The Pertinacity of the Asp

Galileo, 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.

Here is a prime example of the proof that the earth is the center of the universe as revealed in the Bible (KJV: Book of Joshua)

12  Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.

13  And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.

14  And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel.

Clearly, in order for the sun to stand still it had to be moving in the first place: moving in a perfect circle around the earth: the earth being the center of the universe. Scriptural astronomy!

You will recall that many thinking people who subscribed to the Copernican idea of a heliocentric world were excommunicated and often burned at the stake. It’s interesting that then as now, it was the Protestant church that maintained a hard-line view on the literal truth of scriptures whereas the Catholic church was slightly more enlightened.


Someone said that it was science that exposed religion as a quaint myth originally designed to subordinate and mollify primitive minds, rather than philosophy. Do you suppose that there are still members of the religious right who believe that all the stars in the night sky are super-glued onto a celestial sphere? That the earth is fixed in space at the center of the universe and that all other celestial bodes revolve around the earth in perfect circular orbits? That the sun was commanded to stop its movement across the sky? That we won the Great War because we prayed harder than the Germans?

Of course nowadays we have scriptural science once again exerting erroneous control over the minds of those with the pertinacity of an ass, but now it is evolution which is being rejected and ridiculed because it is not in accordance with the primitive bedtimes stories of the Bible. 

It’s unbelievable that this level of stupidity is focused on one side of the political spectrum here in the United States: the religious right and the alt-right, or more simply, Republicans.

Has anyone asked the likes of the Grahams or the Falwells or the T***ps if they believe the sun revolves around the earth? I suspect Herr Donald actually believes the sun revolves around Herr Donald.

I guess the next logical question is if burning at the stake is to be the accepted punishment for any and all heathens who accept evolution as truth and reject creationism as fiction and will anyone supporting women’s rights and women’s health soon be subject to the same fate?


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.

Continue reading “Why Darwin Matters”

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?

Continue reading “Quest For Greed”