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Comment: Re:Dang... (Score 1) 112

by the gnat (#47535479) Attached to: Siberian Discovery Suggests Almost All Dinosaurs Were Feathered

Good parroting of the popular Dawkins-driven line, but simply vastly historically incorrect as the sequence of events. Origen of Alexandria (one of the "Fathers of the Church", that is, one shaping core positions at the very earliest foundation of Christianity) was arguing for allegorical interpretation of Genesis in the second century A.D.

I'm aware that many Christians throughout history have argued for an allegorical interpretation of Genesis, which is why I specifically said "literalists" (i.e. creationists and associated nuts). Whatever other problems I may have with the Catholic Church (for example), I do not consider them anti-science. I had in mind the people who try to prove that the speed of light must have changed drastically in order to make the observed size of the universe compatible with their reading of Genesis (e.g. the Ussher chronology). I'll grant that I was a little unfair in blaming "the Bible" for this, but you can't really escape the fact that Christianity is dependent on an essentially immutable set of scriptures*, and there is also a large contingent that views allegorical interpretations as heresy.

The notion that science comes along and "shows religion incorrect" is fanciful nonsense.

Which is why I never said that. But it is certainly not nonsense to point out that the available scientific evidence supports a much different origin theory than the literal reading of Genesis. You can view the hand of God in there if you want; I don't really concern myself with such things. However there is still that very large subset of Christians (and Muslims, and Jews) for whom this compromise is intolerable, because for them, whatever the Bible says must be true.

(* At least within the last millennium or so. Of course in the longer time frame the contents of the Bible - especially the Old Testament - were subject to a great deal of revision and selective editing, which is why the literal interpretation really seems nonsensical to me..)

Comment: Re:Heck, we probably already fund them (Score 1, Insightful) 65

by jcr (#47535129) Attached to: The NSA's New Partner In Spying: Saudi Arabia's Brutal State Police

They bomb hospitals under UN protection

They bomb hospitals that UN personnel have allowed Hamas to use as weapons depots, and they call and warn people to get out of them first.

Taking Hamas propaganda at face value is a good way to make an ass of yourself.


Comment: Re:Dang... (Score 2) 112

by the gnat (#47534459) Attached to: Siberian Discovery Suggests Almost All Dinosaurs Were Feathered

Science is wrong

That's a bit of an exaggeration. Science was incomplete, in the sense that our assumptions about the appearance of dinosaurs were based on limited fossil evidence (and analogies to modern lizards rather than birds). And the raw evidence wasn't even "wrong", it was totally valid - only our interpretations were incorrect. Now we have new evidence, which is being incorporated into how we think about dinosaurs. When was the last time that anything was added to the Bible?

Comment: Re:Dang... (Score 1) 112

by the gnat (#47534427) Attached to: Siberian Discovery Suggests Almost All Dinosaurs Were Feathered

There are more models to support the scientific theory, but even then, there are something like 35 competing theories of evolution.

Possibly, but the general concept isn't even remotely controversial (at least among actual scientists). Especially the theory that humans and apes have a common ancestor, which is simultaneously the most minimal example of evolution, and the one that seems to upset people the most.

However, if one wants to be totally objective (or at least minimize biases), one has to admit that science doesn't always have the answers. The idea that science can eventually explain everything is as an untestable hypothesis as a deity creating everything. Neither can be proven.

The predictive ability of science - and the number of things it explains - does continue to improve over time, however. The same cannot be said of religion. Or, put another way, science is capable of changing as new evidence is obtained, as exemplified by this article. The Bible, however, is immutable, and the literalists have to resort to increasingly contorted explanations for how the Genesis account could be factually correct.

Comment: Re:Just wow. (Score 2) 107

I love how pretty much every country has come to the same conclusion: We can bypass our own laws if we have someone else do it for us.

There's nothing surprising in this. Most countries hire consultants and advisors from the same international legal/accounting firms, who themselves have been trained in the same schools of thought, and often the same universities. The international ascendancy is mostly a mono-culture.

Comment: Re:Advanced? (Score 1) 94

by the gnat (#47519539) Attached to: Finding Life In Space By Looking For Extraterrestrial Pollution

The thing is, fossil fuels run out rather quickly on the cosmic scale. A few centuries and the consequences of pollution become apparent quickly too. A civilization must quickly move to something cleaner or it dies. Either way, the pollution stops. What are the odds that our telescopes will find a planet inhabited by a civilization that just happens to be going through a (likely) one-time few century window of time?

This is an excellent point, but it's also orthogonal to the post I was replying to. You're arguing based on certain physical constraints which are based on reasonable extrapolation from our present circumstances. The GP was arguing that pollution was "illogical", which is just a nonsensical argument. Polluting the planet to the point of species extinction would be illogical, but trace levels of CFCs in the atmosphere don't necessarily indicate a fundamental lack of logic, just a transitional period where a civilization was smart enough to make such things, but not smart enough to realize the long-term impact. (But I agree that this timeframe is not likely to be very long.)

Comment: Re:Advanced? (Score 1) 94

by the gnat (#47519505) Attached to: Finding Life In Space By Looking For Extraterrestrial Pollution

First off, what we can or cannot imagine has absolutely nothing to do with what is or is not real, so it isn't clear why you're bringing this up.

The parent poster was criticizing the making of "assumptions" about how advanced alien life might behave in the process of trying to detect it. If we don't make certain assumptions based on what we can observe firsthand, our imaginations are all we're left with. And I agree this is a shitty way to do science, which was kind of my entire point.

Comment: Re:Advanced? (Score 2) 94

by the gnat (#47519007) Attached to: Finding Life In Space By Looking For Extraterrestrial Pollution

Would an advanced race actually do something so illogical?

By "advanced", I assume the summary meant "technologically advanced". How would any civilization reach a high level of technology without going through industrialization? It's not like anyone enjoys living downwind of a coal plant, but the messier forms of energy production are convenient, cheap, and don't require any advanced materials or science. Try to imagine an alternate history where we emerged from the industrial revolution with effective, sustainable fusion and solar power without ever polluting the planet.

One of my least-favorite sci-fi tropes is an alien race which is simultaneously technologically adept enough to build starships and aggressive enough to spread through the galaxy meets (much less technologically advanced) humans for the first time and sadly remarks on our lack of environmental consciousness and our propensity for violence. It requires the assumption that exactly none of the circumstances that constrained our development, and none of the evolutionary pressures which drove it, might apply to other species. Yes, we can't be certain that other forms of life aren't so radically different that these rules don't apply - but we have yet to observe such life forms on Earth, at least.

Comment: Re:"Compatible" (Score 1) 94

by RogueyWon (#47513879) Attached to: Open-Source Blu-Ray Library Now Supports BD-J Java

The Playstation 3 likely remains the most common blu-ray player around - and it does the job very well (though it helps to pick up the optional remote control, as managing playback via a game controller can be a touch irritating). It also, coupled with the PS3 Media Server software on a PC, makes a pretty damned good "just works" solution for playing media files off your hard drive onto the TV and - crucially - one which is easy enough for a total computing ignoramus to get up and running with little or no guidance.

It's a pity that the PS4 (and Xbox One) are missing most of this functionality. As media players, the "new" consoles are a significant step back from the last generation.

Comment: Re:Correction (Score 3, Insightful) 97

by the gnat (#47503769) Attached to: UEA Research Shows Oceans Vital For Possibility of Alien Life

Actually, we know almost all basic chemistry, and the range of (stable) molecules that silicon can form is orders of magnitude less than for carbon.

Well, yeah, but I didn't want to offend the pedants even further. Unless the laws of physics (and therefore basic chemistry) are very different elsewhere in the galaxy, it's not unreasonable to think that carbon-based, liquid-water-dependent lifeforms are the most probable. In fact, I'd be willing to bet a tidy sum of money that the overwhelming majority of unique forms of life are not terribly dissimilar from ours as far as the underlying chemistry is concerned. They might be fantastically alien in all sorts of other strange ways, but they'll still be based on simple organic polymers. But this is still irrelevant to the discussion at hand, because even if there were different forms of life, we have no idea how we might detect them at astronomical distances.

"There are things that are so serious that you can only joke about them" - Heisenberg