Monday, January 29, 2007

The Inner Life of a Cell

We linked to this video a couple of months ago, but it's worth doing again for our newer readers. The next time you hear someone insist that life is solely the product of chance and physical law, that it arose through purely mechanical processes acting blindly through trial and error, think of this computer representation of just a couple of the processes that occur constantly in every cell of every human being. Then ask yourself whether the engineering and complexity of these systems is something that could plausibly result from sheer accident, as the Darwinian true believers would have it.

You can read about the technical aspects of producing the video here.


Rejoice and Be Glad

A Pew Survey of "Generation Nexters" (18-25 yr. olds) reveals that 81% of them believe that getting rich is either the highest or second highest priority of their generation. Fifty one percent rated getting famous as the highest or second highest goal.

The good news in this otherwise depressing result is that if the Nexters are successful in achieving their goals us aging boomers won't have to worry about social security running out. With Democrats in power taxes on the rich are bound to go up, especially those taxes designed to underwrite entitlements like SS and Medicare.

Some reports of distressing shallowness among the young can indeed be cause for rejoicing.


Myths About Atheism (Pt. VIII)

We've been offering our thoughts on an article by anti-theist Sam Harris at Edge in which he seeks to persuade us that most of what people believe about atheists and atheism isn't true. He discusses in the piece ten "myths" about atheism that he wants to debunk. In this post we'll respond to what he says about myth number 8:

Atheists believe that there is nothing beyond human life and human understanding.

Atheists are free to admit the limits of human understanding in a way that religious people are not. It is obvious that we do not fully understand the universe; but it is even more obvious that neither the Bible nor the Koran reflects our best understanding of it. We do not know whether there is complex life elsewhere in the cosmos, but there might be. If there is, such beings could have developed an understanding of nature's laws that vastly exceeds our own. Atheists can freely entertain such possibilities. They also can admit that if brilliant extraterrestrials exist, the contents of the Bible and the Koran will be even less impressive to them than they are to human atheists.

From the atheist point of view, the world's religions utterly trivialize the real beauty and immensity of the universe. One doesn't have to accept anything on insufficient evidence to make such an observation.

When people state that atheists believe that there is nothing beyond human life and human understanding they are not talking about belief in extraterrestrials. This is a rather droll way to construe the claim. They mean, of course, that atheists believe that there is no existence beyond this one and that there is no reality beyond the material world in which we live. This is the only way to interpret the "myth" that makes any sense, and there is surely no atheist who would deny these assertions.

But the irrelevance of what Harris says aside, how does he know that brilliant extraterrestrials would find the contents of the Bible unimpressive? How could Harris know such a thing unless he knows the Bible is completely false in its claims about God, and how could he, or anyone, know that? It takes surpassing arrogance to claim to know that there is no God and, having insisted earlier in his essay that atheists aren't arrogant, he probably should think better of implying that he's in possession of such knowledge.

Finally, we're left to wonder how, or in what way, Christianity trivializes the beauty and immensity of the universe. Harris enjoys making remarkable claims like this which are apropos of nothing in particular and which he leaves hang in mid-air, unsupported by any evidence or argument. He gives the back of his hand to believers for accepting religious claims on insufficient evidence, but he apparently expects his readers to accept his own claims without the benefit of any evidence whatsoever.