Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Science, Skeptics, God, and Magick

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Giant jumping rat, coming soon to a blog near you.

Every day I have new ideas for blog topics. Lots of them. Leaves me with the unpleasant choice of losing a lot of ground by blogging on only one topic, or losing less ground by blogging on several topics. Sort of parallel to human discoveries in the scientific realm. Every new discovery humanity makes, increases the boundary between what is known and unknown, since the depth and complexity of the universe seems to expand no matter what direction we look. Thus, in a very real sense human scientific discovery is increasing human ignorance about the universe, even as our body of knowledge continues to expand.

And expand it has, most people are only dimly aware of the incredible extent of human knowledge. This is especially true of “science deniers.” People for example that reject the evidence that the earth is billions of years old, or who think that global warming is a hoax. These people generally have an almost Victorian idea of science, they simply do not know or want to know how much science and discovery underlays almost everything we know and do. They type on a computer and claim that for hundreds of years, generations of scientists have completely gotten everything wrong, which would have to be the case in the case of a seven thousand year old earth. Yet while they type, they don’t grasp that if generations of scientists have been fundamentally wrong about how the universe works, the computer they are typing on wouldn’t work. For this handy gadget is the end result of scientific advances in dozens of fields, for centuries. So a web site claiming that science has it all wrong and the earth is only a few thousand years old can’t be right, because it’s a web site on a computer!

This of course applies to any web site making scientifically absurd claims, the hollow earth theorists are another example. I mean, they don’t seem to grasp that scientists have studied the interior of the Earth seven ways from Sunday, and while we don’t know exactly what is down there, we do know a hell of a lot. And the Earth ain’t hollow, unless it was hollowed out by aliens with technology so incredibly advanced that the Earth perfectly simulates a solid body in every respect. In other words, if a person believes the Earth is hollow, they believe in magic. Because that’s basically what it would take. Velikovsky believers fall into the same category. If Velikovsky is right, and Venus popped out of Jupiter in historic times and careered around the solar system before settling into its current location, everything science knows about physics since Newton is flat out wrong. Airplanes, spacecraft, and nuclear bombs wouldn’t work, yet somehow they do. The conclusion that Velikovsky was a crackpot is inescapable.

On the other hand, people shouldn’t blindly accept what science says. Scientists have been wrong, thalidomide and killer bees being good examples of science gone astray. The point I am making is this, if a belief contradicts the vast body of scientific knowledge, take it with a grain of salt. For some interesting reading about other scientific nonsense, I recommend Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy site. It’s not as insulting as the various skeptic sites out there, and covers some real topical stuff, like the science in Star Wars and movies. Most skeptics make my flesh crawl. I loathe the Skeptical Inquirer for example, they simply drip attitude, and worse, their articles are riddled with logical fallacies and semantic tricks to strengthen their cases. And don’t even get me started on Dawkins, the man is an pompous idiot about almost everything outside his narrow field of expertise.

I mean let’s be real here, I believe in God, and I believe in magick too. Science doesn’t contradict either, science ultimately is about understanding what we can observe about the universe, it is almost useless in understanding the unseen. I like to think of God and Magick as emergent properties of the universe. An emergent property is where something complex and unexpected appears because of an interplay of simpler components. The incredible complex patterns formed by snowflakes for example. Or consciousness. In any event the subject of emergent properties is controversial, but for some of us God is the obvious sum of the whole. And my oh my, the whole of the universe gets more amazing every time humans look deeper, which just makes God grander and greater.

(Giant jumping rat photo credit: Olivier Langrand/Conservation International. Use of the image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit, and it appears to be the only known photo of a giant jumping rat in existence, thus making it an historically important image. Who would have guessed.)


Written by unitedcats

December 6, 2006 at 12:28 pm

Posted in Philosophy, Science

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