John Fishwick

Science, Literature, Art, Philosophy, Logic

A LITTLE SLICE OF TURKEY

Incredibly, for those who believe in reason and logic, Turkey has officially banned the teaching of Evolution Theory in favor of Creationism.

On the other hand, Great Britain has banned the teaching of Creationism.

It has always been a mystery to me why people believe in something for which there is no evidence or for which there is contrary evidence.

 

Latest book released

kindle-ready-front-cover_6510189

Many of you have waited patiently for more in the lives of Jeremy and Stephanie Rowlands. They continue the adventure of their lives in the sequel to A Flight to Romance.

Learn more about Book 2 on the Books page.

What am I working on now? Book 3, of course!

EXISTENCE BY INFERENCE

EXISTENCE BY INFERENCE                                            JOHN FISHWICK

 

Earth-based optical telescopes and the Kepler space probe have identified several hundred planets orbiting stars or suns elsewhere in our galaxy. Most of these planets are too large or too close to their parent star to support the kind of life that we have here on Earth. We can’t actually see these planets –we detect their presence by inference in two main ways. First, if the observed star undergoes a slight wobble, as indeed our own sun would do were it to be observed by some alien civilization several light years from us, then it would be reasonable to conclude that this wobble was caused by the gravitational force produced by orbiting planets. Earth’s wobble is caused mainly by Jupiter and Saturn. Second, if the planets pass on a line of sight between Earth and the star being observed then we can measure a slight dimming of light as the planets cross the face of their sun. Bear with me for a while, I’ll eventually get to the point.

As with the planets, no one has actually seen or talked to God, so we must rely on inference to ascertain His existence. Let’s look at planet Earth to see if it is a suitable gift to us from a divine creator.

Earth was born some 4.5 billion years ago in violence. In its early years it was a violent place being bombarded regularly by asteroids, one of the larger ones knocking off a piece of the Earth to produce our moon. In our geological history, Earth has experienced at least five major extinctions, caused by asteroid strikes or volcanoes, in which over 90% of species then living died. The largest of these occurred at the end of the Permian period as evidenced by a drastic reduction of fossils found in the rocks of the early Triassic period.

Since the evolution of homo sapiens, our planet has been, and continues to be, raked by powerful hurricanes and tornadoes and ripped apart by earthquakes. Hundreds of thousands of humans have died as a result and many more have been slaughtered by religious conflicts. The list of disasters is too long to be given here. Besides, they have been well covered in previous issues of this magazine.

And then there is infantile carcinoma.

So, is it logical to conclude that Earth was a gift to us from an all-powerful and all-loving God?

I think not.

A final word on Pascal’s Wager, in which it pays to hedge your bets and believe in God in case He is found to really exist after the final judgment day. If you decide to believe for this reason, don’t you think that He will see through your little scheme?

RELIGION

RELIGION                                           March 6, 2016

 

Books and articles about religion number in the hundreds of thousands but I think that the essence of

subject can be distilled into two questions:  Do you believe in God?  And:  Are you a person of faith?

The first question should really be:  Do you believe that there is a God who is All-Knowing, All-Powerful,

and All-Loving?

To answer this first question only requires a cursory knowledge of the origin of our universe and the

history of all living organisms on our planet. Our universe, solar system, and planet Earth were all born

in violence and in a few billion years will all die in violence. In between this birth and death, our planet

has experienced, and will again experience, many natural and man-made disasters that have

devastated planet Earth and its inhabitants.  Natural disasters include those produced by asteroid

strikes, volcanic action, earthquakes, and diseases. Several major extinctions have killed off up to 90% of

organisms living at that time.  Since the appearance of homo sapiens, we have seen countless man-

made disasters including more or less constant warfare and appalling bestiality, perhaps the worst of

which was the holocaust caused by one of our more civilized nations. There is no evidence that our

future will be any better. In fact, current events suggest that it may be worse, much worse.

The second question about faith requires a definition. Faith is a belief in something without supporting

evidence. It is, perhaps, best addressed by asking another question:  Would you want your taxi driver,

your lawyer, your doctor, your financial adviser, your senator, or your president to make decisions based

on faith or on reason and logic?

Those who have considered the above and still believe in the existence of an All-Knowing, All-Powerful,

All-Loving God, who could have prevented these natural and man-made disasters, but did not,

demonstrate a somewhat interesting and warped view of reason and logic. Please don’t tell me that

“God works in mysterious ways.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is another view:  Deism.  Evidently several of our founding fathers were deists, who believed in a

God that created the universe and humans and then stepped aside and let us get on with it.

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of spending and afternoon with Martin Gardner, a polymath

who was regarded by some as having the best mind of the 20th century. Martin was a deist.

But surely an All-Knowing, All-Loving God would not have retired having created the Earth and its

Inhabitants knowing what the future had in store for us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

RELIGION

EXISTENCE BY INFERENCE

KARST TOPOGRAPHY

KARST TOPOGRAPHY

 

Many e-mails are circulating around the web showing great photographs of natural wonders around the

world. Many of these photographs show mountainous scenes from China such as the one below.

 

Karsts China

 

 

 

This topography is called Karst, and is formed when soluble rock such as limestone is permeated by

acidic groundwater causing a labyrinth of caves and tunnels supported by rocky columns of limestone.

If you have been in a coal mine you will have seen a similar structure underground, where columns of

coal are left as supports. Eventually, the surface collapses leaving only the rocky columns of limestone

and the formation of a Karst topography.

MUSLIM EXTREMISTS

MUSLIM EXTREMISTS

 

If we assume that a true Christian is one who follows the teachings of the bible very closely, then one

who treats the Bible (the word of God) as a smorgasbord and chooses which parts to believe or not

believe is less than a true Christian. Using similar reasoning, a true Muslim is one who follows the

teaching of the Quran very closely. There are many references in the Quran indicating that Muslims

regard Islam as the only true religion and that non-Muslims or those leaving the faith should be killed,

usually by beheading. The Quran also teaches that women are to be treated as slaves to men and should

be executed for adultery, often by stoning to death.

If the above is correct, and it seems to be reasonable to think so, then the Muslim extremists are, in fact,

the true Muslims. The inescapable conclusion is that we are at war with Islam despite comments to the

contrary.

Is there a way out of this tangled web of Muslim beliefs? Yes, there is. Muslim leaders in the United

States should convene a meeting to modify or revise the Quran by removing the violent sections and the

death threats much in the same way as Thomas Jefferson created his bible by removing the implausible

events such as miracles. Then these Muslim leaders should announce that American Muslims are

followers of this revised Quran.

STEM EDUCATION

STEM EDUCATION

Several articles about a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) have been recently published in magazines and newspapers, perhaps the most notable being one by Fareed Zakaria in the Washington Post entitled “Why America’s Obsession with STEM Education is Dangerous”.

Let me attempt to put this subject into some kind of perspective by asking the simple question-What is the Purpose of a University Education?

A hundred years ago in the UK there were very few universities and they were for the children of the affluent with the goal of turning them into well rounded ladies and gentlemen suitable for taking their place in society. The men often found positions in the church or in the military.

Today the purpose of a university education is quite different. For most of us it enable us to repay our college loans and get a return on investment. It does little good to spend a couple of hundred thousand dollars on a 4-year education only to end up being unemployed or under employed. If a family cannot afford to buy a house, provide the children with a cell phone, a bike, and a computer or take a two week vacation at the beach, major problems will loom on the horizon. It’s all very well to say that money isn’t everything, but without a living wage life will be a challenge, unless you plan on living in a hut on some remote beach and writing poetry. Follow your passion by all means, but do something else to help you pay the bills. I think it was Dorothy Parker who said-“I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Rich is better”.

My advice to a student today preparing for college is to fast forward four years and imagine yourself sitting at a desk in front of a job- interviewer who asks- “What skills do you have that I would be willing to buy? If your answer is –“I know about the history of film or I am an expert on Elizabethan History”, don’t be surprised if you join the ranks of the unemployed.

So, what about the STEM subjects? Our country became the richest most powerful country in the world mainly because of science and technology and our future depends on further developments in the fields of medicine, computer technology, material science, and other related subjects.

Can you study one of the STEM subjects and also some philosophy, art, history, and music at the same time? No, not unless you are extremely bright and willing to work hard. Remember, when you enter the job market, you are competing against the best from India, Korea, and China and they are good. As Thomas Friedman once said-“Your next doctor will be Indian and your next boss will be Chinese.”

While on this subject, all STEM students should study critical thinking, reason, and logic because these are the basic elements of the scientific method.

So, what’s the answer to the problem of producing graduates in STEM who lack skills in the humanities and liberal arts? Very simple. Students must accept, and even welcome, the fact that learning does not stop at graduation; this is where it really begins. Although I have no proof that STEM graduates would find studying history, art, philosophy, and linguistics to be more enjoyable than liberal art students would find relativity theory and quantum physics interesting, I suspect it’s true.

Finally, should you abandon your passion for a liberal arts degree? Of course not! Just be realistic about your future employment opportunities. What does the future hold for teachers? I don’t really know, but most courses are now available on-line for no charge taught by charismatic professors. Does this portend the end of universities?

Pi Day

Pi Day
Our high living standard in the US is largely a result of advances in science and technology, but the science education in our country leaves much to be desired. There is evidence that 63 million of us still believe that vaccines and autism are related, 144 million believe that the Earth and humans are less than 10,000 years old, and 82 million believe in Astrology. Perhaps on Pi day (March 14th or 3.1415), we could reexamine our beliefs in the light of current scientific knowledge and challenge any claim by asking: Is it plausible and where’s the evidence? We also should tell our children and grandchildren that a bachelor’s degree in Elizabethan history or Greek philosophy, while being educational, will probably not guarantee future employment.
At the risk of being accused of self promotion, my web site is
john-fishwick.com.

« Older posts

© 2017 John Fishwick

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑