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Make it stop! 21 May 2009

Posted by splait in Uncategorized.

Here’s one to make your head explode.

Last post, I talked about science and religion. That will probably be a recurring theme here, so I might as well start recurring right now.

Another pet theory of mine, never to be proven by me, takes aim at the people who firmly believe that the universe is only about 6,000 years old, even with strong proof available that it is around 14 billion years old.

Going back to the supposition that there exists (or existed) some supreme being that created everything, couldn’t she/he/it have created everything we know about .00001 ms (milliseconds) ago, with all of our memories intact? With all of the “proof” that the universe is 14 billion years old already in place? All of our history created with no blip in how we view everything.

Why not? And if not, how can you prove it either way?

And why does it matter? Does it really make any difference?

However and whenever we got here, I get my fun out of seeing the discoveries that scientists can make about the glory of the universe and all the neat stuff they imagine about without much proof.

(Have we explored the depths of pi enough? Maybe Sagan was right and there are messages in the fabric of our universe there for us to find and understand. Read the book, don’t just see the movie. I refer, of course, to Contact. What a great and curious mind that man had!)

The search for knowledge, as far as I’m concerned, is Humanity’s purpose. We are close to creating major replacement parts for the human body, understanding how some of our most vile diseases work (and, thereby being able to create ways to combat them effectively), and maybe even slamming protons together to see how the universe was created!

We can look back to a time close to our universe’s beginning and see how everything (EVERYTHING!) evolved by using the Hubble telescope (in space, for Crickey’s sake!) to look out into time. (Thank you, STS-125 crew, for the great job!)

Maybe it’s all just a figment of my imagination. Everything. Even you! Do YOU really exist, or have I created you in my mind in order to not go stir crazy?

Does it really matter?


Wherein another comment gets its own post 21 May 2009

Posted by splait in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far

So, from my last post, I got a reply that engendered a long response. So, as I have done once before (in my previous blog), I will reprint the comment here, then my response.

    Helioprogenus wrote:

“When you said “also, I believe in spirituality,” I thought how can Phil Plait’s brother be spiritual. Then I remembered that my siblings are not atheists like myself, and I suppose can self referentially identify as spiritual. It’s funny how you can catch yourself reacting hypocritically before actually reasoning through a subject. Part of that I suppose is human nature, and our subsequent reactionary responses.”

    My response is:

An interesting observation.

Another – even an atheist can be spiritual. Spirituality, although the root of the word is “spirit”, is a way of being, and doesn’t necessarily mean that the person believes in God or spirits. It can be just about being at peace with myself and loving and or appreciating nature (not “Mother nature”).

And that is not to say that I do or do not believe in God or spirits. Nor am I saying I am an atheist.

I certainly do not believe that organized religion is good for anyone (in general). I heard a minister Sunday morning saying to his “flock” that evolution is the work of the Devil. Actually, I believe he said “Satan”.


I get real tired of people who purport to be religious leaders preaching hate.

I have many ideas on the subject of God, but here’s the main one – whether or not I believe in a holy being, isn’t it possible that religion and science can and do work together?

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that there is a creator of the universe. Isn’t it possible, if the creator is (from our standpoint) all powerful and omniscient, that s/he/it (I am not Southern, so don’t read it out loud – it means what it looks like, not how it sounds) created the rules of the universe, maybe so that humans would have a purpose and a way to explore our own curiosity? Maybe our job is to figure it all out, and the ultimate rules are so well hidden that it will take us until we are a mature species to determine what “God” hath wrought.

Then again, maybe not.

But why does it all have to divide us?

Arthur C. Clarke, a great writer and lover of science, wrote, “The Nine Billion Names of God”, wherein a pair of computer techs are sent to a country abroad (from the US) to maintain the computer a religious people are using to calculate all the names of God. They believe that that is Humanity’s purpose, and they use a special alphabet to generate the names.

I will not spoil the ending of this wonderful story (it’s short) by giving the ending, but I certainly don’t know our purpose, and I suspect none of us do. There are shaman out there in all religions who say they know, but I have serious doubts about all of them.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the root of the word “sham” comes from “shaman”. (Actually, it’s probably the other way around.)

Anyway, I am a strong proponent of all of us getting along. My online nom de plume is “The Barber of Civility”, and I’ll shave the heads of all who don’t believe as I do! (No, wait, that’s not right.)

And yeah, I find myself thinking non-critically sometimes, reacting to some hidden prejudice, but thank the Mighty Flying Spaghetti Monster (and here, too!) that I usually catch myself before saying anything too foolish.

What up, dog! 9 May 2009

Posted by splait in Uncategorized.

An Elephant in My Pajamas.  An unusual domain name.  Outside A Dog.  An unusual name for most anything.

One of my heroes, Groucho Marx, had an unusual (but wonderful) take on life and language.  He said, “I once shot an elephant in my pajamas – – how he got in my pajamas I’ll never know!”  He also said, “Outside a dog, a book is a man’s best friend.  Inside a dog, it’s too hard to read.”

So, now you know.

I wanted the domain to be “outsideadog”, but someone grabbed it first, so I used that for my blog title.  It reflects my view on many things, including the American English language.  So, this blog will be about many things.  Whatever things I feel like writing about.

I invite comments.  I know I’m not the only one on this marble who sees things from a skewed point of view.  So feel free to agree, disagree, provide feedback (positive or negative), or to just plain lambast whatever I have to say here.  I won’t edit your comments unless they are mean-spirited, libelous, or crude, and I reserve the right to not publish your comments at all, if I feel they add nothing to the discussion.

I write here to invoke intelligent discussion on whatever topics I choose.  Assuming other people read this, please feel free to join the conversation.  I want to experience as many people’s thoughts as I can.  Tell me if you think I am out to lunch on something I said, but also tell me why you think that.  Give me meat to chew on, to ponder.

I am a proponent of critical thinking, well-written music and books, movies that make me think (and some that don’t), intelligent science-fiction, good food (the definition of which is very broad for me, while the definition of bad food is easy to articulate), science (especially astronomy), using the English language properly and communicating well, a living Earth that we treat with reverence, and leading lives with as much integrity and humility as our humanity allows.  However, I also believe in spirituality and eating red meat, so there are contradictions.  They are what makes life so interesting.

I hope (but do not promise) that you find these pages fun, humorous, intelligently written, and interesting.

I look forward to reading what you have to say.

Oh, yeah. If some of my references (like the name of this post – it’s not what you might think) are not easily understood, just ask about them.  My sense of humor is (obviously) mine, but that doesn’t always translate as something to which others can relate.  I don’t mind, and I won’t think you’re dense.