Sex Ratio Theory, Ancient and Modern - An 18th Century Debate about Intelligent Design and the Development of Models in Evolutionary Biology
[pdf file]. The design argument for the existence of God took a probabilistic turn in the 17th and 18th centuries. Earlier versions, such as Thomas Aquinas’ 5th way, usually embraced the premise that goal-directed systems (things that “act for an end” or have a function) must have been created by an intelligent designer. This idea – which we might express by the slogan “no design without a designer” – survived into the 17th and 18th centuries, and it is with us still in the writings of many creationists. The new version of the argument, inspired by the emerging mathematical theory of probability, removed the premise of necessity. It begins with the thought that goal-directed systems might have arisen by intelligent design or by chance; the problem is to discern which hypothesis is more plausible.
From Professor Elliott Sober
posted by amyms
on Nov 8, 2007 -
Fate, Absolute Life and Death, the Aleph, the Zeitgeist, the sinking of the Atlantis, the World Trade Center
, the formation of the universe...what more could you want from art? There's probably already been a been a post on this guy, Paul Laffoley, but I should hope more people could get a glance at some of this man's work
. Crazy or brilliant, you make your decision. A video
from his website.
posted by moonbizcut
on Aug 31, 2007 -
Google Video of the complete proceedings of the conference Beyond Belief: Science, Reason, Religion and Survival
, which took place on November 5-7, 2006 at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California. (There are ten sessions, which average about two hours each.) Bios of the speakers
who attended. A NYT article on the conference
: "By the third day, the arguments were so heated that Dr. [Melvin] Konner was reminded of 'a den of vipers.' " Further conversation concerning the conference
, in which Scott Atran writes, "I find it fascinating that among the brilliant scientists and philosophers at the conference, there was no convincing evidence presented that they know how to deal with the basic irrationality of human life and society other than to insist against all reason and evidence that things ought to be rational and evidence based. It makes me embarrassed to be a scientist and atheist."
posted by Prospero
on Jan 9, 2007 -
...Objectives This double-blind study evaluated the acute and longer-term psychological effects of a high dose of psilocybin relative to a comparison compound administered under comfortable, supportive conditions...Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance
posted by y2karl
on Oct 16, 2006 -
Results Psilocybin produced a range of acute perceptual changes, subjective experiences, and labile moods including anxiety. Psilocybin also increased measures of mystical experience. At 2 months, the volunteers rated the psilocybin experience as having substantial personal meaning and spiritual significance and attributed to the experience sustained positive changes in attitudes and behavior consistent with changes rated by community observers.
Conclusions When administered under supportive conditions, psilocybin occasioned experiences similar to spontaneously occurring mystical experiences. The ability to occasion such experiences prospectively will allow rigorous scientific investigations of their causes and consequences.
Jesus walked on the
So sayeth... um... well, this guy at Florida State. Doron Nof
has released a paper
positing that when Jesus walked on the water in Galilee, he was actually walking on a patch of floating ice. What's interesting about science like this to me is that it both validates and invalidates scripture, since if Jesus was walking on ice... no miracle (although, it's a miracle he didn't slip and fall, har har har). But if Jesus was walking on ice, then at least he historically existed, which is still an open question
at least in some quarters
. In case you think you recognize Mr. Nof's name, you may be remembering his work explaining that the parting of the Red Sea was totally possible
(flash video link).
posted by illovich
on Apr 5, 2006 -
Prof. Daniel Dennett's
(New York University, Philosophy) new book Breaking the Spell
appears to have frightened its NYT book review
er, Leon Wieseltier
(The New Republic, Literary Editor). Wieselter claims "The question of the place of science in human life is not a scientific question. It is a philosophical question", and promptly proceeds to demonstrate that he himself knows nothing about philosophy. Dennett responds
Prof. Brian Leiter
(University of Texas, Philosophy) responds
that "'The view that science can explain all human conditions and expressions, mental as well as physical' is not a 'superstition' but a reasonable methodological posture to adopt based on the actual evidence, that is, based on the actual expanding success of the sciences . . . during the last hundred years."
b l o g
and serious reviews
posted by jeffburdges
on Mar 7, 2006 -
Breaking the Science-Atheism Bond.
"When I was growing up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, during the 1960s, I came to the view that God was an infantile illusion, suitable for the elderly, the intellectually feeble, and the fraudulently religious."
posted by brownpau
on Jan 24, 2006 -
"A Helpful Hand"
- Penn & Teller call Bullshit!
on the "bestselling book in the world," the Holy Bible. (link is to entire episode approx 29mins - *language, flash)
posted by hypersloth
on Dec 14, 2005 -
If You're a Christian, Muslim or Jew - You are Wrong
- A rant over at the Huffington Post
And let's be clear about this, it IS a rant, and a beaut at that. But it's a sentiment that's run through the head of everyone who isn't a member of the three mentioned groups. No one in the mainstream media says things like this, I wonder why?
The post is made. Let the emphatic agreements, and the vicious denials... begin!
posted by JHarris
on Oct 23, 2005 -
Did the discovery of evolution lead to Darwin's agnosticism, as claimed
? Carl Zimmer wonders
. More importantly, can evolution be reconciled
posted by daksya
on Aug 11, 2005 -
"Family Values, My Ass!"
That article in the Lexington Herald-Leader inspired me to look up the Nation
article it referred to. Now I'm beginning to see why many women won't go to "evangelical Christian" MDs: this guy Hager (previously brought up on MetaFilter in 2003
, in fact twice
, and then again in 2004
) is strongly anti-abortion -- so pro-conception that he tried to keep the "morning-after pill"
known as "Plan B"
away from women -- but he's apparently pro- sodomy
It almost sounds like fiction.
posted by davy
on May 13, 2005 -
Scientific American to stop reporting science, more creationism. There's no easy way to admit this. For years, helpful letter writers told us to stick to science. They pointed out that science and politics don't mix. They said we should be more balanced in our presentation of such issues as creationism, missile defense and global warming...But spring is in the air, and all of nature is turning over a new leaf, so there's no better time to say: you were right, and we were wrong.
posted by mr.curmudgeon
on Mar 25, 2005 -
Genes and Jews.
And you thought Spock
came up with that part of the shtick. It turns out that despite the racial and ethnic diversity of the Tribe, there are genetic markers that identify Cohanim, or the priestly descendants of Aaron (know any Cohens?). These markers help identify jewish identity in the most distant reaches of the diaspora.
The fascinating intersection of anthropology, genetics, and religion.
(btw first fpp)
posted by Kifer85
on Feb 14, 2005 -
The scientific method is a tool for determining objective truth about the world around us, right? But not everybody thinks so. From being a proof of God's existance to a mere socio-pilotical construct, scientific humanism is under attack.
posted by MadOwl
on Jan 12, 2005 -
Noted British atheist Antony Flew
has changed his mind
, persuaded by scientific evidence that God exists
and that "intelligence must have been involved" in the origin of life. As Professor Emeritus in Philosophy at the University of Reading and the author of several influential books
on the subject of atheism, Flew was once one of rationalism's leading lights. He now compares his beliefs with the predominantly American concept of Intelligent Design
. "My whole life has been guided by the principle of Plato's Socrates: Follow the evidence, wherever it leads," he says.
posted by gd779
on Dec 10, 2004 -
The Meaning of Life
according to various rather famous people (Dennett, Fukuyama, etc). I'm watching the Dennett video at the moment and it starts rather weakly, but, by midway through, is rolling along nicely. With topics like "being good without god" and "the anthropic principle" it struck me as relevant to a couple of recent askmefi threads
Dennett: [pause] i guess i'll say it again, more slowly...
(oh, and the player interface is rather delicate - give it time to load and click play a few times...)
posted by andrew cooke
on Oct 1, 2004 -
Paul Kurtz on the Enlightenment.
Unfortunately, there has been a massive retreat from Enlightenment ideals in recent years, a return to pre-modern mythologies. There has been a resurgence of fundamentalist religions
worldwide—Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam, Roman Catholicism, and Orthodox Judaism. Added to this are occult-paranormal claims, which allegedly transcend the existing scientific paradigm.
In the United States—the preeminent scientific-technological-military superpower in the world—significant numbers of Americans have embraced primitive forms of biblical religion. These focus on salvation, the Rapture, and the Second Coming of Jesus. Evangelical Protestant Christians have made alliances with conservative Roman Catholics and neo-conservative Jews, and they have captured political power—power they have used to oppose secular humanism and naturalism. via the council for secular humanism
posted by skallas
on Apr 5, 2004 -
Thou shalt not make scientific progress.
"Medical research is poised to make a quantum leap that will benefit sufferers from Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, muscular dystrophy, diabetes and other diseases. But George W. Bush's religious convictions stand in its way."
posted by homunculus
on Mar 24, 2004 -
Why do so many scientists believe in God?
"Modern science did not emerge 400 years ago to challenge religion, the orthodoxy of the past 2,000 years. Generations of thinkers and experimenters and observers - often themselves churchmen - wanted to explain how God worked his wonders. Modern physics began with a desire to explain the clockwork of God's creation. Modern geology grew at least partly out of searches for evidence of Noah's flood. Modern biology owes much to the urge to marvel at the intricacy of Divine providence. But the scientists - a word coined only in 1833 - who hoped to find God somehow painted Him out of the picture... So although the debate did not start out as science versus religion, that is how many people now see it. Paradoxically, this is not how many scientists see it."
posted by gd779
on Sep 7, 2003 -
Religion! What Is It Good For?
Absolutely nothing? Perhaps not. Michael Prowse
, a lifelong atheist (and Financial Times columnist even!) had this to say in an article for Prospect
: "Having accepted that meanings are always contestable, I have found myself more able to focus on what religious people do, and less on what they say. Are they "better" people than the irreligious? Of course not. Are they better people than they would be were they not religious? Probably, and this is what counts for me."
Meanwhile, another atheist, Jared Diamond
, writing (brilliantly, as the author of Guns, Germs and Steel
always does) in the current New York Review of Books
, addresses religion in a (let us say) more scientific
way and, though more sceptical, leaves a similar question mark hanging. So, in a nutshell: can there be something in (or about) religion for atheists too?
posted by MiguelCardoso
on Oct 29, 2002 -
I know this much is true...
For years, I have said that the greatest thing about the modern state of the US is that we hold nothing as "True". I was wrong. Apparently our "Truths" were just sleeping; now everyone seems to have some, and they're proving to be as divisive and factionalist here as elsewhere. So - apart from any particular issue - are there "Truths", or are there just perceptions of an issue? And, just to keep some edges sharp, in answering, are you at all religious?
posted by Perigee
on Sep 19, 2001 -
"Tired of praying and waiting for His second coming, a group of scientists aims to clone Jesus Christ
and fulfill the much awaited biblical prophecy." [via the PDI
posted by lia
on Mar 21, 2001 -