Monthly Archives: September 2011

The World As Einstein Saw It

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. He who knows it not and can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. It was the experience of mystery — even if mixed with fear — that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which are only accessible to our reason in their most elementary forms — it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man.

I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the type of which we are conscious in ourselves. An individual who should survive his physical death is also beyond my comprehension, nor do I wish it otherwise; such notions are for the fears or absurd egoism of feeble souls. Enough for me the mystery of the eternity of life, and the inkling of the marvelous structure of reality, together with the single-hearted endeavour to comprehend a portion, be it never so tiny, of the reason that manifests itself in nature.

-Albert Einstein, from The World As I See It

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To All UChicago Students: Jesus is Alive

There’s a very peculiar man on the UChicago campus nowadays, holding up signs of controversial Christian messages. I approached him today with camera and notebook ready, and asked him a few questions.

First, it was apparent that his English was suffering quite a bit, as he was quite eager to ask me to proofread his signs to make sure they were grammatically correct. In fact, they all looked okay, and I soon found out that he was from Germany. My desperate attempt to speak German failed spectacularly, but he switched over to some phrases in Mandarin Chinese after finding out I was indeed Chinese and not Korean. With his barely comprehensible Chinese, he spoke in such an accented way that I had to pause to figure out what he was saying. At one point, he asked me “do you know Jesus?” in Mandarin Chinese, after which I responded “I’ve heard of such a person…” in Chinese, but I don’t think he quite understood. He promised me that a couple years from now, he would be traveling to China and Hong Kong spreading the good news.

In any case, his central message, of course, is that he himself is “completely sure” that “Jesus is alive”. He is quite disappointed that approximately 90% of people who worship on Sunday stop worshiping on other days, and this rejection of Jesus in their everyday lives leads to disastrous consequences.

When I asked him about the deeper philosophical meaning of his signs, he simply noted that homosexuality is not natural and, in the Old Testament, God killed homosexuals. I asked him whether he thought homosexuality could be “cured,” but he didn’t understand what the word “cured” meant. I emphasized that one goes to the doctor to cure an illness, and he nodded, exclaiming, “Yes, Jesus is a doctor… Jesus is a doctor…”

We welcome this German guest to our beautiful campus. Though his message was hateful and ignorant, it never hurts to reach out a hand.

Particles Traveling Faster Than the Speed of Light Measured at CERN

The scientists at CERN have discovered a rather peculiar anomaly in one of their experimental results.

The physics world is abuzz with news that a group of European physicists plans to announce Friday that it has clocked a burst of subatomic particles known as neutrinos breaking the cosmic speed limit — the speed of light — that was set by Albert Einstein in 1905.

If true, it is a result that would change the world. But that “if” is enormous.

It’s a very mind-boggling result, and it shows that science, rather than religion, continues to be the pioneer in bringing up (and hopefully answering) questions about our universe and our very existence. I’ve always been annoyed at people who ask me, “so if you don’t believe in God, how do you think everything came into existence?” It’s a very silly question because religious people know no more than atheists (but yet they pretend to know that everything poofed into existence from an undetectable supernatural entity whose origins are never explained).

The complete and total superiority of secular, scientific methods of knowing are shown once again. Let’s congratulate the scientists at CERN for actually doing the hard work of figuring out the deep mysteries of the universe, rather than arguing about books written in a desert.

Two Different Histories of Mankind

Watch the following two summaries of human history. Which one is more likely to be true? Which one do you want to be true? Which one is more inspirational?

 

Teen Dies of Suicide at 14

Jamey Rodemeyer’s parents believe years of bullying drove their son to suicide. The Williamsville North freshman took his life Sunday, he was only 14 years old.

He was one of thousands of netizens who made a It Gets Better video, posted below.

People would constantly send me hate, telling me that gay people go to hell…

That’s all you have to do. Just love yourself and you’re set. And I promise you, it’ll get better.

We never knew him, but one can tell that he was a very nice person who had all his life still ahead of him. I sincerely hope that when he couldn’t take it anymore and decided to end his life, he didn’t believe that Hell was actually a real place… I hope he left us in peace.

We’re All Dreamers

It couldn’t have been too long ago when Liel Kolet and Bill Clinton, along with 40 Jewish and 40 Arab children, sang “Imagine” together on stage.

I love this because they didn’t make the abusive mistake of labeling children a certain religion (i.e. Muslim) but instead described their ethnicity (“Jewish” refers not to the religion, I assume).

I also love it because secularism and a respect for all people is the only way we can survive on this earth. Secularism is humankind’s last hope for a world society that will in actuality and practice live on this earth in peace.

Indeed, let’s imagine there’s no religion. No promises from deities. No divine interventions in the Middle East real estate market. No chosen peoples, no covenants with gods. No prophets and revelations. Only us. Only here. Only tomorrow.

A Musical Journey Into The Quantum World

Flight 93

George W. Bush spoke today at the United 93 site in Pennsylvania.

At the memorial we dedicate today will ensure our nation always remembers those lost here on 9/11. But we have a duty beyond memory. We have a duty beyond honoring. We have a duty to live our lives in a way that upholds the ideals for which the men and women gave their lives, to build a living memorial to their courage and sacrifice. We have a duty to find common purpose as a nation.

Over a century ago, it was also in Pennsylvania that an American president honored those who died.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

-Abraham Lincoln

Advice From A Republican

Jon Huntsman, former ambassador to China and former governor of Utah, is running for the Republican presidential nomination. He had this to say in a debate against his fellow Republicans.

…when you call to question evolution, all I’m saying is that in order for the Republican Party to win, we can’t run from science.

Of course, it wasn’t met with applause or anything, but he hits the nail right on the head. The world is quickly changing, and people are learning more and more about science. People who want to be taken seriously can’t resort to the philosophy and worldview of Ken Ham.

Know that you pay a price for profound religious ignorance. The 7th Day Adventists, the Answers in Genesis crowd, the Discovery Institute, Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and all the other crazy nutters out there–you have got to get your act together and stop running from science.

Musical Contributions by Freethinkers

There are some people who love to say that with the loss of the [Christian] religious monopoly on our daily lives, we’ll lose the music and arts that are too often associated with religious faith. On this blog post, we’ll sample the works of numerous musicians and composers who have rejected mainstream religious faith. You’ve all heard these names before.

Ludwig van Beethoven, Pantheist

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Freemason

Robert Schumann, Pantheist

Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky, Atheist

Johannes Brahms, Agnostic

Richard Wagner, Atheist

Giuseppe Verdi, Atheist

Hector Berlioz, Atheist

Claude Debussy, Self-Described Neo-Pagan

 

And the list could go on…