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Posts Tagged ‘Science’

For quite a while I’ve been looking for just the right poster to frame and hang in my office, but I’d yet to find anything that really caught my eye. Instead of continuing to search for something I probably wouldn’t be completely happy with, I decided to make my own poster. Here it is:

curiosityposterfinal1

In a couple of weeks my 24″x36″ poster will be delivered from http://shortrunposters.com for the affordable price of $26.86. That’s the cheapest I’ve found for printing up a single poster, and if you’d like to have a copy of your own printed up you can feel free to use this PDF (my gift to you – 24.6mb), which has been prepared for those dimensions. Enjoy!

Original Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems

Note: I am not affiliated with ShortRunPosters.com in any way. They are just the cheapest that I’ve found, and they do a good job. If you find a cheaper place to have the poster done up, please leave a comment. Thanks!

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As promised, I’m following up on my previous blog post where I revealed the first video I’ve produced here at TheSkepticalMagician.com – “Genesis Creation Visualized – Scientifically.”  I put a considerable amount of thought and energy into creating this video, and I wanted to give you a behind the scenes look into the reasons why I made it the way I did.

Why re-write Genesis?

A common response one gets when talking to Christians about the origins of the Universe and the lack of specificity and accuracy of the Genesis account — is that the complex laws of physics would have been lost on bronze age peoples, so God had to dumb it down so humans could comprehend all that he had done.  In other words, the divine creator had to be vague, and not quite as accurate because the concepts were not there to explain it fully.  This seems to make a lot of intuitive sense to believers, and it is something that enables them to continue believing what they want to believe, so they don’t take that next crucial step that everyone should take when determining whether or not something they believe is true… They don’t try to prove themselves wrong!  And just like a scientist who submits something for peer review without first trying to disprove their ideas, if they don’t do it — someone else will.  By re-writing the Genesis account as I did (and I could have been far more detailed were it not for my time limits), I was able to show that one could give a scientifically accurate portrayal of the evolution of the Cosmos that a bronze age human could understand, while still maintaining certain poetic liberties.  Had the first 18 verses of Genesis been something similar to what I created, we in present day would have to stop and ask, “How in the heck did these bronze age illiterates know about things like fusion and the forging of the elements within stars?”  “How did they know the Earth orbits the Sun, and how did they know it rolls upon the fabric of space like it does?”  Instead of having to answer difficult questions like these, we’re left with undeniable evidence that the Genesis account of creation is just one more in a long line of creation myths.

Now, I fully admit that the Genesis account as currently written could have happened just like the Bible says, and I say as much in the video.  There is no way for me to disprove this, though I don’t think most Christians would be comfortable with what this would tell us about the creator.  If the Genesis account of the Bible is a literal, historical account of the creation of the Universe, then the creator is a deceiver.  He’s a trickster.  He’s a hoaxer.  In order for the Genesis account to be true, it would mean that creator would have had to intentionally alter time and space itself to make it look like things had occurred completely different than they actually had.  In essence,  that God is one who not only tricks people, but tricks people into not believing in him, or in his written text, which plainly goes against the idea in 2 Peter 3:9 that God is “…not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

A track that many liberal Christians take is that the Genesis account is not a literal history of creation, but that it’s a symbolic or metaphoric account of man’s relationship with his creator etc, etc, etc.  Again, I can’t disprove that either, though I don’t think people who follow that line of thinking consider the greater negative theological implications for the Christian faith later on down the line.  Without a literal Genesis, or a literal Adam and Eve – there is no basis or necessity for a literal 2nd Adam (i.e. Jesus) to undo what they did in Genesis.  For these types, much of the Bible is looked at as metaphorical or symbolic, and these issues aren’t of any great concern to them, and they are happy to believe just the same.  Again, trying to disprove their perspective is a bit like trying to nail jello to a wall, and there are so many ad hoc fallacies, and so much special pleading injected into the conversation that one can find themselves quickly frustrated.  In general, these types of believers aren’t usually trying to get Biblical creation crammed into science classrooms, and are often times just as against their fundamentalist brethren in that regard as secularists are.  So while I don’t agree with their conclusions, and can no more disprove their claims than I can disprove Russell’s teapot, I can at least respect their ability to accept the clear evidence of origins instead of dogmatically clinging to ideas that are either false (my position), or the product of an omnipotent trickster. (more…)

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And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for — I give you the first video production for TheSkepticalMagician.com…

Blog post to follow in the next couple of days talking about what went into the making.  Enjoy!

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And there is nothing wrong with being a primate.  This short video of 4:23 by Ken Miller who testified in the Dover School Trial explains one element of just how we know we share a common ancestor with other large primates.  It’s well worth the watch, and you can view his full 2-hour lecture, The Collapse of Intelligent Design by clicking here.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson is perhaps the best science communicator out there today.  I particularly enjoy him as host on NOVA Science Now and for his contributions on The Universe.  He is a very personable guy with a great sense of humor.  Here he takes a humorous look at the argument for intelligent design.  Enjoy!

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When it came to my de-conversion, there was one thing that kept me hanging on longer than anything else.  Like most believers, it is usually personal experience that keeps you in the faith, and not really a well reasoned argument in defense of your beliefs.  My own unique experience is something I told to only a handful of people over the years, and while there are others who have had similar things happen to them, it is not the typical experience of most Christians.  What experience did I have that was such a convincing moment for me?  I heard the “audible voice of god”… or so I thought.

It happened almost 12 years ago.  I was still in the Marine Corps at the time and would get up an hour and a half before I typically would have to (which was early enough) in order to have a time of prayer and Bible reading.  As I was sitting in a loveseat, drinking a cup of coffee and struggling to stay awake, I found my entire body suddenly paralyzed with the most amazing sensation coursing through me from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet.  There was a low rumble or “hum” that seemed to surround me and emanate through my body as though I could “feel” the sound, and I felt like someone was in the room with me.  This was like something I had never experienced before, and naturally being involved in prayer at the time, I of course thought it was god.  Taking a tip from the prophet Samuel in the Old Testament, I said, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”  What happened next was even more powerful.

As soon as the words left my mouth (speaking was a challenge however) I received a response: “Go to the center of the city,” kind of echoed and deep, in what most would typically recognize as the “god voice.”  I then floated up into the corner of the room (while shrinking a bit) and floated back down to the loveseat between two rows of lights that had materialized – all while awake.  Once I was back on the couch, the sensations lifted, and all was back to normal.  It was, and still is, the most powerful thing I have ever experienced in my life (You can probably tell I’ve never done any drugs with that statement).  Only recently have I recognized it for what it really is however… an experience that was not divine, but instead a product of my own lump of electrified jelly that is in my skull.

Some of you skeptics out there probably already know what occurred early that morning, and will recognize that it’s the most common cause of “alien abduction” experiences.  For those of you that are unfamiliar with sleep paralysis (part of the larger family of hypnagogia), it’s basically dreaming while awake and temporarily immobilized.  The brain releases a chemical that keeps you from acting out your dreams by basically paralyzing you.  Occasionally, we can be “awake” during this process, which can create a very unique experience.  Your eyes are open, you are aware that you are awake, and yet dreams (hallucinations) occur all around you as though you were asleep.  Because I happened to have an open Bible on my lap, and was engaged in prayer during this process, my brain gave me an experience in line with what I was expecting.

Undoubtedly some will say,”Just how can you be so sure that it wasn’t God talking to you?”  For years I didn’t even question whether or not it was God, even when nothing happened when I went to what was “supposed to be” the center of the city (I beat myself up for a few years thinking I did something wrong because I missed something).  I happened to be living in Newport News, VA at the time, which is a very oddly shaped city.  Locating the center isn’t exactly easy, and being it’s not a perfect circle or square, it’s pretty much impossible.  Think about this… if it really was God talking to me, wouldn’t it have made more sense for him to be specific and to say something like, “Go to the corner of Jefferson and Warwick Blvd,” or “Go to the Walmart produce aisle.”  Instead, what I got was essentially, “Go to the impossible to locate center of this oddly shaped city.”

Now the experience was as real as anything else.  I don’t think I can stress enough just how powerful it was, but that of course does not change the fact that it was simply my brain short circuiting a bit and creating the experience.  The above video of Dr. Persinger and his God Helmet shows how these types of experiences can be created by focusing magnets over certain parts of the brain.  What he creates in a laboratory is no doubt similar, if not identical to what I experienced early that morning many years ago, and it would be interesting to get hooked into the God Helmet to compare the two experiences.

With the various misfirings of the brain, be it hypnagogia, seizures, or stroke that can all produce similar “spiritual” experiences, it should be obvious that it is the brain, and not the divine, that is the source of numinous experiences, no matter the religion.  This young man with temporal lobe seizures is another good example of brain misfiring creating intense spiritual experiences.  Look how sincere and convinced he is, and how emotional he is concerning his experiences.  We can only wonder how many religions have been born through the ages due to similar misfirings of the human mind.

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Right-click and select “View Image” for a bigger picture. (Thanks to Hemant Mehta over at The Friendly Atheist for posting this.  I had not seen it before either.)

a visual explanation of evolution

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