Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It likely is about time to explain basic climate science to people.

Hopefully in the simplest terms possible.

CO2 works like a blanket. It traps heat. We're making it thicker. That'll have consequences.

Friday, August 26, 2011

On design, of birds and beaches.

My response to a person who acted hostile after I told him that there really is design in nature. I think denying such is bizarre and wrong, and really just a terrible line of argument. The truth is a far better argument for reality anyhow.


Let a beach exist for a billion years. It will stay a beach. It will change a bit and the shore will move. But, there's nothing really designing it. Let some reproducing creatures exist for a billion years and they will develop new designs and adaptations and forms that one could never imagine.

Evolution is a process of self-design, and beaches do not evolve in that sense. They are not designed. They are not improved.

There really is a difference which calls an explanation and evolution is that explanation. There is a very real difference between beaches and birds.

It's certainly true that evolution is the answer, but the question is why is there so much design in nature. Birds have insanely adapted well adapted form, hollow bones, light feathers, amazing lungs, huge pectoral muscles, and that can't have just happened or happened by chance. And it didn't they evolved. The design is the result of the system of reproduction and death.

Some of the oldest rocks in the world have some of the oldest signs of life.

Oldest fossils of life going back 3.5 billion years ago. It's cool and all but I was thinking and went off on a tangent. I think it's really cool that we have 3.5 billion year old rocks. Australia is about the only place with them because it's been a pretty consistent land mass over the history of Earth. With the amount of shifting and moving and subduction zones, it seems like sitting there unchanged for 3.5 billion years ~ 3,500,000,000 years is quite a feat. If anybody could do it, rocks could do it. Go rocks! Way to exist.

While really old fossils are cool, my suddenly being impressed by the feats of rocks warranted a blog post.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Rape and Pillage

I so love David Michell. He's always awesome.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A tale of two Michelles.

I so totally wish that more things on television were this good.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The worst part of Kalam

I think the worst part of the Kalam Cosmological Argument is the presumptive nature of the whole thing. While the Bible answers the question of cosmology with "God did it", the cosmology in the Bible that "God did" isn't starting the inflationary expansion of the universe or causing the big bang. But rather painstakingly and skillfully (Psalms 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.) created a large metal-like dome held up by strong pillars to keep the cosmic ocean divided and the waters above the heavens and below the Earth apart.

In the Bible, we live under a large metal like dome of heaven, with little twinkly lights stuck into it and above the heavens there's the waters and below the earth the other waters which God so helpfully divided up in Genesis. The Bible's answer to this is "God did it".

-- That's fine, but you don't get to copypasta that answer onto a modern cosmological framework and suppose that the authors of the Bible had any freaking clue what the universe was like.  "God did it" is the answer the Bible gives to the metal-like dome protecting us from the cosmic ocean, you don't get just re-appropriate that answer to new cosmologies that are less horribly wrong. It's like saying Jesus cured diseases. No, he shooed out demons that caused diseases. You don't get to use the modern understanding and the answer "God did it", because the "God did it" was to answer in the context of the primitive understanding. The Bible says God is the reason the sun revolves around the Earth, sorry Bitches, no backsies!

The fluxuations of science.

Science use to say the universe was infinitely old, then 2 billion years, 3 billion years, 10 billion years, 8 billion years, 9.5 billion years, 10 billion years, 8-12 billion years, 12 billion years, 13-14 billion years, 12.5 billion years, 14.8 billion years, 13 billion years,  13.7 billion years, 13.72 billion years, 13.73 billion years, 13.75 billion years.! Science can't make up it's mind. It could be anything tomorrow, and then something different the next day! -- Anybody who supposes things along this line of reasoning, really didn't pay enough attention to that sequence of numbers to notice the underlying pattern.

Genesis 1:2 and the Christian Delusion.

I read the Christian Delusion a while back, having gotten a copy in Riverside signed by Richard Carrier. The chapters are all pretty fantastic and it's hugely informative, and I'm already rather encyclopedic so learning new things is rarer than it should be on such subjects. But, Babinski's chapter on Biblical Cosmology has been hugely influential on me. My views were pretty shattershot.

I understood that parts of the Bible talked about the vault of heaven and that the sky was a hardened dome. But, I never really understood the entire picture. I figured that people thought the sky was water because it was blue. It turns out that within Semitic cosmology that's just the color of the bottom of heaven of the firmament which is held up by the mountains. But, I never understood why the dome was spread-out like hard metal or resting on firm foundations, or the other bits that relate to cosmology. And it has a lot to do with how the world was created in the myth and what existed before and the picture people had of the universe.

Genesis starts out with basically a preamble, in the beginning, the gods created the heavens and the Earth. And then describes how they came to be. What's interesting is how the second line of the creation myth is just glossed over, and largely ignored. The first line we get, the third line is understandable, but what the hell is that second line saying?

1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

Sure, formless earth, nothing there, darkness are all understandable. But, what is the "face of the deep"? And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters? What waters? When did waters get created? If you read through the genesis account, water is never created. There's a lot of sections about dividing the waters by making the firmament and keeping  it apart from the waters of the Earth. And allowing land to be exist, and gathering waters into seas, but never actually making the water. The reason for this is that at the core of the cosmology it isn't a creation ex nilho.

The universe was created out of a cosmic ocean. The firmament and the Earth divide the waters because its all waters. And cosmic ocean underlay all the cosmologies of the Semitic regions. The universe according to the Bible wasn't made out of nothing, it was made out of a formless ocean that was divided up. The reason for professing repeatedly in the Bible as to how strong and secure the firmament, how it's made of strong metal, and upon solid foundations and expertly crafted, is because it was a very real fear that the ocean might crush you. That Noah's Flood might very well happen and the waters will flow out of the vault of heaven and out from under the Earth, and our precarious little bubble might not exist.

7:11 In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.

8:2 The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained;

And given the myth of the flood it was absolutely vital to assure people that such a thing would never ever happen again, with God's regrets, and pinky-promises and rainbows.

9:11 And I will establish my covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.
9:12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:
9:13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.

It was a very real worry that the cosmic ocean would kill everybody., and much of the Bible goes to dissuade our fears of this. And in fact, because the sky is hard and metal and protects us, it's clear evidence for God.

Psalms 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

And really, understanding this is rather devastating  to Biblical cosmology and a lot of apologetics. There's a lot of stuff with like the Kalam Cosmological Argument that largely says that the universe was created ex nilho and science can't explain this, but God fully explains how this happened. But, the Bible never actually said that, it starts out with a cosmic ocean and a sky made of hard material on solid foundations, which attest to the handiwork of God. Far be it for Christianity to explain the Big Bang with a divine fallacy, they need to explain rather where that original cosmic ocean came from. The gods created the heavens and the Earth to divide up the waters, but that's doesn't explain the origins of the cosmic ocean.

The Bible doesn't actually fit that paradigm at all, it not even trying to answer to the question of what caused the initial expansion/existence of spacetime. It's answering very specifically  how did the strong firmament of heaven and dry land get formed out of a cosmic ocean. The answer is "God did it", in fact God spent a solid 1/6th of the time he spent making stuff to make that firmament, that majestic roof fretted with golden fire (as Shakespeare put it). Spending the entire second day on it. Dry land was part of the third day. Then in day four God spends a lot of time adding bling to the firmament. Putting stars in it, and really big balls of light to travel across the firmament. The little tiny spots of light (which according to Revelations will fall to the ground during the end times) and the giant greater and lesser lights of the sun and moon, just to deck it out and give us signs for seasons and such. A lot of the OT is depended on this view of the universe, and really by coming to understand that, you really see how hollow various claims about how God explains the universe actually are. If you read the Bible, the authors have no clue what the universe is really like and spend a considerable amount of time explaining how why the cosmic ocean doesn't kill us, how the sky is hard as metal, and how awesome God is for making said firmament.

So the general theist argument that atheists can't explain the origins of the universe but God does, is even hollower, not just because the answers we have are really good and anything is better than the always wrong answer theists try to shove into every gap, but because the Christian God explains the origins of the metal dome protecting us from the cosmic ocean..

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Kalam and Cosmology

There were some bits towards the beginning that irked me a bit, but after understanding there was no advocacy here but rather a presentation of the possible with the arguments of the apologists I got into the groove.

Thursday, August 4, 2011