Wednesday, September 9, 2009

From the squishy shaky ground...

Every now and then I dump off my excess books at the local Salvation Army Store before checking their book sections to see if there's any good book I can pick up for a dollar. The check out line was moving slowly so I got to look around a bit and spotted this sign...

This store will sell you heavy things but won't help you put it in your car even if you're a frail looking 80 yrs old grandma because they're afraid that you'd sue them if you happen to twist an ankle while helping them load the stuff... or the store helper would if he twists his ankle. To hell with good will, right? Everybody is so fearful of the law even though they aren't criminal. And why shouldn't you be fearful of the law if you live in America? There are so many of them even lawyers can't keep them straight!

And while I'm ranting... Just ran into another acquaintance who had somehow warped into yet another Jesus-freak since the last time we met. I was a JF once. I know how the mind works there, but then I had the advantage of having grown out of it by the time I hit 27. It is sort of frustrating to see someone who used to make good sense all of the sudden turns into a robotic Bible-citing parrot. Definitely a progress in the wrong
direction... And, as anyone familiar with how American evangelical Christians are these day would predict, our conversation quite preposterously landed on Darwin vs the Bible. I posted what I feel about people who base all their argument on what the bible says a while back, of course, so I won't repeat myself.

What really bugs me, though, is this notion that just because one is now a Christian one automatically knows all there is to know about things that haven't got anything to do with Christianity to begin with. Why is it that none of the Christian fundamentalists who have tried to convince me that Evolution dictates that life came from nothing and that the liberals want more laws because they want to impose social Darwinism on us all actually know anything about what science and evolution and social Darwinism actually say to begin with? Worse yet, they don't even realize that they are the ones who are espousing the very ideas (something came out of
nothing, more laws/regulation means applied Social Darwinism, etc) they are supposedly fighting against!

Evolution is a theory of biology that address how the diversity of life on planet earth came about. It doesn't say anything about how the first life as we know it came to be... much less how the universe itself came to be (that's a question for astrophysicists, not biologists). And the physicists don't believe that something came out of nothing 'at the beginning of time' either. If anything, the Big Bang theory posits that it was space-time and everything else that existed that got bunched up into the infinitestimally small singularity that then expanded into the cooler and much bigger universe we're living in today. That's why the physicists are busy trying to come up with a grand unifying theory... they know that both Einstein's general relativity and Quantum Mechanics break down at the beginning because the universe at time zero was not only fantastically small, but it was also fantastically dense as well. The people who go around saying that the scientists think that something came from
nothing have no clue what the heck they're talking about. Even the notion of 'empty' space in science really isn't empty anymore, thanks to Quantum Mechanics (quantum particles continuously pop into existence and annihilation each other, so the sum total at any given time is zero, but it is a very active zero rather than static!).

On the other hand, had they thought about the position they're championing out loud for a minute, 'something coming out of nothing' is precisely what special creation dictates. God spoke, and poof, something popped up into being from nothing... Definitely not something any scientist is espousing.

(AronRa... if I could ever have a crush on a dude, he (or, rather, his brain) would be it!)
Darwin's theory was and is only a scientific theory meant to enable scientists to decipher how the diversity of life on earth came about and related to one another. It was never put forward as a social theory where 'survival of the fittest' is to be the rule of the land. Now... I don't like the idea of having more laws and regulations myself. I think there are already too many petty little laws that nobody pays any attention to and not enough
sound judgment being practiced. All the same, the lefties aren't proposing rules and regulations to force 'survival of the fittest' on people. They are doing it to prevent 'survival of the fittest' from actually playing itself out in society! All the medicines and technology that science enables are being used to keep more of us alive longer and more comfortably... regardless of what defective genes we carry.

In short; if you apply Social Darwinism on real human society you don't get socialism. What you'll get is an unrestrained free market capitalism where everybody only does what is best for himself and the 'self-regulation' turns up something much more macabre than what the short-sighted right-winged fundies are capable of foreseeing! Try growing some bacteria on a petri dish and witness exactly what self-regulation is... real life isn't
as neat as the text book would have you believe. The population growth chart doesn't see a smooth transition from exponential growth curve to the stabilized equilibrium line when there are real organisms involved. The line is wiggly.
The 'straight' line represents the averaged population... It's akin to looking at the US weather map and expecting St. Louis, Missouri to get hit by multiple tornadoes every year because the isotherm showing where the cold northern air meet with the moist warm air from the Gulf of Mexico passes right through the city. In reality, though, half of the tornadoes in the area happen north of the city, and the other half to the south of it and St. Louis itself rarely gets hit at all.... even though the line drives right through the place. In a totally unrestricted free-market, the wiggliness of the thing will represent real human casualties. To heck with Jon Stossel and his ill-founded self-regulating skating rink analogy. In real life it only takes one spectacularly bad driver with a big and speedy car to cause a major traffic accident. And it isn't realistic to expect every single drivers on the road (some are professional drivers, most are not, and many are inexperience newbies) to be able to detect every potential car-wreckers out there. There is a LOT of room between socialism and judiciously regulated free market... and anarchy.


berenice said...

oh mister Smorg, i share your frustration!! Creationism, lawyers, Republicans, and people with guns are all taking this country to hell! i feel so embarrassed for Christians that are hooked on that web of stupidity... i feel they are poor ignorant people who have suffered so much that are ready to embrace any stupid idea under the promise of living a better life one day, while, in the meantime, they let the every day life (our real piece of heaven) go by... and they are wasting what really feeds one's soul: culture, education and knowledge, i bet most of them don't even read the Bible 'cause it is a book, and i bet they have never asked themselves why a star shines... i personally loved your little ranting, although makes me sad to know people like this are proliferating all over our country, what a shame! what a retrograde and truly Involution they live... and yes too sad on the Salvation Army store, in Mexico we always joke on how Americans are so paranoid with the whole: "What if they sue me" issue... i never realized how ignorant people can become in this country until i moved here... I am glad you are a scientist, a reader, and a cultured person :D just be thankful your brain was never brainwashed by ignorance!

Smorg said...

Hiya Bere!
It is amazing how backward some folks here are despite of the country's developed world status indeed, matie. :o(

I should note, though, that I'm very fortunate to know of many sane and reasonable Christians and that they are just as frustrated as we are about how these loud-mouthed minority of their brethren are stinking up the whole side of the aisle (Ken Miller, the star witness in Kitzmiller v Dover, for one, is a Catholic! And the presiding judge there is a conservative and Christian!).

What I find most frustrating is the absence of the third party now that the idiot fanatics had really taken over the GOP (where the heck are the reasoned voices in that party? They seem to have gone extinct!). The Democrats somehow haven't been very apt on using the power that they actually do have, but all the same I'd feel a lot better if some libertarians or Greennies pipe up to let us know there are still some independent-minded folks around in public service. :oP

Thanks very much for stopping by! Hope your weekend has started beautifully! :o)