The Pertinacity of the Asp

imgres.jpgGalileo, complaining about those people who refused to look through a telescope to see those things, such as the moons of Jupiter or sunspots moving across the face of the sun, referred to them as being “replete with the pertinacity of the asp.” Everyone knew that the sun revolved around the earth: it was proven scriptural science.

I recently read William T. Vollmann’s treatise, Uncentering the Earth: Copernicus and The Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres. In general it is a very readable presentation of some rather difficult concepts, both astronomical and mathematical. But truly it is far easier to understand and accept the unnecessary complexities of the scriptural world view than it is to accept that the world obeys the insights of scripture and not of science.

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Why Darwin Matters

evolutionI found one book that deals rather well with the perceived struggle between Christian fundamentalist religion and the science of Evolution. The book is Why Darwin Matters by Michael Shermer. Shermer started as a creationist, was educated in the sciences, and is a strong advocate of not only the undeniability of the theory of Evolution but also for the way natural selection is perhaps a better supporter for religious or spiritual interpretations of life on this planet than revelation and faith.

As Shermer writes: Evolution Makes For Good Theology. His discussion of the evolution of morality is especially convincing and in no way negates religion but rather shows that religion has a firm purpose in our lives .. a purpose that developed naturally along with the other cultural developments that defined the early humans. And Shermer makes his case convincingly using logic, reason and clear evidence, never requiring magic or miracles.

As a corollary to this, Shermer also shows how elements in the history of the evolving species we call man can provide an insight into man’s propensity for violence and brutality, lying and cheating, and still allow for sharing and altruism, loving and nurturing.

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Quest For Greed

SantamonicafreewaynearrobertsonSeveral years back there was a big earthquake in the Los Angeles area and one of the bridges on the Santa Monica Freeway (Rt. 10) collapsed. Back then Wilshire Boulevard (or one of the other boulevards like Pico or Olympic) was probably the best alternate route but traffic must have been a real mess (I had left L. A. so I could only commiserate from New Jersey).

As the story goes, a well-known local construction company took the bid to rebuild the bridge. They not only finished the work before the deadline but they actually received a contractual  bonus for getting it done weeks earlier than imagined. I was very impressed.

But then one of my periodic fears crushes my elation like a three-hour tour: I wouldn’t know the first thing about how to rebuild that overpass. Is there a book that tells me how to go about it? Where’s the Professor when you need him?

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Professor Irwin Corey Explains Evolution

Sorry. Irwin Corey is now 100 years old and opted for a nap rather than appear on this site. But even though this is not a post about the world’s foremost authority, I found this interesting video on YouTube … presenting Professor Irwin Corey on his 100th birthday:

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