Silly Christians, sensible Christians, and a (probably) silly scientist

This is a post about a few things. Firstly, the trial of Intelligent Design (ID) that’s just rounding up in the US, and secondly about some other Christians saying very reasonable and sensible things (because it’s about time some sensible Christians got in the news), coming third a scientist saying some rather odd and possibly quite silly things, and then to finish off we’ve got the Catholic Church saying some very sensible stuff.

The story so far, in case you’ve not been following it is this: in Dover, Pennsylvania, 11 parents have objected to the teaching of ID in classrooms using textbooks purchased with money raised by a local church, saying that it’s simply a thin veil for Creationism. I do wonder why it’s always assumed that it’s Christian Creationist theory. Personally I’d be really amused if all the children decided that ancient Egyptian mythology is the most likely source of the universe, when viewed from an ID perspective, and all began worshipping Isis… But I digress.

The trial has been rounding up, with the defence lawyer (in favour of Creatio… I mean, ID being taught in classes) arguing that ID represents ‘the next great paradigm shift in science’. Would that be a new paradigm that rejects scientific method, the basis of all known science, and replaces it with faith? Ah yes, that would certainly be a big change. Hm. On a linguistic note, be wary of people who use the word ‘paradigm’ when talking about the present, they are usually predicting the future with a notorious lack of accuracy.

Source here.

So, enough with the silly Christians, and on to some sensible ones.

Working on the basis of Genesis 2:15, ‘The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it’, the National Association of Evangelicals is working on a campaign to make the US government restrict carbon emissions due to their strong links with global warming. This is an interesting one, because Christians in the US are heavily affiliated with the Republican conservative agenda that promotes industry to the massive detriment of the environment (as well as other topics that Evangelical Christians are usually more firm on, such as (getting rid of) abortion and (getting rid of) gay rights).

Working on the theory that God has instructed man to pursue environmental protection, the Evangelicals promoting this idea need to convince the rest of the congregation that you don’t have to be an Earth Mother worshipping hippy or a Liberal to think that trying to stop destroying the planet is a good idea. I would have thought that this would be quite an easy task, but then I am a liberal optimist!

More on that one here.

Finally, a scientist who just might have found a way to produce ten times more energy than normal hydrogen energy production systems, if it weren’t for the slight problem that his discovery goes against all current theories of Quantum Mechanics (QM).

This is a bit technical, but an interesting idea nonetheless. A hydrogen atom is made up of one proton and one electron. The electron orbits the proton at what is called the ‘ground state’. This is essentially the most energy efficient orbit possible for the electron: any other orbit would require more energy. The scientist claims that using a process applied to water he has managed to make a hydrogen atom with the electron orbiting even closer to the proton. Okay…

The theory runs that this closer orbit is even more energy efficient than the previous ‘ground state’ and so when the electron moves into this position it releases the extra energy it was using to maintain the more energetic orbit. That’s a great idea, but it does have a major problem in covering why the electrons don’t automatically settle into the most energy efficient positions to begin with.

Here’s the bit I like: despite the simple truth that what this guy says goes against all previous peer-reviewed studies of QM, scientists are still willing to accept the possibility that the guy could be right. Literally, they don’t take science to be scripture! They do say that this particular experiment hasn’t gone through the peer-review system yet and so remains without approval of the wider scientific community, but they also don’t say that it must be wrong because it would upset so many other theories, although on the same logic they remain sceptical about it. I rather like that about scientists. Also, wouldn’t it be great if this guy was proved correct? We’d have probably the greatest scientific invention of our lifetime! ‘Shame it’s probably nonsense!

Source here.

Let’s just finish off with something very sensible from that article on the Pennsylvania trial:

Meanwhile on Thursday, the Vatican issued a statement warning against ignoring scientific reason, saying that religion risks turning into fundamentalism. Cardinal Paul Poupard, who heads the Pontifical Council for Culture said:

“The permanent lesson that the Galileo case represents pushes us to keep alive the dialogue between the various disciplines, and in particular between theology and the natural sciences, if we want to prevent similar episodes from repeating themselves in the future.”

So, scientists being very silly, and Evangelicals the Catholic Church being very sensible… Are you sure this is the Matazone blog you’re reading?

5 thoughts on “Silly Christians, sensible Christians, and a (probably) silly scientist”

  1. you make an amazing point sometimes. ya know that? i admire it.


  2. If you follow it through logically, Intelligent Design completely debunks Christianity. If you can prove that it’s impossible for a complex being to exist without the existance of a designer, then who designed the designer? According to the bible, no-one – but ID is busy proving that that’s not possible. On the other mythologies do have creator of creator of creators within their pantheon, and so while they do end up with “turtles all the way down” are still far better supported by ID than any branch of Christianity. I think we should salute the American public for finally showing some open mindedness and supporting, and in fact promoting to their children, alternative religious beliefs…

    (Personally I see it as an evolutionary experiment as to what happens when you sabotage the scientific education of an entire generation. I’m not sure it’s an entirely original work though. I think the Romans tried something similar with lead pipes…)

  3. Bri: thanks but I’m only a collector of ideas. Putting them together is just a jigsaw puzzle.

    Myz: nice to see you on here again! I see your point about ID causing problems for Christianity, but technically it’s not supposed to be at all related to Christianity. It’s supposed to have nothing to do with religion. Hm.

    We’ve got a generation of flouride to work through yet, and who knows what other fun new chemicals. The apothecary party has just begun!

  4. “Chemicals are our friends!”

    On a serious note (well, no, I’m lying) I have to object to you saying “wouldn’t it be great if this guy was proved correct?”. Of course it wouldn’t, I’d have to unlearn everything I’ve just spent the first 6 weeks of my chemistry degree trying to learn!

    Actually seriously now, I do love it that science can be so completely turned on its head, and it should happen more often, lest scientists forget that the theory they’re using is a model. After 300 years of Newtonian Mechanics somebody finally worked out that the world doesn’t actually work that way. It almost works like that, but, when you look closely, it can be seen that it really, really doesn’t. It’s arrogant and unscientific to claim that Quantum Mechanics is the ultimate truth, until you can prove that the world works exactly that way, all it will ever be is a model, and in 50 or 100 years time we may very well have a better model. I’ve just had a look for a quote I read on that subject, it was something about the new model and the older model both being wrong, but not to the same degree of wrongness, (I’d appreciate it if anybody knows the actual quote, and who said it). I thought that it was said by Isaac Asimov and, while looking, serendipitously (I love that word so much) came across this:

    “Creationists don’t want equal time,… they want all the time there is.”

    I think that sums up the current school board problem nicely.

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