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Comment Go technology go! (Score 3, Insightful) 61

Feats like the Mars Rovers show us that our space-engineering prowess is not only continuing to mature, but indeed getting quite robust. From this one mission alone, how much have we learned about vehicle design for dealing with the Martian environment?

And with yesterday's announcement of the creation of synthetic life, we are obviously on the edge of new breath-taking scientific ability. When will we be able to start creating custom bacteria to begin terra-forming mars? I know there is no way to predict the future, but the potential for change in our life-times is mind-blowing. As an anxious futurist, all I can say is "Go technology go!"

Comment Progress!!! (Score 1) 468

I disagree strongly. I think we need a more open approach to genetic data-mining. People should be cautious with their private information, but we have a ridiculous amount of progress to be had in the world of understanding our genetics. Giving, ostensibly, a knee-jerk reaction to any sort of use of genetic understanding and widespread data collaboration is the opposite of help.

Privacy is important. Voluntary sharing is important as well.

Comment This research is phenomal! (Score 5, Informative) 145

My grandmother slowly died of Alzheimer's and it could not have been a sadder thing to witness. Bias fully admitted, I can't help but say... Alzheimer's is the 7th leading cause of death and it afflicts 19% of people aged 75-84 and over 40% of people over 84. If we care about our elders and we care about the shoes we will one day fill, we should all help raise awareness and put our spare money and time to good use.

The toll of Alzheimer's on America is estimated at about $100 billion per year. If only we could convince Congress of the simple truth, that this sort of basic research will completely pay for itself in the long run and do wonders for humanity. Unfortunately, we can't depend on someone else to pay for this knowledge and progress. We must all pitch in what we can and help keep this sort of research as well funded as possible.

www.alz.org is a great organization if you have money to donate. Or you can easily start a "Memory Walk" team to go out for a charity walk to raise money and awareness. Plus, can't we all use a good excuse to enjoy a nice day in the sun and have fun with friends and family?

Comment Government has nothing to do with Christianity... (Score 1) 857

To try to find connections between the Bible and modern government is ludicrous. Take this moment and read a random page out of Leviticus. Try not to laugh out of discomfort. Old Testament not your thing? The New Testament never condemns slavery and actually tells you how to keep slaves. The South was on the winning side of the theological argument for slavery.

Furthermore, to quote Sam Harris... "I've read the books. God is not a moderate. There's no place in the books where God says, 'You know, when you get to the New World and you develop your three branches of government and you have a civil society, you can just jettison all the barbarism I recommended in the first books.'"

Why do people still believe in Christianity? It is 2010. Must we propagate this insanity any further? All the sane people need to keep standing up and being heard.

Comment Philosophical Dilemma (Score 2, Interesting) 543

This reminds me of the philosophical dilemmas with the question of identity.

Consider a boat that is sailing around the world. Each time something on the boat needs replacing, it gets replaced, over a long period of time. Imagine that someone was following the boat around, collecting each and every piece that had gotten replaced. Now, that person rebuilds the entire boat out of all the old pieces. Which boat is THE boat?

All along, you would consider the real boat to be the one that had its parts slowly replaced, but is it? If you change even one thing about an item, is it something new and original? Does it have a new identity and starting point in time?

Comment We don't need any more priests!! (Score 2, Insightful) 286

I like this quote from Sam Harris... "I've read the books. God is not a moderate. There's no place in the books where God says, 'You know, when you get to the New World and you develop your three branches of government and you have a civil society, you can just jettison all the barbarism I recommended in the first books.'"

Why do people still believe in Christianity? It is 2010. Must we propagate this insanity any further?

Comment Re:I know people who work on weapons (Score 2, Insightful) 409

Just because there is a continuum does not mean that we cannot figure out a reasonable point to draw the ethical line. Your premises are (1) that engineers are involved in building stuff and (2) that stuff can hurt people. Your premises are valid. The logic you use to make your argument is not.

You might use the same style of argument to say that, when hitting babies, it is too hard to draw a line because some people are ok with it and some people are not and that there is a continuum of softly holding them to beating them to a pulp.

Still, you could in fact be right that engineers are without responsibility for how their products are used, but this is not clear from the logic you employed.

Comment Simply astounding! (Score 5, Insightful) 193

Despite it being 2010, it remains popular to attack science and medicine as though they do not have a significant mastery of reality or how the body works. Achievements like this demonstrate that the human body is not only understandable, but that it can be highly manipulated and changed with life-changing degrees of success.

For all the people who claim that our medical knowledge is seriously lacking or fraught with error, this fly's in your face. Prepare for an onslaught of biomedical advances that will change everything we know about health and longevity. While the human body may seem to work like black magic, perhaps like an infinitely complex analog circuit, advances in understanding are steadily being made. There are real achievers in these domains and they are standing on the shoulders of giants, accruing the tools to solve any physiological problem.

Comment Re:force is lack of moral authority (Score 1) 1224

If only everyone would employ basic logic and skepticism, and not be scared to talk about it, dogma could become a part of our history and naturally remove itself from the mainstream. Children could actually receive the honest answers to the difficult questions in life. Really... why follow a religion with all of its inconsistencies and human manipulation? You shouldn't. It is 2010 and none of the popular religions can even begin to serve as a useful algorithm with regard to moral decisions we routinely face (much less can these religions aid in the world of epistemology and they blatantly fail in the world of cosmology). As far as morality goes, it may truly be as simple as The Beatles put it: "All you need is love." Yet this is no simple task and everyone must reconcile the value of other's wellbeing and happiness within the context of their own ambition. "For one human being to love another; that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation."

Comment Re:Imagine (Score 1) 469

"Militant atheist Sam Harris, according to "The End of Faith" apparently wants to see humanity exterminated, religious and atheist alike, rather than allow religion to continue to exist, which comes over as "nutjob" to me."

This is a lie! Please cite. I have read the book twice and nowhere in it does this lunacy appear. Nothing close. Sam Harris poured succinct insight into American religious discourse with that book. Please actually read it.

Some actual quotes (concepts he espouses) from Sam Harris are found here: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Sam_Harris

"It is difficult to imagine a set of beliefs more suggestive of mental illness than those that lie at the heart of many of our religious traditions."

"Where we have reasons for what we believe, we have no need of faith; where we have no reasons, we have lost both our connection to the world and to one another."

"We must find our way to a time when faith, without evidence, disgraces anyone who would claim it."

"It is imperative that we begin speaking plainly about the absurdity of most of our religious beliefs."

"We have Christians against Muslims against Jews. They're making incompatible claims on real estate in the Middle East as though God were some kind of omniscient real estate broker parsing out parcels of land to his chosen flock. People are literally dying over ancient literature."

"Mormonism, it seems to me, is--objectively--just a little more idiotic than Christianity is. It has to be: because it is Christianity plus some very stupid ideas."

"I've read the books. God is not a moderate. There's no place in the books where God says, 'You know, when you get to the New World and you develop your three branches of government and you have a civil society, you can just jettison all the barbarism I recommended in the first books.'"

"Only 28 percent of Americans believe in evolution; 68 percent believe in Satan."

"If Jesus does come down out of the clouds like a superhero, Christianity will stand revealed as a science. That will be the science of Christianity."

DIGITIG, YOU HAVE DELIBERATELY LIED TO THE READERS.

Comment Re:Well... (Score 1) 615

You have made no explanation of why agnosticism is a more rational position.

Any intelligent atheist acknowledges that they are technically an agnostic with respect to a sky-god creator, but they are also technically agnostic about fairies, magic teapots, flying spaghetti monsters, etc... This is a confusing and unhelpful use of the word agnostic. Why is agnosticism a more rational position? Saying that you have studied a fair bit of philosophy of religion is insufficient.

Comment Re:Finaly! (Score 1) 775

I am personally terrified that there are "aliens" out there. If there is a "god" out there, how do we know that we aren't the first screw up? I'm just waiting for the day when the Zerg and Borg arrive to destroy our planet and bring us into their collective.

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