Evolving Thoughts

Evolution, culture, philosophy and chocolate! John Wilkins' continuing struggle to come to terms with impermanence... "Humanus sum, nihil humanum a me alienum puto" - Terence

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Sarkar on Creationist dentistry

It seems Nelson had no teeth in his recent debate with Sahotra Sarkar. He tried to gum evolution to death, and all he showed was that ID really isn't science after all. There will be an online recording of the debate around the 25th of this month.

Could you be a paleontologist?

Because I can, but only just. I scored 8/10 (one I can't believe I missed, the other I'd never heard of before) in the BBC - Science & Nature - Fakes & mistakes quiz. Much better than those silly personality quizzes bloggers see, to do all the time lately.

Speaking of which, Dr Free-Ride mentions yet another one.

Just... wow!

Alfred Russel Wallace rejected the idea that human capacities like math or music could have evolved. I wonder what he'd have made of Chris Bliss Juggling? And the music isn't bad either...

From Jason Rosenhouse at Evolutionblog

Here's an opportunity

If I were 20 years younger and undoctored, this would be a cool opportunity:
Darwin Trust Scholarship in HPS

The Darwin Trust invites applications for a postgraduate research
scholarship tenable at any UK university from graduates, of any
nationality, who wish to study for a PhD in the history or
philosophy of science and technology. The scholarship will provide
a maintenance grant of £12,000 per annum for up to three
years and the necessary university fees. Candidates, who should
not normally be more than 30 years of age, should hold, or be
expected to obtain, academic qualifications equivalent to a First
Class honours degree from a British university and must have an
application confirmed or pending for a posgraduate position wihin
an appropriate university department. Applicants from overseas
should hold a certificate of proficiency in the English language
(TOEFL 600 (paper-based) or 250 (computer-based), IELTS 7.0).
Preference will be given to candidates who propose moving to a
university, or at least a department, different from that in which
they will have graduated.

Applications should be lodged by 28 April 2006 with Professor K
Murray, Institute of Cell Biology, University of Edinburgh, Darwin
Building, Mayfield Road, Edinburgh H9 3JR, Scotland, UK, from whom
application forms may be obtained.

Tel: ++ 44 (0) 131 650 5382
Fax: ++ 44 (0) 131 650 5361

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Christians among the lions: Nelson v. Sarkar

Pandagon has a review of the debate between Paul Nelson of the Discovery Institute and Sahotra Sarkar on ID, this time in from of an academic audience. Nelson didn't go down well, and Sarkar, who has a book on the epistemology of ID coming out, basically put the political aspects of ID front and centre. I wish I'd been there. Another report is at The Ethical Werewolf.

Sarkar's book, which I have read in ms, is as good a philosophical treatment of ID as it deserves. Better really. Look out for it.

[Via Pharyngula, of course]

Pat Robertson hijinks again

That naughty Pat Robertson.
After claiming that God caused 9/11 because of all the gays, that the levees in New Orleans broke because of all the gays, that God would cause a terrible disaster to be visited upon Dover PA because of all ... strike that, because they had rejected God by voting out the ID boosters (who were very careful not to mention creationism. One mentioned it once, but we think he got away with it) on the school board, and calling for the assassination of a head of state because of all the... I mean, because he's a damned liberal socialist, you know, now he's declared that Islam is satanic, because they want world domination.

"Islam is not the religion of peace", said ol' Pat.

Not like Christianity, which has killed its millions, eh Pat? Not like the religion that caused the Thirty Years War, the Hundred Years war, several crusades, the wars between Catholic and Protestant nations like between Spain and England, or the Irish Troubles (which go back 400 years), or the slave trade, or the invasion of and genocide in South America, or the extermination of them damned heathen Injuns, or the invasion of China and south east Asia, or of India, or of Africa, all by them Christians. Or of my own island/continent.

Good thing Christianity is the religion of peace, or we might end up having Yet Another Religious War.

Wait... something's nagging at the back of my head....

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

It's OK to satirise religion. Just not my religion

Isaac Hayes quits 'South Park' go the reports, because he is upset about the satire of religion. Of course, it didn't stop him being involved in the show while it satirised Christianity, Judaism, or Mormonism. But when it got a bit too close to home - the celebrities' religion lite, $cientology, of which Hayes is a member - he suddenly discovered his civil rights past and quit. How moral.

Scientology is a bully's religion. They go after those who criticise it in the law courts with lots of legal backing that individuals cannot compete against. It is perhaps the most moronic excuse for a religion, started by a third rate science fiction writer (a field that attracts third rate writers anyway, so that's saying something). But if people want to follow it to release their inner Thetan, that's fine. But why is it immune from satire? Well, because it's his religion, right?

Religion's primary role is to gather people under one banner. Fine, I think that's probably adaptive. But in a secular society, anything is fair game (God, what South Park did to Paris Hilton shocked even me, and I read Private Eye as a youth).

This is hypocrisy on Hayes' part. And it's my right to say this. Sue me (I have nothing to take away; I'm a postdoc)...

Sunday, March 12, 2006

I'm not telling anyone to eat my shorts...

What do you blog, when you are behind on a paper due today, and you have nothing intelligent to say? That's right. You do one of those bogus personality tests:

You Are Bart Simpson

Very misunderstood, most people just dismiss you as "trouble."

Little do they know that you're wise and well accomplished beyond your years.

You will be remembered for: starring in your own TV show and saving the town from a comet

Your life philosophy: "I don't know why I did it, I don't know why I enjoyed it, and I don't know why I'll do it again!"

Of course, it was inevitable. They don't include Southpark characters, so how could I be Cartmann?

From Scientist, Interrupted. [Has anyone done a blog called Boy, Iterated?]