Saturday, April 30, 2011

Science ethics and morals

Iain Walker #886

Oh, the bright light of Truth!

It is true - as you correct me - that Darwin wrote about "survival of the fittest" and not "strongest".

It also is true that "the Nazi idea of a 'master race' has precious little to do with Darwinism, but derives from a variety of late 19th century political, pseudo-scientific and mystical ideas. The links with evolutionary theory as promulgated by Darwin are tenuous and indirect at best."

However, this is a widely shared modern opinion about German - and also USA - scientific ideas some ninety years ago. Highly respected scientists and academics were at that time totally convinced about the truth of their Darwinism deduced "survival of the fittest race" theory which is an evolutionary step in the history of an intellectual idea that eventually did not survive among the fit ideas of modern genetics.

Actually, future generation may similarly judge our popular scientific ideas that are such truths to us as nothing but pseudo-scientific, politically motivated nonsense, if not mystic in the Ultima Thule style. Science fixes itself.

For what, after all, is Evolution? Is this human brain activity, interpretation based on Hegel's brilliant ideas translated by mental processes into practical interpretation of all existence but without the sort of atheistic materialism that Marx and Engel introduced into Hegel's world?

Maybe not. Time will show.

It is also true that "The Lysenko debacle that screwed up Soviet agriculture for decades shows how Soviet communism was capable of rejecting good science (in this case Darwinism and Mendelian genetics), on ideological, faith-based grounds."

Again, this was not how Father Sun Josef Stalin and his favorite scientists saw the matter in the atheistic workers paradise of the 1930'ies. They were quite convinced about the truth of Lysenko's idea that learned things can be inherited in the cycles of life.

It is also true what I write that Dr Josef Mengele shows what medical science can be in the hands of an almighty person who is somewhat curious about the Laws of Nature but has little empathy for other human beings suffering in his hands. Science without any commonly shared value system can be a monstrous thing - and continues to be such.

We humans are built such that we are never fully satisfied without having answers to questions that are by definition beyond the reach of good science and enter to the hazy realms of Theoretical Philosophy and Theology.

In this vein, Douglas Adams tells in his classic BBC radio 1978 comedy The Hitchiker's Guide to Galaxy about a super-intelligent pan-dimensional race of beings that has constructed a supercomputer called "Deep Thought" to give the Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything.

Adams got it almost right missing the Truth only by 10:

"Deepest Thought" says that the Ultimate Answer is not 42 but p52.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Stephen Hawking and a Mosquito

Hawking on 5 May 2006, during the press conference at the
Bibliothèque nationale de France
to inaugurate the Laboratory of Astronomy and Particles in Paris
and the French release of his work God Created the Integers

International press has published as front page news fresh ideas by Stephen Hawking, ranked among the leading modern scientists in Theoretical Physics and in Cosmology.

An important question in his brilliant mind has been "Do we need a god for the creation of the Universe?" Still some time ago Stephen was thinking that a god is needed.

Now he has changed his mind and has noted - as reported by international news agencies - that the Universe could have began and developed to current characteristics all by itself without any god guiding the processes.

Stephen Hawking (b. 1942) fame is based largely on his ability to explain clearly and concisely to larger public very complicated problems that scientists are discussing in the fields of Theoretical Physics and Cosmology. His public lectures in Cambridge fill the auditorium and he is a distinguished guest in the most respected universities and institutions around the world.

The books written by Stephen are internationa best-seller - especially known is the book that has sold over 10 million copies and has the rather catchy title

A Brief History of Time. From the Big Bang to Black Holes, (Bantam Press,1988)

To the general public Stephen Hawking has also written:

Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays, (Bantam Books 1993)
The Universe in a Nutshell, (Bantam Press 2001)
On The Shoulders of Giants. The Great Works of Physics and Astronomy, (Running Press 2002)
A Briefer History of Time, coauthored with Leonard Mlodinow, (Bantam Books 2005)
The Grand Design, coauthored with Leonard Mlodinow, (Bantam Press 2010)

The latest book, Grand Design (2010), is the reported publication where Stephen and Leonard conclude that there is really no need for any god.

It is possible that Stephen's discussions with Leonard Miodinowin have modified his thinking to this direction.

Leonard Miodinow (b. 1954)

Theoretical Physicist Leonard Miodinow lives in the United States. He is from a Jewish family and both of his parents survived the Holocaust. His father was among the resistance fighters of Poland and was imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp.

Leonard is obviously a very serious thinker and since Stephen chose him as co-author in the rewrite of his most famous book "A Brief History of Time" so the two have obviously spent many evenings in deep discussions on the subject.

For many Jewish children whose parents lived in the time of the Second World War any idea of a personal God is absurd in light of Auschwitz and Buchenwald.

The solution to the problem of this enormous evil is to adopt strict atheism: there is no God of Israel, no god at all, everything is up to the man alone.

For many other Jews the miraculous birth of the State of Israel after the Holocaust and the survival of the tiny state in the extremely hostile environment of the Near East has been source of deep comfort and encouraged them to believe that God is still alive and very real. The flourishing religious life of post-Holocaust Judaism is a witness that this much tested religion has survived also the Nazi attack. Third Reich is no more - it is gone.

I do not know anything about Leonard - I do not know him personally - but he may have influenced the concepts Stephen has about reality.

God is not really just a question of Mathematics or Theoretical Physics but also Theoretical Philosophy and even deeper Fundamental Theology (which has nothing to do with American Christian fundamentalism but a branch of Systematic Theology).

Stephen Hawking does not put his question like this "Does God exist?"

instead he asks "Is God necessary?"

Of course, the public connects the two questions - if the creation of the Universe can be figured out without a Creator, God is not needed and as Richard Dawkins suggest, He probably probably does not exist.

For if this exceptionally gifted scientist and expert on Theoretical Physics would ask "Does God exist?" one must ask is this question in the realm of modern science, cosmology. Can science itself in any way prove the existence or non-existence of God.

Even a child could tell Stephen "God of Israel is hidden, nobody can prove that He exists and nobody can prove that he does not exist".

It is a matter of faith.
And not every man has faith and faith cannot be rationally derived from black holes, baby universe if you just think long enough...

Stephen and Leonard beat me any time - and probably also you - with their high intelligence, deep knowledge of the laws of nature, their mathematical skills and logical thinking.

but when they think they are so wise, they have turned into something real stupid!

When Stephen looks at the great works of creation by the God of Israel, he does not notice the Biblica truth

1. that he himself is almost divine

2. the mosquito, that approaches Stephen sitting in his wheel chair, lusting after his blood and telling about the incomprehensible greatness of God the Creator.

Stephen Hawking is suffering from a very serious and incurable Lou Gehrig sickness, that slowly but surely destroys the nervous system controlling body movements.

MND (motor neuron disease) is a tragic sickness, that takes from so many the will to live in total dependence on other people and many dies too early just because the will to live has gone and life is getting more and more difficult each new day.

The specific sickness that Stephen has is ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), that can be slowed down but not cured by modern medicine.

He has had a long and rich life, is 68 years old with motorized wheelchair and talking machine that help him so much.

Who physically fully healthy human person has written such an amount of significant books!

Psalm 8

O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:

All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;

The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.

O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!

King James Version

Point 1 - almost divine

a man hardly sitting in his wheelchair, unable to speak, Stephen Hawking is almost divine

how come?

There is something in him that overcomes that body broken by sickness and the often nervous soul

for this "something" we use the Biblical word "spirit"

Stephen - as every human being - is a whole that includes body, soul and spirit.

So while sitting there on his chair the spirit of Stephen flies far beyond the star islands, galaxies, to the beginning of time, to the beginning of cosmos, and his brain is working on mathematical formulas concerning the finest details of matter, atoms, electrons, particles and their amazing logic.

Divine thoughts.

Stephen is not an atheist in the sense that it would be important for him to deny the Jewish-Christian-Moslem Creator or other targets of religion.

He does not mind if God exists, let Him be.

But the reality, the cosmos, that he is thinking with such almost divine power is a reality ruled by the laws of nature that this God does not break - He is the prisoner of His own system, so to say.

Faith in Science means that all trust is put in the ability of man to explain the secrets of nature and to put them in his good use.

Religions trust in dogmas and authorities, revelations and other such dark and contradictory stuff.

Bright rational thinking understands, in contrast to this, how things really are and always wins the competition with the hazy world of religious faith.

But from where Stephen has got this spirit, that separates him from all the rest of the creation on this planet?

I do not mean with this question rational thinking on the basic level - even a cat can plan how to catch that mouse and a chimpanzee can join bamboo sticks together to get that bunch of bananas from the ceiling of the cage.

I mean that spirit, that asks about the beginning.

That reaches the depths of the Cosmos and its infinite distances and finds out truths.

The spirit that is capable of believing in God and can talk with Him.

Or can deny such a faith in the cold, bloody, Zyklon b smelling smoky night of Auschwitz.

Stephen Hawking thinks and asks is God necessary?

God asks "where are you, Stephen?" (Gen 3:9)

Point 2 -- Mosquito

Unhindered by his wheelchair and MND sickness Stephen flies with his grand ideas in the bright heights of scientific rationalism making observations about the Universe and causing great amazement among the human race with his perceptions.

Great thoughts, far reaching calculations of the mysteries of the Universe and theories about patterns in the existence of everything!

(by the way, if Stephen with his thinking is capable of figuring out without being able to perform experiments how everything began, why it is so hard to believe that God would similarly - by thinking - perhaps even a bit deeper - figured them into existence. Bible does not say that God was thinking everything into being, but God said everything into being.)

Mosuqito - one of the great minuscule miracles of God

But there is danger!

quietly a bloodthirsty little thing approaches our hero who is not aware of the peril. With inerrant instinct it comes closer to the source of warm human blood, which it has observed from a distance.

Many man and woman has tried to push the intruder away but the devious enemy avoids the hand of the giant using the flow of air, makes another round and fearlessly returns back when it thinks that the time is suitable for another attack.

Stephen is unable to move and does not even notice the danger in his deep thinking, and so the enemy succeeds in sitting on his hand.

God has created to this insect a long sharp nose that it carefully sinks into the skin of Stephen. The nose is long enough to reach the blood vessels in skin and the delicious meal the mosquito is after. A true vampire!

But our beast has a small problem. It's weapon is very thin and narrow is the tube through which it wants to suck Stephen's red blood to its belly. And human blood has the life-saving ability to clog to prevent flowing from a wound.

However, God has given to this hard guy a poison, chemical, that it pours into the skin of Stephen preventing the thickening of his blood.

Well, mosquito would not be a problem without this poison, that causes our skin to itch and that irritates our skin (this too is wisdom of God, otherwise we would let them drink all our blood!)

Modern top science has succeed to clarify a few things about the anatomy of the mosquito, its legs, wings, technique of flying, life cycle from larva to the sky.

But modern science does not have any idea, how this system works together and how a mosquito has become what it is.

There is research going on and this is good thing (especially because of malaria).

But Stephen who explores the depths of the Universe is unable to explain the mosquito that sits on his hand.
So how he could with certainty proclaim is there a God or does the world need a God?

.......... P.S.

Here is some information about the spit of the mosquito...

I am sorry that I have problem in believing that just the gravity or the ever worshiped Fortune would have created this poison

Who has set that laws of nature that Stephen and Leonard take as self-evident?

In order for the mosquito to obtain a blood meal it must circumvent the vertebrate physiological responses.

The mosquito, as with all blood-feeding arthropods, has mechanisms to effectively block the hemostasis system with their saliva, which contains a mixture of secreted proteins. Mosquito saliva negatively affects vascular constriction, blood clotting, platelet aggregation, angiogenesis and immunity and creates inflammation.

Universally, hematophagous arthropod saliva contains at least one anticlotting, one anti-platelet, and one vasodilatory substance. Mosquito saliva also contains enzymes that aid in sugar feeding and antimicrobial agents to control bacterial growth in the sugar meal.

The composition of mosquito saliva is relatively simple as it usually contains fewer than 20 dominant proteins.

Despite the great strides in knowledge of these molecules and their role in bloodfeeding achieved recently, scientists still cannot ascribe functions to more than half of the molecules found in arthropod saliva.
English wikipedia Mosquito

Friday, April 1, 2011

By chance?

12-bp long oligonucleotide of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)

There are those who say they have figured out the parameters and logic how this thing came into being.

I do not believe them.

There is One who says He has made it.

I do believe Him.

Truth and The Hichhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a hilarious and serious look at various ways how we humans construct the meaning of our existence. The writer of the BBC radio 1978 comedy Douglas Adams (1952-2001) could hardly have foreseen what a chord he was about the strike in the hearts of so many. It became a cultural phenomenon for modern man, a series of books was published and the 2005 movie did quite well in the box office, thank you! (The movie's total box office gross was $104,478,416 worldwide as of December 2006).

Despite of its humorous approach the Guide discusses quite serious matters and tackles in a most wonderful and memorable way the most basic question of humanity. A super-intelligent pan-dimensional race of beings has constructed a supercomputer Deep Thought to give the

Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything

After ten million years of calculations the machine finally gives the answer to the meaning of life

Douglas Adams told later that this today quite well-known answer to the Ultimate Question was actually a joke trying to calm down those readers who were desperately seeking the true meaning of this intriguing answer.

That people actually began to ask the meaning of 42 is, of course, another proof of something very fundamental in our species: homo sapiens tries to explain the meaning of life, universe and other such things. It is not a superficial characteristic in us but rather a biological wiring in our brains that no anti-religion or anti-philosophy school teaching or brainwashing can remove from us as individuals or as a society.

Soviet Union made a valiant effort to do just that, to teach atheism to children and remove from their minds ancient religious attitudes and stupid questions that brilliant materialistic atheism and just communism have long ago solved to the satisfaction of every scientifically thinking man and woman.

Even atheists, such as Douglas Adams or Richard Dawkins ask that question and Dawkins dedicated his book "God Delusion" to Adams.



I humbly announce that I have not only found out that the answer tgiven by Deep Thought computer after ten million years of calculations in The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy is off by ten... but that I believe that I actually know the Question and the correct answer to it

This is the name given to the tiny fragment of papyrus which is the oldest known manuscript of the New Testament. The papyrus was unnoticed among the documents that Bernard Pyne Grenfell (1869–1926) purchased in Egypt in 1920 and brought to the John Rylands University Library in the University of Manchester.

The papyrus was first noticed only in 1934 when Colin H. Roberts argued on geographical grounds that p52 is Hadrianic and could thus date to the beginning of the second century AD. The early date has been disputed since then but today there seems to be among scholars a relatively broad consensus that papyrus p52 was indeed written during or near the time of Emperor Hadrian (117-138 AD).

This oldest known fragment of New Testament holds a truly majestic section from the Gospel of John where Pilate is questioning Jesus.

P52 recto

Gospel of John 18:31-33 (recto)


the Jews, "For us it is not permitted to kill
anyone," so that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he
spoke signifying what kind of death he was going to
to die. Entered therefore again into the Praeto-
rium Pilate and summoned Jesus
and he said to him, "Thou art king of the

p52 verso

Gospel of John 18:37-38 (verso)


a King I am. For this I have been born
and (for this) I have come into the world so that I would
testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth
hears of me my voice." Said to him
Pilate, "What is truth?" and this
having said, again he went out unto the Jews
and said to them, "I find not one
fault in him."

(Images of the papyrus and text are from wikipedia)


The Question that Adams is looking in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is given at the end of this remarkable text


Douglas Adams asks it in his hilarious and thoughtful way, Richard Dawkins asks it in his well-known ways and every human being asks it each in his or her own way.

Pontius Pilate asks this question in the Gospel of John. He was the fifth Prefect of the Roman province of Palestine 26-36 A.D. and not a particularly popular character among the Jews whose land the romans had occupied 63 B.C. For example, the confiscation - outright robbery - of money from the Temple treasury for the construction of a system bringing water to the city had caused a bloody riot.

Now in front of this educated civilized Roman stands a religious character, another candidate being the national savior, the Messiah of the Jews, who perhaps could lead the people into a rebellion. The Jewish leaders themselves had bought the man to him fearing just such a thing (which happened about 40 years later with disastrous consequences and then again at Hadrian's time with Bar Kochba claiming to be the Messiah).

The text is very short but still we can feel kind of skeptic - not the voice of an agnostic but the mentally cancerous disbelief of a skeptic who cannot believe anything - in his question, what is truth?

Perhaps he considered himself an intelligent man in dismissing man's ability to know the truth, I do not know what he was thinking. Whatever was in his mind, the end result of this attitude towards truth was catastrophic - Pontius Pilate committed the worst miscarriage of judgment in the history of mankind.


if the question is What is the truth?

so what is the answer in p52?

let me put it this way

Truth was standing in front of Pilate, who did not recognize it