[lit-ideas] Re: The Piano Man

  • From: "Andy Amago" <aamago@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx, lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 23 Aug 2005 18:17:24 -0400

> [Original Message]
> From: Paul Stone <pas@xxxxxxxx>
> To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> Date: 8/23/2005 3:46:21 PM
> Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: The Piano Man
> >A.A. Fundamentally it doesn't change.  There's always still one answer
> >everything: God.
> Very few people actually believe that.

A.A. Then what's I.D. all about?  At least 50% of the U.S. population
believes in creationism.   Bush himself feels a burning need to have both
theories taught.  He consults with God to get the go ahead to start a war. 
This is not believing that God has all the answers?  Fate is just another
word for God's guiding hand.  Know anybody who doesn't believe in fate?  
In fact, a weird thing happened to me today.  I had a nail in my hand,
dropped it in the laundry room, heard the clink, and searched the room over
for it (I don't want it messing up my Oreck). Couldn't find it.  Then later
I reached in my pocket for something, and there's the nail.  It had bounced
off the dryer and landed in my pocket without me even noticing it.   If I
didn't know better, I'd think it was God with nothing better to do.  This
could be an example of a random mutation, just sheer chance that winds up
in a trait, otherwise known as evolution.  Sheer chance makes people feel
so small.  Feeling small is not a nice place to be, and bingo, we have
Evolution Wars (Newsweek's cover) in the 21st century.  You're wrong, Paul.
An awful lot of people believe God has all the answers.

> >A.A. The jury's not out on what the universe is made up of.  It's made up
> >of the 93 or whatever number of elements that Earth is made up of, held
> >together by the same forces earthly molecules and compounds are held
> >together by.
> Paul: Well as Tom Lehrer wonderfully rhymes "these are the only ones of
which the 
> news has come to Hahvahd, there may be many others but they haven't been 
> discahvahd!"
> >Andy: Admittedly ideas change.  It used to be thought that life on
> >earth couldn't survive without sunlight (photosynthesis).  Now it's been
> >known for decades that plants thrive at or near the bottom of the ocean
> >using volcanic heat and gases for food, never seeing sunlight.  Now it's
> >thought all life on earth can't survive without water.  Maybe someday an
> >organism that doesn't need water will be found.  Likewise this new thing
> >about light traveling faster than the speed limit.  Maybe it's true,
> >it isn't, but however it shakes out, that law will certainly pertain to
> >of the universe, not only Earth.
> Paul: How can you say that? Right now, light speed is always 186,000 mps.
> the 'truth' regardless of how fast your flashlight is going already. So
> someone DisCAHVAHS that it's not true, then THAT becomes true. So who
> a shit? Nothing is knowably true.
> As far as the consistency of elemental makeup is concerned... what about 
> the possibility of other stuff that we haven't discovered? Can't you 
> imagine a place in which our stuff doesn't act like there stuff?

A.A. Yeah, so, what if other elements are discovered?  It wouldn't exempt
us from citizenship in the universe and the need to abide by its laws. 
Black holes don't act like anything on earth, but the principles underlying
them are known to us: a dying star turning into a red giant, becoming 100
times bigger than it was, collapsing into itself into a tiny, unimaginably
dense mass, so dense that its gravity sucks in everything near it.  Our own
near and dear sun will go through this very same process eventually. 
Humans puff themselves up to be unique in the universe, unique among and
superior to even our fellow animals.  Among untold trillions of stars and
billions of planets, we, the ants of Earth, are the end all and be all of
our God, who, fortunately, cares about the color of our socks (okay, cares
if we're wearing our Sunday best) even while he zaps us upside the head on
a regular basis.

> >A.A. Sort of like the Founding Fathers' attempt at creating a more
> >union.  Science, good science, is always willing to become more correct.
> >Otherwise it wouldn't be science.
>Paul:   A friend of mine is an electrical engineer who designs 3-d
computer eyes 
> which can detect inconsistencies in sheet metal. He has worked at the
> place for about 20 years. They have NEVER sold ONE SINGLE thing that they 
> have researched and developed. They routinely work for 18 months on 
> something and then they get to a point at which they say "it'll never
> and they turf it. This is the way science works: 1000 people fail and one 
> succeeds.
> Most brilliant minds in physics work their whole life and die without
> doing ANYTHING of note. They are sheep who contribute to the law of 
> averages that if enough people work on something, discoveries will be
> Right now, many of these brilliant minds are working on a T.O.E.
> they think that all other 'mysteries' have been cleared up.

A.A. The fact that breakthroughs are rare doesn't invalidate those whose
research comes up empty.  Why do you call researchers sheep?  Sheep are the
great majority who never question why they need to impress Mr. Jones, who
pant after movie stars and so on.  

> There are generations of physicists banking on the inevitability that
> are on the right track with String Theory and M-Field this and blah blah 
> blah. The thing is, every time they have something they think is
> someone else says "yes, but you need 29 dimensions to get rid of the -ve 
> scalar in the 5th partial integral of the yadayadayada." Then the next
> comes over to the school and says, no, we need to invent another type of 
> imaginary particle ending in 'on' -- maybe go-on or loon -- so that we
> get rid of that number right there. That one that doesn't make sense!!!
> course it doesn't make sense. It's WRONG!!! The whole of science, well, 
> maybe not the whole, but most of recent science is hinged upon 
> fudge-factors. We are so far from actually understanding things but the 
> 'scientists' keep insisting that we know everything. 

A.A. A scientist who insists we know everything is not practicing science. 

We don't even 
> understand the weather. Do you know how complicated CFD is? Do you know 
> that we can't even realistically model the droplet dispersion in a spray 
> tower? Did you know that we don't really know exactly how a fluidized bed 
> will work? Granted, we have excellent predictive abilities on a lot of 
> things, but we don't know shit on the microscopic or macroscopic scale in 
> reality.

A.A. Yes, and that's the challenge, to eventually find out.

> >A.A. I think they did.  The 18th century was an amazingly inquisitive
> And now isn't?

A.A. Creationism, anyone?  Stem cell research bans?  Granted, there are
stunning developments, but the underlying tone of the 21st century is
religiousity so intense that it would teach itself in public schools in
place of science.

> >We are all clueless, yes, but growing incrementally less so.   I would
> >even with really big questions, like
> >why death, the universe follows the same laws.  Like humans, stars too
> >born, go through life stages, die.  Why stardust needs to decay
> >#37 on your list?) is one of the "it just does" scenarios.  If stardust, 
> >along with humans, needs to die, then truly, what was God thinking, and 
> >where did he put the cemetary?  That's why I don't fear death.  We will
> >to whence we came ... ashes to ashes, dust to stardust ...
> But I don't want to.

A.A. We're back to the old thing about God being clueless about good.  God
is inherently evil, or why else program death into the system, on top of
all the other horrible stuff?  Personally, I find it comforting (not that I
need comforting, but I find it anyway) that there is a continuity to the
universe and to me in it.  Stars die, I die.  I do my job, pay my bills,
but I don't lose sight of the big picture.  Maybe my spiritual gene isn't
as recessive as I thought.

Andy Amago

> p 
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