Sunday, August 26, 2007

Summary of Evolution

Evolution and faith based science continues to fascinate me. If I understand science this is describes in simple detail how we got to be where we are today – enlightened but relatively pointless pieces of protoplasm. And it all began with – nothing – nothing at all. In the beginning there was nothing, no space, no time, no mass, and no energy. Then there was a huge explosion called the “Big Bang” by scientists and God’s cosmic Belch by Creationists. In this primordial instant there was nothing and then all of the energy in the universe was created in a flash along with the space needed for the energy. At this point it gets a little tricky because where did the space come from? Was it always there? Can space exist without anything occupying it? Did the creation of all of this energy simultaneously create the space required? How much space was created in this primordial moment – all of it – or just enough to contain the energy and that space continues to expand and will continue to expand either indefinitely or until the “Big Crunch”. If the “Big Crunch” occurs what will happen to all of that mass and energy? Will everything disappear or simply restart? If it does then how did it all begin in the first place? The Big Bang of course defies the Law of Entropy but then the Big Crunch follows the Law of Entropy. It’s all very confusing but scientists – who are very wise men—tell us that this is the way it was and they have written very weighty books on the subject so it must be true, We are expected to believe these high priests of materialism and set aside those aggravating questions which they cannot answer.

So if we accept the scientific explanation for the beginning on faith, even though they really don’t have any answers for the really tough questions, we can move on to the next steps. Following the Big Bang the Universe was a whirling mass of energy composed of protons, electrons, and presumably neutrons. These represented the total number that was ever to be created (Laws of Conservation of Energy and Mass). But as these particles whirled about they collided and over time created all of the Stars, the Planets, and of course all of the elements that make these up. Among all of these millions of stars and planets, the Earth came into being and as it cooled the mountains and seas formed. So we now had a planet with oceans but no life – not a trace.

During the period of coalescence all of the minerals were formed, including Carbon – which we observe today in its many forms ranging from soot to diamonds. How it existed in its primordial state is not actually known but some form must have been present in the oceans. This is the logical conclusion reached by those wise men called scientists so it must be true, besides, life began in the oceans (didn’t it?) so Carbon atoms must have been present or even Carbon based molecules. And then the miracle happened, but in science there are no miracles so there was a random chance event. The Sun is constantly showering the Earth with particles and cosmic rays and one of these little particles – who we can call Bob – hit one of these Carbon Molecules causing it to join with another Carbon Molecule – who we can call Stella – and these happily married molecules began to split and reproduce – thus giving life to the Earth. Not a miracle but a chance event that hasn’t happened again and has never been observed, but this must be the way it happened.

Now random Carbon Molecules reproducing like mad only give you more of the same thing and are really not very useful but gradually these common molecules (Clara and Phil) combined and formed Chlorophyll and Pond Scum. Not a very dignified beginning for mankind but then we all have to start somewhere. Of course – as they say – the rest is history. The benevolent Sun continued to shower the Earth with Cosmic particles and these allowed the descendants of Clara and Phil to morph into sea weed and algae. Eventually these rascally reproducing molecules combined to form a worm, which was the next step up the evolutionary ladder because the worm was alive and mobile. Precisely how this worm achieved life is a little vague but it undoubtedly happened because Pre-Cambrian fossils show worm burrows. But the stage was now set the next huge step forward – The Cambrian Explosion.

At the opening of the Cambrian Period the seas were teeming with complex life forms, primarily Trilobites, but Trilobites with eyes, digestive systems, complex organs, appendages, and hard shells. How these came about or where all of this life came from is unknown but we are assured that it was through some random evolutionary event. From this point on, science assures us that Evolution picked up steam and ever more complex life forms evolved, lived, and became extinct making way for newer and more complex life forms. This inexorable march of life resulted in all of species with each one springing from a predecessor and ultimately resulting in Homo sapiens. Of course precisely how this happened is not known because there is no evidence of one species morphing into another, but scientists assure us this is what happens and we must believe them because after all THEY are scientists and learned wise men.

When critically examined evolution seems to be nothing other than a series of random events that occurred millions of years ago but for some mysterious reason have ceased to occur since no new species has emerged in historical times. Nevertheless, we continue to have faith that science and scientists have the answers.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Marriage and Commitment

While the institution of marriage continues to outpace divorces, the reality is that the number of “common law’ arrangements continues to grow. But for those who actually engage in a true marriage the statistics show there is a fifty-fifty chance the marriage will end in divorce. Of course it is this astonishing level of divorce that is used by those who elect to pursue the common law path to justify their situation. The rationale seems to be that why would I get married because there is a real possibility of a divorce and its just a bunch of words anyway. It’s hard to argue with the statistics on divorce but is the marriage vow just a bunch of words? If they are just a bunch of words then why not say them? In fact why is there such a thing as marriage and how does it differ from these casual relationships?

The reality is that if two people enter into one of these live-in arrangements they are assuming a great deal of risk, risks that they probably don’t recognize or think won’t apply to them. The female in these arrangements is particularly at risk, especially if there are children. Generally the male is the breadwinner in these arrangements and the female may either not be employed or employed at a much lower salary. Thus the male holds the advantage because he can leave anytime taking his income with him and leaving the female destitute or nearly so. The female has no legal rights regarding community property, no claim for spousal support, but she might have a right to child support if a child is involved. Furthermore, the female can easily be manipulated by the male through intimidation and threats to leave. The fact is that these arrangements are conveniences – primarily for the male – that show a shocking lack of commitment and regardless of protestations to the contrary a lack of love as well.

Beyond these obvious risks there is the health risk. Suppose one of the partners suffers some devastating illness. The other partner has no legal right to act on behalf to the other, that right remains with the family and the “domestic partner” is not family in any legal sense. Suppose there is an accident and one of the partners is killed? Unless that partner has been careful to name the other as the beneficiary then the insurance goes to the estate not the partner. Essentially these informal domestic arrangements result in bastard children, legal issues, insecurity, and a shocking lack of commitment because the partners do not bond as they do in a legal and formal marriage.

Marriage requires a commitment – a public commitment that has both religious and legal ramifications. It is a formal ceremony where one person dedicates their life to the other and with this commitment comes numerous benefits, not the least of which is a sense of security that the other person won’t simply walk out and if they do there are some significant ramifications to that decision. At the very least there are the financial issues which govern the division of property and assets, but there are many longer term impacts as well.

Beyond these legal and mundane issues regarding marriage there are some very significant emotional ones as well. The first of these is “love” not the physical love that drives the informal arrangements but the deep and abiding emotional love that only comes with time and dedication to the other person’s well being and happiness. This doesn’t mean that this emotional bonding can’t happen in the common law arrangements but it is much less likely to happen because if this feeling of care and concern for the other person is there the commitment is not otherwise why not say those simple words that would have given legal protection to the other partner.

Certainly marriage is not a bed of roses and every marriage has its ups and downs. As anyone who has been married for more than a couple of years knows, keeping a marriage together requires work and commitment to making it work. Unfortunately that lesson seems to be the one that is missing today as more and more people spring from broken marriages. These people have no role model and what they saw was the going gets tough the solution is to leave and move on to a happier situation. The fact that this decision to place ones self above the other and any children is actually a selfish act is missed entirely. These seem to be the people who believe they are entitled to a life of perpetual happiness and indulgence that requires no sacrifice by them. Enduring marriages rest on the belief that commitment is required, personal sacrifice is required, and that for those who are willing to give up anything for the other partner, then nothing must be given up. Marriage is not a fifty-fifty proposition and on any given day it may be 90-10, but over time it works out to be a true partnership.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Another Milestone in Evolution

Well it seems that the most recent studies of the fossils from Africa have led to some interesting and disturbing conclusions. First it should be noted that these are not fossils in the true sense and certainly not anywhere near complete skeletons. What these bone hunting scientists have found are fragments, pieces of skull, teeth, and bone fragments. From these fragments these scientists have constructed an entire being, determined the sex, the species, the size, and have named them, apparently laboring under the Amerindian philosophy that to name a thing is to know it. But it isn’t much of a logical stretch to question these conclusions, after all no complete skeleton exists so what they have could be fragments from different animals and at the least they are probably from different individuals even if they are of the same species.

To give you an idea as to how this works – take a cup, a bowl, and a plate from your cupboard and smash them to pieces. Mix all of these pieces together so they cannot be easily distinguished as to their source. Now remove six pieces and throw the rest into the trash. You now have six pieces of what appears to be china but from these you can determine their age, the chemical content, the probable size of the original piece. This is essentially what these scientists have done except they have gone one step further and have concluded that what they have are fragments from a set of china that includes a cup, a plate, a saucer, and possibly a teapot. Naturally these conclusions are written in the most convincing scientific jargon and presented as “facts” when in actuality they have is a lot of speculation resting on a rather tenuous set of facts. After all, they do know they have pieces of china, the pieces are the same age, they have the same chemical content, and the fragment from the plate looks like many other plate fragments, so it is probably a plate.

Of course all of these fragments have been discovered in Africa, many in the Olduvai Gorge by the Leakey family, who have turned early hominids into a family business if not a cottage industry. They have constructed – working from fragments – an entire hypothetical family tree for Homo sapiens. Of course they grant that these fragments are really not human but bone fragments from a Hominid whom they have christened Homo erectus or Homo habilius and who lived approximately 2.4 million years ago. This connection between these fragments and humans rests on the various stone tools found in association with them. The rationale is that only humans are clever enough to make and use tools so these creatures must have been proto-humans.

Several things have crept into this otherwise beautiful hypothesis that is causing some strain. First, it has now been determined – through observation – that various animals make and use tools and pass this information on to offspring and to each other. This behavior has been observed in chimpanzees, baboons, and even birds and otters. So making and using tools does not automatically qualify one for a position on the human family tree. The other fly in this ointment has to do with the bone fragments themselves. Even if we accept that they are pre-humans but of different species it seems that these creatures were contemporary and not the proclaimed evolutionary steps that show development from ape to human. The conclusion is that they must have had a common ancestor that was even older but then no evidence of that exists. So in effect the Leakey family’s revolutionary work becomes interesting but does not bear up under scrutiny. Indeed these early hominids may be related to Homo sapiens but then maybe not, maybe they are just extinct apes.

The problem with Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is that it remains unproven. There is no empirical evidence that any species has ever evolved into another species. The fossil record provides ample evidence of species adapting to changing conditions but they remain the same species. Elephants do not become Rhinoceros nor do snakes become alligators and these family trees that purport to demonstrate how various contemporary species are related are pure speculation and have no basis in fact. So the highly publicized “Lucy” fossil that is the bread and butter of the Leakey family appears to be an ape or hominid that may have used tools and might be related to humans if we only knew how they could have changed from ape to hominid to human. Evolution remains a theory and unproven.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Are There “Moderate” Muslims?

Is there such a thing as a “moderate” Muslim or is this an oxymoron? Even a quick review of the Koran will show that a Muslim cannot continue to call himself Muslim if they tolerate anyone who is not Muslim. In fact they are instructed to kill all infidels. Sura 9:5 says “Fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them, and see them, belittle them and lie and wait for them in every strategy of war”. For the people who resist Islam – meaning all non-Muslims—the Koran instructs Muslims in Sura 5:33 “Their punishment is execution or crucifixion or cutting off of hands and feet from the opposite sides or to be exiled from the land”. This is merely a small sample of the violence that permeates the Koran. This “Holy” text is filled with exhortations to kill all infidels. Based on the Koran itself a person cannot be “moderate” and still be Muslim because anyone who even considers an non-Muslim as a friend or ally is not Muslim but has become heretic and apostate. The next time you are called upon to view your Muslim neighbor as a friend think about that because in a Muslim society he must kill you or himself be killed.

Jesus was executed by the Romans at the behest of the Sanhedrin because he was a threat to the stability of the region. Jesus was a rebel in the sense that Gandhi was a rebel. Jesus never raised a sword in anger nor did he oppose Rome. In fact when asked Jesus said “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God that which is God’s” In effect Jesus was actually supporting the Roman administration by not overtly opposing it – so what about Mohammed?

Mohammed was in fact a “warlord” not a man of peace by any stretch of the imagination. He preached violence and was directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of people who either followed him or were killed. He participated in 78 battles, a fact proudly proclaimed by Muslims who retain the same level of morality that one associates with tribal societies, Nazi’s, and other fascists. Mohammed approved the beheading of prisoners of war – a feature of Islam – the religion of peace – that continues today. He approved the assassinations of all who opposed him and instructed his followers “Whoever relinquishes his fait – Kill him”. So when Buddha and Jesus are contrasted to Mohammed who is preaching peace and who is preaching death and destruction?

The Muslim community preaches that it was they who salvaged the knowledge of the world and it was their Arabic scholars who contributed the tradition of education while Europe languished in the Dark Ages. Whether this is true or not is arguable since with the fall of Byzantium the Muslims inherited the knowledge of the Greeks and Romans, which they protected. Even if we simply accepted this claim by the Muslims then the question immediately becomes – what happened? If the Arab community was so focused on learning and education why is the illiteracy rate in the Arab World not only higher than the world average but even higher than developing country’s? Illiteracy in the Arab World is more than three times higher than in Latin America and the Caribbean (think Haiti, Dominican Republic) and Arab illiteracy is actually increasing. In fact, over one third of Arab men and half of Arab women were illiterate in 2002.

The scientific and technical contribution by Islamic countries is less than one percent of the world’s total. In fact about 330 books are translated into Arabic by the Arab world in contrast to 1500 books translated into Greek and 100,000 translated into Spanish each year. In 1998 three patents were granted to the entire Arab World while The Republic of Korea was granted 779 in the same period. From 1980 until 2000 the Arab World was granted a total of 370 patents while South Korea alone was granted 16,000 in that same span. Does this sound like a society thirsty for knowledge? Does it sound like a society or culture intent on growing and becoming a contributing segment of society or does it sound like an introverted and perverted society, incapable of mixing with any society other than own?

Islam is a society that still believes in “honor killing” and even a more westernized country like Jordan still considers murder for reasons of honor to be justified. Islam is a society where women are considered property, where females must be virgins at marriage or be branded whore and killed by their male relatives. These are the attitudes and practices dictated by the Koran. These are the beliefs of Muslims worldwide – including your neighbors and the storekeeper on the corner. These are the people who maintain they are “moderate” and “loyal” citizens but that cannot be true because either they are indeed “moderate” and “loyal” or they are “Muslim” they cannot be both. These are our neighbors, neighbors who glorify Ayatollah Khomeini who said “The purest joy in Islam is to kill and to be killed in the name of Allah”. Were the 19 Muslims who flew airplanes into the World Trade Center extremists or simply practicing Muslims?