Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Moral Relativism and Subjective Value

Moral Relativism and Subjective Value

Imagine a universe in which there are no sentient, conscious beings. How valuable would gold be? How long would a meter be? What would be the meaning of good or evil or beautiful or ugly? With no one available to ascribe those values, what value would any of these concepts hold? Indeed what is meaning, itself, without sentience to assign it? Read On…

Forgiveness and Compassion

Forgiveness and Compassion“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” – Not Buddha

Despite my imperative to discover forgiveness and compassion by any means possible, I was reluctant to use this quote — simply because it is so abused by spiritual novitiates and pseudoscientists. It is most frequently attributed to Gautama Buddha, but I suspected the ascription might be incorrect, so I did a little digging. And I’m glad I did. Read On…

Gödel and the Proof of God

Gödel and the Proof of GodIn 1931, Kurt Gödel introduced his Incompleteness Theorem to the world, and established that any system cannot be proven to be true using only its own content as premises — that is to say, it must rely on at least one external component for its validity. Likewise, that external component also cannot be proven to be true, intrinsically. The theorem is, essentially, a mathematical expression of the famous liar’s paradox:

This sentence is false.

Regardless of the point of origin, the riddle cannot be solved. Read On…

The Dangers of Militant Atheism

The Danger of Militant AtheismI am a loyal fan of Richard Dawkins. As a Darwinian evolutionary biologist, his ideas are foremost among contemporary scholars in the discipline. In his 1976 masterpiece The Selfish Gene, he coined the word meme — which he used to represent the evolutionary spread of ideas and knowledge. Since then, the concept of the meme has gained universal adoption as a construct in human language and thought. Dawkins’ contributions to the growth of knowledge are immeasurable.

Dawkins also describes himself as an atheist, and can often be found debating and discussing in the company of other superb theological critics like Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Dan Dennett, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali (a quick YouTube search show how viral Dawkins’s work has become). Yet as much as I admire Dr. Dawkins (and I have for over two decades), I am somewhat put off by his approach to the criticism of toxic religious ideas. To me, he squarely embodies the dangers of militant atheism. Read On…

The Disease of Dogmatism

The Disease of DogmatismRarely have I struggled the way I do when I am confronted by the disease of dogmatism. It is, I believe, the greatest impediment to the growth of human knowledge — and to the betterment of mankind. It is a conundrum that has become less complicated over the centuries, but the continued slow rate of its exodus from our collective ethos troubles me deeply. Read On…

Decoding DNA

Decoding DNAThis is a follow-up to an earlier post — about the binary nature of DNA, and how remarkably close it is to the logical and mathematical systems (languages) human beings have invented to interact with computers. Perhaps the most interesting aspect to this odd coincidence is the fact that computer science advanced almost completely independently of discoveries in the field of genetics. This isn’t to say people haven’t seen the glaring similarities for years — and even succeeded at storing binary data as DNA. But to my knowledge, there has been no concerted, unified effort to think of DNA and the double helix as binary computer code (feel free to enlighten me if I am wrong). In other words, I’m not convinced this approach has been fully vetted when it comes to decoding DNA. Read On…

Pseudoscience is Dangerous and Destructive

Pseudoscience is Dangerous and DestructiveThere is nothing more perilous to human progress and the growth of knowledge than spiritual, philosophical, or religious principles that are packaged up and presented as “fact” — under the guise of science. The practice is most terrifying because its presentation is so often seductive and subtle. But make no mistake about it: pseudoscience is dangerous and destructive. In fact, I wouldn’t hesitate to compare it with pestilence, poverty, and even war — when considering its pernicious consequences. Read On…

Is String Theory Science if it Isn’t Falsifiable?

String Theory Drawing by XKCD - Is String Theory Science if it Isn't Falsifiable?I’m very intersted and curious about string theory. I’ve read everything I can find by Brian Green, Michio Kaku, and the other “faces of string theory” out there today. But it only takes a couple of exposures to prime-time, pop-science television shows on Discovery, NatGeo, or The Science Channel to realize that this is more the stuff of Star Trek than it is Neils Bohr and Albert Einstein. So, is string theory science if it isn’t falsifiable? Read On…

Humanity Needs Easy Mathematical Communication

Humanity Needs Easy Mathematical CommunicationI watched a documentary about Stephen Hawking recently, and one of the most striking things about this amazing man is the fact that for decades, he has only been able to communicate at four words per minute. As I watched his story, I began to think about the history of written communication. And just as quickly, I began to think about how difficult it must be for someone like Stephen Hawking to impart formulas in a computational context. It occurred to me how much humanity needs easy mathematical communication. Read On…