Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Is science faith-based?

This is by far the best response to the bullshit position that science is just faith, same as religion. It's nonsense of course, and Phil Plait of BadAstronomy.com nails it head fucking on.


Oh, you want details? OK then.

If you read any antiscience screeds, at some point or another most will claim that science is based on faith just as much as religion is. For example, the horrific Answers in Genesis website has this to say about science:

Much of the problem stems from the different starting points of our divergence with Darwinists. Everyone, scientist or not, must start their quests for knowledge with some unprovable axiom—some a priori belief on which they sort through experience and deduce other truths. This starting point, whatever it is, can only be accepted by faith; eventually, in each belief system, there must be some unprovable, presupposed foundation for reasoning (since an infinite regression is impossible).

This is completely wrong. It shows (unsurprisingly) an utter misunderstanding of how science works. Science is not faith-based, and here’s why.

The scientific method makes one assumption, and one assumption only: the Universe obeys a set of rules. That’s it. There is one corollary, and that is that if the Universe follows these rules, then those rules can be deduced by observing the way Universe behaves. This follows naturally; if it obeys the rules, then the rules must be revealed by that behavior.

A simple example: we see objects going around the Sun. The motion appears to follow some rules: the orbits are conic sections (ellipses, circles, parabolas, hyperbolas), the objects move faster when they are closer to the Sun, if they move too quickly they can escape forever, and so on.

From these observations we can apply mathematical equations to describe those motions, and then use that math to predict where a given object will be at some future date. Guess what? It works. It works so well that we can shoot probes at objects billions of kilometers away and still nail the target to phenomenal accuracy. This supports our conclusion that the math is correct. This in turn strongly implies that the Universe is following its own rules, and that we can figure them out.

Now, of course that is a very simple example, and is not meant to be complete, but it gives you an idea of how this works. Now think on this: the computer you are reading this on is entirely due to science. The circuits are the end result of decades, centuries of exploration in how electricity works and how quantum particles behave. The monitor is a triumph of scientific engineering, whether it’s a CRT or an LCD flat panel. The mouse might use an LED, or a simple ball-and-wheel. The keyboard uses springs, the wireless uses radio technology, the speakers use electromagnetism.*

Look around. Cars, airplanes, buildings. iPods, books, clothing. Agriculture, plumbing, waste disposal. Light bulbs, vacuum cleaners, ovens. These are all the products of scientific research. If your TV breaks, you can pray that it’ll spontaneously start working again, but my money would be on someone who has learned how to actually fix it based on scientific and engineering principles.

All the knowledge we have accumulated over the millennia comes together in a harmonious symphony of science. We’re not guessing here: this stuff was designed using previous knowledge developed in a scientific manner over centuries. And it works. All of this goes to support our underlying assumption that the Universe obeys rules that we can deduce.

Are there holes in this knowledge? Of course. Science doesn’t have all the answers. But science has a tool, a power that its detractors never seem to understand.

Science is not simply a database of knowledge. It’s a method, a way of finding this knowledge. Observe, hypothesize, predict, observe, revise. Science is provisional; it’s always open to improvement. Science is even subject to itself. If the method itself didn’t work, we’d see it. Our computers wouldn’t work (OK, bad example), our space probes wouldn’t get off the ground, our electronics wouldn’t work, our medicine wouldn’t work. Yet, all these things do in fact function, spectacularly well. Science is a check on itself, which is why it is such an astonishingly powerful way of understanding reality.

And that right there is where science and religion part ways. Science is not based on faith. Science is based on evidence. We have evidence it works, vast amounts of it, billions of individual pieces that fit together into a tapestry of reality. That is the critical difference. Faith, as it is interpreted by most religions, is not evidence-based, and is generally held tightly even despite evidence against it. In many cases, faith is even reinforced when evidence is found contrary to it.

To say that we have to take science on faith is such a gross misunderstanding of how science works that it can only be uttered by someone who is wholly ignorant of how reality works.

The next time someone tries to tell you that science is just as faith-based as religion, or that evolution is a religion, point them here. Perhaps the evidence of science may sway them. Perhaps not; it’s difficult to reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into. But the next time they get on a computer, maybe they’ll take a slightly more critical look at it, and wonder if its workings are a miracle, or the results of brilliant minds over many generations toiling away at the scientific method.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Newport Aquarium has let me down

From this item at their website we can see that the Newport Aquarium, of which I am a member, is now offering group rates and such to church groups for their Faith Weekend. Are you fucking kidding me? This place has a really good display of deep sea creatures which just scream evolution, yet the aquarium is offering the evolution deniers a discount? I'm just pissed about this. Faith Weekend? What, a weekend full of "oh I don't care about evidence I just believe in gawd"? *sigh* I wish the rest of the world could just drop this faith based bullshit. Faith is belief without, or often in spite of, evidence. I take nothing on faith, and I mean nothing. No evidence, no belief, period.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

You can't disprove gawd!!!

Yup, and you can't disprove Zeus, Odin, Buddha, or any other deity which has ever been named. Fact is there champ, disproving something is effectively impossible; you are trying to prove a negative, which can't be done.

The other problem is that the burden of proof is on the person making the claim; you claim there's a god, so you must prove it. This is also an extraordinarily wild claim, so you need some major evidence there bucko. In 2,000 years, Xtianity has failed to provide even a shred of evidence aside from philosophical ramblings. Oh, you did know that by definition philosophy can't be proven, right?

I can prove evolution; quite easy actually. In fact, I can actually prove there's not god, at least not the one identified in the beeble. I'll do that tomorrow for ya.

Nathaniel Abraham -- Idiot at Large

So get this, some cocksucker takes a job at a lab where he will write up all sorts of stuff regarding evolutionary processes regarding zebrafishes, and he gets all pissy when the lab fires his ass for not "believing" in evolution. Uh, d'uh there dipshit; evolution is fact, there is nothing in which to believe. And hate to tell ya, but you got fired for not being able to do the job due to your stupid beliefs.

EVOLUTION IS FACT. Q.E.D. There are not alternative theories, there is no controversy, and there is no reason to deny evolution. Evolution is supported by 150 years of intense scrutiny, a solid fossil record, and not a single case of any evidence to suggest that the theory is wrong.

Evolution is not just a theory either. A scientific theory is an explanation for a model. Scientific facts are the observations we have, such as fossils which show clear transitions into new species. These facts can be used to formulate hypotheses, which are then tested and, if found to hold up, can be used to build a model to represent what we see, which is then in turn explained by our theory. Facts never become laws nor theories; they are all different.

I hate stupid people. I really, really do. Go believe in sky daddy if you want, but for fuck's sake keep your ignorance to yourself and don't go bitching when the rest of us point and laugh.

Friday, December 7, 2007

I Passed!

I did it, I passed my comprehensive examination, all 81 pages of it. I am now officially a doctor; I get the PhD part after the dissertation. Even better, I found that I don't have to defend my comps, only discuss them with my mentor. Wow, this feels good. I'm now a freakin' doctor; I am Dr. Richard Wolford, soon to be Dr. Richard Wolford, PhD. This rizocks.

Ok, that's all for now, I'm celebrating!

Oh, and Jeebus and Gawd had nothing to do with this, only me and the support of friends and family. I didn't pray to pass, didn't plead, go to church, nothing. I busted my fucking ass to do this. I needs no jeebus, only confidence in myself.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Blasphemous Bear

So, I'm reading this article at CNN about some poor sap who actually wants to teach at a school in Sudan. Apparently, the kids named a bear "Mohammad" and our crazy little Muslim friends now demand her stoning or something like that. Hmm, so let me get this straight. Honor killings, such as stoning your sister, are okay. Beheading construction workers is also okay. Blowing up Jewish schoolchildren is apparently just fine. Setting yourself on fire is also allowed I guess. But naming a teddy bear, a plush, inanimate object, "Mohammad", is punishable by death; uhm, how many "Mohammads" are there over there anyway, since it seems all you crazy fucktards are named that.

Ok Musmaniacs, here's something for ya to digest: there is no Mohammad, and there is no god. God is a figment of your fucked up, deluded, uneducated, warped mind. Yup, ain't no gawd. It's all a load of shit. Try praying, see how that works. Of course, your primitive intellects probably won't understand causality and "B, therefore A" logical fallacies, so I guess you can just ignore that whole prayer don't work problem. What was the average IQ of Muslim nations, 85 or so? Definitely borderline retarded. You're the fuckers who need edjumacation the most, yet you shit on the people who could bring it to you.

Oh, and I'm not going to just pick on Muslim fucktards, I'll hit up the Jewish and Xtian rejects as well. You're just as blood thirsty; the only reason you don't go on killing sprees *all* the time over here in the US is because we have those pesky secular laws.

One more thing: Mohammad? He LOVES the cock. Just can't get enough of that man pole throbbing in his mouth and ass. Oh yeah, he invented lube ya know? He was too much of a bitch to take it all like a man, so he just whisked up some astroglide from that flying horse of his, which he also fucked on a regular basis, and got him some man meat.

Somebody call Peter Pan and let him know the rejects got off the island.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Comps #4 -- down for the count

Well, here it is, 5 something in the morning, and comp question #4 is down. This was hard, but not for the reason you may think; I had too many pages. Yup, I was at page 19 when I finished and had to go back and remove nearly four pages of content (actually, just over three pages). I have a limit of 15 pages to respond to these questions, and it can be very, very hard, esp. when you enjoy the topic. Of course, I can't say what the topic is, but I enjoyed it. I also enjoyed #3, which I think I also did very well on. I think my #1 is pretty good, at least enough to pass. #2...not so sure. I'm going to spend tonight working on #2 and ensuring that #1 is properly organized. I have until this Saturday at midnight, CST (December 1st), so I'm not concerned. I have to submit for a plagiarisms report, which can take a day or two to get back, so I want to submit for this no later than Tuesday.

I really wanted to get done with everything by Sunday, but I just couldn't do it. I had to take mental breaks and I was getting burned out very quickly. I've been in school for six years...non stop. Sure, I get a week break here and there, but man, I only get a week! It's hard to do and I just want to be done with it. I don't think I'll pass all of these the first go; it depends upon how tough they are on my responses. I guess they could play devil's advocate on me, which would of course suck. But we'll see.

So, Monday night consists of fixing up #1, reworking #2, and I also need to add two figures to #4; just don't have the energy right now to do this.

And as promised, I'll update when I know the results, if in fact I have any readers out there. I don't expect to pass the first time, but if I fail all of these I may just throw in the towel. I get two weeks total to fix them and turn them back in for a second look, but to fix four questions in two weeks may not be possible for me.

Until next time,