Tuesday, June 5, 2007

InfoWorld and Creationism

Since InfoWorld eliminated its print publication, many of its columns have been reformatted as blogs, including the Robert X. Cringely column. (Note that Robert X. Cringely should not be confused with Robert X. Cringely, you know.)

It turns out that one Robert X. Cringely blog post is receiving more comments than anything else on the InfoWorld site.

Why? Because of the topic Cringely chose to address.

More than 6,000 years after the universe was created, a museum dedicated to that glorious event has finally arrived. The Creation Museum opened its doors last Monday, bringing 4000 eager faithful back to the days when Man and dinosaurs lived in harmony.

Located just outside Cincinnati, the 60,000-square foot building features dioramas of Adam, Eve, and their Old Testament homies, along with amniotronic brachiosaurs and a life-sized recreation of Noah's Ark....

Other exhibits caution against falling for pseudo-science claptrap about the earth being 4.5 billion years old....

As mentioned above, this post resulted in a ton of comments. Here are some of the more thoughtful ones:

Notable creationists (believers in God as the Creator of the universe) include Isaac Newton (calculus and physics) and Johannes Kepler (laws of planetary motion). Creationists consider science to include God's natural laws that guide the behavior of universe, just as God's moral laws are meant to direct the behavior of man. But there is a simple yet critical difference in the starting assumptions of (Bible-believing) creationists and evolutionists: creationists believe in an omnipotent and eternal God who exists and can act beyond the constraints of time and natural laws, whereas most evolutionists subscribe to the philosophy of naturalism and do not acknowledge the possibility of supernatural events in earth and life history....

How can someone who believes in the literal truth of the Bible believe in "science" and "knowledge"? Read Chapter 2 of Genesis. God gave Adam and Eve one commandment: to remain in ignorance. "Of the fruit of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, thou shalt not eat of it."

...I do think criticism of this is appropriate by IT professionals because we live in a reality based universe not a faith based universe. Religion answers different questions than science does. Science asks "How?" and religion asks "Why?" There is no contradiction until you have science asking why and religion asking how....

Can someone please explain to me how creationism explains the scientific process of carbon dating, and how it has dated objects millions of years old on this planet that is only 6000 some years created?

...Belief falls outside the purview of science.

Actaully carbon dating is only reasonably accurate to about 60,000 years after which one has to use more esoteric radio active dating techniques....

...The injunction was not against ignorance, but the presumption that you can know the reasons of the Creator....

Related to theory, scientists long ago did the calculations and stated that there has not been enough time (even allowing 15-16 billion years for the universe) for life to have occurred on its own. This is just to single-celled life, much less to the variety and complexity of life we see today....

...Both creationists and evolutionists use the same data and tools. Each has a list of ideas and biases and uses the data they have to come to different conclusions. Neither creation or evolution can be proven scientifically and there are holes in both theories big enough to drive a tank through....

Funny thing, there is a branch of theology called general revelation. It follows the idea that it is possible to learn something about the creator by studying the creation. This branch of theology is the root of scientific inquiry and most universities known for science were once theological institutions. Problem is that there is a human based fear that God cannot survive that kind of scrutiny, so we have to go back to stories and try to prove them true rather than honestly and openly study what it is that God reveals in how everything fits together. In other words... creationists cannot handle the truth. It is their own faith that is tested by the truth, certainly God would never fear the truth....

Gerald Schroeder, an Orthodox Jewish physicist, has done a brilliant job of reconciling the seemingly contradictory notions about the age of the universe, as well as other seeming discrepancies....His age of the universe reconciliation involves the relativistic Doppler effect and the two different biblical accounts of creation in the first two chapters of Genesis.

Unix vs. Windows...Emacs vs. Vi...C vs ... well, everything else...No place for attacks on tenets of faith?

...Science by definition is not in conflict with Scripture, since both pursue the truth. Unfortunately, some folks think that truths that tend to lead to anything even remotely related to the Scriptures must be ignored. In other words, they like to censor scientific findings. A true scientist would never do this because a true scientist is curious about all truths regardless of where they lead....

...The cycles of precipitation and evaporation, restoring usable energy to pools of water, are exactly analogous to how life can concentrate usable energy, and in fact life draws from the same power reserve. Do either violate the second law of thermodynamics? No. The overall enclosing system (the universe) continues to increase in entropy.

...That's the standard evo line, that the energy from the sun makes it possible for the 2nd law to be violated within a closed system. However, that example does not represent an increase in organization (decreased entropy), which is one of the problems with evolution.

Eventually Cringely (or something claiming to be Cringely) entered the discussion.

hell of a discussion. thanks to everyone for participating. if I'd known I'd started such a flame war I'd have checked in sooner.

several posters have asked what the heck this all has to do with IT. so I thought I'd discuss the (ahem) evolution of my creation.

it's pretty simple really. IT = information technology (I think that may be the one thing we can all agree on). technology rather strongly implies science and, more to point, it requires some education in scientific principles in order to do useful things with it -- like build machines and software that allow strangers to argue with each other at a distance.

education in science means education in science -- not religion, not fantasy, not superstition, and definitely not flying spaghetti monsters. as some folks north of this post have noted, science is about the how and religion is about the why. but science is also about the what -- as in, what really happened. and cowboys did not ride atop stegasauruses, no matter how pleasing an image that is. and even if we don't know exactly everything there is to know about evolution (and we don't), we can be pretty damned sure cowboys didn't saddle up giant lizards for a ride on the range.

so this is relevant to IT because a well educated population is relevant to IT. they can also be a highly religious population; I don't think those things are mutually exclusive. but they can't be a population that believes in fantasy just because somebody dropped a robotic dinosaur in a diorama next to adam and eve.

there. I've said it. what I believe beyond that is immaterial. more important, it's personal. as I believe religion should be. science isn't personal; it's the best guess we can make right now, given the knowledge we possess.

as for "amniotronic," that's just a natural mutation of the word "animatronic." we'll just have to see if it survives in the wild.

peace out.



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