Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Just so you know...

A successful recent alumnus from our department.

And a sample of his work:

More here.

Good stuff! But you already know that--if you are even remotely hip.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

One Page, Two Compartments

This is an extremely interesting interview with a Christian scientist, Don Page. I'm not sure that I can find anything in the lengthy interview with which I disagree, and for a contrarian such as I, that is not common.

Speaking of scientists who happen to be Christian, a thread on Ed Brayton's blog degenerated into the usual nonsense about "compartmentalization." It all started when one person stated flat-out:
And no, I am sorry, but I can not accept that one can be a "real" scientist AND be religious.
Others backed away, admitting that Christians could be good scientists, but they had to "compartmentalize." This is a description of a mental handicap, not shared by "real" scientists, that permits people of faith to be scientists from 9 to 5, and irrational beings other times, especially on Sunday.

But this is meaningless. No scientist is a scientist 24/7. Mr. Spock is a fictional character. I'm willing to bet that Richard Dawkins has had some irrational arguments with his spouse (If he has or had one. I don't know.) If not, then he would be the first married man in history to avoid succumbing to occasional matrimonial irrationality.

I made a challenge in the comments on Ed's post which I'll repeat here:

Challenge to the non-appeasers and non-framers, let the reader understand:
I'll give you ten abstracts (and links to the full papers) from published, peer-reviewed literature. Five from papers written by scientists I know to be believers, and five from scientists I know to be atheists. If you can't be a "real" scientist and religious, you should be able to tell me which papers are not "real" science. I'll take you at your word that you don't use Google to determine the answers. Want to try?
No one accepted the challenge. For good reason; you couldn't win without cheating.

Sometimes (and it was later in the comments) being a scientist and a Christian is described as cognitive dissonance. It's not. Cognitive dissonance is when I simultaneously hold two believes that I recognize as being in opposition or in tension. It is not holding to two beliefs that someone else thinks are in tension.

This argument will never end. It is strange, because there are many examples such as Don Page. They can't be dismissed, so "compartmentalization" is invented as to make some feel they won this argument, when in fact they have lost, and lost decisively. Given that it is demonstrably true that many people of faith produce first class science, those arguing about compartmentalization are arguing irrationally and are guilty of, you guessed it, compartmentalizing.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


I like my boards (please don't read that as "broads") the same way I like my coffee: black. That is, I prefer blackboards to whiteboards. I don't know for sure, but I reckon I'd rather have some chalk dust in my lungs that those nasty polymers used for dry erase makers.

My new office at the university appears to be one of the few that has not been upgraded from a blackboard to a whiteboard. They can do it when they pry the Crayola anti-dust chalk from my cold, dead fingers.

A win for the Gipper

Sorry for the lack of activity, but the semester is about to begin and I have all sorts of paperwork/preparations to complete. It turns out I won't teach Modern Physics, as earlier reported, but Introduction to Theoretical Physics, which is more commonly called "Mathematical Physics." Good stuff. Soon my notes will be on line, if anyone wants to audit.

Anyhoo--for those who haven't seen it yet, this article is wicked cool:

First Temple seal found in Jerusalem

Christians, for the most part, have grasped that we have nothing to fear from archeology. Now if they would only extend that logic to science. But with the YECs and ID, Inc. constantly telling us that science is part of a vast atheistic conspiracy, I fear "tilting at windmills" is the correct metaphor describing the small fraternity to which I belong.

Speaking of ID, Inc., they are sending conflicting signals regarding the movie Expelled. On the one hand, they promise that it will be history making. On the other, they are paying schools to organize field trips to see it.

It will see it, for sure. My expectations are very low--the American Christian Victimhood Syndrome is a disease I am trying to avoid.

Overheard at a meeting of the Persecuted Club in heaven, some time in the distant future:

Hello, my name is Stephen. I was stoned to death, and am the first Christian martyr.

Hello, I am a Sudanese Christian. I was hacked to death with machete for refusing to renounce my faith.

Hello, I am an American Christian. I was forced to move my website from a university server to a private server.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Oy Vey, I guess I am really, really old

It's a losing battle, but I try to stay hip. I have a facebook account. I absolutely love the "my bad" apology because of the humorous and in a strange way refreshingly honest manner it is used without even the pretense of an ounce of remorse. Oops I didn’t see your cat in the middle of the road. My bad. TTYL.

But I appear to have reached my limit. I cannot embrace the lolcat phenomenon. It's not cute. It's not clever. It's not funny. It's just plain dumb.