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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Sunspots 33

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:

A page of "Science Quotes," from a number of famous scientists (at least a couple of whom were professed atheists) all pointing toward a designer. Unfortunately, documentation isn't as complete as it might have been for one or two of these. Thanks to a colleague for a tip on this.

Slate article that says that String Theory (at least in its present forms) is untestable, hence not really science. (Many believe that Intelligent Design is also untestable.)

A number of sources (here's one) say that Korea's leading "cloning" researcher has resigned, because of ethical violations in obtaining human eggs, by his research team (probably not by the leader himself.) The post quotes Hwang Woo-Suk as using the word "repentance." (Presumably a translation, but, if correct, he seems to see himself as guilty and owing something to others. There's a post at that argues that what Hwang Woo-suk did was not quite so bad -- he probably really didn't know that two of his lab workers had donated eggs until after the fact, for example. Also argues that compensation for egg donation might not be ethically questionable. (Lab workers donating still is, says the author.)

Article in Wired, of all places, saying that our technology is speeding up our ruin, or causing it.

Julana, who has a child with Down syndrome, writes movingly about her life, for Thanksgiving season.

Article on people who want to have a limb amputated.

Article in First Things on randomness, the Catholic Church, and evolution. Basically, Stephen Barr, the author, says that the Catholic Church has no problem with organisms, including humans, having evolved from non-life, or from non-human organisms, but does assert that the spiritual part of humans is of Divine origin.

Edge article by Daniel Gilbert, who is not a believer, and is attempting to debunk Paley's design argument by psychological experiments. However, he has some sympathy for religious faith, even though he doesn't have it himself, as the following two paragraphs indicate:
Is God is [sic] nothing more than an attempt to explain order and good fortune by those who do not understand the mathematics of chance, the principles of self-organizing systems, or the psychology of the human mind? When the study I just described was accepted for publication, I recall asking one of my collaborators, who is a deeply religious man, how he felt about having demonstrated that people can misattribute the products of their own minds to powerful external agents. He said, "I feel fine. After all, God doesn't want us to confuse our miracles with his."

That's fair enough. Science rules out the most cartoonish versions of God by debunking specific claims about ancient civilizations in North America or the creatio ex nihilo of human life. But it cannot tell us whether there is a force or entity or idea beyond our ken that deserves to be known as God. What we can say is that the universe is a complex place, that events within it often seem to turn out for the best, and that neither of these facts requires an explanation beyond our own skins.

Article in British Medical Journal on why dogs should be banned as pets (for health reasons).

Stan Berenstain, co-author, with his wife, of the Berenstain Bears books, has died.

You can see ACC basketball in Southern California, at least sometimes, and it's 3 hours earlier! I watched most of the Illinois-North Carolina men's game, which Illinois won by a little.

This week's Christian Carnival is at this blog. (For information on locating these Carnivals, see here)

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