Archive for April, 2007

Darwinism & Reductionism

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

 

In his article, “Is Biology Reducible to the Laws of Physics?,” John Dupré criticizes Alex Rosenberg‘s views in, Darwinian Reductionism: Or, How to Stop Worrying and Love Molecular Biology. The article is well written, but complex. Basically it says Rosenberg’s belief that all biology can be reduced to laws of physics is bunk. I find this interesting because both believe in Darwinian evolution, but Dupré admits that science does not support the idea that one can (ever) start from laws of physics and explain biology. For instance there is no way that the influence of outward forms of organisms (phenotypes) can explain the configuration of genes. Dupré points out that there are approximately 23,000 genes, but does not specifically note that these are supposed to generate approximately 100,000 proteins. To explain life by studying the microbiology of the cell would be like trying to understand communication by studying the components of a cell phone (my analogy, not Dupré‘s). Dupré is a sociologist, and is therefore adverse to reductionism, but in this case he is also right.

Religion and life

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

In Bury the Chains, a book that details the struggle to outlaw the slave trade in England, it is noted that a time came when “evangelicals” arose and began saying that true Christians should live every day free from sin. This was a radical concept, to which Lord Melbourne, future prime minister of England, responded, “Things have come to a pretty pass when religion is allowed to invade your private life!”

Today, society pushes Christians to hold their religious beliefs to their personal lives, and makes it “politically incorrect” to take faith into public life. During Melbourne’s time it was the opposite, in that religion was public only, and not personal. Neither allows religion to be real, because reality requires total permiation of life and being. That which we compartmentalize we do not really consider real.

Don Imus

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

 

Don Imus should not have been fired.
Don Imus should not have been popular.

In an age when we have worked so hard to free ourselves from responsibility–from drinking coffee that is too hot to art that is just plain dirty–why should there be any reaction at all to statements like Imus made? We have worked hard to set aside all rules and constraints, which for our heritage is Biblical heritage, and yet we innately need boundaries. So if we remove our Scriptural foundation, what becomes the boundary? Political correctness. The problem is that it is an ever-shifting boundary. It reminds me of some young couples I have known (and I’m afraid, some older ones, who should know better), who manage to have a child with no forethought of what the rules will be and how will they be enforced. Without clear rules, enforced for the good of the child, the result is explosions of anger and punishment, that may or may not have any consistency or result in any training for the child. We cannot stay here, or the child (society) will simply rebel.. We must find (return to?) a common foundation, or society will fall apart.

T. rex Protein

Saturday, April 14th, 2007

 It is not often that a particular dinosaur fossil makes the news, but this one has twice. Yesterday (April 13) two papers were published in the journal Science concerning a 2005 announcement. Mary Higby Schweitzer, a noted molecular paleontologist, announced two years ago that she had found soft tissue, in this case meaning blood vessels and connective tissues, within the fossil bones of a Montana Tyrannosaurus rex. Since the T..rex is dated as having lived approximately 67 million years ago, this is difficult to accept. Most things in my refrigerator, designed specifically to keep soft things soft, fail to stay so in a matter of weeks. Mummified organisms in Egypt have made it, sort of, for 5,000 years. But 65,000,000 years, under accidental conditions? Basically the the whole idea was questioned by peers (“It just looks like soft tissue.”), so Dr. Schweitzer solicited the help of experts in mass spectrometry for stronger evidence. This time, in 2007, she is able to come forward with compelling (undeniable) evidence that the tissue in the bones contain significant portions of the protein collagen, present in all connective tissues. This is worth double news because of the enigma: 65,000,000 soft tissue. In all publications I have found (except biblically-based ones), the soft tissue part is questioned, but never the 65K part. If it is really soft tissue, then it must be possible for soft tissue to last 65 million years. If there were not such a strong cultural bias, questioning the date of the fossil would be the natural solution. I am not calling these scientists ignorant and closed-minded for not asking a question.. They are highly educated. And I hope they would not call me ignorant and closed-minded for asking a question. but they might. My interest here is cultural. We will entertain many wild ideas to keep from questioning our original assumptions, regardless of how ungrounded in fact they are.

Ruptured Appendix

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

I know it’s not good to go more than a week without posting to a blog, but I have a pretty good excuse. Wednesday night was a rough one, and Thursday morning the abdominal pains were so bad I asked my wife to drive me to the ER. X-rays revealed nothing, so why had my intestines shut down? It was Monday afternoon before exploratory optical surgery revealed a major abscess and a ruptured appendix. Yes, I could well have died, as many have told me, but that’s not the most amazing part. Apparently, when the appendix ruptured and began to abscess, parts of my intestines moved over to block off the infection from the rest of my body. Then a fiber began to form that knitted the intestines into the new position, so nothing could seep past. This reduced my pain (confusing the doctors), and prevented the infection from quickly spreading throughout my abdominal cavity, which likely would have been fatal.

Now for the truly amazing part: What my body did was above and beyond the standard call of duty. That the body would wall off infection is not unknown to doctors, but think about the context. This is an infection response that cannot be described in terms of chemical processes. Notice that the description above speaks of the event as what the body did in response to a need. That’s the only way to make sense of what happened. That can only be done from a Design position. There is nothing in evolutionary theory that can explain response to a need. The best evolutionary theory has to offer in explanation of the immune system is that natural selection would preserve good things; not cause them. And in my case, as with many others, the body’s good response was not needed until past child-bearing years. The whole immune system is a huge enigma to evolutionary theory.

Belief v. Science

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

In the second century AD it was obvious to sky-watchers that planets did not move in a consistent straight line across the sky, but it was also unarguable that the earth was the center of the universe. Ptolemy used epicycles to explain this retrograde motion, and gave science the justification for its pre-conceived ideas that would last for a millennia and a half. Never mind that this required a condition never before observed in nature–that an object could orbit around nothing while the nothing orbited around something. This convoluted solution was necessary, because the alternative, simpler solution, that the earth moved around the sun, was at that time chimerical. This demonstrates not only that observation can be strongly subservient to pre-conceived ideas, but also that rational, “scientific” support for beliefs, even untrue ones, can and will be found, if people simply want to believe them enough.