Creationist Museum “Evolving”

Oh, those sly Kentucky journalists! You’ve gotta love the humor in this line:

Creation Museum to expand

Northern Kentucky’s Creation Museum is evolving into a larger facility.

Doh! No, it’s not! It’s always been that size, for five thousand years and not a minute more! And the circular driveway in front of the museum is much to complex to have happened accidentally. It’s the work of God, I tells ya.

For Tony Cavagnaro

On Friday, September 8th 2007, Tony Cavagnaro was driving to meet bandmates ahead of an upcoming gig in Buffalo when he lost control of his van, struck a tree, and died on scene. He was the spiritual leader and one of the driving creative forces behind the local groove-rock extravaganza that is The Buddhahood. He is survived by his loving wife and son, Jan and Calvin. He was 41 years old.

I confess that, even on birthdays, I’ve never been one to either inquire after anyone else’s age nor share with them my own. It’s just not the first thing I think of. But when I read that Tony was 41, I was shocked both by the length and by the brevity of his life.

If Art Imitates Life, Physics Imitates Buddhism

Salon has a fascinating interview with Paul Davies, one of those super-smart quantum physics guys.  The discussion is of physics where it nibbles at the edge of faith, and where he believes scientists inject their own quasi-religious assumptions on the nature of the universe.

What I find astonishing is how much of what he talks about in terms of quantum-physical law and its potential meaning for the nature of time and space sounds remarkably similar to my (woefully inadequate) understanding of Buddhism and the Nil.  I am used to seeing the parallels between Buddhism and psychology, but this is something else entirely (em. mine):

We are meant to be here | Salon Books

Right. I’m not talking about time travel. This is just standard quantum physics. Standard quantum physics says that if you make an observation of something today — it might just be the position of an atom — then there’s an uncertainty about what that atom is going to do in the future. And there’s an uncertainty about what it’s going to do in the past. That uncertainty means there’s a type of linkage. Einstein called this “spooky action at a distance.”

But what’s so hard to fathom is that this act of observation, which has been observed at the subatomic level, would affect the way matter spread right after the big bang. That sounds awfully far-fetched.

Well, it’s only far-fetched if you want to think that every little observation that we perform today is somehow micromanaging the universe in the far past. What we’re saying is that as we go back into the past, there are many, many quantum histories that could have led up to this point. And the existence of observers today will select a subset of those histories which will inevitably, by definition, lead to the existence of life. Now, I don’t think anybody would really dispute that fact.

So not only are our actions informed by our experiences in the past, but our past – on a quantum level – is informed by our actions in the present.  By extension, our past, our future and even our present is an ever-changing corridor, filled with doors of which we can choose but one.

Sabbe sankhara anicca, sabbe sankhara dukkha, sabbe dhamma anatta

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rFalcon Cam: There Be Hatchin’ in Progress!

Yep, the moment those of us habitually staring at the Kodak Tower falcons anxiously await each spring is upon us: the first of the latest edition of new falcons is breaking out of his shell:

The First Little One Hatches

And mama Mariah is working to help get the shell out of the way. Funny thing about falcons, at least in my own observation: where other carnivores tend to make the young handle these stressful, dangerous trials on their own, falcons are remarkably loving and solicitous at this moment.

Cleaning the Shell Away

Thought of the Day

This was sent to me by a friend studying at Columbia University.  Thanks, Noel:

But now science, spurred on by its powerful delusion, hurtles inexorably towards its limits where the optimism hidden in the essence of logic founders. For the periphery of the circle of science has an infinite number of points and while there is no telling yet how the circle could ever be fully surveyed, the noble and gifted man, before he has reached the middle of his life, still inevitably encounters such peripheral limit points and finds himself staring into an impenetrable darkness. If he at that moment sees to his horror how in these limits logic coils around itself and finally bites its own tail – then the new form of knowledge breaks through, tragic knowledge, which in order to be tolerated, needs art as a protection and remedy.

Nietzsche – the Birth of Tragedy

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Life is Big, Life is Small

Keep it in perspective, folks.  Make of this as you choose:

Molecular Expressions: Science, Optics and You – Secret Worlds: The Universe Within – Interactive Java Tutorial

View the Milky Way at 10 million light years from the Earth. Then move through space towards the Earth in successive orders of magnitude until you reach a tall oak tree just outside the buildings of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, Florida. After that, begin to move from the actual size of a leaf into a microscopic world that reveals leaf cell walls, the cell nucleus, chromatin, DNA and finally, into the subatomic universe of electrons and protons.

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Whoa! Someone Alert Rick Santorum!

Elsewhere in the world (like Europe, that din of iniquity), it appears that people are starting to grant Chimps “Human Rights”:

Slashdot | Should Chimps Have Human Rights?

“A Brazilian court has already issued a writ of habeas corpus in the name of a chimp. And now an Austrian court may well decide that a chimpanzee is a ‘person’ with what up until now have been called human rights.”

Next thing you know, they’re going to let “the gays” vote!

In all seriousness, though.  This has some interesting implications.  My personal view is that all living things have rights, but of course if that’s true, does this eventually mean we will have to pay reparations to the buffalo?  We are recognized as having the rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” and we rebel against any attempt to manage our lives.  But providing any of those things to folks without opposable thumbs necessarily means managing wildlife.

The thing is, at the risk of sounding like a Conservative, this is one of those “slippery slope,” kind of deals.  Once you acknowledge the rights of primates as a singular thing, you’ll not long after need to recognize the rights of all living things.  That’s good news for crabgrass, but think of the end game!

What would this do, for example, to the definition of murder?  Are we going to have crocodiles serving time on death row?  Well, finally the Conservatives could get the turnover rate they’re looking for. . . .

OK, it’s obvious I need a vacation. . . .

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Romans? Who Cares About Romans?

I was watching The Mclaughlin Group this evening, and easily the most interesting moment of the night was when the English conservative (whose name escapes me at the moment) dared to insinuate that Christmas had a Pagan origin.

You should have seen Tony Blankely jump out of his skin to try out the latest factoid from The War on Christmas: that the (presumptively pagan) Romans created an imperially-recognized Winter Solstice festival shortly *after* the Christians began celebrating Christmas on December 25th, therefore, the Christians are the originators of the tradition and all assertions to the contrary are dirty, dirty, filthy little lies. I made that last bit up.

In any event, I couldn’t stop giggling at the assumtion, even if the limited set of facts presented are true. First of all, the Romans were by that point in history fond of making holidays for damned-near anything. That one of those happened to coincide with the solstice is hardly relevant. But far more importantly, there are literally untold thousands of pagan cultures that exist or have existed in human cultures, of which the Romans are but one. All of those that I am familiar with have solstice celebrations. This includes the Inca, whom hardly had a stake in Christian/Roman affairs at the time Tony’s research highlights.

Sorry, dude. No. “Wrong!!!! Next question. . . .”

New Article: A Witch Trial in Auburn

Chris Abel, a good friend and an able author, has submitted a new article for the Rochester Local section.  This one deals with the hateful, ignorant bit of tripe recently posted to the Auburn Citizen which has been widely and roundly criticized across the nation:

A Witch Trial in Auburn, Rochester Regional ~ DragonFlyEye.Net

As I was reading this piece of journalistic work, disbelief become a gut-wrenching loathing of an ideal. An ideal thought dead since 1808, once called the “Inquisition” and once again in the 1980’s the “Satanic Panic.” This time, it wasn’t written in the Deep South by a Pentecostal community or in America’s Bible belt of the west, but right next door in Auburn, NY.

Quickie read that is definitely worth a once-over for those of you who don’t burn people at the stake.  I presume that is most of my readers. . .

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Tempting Faith

Yep.? Just got the book, and put down my other one (or two, depending on how you look at it) to jump straight into it.? Now, as a teaser, I’m going to do what every other commentator on politics and culture does when a book first comes out: I’m going to quote something fromt the forward.? Unlike most commentators, however, I’m not going to pretend I read the whole thing:

When I talk to neighbors or strangers and tell them that I try my best to follow Jesus, many look at me queerly.? I’ve come to learn that their first thoughts about me ar political ones – they figure I don’t care about the environment, I support the war in Iraq, I oppose abortion, I am ambivalent about the poor, I want public schools to evangelize students, and I must hate gays and lesbians.? That is what they associate with my faith.? And it isn’t just a Washington thing.? I’ve heard it everywhere.? Moreover, in the heat of many political moments, I have been what they feared.? I have been far more partisan than Christian.? I hated Bill Clinton, yet he is a Christian just like me.? I took sides on issues that don’t have much to do with my faith.? Above all, I let the passions of politics distract me from what matters in life.? By some “severe mercy,” however, God has given me the chance to step back and take a look at it all. . . .

I’m thinking that whatever I might have thought about this book, I might be in for a surprise from a thoughtful and well-reasoned man.? I’m looking forward to this.


Remembering 911?

So, thoughts have been bubbling around in my head since last night, and events since then have made it all the more important to me to write these thoughts down.

I will be thought to be bashing the media right now. Perhaps I am. But CNN is at this very moment (9:31am on September 11, 2006) recounting every single “historically significant” event that happened five years ago, in order. They’re trying to relive the moment, if you can imagine such a thing. Last night, I saw an interview with a sixteen-year-old kid whose dad died in the World Trade Center, and who does not have the luxury of only reliving that day on it’s anniversary. He pointed out to the journalist that interviewed him that every time the media shows the falling Twin Towers, they are broadcasting his father’s death to the world. Perhaps I’m as self-absorbed as the media, but I hadn’t thought about that, either.

So, while we remember that day; while we remember the genuine fear and hysteria of that day in our own town and homes; while we hold our own private thoughts about what happened that day and what it meant, let’s keep in mind that we don’t hold an exclusive public license to mourn. As much as the media tries to convince us that, in the words of Bob Scheiffer, “we were all heros that day,” let’s try to keep in mind the fact that no, we weren’t. Most of us didn’t do a damned thing, didn’t have a damned thing to do, lost nothing and noone and we basically just watched television.

If that makes you a hero, then by god, my generation aught to be nicknamed “The Messiah Generation.”

The Pope-Mobile is Headed for the Middle Ages!

Oh, boy.  Despite the fact that Cardinal Ratzenberger wrote the opinion of John Paul that declares the Theory of Evolution compatible with church doctrine, the Cardinal now turned Pope Benedict is toying with the idea of endorsing Intelligent Design:

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Pope prepares to embrace theory of intelligent design

Philosophers, scientists and other intellectuals close to Pope Benedict will gather at his summer palace outside Rome this week for intensive discussions that could herald a fundamental shift in the Vatican’s view of evolution.

Ethically, this is something of a disappointment.  I had thought at least Pope Benedict would keep this issue off the table.  Mechanically, this should be interesting, because reversing the “infalible word of God” that comes from the previous pope is no easy matter in the Catholic Church.  Believe it or not, the Church has many machinations governing the actions of the pope and lower pontifs which constitute what in other settings might be considered a legal structure.  Anyway, they’re going on a retreat to discuss the issue, and I’ll be anxiously awaiting the outcome.

I’m not a Catholic myself, but I do play in a Catholic church band, and I can’t help thinking that this decision will affect my continued involvement.  Intelligent Design is intellectual poison designed (intelligently, I grant you) to illegitimize hard science and muddy the waters of acedemia, paving the way for theocracy.  It is not a thing I take lightly, nor would I so easily be able to ignore the pope’s collusion with such a thing.

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