About Rationally Speaking


Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Krista Tippett does it again

Readers of this blog know that I am not fond of Krista Tippett, the fuzzy thinking host of National Public Radio’s “Speaking of Faith” (it really ruins my early Sunday mornings). She and New York Times’ columnist Stanley Fish make for entertaining targets when I feel like venting at irrationality disguised as profundity. And now Tippett has done it again.
On her show she promoted her new book, Einstein’s God, and if the show is any indication, this new enterprise promises to be a fun fest for people inclined toward pseudo-metaphysics. I will give just a few examples of what I mean, taken both from Tippett’s own comments and from those of two of her guests, noted physicists (and Templeton prize winners) Paul Davies and Freeman Dyson. (Incidentally, why is it that so many physicists think they are qualified to talk about metaphysics? I mean, I don’t see a lot of metaphysicians sputtering nonsense about general relativity and the like.)
Here is a typical quote from Dyson: “Science is full of mysteries. Every time we discover something, we find two more questions to ask, and so that there's no end of mysteries in science. That's what it's all about. And the same's true of religion.” Really? The same is true of religion? And when, exactly, was the last time religion answered any question at all?
Again, Dyson: “These equations [general relativity’s] are quite miraculous in a certain way. I mean, the fact that nature talks mathematics, I find it miraculous. I mean, I spent my early days calculating very, very precisely how electrons ought to behave. Well, then somebody went into the laboratory and the electron knew the answer. The electron somehow knew it had to resonate at that frequency which I calculated.” Ok, first of all, nature doesn’t talk anything, mathematical or not. Mathematics is just a language we use to represent to ourselves certain facts about nature. Second, in what sense is mathematics “miraculous”? Is it the result of an intelligent designer who flouts the laws of nature? Because that’s the definition of miracle, you know. Lastly, the bit about electrons that ought to behave in a certain way, and knew how to behave is nonsense on stilts. Yes, of course Dyson is (presumably) talking metaphorically here. But that’s the point: why use these tendentious and absolutely unenlightening metaphors, especially within the context of a radio show called “Speaking of Faith”? Does it not occur to these people that they will be reinforcing fuzzy notions about science supporting the existence of god and similar nonsense?
Now, here is Tippett herself: “If Albert Einstein can be said to have had a spiritual side, this expressed itself in part in his love of music. He played the violin from a young age and was a passionate concertgoer. He attended the stunning debut in 1929 of the 13-year-old Yehudi Menuhin with the Berlin Philharmonic. Menuhin played as soloist in a daunting program of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms concertos. Einstein was so moved that, as one story goes, he rushed into the boy's room after the performance, he took him in his arms and exclaimed, ‘Now I know that there is a God in heaven!’” Oh for crying out loud! First of all, this isn’t even a first-person account by Einstein, it’s a “as one story goes” kind of thing. Second, even if it did happen that way, the man was probably just expressing his deep appreciation of a particular rendition of some of his favorite pieces of music. I guess we’ll all have to watch out every time we say “Oh God!” in response to something, or we may find ourselves on YouTube with a subtext of endorsing religious beliefs.
More fluff from Tippett: “From a religious perspective, there's something intriguing, though, in how these ideas of physics might seem to echo spiritual notions that you can find in Eastern and Western religious thought.” This is an argument that goes back to the (in)famous Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra. There seems to be a persistent wish to validate mystical or ancient thinking by way of modern science — which I suppose is a backhanded compliment to science itself. Another example is the idea that somehow the ancient Greeks “anticipated” atomic theory. No, they didn’t. They had the intuition that the world is, at bottom, made of one type of stuff. Whether that intuition is correct or not is still open to discussion, but in no way does it represents a “theory” or anything like what modern physics has put forth through a lot of sophisticated math and beautifully carried out experiments.
A similar problem underlies this bizarre statement by Paul Davies: “We know this [the Big Bang] is now 13.7 billion years ago. Einstein's theory of relativity says this was the origin of time. I mean, there's no time before it. And Augustine was onto this already in the fifth century because he was addressing the question that all small children like to ask, which is, ‘What was God doing before he created the universe?’” Are you serious? So Augustine gets credit for the theory of relativity because he asked the rather obvious (and totally unconnected to relativity) question of how god was spending his non-time there before time was created? (Wait, does that question even make sense?) As I said before, why do these people think they can get away with this sort of pop metaphysics just because they sport a PhD in physics?
And of course no fluffy discussion about the ultimate origins of the universe could possibly be complete without a mention of the anthropic principle. Here is Davies again: “For me the crucial thing is that the universe is not only beautiful and harmonious and ingeniously put together, it is also fit for life.” Ingeniously put together? By whom? And by what criterion of “ingenuity?” The universe seems more like an empty mess to me, with a lot (and I really mean a lot!) of stuff going on that has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the supposed pinnacle of creation, us. I find the anthropic principle not only philosophically untenable and scientifically silly, but an egregious example of the tendency of human beings to vastly overestimate their place in the cosmos.
One final gem from Davies, in direct response to a question by Tippett: “There are interstices having to do with quantum certainty into which, if you want, you could insert the hand of God. So, for example, if we think of a typical quantum process as being like the roll of a die — you know, ‘God does not play dice,’ Einstein said — well, it seems that, you know, God does play dice. Then the question is, you know, if God could load the quantum dice, this is one way of influencing what happens in the world, working through these quantum uncertainties.” First of all notice the totally vacuous and non committal “if you want to insert the hand of God.” Davies is saying nothing of substance, again. And, once more, we’ve got bad metaphysics emerging straight out of his fluff: so if god works through quantum mechanics, do we have Pseudo-Random Design of the universe? If he needs to tweak the laws of physics (which, presumably, he put in place to begin with), does that mean that he is not after all omnipotent? Or is he trying to hide from a super-god who doesn’t want him to mess around with creation? What, exactly, is Davies saying here?
More generally, what is this type of talk contributing to social, scientific, or philosophical discourse? My guess is: nothing at all.

73 comments:

  1. What most irks me about all this newage (rhymes with "sewage") abuse of physics is that friends and family keep trying to tell me all about it. My aunt is always saying, "Hey, you're so interested in science, why don't you read this book that's all about quantum physics?" Then she brings out something like The Dancing Wu Li Masters.

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  2. I have to disagree with you here, Massimo. I think that religion is very good at answering questions. Excellent, even. As Mencken said, afterall - For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

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  3. These tendency to distort science to make it compatible with the idea of a supernatural god has somewhat died down in the west when compared with the east. The situation is a lot worse in India, where I'm from, where there is a very powerful concerted effort to muddle the science. Quantum indeterminism in particular has a particularly notorious reputation for being abused by eastern mystics.

    I feel that such distortion of science can be even more dangerous than organized religions, especially as organized religions lose their grip over the population. A sort of new-age mysticism seems to be replacing the organized religions, and this form of mysticism seems to be getting more organized as it evolves.

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    Replies
    1. Honestly as bad as it is, I think its a step forward.

      Delete
    2. As bad as it seems, I think its a step forward.

      Delete
  4. Thank you, finally I see someone stating this important and true notion, that scientists are not necessarily experts on metaphysics. I always found it amazing to realise just how hard it is to actually convince people of that, I mean, it is as if it was common sense, people that spend their lives trying to understand how the physical world works must also be the highest authorities on metaphysics as well. It is one of the hardest things to convince someone that just because von Braun said something about his belief in god that is not a touchdown for theists. Thank you and excuse my english, I'm not a native speaker. (Or writer, =)

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  5. Nothing at all, indeed, if you refer to positive contributions. Ideally, I think, people would either believe, or disbelieve, and be silent. Very, very silent. But that will not happen, alas.

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  6. One issue that often goes unnoticed is the propensity of meta-physicians to engage in solipsisms. "Science is full of mysteries." It seems rather that science is full of methods, theories, test results, laws etc. and Universe is full of mysteries, facts and phenomena that we are trying to figure out using science and scientific methods.
    This kind of thinking which seems to be also apparent in the statements about mathematics and elsewhere in the quotes you offer, is like being dyslexic when it comes to critical thinking, (I had to look up the spelling) to which as handicaps go we might be otherwise sympathetic if it weren't for the arrogance and obvious overconfidence of the author. Or perhaps I'm just quibbling about syntax? Thank you for identifying this fluffy thinking.

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  7. I'm a little surprised at Davies. It' been years since I've read his books, but that isn't how I remember him.

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  8. Massimo,

    There is much I agree with in your critique. However, I dispute this statement: "Mathematics is just a language we use to represent to ourselves certain facts about nature."

    Mathematics is certainly more than that. It can indeed represent things and relationships found in nature, but it can represent so much more. Whole imaginary Universes can be constructed with math. Math differs from imagination, however, in that we don't really control it. I can imagine a realm in which I am king of everything; I cannot, however, make 2 + 2 = 5.* So, is mathematics part of nature? Perhaps. But if so, it clearly represents things beyond nature. Or perhaps it is something beyond nature that is represented by natural phenomena, such as certain brain states or equations on chalkboards. Sounds silly put like that, but it's my hunch that this is where the truth lies.

    Regards,



    Clay Farris Naff

    * Not if we play fair, at any rate. One could of course change the meaning of the symbols or otherwise manipulate meanings to achieve any result, but that would not affect mathematical "reality."

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  9. Good day professor.

    Why do you find

    Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance infamous?

    Thank you

    Roger

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  10. Clay,

    I did not mean to say that mathematics is *only* a tool for science, just like logic (of which mathematics is a branch) is more than that. But there ain't nothing miraculous about it...

    Roger,

    I consider the book to be fluff based on superficial and completely unconvincing "similarities" between modern physics and eastern mysticism.

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  11. I consider the book to be fluff based on superficial and completely unconvincing "similarities" between modern physics and eastern mysticism.

    Massimo,

    Do you feel this way about the entire genre, going back to the first examples in the seventies (The Tao of Physics, The Dancing Wu Li Masters, Stalking the Wild Pendulum), or have there been any you've felt had merit?

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  12. cipher,

    haven't read all of those books, so I'd rather not comment specifically. But I'd be stunned if there is anything truly insightful in the genre.

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    Replies
    1. Why do you have the caveat about the word 'intellectual'. It is a fairly clearly defined and understood word. Perhaps not well appreciated.

      So why are you so embarrassed by it ....are you a fluffy intellectual ( your rant on Krista Tippet leads me to believe that ...yes, you have issued of closed mind).

      I hope you are better now.
      Regards
      ->Lou

      Delete
    2. Perhaps you are never stunned because you do not open yourself to be stunned.

      Some people, perhaps many, focus on being closed; it is easier.

      Delete
  13. Massimo

    Personally I did not see any connection to
    modern physics nor to eastern mysticism. All I remember it covered was, epistemology, ethical emotivism and the philosophy of science ; no hard science at all.

    For me, it has been a very good introduction
    into the realms of value and quality.


    Perhaps you simply did not like the way Pirsig discoursed. No?


    regards
    Roger

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  14. "Science is full of mysteries" reminded me of this quote:

    “The universe possesses, in its essence, fractal properties of a very complex sort and the pursuit of science shares these properties. It follows then that any part of the universe that remains un-understood, and any part of scientific investigation that remains unresolved, however small that might be in comparison to what is understood and resolved, contains within it all the complexity of the original.”
    I. Asimov

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  15. I think the goal of these wishy-washies is to chop the pill of an impersonal universe in half for religious people who have trouble swallowing it. As Pigliucci points out, they're usually not even saying there's evidence for a god, just that there's room for him if we're really determined to keep him on board.
    Unfortunately, most people who respond to these messages aren't willing to take that pill anyway; they're just quote-mining, tonguing to rationalize not swallowing.

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  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  17. Davies and Dyson both have a predilection for Platonism which I find disturbing. I was delighted with your comment "Mathematics is just a language", in fact, it is the simplest of languages (wherein lies its virtue" , a subject on which I intend someday to expound upon at length.

    I would, however defend, to some extent, their involvement in such discussions and some minor concessions to the silliness of religious beliefs.

    Why? Because those who are not fully committed to religions are, in my view, more likely to be attracted to the sciences (and perhaps eventually reason their way out of these beliefs) if they do not perceive just an alternative dogma.

    In writing my recent book "Unusual Perspectives" I have made such provisions for the same reason.
    Although I personally consider these superstitions nonsensical, one needs to try to make the subject matter somewhat palatable for those who do hold such views.
    And, let's face it, that's most of our species!
    The electronic edition of "Unusual Perspectives" can be freely downloaded from the eponymous website

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  18. My aunt had picked me up from the airport a few years ago and noticed I was reading a book about string theory(The Elegant Universe, Brian Greene). She proceeded to tell me that she's actually an expert on the topic. During a very uncomfortable ride home, she proceeded to tell me how she's healed people by 'untangling' the energy lines that run through their body.

    It seems there will always be a portion of the population that misunderstands science. To properly understand any given topic you have to be a student of it. I think there will always be unstudied people in a society where each individual specializes. Maybe some genetic tinkerers will find and nullify the 'gullibility' gene. 8P

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  19. "Is it the result of an intelligent designer who flaunts the laws of nature? Because that’s the definition of miracle, you know."

    No it isn't. *Flouting* the laws of nature is what a miracle-working intelligent designer would do. Flaunting the laws of nature is what every writer of popular science books does.

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  20. Thanks for the correction, I will flog my editor...

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  21. Just discovered your blog and the first post on Tippet. She's annoyed me to no end since I first stumbled upon her radio show.

    Nice to know I'm in good company.

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  22. Professor Pigliucci,

    If Mathematics is not miraculous then what is.. In this universe where every rule has its boundary, every theory some debatable areas, I find existence of Mathematics (Godel's theorem not withstanding) a miracle.

    Liked your blog cause it raised new questions in my mind.

    Regards

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  23. Massimo,

    I tend to agree with Roger Gravel. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance did not make any claims regarding hard science that I could remember. Roger's characterization sounds right to me. Were there any passages in particular that bothered you?

    Chintan Tyagi,

    First of all, I think saying that mathematics "exist" is stretching the meaning of the word "exist."

    Secondly, I think you should note the difference between the following notions:
    A) physical phenomena obey mathematical rules
    B)human beings discover mathematical relationships between various physical phenomena.

    This is a very important distinction, and while I can't rule out the possibility of (A), I can point out that we as human beings can only ever be sure of (B). It may very well be that the operation of the human mind REQUIRES physical phenomena to exhibit mathematical regularities for us to be able to think about them. In that case, it is no surprise that we find mathematical relationships everywhere we look -- we would only be able to look at phenomena that exhibit such relationships!

    Again, not maintaining the truth of such a perspective. Just noting that it's possible and perhaps even likely. We simply can't conclude that the convenient coincidence of the mathematical regularity of empirical data is a miracle rather than an artifact of the sorts of measurements we can make.

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  24. Thanks Professor.

    Agree with what you say and your perspective but it raises another question - there are non-physical phenomenon which we are able to "observe" and these don't follow mathematical rules. Which rules do they follow.. I know not a part of this discussion.

    Regards

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  25. If something seems "miraculous" to us, chances are it's because we're stupid, not because there was an "actual" "miracle."

    I'm sure this computer would seem miraculous to the likes of Jesus H. Christ.

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  26. Massimo,

    I agree with your post but also note that Roger is correct about Pirsig's book. It has virtually no content on physics or zen in it. Mostly Plato and the challenging problem of determining what is "good" as I recall. Lots of content on the connection between science and non-science united by the pursuit of "quality". More on Taoism than Zen, really. The title is very misleading. It's a lovely book.

    Despite your frequent defense of science from irrationality I expect you appreciate high quality art and craft as much as you appreciate high quality science. This is what Pirsig was getting at. The pursuit of quality.

    He was very rational and although he uses metaphor (as Einstein did about 'god') he advocated no mysticism or supernaturalism.

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  27. "
    Again, Dyson: “These equations [general relativity’s] are quite miraculous in a certain way. I mean, the fact that nature talks mathematics, I find it miraculous. I mean, I spent my early days calculating very, very precisely how electrons ought to behave. Well, then somebody went into the laboratory and the electron knew the answer. The electron somehow knew it had to resonate at that frequency which I calculated.”"

    If the Universe is so mathematically miraculous, how come we need to use fractions and decimal points to describe it? Wouldn't a Universe described by perfect symmetries of integers be be more indicative of a miracle?

    The fact that we need to use ugly complicated equations to describe the Universe is a powerful argument that it was NOT designed by any omnipotent entity; rather it is difficult to describe mathematically because it is the result of a certain amount of randomness and non linearity.

    What IS miraculous is how religious apologists manage to infer a designer regardless of all evidence to the contrary.

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  28. Ah yes, sloppy or trite metaphors being used to promote/mask bad science and/or religion... I wrote about an aspect of this issue here:

    “Keeping an Open Mind is a Virtue, but not so Open that Your Brains Fall Out.”

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  29. What's worse is that there are actually people who do work in the area of science-oriented metaphysics who actually do the job right and don't go too off the deep end - M. Bunge and D. Armstrong, to name two. Bunge even calls the remarks of Davies, etc. of this kind to be those of "scientists on holiday", a genre which dates to at least Mach, he has argued.

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  30. Congratulations Massimo: my two pet peeves in one short piece - the anthropic principle and quantum indeterminacy. First: life developed on planet earth as a RESULT of environmental conditions and has adapted to those environmental conditions. The planet was not "designed for life". Second: quantum indeterminacy is at the subatomic level and applies to individual particles. It is true that we don't know what an individual electron will do but it is certainly true that when we switch on the TV set (absent some functional problem) we know very well what the aggregate of electrons will do. If indeterminacy were as some people like to describe it, an opportunity for dog to manipulate the physical universe, then none of our machines and gadgets would ever work reliably and when they failed we would never know why. This isn't actually what happens.

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  31. Massimo,

    Regarding Pirsig's book you wrote: "I consider the book to be fluff based on superficial and completely unconvincing "similarities" between modern physics and eastern mysticism."

    Which tells me you haven't read it or you've confused it with some other book. If you haven't read it I recommend it - the wikipedia entry indicates it is "the most widely read philosophy book ever" so you might want to be more familiar with what "the people" are learning.

    In fact, I'd love to read a post of yours in which you review the book! (knowing in advance that we'll disagree on its quality)

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  32. Damn it! You guys are right, I was thinking of The Tao of Physics! I corrected the entry accordingly, thanks.

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  33. Thank you for the correction Pr. P.


    rg

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  34. The Anthropic Principle:

    http://knol.google.com/k/the-anthropic-principle#

    IOW... I'm not going to bother to correct Massimo again.

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  35. No correction need, it is still bullshit. "A reaction against conscious and subconscious anticentrist dogma"? Please.

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  36. Tell it to Brandon Carter, or can't you read?

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  37. Actually, Massimo, it's quite obvious that Carter was talking about you.

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  38. I can read, and I stand by my initial assessment.

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  39. Whoops, I thought that I was being censored beyond my first post, (which is quite common for this subject), or I wouldn't have been so disrespectful.

    I apologize for that.

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  40. No problem, I have to moderate comments because there is a nutcase who has made death threats against me and who occasionally spams the site.

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  41. I just want to say:

    I've studied this subject in great depth, which...

    A) Gives me a decided advantage over most everyone including most physicists, because they NEVER do this, for the reasons that Carter gave.

    B) If you heed Carter's point, then you will find that the physics is implicating a biocentric cosmological principle, or a life-oriented dynamical structure principle, but that is not limited to humans, nor even Earth.

    C) There is no weak interpretation without a hypothetical multiverse, (and that is a selection effect, not a physics principle), since there is no other apparent cosmological principle that explains why we are just a consequence of otherwise highly pointed physics.

    D) But none of this implicates an ID without an unfounded leap of faith beyond the natural expectation for a physics principle that resolves the persistently confounding problem of the flat yet expanding universe... from first principles.

    So even a strong interpretation is purely scientific as long as you don't make crazy leaps of faith to assume that the "appearance of design" isn't defining a scientific principle.

    "The appearance of design is undeniable"
    -Leonard Susskind

    Again, I'm sorry for my previous statements.

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  42. cipher,

    yup, serious. The guy has also threatened PZ Myers, among others.

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  43. Jesus! I can understand why an unbalanced person would go after PZ - he teaches evolution, he goes out of his way to push their buttons (viz., the cracker incident) - but who threatens a philosopher? What'd you do - break his syllogism?

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  44. Well, as Nietzsche put it: “[a philosopher is] a terrible explosive 
from which nothing is safe”...

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  45. “[a philosopher is] a terrible explosive 
from which nothing is safe”...

    Heh!

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  46. Do Paul Zachary "PZ" Myers and you, Pr. Pigliucci, know who is posting the « death threats » ?

    Can we do something about it ?

    Roger

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  47. Cipher,

    There's a long and dishonourable tradition of killing philosophers for thinking in public. Socrates was but the first we know of to have his syllogisms cut short.

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  48. Yes, we know who he is, he is based in Montreal, and both the Minneapolis and New York police have alerted the Canadian authorities.

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  49. Socrates was but the first we know of to have his syllogisms cut short.

    That's right; I forgot about Socrates. (But he wasn't killed by Christian fanatics!)

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  50. “[a philosopher is] a terrible explosive 
from which nothing is safe”.
    Or, a terrible philosopher is safe from anything explosive.

    Misrepresenting what Davies actually believes or proposes by taking what he allegedly said out of the context in which he allegedly said it is at best ingenuous. Far from ingenious on your part.

    "It then follows that the laws of physics,
    cast as idealized infinitely precise mathematical relationships inhabiting a Platonic heaven, are
    also a fiction when it comes to applications to the real universe." P.C.W. Davies
    From: http://arxiv.org/ftp/quant-ph/papers/0703/0703041.pdf

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  51. As to whacking philosophers of whatever stripe, consider the following test of your "metal."

    Madalyn Murray O'Hair (April 13, 1919 – September 29, 1995)
    Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968)
    Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948)

    If you were in a room with these three and you had a gun with only two bullets, who (assuming you had to) would you shoot?

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  52. Does it mean that he can see all our posts on this blog and that we cannot even see his ( or his profile ) because you moderate ( and occult ) his presence completely ?

    As a libertarian I would very much like to be able to see who this « criminal » is.

    Regards,

    Roger

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  53. This is not a choice.

    Really. You ought to shoot yourself first and let them three decide who will live.




    Do unto yourself what you would do unto others.


    Roger

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  54. yeah, I delete his rants. His acronym is DM, also known as The Mask of Nostradamus, or Dave Mabus.

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  55. Oh, Dave Mabus! Also goes by the name of Dennis Markuze. Yeah, he's a lunatic. Stark, raving mad.

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  56. Roger, spoken like a true Libertarian, shooting yourself at least in the foot. Who do you think will then do your assigned job for you unless it's Madalyne? The point being that the other two were religious advocates for peace, both assassinated in the real world. Honored ironically by secular humanist atheists (of which I'm one) all over that world (if not by Libertarians).
    Among the foremost contributors to [Massimo's} social discourse in spite of their superstitions.

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  57. Artie,

    I knew who the three stooges were in the room. My point is that Libertarians and Hmanists do not shoot people. I also think that a Libertarian does not accept to be given such a menial task.

    Respectfully submitted,
    Roger
    Do unto yourself what you would do unto others.

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  58. "Do unto yourself what you would do unto others."
    Libertarian mental masturbation?

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  59. Is this what you want to do Artie ?

    Respectfully submitted.

    Roger

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  60. Anyone who's two favorite targets are Stanley Fish and Krista Tippet is a person who's blog is worth paying attention to. Stanley Fish was the subject of my column in the Idaho State Journal this week, a copy of which may be found online at:http://isuvoice.com/?p=2067101425

    Best Regards,

    Martin Hackworth

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  61. I am listening to Krista Tippet right now and cringing. How can NPR put this crap on? Even the sound of her laughter and grunts of acknowlegment give me the creeps. I get the feeling that half the time she's listening for familiar sounding spiritual phrases and not really listening or responding to the actual words being said. Sorry, had to spill. I guess I tune in to sharpen my intellect and at the same time to get a whiff of a warm upstate sunroom with chimes hanging in the doorway.

    Naomi

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  62. I just viewed "In the Room with the Thupten Jinpa", with Krista Tippet. Three things stroke me: 1. Her fuzzy logic (maybe because I am myself falling often in this pit, but I am not taking interviews to wise scholars). 2. Her flirting voice inflexions and body language confused me totally: the person presented was a married (former Buddhist monk), well articulate and holding well his noodles despite her strange approach. 3. She tried very hard, in my opinion, to appear smarter than she is. At the time I had seen this interview I did not know that spirituality and wisdom is her daily job. I felt sorry for Thupten Jinpa, who is the official translator of Dalai Lama, and managed to tell interesting things during the interview.
    Chris

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  63. Oh Come on... me things this report is akin to a "tempest in a tea-cup". I'm a software engineer for NASA's SOFIA mission, science is my career. I along with many of my colleagues are fans of Tippet. She brings to science a nuance of art and vice versa.. and yes the 'twain *do* meet.

    Grow up guys.. find another vocation. ;)

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    Replies
    1. Do you feel the same way about "Through the Wormhole" and "How the Universe Works" both TV shows narrated by Morgan Freeman?

      Delete
    2. Francis Collins who directed the Human Genome Project is deeply religious and a brilliant scientist who believes G-d is a real, albeit indefinable power that certainly is too complex to have a gender and a beard which he finds silly.

      Delete
  64. Nothing exists outside of that consciousness we call "God"...

    There is only the eternal present moment...

    The Universe is the material representation of what we call "God"

    "God" is all around you...just look around look up...don't look down in some stupid book, "God" didn't write a book, "God" wrote the Universe...

    The Universe is a "Life Factory", that is it's purpose function it is perfect..

    If the expansion rate of the Universe were even a few seconds faster it would fall apart...

    The Big Bang so to speak was an act of will by that consciousness we call "God"...

    There is no need to worship, no need for religion...simply commune with what is...

    What is, is what is...

    Everything is Energy as Einstein said...only that consciousness we call "God" maintains the material world or universe as an illusion...

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  65. Krista Tippett may not know what she is talking about, but she has a reverence for creation which she finds strongly suggestive of God. Sure! That proves nothing to me eithe, but what do I know? For that matter, what makes you so sure?
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    Einstein may have been on surer ground with Physics, but he had a belief in God or at so he thought. You would not find his concept of God at a fundamentalist church, but he at least believed in a creator of the universe and its physical laws. He believed the creator was also aware of His own existence. We will never know his beliefs in detail, unless he wrote them down and left them behind. Check with a reference librarian at a major library. Examples, Library of Congress, NY City Public Library Main Branch, or Widener Library at Harvard.

    Freeman Dyson's concept of God is unlikely the CofE's, but possibly along the same lines as Einstein's. Dyson is still alive. If you adopted a different tone, you might write him and ask.

    You may consign Tippett to the category of profound-sounding bone heads, but not Dyson.

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