Tag Archives: Star Trek

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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Filed under Religion, Science

Physicist Freeman Dyson On Religion – Part 1

Freeman Dyson

Star Trek fans will remember the episode of TNG titled Relics in which Scotty helps the Enterprise escape from inside a Dyson Sphere. The concept of a Dyson Sphere was lifted from physicist Freeman Dyson, who speculated that an advanced alien civilization, somewhere in the Universe, would encompass a star within a sphere and live on the inside surface of the sphere. It’s a fantastical idea.

Well, recently I finished reading Freeman Dyson’s book of essays (book reviews actually) called The Scientist as Rebel. And overall I found Dyson’s writing to be unsophisticated, a bit trite, and super apologetic, where religion is concerned. A perfect example is the last essay in the collection, Religion From The Outside, which is a review of philosopher Daniel Dennett’s book Breaking The Spell.

Dyson cites T.H. Huxley (an agnostic), who sat on England’s education commission. Huxley said, “Every child should be taught the Christian Bible as an integral part of English culture”.

Dyson then writes, “In recent times the scope of religious instruction in England has been extended to include Judaism and Islam. As a result of this policy, no strong antagonism between religious parents and the public schools has arisen, from 1870 until the present day. The teaching of religion in pubic schools coincided with a decline of religious belief and a growth of religious tolerance. Children exposed to religion in public schools do not as a rule take it seriously.”

Dyson fails to take into consideration the continuous flow of immigrants from Islamic countries into the UK, which prevents Islam from becoming pacified like Christianity. This results in a conflict between Islamic parents and the UK public schools. Many Islamic schools and Islamic communities in the UK do, in fact, try to keep their students separated from Western ideas, which include secularism. Therefore, Freeman Dyson seems to be out of touch with reality when he claims that  “Children exposed to religion in public schools do not as a rule take it seriously.” Some of them take it very seriously. 

Many UK Muslims suffer from the same delusion as American Christian fanatics, that their religion is the only true religion, and that the whole world needs conversion.

Some physicists suffer from a similar ailment, which causes them to think physics is the only true science. Too bad. If physicists only studied biology a little closer, perhaps some of them would understand humans behavior better.  



Filed under Christianity