Archive for Thursday, August 2, 2012

God’s creation

August 2, 2012


To the editor:

Having read and appreciated the “Understandings” expressed  in the letters by Carl Burkhead and Graham Kreicker, I would like to share some of my own.

In 1947, I was a freshman in high school, and the first day of science class the teacher said “The Bible says God created the heavens and earth but does not say how God did that. Through science we will discover how God did that.” The Bible says creation took seven days. God’s seven days could be seven million or seven billion of Earth time. If evolution is how God creates then so be it. God has spiritual and natural laws, and God creates with love and harmony through those laws.

Romans 1:20 of the Bible says that people have no excuse for not knowing the nature of God because God’s creation through God’s visible and invisible energies have made it plain. Scientists are coming to understand through the string theory that everything in the universe comes from one energy source, God. We have received more insight from the CERN Large Hadron Collider giving us more information how the universe is made, how God works.

The Bible also says people are made in the image of God. So if all people come from one energy source, then we are all connected in spirit and consciousness. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could concentrate on our spiritual nature to lead us to work together in love and harmony? Maybe we could eradicate negativity and violence in our world today.


Bob Forer 5 years, 9 months ago

Things have changed a little since you were a freshman in high school.

skinny 5 years, 9 months ago

I bet you believe in Santa Claus too!

Paul R Getto 5 years, 9 months ago

Let science be science and respect those who still believe in magic. Keep them separate and we can all get along.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 9 months ago

Oh, Paul, no, think of all the great Catholic scientists. Using the word magic to disparage those who believe in God and also are deeply fasinated by science is hardly a good thing. Janet Browne wrote a two volume biography of Charles Darwin that is the best that I have read. and I would recommend The Age of Wonder by Ricard Holmes which is about "how the romantic generation discovered the beauty and terror of science."

Scribeoflight 5 years, 9 months ago

Here it is in language NOT for a 3rd grader, but someone with a bit of understanding about aerodynamics :

Here is the Wikipedia article with citations about the history of this particular misconception of the way of science.

50YearResident 5 years, 9 months ago

(because He said He did)

Who was it that God told this to? How was it recorded?

Scribeoflight 5 years, 9 months ago

The beginning of Time was the moment of the Big Bang which was 14 Billion +/- 500 million years ago. Humans did not exist in the biological sense until 200,000 years ago, and in the behavioral sense until 50,000 years ago.

The biblical record is at most 6000 years old, therefore it is impossible for god to have communicated with humans since the beginning of time.

asixbury 5 years, 9 months ago

Says who? The gospels attributed incorrectly to the disciples of Christ? Those books were not written by the disciples and any priest would tell you this. Those titles were given to the books that were created decades and sometimes hundreds of years later to give the stories validity to the populace.

asixbury 5 years, 9 months ago

Manson, by the way, had a committee of followers. Lots of them, that murdered lots of people. All for their savior, Charles.

tomatogrower 5 years, 9 months ago

Yet, it was man who defined the word "day" as meaning 24 hours the time that it takes the earth to turn on it's axis. God's day may have been different.

Patricia Davis 5 years, 9 months ago

I don't believe in God or other myths people make up. I believe Stephen Hawking was right: religion is fairy tales for grownups.

Paul Decelles 5 years, 9 months ago

I have never understood the point of invoking myth that the bumble bee flight is physically impossible. All it does is highlight a confusion between something that is truly physically impossible (clearly bumble bees do fly though) and something that is not currently understood. The fact that something is not currently understood does not make its cause supernatural. The whole point of science is really about understanding how the universe works..including bumble bee flight. By the way here is a recent report on how bumble bees fly.

Alyosha 5 years, 9 months ago

The anti-knowledge stance of this comment is humorous. Kind of like when five year olds tell adults they don't know anything, when in fact the child can't even conceive of what an adult knows and what they, the child, can't even imagine.

Laughable, in that the commenter as a member of modern society can't fail to take advantage of the knowledge the scientists the comment disparages have brought to the use of all humans.

The word for that is ungrateful, and another is disrespectful.

Liberty275 5 years, 9 months ago

"They said there are multiple universes"

I always wondered what that constant buzzing sound was. Now I'm thinking it is the vibration caused by us slipping between universes. Or maybe it's cicadas.

asixbury 5 years, 9 months ago

Very good letter. Although I don't believe in god at all, it's still a very good letter. Glad to see a Christian that can balance their faith with science. The two do not need to be mutually exclusive.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years, 9 months ago

Agreed. Rarely do you see someone who embraces both science and religion equally. Refreshing. My science teacher in High school used to say that he believed religion is Man's attempt to explain what cannot be explained. He was also very active in our church and no one gave him any flak for teaching the Theory of Evolution as part of the public school curriculum. But, that was a different time than we live in today.

Lisa Medsker 5 years, 9 months ago

My Theology teacher in high school used to say the exact same thing! He described science as a "search for the Divine", saying that it takes a very small mind not to be able to grasp that the two (science and religion) are not at odds with one another, but offer a more "full picture" of things "The Church" (in this particular case, that means Catholic Church) could not, or would not explain. Although he was a Franciscan Priest, he was very much a contextualist when it came to interpreting the Bible. The letter-writer reiterates many of the ideas he "threw out there" for us to think about.

Refreshing, indeed, and unfortunately, rare. As you said, it was a different time.

RoeDapple 5 years, 9 months ago

If God's day is 7 billion years then no wonder he doesn't answer my prayers! My life happens in less than a blink of his eye. (Guess I might as well tear up that damn lottery ticket!)

Liberty275 5 years, 9 months ago

Maybe the assault rifle you keep praying for is on back order and god just can't get you one yet.

RoeDapple 5 years, 9 months ago

You must mean my sporting rifle with the 40 round magazine. Already there in the vault . . . along with a few of it's relatives.


somedude20 5 years, 9 months ago

It is all hogwash and Harry Potter is not real either

Liberty275 5 years, 9 months ago

If a god existed, do you actually think he would care one way or the other about any of you? You aren't even specs of dust.

Find a new meaning for your life.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 5 years, 9 months ago

Romney acts like a clueless singer wannabe. What of it??

Fred Whitehead Jr. 5 years, 9 months ago

Thanks, Agno! It warms my heart to know that my faithful and loyal following is still witn me. I hate hollering down an empty hallway!

Fred Whitehead Jr. 5 years, 9 months ago

Thanks Agno!! It warms my heart to know that I still have my faithful and loyal following here! I hate shouting down an empty hallway.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 5 years, 9 months ago

Finally, a letter that contain some common sense and reality!!

I too learned this version of the "holy creation" myths that are found in the "Holy Bible" many years ago from a very sensible teacher of science in high school. (back when it was not forbidden to mention religion in school).

What we know today as the "Holy Bible" is a creation of King James I of England in 1611. He convened the Council of Hampton Court to create a "bible" that would conform to the nations and edicts of the Church of England, also a subject of the King of England. For them to fail to follow the king's edict was to tempt having your heads cut off.

The "Holy Bible" is a creation of myths, stories, and "scriptures" created at the behest of the King of England . It has no other validity than a statement of what the king thought religious thought ought to be. People who believe that the things stated in the "Holy Bible" are all virtually true have a right to do so, but they are allowed in our free society to be influanced however they choose to be. But it is very disconcerting that organizations such as the Boy Scouts and the chicken resturant guy seem to have so much hate, prejudice and bent to discrimination that they feel validated by some king that sought to control his subjects by creating a vapid notion of some human description of the Divine Power of the Universe.

verity 5 years, 9 months ago

What does one do with the evidence that King James I of the King James Bible fame was either bisexual or homosexual?

Terry Sexton 5 years, 9 months ago

He did like to dress nicely.

KJ Rockin' the Robes

KJ Rockin' the Robes by Terry Sexton

Fred Whitehead Jr. 5 years, 9 months ago

Dressed to kill all the nonbelievers in his holy faith!!

Greg Cooper 5 years, 9 months ago

Understand that he was human, and go on from there. Very few "religious" folks completely embody the ultimate in their religion, but many brought small or large pieces to the religion that made it more relevant, understandable, or meaningful to the rest. James was, by all accounts, a fallible human who, for political as well as religious reasons caused to be contributed to Christianity a wonderful versionof the Bible that, while probablynot quite concise, made Christianity understandable to the masses.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 5 years, 9 months ago

Interesting note.... am watching Morgan Freeman on Science channel, and he just ofered a question"Did God invent us ior did we invent God?"

Interesting question.

verity 5 years, 9 months ago

I'll go with the latter.

Especially since I have such a hard time making choices, I wouldn't know which God to choose.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 9 months ago

We are biologically programmed to be spiritual but that is not the same as religion. The concept of god is pretty cool. Religions tend to become just another organization and they lose their focus. All the great teachers, the ESSENE rebel included, created impossible standards.

verity 5 years, 9 months ago

What is your definition of spiritual?

I ask because this subject and the intersection of biological programming with religion/spirituality interests me.

I think that being involved in religion was biologically selected for because it was advantageous to be part of a group---and still is. The people I knew as a child who were "spiritual" were the worst Christians in my opinion. I'm sure your definition differs from their definition.

Liberty275 5 years, 9 months ago

We invented all the gods along with the easter bunny, santa and batman. Google "julian jaynes ".

What is really interesting is that everything you think you know exists between neurons inside your own brain.

tbaker 5 years, 9 months ago

Bravo Mr. Gutschenritter. Well done.

God created the universe; science explains how he did it. That is an excellent theoretical compromise everyone should be happy with, including the atheists.

Modern science tends to agree the universe first began to exist about 13.7 billion years ago. Atheists believe all things that begin to exist must have a cause. Most would argue some natural phenomenon was the cause, yet there is no observational evidence for this belief contradicting the tenet that all beliefs should be based upon observational evidence. It is therefore equally possible that the cause of the universe was a supernatural intelligence (i.e., God).

Since there is no observational evidence for either belief, those who seek to have God completely removed from the dialog are not serving a scientific purpose. Their motivation is a departure from Science. It is philosophical, driven by the desire to impose one’s ideology on another, which is not an atheist tenant any more than it is a religious one; it is just evidence of a weak mind struggling to compensate its intellectual deficit with intolerance.

Scribeoflight 5 years, 9 months ago

The essence of the scientific method:

1) The universe is deterministic. It obeys a set of rules, consistently. 2) Observation and Reason are sufficient to determine these rules. 3) All things being equal, a simpler explanation is a better one. 4) Any valid explanation should be able to predict future results, and failure to predict will invalidate the explanation.

As a Scientist (in training) and an Atheist, I must reject your compromise. Not only does it violate the core principles of science, I do not wish to start with the idea of a supernatural creator already assumed.

If the evidence uncovered leads to conclusive proof, then so be it and I will accept it. But that proof must be uncovered and stand on it's own.

Greg Cooper 5 years, 9 months ago

You may be right, the universe does obey a set of rules, consistently. However, observation has showed, experimentally, that the rules are not all known, so operating consistently may be the way it works, but we do not know of all the consistencies yet. Observation is all well and good, if one knows for what to look, but there have come times when observation has been blind to facts, known or later discovered. And, yes, any valid explanation of the known facts will usually lead to correct future predictions, but observable variances have been noted and led to new or altered ruiles.

The fact that you "do not wish to start with the idea of a supernatural creator" is of little consequence, but is your perogative. I tend to believe that a supernatural, not-to-be-understood entity started the whole thing. I do not know why, nor do I believe I will ever know until post-death, but not knowing does not mean not believing, and I will continue to believe, because it is impossible for me to envision nature simply popping into existence without some impetus.

All that being said, I do not believe that one must believe only in Jesus Christ or Mohammed or Buddha ar any other entity to be entitled to everlasting existence. But I have chosen the Christian way because it comforts me, it provides a framework for existence, and it gives me both meaning and method for my life.

I know you are a good person. Perhaps you are right and I am not. But I believe that both of us can be rewarded with a better existence because of our goodness.

Have a great day, and may God bless, as Red Skelton used to say.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 9 months ago

tbaker, you certainly do take some liberties in your rationalizations.

"Atheists believe all things that begin to exist must have a cause." -Pretty broad brush stroke. Not necessarily.

"Most would argue some natural phenomenon was the cause, yet there is no observational evidence for this belief contradicting the tenet that all beliefs should be based upon observational evidence." -Again, you are assuming a lot. Most scientists would not speculate as to the "cause" of the big bang, simply that it occurred.

"It is therefore equally possible that the cause of the universe was a supernatural intelligence (i.e., God). " -This is an example of unnecessarily making explanations more complicated than needed. It is equally possible that any lame-brained notion about the origin of the universe is true. This is superstition, not science.

"Since there is no observational evidence for either belief, those who seek to have God completely removed from the dialog are not serving a scientific purpose." -This is superstition, not science. Are there any gods that you would be willing to completely remove from the dialog? Vishnu? Lakshmi? Buddha? Odin? Zeus?

tbaker 5 years, 9 months ago

"It is equally possible that any lame-brained notion about the origin of the universe is true."

My point (almost) exactly. I wouldn't assign a judgment (lame-brained) to a scenario which lacks the evidence to prove it one way or another. There is no observational evidence to support your belief, therefore it is nothing more than biased opinion because you cannot substantiate whether or not the God-created universe is lame-brained.

In 1905 a Swiss patent clerk published a scientific paper whose theories directly challenged the widely held belief that the universe was eternal; that it had no beginning and therefore no end. He was roundly attacked for these ideas by a large portion of the world physics community. After a good deal of peer review he won a Nobel Prize and now Einstein’s theories are the basis for the belief the universe did have a beginning, is expanding, and will have an end. The bulk of Atheist philosophical doctrine argues that things just don’t “happen” that there is purpose in everything in the universe whether we can currently explain it or not. The Universe was “caused” by something. At this point in human understanding, God is just as plausible a cause as is some random natural phenomena.

People who think God made the universe are just as likely to be right as those who think he doesn't exist. The parity of these two positions torments the intolerant who wish to stamp out other opinions. This behavior pattern is very similar to many in the Global Warming crowd when confronted with evidence that challenges their world view. They lash out, they denigrate, they insult, they reflexively question the voracity of the evidence regardless of its merit. The self-assurance they get from believing they are right; aka, attempting to suppress competing views, is more important to these kinds of people than actually finding out what the truth really is. People like this don’t advance human knowledge. They are the sand in the gear box.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 9 months ago

Which god are you referring to here? Have you ruled any out? Zeus? Odin? Yahweh? Vishnu?

Liberty275 5 years, 9 months ago

"it is just evidence of a weak mind struggling to compensate its intellectual deficit with intolerance. "

Jedi mind tricks he thinks he knows....

Isn't everything an example of that? We are 90% chimp and ignorant. We really don't have any choice but to compensate for weak minds with discrimination (I wouldn't use the word intolerance because it constrains the perfectly valid idea with a silly value judgement).

Also, I can't be happy with god using science any more than I can be happy with santa getting a new radar for his sled. Even a chimp's cousin has to put down his foot and make a decision once in a while.

asixbury 5 years, 9 months ago

There are theories in the science world on how everything was started, but it is a logical fallacy to say everything started from nothing. You cannot destroy energy, so it therefore must have been there to begin with. In that train of thought, who created god? I like the Buddhist explanation best: it's a big wheel. The universe was created, expands until it collapses back in on itself (heat death of the universe theory), then it starts all over again. The universe exists because we think (or believe) it exists. Without conscious thought, there is nothing.

Greg Cooper 5 years, 9 months ago

Great--the universe has always been there. That is not a valid assumption. That we think the universe exists makes it exist? Another very strange assumption. Everything had to start somewhere before it could expand and contract as you say.

The great stumbling block to science is the essence of religion: everything had to come from somewhere. Somewhere is not nothing. Something had to provide the impetus for the creation. Until I hear differently, I believe that there is (or at least was) a being that provided the impetus.

Why is it so difficult to believe that a "god" brought all this into existence? The most prevalent reason, I think, is that the existence of an omnipotent being presupposes the smallness and relative impotence of us as humans. If that scares you, so be it, but my God sees us as vessels of good and gives us meaning beyond life as we know it.

Hope you have a great life.

asixbury 5 years, 9 months ago

What, you never heard of the philosophy "I think, therefore I am"? Expand your mind a little. If you did not have conscious thought, or none of the life in the universe had conscious thought, then nothing would exist the way in which it does now. There would be no structures to the organized chaos that is the universe.

Structured time is a human invention, at least in the way we conceive of it. Why does something have to have a beginning and end? Why can't everything be a circle, like the circle of life? Our minds are too restrained from our physical being to be able to comprehend something such as the cause and continuation of the universe. Maybe we're just an experiment in some alien scientist's Petri dish.

Question for you, who created god? In your very own explanation, this logical fallacy is brough up time and again and cannot be explained away. Except maybe through the notion that everything exists always and forever. No beginning or end, just a cycle and changing of energy structures. We cannot comprehend this in our limited being, so we (humans) came up with the god myth to satisfy our primitive minds. You cannot destroy energy, only change or transform it. Every scientist knows this.

Greg Cooper 5 years, 9 months ago

First, the fact that "I think, therefore I am" has no relationship to the question. By your logic, a tree falling in the forest with noone to hear does not make any noise. We know that is not true, and neither does my existence change the structure of the physical universe. It simply means that I experience the universe from my own uniquely personal viewpoint.

As for time being a human invention, it certainly is. But that has nothing to do with the question at hand.

Who created God (or the Supreme Being, for those who have other ideas)? I don't believe He (She) was created. I believe God was always in existence. Rational? Quite probaboy not, but my belief fits human experience better than believing that all matter simply "banged" into existence. Ever changing cycle? More than likely. But, Asixbury, it had to start somewhere, and, by your own words, and extrapolating from them, energy can neither be created nor destroyed, not under currently understood physical laws. If it can not be created under those laws, it had to come from somewhere/something/somebody. I choose to believe God (as I understand the term) created and is creating, that I and you are natural outcomes of the plan which He put into action, and that we will, in life, never understand or comprehend that plan, or how it began. Really, now, does it make any sense that everything has existed "always and forever"? I don't think so. But I do believe that God always was and always will be, and that that explains where it all came from in the first place.

The crowning point of my belief is the possibility of a life eternal without the troubles of an earthly existence. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm right, but my life has a meaning and a goal and I continue to believe.

asixbury 5 years, 9 months ago

You believe what I just pointed out above, in essence. I just don't put these logical assumptions onto a being of some sort. I call it, basically, energy. The wheel is a great metaphor for both your ideology and my own. If god is always and forever, so too is the universe (who's essence could be this "god" being you believe in). We're both coming at this topic from different directions, but our message is very similar. I simply don't believe in all these human traits religious people put on a "creator," nor do I believe in the dogma. God is not a being; it is energy which is the fabric of all existence. Energy can create life, so I guess it could be the god of which you speak as well.

Greg Cooper 5 years, 9 months ago

Agree we are both saying a lot of the same thing--but the difference is that I believe there is a point to it all--a point I choose to believe has been shown to me by the words of God and his speakers.

verity 5 years, 9 months ago

"The most prevalent reason, I think, is that the existence of an omnipotent being presupposes the smallness and relative impotence of us as humans."

I can't speak for others, but that is certainly not the reason that I don't believe there is a God. I am quite aware of my unimportance in the whole scheme of things. I don't see where believing or not believing in God has anything to do with it. In my humble opinion, supposing that I know what brought the universe into existence is arrogant. Maybe we'll figure it out someday and quite possibly we will never know.

I also think we can't assume that the laws of physics always worked as they do now. I know that others know more about that than I do and can speak to that possibility, but our knowledge is pretty limited about a lot of things. It seems that new things are always being discovered that changes the way we look at the material universe.

I could generalize and say that I think that the prevalent reason people believe in God is that they need an answer for everything.

Greg Cooper 5 years, 9 months ago

Arrogant? Perhaps one could see it as that, but I choose to believe because that belief is the only way I can explain the unexplainable. I have come to believe that I do have a place, and a purpose, in the universe, and that I will come to know that purpose in the end. You may not have that belief, and I do not condemn or bellittle your "non-belief". From your posts, I believe you are a good person who wants only good for others and, to me, that is the same thing.

Verity, I am not in the business of garnering "converts" to my belief system, but I am in the business of trying to make myself and my belief system relevant to today and hopeful for tomorrow, for everyone.

verity 5 years, 9 months ago

Caughtinthemiddle, it seems that I misinterpreted your meaning and I apologize. I do at times get touchy about posters presupposing what I believe or think or feel because of a label. We differ in that I think that I am responsible for giving my life meaning and purpose---that it doesn't come from the outside . Contrary to what many seem to think, that is often not an easy route nor one that I take lightly.

Greg Cooper 5 years, 9 months ago

No need to apologize-you stated your belief and I mine. In the end, I think we are both striving for the same thing. I want meaning and purpoes, as do you. And, too, I don't believe my purpose comes from the outside, but from my understanding of the goals I can achieve by myself, with the help of God, and other humans. No man is an island (I just made that up), but a small part of a larger mass. You are responsible for yourself, but giving in to a larger purpose makes it easier to achieve the goals you have taken on. Best of wishes on your journey.

kansanbygrace 5 years, 9 months ago

Dear Mr. Gutschenritter, I think this is a very thoughtful and deep expression. Thank you for your letter.
I will make no attempt to argue with the arguers tonight. I believe they like to argue for its own sake as much as to express substance, as I do occasionally myself. Your recognition of a natural world that has observable and measurable characteristics--sometimes we call it "physical world" and the acknowledgement that there is or at least may be dimensions and forces that humans haven't figured out is logically sound and intuitively obvious. Anyone who insists that if they cannot see it or don't understand it then it just can't be have my pity. I can't imagine that anyone, even these bright fellow-lawrencians, has everything figured out.
And for Sychophant, I'd like to quote a very wise old family friend, who, when he last conversed with me, at the age of 103, said something like "I've seen a lot come and a lot go. And it seems, when you've had a chance to think it over, the more things change, the more they're just the same. I think it has a very important meaning.

JustNoticed 5 years, 9 months ago

You choose to believe because it is the only way to explain the inexplicable? Wow, how about embracing something much simpler and more useful like, "I don't know, let's see if we can figure it out."? Also, it isn't necessary to point out that we don't know what the Genesis writer meant by "days", whether a solar day or an eon. It is much more to the point to accept the Bible for what it is - folk tales, mythology, history. It is a record of the response of a particular particular people in a particular place and time to what they perceived as the divine.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 9 months ago

Carl Sagan said those with fantastic explanations need to prove them. If science ever found a god, they would write it up and share their evidence. If the other side found proof they were "wrong" they would deny it and continue on their way. That, it appears to me, is the basic difference between the two sides of the argument.

Greg Cooper 5 years, 9 months ago

That, it appears to me, is quite a stretch, saying that the "other side" would just naturally deny any scientific evidence. I believe as strongly as anybody I know, but would have no need to deny that which can be proven or extrapolated through scientific methodology. By the way, in actual point of fact, the "religious" have already debunked your argument: do you know of any religiion that still believes the Earth is the center of the universe?

Kathy Theis-Getto 5 years, 9 months ago

Sorry. I create a false choice for argument's sake. Politics has turned this issue into charicature. Guns gods and gays anyone? The issue is complex, as you point out. Shanti.

jonas_opines 5 years, 9 months ago

Really, is it too much to ask to just let the facts speak for themselves, and then every person can, if they desire, simply add "because God made it so" to the end on their own time.

pti3 5 years, 9 months ago

I do not believe the issue is belief vs non belief, but rather what is the potential good and bad for these powers in the hands of humans. And what mechanisms are in place to prevent the bad. Described in google as: "Wired 8.04: Why the future doesn't need us.

Article on how technologies, including robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotechnology, are threatening to make humans an endangered species."

Most of the 'news' on emerging technologies is overly optimistic and fails to point to risks of misuse or unintended bad consequences, which are horrifying and unprecedented. Also see: Nanoethics group, under 'the bad' Above link to: Nanoethics: Assessing the Nanoscale from an Ethical Point of View James MOORand John WECKERT See section 3 'privacy and control'

pti3 5 years, 9 months ago

Quote from Bill Joy's article in Wired Magazine "Why the Future Doesn't Need Us" below (page 3), on risks of emerging tech in 21st century - hopefully there will be more public awareness and involvement in addressing the potential hazards he describes:

The vision of near immortality that Kurzweil sees in his robot dreams drives us forward; genetic engineering may soon provide treatments, if not outright cures, for most diseases; and nanotechnology and nanomedicine can address yet more ills. Together they could significantly extend our average life span and improve the quality of our lives. Yet, with each of these technologies, a sequence of small, individually sensible advances leads to an accumulation of great power and, concomitantly, great danger.

What was different in the 20th century? Certainly, the technologies underlying the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) - nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) - were powerful, and the weapons an enormous threat. But building nuclear weapons required, at least for a time, access to both rare - indeed, effectively unavailable - raw materials and highly protected information; biological and chemical weapons programs also tended to require large-scale activities.

The 21st-century technologies - genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics (GNR) - are so powerful that they can spawn whole new classes of accidents and abuses. Most dangerously, for the first time, these accidents and abuses are widely within the reach of individuals or small groups. They will not require large facilities or rare raw materials. Knowledge alone will enable the use of them.

Thus we have the possibility not just of weapons of mass destruction but of knowledge-enabled mass destruction (KMD), this destructiveness hugely amplified by the power of self-replication.

I think it is no exaggeration to say we are on the cusp of the further perfection of extreme evil, an evil whose possibility spreads well beyond that which weapons of mass destruction bequeathed to the nation-states, on to a surprising and terrible empowerment of extreme individuals.

pti3 5 years, 9 months ago

The quote is so horrifying and depressing, it must have something to follow. IJust that powerful technologies have to be under scrutiny. This is harder when science - the most dangerous and powerful is classified as secret. There needs to be legislation that addresses the abuse/misuse of technologies, to start, and hopefully there will be broad public discussion and education on risks, and not only the benefits.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 9 months ago

A classic "god of the gaps" argument.

The definition and influence of god retreats as science advances. That not yet explained by science is "god", just like disease, mental illness once were and the earth-centric universe once were.

Some may claim that there are some things science cannot know. This to me seems like a bet and is yet to be determined.

I have no a priori problem with "god" being defined as what lies just beyond the frontier of science, but scientists will not stop and be satisfied with that explanation. They wil continue to explore beyond the frontier, which is what science is all about.

Greg Cooper 5 years, 9 months ago

And also, ywn, what religion is all about. To explore beyond the frontier of knopwledge is exactly what most religions want you to do. The extra thing that they ask is that you have a belief in the eventual ending, thus giving meaning and purpose to the search into the unknown. Perhaps the unknown is unknowable, but I believe that science will eventually lead us to know the unknowable, and that God will figure in the mix.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 9 months ago

Which god? Yahweh? Odin? Zeus? Vishnu? Or one of the myriad of other gods that humans believe in?

Greg Cooper 5 years, 9 months ago

Doesn't really matter what you call him, does it? I mean, as long as there really is a supreme entity, you can call it POPSICLE if you want. The issue is that there really is, in my opinion, an ultimate power, but that power does not dictate to me the way in which I live my llife, but gives me suggestions and an ultimate goal to follow.

verity 5 years, 9 months ago

Back from another self-imposed exile, tange? I've missed you.

I should self-impose my own exile, but this is such a delicious addiction.

By the way, it turns out that the cat is not imaginary, but that's another long story.

Armored_One 5 years, 9 months ago

If the Bible is the 'word of God', then why are there several writings that could be included, but due to the Council of Nicea were omitted from the 'final' copy, so to speak.

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