A fool hath said in his heart, 'God is not;' They have done corruptly, They have done abominable actions, There is not a doer of good. - Psalm 14:1

15 June 2009


On an otherwise quiet day buried within the next few decades a binary signal will arrive destined to change all major faiths. Not from another intelligent species - even assuming dozens of binary signals floating through our galaxy, the odds of intercepting one are slim, and unnecessary to the point. What we'll get is a signal from a human craft, perhaps an inter-planetary probe dug into the ice of Europa or Titan, sharing with us a discovery such as this one:

Tiny Frozen Microbe May Hold Clues To Extraterrestrial Life

ScienceDaily (June 15, 2009) — A novel bacterium -- trapped more than three kilometres under glacial ice in Greenland for over 120,000 years -- may hold clues as to what life forms might exist on other planets.

Dr Jennifer Loveland-Curtze and a team of scientists from Pennsylvania State University report finding the novel microbe, which they have called Herminiimonas glaciei, in the current issue of the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. The team showed great patience in coaxing the dormant microbe back to life; first incubating their samples at 2˚C for seven months and then at 5˚C for a further four and a half months, after which colonies of very small purple-brown bacteria were seen.

H. glaciei is small even by bacterial standards – it is 10 to 50 times smaller than E. coli. Its small size probably helped it to survive in the liquid veins among ice crystals and the thin liquid film on their surfaces. Small cell size is considered to be advantageous for more efficient nutrient uptake, protection against predators and occupation of micro-niches and it has been shown that ultramicrobacteria are dominant in many soil and marine environments.


Or we may get the answer from a next generation telescope.

Effective Way To Search Atmospheres Of Planets For Signs Of Life

ScienceDaily (June 12, 2009) — Astronomers using the Science and Technology Facilities Council's (STFC) William Herschel Telescope (WHT) on La Palma have confirmed an effective way to search the atmospheres of planets for signs of life, vastly improving our chances of finding alien life outside our solar system.

The team from the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC) used the WHT and the Nordic Optical Telescope (NOT) to gather information about the chemical composition of the Earth's atmosphere from sunlight that has passed through it. The research is published June11 in Nature.


I don't consider science as anathema to religion. A successful amalgamation can be built from both, but that doesn't mean the two are equals. Eventually science wins out because the gaps that god fills are erased through innovation and discovery. Finding life on another planet, the ultimate poster child for abiogenesis (which is anathema to religious faith), will mean Zero Hour for millions of holdouts. People who might have left religion years ago if not for the nagging (or wishful) feeling that something bigger must be responsible for the supposed complexity of life.

Make no mistake the day is coming. In a final irony it will be a moment of glory for godless heathens and one of spiritual pain for many of the faithful.

The Bible and Atheism

The Bible has a special place in my heart, and not just because I grew up with it. Yes I was once a Christian (now reformed), but also an Episcopalian, which Robin Williams once rightly called, "Christian Lite." I was never a literalist, which probably made the transition easier. I did (and still do) like the Bible as a work of fiction. It's a good story, for its time, written in two parts. The Old Testament is not so much a book as a Madman's Manifesto. This is what Theodore Kaczynski might have written had he been an omnipotent dude responsible for all creation. The New Testament is much better - both in writing quality and content - serving as an eons old prequel to the Left Behind series (but again, better quality and content). I also like twisting Bible quotes for personal use, but I digress...

I know atheists who have a "know thy enemy" take on scripture, but I'm more of a "know it because it's there" type of atheist. Whatever your personal feelings about Biblical influence, it is one of the the most influential books in Western philosophy. Ignoring the Bible because it is a largely amoral conglomeration of sadomasochistic, sexist, and bigoted commentary on human existence is essentially backwards. The book should be read precisely because of these factors.

So I read the Bible and I find the Internet is particularly useful in doing so. Not only can you find multiple translations of scripture, but they can be read in parallel with each other. I particularly like Biblos.com which provides these abilities along with numerous contextual sources.

In a final analysis the Bible taken as a whole actually serves as a microcosm of societal evolution. The various manuscripts (and later decisions over which to exclude) span a thousand years of verbal and written history. The difference in moral statements and implications of text between the earliest and final writings is profound and serves as proof that faith evolved in a positive direction even then, just as it does now, without most of us even realizing it.

World Wide Blog Graveyard

Choosing the name of a new blog isn't really a fun process. It's vitally important, but in a way sad, and if you recognize the implications, also very sobering. Just pick a name, plug it into Google with "blog" after it, and find yourself looking at the world wide blog graveyard. Long ignored (which in Blogland is the same as dead) blogs escaping to the edges of imagination whose most recent post averages 2 - 3 years old. So many people with things to say; so quickly ended in the rush of life and the exponential evolution of the Internet.

Which doesn't stop people from trying. On an absolute level I embrace the Web. I haven't mailed something through the USPS in a very long time, I don't visit a bank unless forced, and I am still somewhat aggravated I need to shop for groceries at a physical store. More social aspects I boycott. I don't Myspace and I won't Facebook even under penalty of death (I have my dignity, if nothing else). While I may have plenty to say, until now I've been content saying it on message boards or commenting on other blogs.

Unfortunately my favored politics-themed message board has jumped the digital shark, which brings me here. Still with much to say, but lacking the masochistic desire to "debate" with those who think adding pejoratives to the end of another person's name is a paragon of witty retort, I've broken down and opened a blog. Perhaps destined for that same graveyard, or with a little luck perhaps not, but somewhere to share my thoughts regardless.

So there it is. Get some coffee (it's never too early or too late for coffee) and let's begin.

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