Carl Sagan Day

Today, the 9th of November is Carl Sagan’s birthday.  He would be 77 years old.

Carl Edward Sagan (November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996) Carl was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books. He advocated scientifically skeptical inquiry and the scientific method, pioneered exobiology and promoted the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI).

Sagan is best known  for the award-winning 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which he narrated and co-wrote and for his popular science books.  The book Cosmos was published to accompany the series. Sagan wrote the novel Contact, which was the basis for a excellent 1997 film of the same name, staring Jody Foster.
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Energy And Life From The Stars

Science20.com is reporting on a Nature article

“Astronomers are reporting that organic compounds of unexpected complexity exist throughout the Universe – which means they can be made naturally by stars.

Researchers write in Nature that an organic substance commonly found throughout the Universe contains a mixture of aromatic (ring-like) and aliphatic (chain-like) components, compounds so complex that their chemical structures resemble those of coal and petroleum.”

“Not only are stars producing this complex organic matter, they are also ejecting it into the general interstellar space, the region between stars….”  Here

Going to Wikipedia to research the above mentioned organic substances we find:

“They are also found in the interstellar medium, in comets, and in meteorites and are a candidate molecule to act as a basis for the earliest forms of life.”  Wikipedia  Here  My emphasis

I wonder how this will effect oil and coal research, stellar physics, etc…and further down the road, creationism, earth origins, and so on.
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A Sane and Logical God

Would a sane and logical God create as many as 80 sextillion stars (update–300 sextillion is new estimate-12-2010) in an observable universe that is about 93,000,000,000 light years ( a light year as distance is about 6 trillion miles) in diameter, all because he wanted to lord over a few people here on earth 6,000 years ago?

Why would a God this powerful and omnipotent want the adoration of a group of goat herders and set in motion the obscene sequence of events on this poor planet that has resulted in the unimaginable horrors that human history has witnessed?

Why would an all-powerful being that has an intellect and (reputed) powers that us mere humans could not even fully comprehend, want a bunch of savages to pray and idolize Him/Her/It and want to tell these “chosen” people how to live, what to eat, how far to set up a latrine from your camp tents, etc., etc.?

Why would an omniscient, all seeing, all knowing God even think up the god-awful stupid melodrama of “Original Sin” and sending a “son” to earth to be a “human” sacrifice to expiate our non-existent “sins”?

How can a loving, caring, compassionate God sit on His/Her/It’s throne and watch the millions and millions (probably billions) of agonizing, excruciating, horrible, bloody deaths of pure innocent humans…women, children, infants, and men who are doing nothing more than trying to care for their families.

How can this omniscient being possibly justify all the misery He/She/It has caused to be suffered by my brothers and sisters on this lonely planet spinning around a third rate star in a third rate galaxy?

But, the best question of all…how can so many people believe this crap with all the stupidly nonsensical,  non-logical, and seriously demented stories?
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What I Learned in Bible School

In very late 2006 or very early 2007 some friends of mine convinced me that I should take a Bible study.  As my wife had within the previous few years took on the mantle of a professing Christian, the friends intimated that my following in her steps would be good for me and for my wife.  Having long been at least agnostic, and leaning very heavily towards atheism, I told them several times that they would probably be wasting theirs and my time.  Well they didn’t listen and they finally wore down my resistance.

I would meet with them once a week for what was supposed to be a 1 hour study. Inevitably that 1 hour stretched into 2 or 3 hours.  There was not one page of their study material that I did not question or have some legitimate objection too.  I was not trying to be difficult or mean to them—they were friends after all—but what they were saying and the stuff from the Bible just made no sense to me.  I was excited because I was finally laying out and writing down what was heretofore just a vague feeling or sense.  I was getting organized and I researched and researched everything, I was learning about the Christian history and its dogma…and it did not bode well for the Christians.  I started this blog in November of 2007 to try to keep some track of what I was learning.

I learned that the earth, sky, waters, animals, plants, and the human race are not roughly 6,000 years old. There is just too much conclusive evidence that this is not true

I learned that there was no Adam and Eve (4000+- BC) as portrayed in the Bible. There are thousands of anatomically modern skeletons and hundreds of thousands of human bones that go back hundreds of thousands of years.  There is no doubt, at all, that modern humanity did NOT begin 6000 years ago.  Then there are the tens of thousands of bones of human type species (Homo-erectus, Homo-habilis, Homo-neanderthal, etc.)  that did not make it through to our times, and they made and used tools and fire and there is some evidence of art.  They walked upright and didn’t live in trees and surely they were our long lost cousins.  I also learned that All of humanity alive today has their ultimate roots in Africa.  The fact that there was no Adam and Eve has tremendous consequences down the road.

I learned that there was never a whole earth covering flood (2350+- BC) that destroyed all of mankind except for a mythical man, his wife and three sons and their wives.  The evidence against the flood has been known since the 1700’s and keeps getting stronger as the years go by.  I learned that people keep searching this one mountain in modern day Turkey for remains of Noah’s Ark in vain and that at least 5 people have perpetrated a hoax on the public by announcing they have found the Ark. One person even doctored some wood planks at home to try to make them look old enough to have come from such a vessel.

I learned that there was never a Tower of Babel scenario (2000+- BC) such as told in Genesis.  We now know beyond a doubt that there were already millions of humans spread ALL over the earth at that time.  The Biblical story is nothing more than a fairy-tale, a crude attempt to try to explain the different languages that were spoken at the time the story was written.

I learned that Moses was probably a fictional character, as we know that the work attributed to him (The first five books of the Bible…the Pentateuch) was written by more than one person (3-4) and was probably written around 600-550 BC as a fictive work passed off as holy to bring the Hebrews tribes together again after the exile in Babylon.

I learned that the Exodus as described in the Bible is just a fairy tale. Archaeologists have been scouring the Sinai for over a hundred years looking for signs of at least a million people passing through and living on the land for 40 years…they have found Nothing!  They did find evidence of much earlier humans visiting and living there, but no Israelite signs from the era supported by the Bible story.  This also means that there was no exodus of Hebrews trodding across the Red/Reed Sea, no burning bush, no water spouting rock, no Ten Commandments carried down Mount Sinai, no golden calf, and no manna from heaven.

I learned that Joshua did NOT fight the battle of Jericho. Extensive archaeological work has determined that most all of the towns he was supposed to have squashed were already empty and in ruins at the time indicated in the Bible—both the 1400’s BC and the 1200’s BC theory. But then he was a fictional character anyway so it doesn’t matter.

I learned that Moses couldn’t have written at least some parts of Genesis because he wrote (probably in the 1400’s BC) that Abraham came from “Ur of the Chaldee’s” but we know from history that the Chaldeans did not control the city until around 600-500 BC.

Also Moses wrote that Abraham rescued Lot from the city of Dan which did not exist under that name at the time of Moses.  300 years later the town of Laish was captured by the tribe of Dan and renamed Dan.

I learned that God cannot defeat Iron Chariots used by us war-like humans.

I learned that God does not answer prayers…at least not of those with limb amputations.  Not once in all of recorded history has God ever restored some poor person’s amputated arms or legs and there have been many, many millions of people who have suffered this. You may even know someone from the armed forces who lost a limb or two in Iraq or Afghanistan…or Viet-Nam. The Bible tells us that Jesus raised the dead and threw out spirits or demons and healed some really bad diseases, and he himself was supposed to have risen from the dead, but no mention of limb re-growth anywhere.

I learned that God was really really mean. One mistake in the garden and He curses Adam and Eve and ALL the billions of their offspring to a miserable life with disease and famine and wars and all manner of horrible torture and deaths.  He orders the tribes of Israel to murder man, woman, and child of innocent villages or towns. He fire-bombs villages, He orders running thru pregnant women with swords, bashing babies skulls against the walls or rocks, beheading hundreds or thousands, tossing live people into the fires and who knows what else. And, the animal cruelty you don’t even want to know about.  All in all, the God as described in the Bible is a horrible figure…not God-like at all.  Of course we know that the entire God ordered killing was just the Hebrews way of conquering territory and booty.  There was no God to order all that murder and mayhem.

-end part 1

Warning: This video has a few cuss words…easily offended–don’t watch.

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True Nature of Heavenly Causes

Quote of the Day:
“Philosopher Paul Churchland points out that throughout history people have expressed doubt that science will ever be able to explain some phenomena. The first-century astronomer Ptolemy (c. 85–165), the greatest astronomer of his age, said science would never be able to capture the true nature of heavenly causes because they were inaccessible. He didn’t have Newton’s inspiration that the laws of physics are universal, meaning they apply both on Earth and in the heavens. The nineteenth-century philosopher Comte (d. 1857) similarly argued that we could never know the physical constitution of stars. He didn’t know about atomic spectra. As late as the 1950s, most people were still expressing doubt that life could be explained purely materialistically and believed instead that some life force was needed. With the 1953 discovery of the structure of DNA and the great success of the theory of evolution by natural selection, science saw no need for, and indeed no evidence for, a special force of life.”

By Victor J. Stenger, Mr. Stenger is emeritus professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Hawaii and Visiting Fellow in Philosophy at the University of Colorado. On the Skeptical Inquirer here:
http://www.csicop.org/sb/show/thoughts_and_matter/

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Scientific Knowledge

For over a millennium Christianity arrested the development of science and scientific thinking. In Christendom, from the time of Augustine until the Renaissance, systematic investigation of the natural world was restricted to theological investigation—the interpretation of biblical passages, the gleaning of clues from the lives of the saints, etc.; there was no direct observation and interpretation of natural processes, because that was considered a useless pursuit, as all knowledge resided in scripture.

The results of this are well known: scientific knowledge advanced hardly an inch in the over 1000 years from the rise of orthodox Christianity in the fourth century to the 1500s, and the populace was mired in the deepest squalor and ignorance, living in dire fear of the supernatural—believing in paranormal explanations for the most ordinary natural events.

This ignorance had tragic results: it made the populace more than ready to accept witchcraft as an explanation for everything from illness to thunderstorms, and hundreds of thousands of women (and some men…and some say the number is up to 3 million) paid for that ignorance with their lives. One of the commonest charges against witches was that they had raised hailstorms or other weather disturbances to cause misfortune to their neighbors. In an era when supernatural explanations were readily accepted, such charges held weight—and countless innocent people died horrible deaths as a result.

(Now a sane and rational person would realize from the lack of  any real evidence that there were no witches and not buy into this crap, and the so called ‘men of God’ would know that a real God would not sanction what they were doing to thousands of innocent people.  Logic dictates that the leaders of the Catholic Church knew there was  no God so they weren’t bothered by how evil  the deed was they were doing. I don’t think there is any way that theistic apologia can rationalize  the things they did in ‘God’s’ name ).

Another result was that the fearful populace remained very dependent upon Christianity and its clerical wise men for protection against the supernatural evils which they believed surrounded and constantly menaced them. For men and women of the Middle Ages, the walls veritably crawled with demons and witches; and their only protection from those evils was the church.

When scientific investigation into the natural world resumed in the Renaissance—after a 1000-year-plus hiatus—organized Christianity did everything it could to stamp it out. The cases of Copernicus and Galileo are particularly relevant here, because when the Catholic Church banned the Copernican theory (that the Earth revolves around the sun) and banned Galileo from teaching it, it did not consider the evidence for that theory: it was enough that it contradicted scripture.

Given that the Copernican theory directly contradicted the Word of God, the Catholic hierarchy reasoned that it must be false. Protestants shared this view. John Calvin rhetorically asked, “Who will venture to place the authority of Copernicus above that of the Holy Spirit?”

Who Indeed…

Words in parenthesis and italics are mine.

Adapted from Freethoughtpedia Here

“Saint Augustine… laid down an important principle … that if a scriptural text contradicts science, you must give it an allegorical interpretation.”

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Of course all of you out there in webland know that ALL of the fundagelical organizations lie lie lie in just about everything they do…and they somehow think this is OK.

First Known Binary Star Discovered to be a Sextuplet System

In ancient times people with really good eyesight could look at the Big Dipper at night and see that one of the brightest stars in the handle was actually two stars. The two stars, Mizar and Alcor, were the first binary stars, a pair of stars that orbit each other, ever known. This knowledge of stars goes back many thousands of years.  It is known that the city of Babylon had what could loosely be considered astronomers in its halcyon days.

Since that early time men have built mighty telescopes and explored and plotted the universe and discovered many things about our humongous worlds within worlds within worlds. These modern telescopes have since found that Mizar is itself a pair of binary’s, revealing what was once thought to be a single star is actually four stars orbiting each other. Many consider Alcor a fifth member of the system, in orbit far away from the Mizar quadruplet.

Now two astronomers at the University of Rochester have made a surprise discovery; Alcor is actually two stars gravitationally bound to the Mizar system making the whole group a sextuplet.  This makes the Mizar-Alcor sextuplet the second nearest such system known.  Considering that Alcor is one of the most studied stars in the sky makes the discovery all the more surprising.

Can you imagine living on a world close to these stars and looking up into the sky.  What a wonderful sight that would be.

You can read the whole story HERE at Science Daily

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