Monthly Archives: December 2012

Jerry Coyne on the Odd Couple: Why Science and Religion Shouldn’t Cohabit

Yesterday I watched this lecture by Prof. Jerry Coyne (he has a popular blog on wordpress as well – see and subscribe, if you haven’t already,- whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com). He is a biologist by profession and an atheist by heart. Or perhaps is it the other way around? Be it as it may, in this public lecture you will hear about how some religious crackheads and spiritual symphatysants rationalize, market and sell their nonsense as being in accord with the truth-seeking, problem-solving and ever-evolving scientific enterprise.  Jerry vividly examines whether the choir of the religious cats really sings in unison with the wizards of the lab and other craftsmen of the rational jazz. His conclusion is a definite NO. The religious cats sing an entirely different tune and use a peculiar set of musical notes, which no one but themselves can decipher and understand. Perhaps a tune for the hearts, but definitely not for the minds of the listeners. These cats play guitars with no strings, pianos with no keyboards and rock the cross as a saxophone. They even play tennis without a racket and basketball without a ball. In the words of Jerry: “Theology is the biggest waste of time in the history of human intellect. (I’m talking about academic thought here; if you count “all thought”, then replace “theology” with “religion.”) It makes no progress (except to discard the tenets that science disproves) and reaches no conclusions about either the existence or nature of gods.” Continue reading

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First class entertainment: Mormons Reloaded

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My secret prayers have been answered. Again. A while ago I was contacted via phone by my Mormon acquaintances from the other day. They had my phone-number from our first meeting, which, if you still remember, happened more than two months ago (see one of my first posts). So we started talking. The polite brother invited me to visit his sect. “Hell, yeah. No need to ask me twice.”, I thought to myself. “Free of charge Entertainment with religious fanatics. Could there be anything better than that? No way, No How! That was exactly what I wanted.” So we made a date. As you know (and if you don’t, you should), I am quite open-minded towards religious and other weird folks. In fact, in a strange, bizarre and somewhat perverse way I find them very entertaining , even funny to an extent (unfortunately they rarely realize it for themselves). The very thought of speaking with someone who knows the Truth with a capital T behind the curtains – like how the world really works, what is the real purpose in life, or how to live, to be merry and happy etc.- increases my oxytocin levels way beyond normal. So, I had high hopes and I was looking forward to the great circus ahead. And, if I may run a little ahead of the story, I was not disappointed. Far from that. I had a great time and I enjoyed a truly magnificent show, in which I played the pivotal role. First class entertainment. What’s even better, it didn’t cost me a penny. The show was free for grabs. I seized and relished the moment. But let’s not get carried away. Back to the nitty gritties.  Continue reading

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A Pathetic loser: enter Steven Pinker!

StevenPinker

I’ve been reading Steven Pinker’s “How the Mind Works”. On the page 53 I found this quote that strung a note in my system. I would like to share this gem with you all:

Well into my procreating years I am, so far, voluntarily childless, having squandered my biological resources reading and writing, doing research, helping out friends and students, and jogging in circles, ignoring the solemn imperative to spread my genes. By Darwininan standards I am a horrible mistake, a pathetic loser, not one iota less than if I were a card-carrying member of Queer Nation. But I am happy to be that way, and if my genes don’t like it, they can go jump in the lake.

So, there it is. The long awaited formula of success. If you want to follow the example of Prof. Pinker and join his weird tribe of pathetic losers, brush up your reading habits and write a bulky book or two of at least 500 plus pages (the more, the better!). Here are a few tips for the possible book titles you should consider (inspired by Prof. Pinker’s dazzling hairstyle) – “The Worst Demons of Our Color: Why Harmony Prevails”, “Ether of quirks: An Insight into the Clouds”, “The Silent Anarchy: The Ingredients of an Intelectual Soup”, “The Instinct of Balderdash: How Yellow Bananas Secretly Laugh Behind Our Backs”, “Ignorance and substance: The destruction of a fellow academic”, “The Invisible Hallucination: How the Ghost of Noam Chomsky Speaks in Grammatically Correct and Complete Sentences”, “The Naked Charisma: Mirorr Training 101”.
Once you have written a couple of those bestsellers and have earned a fair share of global attention and received a majuscule bounty for your efforts at practicing loserdom, you are encouraged to further rely on Prof. Pinker’s witty advice. Having deep pockets stuffed with intellectual brilliance and rocking a mountain of hair which has actually become an extension of your brain, may not be enough to secure the low Darwinian rating you so strive for. Therefore, remember to run amok once in a while and jog in circles as these kinetic activities perhaps contain the missing link and the last peace of the puzzle you have been searching for. Finally, to fortify your success, you may want to join the Queer Nation and wear a t-shirt with a frontal inscription carved in golden letters: “We’re here. We’re queer. Get used to it.”
If, for some odd reason, this expert advice falls on thorny ground, there always remains a refreshing and, might I add, tempting option of jumping in the lake or a bubble bath, if this makes any difference. The path of escape from the dryness runs through water. Who would have thought!

P.S. I hope I am not offending anyone with this post and especially not the magnificent bush on Steven Pinker’s scalp.

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The decision

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I’ve been on a hiatus from writing. But I have prepared a ready made rationalization for you, my dear reader. I’ve been busy with mind-numbing and intellectually-crippling academic rites de passage. And it’s not getting pretty any time soon. I have still plenty of work left to do before I get accepted into the next stage of this bizarre initiation ceremony. Indeed, that would be true, if only this beautiful day had not come about. For today is the big day in my short lifespan on this dusty rock. I have made a choice, which still awaits its potential celebration and its final culmination. But I have a good gut feeling about it, and as you know, in life (concerning questions existentielles), it is not the dry logical arguments or sophisticated rhetoric but your gut that matters. I don’t know exactly what will happen next and where this choice leads me, but from now on I will walk comfortably in my shoes. I will play the hand I received, even if it lacks the quality of aces and kings. In the game of life where the rules are negotiated “on the spot” and the trumps are largely unknown, only a joker can succeed. I believe it was the great lawmaker Solon who has been quoted by Herodotus as saying: “But mark this: until he is dead, keep the word “happy” in reserve. Till then, he is not happy, but only lucky… No one while he lives is happy.”

Perhaps a little too pessimistic in this age of endless optimism and pursuit of happiness, is it not?

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