Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Science Night - The Origin of Life Has Not Been Explained 

Do you like chemistry? Did you get good grades in chemistry in high school and/or college? If so, you need to take twenty-three minutes of time and watch this lecture (below). It is, hands down, the best chemistry lecture you have ever heard.

When I was in college (Oregon College of Education), there was an announcement that we could test out of the chemistry portion of the science requirement for the liberal arts core. I took the test and passed. Later, a pre-med student was commenting about this. He said, "They let these guys balance a few equations and get out of chemistry." He didn't like the idea. But I didn't think it was bad. It wasn't a CLEP test. I still had to make up the hours. To substitute for a four hour chemistry class, I took a three hour class in computer coding and a one credit field trip. It was in the Wallowa mountains in northeastern Oregon. Beautiful.

I didn't do that because I didn't think chemistry was important. But I just knew that my life wasn't going to be about chemistry. So for me, it was a good plan. But this video is a reminder of the importance of chemistry. I didn't think about it before I watched this, but you know, most of the ideas about evolution are pontificated by biologists or zoologists who know little about chemistry. But chemistry comes before biology. We can't even talk about biology if the chemistry doesn't work.

This brief lecture blows modern theories of evolution to smithereens, not by refuting them biologically, but by showing that the chemistry just isn't there.

Sometimes we hear people saying something like "It's in my DNA," when they are talking about a particular habit or way of life. If you pay attention, most of the time you will notice that they are referring to something that is culturally derived not genetically derived. But DNA is not a mystical force that influences who you are. DNA is a chemical substance. It stands for deoxyribonucleic acid. Years ago, I read that if the genetic coding in DNA were published in books, it would fill three thousand volumes. DNA is extraordinarily complex. Watch this video and see what you think. If you watch it attentively, and with an open mind, there is no way you will still believe in evolution by the time you are finished.


Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Science Night - Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions 

In the scientific community today, there are the "new atheists," such as Richard Dawkins, there are the Christians, such as John Lennox from Oxford and Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute, and there are also the agnostics, who do not number themselves among the believers, but look with disdain on the new atheists, who always seem so sure of themselves in their assertion that there is no God.

I suppose you could say that the agnostics are taking the easy way out. They don't have to commit themselves to anything. They can just attack. But it is interesting to me that the agnostics tend to get along better with Christians than with atheists. I suppose I should add that among the atheists, there are the cordial atheists and the angry atheists. I am making up these categories as I am pounding this out on my laptop in the old, old factory (since made in to a youth hostel) which is my home when I am in Shanghai. So you can debate them if you like--I won't be offended. In fact, after I have had time to think about it, I may debate them myself.

But they are not pulled out of thin air, either. I have given this matter some thought, and I have engaged with a number of thinkers down through the years. Years ago, I was chatting with a colleague of mine at the university where I was teaching in Tempe Arizona. He was talking about how he would never think of driving on the freeways in the Phoenix area. He always took the streets. He was deathly afraid of freeways.

I said to him, "No, you can't live that way. You just have to get out there and do it. You'll get used to it."

He said, "That's easy for you to say. You have God on your side. You have to remember I'm an atheist."

He was never cantankerous, like Dawkins, who is the first person to come to people's minds when they think about "new atheists" since Christopher Hitchens died. But he was not a believer, either, and he did not call himself an agnostic. So I don't believe, and do not want to imply, that all atheists are ill-tempered and angry. George Will, for example, calls himself a "low voltage" atheist.

David Berlinski is a mathematician, but he also has considerable background in philosophy, and he has written several novels. In this lecture, given in 2012 as an episode of Socrates in the City, he attacks both Darwinism and atheism. Perhaps I should have featured this video before the previous one, because this lecture predates that interview by several years. In some ways, though, that one is more important, because it shows how scientists one by one are being won over to the belief that Darwin's idea just are not scientifically viable.

So keep this in mind when you are watching this video. David Berlinski does not qualify as one of these new converts. He has been a Darwin doubter for a long time. But he is important, because he and others like him are part of the reason some of these world renowned scientists are being won over. David Gelernter specifically mentions him in telling of his own conversion. And I should emphasize that this is not a religious conversion. David Gelernter did not become a Christian. He does not even say that he has been won over to the idea of Intelligent Design. His conversion, if you want to call it that, is an acceptance of the growing belief in the scientific community that Darwin's ideas just could not have happened.

Darwin doubting isn't new. There have always been people like me who, while accepting Darwin's observations of micro-evolutionary changes, do not believe that those observations justify the grandiose macro-evolutionary changes that Darwin assumes. People like me acknowledge change in nature. We just don't believe that Darwin's beliefs about single-celled organisms mutating into highly developed creatures can be justified by his observations.

But the Intelligent Design folks are going further than this. They are saying they can prove that Darwin's ideas couldn't have happened. And they are winning converts. You see, the reason Darwin is dying isn't because of a few religious people on the fringes. Darwin is dying because the scientific community is starting to reject Darwin's explanations. It will be a slow death. There are still plenty of diehards who will continue to maintain their belief in Darwinian evolution (by carefully shielding their eyes from the math). But I personally believe it is only a matter of time.

At the very end of the Q and A there was a question about Richard Weikart, and his idea that Darwin lead to Hitler. Berlinski endorsed it wholeheartedly. I have heard those kinds of ideas before, but I have no idea who Richard Weikart is, so I will do some more research before commenting on that, except to pose one question: Do you think Darwin was a racist? Look up the full title of his book and tell me what you think. You'll enjoy this lecture. David Berlinski is an engaging speaker.

Comments       Science Night Home       Lesson Two Questions

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Facebook Posts 

Advertising brochure for the Bridge Cafe in Wudaokou


Communism in Cuba


17 links here

Monday, November 11, 2019

Taiwan's Dire Straits 

The constant question is how China and Taiwan will work through the perpetual conflict caused by the 70 year old civil war. The KMT under Chiang Kai-Shek used to rule China, and was an ally of the United States during World War II.

The Communists took over most of China, but were unable to defeat the KMT. The KMT fled to Taiwan, but also occupied other smaller islands, one group of which is very close to Xiamen (a coastal city in Fujian Province). Less than 10 kilometers, in fact. The Communists decided that, as a step toward taking Taiwan, they should first capture these islands. They failed, in a struggle that came to be known as the Battle of Guningtou.

Although the Americans were not directly involved in this fight, the Nationalists did have the benefit of a bunch of cast-off World War II tanks, which gave them a hugely unfair advantage against the PLA. One can only wonder if the Communists should have bypassed Kinmen and gone directly to the main island of Taiwan. At any rate, the attempt to take Taiwan was foiled, and the Chinese Civil War was destined go continue for another...who knows? It's already been 70 years and it is not over, although the two sides have managed to maintain a more or less peaceful ceasefire for most of those years, except for a period during the Cold War when they were shooting at each other, but neither was attempting to conquer the other.

So where to go from here? The video below outlines the basic situation such as it is. It should be noted that the rock star featured in this video is a Taiwan native (not a descendant of those who came over in 1949). That should be taken into consideration when listening to his comments. The Taiwan natives have no interest in "retaking the mainland," which was always, and is still supposed to be the objective of the KMT. But something interesting seems to be happening in Taiwan. In the current generation, there seems to be less divide between the two entities. Young people generally don't have a strong philosophy about "one China," or whatever. They just know that they don't want to be dominated by China.

China has tried many ways to bring the wandering province back into the fold. Recently, they put a female television anchor in front of the camera begging "wan wan" to come back home.

It didn't go over well. I feel sorry for the lady, because she's probably a nice person. But it just doesn't work to be doing threatening military maneuvers, threatening to invade, and then have a pretty lady begging "wan wan" to come back to Mommy. This is the worst possible time for China to be doing that, especially with what is happening in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. The young people of Taiwan do not want to come back to a "Mommy" who puts hundreds of thousands of innocent people in prison camps. I call them prison camps, because people are put there by force. That's prison. So I don't want to hear what they are doing in those camps. It is not relevant to the basic human rights issue (deprivation of liberty without due process). If you told me that they were living in mansions and beijing waited on by servants, I would still call it a violation of human rights, because they did not choose to be there and they are not free to leave. I don't want to belabor that point, because I have addressed it before in this blog. Just let me say that that issue is not going to go away, and will affect the way most people view the China-Taiwan relationship for years to come.

So what should China do? I have never been a fan of Mao, but I do think he was right about Taiwan. In his conversation with Kissinger he stated that Taiwan would come back eventually, but the time was not right for it. He said it would take a hundred years. But that was almost fifty years ago. Will it really take another fifty years? I don't think it has to. But it will not happen in the next ten years. Maybe not even twenty. Why not? Because whatever you say about Taiwan, it has been functioning as an independent entity for seventy years, and is not going to just give up its de facto independence and become another province in China. The only way forward that China can accept right now is "one country, two systems," and that is anathema to both the DPP and the KMT.

There seems to be a perception that China is upset with Tsai Yingwen because she opposes "one country, two systems," in contrast to the KMT. This is incorrect. The KMT also opposes "one country, two systems." Why? Because "one country, two systems" would mean Taiwan coming into China under the Communist party. That would be the same as surrender.

"One country, two systems" and "one China" are not the same at all. They are as different as night and day. The DPP opposes both of them. The KMT supports "one China," but opposes "one country, two systems" just as much as does the DPP. So there is a difference between the KMT and the DPP with respect to "one China," but no difference between them with respect to "one country, two systems." They both oppose that vehemently. But right now, "one country, two systems" is the only way forward that China can accept. This is the main roadblock to reconciliation.

Is there a way forward? Many say no. But I do not agree. Reconciliation is definitely a possibility. But it will require a way forward that is more creative than what either side has conceived of or been willing to accept. Before that way forward can be found, China has to be willing to give up "one China, two systems," because the people of Taiwan will never, never accept it, and China does not have the power to force them to accept it.

China likes to talk about the fact that most countries recognize the Beijing government diplomatically. But that recognition is not a recognition of China's right to take Taiwan by force. The practical truth is that most, if not all of the countries that recognize China diplomatically also have a (non-diplomatic) relationship with Taiwan as an independent entity, and support Taiwan's (de facto) independence. There can be no greater example than the United States, which publicly recognizes China diplomatically, but openly sells weapons to Taiwan to defend their independence. What greater sign of recognition (of Taiwan's de facto independence) can there be than selling them weapons to defend that independence? Come on. Actions speak louder than words. The Americans clearly recognize Taiwan's (de facto) independence, and are committed by law to helping them defend it.

But again, reconciliation is not out of the question. Not at all. I don't think it is the only option, but it is one of them. It is worth talking about, and should be talked about. And that conversation can begin as soon as China is ready to give up the "one China, two systems" idea. Taiwan is not Hong Kong.



This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?