Monday, May 27, 2013

no thanks, wolf

the wolf and the atheist
(art and story by tom tomorrow)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

as is man, so is god

god man, rebooted
(story and art by reuben bolling)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"better than science"

after forty long hours in the desert and forty long hours on the mountaintop, indefatigable texas birther rudy davis descends unto youTube to deliver the gospel:

... i probably spent about eighty hours, maybe more, so far researching this, reading books, going to various websites, using the knowledge that i've gained in my physics class — lemmee share a little bit about my background and this isn't me like braggin' on my background, there's nothin' to brag about. y'know, when you ask me about my credentials are, i know how to use a shovel and, uh, i can clean a pretty good litter box, but i did go through four years of college and obtained a electrical engineering degree, with a minor in mechanical engineering, and, um, i passed my calculus classes. i loved calculus, i love math. i, uh, passed my trigonometry, geometry, analytical geometry, um, y'know, physics, uh, thermodynamics — i loved all that stuff. i love, y'know, mathematics and science since it was one of my favorite topics.

i'm not, um, completely ... uneducated. but i'm not the smartest guy in the world either. i'm not here saying i'm smarter than anybody — i think, for these things, the lord has to lead you into this, sort of, belief, uh, and you have to have a biblical perspective in order to understand what i'm about to say ...

and after a short digression into 9-11 trutherism:

... so i want you to think back, y'know, when somebody first told you that, t—, your reaction. 'cause what i'm about to say, i'm not sayin' for shock value. i couldn't care less if you like me or you din't like me, i could care less about, uh, how many subscribers i have. what i'm about to say i'm telling you because i believe it's the truth and i know 99.99 percent of you are going to reject it. i rejected it when i first heard it, until i started lookin' into it more, 'til i started reading my bible, 'til i started, uh, understanding, uh, a little bit more about the things that we've been told, and, uh, i would just ask you to look into it before you jump to the conclusion that i'm an absolute nut. and, again i'm just telling you this because there are — there's gonna be point-zero-zero-zero-one percent of you that, uh, is gonna receive it, just like, just like i received it and just like, y'know, there, there's a few, there's a few that can weed through all the BS that we've been told in this world and see what's goin' on.

but i wanna declare, uh, that i am a geocentrist. and uh, what a geocentrist is, is someone who believes that the earth is the center of the universe and does not move. lemmee say that again. the earth does not move, it does not rotate, it does not revolve, it does not, uh, go around the sun and it does not wobble. the bible says the earth cannot be moved. and, uh, that's what i'm goin' with.

and, y'know, when it comes to copernicus, galileo, uh, kepler, uh, carl sagan and einstein, all of 'em are flim-fam— flam artists. i believe they're all con artists and they're basically in a satanic deception that put forth satan's very, very first blue-ribbon lie. y'know — well, uh, you could go all the way back to the garden of eden, so i wouldn't say it's his first, but, uh, satan's blue-ribbon lie, at least one of them, is that the, uh, earth moves around the sun. okay? that absolutely is not true and i believe it with all my heart.

... now do i believe that carl sagan, einstein, kepler, uh ... uh ... copernicus and galileo were in some, y'know, plot where they communicated with each other? no, i don't believe they were communicatin' with each other through the centuries but what i do believe is, uh, that satan allows certain people to be puffed up with pride an' this world promotes, uh people and they get too smart for their, for their own good an' they just put out absolute BS. i mean we've just been lied to upon lied to.

... some people say that y'know, uh "the bible does, does not say how the heavens go, but the bible tells us how to go to heaven." in other words, they're tryin' to say that the bible is not a sci— is not a science book. but i would say that the bible is better than a science book. the bible is better [chuckling] than any science book ever written. and if it says the earth doesn't move, then it doesn't freakin' move. and uh, that's one thing you need to know about me. and, and you may be a christian watching this thinkin' i'm an absolute kook, but know this: when i read that bible, the difference between me and other christians is when i read that bible i believe what it says. i don't try to fit into my little, uh, box of how i think god should be or how the universe should be. if the bible says it, that's the way that it is. and i don't believe the king james bible has any errors.

that's right, folks, a hardcore wingnut conspiracy theorist who never doubted a rumor found in his yahoo inbox is calling a satanic hoax on the last 500 years of scientific discovery. eighty hours of what passes as deep thought in rudy's mind and the bible (king james version only, accept no imitations!) is all any right-thinking patriot needs.

to supply the perfect counterpoint to rudy's admitted defiant anti-intellectualism, enter working physicist sean carroll, someone who's certainly spent more than eighty hours on the subject. sean casually explains what real scientists and real mathematicians already know — the "known knowns", so to speak, wherein neither god nor satan nor any other strange supernatural, metaphysical or paranormal beings, forces or powers are anywhere to be found:

so, the laws of physics underlying everyday life are completely understood. the reason why i emphasize this is because scientists, and skeptics for that matter, love to go right to the unknown things. there are many, many things that are unknown, from dark matter to quantum gravity to finance, okay? but there are also things that are known. and among the things that are known are how the matter around us in our everyday life actually works. and it's not just "we have a theory that works." it's better than that. we know that there are no new parts of nature that we haven't found yet that could exert a substantial influence over our everyday lives. there are no new particles or forces that could be relevant to your everyday life that science hasn't found yet.

... so we've looked. there could be plenty of new particles of nature, but they must be either weakly interacting, too heavy to create or too short-lived to detect. what that means is that they can't possibly be very relevant to your everyday life. they cannot affect your consciousness, you cannot blame them for being in a bad mood. you and everyone you know is made up of the standard model of particle physics and nothing else.

... we've ruled out every possible force that is both long range and strong enough to notice.

... the conclusion is that as far as the immediate world of experience is concerned, as far as what you see and touch and taste and feel as you go through your everyday life, we have the theory. we're done. that does not mean that we understand everything, but the underlying laws that describe what baseballs are made out of, or tables or living beings, we understand that. it's electrons and quarks with masses from the higgs field interacting via those forces. that's the everyday world.

... when it comes to the everyday world, we have figured out what the pieces are and what direction they can move in. that does not make us good world players or chess players. it does constrain the kind of games you can play. if someone has come up with a new chess strategy that involves the rook moving diagonally, you know that you can rule that out without listening to their elaborate presentation on it. likewise, if someone has a great new theory of living their lives that involves homeopathy or astrology, you can tune them out without listening to the details. because just knowing the fact that the standard model of particle physics is the right theory of the matter that makes up the everyday world is immediately enough to rule out a whole host of possible phenomena. anything you can't do with electrons, protons, neutrons, gravity and electromagnetism, you can't do in your basement.

... you cannot bend spoons with your mind — unless your mind tells your other arm to go out and bend the spoon. but you can't just do it with a new force emanating from your cortex because there are no such forces. you cannot predict the future, see around corners, the position of saturn when you were born sadly irrelevant to the rest of your life, blah-blah-blah ...

and in fact we known there is no life after death. sometimes even atheists and skeptics like to be open-minded about this because we haven't done all the right double-blind experiments, blah-blah-blah ... forget it! if you believe in life after death, tell me what particles contain the information that moves your soul from place to place. is it electrons? 'cause those would be easy to notice cause electrons are electrically charged and it's actually quite a lot of charge. is it atoms? but the atoms don't move very much when you die. if you believe that there's some way that you have an immortal soul that travels from place to place, then you're not just saying we don't know how it works, you are saying that our current knowledge of the laws of physics is wrong. which means you better give me a good reason to believe that our current knowledge of the laws of physics is wrong, because it's not, and i'm going to move on to more interesting things.

most of science's work, certainly that part which concerns everday human experience, has been done. science can explain through natural causes everything we do and everything that effects us between waking and sleeping, including waking and sleeping. whatever important unknowns remain lie beyond john q. public's quotidian concerns.

sean argues that even gravity, one of the universe's most ubiquitous, constant and far-reaching forces, can be ignored as "utterly, utterly irrelevant" to our lives since it is also one of the weakest. air travelers might quibble, but his point is that the activity of any purported forces or beings that supposedly affect or manipulate human lives on any regular and significant level would have to be stronger than gravity — and therefore, like gravity, noticable and provable. so we would have already noticed by now if any undiscovered entities were regularly intervening in the world by stopping bullets from hitting people or picking sides at sporting events. and we certainly know enough to ignore out-of-hand rudy's entreaties for us to "educate ourselves" by following up on his so-called research since it defies everything real scientists have discovered.

to justify itself, every religion claims to be not just relevant but inseparable and indispensible to the human experience — all while hiding just beyond reach in the supernatural. but science has yet to find any human activity that can't be explained by some combination of the natural forces we've thus far discovered. despite or because of the worst abuses of religion, the history of science has been the inexorable balkanization of gods and ghosts onto smaller and smaller islands of possibility. sorry rudy, but as of today, atlantis is sunk — even the king james version.

isaac asimovthere is a cult of ignorance in the united states, and there has always been. the strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge".
issac asimov