Friday, April 4, 2014

The Business of Religion versus the Science of Evolution.

Let's first define the word theory.  Theory, a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural and subject to experimentation.  

The Theory of Evolution, is a conjectural explanation of the origins of life on earth that grows and changes as evidence is found and scientific methods expand to determine the proper sequence of the totality of evolution.

The Theory of Creation, is a widely believed postulate that has no basis in fact and is believed exclusively on faith and is the basis of the Business of Religion.

The truth is that evolution is a theory, expanding and defining points as learning progresses.  Detractors tell us that it is incomplete and wrong.  And the truth is, it is wrong.  There are multitudes of tiny details that don't mesh and it may take centuries to determine an accurate and viable timeline of evolution.  It is a daunting task, trying to find fossil remains of living things that existed beginning 3 billion years ago right up to the beginning of civilization.  That part is kind of hard, they aren't that easy to find, there aren't all that many of them.  It would be easy certainly if every living creature had gone to a specific place and cast its dying body into a heap for future scientists to pick up and have a timeline of evolution that was easy to follow and orderly.  Sort of a Moses thing with the creator directing it, that would have helped.  However, it didn't happen that way and so those that find that sort of work interesting make it their lives' passion to try and find ever more bone fragments and fossils and piece them together into a cohesive and believable timeline.  I don't like to get dirty, and it all sounds kind of messy and uninteresting to me.  I do like to look at the made up skeletons in the museums though.  The thing is, it's a work in progress and has been growing, changing and defining our existence here for a little over a hundred years or so.  It isn't perfect, it isn't even believable in its entirety, and it changes and grows all the time. 

But then the business of religion has had centuries to fine tune their theory.  Religion started a long time ago, the first guy that looked up at the stars and determined that the same shapes returned with the changes in the seasons and predicted such, were the first holy men.  The more accurate the predictions of natural phenomena, the greater was their place in primitive societies.  And the less those guys had to do back breaking work in the fields and wherever.  The true Business of Religion was born.  Learn, predict, preach, come up with stories explaining it all and poof, the masses provide for you.  It worked then, it works now.  As society grew, the stories had to keep pace and the explanations of the natural world along with the nature of society itself grew as well.  Thus we were given such stories as Pandora's box, the ferryman on the river Styx, and of course, the Creation Theory.  That, was a great one.  It has lasted a good two thousand years with only moderate changes to it and revisions as needed.  And even though supporters state it is the same as was passed down by word of mouth for years and written on papyrus, there were changes.  People like my brother, a real born again christian likes to point out that scholars spend their whole lives pouring over texts and scraps of papyrus to determine the meaning of words written centuries before and how those words have changed in the translations from Aramaic to Greek to Hebrew to Latin to English.  Religious scholars won't admit it has all changed, yet they work on clarifying those changes all the time.  There again, not my cup of tea, sitting around all day staring at a text and discussing with other people of similar ilk how the loop on a letter might be construed as meaning something different in a specific context.  Sheesh, not my cup of tea at all.  But then whereas I like to look at dinosaurs, the work and lives' labors of these guys doesn't hold any interest at all for me.  The end result though of all this speculation is a workable and profitable Theory of Creation.  And it is indeed the basis of the Business of Religion.  A very profitable business that is not for profit and for the masses, tax deductible.

The point here for all this drivel is that science isn't perfect, religion wants desperately to be, yet isn't.  Most people do in fact ask the questions, why are we here and what happens when we die.  Science doesn't have viable definitive answers for the first and nothing for the second.  Religion answers both, but solely on the basis of faith.  Faith isn't a bad thing at all.  I have faith in my beliefs, and they answer both questions in a viable believable concept.  Hmmmm, maybe I should start my own religion.  I hear it pays well.


  1. Questioning the Theory of Everything
    In one of the episodes of “The Big Bang Theory”, Penny asks Sheldon if he knows how to do something. Sheldon replies, “I am an experimental physicist, I know everything about everything.” Penny asks him, “Who is Radiohead?” and he nearly has a conniption fit. Let’s face it, referring to one’s field of study as The Theory of Everything smacks of arrogance and naiveté. Although it’s only been around for a relatively short period of time (as far has time is infinite) and may already be dying a natural death.
    The search for a grand synthesis, for universal commonalities, continuous regularities, complete ideas and concepts that transcend the narrow confines of specific problems of our known disciplines is one of the great inspirational drivers of science and scientists. Arguably, it is also a defining characteristic of homo sapiens sapiens. Perhaps the binomial form of sapiens is some distorted poetic recognition of this. The concept of A Theory of Everything becomes the grandest vision of all, the loftiest inspiration of all inspirations, namely that we can put into a single whole and understand the entirety of the universe in a small set of precepts, in this case, a concise set of mathematical equations.
    Some of these classic ideas in science are Newton’s laws, which taught us that ‘heavenly laws’ were no different than the ‘earthly laws’, Maxwell’s unification of electricity and magnetism, that brought the short-lived aether into our lives, Darwin’s theory of natural selection, which reminded us that we’re just animals and plants after all, and the laws of thermodynamics that strongly suggest we can’t go on forever. Each of these has had incredible consequences not only in changing the way we think about the world, but also in laying the foundations for most of the technological advancements that have led to the standard of living many of us are privileged to enjoy- and some curse others who have obtained a higher level.
    Nevertheless, they are all, to varying degrees, incomplete. Understanding the boundaries of their applicability, the limits to their predictive power and the continuous search for exceptions, violations and failures have provoked further questions and challenges, stimulating the continued progress of science and the unfolding of new ideas, techniques and concepts, distortions of facts, fanciful “fudge factors,” and figments of extremely weird imaginations.
    One of the great ongoing scientific challenges is the search for a Grand Unified Theory of the elementary particles and their interactions, including its extension to understanding the cosmos and even the origin of space-time itself. Such a theory would be based on a parsimonious set of underlying mathematisable universal principles that integrate and explain all the fundamental forces of nature from gravity and electromagnetism to the weak and strong nuclear forces, incorporating Newton’s laws, quantum mechanics and general relativity. Whew- what a sentence! Had to take a puff off my inhaler before I could say it all at once.
    Fundamental concepts like the speed of light, the dimensionality of space-time and measurable masses of elementary particles can all be predicted, and the equations governing the origin and evolution of the universe through to the formation of galaxies and beyond would be worked out into so much detail (except for the occasional “fudge factors.” This constitutes The Theory of Everything. It is a truly remarkable and enormously ambitious quest that has occupied thousands of researchers for over fifty years at a cost of billions of dollars.

    1. What are you talking about?
      Science changes, governments spend money, religion is big business and takes in and spends as well.

  2. But Everything? Well, hardly. Where is life, where are animals and cells, brains and consciousness, cities and corporations, love and hate, good and bad, art and filth, evillution and Intelligent Design? How does the diversity and complexity seen here on this extraordinary earth arise? The simplistic answer is that they are inevitable outcomes of the interactions and dynamics encapsulated in the Theory.
    Time evolves from the geometry and dynamics of strings (even thought we can’t see or feel them), the universe expands and cools (even though we can’t measure it directly), and the hierarchy from quarks to nucleons, to atoms and molecules, to cells, brains, and emotions and all the rest come tumbling out. All because a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, , ability or object to make the equations on both sides of the ‘equal sign’ match. Kind of a result of "just" turning the crank of increasingly complicated equations and computations presumed, in principle, to be soluble to any sufficient degree of accuracy. But Something is missing.
    The "Something" includes concepts like information, emergence, accidents, historical contingency, adaptation and selection, all characteristics of complex adaptive systems whether organisms, societies, ecosystems or economies. These are composed of many individual parts or pieces that take on collective characteristics that are generally unpredictable, certainly in detail, from their underlying components even if the interactive dynamics are known. Unlike the Newtonian paradigm upon which The Theory of Everything is based, the complete dynamics and structure of complex adaptive systems cannot be encoded in a small number of equations. Indeed, in most cases, probably not even in an infinite number! Furthermore, predictions to arbitrary degrees of accuracy are not possible, even in principle.

    1. That's supposition on your part, you have no idea what future generations will know and discover. Perhaps they will find god and discover what it is all about after all.
      I don't concern myself with the doings of religious scholars, nor of scientists seeking a unified theory to replace the last one that they discovered. Neither makes any difference to me, my beliefs, my morality, or how I live my life and interact with other mortals. I like to look at the dinosaur skeletons, I watch Big Bang Theory and laugh at the funny parts. That my big brother, is what life is all about.