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Posts Tagged ‘Human

The folly in the quest for perfection!

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Lee Smolin at Harvard University
Image via Wikipedia

Lee Smolin is a world class scientist and does his science in Canada. He recently reviewed a book by Marcelo Gleiser that has a highly suggestive title “A Radical New Vision for Life in an Imperfect Universe”. Here is a telling excerpt from that book selected by Smolin for his review:

It became clear to me that scientists and seekers of perfection from all walks of life have been courting the wrong muse. It is not symmetry and perfection that should be our guiding principle, as it has been for millennia….The science we create is just that, our creation. Wonderful as it is, it is always limited, it is always constrained by what we know of the world….We may search for unified descriptions of natural phenomena, and we may find some partial unifications along the way. But we must remember that a final unification is forever beyond our reach….The human understanding of the world is forever a work in progress. That we have learned so much, speaks well of our creativity. That we want to know more, speaks well of our drive. That we think we can know all, speaks only of our folly.

As I read those lines I couldn’t help thinking that he could be describing how religious authorities propose unified models for human morality. Surely the one constant here, human folly, applies as much in the scientific domain as in the moral.

Scientists seem to be ready to express humility in the face of human intellectual weakness. When will religious spokespersons do as much? Is it possible that religious authorities speak from a position of intellectual arrogance since they propose that they are the final judges on earth of the perfection of their vision of human life.

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Do homo sapiens have a religion gene?

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Tom Cruise December 2008
Image via Wikipedia

It seems that homo sapiens in whatever national variety there is can accept and follow the dictates of the most hoary religions, like Scientology. How crazy can humans be (like Tom Cruise for example) to say that they follow and ascribe to the Religion of Scientology?

Surely they are nutty or barmy or batty or just  plain nuts! So what about the Indians who now apparently follow the religious dictates of Hubbard? See this link!

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Genomes, humans and Neanderthals

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The Wikispecies logo created by Zephram Stark ...
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Are you still wondering about the evolution of the human species?

Olivia Judson writes about the latest DNA analysis of Neanderthal bones and explains how that evidence tells us about the human/Neanderthal nexus.

In here usual way of teasing us about our human realities she writes thus to end her article in the NY Times:

Here, lots of ideas have been put forward — a sure sign that no one knows. Perhaps they died of mad Neanderthal disease, owing to a habit of feasting on one another’s brains. (This has been put forward as a serious hypothesis.) Perhaps they were victims of a changing climate. Perhaps they were “inferior” beings, unable to match our capacity for innovation in the face of adversity. Perhaps their populations became too small, and too sparse, for them to find mates. Or — and this is the most haunting possibility — perhaps they were eventually murdered by their puny cousins. That is, us.

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2010/05/12 at 15:24

The Tree of Life

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LONDON - MARCH 13:  Sir David Attenborough pos...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

David Attenborough does his narrating thing here telling the story of how the Tree of Life evolved on Earth. Yes, it’s a story that has a fair amount of plausability. It offers a reasoned explanation of how we humans along with all other animals species on land, in the air and under water must of come about Here’s the link to the YouTube video!

I found it this morning at this Science blog!

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2009/09/07 at 07:08

The quotable Einstein!

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Albert Einstein during a lecture in Vienna in 1921
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Since this was posted on the Internet for free re-use I decided to copy it into this blog. I love the simple think approach of Albert E. In his time and after he was considered very quotable. So here it is:

[Note: This list of Einstein quotes was being forwarded around the Internet in e-mail, so I decided to put it on my web page. I’m afraid I can’t vouch for its authenticity, tell you where it came from, who compiled the list, who Kevin Harris is, or anything like that. Still, the quotes are interesting and enlightening.]

Collected Quotes from Albert Einstein

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.”
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
“Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love.”
“I want to know God’s thoughts; the rest are details.”
“The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.”
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
“The only real valuable thing is intuition.”
“A person starts to live when he can live outside himself.”
“I am convinced that He (God) does not play dice.”
“God is subtle but he is not malicious.”
“Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.”
“I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.”
“The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility.”
“Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing.”
“Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.”
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
“Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds.”
“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
“Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.”
“Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one’s living at it.”
“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.”
“The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.”
“God does not care about our mathematical difficulties. He integrates empirically.”
“The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking.”
“Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal.”
“Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.”
“The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.”
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
“Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.”
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”
“Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater.”
“Equations are more important to me, because politics is for the present, but an equation is something for eternity.”
“If A is a success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut.”
“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the the universe.”
“As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”
“Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.”
“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
“In order to form an immaculate member of a flock of sheep one must, above all, be a sheep.”
“The fear of death is the most unjustified of all fears, for there’s no risk of accident for someone who’s dead.”
“Too many of us look upon Americans as dollar chasers. This is a cruel libel, even if it is reiterated thoughtlessly by the Americans themselves.”
“Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism — how passionately I hate them!”
“No, this trick won’t work…How on earth are you ever going to explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love?”
“My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.”
“Yes, we have to divide up our time like that, between our politics and our equations. But to me our equations are far more important, for politics are only a matter of present concern. A mathematical equation stands forever.”
“The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking…the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker.”
“Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence.”
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”
“A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeeded be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.”
“The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.”
“Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
“You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat.”
“One had to cram all this stuff into one’s mind for the examinations, whether one liked it or not. This coercion had such a deterring effect on me that, after I had passed the final examination, I found the consideration of any scientific problems distasteful to me for an entire year.”
“…one of the strongest motives that lead men to art and science is escape from everyday life with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness, from the fetters of one’s own ever-shifting desires. A finely tempered nature longs to escape from the personal life into the world of objective perception and thought.”
“He who joyfully marches to music rank and file, has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action. It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.”

“A human being is a part of a whole, called by us _universe_, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” (Sign hanging in Einstein’s office at Princeton)
Copyright: Kevin Harris 1995 (may be freely distributed with this acknowledgement)

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2009/08/04 at 16:32

Since it’s the 3rd day of 2009, I have decided to post a statement of beliefs

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This is developed from a text model in Bill Cohen’s book about Life Mapping. But the story told below is all mine. My notion in posting this is to put down a mark in the sands of my time in this Universe.

The purpose of my life

I believe that there is a natural force and random (genetic) process that made all aspects of the Universe possible, including human life. My own life came from the fertilization of eggs in my mother’s womb from my father’s sperm introduced by penis penetration of my mother’s cunt. But that genetic process is simply another in a long line over billions of years looking backward in time and a no less long line into the future.

I am a unique genetic instance. I have left my genetic imprint since I fathered 3 children and will eventually die and turn to “dust”.

The purpose of my life is to find a satisfactory understanding of this Universe and my itty bitty place in it, so that I can enjoy the good days and not rue too long the bad and horrible ones. In this way I should live up to my full potential and not be too much of a burden to those closest to me.

My way to understanding my emotional dilemma in this world is the recognize the ANGUISH I bring on for myself, understanding the cause and nature of that anguish, accepting all that and taking a path of action to address the negative aspects of my anguish and its immediate causes.

My beliefs

Evolution exhibit (Taronga Zoo, Australia)
Image by Colin Purrington via Flickr
I believe that Darwin spoke practical sense when he said:  “My theology is a simple muddle: I cannot look at the Universe as the result of blind chance, yet I can see no evidence of beneficent Design.” (Letter to Joseph Hooker, July 12 1870).

I believe that it’s not the what fate and my lifetime cause for me but how I deal with it to live as well as I can and not destroy my spirit by mindless resentment and obsession with redress of the wrongs I receive.

I believe every being is unique and must deal with circumstances in his own way with or without help from others.

I believe everyone makes mistakes, but the wise one learns from them.

I believe in the Golden Rule of “do unto others as I would hope for myself”.

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2009/01/03 at 08:05