26 November 2010

A blog's purpose OR creationism: a recurring theme

I couldn't decide which of the two titles I wanted to have on this posting today. I wanted to express my belief that a blog can help see another point of view and, indeed, show that some things that would never see the light of Earth can surface and be discussed. I am talking about an idiotic movement, mainly in the US, but with branches in the UK and elsewhere, called creationism. It is also called intelligent design. It is nothing new. People, from ages ago, wanted to have their holy texts the only ones that they would read (out of laziness, for instance). They said that you don't need science, just the bible is enough. Some are more radical than others claiming that the Earth is flat or that the Earth is the center of the Universe, some get pimples when they hear the word (Darwinian) evolution, and some do accept science, but get irritated when someone tells them that gods are not a necessary ingredient in any mathematical or physical theory. The latter type of creationists have call themselves intelligent designers and try to "prove" that some intelligence (a.k.a. god) is needed.

Mention these things to an average person in Sweden, a country I live in, and we'll have a laugh and then a beer (if we can afford it--it's too expensive here). But mention these things to an average US-person and you're in for a big surprise. More to the point, it is almost impossibe for a European who has not lived in the US to understand why those people over there are so fanatic about religion and creationism. Vice versa, your average US creationist or religious person has hard time understanding a secular, plain rational, point of view. (Be careful: I said "average", in the common sense of the term. There are people on the other side of the Atlantic who are much more sophisticated than those one meets on this side of the Ocean on a daily basis.)

Some blogs' purposes is to speak openly about these things. The average creationist can (although I doubt it it will happen any tie soon) realize that his/her beliefs are idiotic and that all this intelligent design hoopla has purposes and roots that have nothing to do with science.

It is interesting to take a look at Jeff Shallit's blog. He often writes about creationism. And he gives very good answers to many intelligent design desperate attempts to (ab)use science/mathematics in their arguments. A very good example of the abuse of mathematics in creationism is William Dembski, the leading member (founder?) of a certain theological institute called Discovery Institute whose purpose is to prove that a certain god (called intelligent design) is necessary in Physics. Dembski was a PhD student of Patrick Billingsley with a PhD in Probability Theory. But he didn't do much with mathematics. Having failed in his field he turned to theology.

In Shallit's blog you will also find a recurring theme, called Miranda. This person, apparently a creationist, tries to attack each and every posting of Jeff's that has to do with intelligent design. As an example, read the posting on Harun Yahya (a creationist of Muslim type--yes, they are not necessarily Christian) and read Miranda's replies here. Shallit wrote
Yahya isn't much different from the theocrats at the Discovery Institute, who want to link Darwin to both fascism and communism. 
Miranda, in her replies, wrote that
Richard Evans, historian at Cambridge University, has explained, "The real core of Nazi beliefs lay in the faith Hitler proclaimed in his speech of September 1938 in science--a Nazi view of science--as the basis for action. Science demanded the furtherance of the interests not of God but of the human race, and above all the German race and its future in a world ruled by ineluctable laws of Darwinian competition between races and between individuals."
I asked to explain what she meant. She replied:
My conclusion is that Jeff's charge: "the theocrats at the Discovery Institute, who want to link Darwin to both fascism and communism" is shared by reputable historians.
Miranda attempts here to obfuscate the dialog:
  • Jeff mentions that the Discovery Institute theocrats link Darwin to fascism.
  • Mirand replies that, in her understanding, Hitler also linked Darwin to his ideology.
So what? Even if the latter is true, what does this tell us about the Discovery Institute and its attempts to show that gods are needed in science?
Miranda, I'll tell you this: it's so nice to live in a country (Sweden) where almost nobody--as far as my limited experience has been--cares about creationism/intelligent_design/religious crap. It's so refreshing not to have the crowds around you who want to explain science through the bible and holy texts. I feel happy I can look at these idiocies from a distance and have a laugh at them. But I do care about people who live on the other side of the Atlantic and have to constantly put up with all this nonsense, sometimes on a daily basis. 
 Perhaps, with the help of blogs or otherwise, Miranda can see that her fellow creationists are a largely American phenomenon. A phenomenon which, in other civilized countries of this world, fortunately does not exists (in such a scale). If creationists could broaden their horizons, perhaps they could embrace a more rational standpoint. Instead, they shelter themselves from everybody else, they build fairy taile-like theme parks (creationist museums), and live with false beliefs. The apotheosis of all is the so-called Holy Land Experience, a Disney-like theme park in Orlando Florida (next to DisneyWorld), where, instead of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, the pious creationists, intelligent designers, religious folk, can experience the reenactment of Jesus' crucifixion, on a daily basis:

Now some creationists/inteligent designers may complain that Jesus has nothing to do with their efforts. True, for instance, Yahya's version of creationism is different. Nevertheless, they're all the same in spirit: in that they abuse science and mathematics and make claims that are completely irrational

1 comment:

  1. HAHAHAHA, Holy Land Experience theme park,buhahaha,that's a good business,just like church!!!



What measure theory is about

It's about counting, but when things get too large.
Put otherwise, it's about addition of positive numbers, but when these numbers are far too many.

The principle of dynamic programming

max_{x,y} [f(x) + g(x,y)] = max_x [f(x) + max_y g(x,y)]

The bottom line

Nuestras horas son minutos cuando esperamos saber y siglos cuando sabemos lo que se puede aprender.
(Our hours are minutes when we wait to learn and centuries when we know what is to be learnt.) --António Machado

Αγεωμέτρητος μηδείς εισίτω.
(Those who do not know geometry may not enter.) --Plato

Sapere Aude! Habe Muth, dich deines eigenen Verstandes zu bedienen!
(Dare to know! Have courage to use your own reason!) --Kant