Children have a wonderful innocence that is plain to everyone. There is no evil in the heart of my little 9-month old boy. I look at him, though, and I know that someday there will be evil in his heart. I don’t mean big, horrible evils, I mean the little everyday evils that we all have in us. Selfishnesses, guilty pleasures, insecurities and less than honorable intentions. We all deal with our imperfections and our fairly consistent ability to not be the people we aspire to be. Someday all of these wonderfully innocent little children learn evil. Innocence is lost and this little bit of everyday evil takes its place. But something also is gained. You wouldn’t want these children to be innocent forever. The wonderful quality of innocence becomes the rather uglier quality of ignorance. Children grow up and as they do they are ever acquiring knowledge. Innocence is traded for knowledge. Evil, if you will, is part of the deal when you gain knowledge.
I regard the Bible as basically mythology, especially the old testament. The story of Adam and Eve and the Serpent sums up the above paragraph vividly and succinctly. Do you take a bite of the apple? Do you trade innocence for knowledge? Or do you stay in the garden of ignorant paradise?
I choose knowledge.
This parable is still a very apt topic today. Some people want to legislate us into this ignorant paradise. No premarital sex, no drug use, no abortions, no homosexuality. While I know these are not always ignorant people, they sometimes are admittedly wildly optimistic about their desire to see us legislate the ideal world. I choose knowledge. Kids will have sex, people will abuse substances, women will decide whether to remain pregnant and a certain percent of the population will be gay. These are facts. Our policies must be based on and address the world as it is, not as we wish it would be. We bit the apple. Now let’s use the knowledge.
There is an equation which you can derive which relates the temperature of a dust grain (or any object, really) to the distance it is from a star:
In this equation T* is the temperature of the star, R* is the radius of the star and Tg is the temperature of the dust grain.
The distance that the earth is away from the sun is called an astronomical unit or A.U. so earth is 1 A.U. from the sun.
If you put the temperature of water freezing and the temperature of water boiling in the above equation you find that from our Sun, liquid water is possible from 0.51 A.U. to 0.95 A.U.
If you are surprised that liquid water is not possible here on Earth there is, of course, an explanation and it is the greenhouse effect. The earth also has some stored heat in its core. So the earth’s average temperature just happens to fall exactly in the realm of liquid water.
This range — 0.51 A.U. – 0.95 A.U. — is extremely small in astronomical terms. At roughly 0.5 A.U. water boils. At right around the orbit of the earth, water freezes. Aren’t we lucky to have ended up right here in just the right place?
Of course, those that didn’t aren’t around to blog about it.
The creationists are at it again. They just can’t stand the fact that science continues to ignore their mindless devotion to the Bible. Let me try be clear on this one, folks: science cannot and should not take into account magical omnipotent beings when we devise theories to explain natural phenomena. Yes, there may be a God and he may have done magical omnipotent things. We haven’t found them yet. Instead we’ve found a lot of very logical, consistent things like gravity, quantum mechanics, relativity and jillions of other scientific/mathematical explanations. God was clearly a physicist. He rarely and perhaps never pulled rabbits out of hats. So-called intelligent design is not a scientific theory. In a nutshell intelligent design says that something as complicated as a watch, for example, implies the existence of a watchmaker. This is a circular argument because clearly something as sophisticated as a watchmaker implies the existence of a watchmaker maker. If life is so sophisticated and complicated that it takes a magical omnipotent being to have created it, science would then have to turn to the important question of where magical omnipotent beings come from. We are, as Carl Sagan used to say, skipping a step and trying to explain the universe on physical ground rather than try to explain God on physical grounds. This is as it should be.
The theory of evolution is not a threat to religious people. Religious people have nothing to gain by forcing scientists to accommodate their religious views. Science cannot remain science if it has to take into account random miracles by an otherwise completely scientific God.
I take these truths to be self-evident.