light speed in a particle accelerator is consistent with the relativity equation provided above. A third example: the loss of mass in fission products compared with the mass of the Uranium-235 atom that fissioned on thermal neutron absorption: that loss is exactly consistent with the energy released in the fission event as plotted on the binding energy per nucleon curve, demonstating the validity of the famous equation, E = m * c^2. Coincidentally that fission event always releases 10 MeV of its 200 MeV of energy as electron neutrinos (which is the topic of the post that Donald made). The figures are a little different for fission of Uranium-233 and Plutonium-239, but the principle holds and relativity still appears valid.

    Therefore, to date, as far as I know (and none of us knows everything) each experimental test done to confirm or disprove relativity has in fact confirmed it till now – neutrinos being observed above (C) (which is 186,282 mps) at CERN.

  • Apparently these scientists didn’t get the memo :



  • To Paul D.’s point, can anyone explain why the discovery of a particle going faster than light speed necessarily implies that the arrow of time can be reversed? Time is a dimension like length, width and height or depth. It is the axis at right angles to length, width and height or depth. Of course visualizing that is very difficult (I can’t do it – not enough brain power). It’s like visualizing three pencils in your hands at right angles to each other and you try to make a fourth intersect at right angles. You can’t do that in three dimensional space.

    Now the unique thing about time is its arrow. It always goes from past to future. This means that events always have causes, and that events never precede their causation. To go backwards in time would invalidate this principle.

    However, there is something called charge – parity – time symmetry. I am not sure I understand this very well. Wikipedia states, “The implication of CPT symmetry is that a ‘mirror-image’ of our universe — with all objects having their positions reflected by an imaginary plane (corresponding to a parity inversion), all momenta reversed (corresponding to a time inversion) and with all matter replaced by antimatter (corresponding to a charge inversion)— would evolve under exactly our physical laws.”

    This symmetry can be violated on the quantum level. Supposedly there can be particles for which the arrow of time is reversed. Perhaps an example would be an anti-matter particle going forward in time might be an normal matter particle going backward in time. But maybe my explanation is bad because my brain can’t handle the math.

    Suffice it to say that time travel on a marcoscopic level is likely not possible. God set up the universe with an arrow in the fourth dimension pointed only one way and it’s just as well He did. The consequences otherwise would be devastating were man to discover how to go back in time.

    BTW, God being God is outside of space and time, matter and energy. He “sees” all the universe from the Big Bang 13.73 billion years ago to the cosmic dissipation billions and billions of years hence as one complete object. The miracle is that He decided to become incarnate – subject to the very laws of mathematics that He created. Perhaps we might consider Him a programmer using a software language called mathematics to create this universe. He isn’t in the run-time container (though as Jesus He did deign to go into the run-time container for a set period). He’s outside of space-time. But He doesn’t pull the strings as the Calvinist predestinationists thought. He lets the program run with the fuzzy logic built in – our free will, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, etc. He knows what will happen because He sees all of space-time now. But He lets us do what we will to do without programming our actions to occur. The program simply allows the actions. But I digress and talk about things on which I have no expertise. The point is that if we use the analogy of a software program (yes, a crude analogy), we can see why the program was designed to run in one direction and not another. It’s sort of like a Fortran program that starts at line 10 and runs to conclusion; there may be IF…THEN statements, GOTO statement, DO loops, etc., but the general progression is from beginning to end. Events never precede causes. That’s time. Does that make sense or am I all hosed up?

  • Well, C. S. Lewis had an idea that all talk of past, present and future in relation to God was pointless since he IS. This was Lewis’ idea of Eternal Now. See how Richard Land applies this to argue the Calvinist doctrine of predestination.

  • Sorry to post again, but yes, I do know that:

    Delta-t prime = Delta-t / SQR [ 1 – (v^2)/(C^2) ]

    This is “where Delta-t is the time interval between two co-local events (i.e. happening at the same place) for an observer in some inertial frame (e.g. ticks on his clock) – this is known as the proper time, Delta-t prime is the time interval between those same events, as measured by another observer, inertially moving with velocity v with respect to the former observer, v is the relative velocity between the observer and the moving clock, [and] c is the speed of light…” (Sorry, folks, I cheated and used Wikipedia.)

    Thus, the rate at which time proceeds for a particle at velocity (V) decreases as it approaches (C). We see this in the acceleration of radionuclides in particle accelerators. Their rate of decay slows down the faster they get. That means at light speed time would stop for them (which is clearly impossible because the particle’s mass would be undefined or infinite).

    So if we go above light speed, wouldn’t time go backwards? Well, the equation breaks down. (v^2)/(C^2) goes greater than one because (V) is greater than (C). One minus any number greater than one is always a negative number. The square root of a negative number is undefined. So I don’t necessarily buy into the reversal of time’s arrow UNLESS that reversal happens by going into a hidden dimension above four (there are Grand Unified Theories that speculate on dimensions up to 10 where in the Big Bang six remained rolled up but four unfolded: length, width, and height or depth). And once a particle goes into a hidden dimension, could it ever come out?

    I don’t think so. God designed time with an arrow for a reason – to keep us out of more trouble.

  • Paul Primavera- I really appreciate your analogy and thinks its an apt one which serves the purpose well. As for your statement that “Events never precede causes. That’s time.”, isn’t this a necessary logical truth of metaphysics?

  • Paul D., I think you are correct but I know little to nothing about metaphysics. I would say that what we know about physics today supports the validity of the metaphysics.

    However, as I was thinking about this whole thing, I recalled how back in Nuclear Power School decades ago we used to take the square root of negative numbers in electrical science class to define the relationship between real and reactive electrical power. We used the letter “i” (for “imaginary”) next to the number obtained by the square rooting process to denote that we had in fact taken the square root of a negative number. This could be used to explain the phase relationship between voltage and current coming out of a generator. Basically, they twist about each other in a sort of three-dimensional way, being themselves two dimensional.

    So if a particle goes faster than light, and time proceeds backwards for it, then would it not likewise twist but into a dimension above four just as two dimensional current and voltage can “twist” three dimensionally? But all this is surely just speculation. Once Charge – Parity – Time symmetry is violated, you can’t go back. The metaphysics says no, and the physics must follow.

    I am tired. Maybe I will think more clearly in the morning. I have to dig up all those old polar to rectangular coordinate equations so that Donald can be tortured with something other than history. 😉

  • Folks,

    I might have been incorrect in my last comment last night. I do recall something about the use of imaginary numbers (i.e., numbers resulting from taking the square root of a negative number) in electrical science classes a long time ago. I seem to recall this was in relation to computing impedance in resistive, capacitive and inductive circuits, and in calculating true, apparent and reactive power in AC systems. But while I was hoping to make an analogy with taking the square root of [ 1 – (V^2)/(C^2) ] when (V) is greater than (C), I just don’t remember the details. Too many brain cells have died in between US Naval Nuclear Power School and now. Suffice it to say that what happens to an object with a (V) equal to or greater than (C) is undefined and probably can’t occur in fourth dimensional space-time. In other words, events do not and cannot precede causes in space-time.

    Now the observation of neutrinos at a velocity greater than (C) at CERN raises some questions.

    (1) Is 186,282 mps in a vacuum – (C) – the speed limit for all particles of mass everywhere? In other words, might the speed limit be different depending on the type of particle being observed?
    (2) Or have neutrinos always existed a little above (C), and when at or below (C) they cease to exist? (This reminds me of tachyons – different topic for a different comment entry.)
    (3) Or does (C) as the speed limit change regardless of particle type and if yes, then what causes the speed limit to change?

    Regardless of the answers to these questions, I don’t think we will see time travel – at least not in our life times. The arrow of time holds valid.

  • These scientists are wrong. It’s neither the speed of light or neutrinos that are the fastest thing in the universe. It’s clearly a shopper heading to an empty checkout line.

  • Its interesting that these results are coming from CERN. One can only imagine the heads rolling, had it been announced from one of the hidebound US laboratories. Earlier CERN was in the news for some cloud experiments, that lent weight to Henrik Svensmark’s theory that much of the temperature rise that the global-warming cult would have us give up our freedom and comforts for, can in fact be traced to cosmic rays. Thus effectively dissipating the delirium of the champagne socialists as cosmic rays are beyond human control. I surmise that at least a few scientists at CERN have had ‘a road to Damascus’ experience after the failure to detect the Higgs particle and are now in full renegade mode.

  • @Paul Primavera: I do believe that, assuming the CERN research is correct, that the Lorentz boost factor would just have the denominator changed a little bit (an increase of about 0.0025%, maybe a bit more)

    @Ivan: GR GPS connection is definitive. I found a good website that shows a good proof of it (and some other GR tests) http://www.alternativephysics.org/book/GRexperiments.htm

  • For those who don’t know what the Higgs boson is, please go here:


    In the Standard Model we have the following for forces:

    The electromagnetic force mediated by photons which are massless
    The weak nuclear force mediated by W+, W- and Z0 bosons having mass
    The strong nuclear force mediated by red, green and blue gluons
    Gravity mediated by the Graviton (which has not been discovered)

    For leptons we have:

    Electrons and positrons, and electron neutrinos and anti-neutrinos
    Muons and anti-muons, and muon neutrinos and anti-neutrinos
    Taus and anti-taus, and tau neutrinos and anti-neutrinos

    For quarks we have:

    The +2/3 up quark and the -1/3 down quark, as well as their anti-matter variant
    The charm and strange quark, as well as their anti-matter variant
    The top and bottom (or truth and beauty) quark, as well as their anti-matter variant (Top or truth has not been discovered).

    NOTE 1: two +2/3 up quarks plus one -1/3 down quark = a proton, and two -1/3 down quarks plus one +2/3 up quark = a neutron. Quarks are held together by red, green and blue gluons – the strong nuclear force. Anti-quarks are held together by red, green and blue anti-gluons.

    NOTE 2: normal matter is electron / up quark / down quark dependent. A certain asymmetry resulted in matter dominating over anti-matter in the Big Bang. Additionally, matter made up of charm / strange quarks and muons, or top / bottom quarks and taus have not been observed in nature.

    NOTE 3: there is no quantum theory of gravity that can integrate the theoretical graviton with all this. We do have quantum electrodynamics which unites the electromagnetic force with the weak nuclear force mediated by W+, W- and Z0 bosons. We also have quantum chromodynamics which unites the strong nuclear force (mediated by gluons and affecting quarks) with the weak and electromagnetic forces. We still (as Ivan explained) have not discovered the “God” particle, i.e., the Higgs boson that gives particles their mass. So we still don’t know everything…..as things should be. 😉

  • “That’s time. Does that make sense or am I all hosed up?”

    No, I think does make sense Paul. @ at 9:20pm. Thanks, very interesting analogy. I’m still trying to visualize how time slows down as one speeds up.

  • Jasper,

    If you were the one speeding up, you would not see time for yourself speeding up. You would see time in the universe around you speeding up. If a person in the universe around you were watching you, then he would see you slowing down though you would swear that for you a second is still a second and a minute a minute and an hour an hour. You see, it’s all based on the velocity of light being invariant.

    BTW, if survivable the same thing happens at the event horizon of a black hole: If you’re near enough to that horizon, then you would see the universe speeding up, but the universe would see you slowing down.

    Here’s another thing: in Newtonian physics, if you’re in a car going at 30 mph and you throw a ball out of the car directly in front at 30 mph, then the total velocity of the ball is 60 mph. But close to or at light speed, that’s not the case. If you’re in a spaceship at 90% of light speed and you shine a laser beam directly out in front of you, then the beam still travels at light speed, NOT [ light speed + 90% of light speed ]. It’s the Lorentz-Fitzgerald contraction that makes things this way. There is no speed > (C).

    On a graph you would see time changing its vector, not light speed.

  • Here’s another thing: in Newtonian physics, if you’re in a car going at 30 mph and you throw a ball out of the car directly in front at 30 mph, then the total velocity of the ball is 60 mph. But close to or at light speed, that’s not the case. If you’re in a spaceship at 90% of light speed and you shine a laser beam directly out in front of you, then the beam still travels at light speed, NOT [ light speed + 90% of light speed ]. It’s the Lorentz-Fitzgerald contraction that makes things this way. There is no speed > (C).

    I have been lost in much of this, but this explanation was perfect. Thanks.

  • I find the following curious:

    (1) For an object at velocity (V) one day to him can be a 1000 years to a stationary object.
    (2) There are THREE sets of quarks: up/down, charm/strange, top/bottom
    (3) It takes THREE quarks to make a proton or a neutron
    (4) There are THREE kinds of electrons: the regular electron and its anti-matter variety, the muon and its anti-matter variety, the tau and its anti-matter variety
    (5) There are THREE kinds of neutrinos: the regular electron neutrino and its anti-matter variety, the muon neutrion and its anti-matter variety, the tau neutrino and its anti-matter variety
    (6) Quarks come in THREE sets of colors: Red and anti-red, green and anti-green, blue and anti-blue
    (7) The weak nuclear force is mediated by THREE particles: W+, W-, Z0
    (8) Atoms heavy than hydrogen are made of THREE particles: electron, proton and neutron

    Am I imagining things or making up patterns that don’t really exist?

  • Folks,

    I erred in one of my entries above. It is quarks (up/down, charm/strange, top/bottom) which come in “colors” red, green and blue. And it is gluons which bind them together:

    Two ups and one down = proton
    Two downs and one up = neutron

    There are however eight independent color states of gluons. You can read about that here:


    Sorry about the error.

  • So, based on the above, it seems time travel would be theoretically possible, at least one way? Forward, but no going back? It would be time travel in a “loose” sense – you would still be experiencing time, just at a different rate (eg, one second to the traveler could be like ten years to the stationary object)?

  • “It would be time travel in a “loose” sense – you would still be experiencing time, just at a different rate (eg, one second to the traveler could be like ten years to the stationary object)?”

    Yes, C Matt, that is correct. The closer you get to light speed, the faster you would see events in the universe proceed, and to a stationary object the events that proceed for you would preceived as slower. Taken, I suppose, to its logical conclusion, at light speed you stop and the end of the universe occurs. This same phenomenon happens at the event horizon of a black hole. Furthermore, the arrow of time permits “time travel” in one direction only. Anything other than that might allow events to precede causes. But these are merely words. The truth is in the equations which cannot always be adequately described by words.

Anne Rice Breaks Up With Christianity

Thursday, July 29, AD 2010

I quit being a Christian. I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of …Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.

And with that announcement, Anne Rice publicly renounced her identity as a Christian on Facebook.

I’m compelled to wonder, however — who is the more preferable and honest of the two?

  • The “Anne Rice”‘s of the world — who recognize their open disagreement with traditional [Catholic / Orthodox] Christianity, and agree that they can no longer identify themselves as such because the moral positions they hold are fundamentally incompatible?
  • The “Nancy Pelosi”‘s of the world, who publicly repudiate various traditional moral positions of [Catholic / Orthodox] Christianity, yet simultaneously proclaim themselves “practicing Catholics” (up and including the reception of the Eucharist), and yet relegate their disagreements as “differences of opinion”?
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39 Responses to Anne Rice Breaks Up With Christianity

  • Anne Rice hands down.

    She may not know a lot about Catholicism, she is at least honest in her beliefs.

    Madame Speaker on the other hand knows her faith very well and purposely and consciously goes against the teachings of God.

  • Wow. I know the sexual abuse scandal really bothered her but didn’t expect this.

    I think I would probably still prefer an Andrew Sullivan Catholic than the new Anne Rice though. Her lost of faith in the leadership combined with all the time she spends online being both urged by Maureen Dowd Catholics and attacked by Catholic Answers Catholics may have pushed her over the edge.

  • I don’t think that anyone ever accused Nancy Pelosi of being able to write, either.

  • “may have pushed her over the edge.”

    I think this loon has been over the edge for a long, long time.


  • Liberal political commitments are more popular and easier to understand than orthodoxy.

    Interesting, though, it sounds like she still thinks of herself as a disciple of Christ? “In the name of…”

  • “…Obama, peace be upon him.”

  • “I’m compelled to wonder, however — who is the more preferable and honest of the two?”

    Ann Rice.

  • I like how you phrased the post so as to minimize negative comments about Ms. Rice, Chris. It highlights that she is – and has been – honest and upfront about her differences with traditional Christianity. The tone of her post suggests frustration and anger; it’s not clear exactly what the source for these are (and what is ‘anti-life’ about Christianity?), but whatever her difficulties are, it would be best to treat her with kindness and charity.

  • It is a complex question. As far as ecumenical efforts go, Pope Benedict has clearly stated that disagreements should be worked out within the context of communion. Ms. Rice’s list of grievances do not strike me as good reasons for leaving communion.

    As far as Nancy Pelosi goes, a lay person disagreeing with the bishops should not a public scandal make. She is a symptom of the larger catholic culture and not its cause. Does anyone doubt that if she resigned her House seat tomorrow that someone just as bad if not worse would take her place?

  • I find the post to be a little rambling. Ok, she likes gays, feminism, and birth control. Not surprising even if it is disappointing. But then she gets kinda weird.

    “Anti-Democrat?” I mean, some would argue but I think it’s weird she thinks Catholics must be Republicans (or can’t be Dems). I mean, many pro-lifers think that (with some good reason) but why she thinks that is odd.

    “Anti-secular humanism” I don’t know what that means; I’m not sure any religion accomodates pure secular humanism. What is she talking about?

    And finally, “anti-science?” How on earth is a Catholic anti-science? That one really confuses me.

    It makes me wonder whether she ever took the time to examine the beliefs she once claimed and are now rejecting. While I think she’s right to not claim Catholicism if she disagrees with it, I wonder what would have happened if she had actually challenged herself with the teachings of the Church.

  • It’s functionally impossible to be a Democrat if you’re pro-life. Besides, being a lib these days means believing in the pseudo-religion of government anyway. It necessarily crowds out other competing beliefs. Libs have made government into their new God.

  • I am praying this is a person that had a very bad day and like a lot of us hit the submit button too soon.

    I have a hard time thinking she will really leave her Christian faith.

  • I would expect that to the extent the tone of her tweet is angry, it’s because the process into and then out of organized Christianity has been difficult for her, and when we are dealing with difficult situations we often resort to anger as a way of reaching a decision — not unlike ending a relationship, where it becomes necessary to convince oneself that the other is bad.

    There are two ways of looking at such things, but I tend to lean towards thinking it’s more honest to renounce a religion if one seriously thinks it false on major issues, rather than claiming to know it better than it does itself.

  • We all know it already, but for the sake of the uninitiated who will probably find their way here to troll:

    * “I refuse to be anti-gay.”

    She refuses to defend the sanctity and true purpose of marriage and sexuality. She aligns herself with perversion.

    * “I refuse to be anti-feminist.”

    She refuses to accept that the political arguments for women’s equality, which have only ever been accepted and integrate en masse in Western Christian societies, do not automatically transpose themselves into a radicalized theology.

    * “I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control.”

    Again, perversion over the true purpose of sexuality.

    * “I refuse to be anti-Democrat.”

    I can’t blame her on that one. The current make-up of the Democrat party means that only those of the most agile and subtle intelligence can reconcile their faith with allegiance to it.

    *”I refuse to be anti-secular humanism.”

    Then she had no business ever being a Catholic. It was because I refused to be a secular humanist that I could become a Catholic again.

    * “I refuse to be anti-science.”

    She refuses to read a history book or the Church’s modern interaction with the sciences and understand the complete bankruptcy of this claim.

    * “I refuse to be anti-life.”

    Secular humanism IS anti-life.

    * “In the name of …Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.”

    No comment.

  • Yes, I changed what I said and removed the comments. I went too far, as I sometimes do, and I won’t try to rationalize it.

  • Wow, this is a real bummer because the book she wrote about her reversion to the faith, “Called Out of Darkness,” was a pretty good book and I found it kind of inspiring.

    She sounded genuine in it, and admitted she had difficulties with certain Church teachings but figured that faith was more a matter of trusting that the popes, saints, Doctors of the Church, etc. knew what they were doing, than a matter of having 100 percent perfect personal understanding and agreement with EVERY point of Church doctrine and morals.

    Now I thought that was a good way to look at it… to realize that faith does NOT mean you have to know exactly where every nut and bolt on the Barque of Peter is located, and understand how every single part operates, it means you get on the boat, and stay on it, once you have determined that it is seaworthy, will get you where you need to go (heaven) and the captain knows what he’s doing. (That’s my metaphor, not hers, just to be clear)

    Her comment about being “anti-gay” probably has more to do with the fact that her son (her only surviving child) is gay than with any conscious “alignment with perversion”.

    Also, I have a book of interviews with her that was published in the mid-1990s, not too long before she returned to the Church. In it she makes some interesting comments about how disillusioned she had become with leftist/feminist “orthodoxy” and how in many ways it was far more repressive and anti-human than even the old fashioned, pre-Vatican II Catholicism she had grown up with. So I don’t know that she’s all that big a fan of secular humanism either.

    I agree with John Henry that she needs charity and understanding more than condemnation at this point, and that we should give her credit for being honest about her convictions.

  • “There are two ways of looking at such things, but I tend to lean towards thinking it’s more honest to renounce a religion if one seriously thinks it false on major issues, rather than claiming to know it better than it does itself.”

    What is interesting is she is not just Catholicism but all Christianity

    She is not announcing she is joning the TEC or some other progressive Christian body where her views would be welcomed.

    So does she see well if Catholcism is wrong then all Christianity is wrong.

    Again I will keep her in my prayers. Something has set her off and people need to reach out to her.

    I think her reconversion was very genuine.

    Oh a side note I would say from what I can tell from the general Christian population and indeed the Catholic population they were respectful of her conversion. In fact I an think of several conservative traditional Catholic blogs right off the bat that were very gracious and Christian to her.

    Again she needs our prayers and I hope Catholics and Christians near her reach out to her

  • She had to choose between the ways of Christ and the ways of the world, and the world won. I pray that this is only one battle, and that she will come to understand that the teachings of the Church are born of love, not hate.

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  • “I’m compelled to wonder, however — who is the more preferable and honest of the two?”

    Whichever will throw herself on the mercy of God on her deathbed.

    Honesty is merely a natural virtue, yes? Should we really prefer the honest apostate to the liar who has faith?

    Pelosi could be piously following the teachings of some dissenting priest or religious sister she encountered in her formative years and mistook for Catholic orthodoxy.

    For her part, Rice has a gay son, so family loyalty is possibly trumping loyalty to her faith.

    Neither should be religious ed teachers, and like the rest of us both deserve correction through competent personal contact when necessary. But why prefer the “noble pagan” to the crooked Christian?

  • It’s not like she’s doing anything groundbreaking here. Lots of people decide that the ‘real Jesus’ just happens to agree with their own stances on .. pretty much everything. Amazing coincidence.

  • “Why prefer the ‘noble pagan’ to the crooked Christian?”

    Remember the parable Christ told of the two sons whose father asked them to work in his vineyard… one said “Yes, I’ll go,” but never did, while the other said “No” but later changed his mind and went. “Which one did what the father wanted?” Christ asked.

  • Should we really prefer the honest apostate to the liar who has faith?

    That does presuppose the liar has faith. The other possibility is the liar is simply a liar and has no faith. But since she is a liar, you never can tell (though it would seem to be rather odd that a simpleton like me can understand the big points of Catholic moral teaching, but the third in line for the Presidency of the US cannot – and my teachers were no better than hers).

    That parable is a bit confusing here. It seem neither is doing the work in the vineyard at this point. Here, one says yes (Pelosi?) but does nothing (in fact, goes out of her way to ruin the vineyard), and the other (Rice) says “no” and….does nothing?

    Anyway, Rice probably just needs time alone to think things out. Pelosi needs a road to Damascus whooping, a divine 2×4 upside the head.

  • The blame falls squarely on the catechists, us included. We’ve failed to persuade her that (a) our intentions are good, and (b) our doctrines are right.

    For example, the Church isn’t anti-gay. It puts forward a holy but tough alternative to the gay lifestyle. We need to demonstrate that we’re not “anti”. Aristotle said that the first step toward persuading someone is to convince him of your good character. There’s a lot of hope for Rice because she seems to strongly believe in Christ’s good character.

  • I agree wholeheartedly with Anne’s decision to disassciate with organized Christianity. So much of the modern message has become anathema to the gospel, and the Church has historically demonstrated a reluctance to discipline itself in ways that reflect the true teachings of Jesus. Did Jesus bash gays as he traveled about in the company of men. Did he rant against making love except for the express purpose of procreation? Did Jesus tell us that women are somehow different and lesser in the eyes of God.

    Could Anne have rejected Catholicism but then wrapped herself in one of the “feel good” versions that preache the virtues of accumulated wealth and evangelical superiority?

    Must you belong to a Christian church, or start yet another dissatified sect, in order to identify and align yourself with the message of Jesus?

    Jesus did not charge us to go out and build an edifice, he didn’t lay out the design for the Vatican, and he never extolled us to jihad (Crusades). He never defended religious persecution (The Inquisition). He didn’t charge us to believe the Earth was the center and only relevant corner of creation (anti-science). And he never told us to place blind faith in religious leaders (Pharisees.papists and Swaggertites).

    Jesus told us to love one another. He told us to give to the poor and the needy. He told us to trust in His message and all would be revealed by the Spirit of God.

    I am a baptised Catholic that utterly rejects Catholicism and both organized and disorganized Christianity. I prefer to get my doctrine unfiltered by men with a selfish or heretical agenda. I prefer the simple uncomplicated truths that Jesus taught.

  • I am a baptised Catholic that utterly rejects Catholicism and both organized and disorganized Christianity. I prefer to get my doctrine unfiltered by men with a selfish or heretical agenda. I prefer the simple uncomplicated truths that Jesus taught.

    In the end the rejection of historical Christianity is a rejection of Christ. It is rather shallow and immature to think that your personal recreation of Christianity is ‘unfiltered by…a selfish or heretical agenda.’ At best you have replaced the selfish or heretical agendas of others with one of your own creation. Chesterton wrote that joining the Church freed him from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age; your comment is childish both in this sense and in the sense that only naivete could account for your uncritical self-confidence.

  • Pinky,
    I think you are too easy on her. I happen to know for a fact that folks have tried to catechise her and reason with her on Church issues, but she is exceedingly stubborn. In particular, when Sister McBride was excommunicated Rice went ballistic. When Church teaching was meticulously explicated re the intentional taking of an innocent human life she simply ignored all reasoning that disturbed her comfortable consequentialist views. And I do mean ignore. No engagement; no effort; just blind outrage. Did I say blind?

  • And tell us, Marc, how it is that you know of the “simple uncomplicated truths that Jesus taught”? Did He mystically appear to you in a dream and teach you these truths? Did a book containing these truths miraculously fall out of the sky and into your possession one day?

    The Bible didn’t just write itself. To the extent we know anything about Christ and the “simple uncomplicated truths” that He taught (and, in fact, some of Christ’s teachings are ANYTHING BUT “simple” or “uncomplicated” – see, e.g., divorce, remarriage, and adultery), it is because of the work of the Church. Some people may like to pick and choose which teachings of the Church they want to follow, but they should at least admit that that is what they are doing, and not pretend that they have some special insight into the “simple uncomplicated truths” of Christ apart from what the Church has taught for 2000 years.

  • I will pray that Anne Rice sees the error of her ways, along with those who agree with her. Earlier this year I wrote an article on this site entitled; “The Coming Open Rebellion Against God.” I believe this is another step in that direction. Anne’s ego, along with those who defend her, seems to suggest that they know better than the Church. How ridiculous, Jesus Himself said to the Apostles; He who Hears You Hears Me, He who Rejects You Rejects Me (Luke 10:16.)

    We fail to remember that even before Calvary many of Jesus’ followers left Him. It started with John 6 when most of His followers rejected Jesus after His disocourse (the longest in the Bible) on the Eucharist. Judas’ biggest sin was pride, thinking he knew better than everyone. We might recall that Judas got upset with Jesus when the pentient woman poured the expensive perfume over Him. Judas thinking because he hung around in the most well to do circles, he was naturally smarter than everyone. Sadly the sin of pride remains very alluring to many, especially today. Jesus gave us the Magesterium and popes (the Teaching Authority of the Church) which is unsettling those whose sin of pride tells them, they are so smart. I hope and pray that this sin is eradicated so the likes of Anne Rice and her defenders can truly see the wisdom of God and His ways.

  • I am a baptised Catholic that utterly rejects Catholicism and both organized and disorganized Christianity. I prefer to get my doctrine unfiltered by men with a selfish or heretical agenda. I prefer the simple uncomplicated truths that Jesus taught.

    Except that your declaration is manifestly untrue. As with every person I’ve seen issue encyclicals like yours, you haven’t abandoned organized religion, you’ve simply chosen to shrink it to a membership of one–yourself. You are simply the Pope of the Church of Marc Stephens, and you thunder with even more magisterial self-assurance than the Syllabus of Errors. Yours isn’t a declaration of liberation from organized religion–it’s a proclamation of your own infallibility.

  • Both are headed to the same place.

    Ms. Rice is, at least, open and candid; and not dangerous to our country and our way of life.

  • Her most recent post: ” My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn’t understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me. But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than C…hristianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been, or might become.”

    and personally I think she has a point. Christ is more important than Christianity in terms of an organization. We should all strive to be followers of Christ more than adherents to a system.

  • Also, we’re not to judge either Anne Rice or Nancy Pelosi or anyone else. Faith or lack therof is between that person and God.

  • Mike, yeah, I probably am going too easy on her. It was a visceral reaction. Any time the question “who’s the worst Catholic” is asked, the answer is supposed to be “me”.

  • No, we have every right to condemn public attacks on the Church.

    We’re not to judge a person’s SOUL. Their ARGUMENTS should be laid to waste with all of the terrible judgment we can muster.

  • IMAO, most writers don’t understand religion enough to talk about it sensibly. They seem to reduce everything to words. So to many of them, leaving a religion is more like throwing away old clothes or deciding you’re sick and tired of the color red. Of course, those decisions can be over dramatized with the right words as well.

  • Ms. Rice’s diatribe angers me. She reaches an immense audience from her pulpit and the opinions of many people are formed by what she preaches. Many souls were edified and brought back to the Church through her beautifully-written books about Jesus. How is she going to make reparations to the sheep that she formerly nourished with her writings about Jesus? Has the Rosary she brandished in many photographs been relegated to a bureau drawer? Had she been faithful in reciting the Rosary, it would have been a shield against the corruption she spoke about Christianity, thereby diminishing not only the Church, but Our Lord Jesus. This isn’t just about Ms. Rice’s soul. I think her diatribe was evil and self-centered and has the potential to kill the very souls that she was attempting to save. It’s just despicable.

  • Agreed Moe. She deserves rebuke, not coddling.

  • “Behold, there went out a sower to sow: And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the birds of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, some a hundred. He said unto them, He that has ears to hear, let him hear.

    “And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable…. And he said unto them, The sower soweth the word. And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.”

    It seemed apropos.

Science and Technology in World History

Monday, July 5, AD 2010

Technological history is a unique point of view that always caught my eye.  David Deming of the American Thinker gives us a brief synopsis of his latest contribution in this genre.  Keep in mind how integral Christianity was to the recovery of Europe after the barbarian invasions and the safekeeping of knowledge by the monastic system that allowed Europe to recover and blossom into what we now call Western Civilization:

Both Greece and Rome made significant contributions to Western Civilization.  Greek knowledge was ascendant in philosophy, physics, chemistry, medicine, and mathematics for nearly two thousand years.  The Romans did not have the Greek temperament for philosophy and science, but they had a genius for law and civil administration.  The Romans were also great engineers and builders.  They invented concrete, perfected the arch, and constructed roads and bridges that remain in use today.  But neither the Greeks nor the Romans had much appreciation for technology.  As documented in my book, Science and Technology in World History, Vol. 2, the technological society that transformed the world was conceived by Europeans during the Middle Ages.

Greeks and Romans were notorious in their disdain for technology.  Aristotle noted that to be engaged in the mechanical arts was “illiberal and irksome.”  Seneca infamously characterized invention as something fit only for “the meanest slaves.”  The Roman Emperor Vespasian rejected technological innovation for fear it would lead to unemployment.

Greek and Roman economies were built on slavery.  Strabo described the slave market at Delos as capable of handling the sale of 10,000 slaves a day.  With an abundant supply of manual labor, the Romans had little incentive to develop artificial or mechanical power sources. Technical occupations such as blacksmithing came to be associated with the lower classes.

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  • The Europeans developed the stirrup which made possible heavy cavalry of armored knights. Before that cavalry rode in on the flanks of infantry and either fired arrows or threw javelins. Then retired. With the stirrup, the knight would remain on his war horse even waffter he skewered his foe.

    In my wasted youth (I was drinking more tha I was thinking) I had to take a course in European history in the Middle Ages. One of the books assigned was on technological developments in the Age. That was Spring 1970.

  • Could this be why BHO has just made ‘reaching out to the Muslim world’ foremost mission for NASA?

    That’s a great idea, they are killing us with low tech, so we should help them acquire high-tech so they can kill us better. Liberals are so smart.

Political Correctness Trumps Expertise in Gulf Oil Spill Response

Tuesday, June 1, AD 2010

During his press statement last week, President Obama said that in dealing with the recent oil spill in the Gulf, he was “examining every recommendation, every idea that’s out there, and making our best judgment as to whether these are the right steps to take, based on the best experts that we know of.”

That, however, is not entirely true:

A St. Louis scientist who was among a select group picked by the Obama administration to pursue a solution to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been removed from the group because of writings on his website, the U.S. Energy Department confirmed Wednesday.

Washington University physics professor Jonathan Katz was one of five top scientists chosen by the Department of Energy and attended meetings in Houston last week.

Though considered a leading scientist, Katz’s website postings often touch on social issues. Some of those writings have stirred anger in the past and include postings defending homophobia and questioning the value of racial diversity efforts.

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  • In addition to his “expertise”, he did find Jesus burial box: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lost_Tomb_of_Jesus

    And President Obama is supposed to be “smart”.

    I have a bridge to sell you if that’s true.

  • 1/20/2009: Beginning of an Error.

    Hold them regime responsible for the misery.

  • To be fair, I did just learn that James Cameron is also an engineer. Didn’t know that, and it puts his involvement in a different light.

    But to exclude someone because he has differing opinions on unrelated topics? Well, that’s only something conservatives do, right? /sarcasm

  • Engineer is a very broad category (like doctor). You wouldn’t call in a cardiologist to do brain surgery (heck, you wouldn’t even call him in to do heart surgery, since cardiologists are not surgeons).

  • This whole situation will be extremely unforunate for the environmental life and for the economy in a number of clashing ways. This problem could have been baffled however sometimes accidents happen. These companies should be held responsible for this global catastrophe.

  • It is nearly unbelievable that this oil spill is still not taken care of. It’s been what, like 46 days now?? All i see on the tv all day long is washed up fish, and poor pelicans covered in oil.

  • The Gulf is a nightmare and the oil has been seen as far as Alabama and Florida…Obama didn’t do himself any favors by criticizing Bush’s response time to Katrina

  • This whole catastrophe with BP is out of control. The amount of spilling into the Gulf of Mexico sprung up by thousands of barrelfuls Wednesday right after an underwater robot seemingly hit the containment cap that has been getting oil from BP’s Macondo well. I question how much desolation this entire oil spill is going to cost the sea when it’s all over

  • Well finally they have a plan to cap this thing, but given their track-record so far, I’m not holding out a ton of hope for this. I was in Tampa when that tanker caught fire (I was driving over the Skyway right when it happened, saw the smoke) and the beaches are still washing up tar balls. I think it has effectively ruined the economy of southern LA, MI and AL towns. I have a ton of family there and they are really desperate.

Time Lapse Evidence Shows an Increase in Carbon Dioxide Does Not Harm Vegetation

Wednesday, May 12, AD 2010

[Updates at the bottom of this post.]

Atmospheric CO2 is not a pollutant.

And he said: Let us make man to our image and likeness: and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth.  And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them.  And God blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move upon the earth.  And God said: Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed upon the earth, and all trees that have in themselves seed of their own kind, to be your meat:  And to all beasts of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to all that move upon the earth, and wherein there is life, that they may have to feed upon. And it was so done.

–Book of Genesis 1:26-30

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27 Responses to Time Lapse Evidence Shows an Increase in Carbon Dioxide Does Not Harm Vegetation

  • Um, Tito … plants breathe carbon dioxide. They release oxygen into the atmosphere as a byproduct of photosynthesis.

    Some plants also love phosphates, and when Dow or some other company dumps them into a pond or a swamp, some species will love it. And crowd everything else off.

    The biblical command to dominion is a two-way street, and involves, unlike our corporate masters, a reciprocity of care and stewardship.

    Agreed the penguin and bear photos are silly. But I wasn’t aware you were a priest who wore a biretta. Who knew?

  • Not sure I understand the post. The AGW argument, right or wrong, is that increased quantities of CO2 will heat up the Earth’s atmosphere. What does the effect of CO2 (which plants absorb and process) on plants have to do with this?

  • Todd,

    Thanks for the 3rd grade science refresher.

    So tell me how a rise in CO2 levels will kill plants again?

  • John Henry,

    Your straw man is unproductive here JH.

  • Tito,

    Don’t think there was a straw man. I just don’t see what this post proves. What do you think the study proves?

  • John Henry,

    I’ll play along this one time only.

    Al Gore disciples are promoting Global Warming/Climate Change as a catastrophe of immense proportions, ie, destroying our environment.

    So this video disproves one of the many whacky theories that Global Warming/Climate Change alarmists are bandying about in order to increase the role of government in our lives.

    Which of course violates our free will.

    If you want to continue down this train of thought, then go ahead and post your own column and stop distracting from my post.

  • So this video disproves one of the many wacky theories that Global Warming/Climate Change alarmists are bandying about

    I’d never heard about this particular theory, I guess. The main line of argument is that CO2 emissions cause the atmosphere to heat up, which, over time, will raise sea levels and damage low-lying areas. And the concern is that this is a one-way ratchet; something we can’t undo. That all may be wrong, but that’s the argument I’d heard, rather than the claim that CO2 damages plants. As you’ve requested I stop commenting on this thread, I won’t comment any further.

  • Tito,

    I’m a little confused as to what the video is getting at.

    It’s certainly true that CO2 is great for plants, and that higher CO2 levels would mean more plant growth. In this sense, greater CO2 emission would be great for “the planet”. There have been periods when, for natural reasons, the planet has had much higher CO2 levels than we have now, and plants (among other things) were just fine. The claim of global warming advocates (or at least, those who don’t think that The Day After Tomorrow was a documentary), however, is not so much that “the planet” would be destroyed by more CO2, but that it would become very inconvenient for us, with oceans rising, weather patterns changing, etc. Since it’s hard to move large populations from where they are without a lot of suffering and death, it is pretty clearly true that if they are right in their predictions about the climate (which I think is open to question) the results would be bad for civilization, even though plans would very happily grow over the abandoned cities.

    I do share a certain annoyance with calling CO2 a “pollutant”, since it’s a perfectly natural gas which appears as part of our atmosphere. But then, “a weed” is simply a plant growing where you don’t want it to.

  • John Henry and Darwin,

    I’m at a loss of words of where you two are coming from.

    So you’re both telling me that global warming alarmists have never said that a rise in CO2 levels will destroy the environment?

    This whole time that rising ocean levels, plants dyeing, changing weather patterns, etc. is not what they’ve been saying?

  • John Henry and Darwin,

    I will admit that I failed to explain the sarcastic elements of my post, for that I’ll take the blame.

    By mocking them I sowed more confusion.

    And when I have to explain a post then I’ll be the first one to admit that the message wasn’t conveyed properly.

    With that thanks for being patient in explaining to me your confusion.


  • My recollection certainly is that the global warmist claim is that among the ill effects of increased CO2 concentration is deforestation and crop loss. (Gore famously Photoshopped a NASA photo of Earth to suggest this in one of his books.) The truth is, as the video demonstrates, increased CO2 levels enhance plant growth.

    But to me, the real lesson of the video should be the role of planetary vegetation in the dynamic control of O2 and CO2 levels, which global warmists totally ignore. As CO2 levels rise (and O2 proportionately declines), plants consume more CO2 and produce more O2, helping to restore balance.

    And not just any balance, but one perfectly suited to the need of humanity. Many of our global warmist friends think that’s just an accident.

  • “So you’re both telling me that global warming alarmists have never said that a rise in CO2 levels will destroy the environment?”

    Got it.

    I confess: I never read Al Gore’s book. I had a 200-level college course in climatology, and I follow the science on the issue, less the politics.

    More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases heat retention near the surface. Most climatologists are less worried today about rising sea levels–and that’s enough of a problem for obvious reasons–than the planet hitting a tipping point where climate will change rather quickly. The scenarios include a shift in the monsoon climates of South Asia, the Gulf Stream redirecting toward Africa because of increased freshwater melt in the North Atlantic.

    The environment will survive most anything we can throw at it. The survival question would be rioting hundreds of millions in India, SE Asia, and Indonesia. Or Europe getting Canada-style winters. Plant and animal life can and will adapt to change. Since you’re very concerned about the economics of it all, let me remind you that in the long haul, western economics and politics are very, very fragile compared to the long-term survival of the planet.

    By the way, I don’t know of any environmentalist that took those polar bear and penguin images any more seriously than as an icon. Sorry if others thought they were any more than that.

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  • I am also familiar with the CO2 will destroy the environment and kill plants. Vaguely remember writing several replies about it four-five years ago.

  • Tom, Foxfier, et al.,

    Thanks, I’m sure I’m not the only one that read it that way as well!

  • Symbol,

    Fake but accurate?

  • Phillip,


    It’s amazing how we are accused of believing in myths, yet progressives and their Catholic enablers continue to propagate falsehoods.

  • Symbols to elicit an emotional connection?

    Of course they were; same way PETA use to put out those stupid comics like “Daddy tortures fish to death” and “mommy boils bunnies” or whatever.

    It’s admitted openly, now?

    (In defense of the lay folks that believed CO2 was killing plants, I do know that up by Mammoth Lake that’s happening– trees don’t like volcanic gas hitting their roots.)

    I personally really, really hope we’re causing global warming, since the reconstructed pattern of ice ages says we should be hitting one about now. Talk about a difficult change to adapt to!

  • “It’s amazing how we are accused of believing in myths, yet progressives and their Catholic enablers continue to propagate falsehoods.”

    It’s one thing to literally believe in a myth, and another to utilize mythology properly as either moral teaching or cultural rooting.

    The polar bear/penguin on an ice raft isn’t too much different from the Stupak poster Donald puts up now and then. It’s meant to elicit an emotional reaction from the base. It’s political PR. No more, no less.

    Some climate change deniers refuse to be swayed by either logic or emotion. They cling to their own views of and desire for a static world, in which nothing ever changes, and one’s environment never changes.

    Well, the universe doesn’t work that way. The planet’s climate is changing. Once that was denied. But even today we see that carbon dioxide levels are rising faster than plants can absorb it.

    If you’re interested in the serious science on climate change, there are places to go. If you want to keep it political, you’re also free to do that. But don’t complain that you’ve been left behind in the serious debate.

    Last word, gents: all yours.

  • Todd,
    You are wrong. The Stupak poster is obvious propaganda. The bear/penguin photos and videos are contrived to be deliberately misleading. Most people assume they are true and actual events captured on camera or video, and that is exactly what is intended. That is not comparable to the Stupak poster.

  • To be fair, the polar bear was actually captured, as I remember…it’s just usually used as evidence that polar bears are dying off, and they’re…um… not.

    Some climate change deniers refuse to be swayed by either logic or emotion. They cling to their own views of and desire for a static world, in which nothing ever changes, and one’s environment never changes.

    Now this is ironic, given that the folks who claim climate change is going on assume a static world is good (without evidence) and that the evidence for real climate change is somewhat shaky.

  • Todd,

    Here’s some pretty hard science with this conclusion:

    “Although carbon dioxide is capable of raising the Earth’s overall temperature, the IPCC’s predictions of catastrophic temperature increases produced by carbon dioxide have been challenged by many scientists. In particular, the importance of water vapor is frequently overlooked by environmental activists and by the media. The above discussion shows that the large temperature increases predicted by many computer models are unphysical and inconsistent with results obtained by basic measurements. Skepticism is warranted when considering computer-generated projections of global warming that cannot even predict existing observations.”

    Full link here:


    Now people can and do discuss the merits of this article. Bottom line though, reasonable people do disagree.

  • “The polar bear/penguin on an ice raft isn’t too much different from the Stupak poster Donald puts up now and then. It’s meant to elicit an emotional reaction from the base. It’s political PR. No more, no less.”

    Actually Todd it’s giving Stupak the benefit of the doubt, by assuming that he actually believed that the meaningless executive order that he got from Obama meant anything. I could put up a poster of Stupak saying “Liar”, but I never like going beyond the evidence before me.

  • Todd and everyone else,

    The polar bears are actually having a population boom that they are now moving into areas that have never seen polar bears in centuries and interbreeding with grizzly bears.

    As one polar bear biologist was quoted as saying, “There aren’t just a few more bears. There are a hell of a lot more bears,”


  • Stupid bears! They don’t know they’re supposed to be dying.

  • “polar bears in centuries and interbreeding with grizzly bears”

    Time for a mind scrub to erase that particular image!

  • Echo Phillip

    More CO2 means more heat potentially (not that mankind is doing all that much), means more evaporation/transpiration (which reduces the heat energy of the ocean/land/plant by kcal/g water and reduces the water level but we get more rainfall and snowfall which returns water to the lands and oceans and ice to the poles), means better plant growth which converts CO2 into Carbon compounds (wood, stem, leaf, fruit, nuts, food, wheat, corn) which reduces CO2 in atmosphere and increases O2. So we’re going to get woozy from all the higher O2! And need more kids to eat all this food!

    Entropy is positive – AHHHHH!

    So God had a plan – and earth’s ecosystem isn’t so man-dependent as our narcissistics want to believe. Do you really think He would trust earth to our free will? We’re weak idiots. I have dominion over my children and wife – as long as I concur with practically everything they do! And Thank God for the 4th Commandment to help me with that family dominion think too. As God Designed.

Top 15 Misconceptions About Catholics

Tuesday, April 20, AD 2010

Karen L. Anderson of Online Christian Colleges wrote a timely piece on the many myths, misconceptions, and outlandish lies told about Catholics:

With nearly one quarter of the U.S. population Catholic, they make up a huge part of society and the largest Christian denomination. Yet with so many, how is it they are so misunderstood and characterized by films, television shows, etc.?

Failing to do the proper research explains a great deal of it. With a simple search on the internet, we were able to find many interesting answers to the top 15 misconceptions about Catholics. They are both from official sources, reporters, academics, and more.

1. Priests Are More Likely to be Pedophiles : The most dangerous of all myths concerning Catholics, this can lead to many negative and unfair consequences. Recently in a book entitled Pedophiles and Priests, an extensive study – and the only one of it kind – took a look at the pedophile statistics of over 2,200 priests. It found that only 0.3% of all Catholic clergy are involved in any pedophilia matter, guilty or not. This number is actually very low and according to Counter Pedophilia Investigative Unit, who reports that children are more likely to be victims of pedophile activity at school with nearly 14% of students estimated to be molested by a member of the school staff.

2. Everything in “The Da Vinci Code” is True : Even author Dan Brown himself doesn’t agree to this. In this free film from Hulu, Mr. Brown admits to writing his novel as a step in his own spiritual journey. As he confesses to being swayed by his extensive research, the experts behind the research weigh in with facts. Simon Cox is the author of “Cracking the Da Vinci Code” and tells more about his work in this documentary. If you don’t have 90 minutes to view it, you can get the real story behind Opus Dei, the villain organization in the novel, from ABC news.

3. Women Are Oppressed in the Catholic Church : Although women are still not eligible to become priests as explained by Pope John Paul II, they were still acknowledged as valued members of the church as far back as 1947. In a Papal Directive from then Pope Pius XII, he expressed his admiration of women “to take part in the battle: you have not sought to do so, but courageously you accept your new duties; not as resigned victims nor merely in a defensive spirit.” Also, in 2004 then Pope John Paul II historically appointed two women theologians to the International Theological Commission and named another as the president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

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12 Responses to Top 15 Misconceptions About Catholics

  • The dificulty in the myths in the article are not the fact that they are misconceptions of the Roman Catholic Church. The turly sad part is that many so called members of our Church add to these misconception by 2 basic means. They do not correct these myths when asked by friends or others who are inquisitive either from lack of knowlegde or feeling this is not their right to do so and the second most problem and perhaps the worse is that many so called “catholics” beleve the crticisms are correct.

  • I would also say 9, 12 and 15 are odd; never heard them before….

  • #1: The book looks only at data since 1982. As we’ve seen in another recent TAC post, we have far more incidents prior to 1982. The John Jay study, which goes farther back, concludes that a shocking 4% of priests were reported to have sexually abused children. The second link you posted says that 1-5% of teachers sexually abuse or harass children. Harassment is more common than sexual abuse so the prevalence among teachers is probably less than 2.5%. But then you have to take out the women teachers who are must less likely to sexually abuse students. It also might to useful to compare the prevalence of sexual abuse of boys only. Priests are more likely to abuse boys and teachers are more likely to abuse girls. Bottom line is that you need more data but it’s certain that among pedophiles, priests are outliers. Even if abuse isn’t any more prevalent, why boys instead of girls? I think it’s entirely possible that the priesthood attracts sexual deviants.

    #3: And some black slaves were allowed to sleep in the master’s house. Crumbs do not disprove oppression. If we’re going to completely honest with ourselves, I think we have to admit that the Church denies women opportunities that are open to men. We don’t have to get all defensive over that fact. Christ denied women opportunities that he gave to men.

    #5: The Immaculate Conception refers to the conception of Mary, not Jesus.

    #8: I’m unclear of what you’re saying here. Catholics were once required to abstain from meat on ALL Fridays. Catholics must still abstain from meat on Fridays of Lent but in the US, bishops allow Catholics to give up something else on Fridays outside of Lent.

  • RR,

    #3. She never claimed nor said that.

    #5. I corrected her post, thanks!

  • You can always count on restrained radical to bash the Church for no apparent reason.

  • Is the reason not apparent? I’m a closet Episcopalian. Which reminds me… there’s an interesting piece in the New Yorker on the debate over women bishops in the Church of England. Full article requires a subscription. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/04/26/100426fa_fact_kramer

  • I think that a lot of these misconceptions come from different places. The Dan Brown stuff is probably more common among evangelicals and conspiracy-types, two crowds that probably don’t have much in common. Ditto for the claim of oppressing women, which would come from feminist atheists and faithful Protestants.

    The supposed conflict between faith and reason in #4 is the one that irritates me the most. It’s so patently wrong! I attended a lecture on data visualization (of all things) last week, and the instructor went off on a tangent about the persecution of Galileo. For whatever reason, we get tarred by the same brush as evangelicals about science, then tarred by evangelicals about Mary. Oh well. As Chesterton said, if you’re being accused by everyone of every possible error, you may be perfectly correct.

  • Yes Pinky, Chesteron really had a unigue use of words and as far as 9 is concerned ,they probably never heard of Hilaire Belloc..”wherever the Catholic sun doth shine there’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I always found it so Benedicamus Domino “

  • Number 9 was news to me. Wine is even part of our sacramental life, unlike those denominations that use grape juice. I’ve never heard a stereotype about a sober Irishman, a teetotaling Italian, or a Mexican refusing beer, so I don’t know where the myth of Catholic avoidance of alcohol comes from.

  • Too often Catholics get lumped together with puritan Protestant Creationists. And too often it’s Catholics who do it.

    Catholics can drink, smoke, believe in evolution, dinosaurs, the big bang, aliens, believe that you can be born gay, reject intelligent design, and celebrate Halloween.

    Here’s a couple others:

    Catholics are anti-sex or Catholics believe sex is purely for pro-creation.

    Catholics believe being gay is a sin.

  • Catholics believe engaging in homosexual sex is a sin. Whether people are in their “being” gay, that is that it is genetically determined, is far from scientifically proven. But if so, it would be like alcoholism. There would be a genetic predispostion to sin which in itself would not be sinful but which, through grace, could be overcome.

Programmer Smack Talk and Global Warming

Wednesday, November 25, AD 2009

I’ve been amused to watch some of the arguments going on out in the blogsphere as discussion of the hacking of the climate change servers moves off into a discussion of the quality of the code being used by climate researchers to model global warming.


Commenter One: Much of the code in the academic world tends to be written by grad students that have taken a class in programming and get told to write it.

Commenter Two: This is totally untrue. I never took a class in programming before writing my crappy undocumented code.

There’s a certain wry self recognition for me here as well: I’ve never taken a class in programming, and I build mostly undocumented models to predict revenue and profits at specific price points based on past data. My results are directionally correct when you look at whole categories of products, but can be wildly off when projecting specific instances. (I try to make this clear to those who use my data, but people are always looking for certainty in life, even if they have to imagine it.)

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7 Responses to Programmer Smack Talk and Global Warming

  • Amazing isn’t it to consider that it took a bunch of hackers to bring this all to light. Obviously peer review, government agencies funding the research, private entities funding the research and the media have all done a completely miserable job in checking out the claims made by people pushing an agenda that would totally remake our economic system.

  • I think this is really the most interesting angle of the story. I could have predicted most of the other parts without the disclosures. But I’d always assumed that the models themselves were the best available (isn’t there adequate funding for that sort of thing?).

  • Waste enough profit margin and your company goes out of business
    Get enough CO2 in your atmostphere, and you get to enjoy the kind of climate that Venus
    Co2 is a building block for life on this planet. I heard a quote that when scientist look out into the universe that 96% are not like the planet earth. So to take Venus as an end could not be true.

  • Well, actually, it’s more than that. There are no other planets known to be like Earth.

    And to be clear, it’s actually not possible for us to end up with an atmosphere like that of Venus. Venus’ atmosphere is about ninety times thicker than ours, and it’s make up of >90% CO2. Earth’s atmosphere is 0.04% CO2. We could burn all the fossil fuels on the planet, and we’d still never have anything like a Venusian atmosphere.

    However, Venus is a good example of how CO2 acts very successfully as greenhouse gas: the surface temperature is a steady 850 degrees F, significantly hotter than Mercury, which is much closer to the sun.

  • Exposing the CRU as Nixonite operators may not do the trick. In Copenhagen they will operate according the left’s favourite heurestic: fake but accurate.

  • Ivan,

    Isn’t that most liberal’s modus operandi?

    They make stuff up and then ignore everything else?

  • Tito, if I recall correctly most of the Watergate operatives were contrite about it in public if not in 1973 then at least later. The problem with the modern operators is that they are so brazen and self-righteous. Accusing the sceptics of everything from being in the pay of Exxon to comparing them with Holocaust deniers, while they themselves draw huge amounts of funding and have no compunction about spiking the academic careers and prospects of their opponents. I am glad to be living through this time, when all the clay gods are tumbling down.

Why I Don't Believe in a Young Earth

Monday, November 23, AD 2009

Some time ago, someone asked me:

Suppose–just for the sake of argument–you were convinced that an honest reading of the Tradition of the Church required you to believe that the initial chapters of Genesis were historical. Would you be able to do it, or do you think that Darwinism is so irrefutable that you would have to abandon or radically redetermine your faith?

I think this is the question that worries a lot of Catholics without a strong scientific background as they watch the evolution/creationist/ID debate on Catholic blogs. Here are these otherwise solid Christians taking common cause with the likes of the Richard Dawkins against their brother Christians. What gives? Are these folks really Christian? Do they care more about science than about faith? Do they only accept Catholicism so long as it agrees with science?

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24 Responses to Why I Don't Believe in a Young Earth

  • IMO it’s quite easy for Catholics to reconcile science and the Bible. My trust and understanding of the Bible relies entirely on the Church. My faith in the Bible comes from Christ and His Church. I accept Genesis as sacred scripture because it’s part of the deposit of Scripture that served God Incarnate, but mostly because the Church Christ established and gave authority to said this is Scripture. If we’re going to accept the Church’s authority on that, it’s equally as important to understand it as the Church understands it.

  • I studed geology and ended up a young-Earther myself. The geologcal evidence for a young earth was too great to ignore. But this hasn’t threatened or altared my Faith. I don’t see science and religion as opposed to each other or as each other’s bed fellows because science is a ***tool*** that is used to understand Creation. It’s one of **many** tools that we use to understand Creation and the meaning of life etc. People keep elevating science far above what it is meant to be and that’s when the trouble starts.

  • Ooops, hit submit to fast. I was going to end with:

    It’s like trying to elevate the tech pub (Science) to the same level of importance and greatness as the actual helicopter (Creation)… (I was a helicopter mechanic in the Navy.)

  • St. Augustine wrestled with this same question when he was a Manichean. The Manicheans taught all sorts of doctrines that are quite familiar in New Age thought today and could easily be revived as a whole, and astrology was a big one. Despite what people mistakenly think today, back then astronomers had pretty good methods of observing and recording the heavens. St. Augustine was no dummy, and he noticed that astrology did not account for either how people’s lives worked out or how the heavenly bodies actually behaved. For a while he hoped that when he finally got to talk to the really smart Manicheans, they would be able to explain why this was so. But when he discovered that they couldn’t, he had to give up the Manicheans because he saw quite rightly that one simply could not be expected to believe what was obviously not true.

    It has always been a great comfort to me that one of the smartest men who ever lived stood up for that obvious principle long, long ago, and became one of the greatest Catholics of all time. He would not expect anyone to remain a Catholic if it required people to believe things about the physical world that are obviously not true. I think that he knew a lot more about how to read and understand the Bible than I do and he did not consider Genesis to be a treatise in natural history. People who do simply do not understand how to read the Bible. They are doing the best they can to reconcile faith and reason, and because they can’t do so with their mistaken way of reading the Bible but they intuitively realize that faith must inform reason, they choose to disregard what reason would otherwise show. The solution is of course to get a better handle on Scripture and reason.

  • Your post kind of put God in a small box.

    After all, isn’t anything possible with God?

  • In all truth it doesn’t matter if the earth is 10,000 years old or 4.5 billion. What difference does it make if the universe is 1.5 million years old or 15 billion? God stated, “I AM WHO AM”. He is now! Not yesterday and not tomorrow. RIGHT NOW! So we can conclude that time is a construct for our benefit and if called to Judgment right now do you think Christ is going to ask you how old you think the earth is?

    Our faith in Christ does not require a scientific understanding. Most Christians throughour history were ignorant and illiterate. Clearly salvation does no hinge on knowledge of the world or the universe. Know Christ – that’s it.

    Now He also made us curious and I beleive this to be true even before the Fall. It is what we are curious about that needs to be corrected, not the curiousity itself. He also gave us dominion over Creation, which we know includes all we can see no matter how many billions of light years afar it is.

    I find it difficult to square the evidence (I am not a scientist) with a 10,000 year old earth. That doesn’t mean we won’t find evidence to the contrary and either way it will not change the most pivotal point in all of histroy, Our Lord’s sacrifice on the Cross.

    I don’t think God would deceive us into thinking the universe is 15 billion years old as some kind of trick. I also don’t think it matters to Him if it is 1.5 million years old or 150 trillion. He is very patient – we are not.

    I alos think that in order for our temporal reality to unfold and be reasonably perceptible by our limited minds it has to be 15 bil years old because our Sun and our location in the Milky Way would not be logically possible in a shorter period of time. Creation itself is a miracle; however, it unfolds in a natural and rational manner for us to understand which is totlaly necessary for us to even notice miracles.

    If God placed us right here in this vast universe suddenly, without context we would have to accept that as a miracle and miracles would then be facts and not mysteries. If miracles are not mysteries then they are not special and if not special then the Incarnation is nothing more spectacular than a lepton.

    Where’s the adventure in that?

  • Tito,

    To say that the earth is 6,000 years old is to make God a liar. Not a good idea.

  • BA,

    I wasn’t saying or agreeing with the young earth theory, more with some of the scientific propositions that were offered.

    God is capable of creating the speed of light at approximately 186,282 miles per second, instantaneously.

  • Good post, Darwin. If you get a chance, check out the blog of David Heddle. He’s a physicist–and a Reformed Christian who takes the same tack. One of his themes is that if the Earth is indeed 10K years old, God is attempting to deceive us through His act of Creation. Which, lest we forget, is a form of revelation itself.

    I think the distinction between the miraculous and the idea the universe is 10000 years old is this:

    (1) the first inverts/suspends/makes an exception for the natural law/order, (2) the second suggests there is no such thing as natural law or a natural order. Or certainly no way to discern the latter.

  • Good post, Darwin. If you get a chance, check out the blog of David Heddle. He’s a physicist–and a Reformed Christian who takes the same tack. One of his themes is that if the Earth is indeed 10K years old, God is attempting to deceive us through His act of Creation. Which, lest we forget, is a form of revelation in and of itself.

    I think the distinction between the miraculous and the idea the universe is 10000 years old is this:

    (1) the first inverts/suspends/makes an exception for the natural law/order, (2) the second suggests there is no such thing as natural law or a natural order. Or certainly no way to discern the latter.

  • Sorry about the double post!

  • Dale,

    No problem.

    I need to read most things twice in order to ingest the information, reminds me of my college days.

  • Tito,

    It is possible that God created the world five minutes ago, complete with fake memories of the past and fake evidence indicating that the world was much older. He could do that, but the question is why He would do so, and whether believing this is consistent with what we know about His nature.

    Similarly, God could have created the world 6,000 years ago, but planted evidence to make it look like the world was much older. He could do that, but it’s hard to see why He would do that, nor is it clear that His doing so would be consistent with what we know about His nature.

  • Tito,

    Perhaps this will help clarify a bit: I certainly don’t mean to say that God _could not have_ created the world ten thousand years ago. God, in his infinite power, could create the world in any way that he chose. Though of course, God being eternal, I think there’s merit to the Augustinian idea that God exists in a single, eternal present. And so from a God’s-eye view, this moment is one with the incarnation, and is one with Adam and Eve’s fall, and is one with both the instant of creation and the end of the world. The stretch of billions of years which to us looks like the long and gradual development of the universe is in God’s mind an instant of ever-flowering creation — and it’s only our view, trapped within the temporal timeline of creation, that makes it look like “God sat around for a few billion years before single celled life even developed”, as some complain.

    So my point is not that God could not have created the world another way than he did, or indeed tha we are definitely right in our current understanding of the physical history of the world (in that I’m sure there are a lot of things we don’t know or are wrong about) but rather that I have a lot of trouble with the idea of that all the indications that the world is ancient (from seeing objects millions of light years away, to geological strata, to continental drift, to radioactive decay, to the apparent history of the other planets, to fossils, to DNA, etc.) are misleading or explained by processes totally different from what we see acting in the world today (and in some cases, incompatible with the physical laws on the universe as we currently observe them.)

    I certainly don’t think our current understanding of the universe is perfect, but I do think that as rational creatures we’re called to use our reason as best we can — and so I don’t think it would be in keeping with our calling as rational creatures made in the image of God to refuse to use our powers of reason and our senses to understand creation as best we can (and accept the conclusions of that study) just as it Augusine’s day it was his calling to understand the world through the best philosophical and scientific insights of his day, and Aquinas in his.

  • Darwin,

    Thanks for that articulate response.

    I don’t have much to offer to this intriguing debate which I have been enjoying reading (and learning a lot).

    But where I stand is that I do believe we are descended from Adam and Eve. Hence why I find it difficult to digest that we are descended from monkeys if we are made in His image. Not rhetorically or symbolically, but literally. We are made in His image.

    Not there isn’t anything wrong with eating bananas and hanging out on tree limbs, but we are special and are God’s most special creation.

    That’s my lens that I use.

    Sometimes a simple understanding can lead to the Truth.

  • Coffee Catholic writes Monday, November 23, 2009
    “I studied geology and ended up a young-Earther myself. The geological evidence for a young earth was too great to ignore”.

    In a nutshell. It is a question of scientific evidence. The Bible has nothing to do with the matter except for the non-scientific question of creation.

    Let geologists present the facts and we can go from there. The meaning of “day” and the order of creation do not affect the geological facts.

  • Darwin’s point was the same point as Pope Benedict in his Regensburg lecture — God has given us reason, which, though limited, is not to be dismissed for something sub-rational. God’s qualities, as revealed through revelation, indicate a God who does not contradict himself; reason of course is used to determine this — but if we say “don’t limit God,” then I guess we can all end up in the nominalist-voluntarist dream of God who is not limited, even by his own self-limitations.

  • Henry beat me to it… I thought of Regensburg as well.

    Tito, we are made in the image of God because we have an intellect, free will, and are made for relationship; God could’ve taken a pre-existing creature an infused these things (parts of a rational soul) at any time.

  • Interesting post, Darwin – and also interesting commenting.

    Chris, your point concerning the fact that the “image of God” is a good one. Are we to understand that being made in the “image of God” is describing a picture of a human? It seems clear to me that the human form as an image cannot be what is referenced in what we read in the Bible. What of people who are born with missing limbs or other deformities? To the outside observer, some of these people may not even appear human, yet we would not say that they lack the “image of God” we describe. Moreover, our bodies can be changed virtually at will by accident or design, yet I would argue that the image God placed in us is left unchanged, for God Himself is the only one with that power.

    For these reasons I have always equated our creation in the “image of God” to be the fact that we are given a soul that is indeed in the image of God.

  • No more they do.

    I guess I’m a bit confused as to what you mean by that in this context, though.

    As a Catholic who thinks that evolution is basically correct in regards to the history of life on Earth, I would say that at some point in history (when I would not presume to say) God infused our ancestors with immortal and rational souls, making them truly “human” in the sense that we mean the term (something which I would say is not reliant on a biological form, but rather on our nature). Not until that infusion of souls into what were, before that, bipedal and rather clever primates, did we become truly persons, truly made in the image of God, etc.

    At whatever point that divine spark entered humanity, we were permanently and irreparably set apart from the rest of the animal world, because we were no longer strictly animal, but rather both animal and rational, both animal and divine.

  • Darwin,

    Thanks for the explanation.

    I’m going to hang out in my neighbors tree house and eat some banana’s now.

  • “Gorillas don’t have souls.”

    Where in the world do you get this kind of nonsense from? By the fact that they are animals, they have souls — indeed they have a specific kind of soul which transcends the souls of plants (according to classical definitions). Catholic teaching has always said this.

  • Animals do not have rational souls. They have a vegetative and a sensitive soul that perish when they do. A good summary of Catholic teaching on this subject is linked below.


Ardi: Looking at the Latest Missing Link

Thursday, October 8, AD 2009

Virtually everyone with any access to news last week probably heard about Ardi, a 4.4 million year old skeleton of a human ancestor found in Ethiopia. However, given the tendency of the mainstream media to cover every ancient primate discovery as “Scientists discover ‘missing link’ which ‘changes everything'” those who don’t track these things can easily become confused, or even rather suspicious of the whole thing.
So, what is Ardi, and why is this discovery a big deal?

Ardi is a 45% complete skeleton of a female individual from the hominin species Ardipithecus ramidus. This is not a new species: we’ve known about Ardipithecus ramidus since a small number of bones from a member of the species was found in 1992 and formally described and named in 1994. Living about 4.4 million years ago, Ardipithecus ramidus is also not the oldest human ancestor known or a common ancestor between humans and our apparent closest genetic living relatives, the chimps. However, the excitement about Ardi (found along with less complete remains of a number of other Ardipithecus ramidus individuals and also fossil evidence about the plants and animals present in their environment) is not just hype. It is a very important find. Here’s why:

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12 Responses to Ardi: Looking at the Latest Missing Link

  • Another point that needs to be made is the highly inaccurate art of dating these fossils. Combine that with the fact that you can never find one group of geologists and/or geneticists to even agree with either anthropologists and/or archeologists.

    For example, Lucy’s bones were found within a 32 square mile radius. What kind of science is that?

    I can find a chupacabra within a smaller radius just by piecing together dog and chicken bones together.

    Just my two cents worth.

    Oh, and don’t get me started on carbon-14 dating.

  • It is almost like someone very, very intelligent wrote the DNA code that created human animal bodies (like a single pair) for a human soul to be infused into and in that wisdom allowed nature to take its course and develop cousins who only have a corporeal soul to animate them. Hmm. Makes you think.

    Nah, that sounds like a fantasy. It is obvious that a random, infinite universe accidentally manufactured life and that undirected life evolved from amino acids into human beings who other than being smarter are no different than other animals. That makes much more sense. Randomness, yeah, thats far more rational so it must be scientific.

    Thanks for posting that. I was curious and I think there is a show on Discovery or National Geographic. It piqued my interest but I dread watching becuase they paint evolution infallible and prove the Law of Evolution before they can even postulate something probable for the origin of life. I’m lazy and it takes too much effort to pull the facts out from their nihilistic fantasy.

    It irks me being caught between neo-pagan ‘scientists’ and young-earth creationists. As if God isn’t wise enough to develop evolution and wait 15 billion years for Adam and Eve.

    Do you ever feel insane becuase ‘intellectuals’ think you are a superstitious troglodyte and fundementalists/evangelicals think your an apostate?

  • Do you ever feel insane becuase ‘intellectuals’ think you are a superstitious troglodyte…

    In the Words of The Great Picard:

    “Horrifying… Dr. Barron, your report describes how rational these people are. Millennia ago, they abandoned their belief in the supernatural. Now you are asking me to sabotage that achievement, to send them back into the dark ages of superstition and ignorance and fear? No!

  • Picard has 3 bad Star Trek movies to his name and 1 good one. Kirk is good even in bad Star Trek movies. 🙂

    Fascinating read. Thanks for the post, Darwin.

    I’m happy to discover from the above drawing that it appears the makeup in the original Planet of the Apes may actually not be that unrealistic.

  • Actually, the Planet of the Apes movies (as opposed to its incredibly inferior reincarnated version on TV) were quite thought-provoking.

    Just one of many interesting questions it raised: would it be considered ethical to kill Hitler when he was a child knowing full well the horrors that would inevitably result if he were allowed to live?

  • Thanx fer the links! You’ve saved me some trawling!

  • e,

    I’ll admit it’s been a while since I’ve seen the Planet of the Apes movies, but I don’t recall there being anything in there about killing Hitler as a child. Which of the films are you thinking of?

  • Tito,

    The Hadar formation where Lucy and the remains of a number of other australopithecus individuals were found is pretty large, but the accounts I’ve read of the find have all indicated that all the bones from the individual nicknamed Lucy (the one 40% complete skeleton) were found in close proximity in a single gully.

    It’s true there are certain controversies regarding dating, but honestly you’re not generally going to see huge reversals on these thing. At this point, stratography-based dating is pretty good in most areas.

    American Knight,

    Well, I’d want to point out that “random” in the scientific sense doesn’t make a philosophical or theological statement as to whether something is intended or created by God, it just has to do with whether it’s predictable. So God’s providence and “random” evolution are not necessarily at all contradictory.

    But yes, it does get really old on the one hand trying to explain scientific findings to other Christians, and on the other hand having a bunch of New Atheist scientists in the background howling that science has disproved God.

    I suppose the bright side is that we’ve been dealing with this kind of silliness ever since St. Augustine’s time. He talks about the same conflict in Confessions, and Galileo quoted him in his letter to the Grand Duchess Christina.

  • I believe it was the last one, if not, the one before the final one.

    From what I vaguely recall, they were attempting to make a decision whether or not to kill the offspring of the two parent apes, who was said to be the very one that would bring about the future world where apes were rulers of men.

    It was, I believe, some general who attempted to make the analogy of whether it would be right to kill Hitler if he were only a child.

    Obviously, he was endeavouring to draw a parallel between the would-be leader of the future world of Apes who would conquer man to Hitler.

  • Blackadder:

    Just found it!!

    It was “Escape from the Planet of the Apes”:

    *** (out of four)
    DVD Grades: Image A Sound B

    Arguably the most dated franchise entry (in terms of production values), Don Taylor’s Escape soars regardless, thanks to fine performances, the touching couplehood of Cornelius and Zira (McDowall (returning to the role after his absence in Beneath) and Hunter disappear into the make-up more than ever before), and a thought-provoking climax that carries genuine tragic weight.

    Whaddya know, another downed spacecraft! Cornelius and Zira exit Taylor’s repaired vessel only to find themselves in present day America. Initially the toast of champagne society, the media quickly turns on them when details of Taylor’s fate surface through interrogations.

    A shady Washington official (Eric Braeden) moves to sacrifice Zira’s child upon birth, arguing the Hitler clause (as in, knowing what you know, would you murder Hitler in his youth?), a predication that masks inter-species racism–er, specism?

    SOURCE: http://www.filmfreakcentral.net/dvdreviews/plotaevolution.htm

  • DarwinCatholic:

    But yes, it does get really old on the one hand trying to explain scientific findings to other Christians, and on the other hand having a bunch of New Atheist scientists in the background howling that science has disproved God.

    When confronting Protestants (in my own immediate experience, Evangelicals in particular), it would be prudent to simply take the Catholic Church’s stand concerning Faith & Reason and not yield to their cries of Apostasy simply because we Catholics are broadminded enough to consider the fact that scientific truth need not contradict Truth itself.

    A similar event in our historical past should prove a very apt & cautionary tale:

    The heliocentric model posited a moving Earth orbiting the sun just as the other planets did.

    Although viciously attacked by Protestants for its alleged opposition to Holy Scripture, the Copernican system was subject to no formal Catholic censure until the Galileo case… (p 69)

    The Church, sensitive to Protestant charges that Catholics did not pay proper regard to the Bible, hesitated to permit the suggestion that the literal meaning of Scripture – which at times appeared to imply a motionless Earth – should be set aside in order to accomodate an unproven scientific theory. (p 72)

    SOURCE: http://books.google.com/books?id=zVDR2ZePzvUC&pg=PA69&lpg=PA69&dq=thomas+woods+how+the+catholic+church+built+western+civilization+galileo+protestant&source=bl&ots=JeHccIr-iK&sig=4DG0lgRSw-xJntSnaxA4usYc3EI&hl=en&ei=MW_OSve1G5fymwOipYX9Ag&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CA0Q6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=&f=false

The Prudential Science

Wednesday, August 5, AD 2009

I ran into this quote going through an old EconTalk the other day, and thought it interesting:

As economists, we’re specialists in prudence only.

That, as you say, is not what Adam Smith recommended. Not at all. I and a number of other people would like to get back to a Smithian economics, which although it didn’t throw away the very numerous insights that we get from thinking of people as maximizers — maximizers in this narrow sense — acknowledges that temperence and justice and love and courage and hope and faith can change the way the economy works.

UIC Economist, Deirdre McCloskey

I’m trying to decide if I agree with it or not. I would certainly agree that economics basically only looks at certain prudential concerns, it doesn’t consider humanistic or theological questions. However, I’m not sure if economics should acknowledge those concerns, or if it is more the case that economists (and others dealing with the field) should clearly acknowledge that there is much more to any question than the question of what is most economically efficient.

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10 Responses to The Prudential Science

  • Do one thing well or many things badly. That’s often the choice we face.

  • I’m not clear that there is a need for (or indeed that there can be) a “Christian Economics” so much as that economists should be Christian.

    My feelings exactly.

  • I think you have answered your own post rather effectively when you bring it full circle to the idea of economists as Christians and not the other way around.

    The very concept of a dichotomy in science between a Christian and secular reality is absurd. The pursuit and measure of science has to be the preciseness with which it conforms to and describes the reality which it seeks to know. And as a corollary, the scientifc accuracy of knowledge is not a function of theology.

    It is self-serving and disingenious of McClowsky to talk about prudence without recognizing that prudence, like any virtue, depends on the underlying theological/philosophical base from which it takes meaning.

  • In what respect can “Economics” be called a science? In physics and the physical sciences, things are discussed in terms of measure, weight and number: the whole of related physical things which is the universe.

    Newman called science an organized body of knowledge. But then one must agree rigidly on terms.

    What can economics do with, for example, taste [about which there is no disputing] when it comes to eating cake, or fashion in clothes. What can it do about the weather, which is so important in agriculture? J.K. Galbraith, son of a farmer, answered simply: there is no real economics of agriculture, as the Soviets discovered.

  • Gabriel,

    It is scientific inasmuch as a disorganized approach to the economy is not helpful.

  • It is science in terms of that which be evaluated based on a cause and effect relationship.

  • # j. christian Says Wednesday, August 5, 2009 A.D. at 5:45 pm
    “It is scientific inasmuch as a disorganized approach to the economy is not helpful”.

    # PDiddy Says Wednesday, August 5, 2009 A.D. at 6:38 pm
    “It is science in terms of that which be evaluated based on a cause and effect relationship”.

    These are not much by way of definition of the nature of science. The first is merely negative. The second raises the issue of whether cause and effect can be clearly and rigidly defined.
    And then there is the question of defining what is meant by”the economy”. What does it include, what exclude?

  • Just out of curiosity, Gabriel, how much have you studied economics? It’s hard to tell what you’re getting at it without knowing where you’re coming from.

  • j. christian Says Thursday, August 6, 2009 A.D. at 12:25 pm
    “Just out of curiosity, Gabriel, how much have you studied economics? It’s hard to tell what you’re getting at it without knowing where you’re coming from”.

    When someone defines economics, I will learn how much I have studied. [Would Keynes’ GENERAL THEORY count?].

    I note, if you will forgive my saying, that you, perhaps unconsciously, resort to an attempt to reduce the discussion to a personal matter. It seems to be an increasing malady these days. “That’s just your opinion”. It is like the malignant studies of “the influence of XYZ on ABC”.

    I am reminded of our schoolyard insult “Your mother wears army boots”.

  • DC, regarding your comment on science more generally, I’d propose that one of the “meta” problems of contemporary science is the methodological denial of formal & final causality (to the detriment of science). While natural science may not be able to formally address those forms of causality, it ought not proceed as if they did not exist.