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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Facebook History Of The World

This is the most awesome, succinct version of world history I've ever read. It's really ingenious. Check it out. I can't believe how elaborate it is! By College Humor.



Thursday, December 8, 2011

So, You Think You're Dreaming?

I seem to have extraordinarily vivid dreams. Often when I describe my dreams to others, they are astounded by how bizarre and also how clear they are. My friend Will likes to joke about how while he is sleeping, I am out roaming the universe at night. And indeed sometimes it feels like I am. I wonder if it's because I've read so much sci-fi. I do think sci-fi works like those of Arthur C. Clark can actually expand your imagination.

Not too long ago I had a lucid dream in which I was walking down a staircase, and then came upon a beautiful mosaic. I remember it very well because of how clear and detailed it was. I remember thinking (in my dream) that there was no possible way my brain could manufacture what I was seeing.

I could see the roughness of the grout between the tiles. I could feel the imperfections in the stone. There were little chip marks, little scratches, and all of the little details that exist in real-life objects when viewed up close. All of that was in my dream. I woke up with the distinct impression that I had actually been somewhere else, somewhere real.

Assuming that I was not experiencing astral projection, the question comes up, where did all that complex detail come from? How could that near-infinite visual data be stored in my head? I know for certain that I had never seen that mosaic before in real life. Was it being recalled from other things I'd seen, or was it actually being generated?

And the data wasn't only being generated (or recalled) and displayed in a static way, but it was being rendered in real time! I could walk back and forth adjusting my point of view, and the image would change accordingly. The light even played across the mosaic form a nearby window with perfect accuracy!

The most powerful computer in the world with top-of-the-line graphics could never display that much detail in real time, with seamless motion and lighting effects. And I find it hard to believe that the brain could either! The amount of data that enters our eyes is so vast! It is one thing to realize that our brains actually absorb so much information, organize it, and make sense of it all. But to generate that much data while dreaming?! Surely not.

I've had enough of these extremely vivid dream experiences to know this wasn't a fluke. Either the brain is far more powerful than we ever imagined, or I really am out exploring the universe at night. The second option almost sounds more likely.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Post To Make Evolutionists Angry

The debate over whether intelligent design is a credible topic to teach children (or even mention to children) in school is such a no-brainer to me that I am simply flabbergasted as to why it is such a hotly debated topic. The only way I can think to explain its passionate dismissal by so many educators, is complete professional bias because of its connection to religion, the most unpopular of subjects today.

When looking for an explanation, is it not simply good practice to consider more than one possibility? Of two explanations, one may very well be proven wrong, eventually, and then the other would be more sure. And yet in the case of the origin of life, only one possible explanation is put forward in schools, and it is one that has not been proven. Rather, it is one that has been proven to be very shaky indeed.

The refusal to consider alternate explanations is dishonest, unwise, unbalanced, and just bad practice. And it's not just refusal. It is protest marches, court cases, hate mail... it is pulsating forehead veins! I say stay this madness! Education has been hijacked by the dogma of the staunchly irreligious.

Logic seems to dictate loudly that intelligent design is not only a credible explanation in talking about the origin of complex systems, but a far more likely explanation than unaided evolution is. We must remember, however, that they are very different types of explanation. While one of them is purely based on science, the other admits that science alone cannot always be used to prove what can be proven logically or philosophically. But is it really so strange that a thing, contemplating itself, is unable to explain its own origin using observation and analysis?

Why then such fury? Is it anything more than a gross overreaction to the hint of a religious flavor? It is a fury that causes evolutionists to become more narrow and religious in their thinking even than their counterparts! For which is more narrow and dogmatic, to accept nothing but what the scientific method can prove, or to accept some element of the unexplainable? Is it more narrow to believe only in the natural, or to leave room also for at least the possibility of the supernatural?

But logic gives the greater argument. Setting aside the question of life, let us ask this: What complex system, showing clear order, do we know of that did not come about from something even more complex and orderly than itself? A complex thing like a book can only exist because it came from a more complex author. A complex ECG printout can only exist because it came from a much more complex printer. A complex ant hill, can only exist because it came from a much more complicated ant. What about a beehive? A melody?

In fact, we cannot find anything complex and orderly that did not originate from something even more complex and orderly, and with a specific creative intent. It would be madness to try to explain a book by postulating that a nearby printing press exploded, and the letters, ink and paper all fell down together coincidentally, and in the right sequence to produce intelligent text. It would be lunacy to try to explain a pop song by postulating that there was an accident in the recording studio, and all the instruments were knocked about while the record button was pressed. It is madness and lunacy precisely because even the dullest of us recognize the signs of intelligent design in literature and music.

We cannot find anything complex and orderly that did not originate from something more complex and orderly. And yet in the case of the most complex and orderly thing of all, life, we are taught to believe that the opposite is true. Even with absolutely no precedent, we are taught to deny these clear principles. We are taught to believe that life did not originate from something more complex and orderly, but instead that the universe exploded and that all the pieces did indeed fall down together coincidentally and in the right sequence.

Is this not simply madness? It may very well not be madness, it may in fact be true. In the case of life, perhaps the printing press may well have exploded to produce the book. But what about the likelihood of those two contrasting explanations? We are talking about astronomical figures here. What sane person, finding a book, would assume such a far-fetched explanation? And yet, this is how we are taught to think!

Is it the apparent absence of an author that leads men to think this way? They look around, and see no obvious sign of an author (besides life itself), and so they wrack their brains for centuries in order to come up with any explanation that is at least feasible. And then they tell it to themselves for centuries more, until they they actually believe it is true. That is precisely our situation! Evolution may be feasible, but is it likely? Is it not more likely that we simply have not found the author?

Actually, it is not the apparent absence of the author only, but it is the intentional unwillingness for there to be an author that has caused us to take the most unlikely explanation imaginable, and elevate it to the dogma of our age. Why? For many reasons. For intellectuals, it is because believing in God means accountability. For non-intellectuals, it is because believing in God is so damn unfashionable. Also, because religion through the ages has proven to be so damning, men will believe anything to escape it. Is it really so foolish to imagine God away for the sake of self-preservation?

But intellectual honesty must at some point prevail. And even though we may hate the idea, we must admit the obvious. As clearly as we know that a beehive is the result of the intelligent bee, we can see that life is also the result of something, or someone intelligent, beyond our ability to fully explain or perhaps ever understand. Either that is true, or we are betting on the feasibility of a theory with a likelihood of somewhere between a number astronomically minuscule, and zero.

So why is there such vehement protest against the theory of intelligent design? Why do we insist only on the dogmatic indoctrination of evolution? Bias, nothing more.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Origin Of Things

I am fascinated by the incalculable number of things all around us, things that we take for granted and most often don't even notice. Where do they all come from? Who makes them? How are they made?

There is a knob on the stereo amplifier above my desk. Someone had to fashion that, had to design it and produce it. It must have been manufactured in a factory somewhere. By who? Using what? Did they make an entire machine just to make those particular knobs? Where were the parts for the machine made?

The perfectly shaped little rubber blobs that act as mini stands for my laptop. The strap of my watch, with all it's little separate pieces, ingeniously designed to function. The custom light fixtures in the storage unit I can see from my window. The glass jar sitting on my desk. The valerian root extract inside. The countless little pieces of metal and plastic, attached to just about everything, giving things their shape and structure, holding them together.

There are too many little things everywhere for me to begin to fathom! And the idea that each one of them has a story, a process that they went through, involving people and places, labor, and factories, machines, transportation, trade, money, design, assembly, placement and then sales. It is an inconceivably complex web!

Yesterday, I was in the main mail sorting center for Amsterdam. It is a gigantic warehouse full of machines, each one the size of a building itself, and each one full of countless rollers, latches, switches, clasps, belts and unnameable pieces and parts. These machines sort thousands of letters each minute. You can see them zipping by at a tremendous pace. If you thought a paper jam in your laser printer was annoying, imagine if one little letter in one of these machines jammed. They would have to call the professionals; no normal human would have a clue what to do!

All those little parts! I mean, someone must have designed the overall concept of the machine. And then engineers must have figured out how to build it. And then specialists must have specifically designed all the parts for it. And then manufacturers must have produced them--probably using other machines. Where does it end? Where does it begin?

Sometimes, when I drive through the city and look around, the sky scrapers, the bulldozers, the trains, I can't help but marvel at the ingenuity of the human race. We have accomplished so much. We have built so much. We have made things that our ancestors could not have been capable of imagining.

The scope of human imagination is astounding. And the ability to collaborate, and turn ideas into real things is a mysterious phenomenon to end-consumers like me. It would seem just as rational of an explanation (did I not already know some of the background) if I were told that it was all conjured by magic.

After all, what is the difference between technology we can't understand, and magic? We, for instance, discovered and harnessed radio waves: invisible forces that travel through the air at lightning speeds, completely undetected, transmitting voices and information to people far away. Our ancestors would find no other term satisfactory than "supernatural."

And magicians, who know well the secrets of their craft, probably find it quite hilarious that we call what they do magic!