Tonight, while watching a video of ISIS destroying 3000 year old artifacts in Mosul, Iraq, I found myself feeling sickened, wondering in what world could these actions possibly be justified? And the only thing I can conclude is that rationally, they cannot. I think the most common anti-science argument that I encounter is that it can be tailored for an agenda, or that the same evidence can look different in different context or from different views. Honestly, at this point I hardly have enough composure to put together a rational post, so please forgive me. I’m tired of war. I’m tired of senseless violence and people dying over cosmic entities and nationalism. There is no way the actions of ISIS can be justified without the use of a cosmic excuse. And yet, all the good in the world can be easily justified by science, by altruism and reciprocation without implementing arguments from faith. We cannot simultaneously excuse our own irrational beliefs and condemn those of another group. We need evidence for our actions. There’s no way around it.
Standing among high mountains, we are instantly humbled. Their towering peaks, foreboding granite walls instill a sort of humility that only the powerful forces of the universe can provide. And yet they almost seem to crave being climbed, beckoning like a child wishing to be acknowledged. It is like Schrodinger’s cat, the sort of thing like some philosophers hypothesize the universe necessarily must spawn life in order to exist. If a mountain exists in the woods and no one is there to climb it, does it exist? The mountains seem to announce a similar array of necessity, not an insecurity, but rather a requirement to be observed. Continue reading The patient life: life of adventure
There are two types of opinions with respect to science: that it can be used to explain everything and the alternative that its scope is limited. I know a lot of us are tremendously resistant to the belief that science can explain everything. We crave mystery in our world and we often believe science takes that away. But what sometimes we fail to realize about science is that more often than not, it creates mystery where there previously was none, it creates questions more than answers. Scientists themselves are fueled by the mystery surrounding our universe and the entities within it. It is exactly the lack of knowledge that drives them. But they base their search on the premise that knowledge can be obtained, and that is why they keep looking. Continue reading Science!
With the back half of the triathlon season quickly approaching, I find myself in a situation I never expected, with my race calendar empty for the entirety of 2013’s next six months and empty of results from the last six. In my results and rankings section, a tab for 2013 doesn’t even exist. I did not disappear. I am not burned out. I did not plan this. I am not injured or tired. I love the sport of triathlon just as much as ever. I am not any busier than normal, and nor more broke than normal. I have access to adequate training and facilities. So why has this calendar been littered with work schedules and due dates rather than training plans and race dates? Continue reading Mid-season recap
Yesterday I listened to a talk from Sam Harris on the subject of free will. It was a brilliant speech, one that I definitely feel is worth watching and may clarify some elements of my last post. What he is addressing is that not only does free will not exist but that it could not exist, that the concept itself is impossible, that to imagine free will is muddled and intangible. Harris spent a large portion of his speech outlining the benefits to knowing that we do not have free will, how an acknowledgement of this reality could help retain fear but abolish hatred, how it could help inspire a reconstructing of our justice system, and many other reasons for adopting an awareness of our true freedom. I was challenged the other day on my analysis of life and my inspiration in life coming almost purely from a cosmological perspective. While Harris supplied us with an adequate and logical reason for understanding that our thoughts are not our own, I wondered about the benefit of analyzing everything from a cosmological perspective. Continue reading Cosmological significance
Imagine watching nuclear fusion come to be standard as energy on the earth. You stand by as you witness one of the greatest advancements in humankind-the transition to sustainability. Imagine, with the discovery of better methods of space travel, abandoning our terrestrial life to become space-faring, trans-galactic beings. Imagine interacting with beings from another planet, learning their language, their culture, their technology. Imagine studying their biology, making friends on another planet, learning their planet’s history, and having access to information about the universe that we have not yet acquired. Imagine watching our planet develop, new species forming, continents shifting. What if I were to tell you that all of this could potentially happen within your lifetime? Continue reading Biological immortality
Yesterday I rode for the first time in months. I ventured down south of the James and rode on the beautiful low traffic roads that I remember once believing were hilly. It was an amazing feeling to be mobile and fast again. Despite the occasional tweak in my ankle, the pain couldn’t compare to what I experience when running or swimming. And the pain from my lack of training was an adequate distraction. For the first time in many, many years, if not ever, I was passed on a solo ride by another cyclist. It was awkward as hell and I’ll admit my heart sank when I heard the whir of his spinning chain slip by. I felt broken but I remembered I had vowed to not let my insecurity be my motivation and I continued to enjoy my ride. With my hairy, skinny legs, I was determined to accept the state where I had arrived with acceptance and pride.
I had my MRI yesterday morning. Ever since learning about the basic of an MRI in my organic chemistry class, I have been fascinated with that form of medical imaging. For the twenty-five minutes I lay with the magnets clambering around my leg, all I could think about was the amazing feat of human knowledge and engineering to be able to create such a machine. Continue reading Badass pictures
This isn’t the first time Bill Maher has pissed me off with his support of pseudoscience. I know he doesn’t give a damn about my opinion, but I’m posting my frustration anyways. It’s often the people who I agree with the most who I am most curious about, and sometimes the most skeptical of. I wonder what their inspiration is, deciding it is less important what people believe, but rather why they believe it. For Bill Maher, I believe he holds a wild double standard. With respect to God, the man says the burden of proof is on the believer. He displaces himself, rightly so, from having to make any statements about his lack of theory. He said it perfectly: “atheism is a religion like abstinence is a sex position.”
The burden of proof can be easily realized using Bertrand Russell’s teapot analogy. I could in no way prove to you that there is not a teapot in space orbiting the Sun.
People usually start thinking I’m crazy when I get exited about existence, from the smallest to the biggest, from biology to astronomy, life to death. But it’s all so goddamn amazing, I don’t know how to keep it all pent-up. I’ve tried before but I get antsy. So now I’ll risk embarrassment for the potential reward of someone responding with equal excitement.
Think about how crazy awesome all this is. Look at your hand. You are composed of atoms. Everything inside you is atoms: protons and neutrons in a core surrounded by spinning electrons with an ability to exist in two places at once. I mean, holy hell. If that isn’t enough reason to always be happy, I don’t know what is. Electrons don’t orbit a nucleus like a planet does a star. Instead an electron orbits in a chaotic pattern that we define in probability terms as orbitals. They are simply our best guess as to where the electron may be.
Recently I watched an internet troll attack the idea of a godless universe on a freethinkers Facebook page. It was an interesting challenge to a group of people who typically always agree on this subject. His argument, however well disguised with jargon and circular logic, was entirely delusional and arrogant, claiming divine knowledge that not many claim to have access to. He asked the question of why someone would want to choose a life without certainty in a godless universe in lieu of a life of certainty with faith. I was interested in the question and had it not been for the raging hatred on the other side, it could have been an interesting discussion. So instead of responding to someone who refuses to give my words recognition, I decided to record it here. Continue reading Humility over certainty