Tag Archives: math

The Universe, Religion, and Radio Signals

If you haven’t heard Paul Harvey or Paul Harvey Jr. on the radio, then I envy you your ignorant bliss, for they both sound like a drunken Jimmy Stewart from the movie Harvey. The father and son “newsmen” do a short, cornball show covering the gamut, from world politics to folksy stories of small town America. The Harvey’s “reporting” style is reminiscent of old-time radio; imagine a man wearing a fedora, with one hand clasped over an ear, speaking into a enormous, chrome plated microphone. During their syndicated broadcast they shift seamlessly from important news stories to sales pitches for delicious buttery spreads to tales of conservative family values. I think Dude Lebowski might say the Harvey’s are out of their element, by about five decades.

Well, Thursday morning I woke up to Paul Harvey Jr. talking complete gobbledygook about the latest astrophysics and why it reestablishes the earth as unique in the universe. Have a listen, at least to the first 3 minutes.

Science texts for four centuries have insisted that the earth is nothing special in the universe“. No. Copernicus’ heliocentric model was just a technical detail about earth’s position in the solar system. It didn’t say anything about its status or importance in the universe. Although, based on a lack of distinguishing features, it’s not unreasonable to conclude that our solar system isn’t particularly special. After all, there are billions of galaxies each with billions of stars, as Carl Sagan might point out. But that’s not going to stop a theist from grasping at straws.

Inexplicable phenomenon“, “Dark energy“, “Dark matter“, “Dark flow“, and “Confounded. Leave it to a gullible fool like Harvey Jr. to invoke the god-of-the- gaps argument; if scientists don’t understand something then it must be supernatural. i.e. I don’t know how David Copperfield did an illusion, therefore it’s must be real magic.

Those dark forces… the infinitely vast reality that exists beyond it [the universe]“. Harvey Jr. thinks dark energy and dark matter exist beyond the universe. I didn’t know science could see that far.

Accepted without question“. Scientists interrogate each other into submission because science is a method of investigation, which cannot be done without asking questions. Religious faith is loyalty to an idea regardless of the evidence. Don’t theists typically balk at Q&A sessions?

The earth alone exists in a cosmic bubble“. Give a layman a little physics and he’ll twist and turn it into an Easter pretzel. It’s Harvey Jr. who exists in a intellectual bubble.

My advice is not to get your science news from giant invisible white rabbits named Harvey or credulous radio personalities.

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Louisiana’s State Of Arrested Development

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law a bill that would essentially allow the injection of religion into public schools, particularly the science classroom. If a teacher finds evolution objectionable he or she is free to water it down with a shot of creationism, whether it be the fire and brim stone variety of Young Earth Creationism (YEC) or the more modern argument of Intelligent Design (ID). Come to think of it, teachers could offer any number of alternative arguments. Who’s to stop them now? How about a little Scientology for the students? Space aliens populated the Earth…L. Ron Hubbard said so.

This bill is unfortunate for Louisiana since its students have a history of being ranked near the bottom in math and science skills. The New York Times reported on a 1991 Federal Math Survey: 

States in the South and notably poor states did worst, with Louisiana earning the lowest average and Washington, D.C., scoring even lower.

Governor Jindal reported in a speech from March 31, 2008:

Unfortunately, we still rank among the worst in the country when it comes to students’ reading and math scores… flexible funding of $20 million can be used by school districts to recruit teachers in subjects where we consistently lag behind, such as math and science.

So Governor Jindal isn’t doing Louisiana’s students any favors with this bill. Violating the separating of church and state is bad enough, but wasting valuable classroom time with pseudo-scientific garbage is shameful. Clearly, the politicians of Louisiana would rather use public education as a political chew toy than take it seriously. The only ones benefiting from this bill are ultra-religious rabid dogs.       

For a more in depth report of Bobby Jindal’s pathetic views go here. He actually said:

I don’t think students learn by us withholding information from them. Some want only to teach intelligent design, some only want to teach evolution. I think both views are wrong, as a parent.

Is creationism withheld from students? Isn’t it everywhere in society? Children are exposed to religious views at home, at church, and though the media. The only exposure most ever will get to real science is in the science classroom. And now that’s being eroded.

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