Sunday, September 27, 2009

«Looney Cold»

I caught a cold. Yay... Sore throat, cough, headache, and oddly enough, a fever. Usually fevers don't accompany a cold. This is one catch I should have thrown back.

I blame Looney. That's right. Against all evidence, I have faith1 that I caught it from Looney. Doesn't matter than I'm geographically distant from him, and have never personally met him. Why do I say this? Because right after I read his blog post about him having a cold, I came down with mine.

Now it's your turn to catch it from me2, then retroactively blame Looney.

(I also have it on good authority that this Looney guy is a contraband smuggler and a killer3!)

1: That's what faith is, right? A belief that ignores any contradicting evidence?
2: That's right, catch the common cold from me over the internet, just as I did from Looney. Those colds are getting crafty...
3: Killer of a yellow jacket. It's like a type of bee. I don't want to falsely put in writing that someone's a killer! (Without fine text explaining it was only an insect, anyway.)


  1. Since you are stuck in bed in need of something to ponder, here is something:

    The original notion of a conflict between faith and science was by the Roman emperor Julian (331 to 361AD). (Source, Gibbons history of the Roman Empire.) He used this as a pretext for banning Christians from engaging in education and then directed state funds towards pagan education. Part of this included forcing children to memorize passages from a forged, anti-Christian gospel. His goal in all this wasn't atheism or science, but rather to compel everyone to worship the ancient pagan gods of Europe. Julian also wanted to get the Roman government involved in charity such as hospitals for the first time so that Christians wouldn't get all the credit. In the 19th century, anti-Christian historians resurrected this formula, but apparently were clueless about how faith ties together with abstractions of mathematics and science for the purpose of technological design.

    Anyway, I hope you get well soon!

  2. That's rich, coming from someone who exemplifies the conflict. I might not believe science and faith conflicted if it were not for creationists.

  3. @ Looney: I'm not bed-bound. I'm not going to be pulled away from the internet that easily. It takes something more serious like a bad flu or food poisoning.

    So in turn, the scorned Christians didn't follow their own teachings, and took revenge instead of forgiving. In fact, they even went as far as attempted genocide.

  4. @Nathaniel

    Here in Silicon Valley working with religious people at the Ph.d. level is quite the norm. I had posted the actual quote for the origin of the alleged faith/science conflict here.


    I am always looking for interesting first sources, especially regarding stories of genocide by Christians. Can you point me to any?

  5. @ Looney: There's nothing new (thankfully). But how would you describe the Crusades, Inquisition, and witch burnings?

  6. We all play a game when we are kids where we sit in a circle and whisper into the first person's ear and the message goes around the circle only to be completely distorted when it comes out at the end. Both liberal and conservative scholars quote other scholars, and it is hard to know the truth of a matter. That is why I said "first source". When I was in school, they taught us that medieval Christians believed the Earth was flat, but later I found that Washington Irving made this up and all the historians mindlessly copied. So much for scholarship.

    In none of the three cases you mentioned have I actually read a first source, although I picked up some on the Crusades which are in my reading list. One agnostic historian I read (Will Durant - not a first source) claims that over nearly a millenium, several countries and different continents that the upper bound estimate for the Inquisition was 250,000 executions. Another claims that the high end estimates are the result of writings by Protestants who had every reason to exaggerate the evils of Catholicism and weren't necessarily in a position to have the data. (I am not a Catholic). That means we are running almost entirely on rumors for estimates of executions. Of course we can consider Galileo, whose persecution consisted of being put under house arrest when he was too old to travel and he was supplied with paper to continue his writings. My theory is that Galileo got free pizza delivery too from the Inquisition, but admittedly I am having a tough time selling this!

    We could compare that with modern genocides, such as the Tutsi/Hutu crackup or Darfur or the million abortions done in this country every year.

    Anyway, I am not denying that Christians have committed atrocities on different occasions somewhere in the world over the last 2,000 years. Just trying to get a more accurate and reliable assessment so that it can be better placed in context.

  7. 1. That's kind of a weird quote. To the best of my knowledge, the Romans didn't have anything qualifying as science. They had philosophy, but experimentation was frowned upon. Science is not facts about the world; science is the process that gives us those facts.

    2. Religious people having PhDs is not uncommon anywhere. People have a remarkable ability to divide their lives, never thinking scientifically about some things, and never thinking religiously about others. In many cases, they are able to divide their lives with no overlap, and there are no problems. If the aerospace engineer makes burnt offerings to Zeus when he goes home, that's fine. If his faith requires him to believe nothing can fly without the blessing of Zeus, that could be a problem.

  8. @Nathaniel

    The word "science" derives from Latin (scire - to know) and probably goes back more than 2,000 years. Originally any idea you could put into your brain was deemed "science", including astrology and any form of superstition. They did have some fairly sophisticated technology ranging from military weapons to civil engineering that required an application of mathematics. As for "experimentation was frowned upon", I don't think there is any historical support for that statement.

  9. Eh, words change in meaning. It may have been what they called science then, but it's not now. I'm not sure where I got the experimentation thing from: I'd be surprised, but not shocked, if it were wrong.

    I'm more confident about my #2 above. I should also have added that conflicts are unusual in part because the man who believes the blessing of Zeus is necessary to fly is unlikely to become an aerospace engineer in the first place. He might, however, become a teacher, at which point he needs to be very careful to keep his religion out of the classroom.


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