Thursday, July 24, 2008

I failed ...

... to get round to writing anything of substance on the "Atheists for Jesus" article by Richard Dawkins. However, here's a link to someone who has written something.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Requiem for a dream

From a rather apocalyptic article in "The Telegraph" magazine.
The world burns 85 million barrels of oil a day, and the US alone consumes a quarter of that amount - of which more than a half goes to road transport: the US has the least fuel-efficient cars on the roads, the lowest energy taxes, and the longest daily commutes of any industrialised nation.

It is an arrangement that James Howard Kunstler ... describes as "the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world. America took all of its post-war wealth and invested it in a living arrangement that has no future." ...

He believes that on the current projections of oil supply America will see the beginnings of a "major collapse" of suburbia within the next 10 years, which no amount of "wishful thinking" about alternative energy supplies will be able to arrest:

"We are not going to run Wal-Mart, the Interstate Highway system and Walt Disney World on any combination of solar, wind, nuclear, biofuels, ethanol or used french-fry potato oil. The bottom line is that we will use all these things but we will be very disappointed in what they will actually do for us. The problem is too big. The design of our living arrangement is simply inconsistent with the energy realities of the future. But Americans are just not able to process this. If you look hard enough at America, what you discover is a shockingly infantile belief system, with two fundamental ideas that are deleterious to our future. There's a widespread belief in America that it's possible to get something for nothing, and that mentality has been very destructive to our society. The other idea that has become normative is that when you wish upon a star your dream comes true. These two things have become the basis of the new American ideology."

From "Requiem for a Dream", Mick Brown/Alec Soth, Telegraph Magazine 5 July 2008

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The failures of materialism

Materialists may be keen to suggest that alternatives to materialism have various weaknesses, which cause them to fail as they engage with science. For example, creationists still get the flat earth and the earth-centred universe thrown at them (although this has done nothing to refute the Bible - only certain peoples' interpretations of it).

One of the odd things about this is that materialistic philosophy has a pretty disastrous record when it comes to predictions about the universe which flow from this worldview. I thought I'd just recap a few here:

Life at its lowest level is simple.

The origin of life is easily explainable from physical processes.

Life is common in the universe.

The universe is eternal.

Vestigial organs have no function and are left over from evolution.

Junk DNA has no function and is left over from evolution.

The earth is an unremarkable planet orbiting an unremarkable star in an unremarkable galaxy.

There are other "gaps" in the materialistic explanation of the universe, which may or may not be filled at some stage in the future, such as:

An explanation of consciousness and mind;

An explanation of the many unique facets of human behaviour;

An explanation of whether the fine tuning of the universe has any significance.

Any more to add to the list?