Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Boundless Ignorance of Certain Evangelicals

Fig. 1 (above) depicts how stars form from hot gas under the influence of gravity.

Reading some of the material put forth by fundies and evangelicals can either make one laugh or cry. Often the sentiments expressed are so bereft of even the faintest semblance of reason – and end up with such vast inanity and illogic- that one is led to bust a gut howling with laughter. As when they assert the Earth can be no older than 6,000 years despite measurements using the radioactive isotope delta C 13 (Carbon 13) showing the existence of primitive methanotrophs on Earth 3.85 BILLION years ago. (H.D. Holland, in Science, Vol. 275 – January, 1997, p. 38).

At other times, one is almost provoked to cry over the vast ignorance and boundless stupidity in evidence, that even the most elementary scientific facts are discarded like troublesome weeds and not given a thought.

Now, since not all evangelicals are of one mold – for example many now accept global warming, as many also accept the Earth is much older than a few thousand years – it makes no sense to criticize them in a generic way. This sort of approach allows the real offenders and their ilk to escape notice and attention.

Thus, when I criticize the claims made, it will be based on those from a particular person, my brother “Pastor Mike”, who seems to want to wage an endless battle though I sought to make peace and even offered conditions.

In his latest blog entry (‘More Evolution Stupidity’) the sheer volume of red herrings, strawmen, non sequiturs, ignotum per ignotius volations, post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacies and others (scientific ignorance) is so vast it makes the mind reel and head spin. Simply to recount each violation or howler and rebut it might take the better part of a week, so I will focus on the major ones. Let's take his issues one by one, as he writes them:

1. Let me elaborate on the alleged "Big Bang " theory . I mean , if people are really stupid enough to believe this hogwash , I've got some good Florida Everglades swamp land I'll sell 'em real cheap ! (I'll even throw in "Big Foot" , heh,heh,heh ) . Now , my friends , try to think of ANY explosion that has produced order .

This is so rife with declarative nonsense it boggles the mind. First, here’s a throwaway trivia question for physics nerds: Who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1978, and for what discovery?
If you answered Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, for their (1965) discovery of the 2.7 K microwave background radiation, you get an A! And what is the 2.7K radiation? It is none other than the RELIC radiation from the Big Bang. (Thus, evidence for the Big Bang). In other words, by extrapolating backwards one can use that temperature to retrace steps in thermal time to when the universe was hottest and most dense. (This is actually done in the excellent book, ‘The First Three Minutes’ by physicist Steven Weinberg, a Nobel Physics prize winner himself).

What one ends up with is a superhot and superdense photon gas at nearly 10 trillion degrees. But wait, PM asserts that this “explosion” allegedly produced “order”! HOW SO?

Using the basic expression for entropy: S = k (log g), one can ascertain that the entropy in the hot radiation era just after the Big Bang (within seconds) was on the order of 4 x 10^8 J/K assuming a temperature of about 10^13K and a photon density of ~ 4 x 10^21 /m^3 (per cubic meter).

If one computed the entropy now for the current era, it is ~ 4 x 10^4 J/K. Thus, Mike’s claim of “increased order” is specious, as we can see the level of entropy (disorder) was nearly 10,000 times greater right after the Big Bang. Thus, the Big Bang did not initially generate order but DISORDER.

What happened, is that as the initial temperatures cooled down, MATTER (nuclear particles) could at last begin to form from the radiation background. At some point later, we guess 300,000 years, this matter decoupled from the radiation and could then form separate material systems – starting with the atoms, which comprised the first material gases, then stars – which were shaped from the gases under the influence of gravitational forces. (See Fig. 1 for a brief overview of how this occurs for a star's formation.)

Thus, Mike has it exactly ass backwards. But in his impetuosity he continues:

2. Here is an intersting experiment : Empty your garage of every piece of metal , wood , paint , rubber , and plastic . MAKE SURE THERE IS NOTHING THERE . NOTHING ! Then wait for ten years and see if a Mercedes evolves . If it doesn't appear , leave it for twenty years . If that doesn't work , try it for 100 years . Then try leaving it for 10,000 years .

This is, of course, a stupid “experiment” and no one with any brains or common sense would try it. Of course, the entire basis is wrong because evolution doesn’t assert that life appears or emerges from non –life, especially ARTIFACTS already made by someone! Again, Mike demonstrates that he has not distinguished, or is unable to – the theory of Noogenesis from evolution! (And this is about the fifth time I have corrected him on this!)

3. What the evolutionists attribute to a Big Bang , where the universe simply "exploded" into existence , is actually the work of God who merely SPOKE and the universe came into being

Really, and what word(s) did he speak, Mike? Was it English words, Hebrew, Aramaic, Sanskrit, Chinese? Were you there to get the translation? Were your bible authors there to get it? Then HOW do they know? Moreover, how do you know? Also, who caused “God”? Where did he, she or it come from? As mathematician John Paulos has observed in his terrific little book, ‘Irreligion’ (p 4):

“So have we found God? Is he the Big Bowler, the first Cause or the Big Banger? Of course not! The argument doesn’t even come close! One gaping hole is the assumption that either everything has a cause, OR there’s something that doesn’t. The “first cause” argument collapses into this hole whichever tack we take. If everything has a cause, then God must too, and there is no “first cause”. And if something doesn’t have a cause it may as well have been the physical universe as God or a tortoise

One more thing, the Big Bang is not technically an “explosion” (though that's the way it’s most often described to non-physicists – in order to reference something they can relate to). Technically it’s more a rapid expansion – which we still observe today in the expansion of the universe, verified using the spectrographic red shifts of galaxy clusters and quasars.

4. Ask an evolutionist who believes in the Big Bang , "Where did space from the universe come from ? Where did the initial material come from ? What sparked the explosion ? " In order to have an explosion , there must be something to explode , and there must be a catalyst to cause the explosion . You cannot create SOMETHING out of NOTHING !

Well, Mike has numerous misconceptions and errors in this one paragraph –nearly five I can count, so let’s go through the major ones and hope at least this time he will LEARN them before publishing his next codswallop. First, evolution is a separate theory from the Big Bang. True, most evolutionists accept the Big Bang, but the Big Bang is not critical to accepting evolution, nor is it part of the theory of evolution. It is rather the Big Bang Theory. For example, before the discovery of the microwave background radiation in 1965, the steady state theory was the one(proposed by Gold and Hoyle), not the Big Bang. But there were still evolutionists, even though the Big Bang theory had not yet arrived!

Second, asking where “space” came from is ignorant, since the Big Bang incepted space-time, not just space. The expansion of the universe is thus an expansion of space as well as time. Figure 2 shows this clearly. In addition, Einstein’s special theory of relativity shows one cannot willy-nilly divorce space from time but must use space-time, especially for cosmic events. As for the “initial material” as I noted in (1) it arrived after the hot radiation cooled by actual material particles now being able to form.

Now, though I did say the Big Bang is not technically an “explosion” I just have to take the pastor up on his claim that you can’t just have an explosion or “create something from nothing”. I guess here he has forgotten his general science lessons that one can have something called “spontaneous combustion” . For example the element sodium is an example of a pyrophoric material which can undergo a kind of spontaneous (and potentially very violent) explosion when exposed to oxygen, water, or moisture in the air. No one needs to light a match and no one needs a “catalyst” (i.e. merely having Na in the presence of excess moisture can cause the explosion). Another example: compost piles and unprocessed cotton may self-ignite because of heat produced by bacterial fermentation. No specific "catalyst" is required, meaning an external agent.

In the same way, unstable dark energy was in existence in a conformal quantum space –time before the actual universe existed. When the energy density reached a critical threshold – probably via the action of the surrounding volume on the dark energy (which acts as a kind of repulsive gravity), it incepted the universe.

As for not creating something from nothing, the pastor has clearly never heard of pair production, wherein a gamma ray (photon) for example, can instantly materialize into an electron and positron. Here, a brief fluctuation in time dt, is sufficient to precipitate a fluctuation in energy dE, which may be sufficient to produce the particles.

According to the energy-time Uncertainty Principle:

dE dt > h/ 2 pi

where h is the Planck constant (6.62 x 10^-34 J-s). Thus, all one needs is an appropriate energy of a size:

dE ~ h dt/ 2 pi

5. Each creature brings forth after its own kind . That's NO THEORY ; that's a FACT ! Why then should we believe that man came from another species ?

Well, because humans and chimpanzees have the exact same cytochrome- c protein sequence. In the absence of common (evolutionary) descent, the chance of this occurrence is conservatively less than 10^-93 (1 out of 10^93). In addition, the cytochrome –c protein sequence (a critical marker) in Man and the chimp differs by 10 amino acids from that in ALL other mammals. This is remarkable and discloses that Chimp and man are literally cousins on the evolutionary tree – apart from all other mammals. The chance of THIS occurring is less than 10^-29.

On another note, it is clear Mike has never read or learned a thing about cloning. For example, we can now theoretically use somatic cell nuclear transfer cloning to obtain a lion from a lamb (e.g. get the lamb to give birth to a cloned lion via somatic lion cells) if all the technical details are attended to. This alone destroys his simplistic claim that "like brings forth like".

It is clear from this, as I noted before, that Mike never ever processes new information that might help him tailor and elevate his arguments to make them more in synch with the actual science, and more sophisticated. Instead, he simply regurgitates the same worn out canards and errors over and over hoping no one will notice or point them out. But some of us do.
On that note, we will leave the Pastor to his own devices for now, and hope his blog doesn't clog up from excess bunkum and bilge.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Darwin "mental disease" gambit

It is a curious fact, not diluted by the frequency - that when anti-evolutionists are pinned against the wall they will often resort to either sheer fabrication, the case of one histrionic and unnamed "pastor" - red herrings. With Charles Darwin's ascent to the pinnacle of biological science this ought not be surprising.

In the past it was based on the canard that "Darwin converted on his deathbed" - when no such thing occurred as pointed out by Daniel Dennett in his Darwin's Dangerous Idea. But give the religious cranks an 'A' for effort in trying to peddle this hogswill far an wide.

Since that didn't pan out too well for them, and since they're still unable (educationally) to address or confront the most basic arguments for evolution (or even pass an elementary test!) their other tactic has been to try to show Darwin had some mental disease....usually given the name "agoraphobia". Since this generically refers to a "fear of open spaces" - most psych gurus and purveyors of the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual (DSM)-IV, have elected to go with a more esoteric sub-form named 'Social Agoraphobia' . This is to attempt to explain Darwin's apparent reclusive tendencies from about 1850.

Escaping all these pseudo-intellects and geniuses - if they had done their homework on Darwin's history- would be a much more prosaic explanation: that he simply grew weary of the incessant, bombastic attacks on his person and his theory, both in public (churches, meeting halls) and in the press. His strategy then was simply to retire from the constant attacks and let his good friend - Julian Huxley - handle the combat.

This is admittedly difficult to grasp for anyone who has not endured prolonged bouts of verbal or other combat, especially when living in a society hostile to one's views, theories. I briefly experienced it when I first came out as an Atheist in Barbados - in terms of engaging a number of Christians in debate in the island's two main papers. (The Barbados Nation, and The Barbados Advocate).

Eventually, there came a point - by late 1990, when the counter-onslaught was almost ceaseless and occurring on the radio waves as well as print media. Since no human, however gifted or aggressive, could singlehandedly take on more than 330 people at once (counting all the radio calls, letters to the editor, op-eds etc.) over months, I opted to simply withdraw. I ceased any writing, nor did I enagage in any public debates. This didn't change until late May, 1991 - when I finally agreed to debate a Christian colleague at Harrison College, with the topic: "Demons: Fact or Fiction". Of course, as many students queried subsequently attested - I "demolished the dude".

Fair enough, but did my self-enforced exile make me "mentally ill"? No, of course not! It simply made me see that public disclosure and defense of one's views in a religiosity-obsessed culture was not only enervating, but unproductive. I submit the same dynamic applied to Darwin, and no "mental illness" entered into it, no matter how many cited dime store therps insist otherwise. Let us also bear in mind that there were NO Diagnostic & Statistics Manuals to define mental illnesses back then - so all this is by way of retrospectives: taking Darwin's behavior as historically documented and THEN examining it in the template of the DSM and making inferences.

But in no way is this science. And the correlations such as may be found bear no more gravitas or attention, than say the correlation between the frequency of human flatulence and the outgassing of carbon dioxide by ferrite rocks on the planet Mars.

First, Darwin's Origin of Species (published in 1859) was itself a "defensive work". For years while he was writing it, preparing drafts, Darwin had to listen and endure the endless wails, whining and yapping of his critics. As author Carl Zimmer points out (Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea, 2001, p. 48):

"Origin of Species is a deeply defensive book, written by a man who had quitely listened for years to other scientists scoff at evolution, and had imagined them scoffing at him as well. He addressed their objections one by one."

Second, as the publication of the book and its circulation grew, the reviews began to take their toll. Nearly all were negative, and all extracted an emotional toll on Darwin. For example, The Quarterly Review excoriated Origin and Darwin and asserted his theory "contradicted the revealed relation of the creation to its Creator " and "was inconsistent with the fullness of his Glory".

Then there were all the times Darwin went to his Anglican church only to be greeted by people doing imitations of apes from the balconies. While he also had to endure sermons attesting to the fact no one's grandma had yet been proven to have come from an ape.

The most devastating effects of all issued from a book review by Richard Owens in The Edinburgh Review that was "stunning in its animosity" (op. cit. , p. 50).The review led to a prolonged public pitched battle between Owens and Julian Huxley that finally erupted in the annual British Association for the Advancement of Science Meeting at Oxford, on June 28, 1860. Owens, the BAAS president, and feeling proud as a peacock strutting - proclaimed to the assembly in his talk that the human brain was "distinct from apes".

Feeling smug, he left the floor to Huxley, who announced he'd just received a letter from a Scottish anatomist who had dissected a fresh chimpanzee brain and discovered it looked remarkably like a human brain, including the hippocampus minor. Owens was floored and humiliated. He also had no way to defend himself.

This paved the way for years of infighting and rancor. Darwin, his work already out there in the public domain - wanted no part of it, and didn't want to be pressed into service - especially in having to contradict then Bishop Samuel Wilberforce. (Who was trying to forge a creationist "theory" based on mixing Owens' ruminations with those of William Paley - the genius who first opined : "because a watch must have a watchmaker the universe must also have a maker". )

Of course, this was over 140 years before dark energy was discovered! (Which agent plays a role in the spontaenous inception of the cosmos).

So, Darwin simply chose the path of least resistance, which modern day dime store psychotherapists have misconstrued as a "disease".

But let's cut these people some slack and grant that Darwin MAY have had an actual disease. Does it make a dime's worth of difference? No, it does not, because in any case Origin is a manifestly clear and coherent book which first defined and laid out the warp and woof of natural selection.

If the latter day would-be nutcrackers and their lackeys want to destroy the theory of evolution, they'll have to take it head on, and disprove all its main contentions and principles - not depend on Darwin having suffered some obscure "mental affliction" - which their febrile brains believe is sufficient to make evolution a moot point.

Not quite, and not by a long shot!

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Personal, The Particular: and the Uselessness of Innominate Criticism

My brother, Pastor Mike, is exercised and incensed that I have been “personally attacking” him on this blog. It seems that the tack I ought to have taken is just to have invoked some generic or innominate believer and refer or show his attacks on atheism and evolution to be “dumb”, without using his name. Never mind the "believer" in question is actually assigning a "Satanic" alliance or pact with those of my group (atheists). (And once again, it matters not that "Satan" is fictional, since it is the undercurrent of degraded thought to which one objects!)

Sorry, doesn’t work like that. Whether a racist, or religious hate monger – hate feeds off itself when the haters- attackers can hide their identities so as not to be exposed to just counter-attacks in turn. In this way, racial hate as well as religious hate are allowed to prosper. So are their hate websites.

Mike claims he doesn’t “hate” me but his whole vicious blog belies him. As one visits it (which I have because he won’t even email me in regular communications) one beholds hate piece after hate piece against atheists....not to mention attacks on Mormons, Jews, Muslims and other Christians (such as Catholics). Indeed, small side insets howl the words “Send Atheism to HELL!”

What am I, an ATHEIST, supposed to think when I read this? The only thing is that: ‘Is this what my brother really thinks of me, that I ought to be sent to Hell?” (Since obviously one can’t send the system of unbelief to Hell, it must always be a person- since Hell is putatively designed that way – or so his bible tells him)

After our father’s death I believed my brothers and I could all come together and at least have some form of connection as brothers ought to – even though our mother and sister still seem a million miles apart, in their own world. We did briefly, but it didn’t last long before Mike (aka Pastor Mike) re-intensified his hate speech against all religious forms that don’t think the way he does, as well as atheism. But when he attacks atheists and atheism he attacks ME!

I have tried my best to ameliorate the situation but whenever I look, there’s a new attack, trying to depict evolutionists or atheists as immoral reprobates out to undermine children and nation, or “Satanic” inspired, or (in his latest blog) that Satan is our pal. Sorry, bro, this don’t wash. Your hate precedes any claims that you don’t exhibit any. When you hate in the generic (against a whole group) you hate in the personal.

I will make you a deal – you remove all the attacks against atheists and atheism and I will remove from my blog all attacks against you and your fundyism.

I am ready to make peace, IF you are. I am also ready to reinstate true brotherly communications (like we had when I went to Florida in July for Dad's funeral and immediately after)

But if you want perpetual war(between our blogs), we can have that too. Your choice. I can't believe that your religion could be be so distorted, perverse and absolutist that it has to feed on hatred....of other religious groups, and opposed to tolerance. I can't believe you could put this "religion" above relationships with kith and kin.

But maybe you can, and that false belief system is more important to you than family.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dumb and Dumber II : Lack of ET Radio Signals Disproves Evolution?

Trying to keep track of Pastor Mike’s avalanche of imbecilic claims and uninformed rants is almost like trying to drink water from a fire hose. The flood of inanities, non-sequiturs, fundamental ignorance and plain stupidity – is plain mind boggling. The last time I beheld such a deluge of dopiness was more than 24 years ago in Fairbanks, Alaska – when a moron named Duane Gish regaled his audience about whose grandma was an ape and whose wasn’t.

Let’s even leave aside the source(-s) of his erroneous citations about the 2nd law of thermodynamics, in which he claims “chaos” must ensue, and there can be no advanced or more ordered species from evolution because of it. Of course, he doesn’t grok that: 1) he’s misused the 2nd law, and 2) evolution doesn’t say it is inevitable that species advance to higher orders – only that the most successful adapt and survive. But then, Pastor Mike has never been one to be impeded by any fine points or details. Details!? They’re to be ignored!

In the case of the Second law of thermodynamics, as I pointed out before, it only applies to a CLOSED system. In such a closed system (by which I mean isolated - with impermeable walls so as no heat transfer is possible) there is a tendency for entropy or the state of disorder to increase.

This does NOT apply to any open systems, by which I mean at least partially permeable – or open to the two-way transfer of heat. For example a copper box or container with an open aperture at the top would be open to the heat energy from a radiator kept 3 cm in suspension above it.

The Earth, as any one can see – is an open system, not closed. If Earth were a closed system, no sunlight would be able to reach its surface and interact with plants (in photo-synthesis) for example. Yet we know solar energy DOES interact in the presence of chlorophyll in green plants- such that carbon dioxide combines with water and incoming solar energy to give oxygen, and food (glucose) for the plant.

Thus, the Earth’s organic ecology cannot just “wind down” and run to chaos or high entropy because solar input prevents it. Yet Mike, who’s never taken a physics or even basic biology course in his life (or if he did, recalls nothing) thinks he knows better – or that the morons he quotes know better than thousands of professional scientists who make research their living. And also publish it in peer-reviewed journals, as opposed to religious or think tank tracts.

But this farcical nonsense pales besides one of his latest claims – that the theory of evolution is disproven by the absence of alien radio signals.

Where or how he conjures up this nonsense is difficult to see, but I suppose he’s basing it on an alternative theory I gave to the one that life originated from non-life on Earth. In that alternative (panspermia) life was seeded on the primitive Earth via meteoroids from space – and these bore primitive cells or organisms.

Now, what do radio signals have to do with this? The answer is nothing! Radio signals would be presumed to come from an advanced alien civilization with the equipment to send them. All I laid claim for in panspermia is that PRIMITIVE one celled organisms (e.g. like paramecia or amoeba) could hitch- hike on one or more wayward meteoroids and land on Earth. Hence, the level or threshold for life being set is a trillion times less than what Mike thinks is needed. Hence, the absence of radio signals now (or billions of years ago) proves nothing in terms of panspermia, and hence the starting point for evolution on Earth.

But let’s say that at least radio signals would prove that advanced life also inhabits other worlds, though the absence wouldn't "disprove" evolution occurred there, as I will later show.

Let me explain. The first radio signals of any strength probably left Earth for outer space around 1939. These signals are constrained to travel at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second), no faster. The closest likely candidate for a sun-like star (which means it can support Earth -like planets) is Zeta Reticuli, a G2(V) star similar to the Sun, but with 93% of its mass. It is 39 light years distant. Now – if the earliest radio waves left Earth in 1939, and somehow got to Zeta Reticuli with enough strength – they’d have arrived sometime in 1978.

Even if the Zeta Reticulans (assuming they exist) replied instantly to the first radio waves, it would take 39 more years for the signal to reach Earth. That is:

1978 + 39 = 2017

In other words, even if the radio signals were intercepted by the closest likely candidate system we’d have to wait at least SEVEN more years for them to get to Earth! Thus, we easily disprove Mikey’s contention that there are absolutely no radio signals coming – since clearly in this case, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Of course, there are thousands more sun- like systems but these extend to hundreds of light years distant. If no advanced life is in the Zeta Reticuli system there may still be such life in the outer systems- but again – the time delay is longer, because the distances are greater.

In fact – given these enormous distances, the odds are that no radio signals from aliens will be received in our lifetimes –though they may well be in our grandchildren’s lifetimes. Let’s also bear in mind that any aliens may require time to decipher what the messages are saying, in order to relay a sensible response.

Even if no radio signals arrived at all, it still wouldn’t disprove evolution. For one thing, evolution could easily occur on over a million worlds, but not to the advanced stage of a civilization capable of space flight or communications. Such worlds then would feature many organisms and animals – but none of which could marshal resources to communicate or build space craft . A perfect example on Earth is the dolphin (mammal- not fish!), which has at least an equal intelligence – based on numerous tests- to humans. It just doesn’t have the appendages or digits for tool making, to construct space scraft, computers, or radio transmitters!

Again, we must bear in mind- unlike Mike in his impetuosity- that evolution doesn’t state that ALL organisms advance to an ever higher and more organized stage! It says rather that the most adaptative organisms survive best. One of the best examples on Earth is the cockroach- which has been around over 150 million years. Its adaptative capabilities will likely keep it around on Earth long after humans are extinct.

A pity that because Mike can’t process or assimilate the simplest physics or biology he is stuck forever in the mindset of a knowledge Luddite. We can therefore look forward to even more stupendous displays of incomprehension and confusion in his future screeds- which at least must be keeping his followers suitably entertained.

Part I - Of Pastor Mikey's "Stupid Test"

Bereft of ideas, exposed as a scientific fraud who is totally clueless about even the most basic scientific principles - "Pastor Mike" has now conjured up a "test" out of desperation.
'Questions for Evolutionists'
He hopes his "stupid test" will prove that atheists-evolutionists are the dunces - but as I will show, he and his dismal flock are really the ones without any intellectual moorings. Indeed most of the questions he proposes could be answered easily by anyone with the least scientific training. Alas - he lacks such, as his absurd recent attacks on evolution disclose.

Here are his questions - and the answers in turn:

1) Where did the space for the universe come from ?

This is an example of a dumb question, since there is no "space" of the universe as such but rather space -time. In terms of origin then, BOTH space and time originated as the single unit of space-time at the instant of the Big Bang. The current expansion of the universe, as indicated in our red shift measurements, therefore shows an expansion in space and time. Further, we can actually use basic physics (based on the sum of potential and kinetic energies) to trace back in time the properties of the universe to the earliest epochs.

We use the cosmic density equation:

rho(t) = 3G t^ 2 / 8 pi

where rho(t) is the cosmic density at time t, G is the Newtonian gravitational constant and t is the time we can susbstitute in.

For example, say we want to know the density at a time of 0.03 seconds after the Big Bang. Then, substitute t = 0.03 sec, and the value of G (assuming it has not changed with time, and is truly constant!)

rho(t) = 1.98 x 10^ 12 kg/ m^3

This is a truly whopping density that fully comports with our expectation that the Big Bang was initiated in an extremely high density state. By way of comparison, plutonium has a density of 19, 200 kg/ m3 . Thus, the cosmic density at t = 0.03 sec after the primordial fireball was just over 100 million times more dense than plutonium!

An alternative method (but more advanced mathematically) is to use Einstein's tensor equations for general relativity (e.g. ds^2 = dx^u g_uv dx^u = dt^2 – R^2(t) [ (dr^2/ 1 – kr^2) + r^2 d (S)^2], where d(S)^2 is the solid angle differential and k = const.) to obtain the Planck energy at which all currently separate forces (electric, gravitational, strong nuclear etc) would be unified. We obtain a Planck energy of 10^19 GeV (giga -electron volts) of energy, at a time of 10^-44 seconds of cosmic age.

Not that any of this will be processed by Mike!

2)Where did matter come from ?

Again, matter came from the same event as space-time: the Big Bang. However, matter couldn't manifest initially since the temperatures were far too hot (estimated at 10^12 Kelvin). So, we can use thermal physics - to track back from the current microwave background temperature (residual temp. of the Big bang at 2.7K) to ascertain that the first atomic particles probably couldn't form until at least 300,000 years past the BB - when the radiation and gas decoupled.

As to the origin of the Big Bang itself, this occurred as a result of the universe spontaneously incepted - as already descibed in a prior blog article:

Current quantum mechanics - namely the energy -time uncertainty principle, fully allows for the spontaneous origin of the cosmos as a sub-quantal domain that evolves and expands in the aftermath. See for example T. Padmanabhan's excellent paper 'Universe Before Planck Time: A Quantum Gravity Model' in Physical Review D, Vol. 28, No. 4, p. 756.

3)Where did the laws of the universe come from (gravity , inertia , etc . ) ?

Another dumb question. Natural laws "don't come" from anywhere, they are implicit in the behavior and properties of the universe from the time of its inception. Thus, by virtue of the inception of the cosmos with particular properties - later laws were uncovered by humans. Thus, the humans - such as Isaac Newton and Einstein- revealed the laws' operation in their mathematical & physical investigations, but the laws were always there awaiting such discovery. People, after all, fell off Mayan temples or rock towers long before Newton enunciated the law of gravitation. Chariots crashed into each other long before the first law of motion (defining inertia).

4)How did matter get so perfectly organized ?

Another dumb question, since most "matter" isn't organized, far less "perfectly organized". (And if someone is asking a question this dumb, they really ought not be asking anything at all! Certainly as a ruse to depict their opponents (evolutionists) as "dunces"!)

93% of all content in the universe is either as dark matter (23%) or dark energy (70%). Dark matter itself occurs in either baryonic or non-baryonic forms, depending on whether the matter reacts with radiation or not. If it doesn’t, it’s non-baryonic. Baryons include protons and neutrons, while non-baryons include electrons and neutrinos. Non-baryonic dark matter further breaks down into cold dark matter and hot dark matter. The terms hot and cold are not so much indicative of current temperatures, as the phase of the early universe at which the particular dark matter ‘decoupled’ from the hot radiation background.

In any case, this dark matter can't be assessed for any organization. Neither can dark energy. Dark energy arose from studies of Type 1a supernovae which plots show the cosmos is now accelerating. The only feasible agent to explain this acceleration is dark energy which can be defined using an equation of state:

w = (Pressure/ energy density) = -1

This is consistent with Einstein's general theory of relativity - which one could say approaches the status of a 'basic law of physics'. In this case, the existence of a negative pressure is consistent with general relativity's allowance for a "repulsive gravity" - since any negative pressure has associated with it gravity that repels rather than attracts. (See, e.g. 'Supernovae, Dark Energy and the Accelerating Universe', by Saul Perlmutter, in Physics Today, April, 2003, p. 53.) Of course, simple algebra applied to the above also shows that the energy density would have to be negative, e.g. energy density = - (pressure). Thus, we see that Padmanabhan’s “negative energy density” (to incept the cosmos spotaneously) referenced earlier is really a form of dark energy!

The 7% of matter remaining still isn't preponderantly "organized" since more than 99% of it is plasma (hot gas in which one or more electrons of the gas are ionized. Mayhap Mikey needs to look up these terms too). Now, if 99% is plasma, then only 1% is matter that potentially can be organized (say as galaxies, planets etc.). But if one takes the total fraction of the universe for which this applies: 1% of 7% - it comes to 0.07% of the entire universe. And whatever orgnization occurs within this tiny proportion can easily be accommodated by appeal to gravitational forces acting in concert with electro-static forces, for example to shape proto-stars, and subsequently spin off blobs of hot gas that later cool to become their planets....via transfer of angular momentum within the gas.

5)Where did the energy come from to do all the organizing ?

Another dumb question, since: a) the energy was already part and parcel of the universe via spontaneous quantum inception, and b) it isn't there to do any degree of "organizing" -since as I previously noted most of its appears as dark energy. The remnant 0.07% of mass-energy subject to some organization mainly falls under the influence of gravitational potential energy - and as any physics student knows this is based on the basic expression:

V = - GMm/r

where V is the potential energy, M and m the masses to which it applies where m is putatively revolving about larger mass M. And G is the gravitational constant with r the distance between centers.

Then we have all the dark energy causing acceleration (which likely originated with the conformal quantum domain that gave rise to the initial spontaneous inception) and not likely subject to V, and I already provided the equation of state for that. Then there is the mass-energy resident already in the matter of the (cooled) content, since we know by Einstein's equation: E = mc^2 that energy and mass are transformable into each other. Thus, the mass-energy of the universe was already fixed at its inception. It didn't "come" from anywhere - as if some outside agent.

6) When , where , why , and how did life come from dead matter ?

Well, at least this is a halfway intelligent question, for once, though all "matter" (not otherwise embellished) is assumed "inert" without having to say so. But one answer is that it didn't. As I noted earlier - two blog posts earlier) one possibility is that life was "seeded" on Earth from extraterrestrial objects, such as meteoroids. Living cells could have been protected by the outer (hard) shell of the meteroid and we know that water can occur inside too. If these cells were in that water, then the meteroid crackes after landing, they could emerge on planet Earth and evolve.

Now, as to how living cells could arise from matter on Earth (theory of noogensis- NOT evolution) the best scenario we have is as follows:

Some water droplets alighting on dry land altered shape to a sphere and maintained it for a length of time. . More specifically, they were suspended colloidal micro-spheres capable of exchanging energy with their surroundings. To get energy, these self-sustaining coacervate droplets could use one or two basic reactions involving adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and adenosine diphosphate:

L*M + R + ADP + P -> R + L + M + ATP

ATP + X + Y + X*Y -> ADP + X*Y + X*Y + P

In the above, L*M is some large, indeterminate, energy-rich compound that could serve as ‘food’. Whatever the specific form, it’s conceived here to have two major parts capable of being broken to liberate energy. Compound R is perhaps a protenoid, but in any case able to act on L*M to decompose it. Concurrent with the first reaction is the possibility of a second, entailing autocatalytic molecules X*Y.

These molecules could accelerate their own formation, using ATP. On the basis of the chemical reactions, the hypothetical coacervate would consist of the combination: X*Y + R. Now, what properties ought we expect for any such primitive life form? These include: simple organization, ability to increase in size, and ability to maintain itself over extended intervals. Does the coacervate meet these conditions? Well, it has a simple organization, consisting of the molecules X*Y and R. It can increase its size by synthesizing more of X*Y, growing until hydrodynamically unstable.

Finally, it can maintain itself over indefinite intervals, so long as it can extract the chemical components it needs. What about replication? We expect that this is feasible when it splits into ‘daughters’ after growing too large. Then, so long as each has some of the protenoid R there is the capacity for replication.

Will the "pastor" get any of this? Doubtful!

7) When , where , why , and how did life learn to reproduce itself ?

See previous answer, for replication!

8)With what did the first cell capable of sexual reproduction reproduce ?

Another dumbo question, since the pastor already presumes a "first cell capable of sexual reproduction" but doesn't logically extrapolate the consequences from his assumption. Hence he answers his own question- but can't find it- since in mitosis cells always produce in duplicate! Mitosis, the process by which a eukaryotic (first) cell would have separated the chromosomes in its cell nucleus into two identical sets in two nuclei. Back to basic biology - this would be followed immediately by cytokinesis, which divided the nuclei, cytoplasm, organelles and cell membrane into two cells containing roughly equal shares of these cellular components. These cells - like the original - could be capable of sexual reproduction!

9) Why would any plant or animal want to reproduce more of its kind since this would only make more mouths to feed and decrease the chances of survival ? ( Does the individual , or the species , have a drive to survive ? How do you explain this ? )

Another dumbo question, since clearly it is by the most rapid reproduction that a given species can out-survive competitors. The assumption of "decreasing chances of survival" is just that- since it assumes (like in a poor human family) that the species will starve and die out if numbers are excessive. In fact this is rubbish. What the hardier members do, if food srouces are too scare, is to cannibailze each other. This is also possibly what happened to Neandertal Man - at the hands (mouths?) of Cro-Magnon Man 50,000 or so years ago. (The other theory, of course, is that Cro-Magnon simply out-reproduced Neandertal Man and thus overwhelmed the latter's numbers in terms of competition for food sources)

As for "drive to survive" - every individual normal organism has what could be called such. They certainly don't have a "drive to perish".

10) How can mutations ( recombining of the genetic code ) create any new , improved varieties ? ( Recombining English letters will never produce Chinese books . )

Yet one more dumb question, showing our pastor doesn't comprehend mutation. For example, exposure of members of Drosophilia melanogaster (the fruit fly) to x-rays can induce a variety of spontaneous gene changes (mutations) in offspring of succeeding generations, including: variations in eye color, the number of bristles on the thorax and the shape of the wings. Whether evolution can be said to occur as a result of mutant genes depends on the degree to which the mutation is incorporated into the genome (gene code map) and stabilized.

To get "improved" varieties, it is more likely multiple mutations would have to be induced (for example when humans induce mutations in breeds of dogs to get a specific dog type, or farmers do it with cows to produce more milk). According to Jacques Monod ('Chance and Necessity', 1968):

"...any appreciable evolution, like the differentiation of two very nearly related species, is the result of a great many independent mutations successively accumulated in the parent species and then, still at random, 'recombined' thanks to the gene flow promoted by sexuality"

Evolution (say to an adaptive advantage) may be said to have reliably occurred in a given species when significant genetic information - translated into one or more morphological alterations, is passed on via reproduction. Provided these alterations constitute an adaptative advantage, a chance exists for the new characteristic to appear in the organism. The organism will therefore have undergone evolution by mutation.
11) Is it possible that similarities in design between different animals prove a common Creator instead of a common ancestor ?
Maybe - but that's a hypothesis that has to be vetted, tested. In addition, you're starting your hypothesis with a built-in logical fallacy known as 'ignotum per ignotius' - or using the the not well explained or understood ('Creator') to account for similarities between animals. (Which can already be accounted for by natural selection, in terms of the species having the same environments, and hence having undergone the same adaptations over time. All Darwin's studies of the Galapagos Marine Iguana, for example, showed it evolved uniquely there by adapting to that environment. Before its diffusion, it was found no place else. Hence, the properties - structures it has (feeding almost exclusively on marine algae, expelling the excess salt from nasal glands while basking in the sun) is uniquely a product of its peculiar adaptation. Thus, there is NO "similarity" of "design" (which must be proven) between it and any other Marine iguanas - since there are none.
Now, what creationism must do is account for this "lone wolf" or outlier critter, in terms of its proposed creator. That means first, giving a definition of this creator, and also the necessary and sufficient conditions for its existence - as well as it potentials for operation. In addition, answer why this "creator" - if it was so great and powerful- couldn't create Marine iguana species all over the planet. Why just the Galapagos? Why not stick a (similar design - but not exact) version in Barbados? WHY? WHY? WHY?
Lastly, if you're going to advance this creator "hypothesis", then what tests will you use (like evolutionists do) to try and falsify it? If you won't make the attempt then you're not practicing science, but expounding religious belief: that "God" just stepped out of the clouds and made 'em.

Of Russet-dinos and the first Dino-Birds

Fossil tale scale for the dinosaur Sinosauropteryx, and superposed image inside.

The just-reported discovery of fossilized tail feathers of a meat eating dinosaur found in China has created much interest, and excitement. No wonder! The dinosaur, named Sinosauropteryx, shows one of the dinosaur finds not connected evolutionarily to birds. It was actually around earlier than the emergence of birds, and is the most primitive feathered dinosaur. Likely also, it was unable to achieve flight because of the lack of aerodynamically enabled feathers. These would be feathers able to achieve lift by way of the well-known Bernoulli Principle.

The image shown (top) captures the creature (superposed in the tail scale) and its russet-hue. In addition, this dinosaur appears to have russet rings, according to a paper published in Wednesday's Nature journal. Most intriguing, the pigmentation of the 125-million year old dinosaur appears to exhibit the same internal cellular coloring agents as seen in the hair of red-headed humans.

The color itself did not show up on simple observation, but did once an electron microscope was applied, at which point the researchers (based at the University of Bristol, England) identified the specific cellular markers of color. Until this remarkable find, scientists have speculated on a wide range of colors for these prehistoric beasts - ranging from rich pastoral green, to ochre and brown. Not surprisingly, as the connection to birds came more and more to light, so did researchers' consciousness that color might be an evolutionary factor.

Is it feasible that Sinosauropteryx might have led to a line of wingless or other rudimentary-winged birds- incapable of flight? Perhaps, but a lot more investigation would be needed to make such a link - since right now the find appears to stand alone. In any event, if and when a bird evolution connection is made it will come through meticulous observations and testing of hypotheses - something the creationist religious believer will never do - which is why his committment is to a religion, not genuine science. If this were not so, then the creationist would subject his theories to falsification tests.

REAL Science - unlike religious beliefs - is the search for natural explanations in what we behold in the world around us. Central to this process is the construction of theories. Contrary to the uneducated depiction by fundies, theories are the most advanced embodiment of science - and indicate that sound predictions can be made, and most falsification tests have been passed. Religious or supernatural claims, by contrast, would never attempt anything so dangerous - since it might make the faithful think twice and question their faith.

That context presumes an approach to objective truth is by way of successive approximations, a concept that is totally alien to most religionists. It works like this:

You have data, and accessory information which leads to some initial result which tests a particular hypothesis- call it 'x'. You then acquire better data (perhaps because of refined instruments, techniques ) and are led to a modified (improved) result such that:

x (n+1) = x + P(x) where x(n +1)

denotes an improvement via iteration, with P(x) the process (acting on x) that allows it.

Later, more refined data become available, such that:

x(n + 2) = x(n + 1) + P'(x + 1) and so on, and so on and so forth.

Each x, x(n+1), x(n+2) etc. being a successive approximation to what the objective, genuine value should be.

Religions - by contrast- simply impose their truth ab initio by fiat or decree, from some bible passage. There is no attempt whatever to incorporate any approximation, or to test claims made. Or to even acknowledge that 'truth' can't be accessed all at once. Rather, one must set rational truth aside and succumb to ‘faith”.
In their delusions the creationist crowd actuall believes their potshots at evolution - whether the (perceived) lack of transitional fossils, or the seeming absence of a "missing link" - forges a basis for creationist science or even arguments. In actuality, this is poppycock since most "arguments" for creationism aren't genuine arguments at all in the positive logical sense. They are just quibbles with evolutionary biology. For example, most of the sane and rational creationists will at least grant that evolution can occur on the small scale as with flu viruses or bacteria - they just won't allow it with dinosaurs, horses, humans etc.
But bottom line, they are simply whining about aspects of evolution - not manifesting their OWN full counter theory! (Which again, if they were, would have to be subjected to falsification)
Anyone who thinks this sort of blind faith is science, doesn't have the first clue about what real science is. And if they don't grasp successive approximations, they never will!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


The meaning of "brainwashing" - Pastor Mikey style!

Even before his latest blog post on 'Brainwashing by Evolutionists', it was well known that my brother, “Pastor Mike”, had only a dim comprehension of the fundaments of evolutionary theory –especially natural selection. Now, with his latest blog, he confirms he’s as uneducated and ignorant as most of us suspected. But don’t take my word for it!

Let’s look first hand at his ten biggest howlers, and then ask – ‘WHO is really being brainwashed here?’ (Sounds to me like his disciples)

HOWLER 1- “Life did not start with a bolt of lightning striking a pond of water as claimed by evolutionists. That is pure childish fantasy

Of course this is gibberish and arrant rubbish since evolution says no such thing! As readers can see if they go to my previous article:

this falls under class (c) of the “stupidest mistakes” made by anti-evolutionists. Specifically,the concept of life possibly arising from non-life is the theory of noogenesis- NOT evolution! Evolution theory says NOTHING, nada, about any original or primitive situation (including with only a reducing atmosphere of methane and ammonia present) devoid of life. It doesn’t enter until there actually IS life in the form of diverse early simple cellular species.

HOWLER 2- “They are taught that if given enough time, a monkey at a typewriter could punch keys at random and eventually type President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. This is nonsense.”

No – this is nonsense! Again, the theory of evolution says no such thing! The example of the monkey at a typewriter is in no way the same as the working of natural selection because each monkey keystroke is totally RANDOM, and also independent of its predecessor. Hence, the probability of getting a Gettysburg address from even a billion monkeys is essentially nil. Zero. (Actually, around 10^-160 which comes almost to the same thing since it would need around a million cycles of the universe at 15 billion years for each)

By contrast, natural selection is a process that builds on existing fitness for a given species. Thus, natural selection itself is anything but random. We can see this simply by doing simple experiments, as with fruit flies, and examining the emergence of specific traits over generations – governed by gene frequency. It can be seen that over time there is a genetic "favoritism", as it were, for certain traits or characteristics to be passed on or selected out of a group of competing traits in the gene pool. Thus, what natural selection does is to consolidate particular random mutations into a more stable, adaptive adjustment – governed by deterministic factors and inputs.

A perfect example is the German cockroach Blattela Germanica which – by exposure to the pesticide dieldrin- can be shown to evolve in successive generations to a form that is resistant to it. Of course, this is why the strength of pesticides (as well as herbicides) must always be increased with repeated use – because so many species develop a resistance that is -in fact, an example of natural selection!

HOWLER 3- “As an example, a computer was programmed in an attempt to arrive at the simple 26-letter alphabet. After 35,000,000,000,000 (35 trillion) attempts it has only arrived at 14 letters correctly. What are the odds that a simple single cell organism could evolve given the complexity of more than 60,000 proteins of 100 different configurations all in the correct places?”

Again, this has nothing to do with the theory of evolution by natural selection. My irrepressible and serially combative bro is again attacking the theory of noogenesis –NOT evolution. It’s no wonder he resembles Don Quixote tilting at windmills in his febrile mind, since he can’t even get his targets focused! Evidently, repeating this a gazillion times doesn’t affect him since he never processes it the first time.

It may amaze him also to know that not all evolutionists believe or accept the first primitive life forms arose on Earth by lightning striking pond scum. Some of us place our trust in an alternative theory of panspermia – in which life bearing meteoroids impacts Earth and the cells embedded in then THEN began to evolve. This has received more reinforcement since Antrarctic meteoroids that have landed on Earth from Mars appear to show remnant fossilized primitive cells. (These findings are still being subjected to cross testing)

HOWLER 4- “Evolution is a Religion - it's a worship of a make-believe time-god by the atheists - and their partner-in -crime. . .SATAN !!

Here, as usual, he totally loses all mental ballast- if he even had any to begin with. Evolution can’t be a “religion” because it is based on observations, and open inquiry to arrive at its findings. Further, unlike Mike’s stupid KJV (shown to be a false transcription from an error -loaded mal-translation of a 12th century copy by scholar Bart Ehrman) and its codswallop – evolution employs tests for falsification! That means, it tests its own claims to attempt to show they are false, before publishing them in biology or other journals. This is something Mike’s religion will never do, well….because he believes it is absolutely true so requires no tests.

As for “Satan” – that is the stuff of infantile minds and childish nightmares. Only a puerile mind or brain accepts such nonsense. Amazingly, Mike finds it easier to believe this crap than to accept even one evolutionary FACT: to wit, that the two ape chromosomes: 2p and 2q- underwent telomeric fusion to become the gene ‘2’ in humans.(Thereby also explaining why the ape chromosome pairs number 24 and the human, 23)

HOWLER 5- "You see , people who believe in evolution have been brainwashed. Their main problem is not the arguments for and against evolution and creation. Their problem is they can't bring themselves to reject evolution, because they have already rejected God”

More utter nonsense! In fact, as I noted in my two-part entry on ‘Truth, Existence Claims and God Talk’ – G-O-D isn't even a coherent concept. Most religionists like Mikey can’t even offer the most basic definition though they run off at the mouth about it all the time.

Thus, saying we (atheists) “have already rejected God” is tantamount to saying we have already rejected the flying spaghetti monster, or the Mighty Supreme Pumpkin. Thus, we do not reject anything but a childish, outmoded and incomprehensible nonsense word that the believers can’t even define, far less provide necessary or sufficient conditions for.

By contrast, we don’t reject evolution because we are intelligent and educated enough to see that it has met all its tests for falsification and has unique and considerable evidence. For example, humans and chimpanzees have the exact same cytochrome -c protein sequence. In the absence of common (evolutionary) descent, the chance of this occurrence is conservatively less than 1 in 10^93. That is, 1 in 10 to the 93rd power, or 10 followed by 93 zeros.

Thus, the high degree of similarity in these proteins is a spectacular corroboration of the theory of common descent. But believers are too dumb or too uneducated to grasp this.

HOWLER 6- “The body and soul of Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution was his idea that evolution was made possible through natural selection. This concept is based on the suggestion that those members of a species that are a little stronger, a little larger, or run a little faster will live longer to procreate offspring with these superior adaptations. Darwin's theory suggests that millions of generations later the changes will result in new species. These adaptations are called links or intermediates between the old species and the new.”

This one made me howl so much with laughter I nearly split a gut. Seems the pastor has been going overboard copying and pasting text for his blog rants from imbeciles (Duane Gish?) the content of which he doesn’t get. In fact, if anyone has ever done any experiments with fruit flies one can see natural selection manifesting within less than 50 generations. With the right initial conditions one can see the fly generations change to end up with different eye colors, wing shapes, as well as thorax dimensions.

HOWLER 7- “One of the best examples of evolution nonsense is the thought that a wingless bird began to evolve a wing. Why this would occur is not answered by evolutionists. The wing stub did not make the bird more adaptable to his environment. The first wing stubs would be much too small for the bird to fly. Why would a bird evolve wing stubs that are useless?”

Here Mikey demonstrates he hasn’t even done basic reading or research on bird evolution. If he had, he would have read or seen the evidence that birds originated from dinosaurs. Thus, the specialized scales of certain specific dinosaurs later adapted to become feathers. Some of the earliest flying dinos show the future adaptation very well, especially Archaeopteryx. A “wingless” bird seen in context, therefore, would simply have arisen from a dinosaur with few specialized scales.

One other point that appears to elude him is that evolution is an algorithmic process. Breaking this down into words he can understand, that means that many variations are attempted but most are dead ends. Evolution doesn’t promise that ALL species have ALL members move on and prosper! It merely says that those species that can best adapt to their environments will be the optimal survivors!

If one is educated enough, and reads enough, one can find hundreds of thousands of dead end species. None of these disproves natural selection (which Mike assumes must work positively at all times) but rather PROVES it. It proves that the less adaptable or specialized will die out, ensured if they can’t function as their competitors can. Such would be a “wingless bird” (by which Mike probably surmises is the dodo. But then as we know, the dodo went extinct, while millions of the flying bird species remain)

Another example of a dead end species was Neandertal man. Died out nearly 50,000 years ago. Lacked the adaptive capacity to survive, unlike Cro-Magnon Man.

HOWLER 8 – “The Theory of Evolution is based on natural selection of the most adaptable member of a species, not the weakest. A bird with a useless wing is at a severe disadvantage. This is the opposite of natural selection. According to natural selection, the members of the bird species with the smallest useless wing would be the most adaptable and most likely to survive in the largest numbers”

Again, Mikey has it ass backwards! It is the flying birds which are the most adaptable, not the non-flying. All flying birds have at least one more option than non-fliers to escape predators on the ground: fly away! The most adaptable bird species are easily seen then to be the FLIERS. A bird with a useless wing, or a primitive proto-wing, is likely a mutation that is destined to die out – like the dodo. What Mike is doing is taking evolution backwards (to the first winged dinosaurs that couldn’t fly) to try to make the specious case that natural selection doesn’t work.

As usual Mike has a one trick mind or mentality. He can’t grasp the essence of the theory of natural selection, so he projects that deficiency onto the theory! Then he calls the theory “nonsense”. In truth it is Mike who manufactures his own nonsense since he never grasps the theory in the first place!

HOWLER 9- “The problem can be found in all species in one way or another. Take fish for example. We are told by evolutionists that a fish wiggled out of the sea onto dry land and became a land creature. So let's examine this idea. OK, a fish wiggles out of the sea and onto the land, but he can't breathe air. This could happen. Fish do stupid things at times”

And so do “pastors” – like when they write of things they don’t understand! I guess however, that Mike has never heard of walking catfish – which are quite comfortable out of the water, traipsing around land. Readers can learn more here.

Note that the locomotion method used is via its pectoral fins. Note also it can remain out of water walking on its fins so long as it stays moist – maybe by dipping into a pool every now and then. IN the evolutionary setting, it is clearly nowhere near the big deal the pastor makes it out to be. In that setting, and over time, one could easily see how the pectoral fins could have adapted and altered to become rudimentary limbs, then legs.

A whole panorama of this sort of change can be seen when one observes tadpoles growing into frogs. The tadpoles effectively replicate what happened in evolution - they don't "prove evolution" - as we see them slowly sprout little tiny nubs, then legs. When I use the term "replicate" I mean that the metamorphosis of the tadpole is akin to a "playback" film of what likely happened in the course of evolution when fish adapted to become amphibians - not that it IS evolution, or a proof of it! Of course, this nuance is missed by hard heads like my semi-literate bro.

When a kid, this was one of the things I’d perennially enjoy – but it seems Mike never did, or if he did, it never made a dent.

HOWLER 10- “The fossil record shows no intermediate or transitional species. Where are the millions of years of fossils showing the transitional forms for dinosaurs ? They do not not exist, because the dinosaurs did not evolve !"

One wonders if Mike can possibly be this unconscious, dense or illiterate and uneducated. (Newsflash: where there are some missing transitionals it is likely the same geological locations where the Earth's tectonic plates have either crushed them out of existence, or buried them) Mayhap he needs to check his facts here- as opposed to Duane Gish's Creation Science Circus of Clowns:

Addendum HOWLER:

I see Mikey again remains as clueless as ever about the second law of thermodynamics- as when he huffs:

"the second law of thermodynamics proves that organization cannot flow from chaos. Complex live organisms cannot rearrange themselves into an organism of a higher form as claimed by evolutionists. This is scientifically backwards according to the second law of thermodynamics, which has never been proven wrong."

Now, I have to really wonder if he is stone dumb, or just thinks his 'followers' are plain old stupid that because he flashes some fancy two dollar words around they'll swallow his hog swill. But as I already noted (previously link article on anti-evolutionists' errors):

"This is directly a result of misinterpretation of the 2nd law, something I often see from those who've never taken a serious physics course - even in high school. Strictly speaking the law states:Entropy (the state of disorder) will tend to increase over time in any closed system.The last part is very crucial but it is exactly the part that the creationist-ID crowd omits, which renders their question a non-starter.The reason is that neither the Earth nor its biological systems are "closed" systems, hence do not exhibit constantly increasing disorder.The Earth, for example, is open to the radiant energy of the Sun and receives some 1360 watts per square meter. Plants on the Earth are likewise OPEN to solar energy, and receive it and then use it in the process of photo-synthesis.

Other organisms eat the plants and thereby incorporate that energy into themselves. Thus, the path is cleared for higher organizational development and speciation. We do not see a constant wind-down because all these systems are OPEN, not closed."

THUS, the "chaos" Mikey is petrified of can't occur because Earth is not a closed thermodynamic system but an OPEN one. What this shows is my brother has NO physics background, can't grasp the most basic physics principles and is lost at sea in trying to use them to advance his silly biblical superstititions.

Again this shows Isaac Asimov was correct when he asserted it's impossible to debate irrationalists. Because their ignorance and mis-education knows no bounds - they'll always twist any known scientific principles to their own ends, as well as misapply logic, to show their superstitious crap has some kernel of truth. But it has no more than believing in tooth fairies, perpetual motion machines, or "free vacuum energy".

On that note, I believe Mike needs to leave evolution theory to real scientists and researchers, and stick to his bible full of children’s fables. At least when he writes about them he makes it sound half-convincing: to children!

If he is serious, and does wish to be taken seriously as a critic of evolution and natural selection- as opposed to a loud, oafish clown- I suggest he go to his library, get Darwin's Origin of Species - and read it. Instead of going to hucksters of holiness sites like Duane Gish's.

Regulate Automatic Trading NOW!

The item (‘Regulation Threat to CME Dominance’) on the front page of the ‘Companies and Markets’ Section of the January 27 Financial Times could easily have been missed if one didn’t scan the page carefully. Basically, it noted the increasing aberrations to do with “automatic trading”- especially “flash orders” - which now dominate 70% of equities and derivatives transactions,

The trades are instantly implemented as computers (on trading floors) have been matched to the peculiar structure of the very derivatives that drive most equity trades, both purchases and sales. In one case, CME Group – associated with the Chicago Futures Exchange is to investigate a trader who – within seconds- made both 200,000 buys and sales on a “mini” futures exchange subsidiary. This has raised eyebrows, especially as it means large trades could easily be manipulated if no watchman is at the gate.

The truth is with automatic trading there is no “gate” or gatekeeper”. By the time most of these automated flash transactions are completed (in about two microseconds) a massive gain or loss can be effected – with the latter often coming at the expense of ordinary Joes and Janes still operating by telephone: calling in their action to their broker, or mutual fund company. The sad fact is that in nearly all such transactions these folks will be a day late and a literal dollar short.

What we need, pronto, is the regulation of flash trades as part and parcel of any broader financial regulation reform – which is much more desperately needed than just imposing a 0.15% fee on banks (which I understand, comes under an obscure loophole that they can use to claw back the money under a tax write-off).

As I stated in several earlier posts, this reform needs to encompass limits on derivatives, especially credit derivatives, and any other arcane instruments or entities designed by the "quants" subsequent to the 2008 credit meltdown. As for credit default swaps themselves, I believe the optimal control is to place them in separate exchanges and not mix them up with normal derivative-bearing securities. (Especially as they represent "bets" on trading conduct and outcomes, not merely traditional securities)

Those of us sincerely worried about the formation of a new asset bubble, because of the flood of cheap money engendered by the Fed’s ongoing low interest rates, really hope Mr. Obama will take this issue on tonight in his State of the Union address. His most urgent populist maneuver is, indeed, to take on the epicenter of capitalism run amuck - in Wall Street – but to do so in an intelligent and direct way, not by appeal to hocus pocus or diversions.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Myth of Capitalist Support for Overpopulation

In my blog entry on ‘The Myth of Overpopulation’:

One of the remarks I made concerning Deborah Young’s effort to soft sell the risk of human over population (in conjunction with her hubris that we can easily support a population of 10 billion) was:

“She does have a point concerning dictators squandering national resources (like Papa Doc Duvalier in Haiti) but totally excludes from comment the most wasteful and rapacious system in the world, capitalism. There is never going to be ANY way for her more equitable distribution of food, resources, water...until she confronts that bogey. Her omission speaks volumes....of selective attention, expedience and convenience!”

Evidently one commentator didn’t like this take at all, and actually accused me of cluelessness in respect of understanding capitalism. (That comment was rejected as not contributing anything to enhance the discussion – as it too clearly showed he’d not done his own homework prior to commenting). In fact, I will show that he is actually the one who is clueless, since there is no way that an economic system predicated on profits and privatization can remotely sustain a burgeoning population.

Again, this doesn’t take a menial or rudimentary intellect to grasp, though it seems some folks’ ideological commitments to the capitalist “market god” effectively reduce their mean IQs to about the level of the average religious fundamentalist.

Before getting under way let me refer readers to Part III-B of my series, ‘The U.S. Propaganda Industry’:

Pay attention therein to false consciousness and how I noted the propagandists have successfully implanted it in most of the American populace – who still swoon whenever the terms “capitalism” and “free market” are uttered. But which swoon gives them away as essential zombies in the service of the corporatists – and which will now make them slaves to those same interests, thanks to the recent abominable Supreme Court decision which equates having free speech rights to inhuman artifacts (corporations), simply because a bastardized earlier (1886) SC ruling declared them to be “persons”!

Next, under myths – specifically (ii) ‘Existence of a Free Market’ – note where I stated:

“According to this myth, equal competition exists between more or less "equal private capitalists". In such a case, the competition almost always acts in the interests of the consuming public. In truth, this quaint concept was demolished by the arch-capitalists (Carnegie, Morgan, Rockefeller) after their creature, the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, was enacted in 1890. This, along with the absurd legal definition of corporation, equating it to a 'person' in the infamous 1886 Santa Clara decision.

Maxine Baca-Zinn and D. Stanley Eitzen observe (op. cit., p. 343) that more accurately:"The American economy is no longer based on competition among more or less equal private capitalists. It is now dominated by huge corporations that, contrary to classical economic theory, control demand rather than being responsive to the demands of the market."

So, the free market as idealized in the paeans to it by the likes of the “American Enterprise Institute” no longer exists. Rather it is a controlled market. What exactly are the chances any such entity would see fit to deliver the infrastructure to support an increasing population – to the tune of maybe four billion more, and another 500 million in the U.S.?

Need a clue? Okay, let me provide one: look around at the crumbling U.S. basic infrastructure – from roads, to sewer systems, water mains and bridges. WHAT has been done to even bring these up to operational level? NOTHING! Even as the almighty DOW had continued its great ascent (to hear the “Bulls” and marketers) that infrastructure disrepair remained, and one could read about it any given day. For example, three days ago when a 26” water main burst in my own city and crews had to be rapidly dispatched to repair it.

Now, if the entrenched capitalist system can’t even find the initiative to fix this mess (which the American Society of Civil Engineers estimates will come to $1.7 TRILLION) why would they evoke any initiative to try to establish a much vaster, more intricate system to serve maybe twice the U.S. population? The answer is they wouldn’t! As we also saw with the Chinese dry wall controversy, the market bidders, builders etc. would likely use inferior materials just to enhance their profit margins. THAT is the nature of the capitalist beast! To screw whoever it can, and hopefully not be detected.

If one then goes through all the nations of the world, one finds similar levels of problems – but less so in the European “Rhine Capitalist” (or democratic socialist) nations, such as Norway and Germany – where at least ample public monies are set aside for public works.

Even in Europe, however, the processing of refuse throughput is becoming an almost insurmountable task. What had been millions of tons of refuse and garbage in the 1980s is now trillions. To match this, landfill space is vanishing. And yet the geniuses advocating that we can hold ten billion people blithely skate over this little nuisance. No problem! We’ll have an explosion of technology to fix it!

Which is more utter bilge and nonsense. As Matt Savinar notes (Life after the Oil Crash, p. 33):

"The idea that technologically derived increases in energy efficiency will solve this for us is fundamentally flawed: technology uses energy; it doesn’t produce it. Here in the 21st century, we have a shortage of energy, not technology. The shortage of energy was caused primarily by the introduction of new technologies such as the internal combustion engine. The shortage is therefore unlikely to be solved by the introduction of even more technology.

More technology will simply allow us to use more energy, which will make us more dependent on technology, which will make us more dependent on energy. As the supply of energy dwindles, the technology on which we have become dependent will no longer function To illustrate: what do you think would happen if the average fuel efficiency of every vehicle on the road today was magically raised to 200 miles per gallon?

It doesn’t take a psychic to accurately predict how we would react to this “miracle.” We would continue to build our homes farther and farther away from our jobs and grow our food farther and farther away from our stores. In other words, we would increase our dependency on cheap energy. This would temporarily delay the crisis while reinforcing the underlying problem, which is a dual dependence on cheap energy and high technology. The more dependent we are on cheap energy when the day of reckoning arrives, the more painful it is going to be, the more people are going to die, and the longer it will take us to recover from the aftermath.

Consequently, increases in fuel efficiency and technology are more likely to make our situation worse, not better.

Thus, technology is NO panacea and certainly not in terms of solving the sustainability problem for any massive increase in population. But let’s get back to the imperatives of global capitalism itself. Author William Greider, who has profoundly investigated global capitalism’s dynamic offers one of the best takes (One World Ready or Not - The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism):

Do we really believe for one moment that those who preach free trade and the inevitable triumph of market forces have anything other than their own increased wealth and aggrandizement in mind? Do we honestly believe they think the system they espouse is fundamentally a good one for all concerned? Are we so na├»ve as to think if, by any chance, the system were to operate against their interests, that they would not make sure it was changed or abridged to suit them? Are we so innocent and trusting that we cannot recognize bullying and crude self-interest when our noses are being rubbed in it constantly?”

He adds:

“The historic paradox is breathtaking: At the very moment when Western democracies and capitalism have triumphed over the communist alternative, their own systems of self-government are being gradually unraveled by the market system”

When one reads Greider’s book one can discern the actual purpose of global capitalism is to exploit or reduce the human surplus population – NOT aid it or support it. The overall imperative of global capitalism is ultimately to abolish all governmental, national social insurance systems - whether these be Medicare or Social Security in the United States, or the analogous systems in Germany or Barbados. In each case, the particular system to be replaced by a privatized entity able to generate debt and further income inequality. As Jay Bookman aptly notes ('The New World Disorder Evident Here, Abroad'):

“The global economy has been constructed on the premise that government guarantees of security and protection must be avoided at all costs, because they discourage personal initiative. In times of crisis, however, that premise cannot be sustained politically. In times of trouble it is human nature to seek security and protection and to be drawn toward those who promise to provide it. That is how men such as Adolf Hitler, and Vladimir Ilyich Lenin came to power, with disastrous consequences.”

In other words, in any truly population-expanding world the actual response of global capitalists would be two fold: i) use the surplus population created as a hammer over the heads of those who refuse to heave to (e.g. ‘If you won’t do this we’ll find someone who will) or ii) allow the surplus population to grow to the point that the sheer lack of resources compels fierce competition leading to tribal, regional or other wars and thereby reducing the numbers. And, as Bookman notes, in the worst case scenario, a new “Hitler” emerges to take on the pain of the downtrodden masses and use it to leverage himself to power. With vast consequences – probably negative- for all.

But let’s also examine this nonsense of capitalism delivering from the point of view of eco-economics. Perhaps no one has done more in this area than Prof. Herman Daly of the University of Maryland. Eco-economists tie the quality of global ecology directly to the operation of economics, and how its priorities are set. For example, if fossil fuel production is allowed to be unregulated then it directly enhances greenhouse warming- with adverse effects on the global ecology. (Severe drought in many places and excessive precipitation causing flooding in many others, etc.)

Thus, the bulk of eco-economists advocate economic models of small or no growth. Global "free trade" is one of the most blasphemous lies to ever come down the Propaganda pike. Probably the best expose of this farce was done by Daly, in his lecture, 'The G-Forces Of Disintegration' -at the Aspen Institute in 2000. Some excerpts:

“Globalization refers to global economic integration of many formerly national economies into one global economy, by free trade, especially by free capital mobility, and also, as a distant but increasingly important third, by easy or uncontrolled migration. Globalization is the effective erasure of national boundaries for economic purposes. National boundaries become totally porous with respect to goods and capital, and increasingly porous with respect to people, viewed in this context as cheap labor, or in some cases cheap human capital.

In sum, globalization is the economic integration of the globe. But exactly what is ‘integration’? Integration is the act of combining separate albeit related units into a single whole. Since there can be only one whole, it follows that global economic integration logically implies national economic disintegration - parts are torn out of their national context (disintegrated), in order to be re-integrated into the new whole, the globalised economy. As the saying goes, to make an omelette you have to break eggs. The distintegration of the national egg is necessary to integrate the global omelette. This obvious logic, as well as the cost of disintegration, is frequently met with denial.”

Again, the casualty is human security. And again, the consequences – unless the vast masses are anesthetized- will be almost nonstop killing, likely making the 800,000 slaughtered in the Rwadan genocide look like a tea party. The greater the population, the greater the magnitudes and dispersion of the slaughter.

In the same Aspen lecture, Daly noted that the concept of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) was developed to help steer the US economy out of the Great Depression, and through World War Two. It was for another time and place, and is no longer relevant to this time and place. It needs to be dunned and ditched in favor of the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare. (ISEW).

GDP is an inadequate barometer because of a number of fundamental problems: we don't measure unpaid work or services that may benefit society, we treat expenses as income, and we often fail to value natural resources. In any overpopulated domain, especially here in the U.S., the meaning of GDP would become even more perverted as vast forests and other natural acreage are demolished to make room for development. Great Smokey Mountains National Park – gone! Rocky Mountain National Park – gone! Everglades – paved over for who knows what. The only ones who benefit will be the mega-rich who can afford to take off for Aspen or Jackson Hole.

Clearly any increasing population beyond the carrying capacity (which, btw, Richard Heinberg - author of 'The Party's Over') asserts is only 2 billion, 1 billion less than Asimov) will shatter the ISEW measures and lead to horrific quality of life for the packed in humans. (Assuming they will escape the ravages of greenhouse warming – including the spread of tropical diseases like dengue fever to the temperate zone)

So, again, until the ‘overpopulation is a myth’ proponents lay out their plans for dealing with the global capitalist machine ….they are all whistling Dixie past a potential human graveyard. As I noted in my earlier blog entry: Is Haiti A Microcosm of Humanity's Future' - we are poised at a threshold where we can either self destruct as a species, or move on to a higher quality of life. All those who insist overpopulation is a myth, or worse - that "capitalism" can solve it, are purveyors of human extinction. And no - I won't mince words!

Test on Evolution - For Fundie Critics

An ongoing aggravation is to behold how many clueless Christian Fundies regularly opine on evolution, and criticize evolutionary biologists and others - without knowing anything about it. At least when I critique bible believers, I know whereof I speak because while attending Loyola University (in the 60s) I had to take courses in Biblical exegesis, Textual Analysis, and scriptural interpretation. The Fundies, most of them, have never taken any courses in evolution - and yet feel it is their wont to yap all they want about it, ignorantly criticizing and commenting on what they clearly don't understand. (Heck, most haven't even read Darwin's Origin of Species)

In the interest of intellectual honesty, therefore, I invite these fundie commentators (starting with my irrepressible brother - "Pastor Mike") to take the following test to ascertain if they are really qualified to talk about evolution, far less criticize it.

I regard a qualification to talk (write) about the subject (say on their blogs) getting at least 7 of 10 correct. I regard a qualification to criticize it, getting at least 8 of 10 correct.

----Start test (Time - 1 hour)

1) A fossilized animal bone specimen is found to contain 0.125 gram of an unnamed radioactive isotope. Analysis reveals that the original mass was 1 gram. What is the half-life of the sample if it is dated at 3 million years?

2)Which of these would be involved in molecular evolution?

A) tRNA B)mRNA C) rRNA D) All the preceding

3) The mutation rate for human albinism is u = 0.00001. (e.g. 1 in every 100,000). If the equilibrium frequency q = 0.01, what is the reduction in fitness?

4) Blatella Germanica, the German cockroach has the following identified alleles:

D- resistance to the pesticide dieldrin
d- non-resistance

After some defined time, the population exhibits the following three genotypes:

DD, Dd and dd

If over time, each dd and Dd roach produces one offspring, and each DD produces TWO, then find:

a) the relative fitness for the DD roaches
b) the relative fitness for the Dd roaches
c) the relative fitness for the dd roaches

5) Given the same information as above, find:

a) the selection value for the DD roaches
b) the selection value for the Dd roaches
c) the selection value for the dd roaches

6. a) Based on your analysis from 4, 5 which allele of the German roach is “deleterious”?

b) Over successive generations of German roaches it can be shown that the gene frequency of the deleterious allele will be decreased by:

-Dq = - spq / (1 – sq)^2

where p is the gene frequency for the favored allele ( = 0.60)

If it reproduces at a ratio of 3:2 relative to the disadvantaged allele., use this information to find:

The gene frequency (q) of the disadvantaged allele for the roach, and thence, the magnitude of -Dq.

7) For the same example, above, estimate the values of p and q when

-Dq = -0.07

state any assumptions made.

8) In DNA there are always FOUR bases: A (adenine), C (cytosine), T (thymine) and G (guanine)

WHICH one of the following complementary base pairings would NEVER occur?

A) A-T B) G-C C) C-T D) NONE of the preceding

9) Micro-evolution is allegedly tested on the bacterium E. Coli, grown in a medium devoid of galactosides, so that its three available proteins are synthesized at an exceedingly slow rate – about 1 molecule every five generations.

If galactoside is now introduced into the medium the rate of synthesis of all three proteins is increased a thousandfold. If it is withdrawn, the synthesis rate returns to its original low form.

Which of the following components is critical to the process described above?

A) a “regulator” gene (i) B) a repressor protein R C) An operator segment of the DNA D) a molecule of inducer galactoside b E) All the preceding

10. Explain why the preceding example is not really an illustration of microevolution. Define micro-evolution and provide the testable criteria for a genuine example of your choice. Be sure to include in the example how it shows microevolution and not macro-evolution.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Evil God - or Evil Humans?

To the biblical literalist, the overriding problem with his venerable "Good Book" (especially Old Testament) is reconciling his "loving God" with the sociopathic displays of petty rage that repeatedly are documented. To set the context here, I will delve into a few examples before showing that the inherent problem is not the psychosis of the god presented - but rather of the narrow, psychotic god-concepts that are the projections of the writers' own feverish brains.

Anyway - some examples:

1)Deut. 22:22

"If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman and the woman; so you shall purge the evil from Israel"

2) 2 Kings 2, 23:24 (Concerning Elisha siccing "God's She Bears'" on little children)

"And he went up from then unto Beth-el: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him and said unto him: 'Go up, thou bald head, go up , thou bald head'. And he turned back and looked at them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she-bears out of the wood, and teared up forty and two children of them"

You can find a satirical re-enactment here:

3) Deut. 21: 18-21

"If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son, who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and - though they chastise him he will not give heed to them, then his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of hte place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of the city,'This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard. Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones, so you shall purge the evil from your midst"

Now, on examining and considering these examples, which is more likely: 1) that a psychotic entity-deity with ten screws loose could actually exist and mete out "justice" as manifested in these stories, or (2) the stories were purely the fabrications of vile, debased minds and cruel hearts? In other words, evil men masquerading as wise fonts of ineffable wisdom.

Religious scholar Elaine Pagels - in her book, ‘The Gnostic Gospels’ - makes the excellent point that from the time of the Gnostics (ca. 3- 175 C.E.) - these stories were regarded as gross distortions created by narrow, feeble, vicious and vengeful minds. No surprise then that the "god" which resulted from such deformed and projected fictions would also exhibit a vengeful, vicious mind and heart. I mean - let's get real here: obeying a whiny prophet's curse to dispatch she-bears to rip the jugulars out of small kids because they taunted him? Give me a frickin' break! Only a half- idiot would buy that a REAL God did this!

Pagels points out that because the Gnostics could see through this gross fiction, they dismissed this putative biblical deity as a degenerate sub- being which they called “demiurgos”. Further, NO sane person in any way enlightened by the Essene or Gnostic teachings would pay the least attention to this thing - any more than people today would worship the "boogeyman" or Freddy Krueger.

In his own book, ‘Deceptions and Myths of the Bible’, 1979, author Lloyd Graham also exposes this caricature of a deity for what it is: in reality an epigenetic, tribally-based creation of a tribal people. The perverted "morality" beheld in the preceding examples, is thus none other than that of a degenerate, tribal morality carried out - not out of any wishes of any "LORD" - but a tribal god as defunct and defiling as Baal, or any of the Mayan deities that demanded human sacrifice. That any sane or rational human would pay it any respect is a travesty and betrayal of the human intellect.

.As Graham notes Op. cit., p. 315):

"The only consciousness here is the epigenetic and this is – as yet- wholly incapable of controlling violent forces. This explains why our imaginary God of love and mercy allows these forces to destroy us”.

Another point to make which exposes the fraudulent nature of this OT deity, derives from the earlier essays I did to do with Existence Claims, and assessing Truth. Thus, the unhinged creature depicted in the OT is just an unhinged, debased and narrow manifestation of an equally debased god-concept.

No "God" actually exists here, but god-concepts do - since they are the verbal or artistic ideations which the human brain sees fit to manifest- either in an ancient text or work of art . The beauty or lack thereof, of a god-concept, must inevitably match the capacity of the brain that spawns it. If that brain is limited, degenerate and cruel - so also the god-concept must be. If that brain is generous (with heart to match), loving and refined, so also will the god-concept be. There can be no absolute precisely because each human brain in the end manufactures its own god-concept .....or not.

The atheist, in the end, is simply a person who has moved beyond the realm of god-concepts and doesn't accept any. He recognizes that they are half-creatures of the limited human brain, and even IF a God did exist (which the implicit atheist doesn't outright "deny") there is simply no way a human mind or brain could process it. 'God' is such a concept, since there aren't enough testable axioms or tenets to prove it - or even to identify the necessary criteria for adequacy of operation (which these days more often than not passes for what we call "proof").

Thus, "deity" is unprovable by any system of axioms that can be conjured up by the finite human brain or collection of brains.Put another way, the typical human brain can make 'x' statements about "God" - but these will always be at least (N- x) short of encapsulating the concept in fullness and adequacy. The gap between the statements that can be given and must be given is usually referred to as the "undecidable propositions".

At another level, it is of interest to explore how deity varies as a concept between religions. This discloses there can't be one uniform human perception for the concept. To fix ideas, the typical western Christian regards his or her deity as a personal God, while the typical Hindu regards his or her deity (Brahmin) as impersonal. Even if all other things are equal, how can there be such a vast gap in human perceptions? The fact of such a perceptual chasm must mean either: a) God does not exist - at least as specified by either group, or b) God exists, but no human mind is capable of grasping even the most elemental conception accurately. In either case, it makes no difference whether one "believes" in it or not. Whether an entity is non-existent ab initio - or exists but is unknowable (since the human brain lacks the capacity) means that no belief is incumbent. (And again, those who say otherwise bear the unenviable task of at least giving the necessary and sufficient conditions for its existence- to distinguish it from Brahmin, Yahweh, Allah or all other claimed deities).

Thus, it seems the more one uses the term "God" the less he or she is really committed to it, or respects the underlying concept. The more the noun is bandied about, in other words, the less power is derived from it, and the less it impresses one's fellows. This may be why the Buddhists, at least, appear to have risen above the endless chase to follow and cling to a deity which ultimately either doesn't exist or is unknowable. As Buddhist thinker Alan Watts put it (The Wisdom of Insecurity):

"The incredible truth is that what religion calls 'the vision of God' is found by giving up any belief in the idea of God. By a law of reversed effort, we discover the infinite and absolute not by straining to escape from the finite and relative world but by the most complete acceptance of its limitations.Paradoxical as it may seem, we likewise find life meaningful only when we have seen it is without purpose."

If the Rightist Christians and their ilk had much more sincerity it's clear they'd more follow Watts' exhortations, rather than blathering endlessly in intemperate "god talk"- making themselves look like ignorant and clueless asses (espcially if they cling to the literal "goodness" of a derelict creation like the OT "God"!)

Thus, applying the principle of reversed effort, they'd be more likely to back away from a deluded (and ill-informed) certainty - in asserting what "God" would and wouldn't do. Or who he would and wouldn't condemn. Not least because all so-called books of "revelation" are in fact books defined by limited and self-referential god-concepts conjured up by the most primitive (tribal)minds.

Most importantly here, acknowledgement of the implicit use of god-concepts, reinforces the attitude of cautious forbearance. The implicit relativism of all god-concepts acts as a restraint, backing the believer away from a militant stance of absolutism. Ideally, this should dispose him or her to be more judicious and tolerant: tolerant toward unbelievers, and tolerant toward those of different religions. Far from being "wishy-washy", this affords humanity a hope that religious conflicts will one day come to an end. No more Jews versus Muslims, Catholics versus Protestants, or Hindus versus Muslims.

Far from conceding to evil, this necessary acceptance of relativity offers an escape from evil. It is an admission of intellectual humility. An admission that human brains are too limited in capacity and function to access the fundamental answers to life - or to have an exclusive grasp of the "one, true God", somehow denied to all those of other faiths.

Most pertinent, if the nearly universal need to embrace god-concepts is grounded in brain architecture or operation then I think scientists - and indeed the general population, must know about it. It's too important not to investigate scientifically, especially since the findings could be valuable in informing a more fundamental perspective on the issue. Such investigations might also shed light on why a minority group (atheists, agnostics) do not share this need to worship or formulate God-concepts. Do they lack the requisite brain chemicals or wiring? Or, is there a brain self-stimulation dynamic present in believers' temporal lobes that is absent in temporal lobes of unbelievers? Could this be traced to a gene, or complex of genes?

Inquiring minds want to know! Those closed minds who believe they already have all the answers need not apply!