Monday 24th of June 2024

De Revolutionibus...

spinning around

it is a quite ludicrous that in order to sell and validate religious beliefs, some Christians still try to claim sciences as their own, as if science was a daughter of Christianity — through "Christian" scientists. In fact, most of the work of scientific value was done by clever humans, despite the Church — as the reality of experiments and observations did not fit any of the religious teachings. 

Scientists often had to battle the hocus pocus of religion. Some of the "Christian" scientists also indulged in the hocus-pocus of the occult.
Sure, one can say that clever people such as Copernicus were Christian. Copernicus held some degree in Christianity. Good. But he also studied Greek and Roman philosophers, mathematicians and scientists, especially Aristotle. It was through these "classical" studies, that he got some of his inspiration to restructure the still accepted erroneous religious views of the solar system in the 16th century — in which a more or less-flatish earth was deemed to be the centre of the world. 
Copernicus' contrariant new views were not challenged by the church at first, but soon after his death his work was rejected, to be "forgotten". 

All hell broke loose with Galileo a century later. It is likely too that Copernicus was, like many intelligent people through history, a member of arcane intellectual secret societies, not unlike Leonardo di Vinci (15 April 1452 – 2 May 1519), who at most time was his "own" man — hiding his "suspected" sexuality from the world, because homosexuality was persecuted by the Vatican, though some glorious eminencies, like Cardinal Richelieu, may have indulged in it — as well were as some kings

There is no evidence that Louis XIII kept mistresses (a distinction that earned him the title "Louis the Chaste"), but persistent rumours insinuated that he may have been homosexual or at least bisexual. The teenage Louis' interests increasingly focused on the male courtiers that he saw regularly at court, and he quickly developed an intense emotional attachment to his favourite, Charles d'Albert, duc de Luynes, although there is no evidence of a sexual relationship. Gédéon Tallemant des Réaux, drawing from rumours told to him by a critic of the king (the Marquise de Rambouillet), explicitly speculated in his Historiettes [short stories] about what happened in the king's bed. A liaison with an equerry, François de Baradas, ended when the latter lost favour fighting a duel after duelling had been forbidden by royal decree. He was also allegedly captivated by Henri Coiffier de Ruzé, Marquis of Cinq-Mars, who was later executed for conspiring with the Spanish enemy in time of war. Tallemant described how on a royal journey, the King "sent M. le Grand [de Cinq-Mars] to undress, who returned, adorned like a bride. 'To bed, to bed' he said to him impatiently... and the mignon was not in before the king was already kissing his hands.


On the affairs of the state:


Cardinal Richelieu is also notable for the authoritarian measures he employed to maintain power. He censored the press, established a large network of internal spies, forbade the discussion of political matters in public assemblies such as the Parlement de Paris (a court of justice), and had those who dared to conspire against him prosecuted and executed. The Canadian historian and philosopher John Ralston Saul has referred to Richelieu as the "father of the modern nation-state, modern centralised power [and] the modern secret service."


One must not forget that in those times of the European Middle ages, then that of the Renaissance, one bright person or a dummy or everyone in between started in life with a massive religious indoctrination. No contrary doctrines or knowledge to combat this brainwashing existed — apart from discreet underground occultry. 
Principally, one had to "believe in god" in order to get a job in such complex discipline as art, as astronomy or as engineering, which needed patrons with deep pockets to be able to exist. One could not survive by painting a few figs with dead birds, to sell to illiterate peasants with no cash. 

High skills were in demand. The church and the states (ruled fiercely by kings and fiefdom "noblemen") were the ones demanding art to illustrate and decorate their glorious doctrines, ruthless conquests by marriage and bloody victorious wars. 
Artists and thinkers had to show that one was in religious tune with manufacturing this demanded glory. The rulers had the cash. One would be ostracised or simply be unable to access the libraries of Kings, Emperors and Popes who held the purse strings — should one not professed to be religious. One would be burnt to a crisp for professing atheism openly. This is why there are very few historical druid works to be seen anywhere, compared with the opulence of the churches. The arcane did not show itself much, though it lived quite well in the underground. 

Even the Catholic Church incorporated some allegories and frolics from the Roman gods in some paintings or stained-glass windows. Michelangelo (6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564) "discreetly" incorporated these in the Sistine chapel ceiling, whether the church knew or not. I suppose the church did not care about pagan concepts decorating its temples, and I would dare say the church actually approved the idea of "appropriating" "other people's stories and eliminating the competition in a similar way the Churchmen of today try to incorporate science into their dogma... This was a cunning ecumenism of thoughts in full contradiction of each others — but a nifty stealing of other people's culture to control history, manage ideas and streamline cultural stimulation, like the British Museum and other Western museum did later on, by appropriation of foreign stuff and loot, for posterity.
So when someone, Mark Noll, states the concepts below, the author is trying to confuse us and promoting falsehoods in a very well written syntax:

Strong statements have described Christianity as the fountainhead of modern science. Equally strong statements have called it the greatest opponent of scientific progress. Neither is adequate. Instead, the best historians offer a complicated picture for which the key words are negotiation, compromise, maneuvering, accommodation and rethinking.


Here we can see the ploy of creating a debate where there is none. Science and religion do not mix. Noll is trying to stir controversy to which he knows in advance his choice of answer — which of course is "religion owns sciences". Not on your nelly. 


Noll continues:

In the Middle Ages, theologians like Thomas Aquinas taught that God was separate from the world and that experience (not just thought) was necessary to discover what God had done in creation. Yet these positive steps were matched by negatives. The strong influence of Aristotle meant that medieval theology viewed nature as an emblem for higher realities and that it favored reasoning by deduction over learning based on experience. Yet an enduring gift from the Middle Ages was the powerful idea of "God's Two Books" — knowledge from Scripture and knowledge about the physical world both come from God and therefore cannot be contradictory.
Don't
Bullshit crap. The amount of contradictions abound. There are no "two books". Science and religion cannot be mixed. Religion is a concoction of iffy beliefs, not knowledge... And they are contradictory in their interpretations of reality. 
Without going back to the Roman and Greek philosophers, including back to Aristotle "whose writings were rivers of gold", here are a few scientists who challenged the views of the church, despite some having been versed in theology or such religious "knowledge". Most of these entries can be found in Wikipedia, here simplified and adapted (and other reference works).
Copernicus (19 February 1473 – 24 May 1543), like Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726) later on, was also a "financier" apart from being a polyglot and polymath, a doctor in canon law and a practising physician, a classics scholar, a translator, a governor and a diplomat. As an economist he studied the relationships of values — in various cash formats. "Throwing good money after bad" resulted from his insight into such concerns. Newton of course worked for the Mint in England. Copernicus developed the concept of planets revolving around the sun. He had the foresight of thinking that the position of the church on the tenure of the earth in the universe was bullshit. "Hey you are wrong, fellas... it does not make sense."
Galileo (15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642) was hit on the fingers by the Church for pushing and developing Copernicus work. It's only much later, 350 years later in fact, that the Church rewrote a few decrees in order to make Galileo's work, on the reality of the solar system, fit the church dictums.  
Of all these Renaissance scientists, the most "motivated" by religious thinking was Kepler (December 27, 1571 – November 15, 1630) — a German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer. Kepler lived in an era when there was no clear distinction between astronomy and astrology, but there was a strong division between astronomy (a branch of mathematics within the liberal arts) and physics (a branch of natural philosophy [which was also borderline with alchemy]). Kepler incorporated religious arguments and reasoning into his work, motivated by the religious conviction and belief that God had created the world according to an intelligible plan that is accessible through the natural light of reason [Gus: we're still in the dark on this one]. Kepler described his new astronomy as "celestial physics", as "an excursion into Aristotle's Metaphysics". It was "a supplement to Aristotle's On the Heavens", transforming the ancient tradition of physical cosmology by treating astronomy as part of a universal mathematical physics. 

Kepler's law which express the speed of heavenly bodies, like that of the earth around the sun, is a masterpiece of mathematical extrapolation. Orbits are not circles but ellipses and this realisation came through precise observation of the changing speed in the motion of planets around the sun. This led to Kepler stating that the virtual portion of surface of the ellipse in relation to the distance travelled had to stay constant, despite the change in distance. Thus "as a planet gets closer to the sun, it will speed up and as a planet gets further it will slow down". A powerful mathematical concept. His mother, Katharina Guldenmann, was a "healer and a herbalist" [occult practices]. One of Kepler's patrons, King Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor, was an "occult art" devotee.
Blaise Pascal (19 June 1623 – 19 August 1662) was a Jansenist (a practice banned by the Pope and the King as heresy) who developed ways to measure many things. As well he invented the first mode of "public transport" and the first automated adding machines. He invented hydraulics. T. S. Eliot described him as "a man of the world among ascetics, and an ascetic among men of the world." Pascal's ascetic lifestyle derived from "his" belief (Jansenism which fought against the Jesuits) that it was natural and necessary for a person to suffer. In 1659, Pascal fell seriously ill. During his last years, he frequently tried to reject the ministrations of his doctors, saying, "Sickness is the natural state of Christians."... [Gus: I could not say it better myself]. Pascal probably had stomach and brain cancer. He was only 39 when he died.

Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726/7). Newton's Principia formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation, which dominated scientists' view of the physical universe for the next three centuries [till Einstein came along]. By deriving Kepler's laws of planetary motion from his mathematical description of gravity, and then using the same principles to account for the trajectories of comets, the tides, the precession of the equinoxes, and other phenomena, Newton removed the last doubts about the validity of the heliocentric model [Copernicus' model] of the Solar System. This work also demonstrated that the motion of objects on Earth and of celestial bodies could be described by the same principles. His prediction that Earth should be shaped as an oblate spheroid was later vindicated by the measurements of Maupertuis, La Condamine, and others, which helped convince most Continental European scientists of the superiority of Newtonian mechanics over the earlier system of Descartes.

But Newton's mathematical planetary model was faulty. He had to add the hand of god in order to rectify some of the incongruities in his model and avoid gravitational collapse. 

Although born into an Anglican family, Newton held a Christian faith that, had it been made public, would not have been considered orthodox by mainstream Christianity; in recent times he has been described as a heretic.

By 1672 Newton had started to record his theological researches in notebooks which he showed to no one and which have only recently been examined. They demonstrate an extensive knowledge of early church writings and show that in the conflict between Athanasius and Arius which defined the Creed, he took the side of Arius, the loser, who rejected the conventional view of the Trinity. Newton "recognized Christ as a divine mediator between God and man, who was subordinate to the Father who created him." Newton was especially interested in prophecy, but for him, "the great apostasy was trinitarianism."

In Newton's eyes, worshipping Christ as God was idolatry. To him it was the fundamental sin. 

Newton indulged in alchemy. He probably died of ailments induced by mercury poisoning. Alchemy was the centrepiece of the occult: witches, herbal and healing practices, potions, cabals, incantations. It was poisons versus the eucharist. I know some would say that one might kill you while the other will save you... But modern chemotherapy is nothing more than poisoning your body in order to kill the cancer cells first, with the hope you might survive — while the other, the eucharist, would be equivalent to a placebo against ebola.
Newton had shares with a shipping company that was overtly involved in the slave trade. Despite being savvy with cash (he was in charge of the Mint at some point) he lost nearly all his money when this company collapsed... As he "never married", there were rumours that he was homosexual, since most of his "fabulous friends" were males...

Of course the writer of the christian fiction, Knoll, says: 
"Alexander Pope's epitaph spoke for learned Europeans as a whole:
Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night;
God said, "Let Newton be" and all was light"
I would suggest that god — if she existed — would have been very annoyed at Newton's "heretic" views of religion...

Pierre-Simon, Marquis de Laplace (23 March 1749 – 5 March 1827) was an influential French scholar whose work was important to the development of mathematics, statistics, physics, and astronomy. He summarized and extended the work of his predecessors in his five-volume Mécanique Céleste (Celestial Mechanics) (1799–1825). This work translated the geometric study of classical mechanics to one based on calculus, opening up a broader range of problems. In statistics, the Bayesian interpretation of probability was developed mainly by Laplace.


Laplace formulated Laplace's equation, and pioneered the Laplace transform which appears in many branches of mathematical physics, a field that he took a leading role in forming. The Laplacian differential operator, widely used in mathematics, is also named after him. He restated and developed the nebular hypothesis of the origin of the solar system and was one of the first scientists to postulate the existence of black holes and the notion of gravitational collapse.


In 1814, Laplace published what is usually known as the first articulation of causal or scientific determinism:


We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its past and the cause of its future. An intellect which at a certain moment would know all forces that set nature in motion, and all positions of all items of which nature is composed, if this intellect were also vast enough to submit these data to analysis, it would embrace in a single formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the tiniest atom; for such an intellect nothing would be uncertain and the future just like the past would be present before its eyes.

—Pierre Simon Laplace, A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities

This intellectual discourse is often referred to as Laplace's demon. Laplace studied Theology but he also studied military practices and social constructs: 

Let us apply to the political and moral sciences the method founded upon observation and calculation, which has served us so well in the natural sciences. Let us not offer fruitless and often injurious resistance to the inevitable benefits derived from the progress of enlightenment [enlightenment was, and is, a humanist position mostly against the existence of god]; but let us change our institutions and the usages that we have for a long time adopted only with extreme caution. We know from past experience the drawbacks they can cause, but we are unaware of the extent of ills that change may produce. In the face of this ignorance, the theory of probability instructs us to avoid all change, especially to avoid sudden changes which in the moral as well as the physical world never occur without a considerable loss of vital force

Of note (already mentioned on this site): 

"Laplace went ... to Napoleon to present a copy of his work, and the following account of the interview is well authenticated, and so characteristic of all the parties concerned that I quote it in full. Someone had told Napoleon that the book contained no mention of the name of God; Napoleon, who was fond of putting embarrassing questions, received it with the remark, 'M. Laplace, they tell me you have written this large book on the system of the universe, and have never even mentioned its Creator.' Laplace, who, though the most supple of politicians, was as stiff as a martyr on every point of his philosophy, drew himself up and answered bluntly, Je n'avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là. ("I had no need of that hypothesis.") Napoleon, greatly amused, told this reply to Lagrange, who exclaimed, Ah! c'est une belle hypothèse; ça explique beaucoup de choses. ("Ah, it is a fine hypothesis; it explains many things.")"


Note: Lagrange, an agnostic, was a master mathematician whose prodigious work is still used in many discipline including engineering and Quantum Mechanics.

"But Laplace, who had discovered them by a deep analysis, would have replied to the First Consul that Newton had wrongly invoked the intervention of God to adjust from time to time the machine of the world (la machine du monde) and that he, Laplace, had no need of such an assumption. It was not God, therefore, that Laplace treated as a hypothesis, but his intervention in a certain place." 

This controversial interpretative paragraph does not fit the tone of the encounter of Laplace and Napoleon and could have been written by a bitter Catholic.


Born a Catholic, Laplace appears for most of his life to have veered between deism (presumably his considered position, since it is the only one found in his writings) and atheism. But Napoleon, on Saint Helena, told General Gaspard Gourgaud, "I often asked Laplace what he thought of God. He owned that he was an atheist"




Born Giuseppe Lodovico Lagrangia or Giuseppe Ludovico De la Grange Tournier (also reported as Giuseppe Luigi Lagrange or Lagrangia) (25 January 1736 – 10 April 1813) was an Italian Enlightenment Era mathematician and astronomer. He made significant contributions to the fields of analysis, number theory, and both classical and celestial mechanics.

Lagrange was one of the creators of the calculus of variations, deriving the Euler–Lagrange equations for extrema of functionals. He also extended the method to take into account possible constraints, arriving at the method of Lagrange multipliers. Lagrange invented the method of solving differential equations known as variation of parameters, applied differential calculus to the theory of probabilities and attained notable work on the solution of equations. He proved that every natural number is a sum of four squares. His treatise Theorie des fonctions analytiques laid some of the foundations of group theory, anticipating Galois. In calculus, Lagrange developed a novel approach to interpolation and Taylor series. He studied the three-body problem for the Earth, Sun and Moon (1764) and the movement of Jupiter’s satellites (1766), and in 1772 found the special-case solutions to this problem that yield what are now known as Lagrangian points. But above all, he is best known for his work on mechanics, where he has transformed Newtonian mechanics into a branch of analysis, Lagrangian mechanics as it is now called, and presented the so-called mechanical "principles" as simple results of the variational calculus.


He was raised as a Roman Catholic but became an agnostic.

Both Laplace and Lagrange were giants in mathematics and mathematical philosophy. 


Darwin () did not come upon his theory of evolution out of thin air. There already were rumbles about the way nature worked and changed. Darwin's dad was a precursor and Wallace was a contemporary on this issue. Observation showed something that is not mentioned in the bible: adaptation. Change. 
So the evolution controversy really placed a wooden stake in the religious mobs, which split in various factions and are still split in a large field of straw to cling onto, from the "creationists" to the more accepting "liberals".
Very little can be done to Darwin's observation and critical interpretations, except improve upon these and develop a complex genetic industry  — in which IVF treatment for infertility might be recognised by the religious mobs. None of this fits the picture of religious records. New pseudo-religious caveats need to be decreed, including new sins that mitigate the value of greed. How much greed is too much greed to be sinful in a greedy capitalistic system?

Einstein, though quite ambivalent about religion — possibly cultivating a slightly satirical religious belief in search of a relative universe — needed cash for his work and advertising — and most of the cash was still in the hands of admiring religious mobs — who to say the least rarely understood the deep meaning of his equations that were promoted with great skills. 

Einstein's political view was in favor of socialism and critical of capitalism, which he detailed in his essays such as "Why Socialism?". Einstein strongly advocated the idea of a democratic global government that would check the power of nation-states in the framework of a world federation. This of course would have been going against the "new" democracies of the USA and of Europe, which were more like states based on Richelieu's hand-fisted decrees, including secrecy and clamping down on the freedom of the press.


Einstein's views about religious belief have been collected from interviews and original writings. He called himself an agnostic, while disassociating himself from the label atheist


Einstein spent a lot of his time trying to disprove, as any good scientist should do, the theory of Quantum Mechanics. He failed miserably despite his massive intelligence. Nowadays, any good scientist should accept quantum mechanics as the best way so far to describe the universe of the very small and very high energies, below atomic sizes. It works.

I often mention on this site that should Einstein be alive today, he would be horrified by the resistance to the global warming scientific theory, but then he would be hit by a ton of capitalist bricks on the head to shut him up.



Niels Bohr was one of the fathers of quantum mechanics, a science necessary to explain radio-activity and a lot of phenomenon that "ordinary" science of physics, chemistry and relativity could not explain. 
The complexity and accuracy of Quantum mechanics are too long to discuss here. But god is not involved in it at any stage. It's high precision in a long game of marbles in which statistics, unpredictability and associations of particles is most strange, but ends up giving us electricity, neutrinos and the atom bombs "in precise formulations".

Bohr read the 19th-century Danish Christian existentialist philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard. Richard Rhodes argued in The Making of the Atomic Bomb that Bohr was influenced by Kierkegaard through Høffding. But Bohr enjoyed Kierkegaard's language and literary style, but mentioned that he had some disagreement with Kierkegaard's philosophy. Some of Bohr's biographers suggested that this disagreement stemmed from Kierkegaard's advocacy of Christianity, while Bohr was an atheist. Bohr was a fierce atheist

 In conclusion
The bible may record some trials, errors and tribulations of the chosen people, but it does not represent the full gamut of humanity by a long shot. In a convoluted language, it deals with empirical solutions, including revenge and wars, to problems of the times, including management of kingdoms, conquests, slavery and beliefs — not on a universal level, despite claiming such broad value in order to blow one's trumpet of Jericho. There is no science mentioned in the bible. There is plenty of wars, nastiness, despicable revenge and mercantile activity through its pages though. It fits the chosen people to a tee.

Evolution and the concept of god's creation do not fit one bit. There is no meeting point whatsoever.
99.99 per cent of science does not fit any religious teaching. Cutting Samson's hair is a nice story but it does not cut the mustard. Science is based on scepticism and observation, including experiments from the results of which, a theory can be postulated. 
Religion has one dictum: believe.
From there on, religion goes downhill with many useless caveats, imagined sins, unnecessary redemption, all in order to grab a moral high ground that does not exist in sciences. Most of the religious teachings in any of the Abrahamic religions are sexist. This is why recently some ordained women in an Anglican church decided to call god a She. Good try, ladies — but sorry girls, god has a dick. And you don't have one. 

So one needs to fight against those unenlightened clever dudes, like the smartypants in the Christian website, who peddle that science stemmed from religion, thus religion owns science or that science is the same as religion. It does not in the first instance, nor in the second and nor in the latter case. That some science was thought and deduced by people with religious affiliation does not mean that science is religious. To the contrary. 
Meanwhile, one could be stunned to hear of school kids missing out on visiting a museum of dinosaurs in the USA. But then, on close inspection, we note the museum in a bid to show consideration about points of views has both creationism and science in its captions. Kids, stay clear of that confrontational crap. Science is science. Creationism is not science. Don't go there, this is designed to confuse you with crap when there is so much more to learn about the reality of sciences.
Creationism is a poor stiff stuffed-up dogma that appropriate certain aspects of sciences to delude people with crap/beliefs. The timeframes of creationism are up the creek and do not fit the observable sciences of the planet. But those bigoted monkeys with a deluded rabid godly brain still stick at it like deranged dogs with a bone and demand they'd be listened to in a scientific manner. Ludicrous. Do not let them through the door.  Any doors.

Gus Leonisky
Your local scientific enthusiast.


why socialism? albert einstein...


Albert Einstein is the world-famous physicist. This article was originally published in the first issue of Monthly Review (May 1949). It was subsequently published in May 1998 to commemorate the first issue of MR‘s fiftieth year.

—The Editors

Is it advisable for one who is not an expert on economic and social issues to express views on the subject of socialism? I believe for a number of reasons that it is.

Let us first consider the question from the point of view of scientific knowledge. It might appear that there are no essential methodological differences between astronomy and economics: scientists in both fields attempt to discover laws of general acceptability for a circumscribed group of phenomena in order to make the interconnection of these phenomena as clearly understandable as possible. But in reality such methodological differences do exist. The discovery of general laws in the field of economics is made difficult by the circumstance that observed economic phenomena are often affected by many factors which are very hard to evaluate separately. In addition, the experience which has accumulated since the beginning of the so-called civilized period of human history has—as is well known—been largely influenced and limited by causes which are by no means exclusively economic in nature. For example, most of the major states of history owed their existence to conquest. The conquering peoples established themselves, legally and economically, as the privileged class of the conquered country. They seized for themselves a monopoly of the land ownership and appointed a priesthood from among their own ranks. The priests, in control of education, made the class division of society into a permanent institution and created a system of values by which the people were thenceforth, to a large extent unconsciously, guided in their social behavior.

But historic tradition is, so to speak, of yesterday; nowhere have we really overcome what Thorstein Veblen called “the predatory phase” of human development. The observable economic facts belong to that phase and even such laws as we can derive from them are not applicable to other phases. Since the real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development, economic science in its present state can throw little light on the socialist society of the future.

Second, socialism is directed towards a social-ethical end. Science, however, cannot create ends and, even less, instill them in human beings; science, at most, can supply the means by which to attain certain ends. But the ends themselves are conceived by personalities with lofty ethical ideals and—if these ends are not stillborn, but vital and vigorous—are adopted and carried forward by those many human beings who, half unconsciously, determine the slow evolution of society.

For these reasons, we should be on our guard not to overestimate science and scientific methods when it is a question of human problems; and we should not assume that experts are the only ones who have a right to express themselves on questions affecting the organization of society.

Innumerable voices have been asserting for some time now that human society is passing through a crisis, that its stability has been gravely shattered. It is characteristic of such a situation that individuals feel indifferent or even hostile toward the group, small or large, to which they belong. In order to illustrate my meaning, let me record here a personal experience. I recently discussed with an intelligent and well-disposed man the threat of another war, which in my opinion would seriously endanger the existence of mankind, and I remarked that only a supra-national organization would offer protection from that danger. Thereupon my visitor, very calmly and coolly, said to me: “Why are you so deeply opposed to the disappearance of the human race?”

I am sure that as little as a century ago no one would have so lightly made a statement of this kind. It is the statement of a man who has striven in vain to attain an equilibrium within himself and has more or less lost hope of succeeding. It is the expression of a painful solitude and isolation from which so many people are suffering in these days. What is the cause? Is there a way out?

It is easy to raise such questions, but difficult to answer them with any degree of assurance. I must try, however, as best I can, although I am very conscious of the fact that our feelings and strivings are often contradictory and obscure and that they cannot be expressed in easy and simple formulas.

Man is, at one and the same time, a solitary being and a social being. As a solitary being, he attempts to protect his own existence and that of those who are closest to him, to satisfy his personal desires, and to develop his innate abilities. As a social being, he seeks to gain the recognition and affection of his fellow human beings, to share in their pleasures, to comfort them in their sorrows, and to improve their conditions of life. Only the existence of these varied, frequently conflicting, strivings accounts for the special character of a man, and their specific combination determines the extent to which an individual can achieve an inner equilibrium and can contribute to the well-being of society. It is quite possible that the relative strength of these two drives is, in the main, fixed by inheritance. But the personality that finally emerges is largely formed by the environment in which a man happens to find himself during his development, by the structure of the society in which he grows up, by the tradition of that society, and by its appraisal of particular types of behavior. The abstract concept “society” means to the individual human being the sum total of his direct and indirect relations to his contemporaries and to all the people of earlier generations. The individual is able to think, feel, strive, and work by himself; but he depends so much upon society—in his physical, intellectual, and emotional existence—that it is impossible to think of him, or to understand him, outside the framework of society. It is “society” which provides man with food, clothing, a home, the tools of work, language, the forms of thought, and most of the content of thought; his life is made possible through the labor and the accomplishments of the many millions past and present who are all hidden behind the small word “society.”

It is evident, therefore, that the dependence of the individual upon society is a fact of nature which cannot be abolished—just as in the case of ants and bees. However, while the whole life process of ants and bees is fixed down to the smallest detail by rigid, hereditary instincts, the social pattern and interrelationships of human beings are very variable and susceptible to change. Memory, the capacity to make new combinations, the gift of oral communication have made possible developments among human being which are not dictated by biological necessities. Such developments manifest themselves in traditions, institutions, and organizations; in literature; in scientific and engineering accomplishments; in works of art. This explains how it happens that, in a certain sense, man can influence his life through his own conduct, and that in this process conscious thinking and wanting can play a part.

Man acquires at birth, through heredity, a biological constitution which we must consider fixed and unalterable, including the natural urges which are characteristic of the human species. In addition, during his lifetime, he acquires a cultural constitution which he adopts from society through communication and through many other types of influences. It is this cultural constitution which, with the passage of time, is subject to change and which determines to a very large extent the relationship between the individual and society. Modern anthropology has taught us, through comparative investigation of so-called primitive cultures, that the social behavior of human beings may differ greatly, depending upon prevailing cultural patterns and the types of organization which predominate in society. It is on this that those who are striving to improve the lot of man may ground their hopes: human beings are not condemned, because of their biological constitution, to annihilate each other or to be at the mercy of a cruel, self-inflicted fate.

If we ask ourselves how the structure of society and the cultural attitude of man should be changed in order to make human life as satisfying as possible, we should constantly be conscious of the fact that there are certain conditions which we are unable to modify. As mentioned before, the biological nature of man is, for all practical purposes, not subject to change. Furthermore, technological and demographic developments of the last few centuries have created conditions which are here to stay. In relatively densely settled populations with the goods which are indispensable to their continued existence, an extreme division of labor and a highly-centralized productive apparatus are absolutely necessary. The time—which, looking back, seems so idyllic—is gone forever when individuals or relatively small groups could be completely self-sufficient. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that mankind constitutes even now a planetary community of production and consumption.

I have now reached the point where I may indicate briefly what to me constitutes the essence of the crisis of our time. It concerns the relationship of the individual to society. The individual has become more conscious than ever of his dependence upon society. But he does not experience this dependence as a positive asset, as an organic tie, as a protective force, but rather as a threat to his natural rights, or even to his economic existence. Moreover, his position in society is such that the egotistical drives of his make-up are constantly being accentuated, while his social drives, which are by nature weaker, progressively deteriorate. All human beings, whatever their position in society, are suffering from this process of deterioration. Unknowingly prisoners of their own egotism, they feel insecure, lonely, and deprived of the naive, simple, and unsophisticated enjoyment of life. Man can find meaning in life, short and perilous as it is, only through devoting himself to society.

The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil. We see before us a huge community of producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labor—not by force, but on the whole in faithful compliance with legally established rules. In this respect, it is important to realize that the means of production—that is to say, the entire productive capacity that is needed for producing consumer goods as well as additional capital goods—may legally be, and for the most part are, the private property of individuals.

For the sake of simplicity, in the discussion that follows I shall call “workers” all those who do not share in the ownership of the means of production—although this does not quite correspond to the customary use of the term. The owner of the means of production is in a position to purchase the labor power of the worker. By using the means of production, the worker produces new goods which become the property of the capitalist. The essential point about this process is the relation between what the worker produces and what he is paid, both measured in terms of real value. Insofar as the labor contract is “free,” what the worker receives is determined not by the real value of the goods he produces, but by his minimum needs and by the capitalists’ requirements for labor power in relation to the number of workers competing for jobs. It is important to understand that even in theory the payment of the worker is not determined by the value of his product.

Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.

The situation prevailing in an economy based on the private ownership of capital is thus characterized by two main principles: first, means of production (capital) are privately owned and the owners dispose of them as they see fit; second, the labor contract is free. Of course, there is no such thing as a pure capitalist society in this sense. In particular, it should be noted that the workers, through long and bitter political struggles, have succeeded in securing a somewhat improved form of the “free labor contract” for certain categories of workers. But taken as a whole, the present day economy does not differ much from “pure” capitalism.

Production is carried on for profit, not for use. There is no provision that all those able and willing to work will always be in a position to find employment; an “army of unemployed” almost always exists. The worker is constantly in fear of losing his job. Since unemployed and poorly paid workers do not provide a profitable market, the production of consumers’ goods is restricted, and great hardship is the consequence. Technological progress frequently results in more unemployment rather than in an easing of the burden of work for all. The profit motive, in conjunction with competition among capitalists, is responsible for an instability in the accumulation and utilization of capital which leads to increasingly severe depressions. Unlimited competition leads to a huge waste of labor, and to that crippling of the social consciousness of individuals which I mentioned before.

This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.

I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.

Nevertheless, it is necessary to remember that a planned economy is not yet socialism. A planned economy as such may be accompanied by the complete enslavement of the individual. The achievement of socialism requires the solution of some extremely difficult socio-political problems: how is it possible, in view of the far-reaching centralization of political and economic power, to prevent bureaucracy from becoming all-powerful and overweening? How can the rights of the individual be protected and therewith a democratic counterweight to the power of bureaucracy be assured?

Clarity about the aims and problems of socialism is of greatest significance in our age of transition. Since, under present circumstances, free and unhindered discussion of these problems has come under a powerful taboo, I consider the foundation of this magazine to be an important public service.

imagination is not a belief...

Some religious believers like Rod Dreher understand zilch of the fabric of sciences. These religious people try to indicate that for scientists to express some strange views about science like multi-universes, means that their "beliefs" are weirder than those of priests... Wrong. Scientists are the least of people to believe anything. If some of their hypothesis appear crazy is only due to the fact that imagination is necessary for science to move forth. BUT THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT WHAT IS EXPRESSED AS A POSSIBILITY is actually possible or plausible. Science does not dogmatise its realms of operation, but the only sciences that are valid so far as the one in which we can confirm a theory with repeat experiments. Religion is a dogmatic belief. The religious scholars only inspect the purposely-invented navel of this dogma and never venture outside. Religion is sophism by excellence.



Here is the RUBBISH that Rod Dreher is promoting in an article:


Writing in The Spectator, Alexander Masters points out that despite the idea that scientists deal only in the world of facts, some physicists believe bizarre things that, if professed by non-scientists, would qualify as religion. Excerpts:

Physicists have a nerve. I know one (I’ll call him Mark) who berates every religious person he meets, yet honestly thinks there exist parallel universes, exactly like our own, in which we all have two noses. He refuses to give any credit to Old Testament creation myths and of course sneers at the idea of transubstantiation. But, without any sense of shame, he insists in the same breath that humans are made from the fallout of exploded stars; that it is theoretically possible for a person to decompose on one side of a black hole and recompose on the other, and that there are diamonds in the sky the size of the moon.

The Universe in Your Hand by Christophe Galfard, a young French theoretical physicist and former student of Steven Hawking, is subtitled ‘A Journey Through Space, Time and Beyond’. It could just as well have been called a journey through common sense into preposterousness. ‘A popular science book that aims to explain Quantum Mechanics, General Relativity, String Theory and Parallel Realities using storytelling instead of graphs and equations,’ declares the blurb. Since I last studied physics, as an undergraduate in the 1980s, the subject has lost all pretence of good behaviour: it is now much kookier than anything in the Bible. It took me a week to read The Universe in Your Hand and two weeks to recover from my outrage. My friend Mark’s hypocrisy is immeasurably deeper than I’d realised.

Read the whole thing. I have never quite understood why the “many-universes” theory is considered science, not religion. How could you ever falsify the thesis?



 Gus: crap here coming from the Christians.

Imagination is not a belief. A belief can be imagined and then become a dogma. Science DOES NOT BELIEVE IN DOGMA. THERE IS NO HYPOCRISY in sciences (only margins of uncertainty and error). There is plenty of hypocrisy and illogical certainty in religion. 

The possibility of multi-universes is not proven, nor is it a belief.

preparing oxygen...

Does life on Earth depend on the planet's rotation?


Life on Earth depends on oxygen. And it now seems that oxygen depends on a slow day-night cycle, as a new study shows.


It's a question of fundamental interest to everyone, says Gregory Dick, a professor of microbiology at the University of Michigan, with a wink in his eye: "Where did we come from and what are the conditions that support life like ours?"

And that question has taken Dick and colleague Judith Klatt of Germany's Max Planck Institute for Marine Biology back to what they call "early Earth."

So, let's join them.

Earth formed about 4.54 billion years ago. The current thinking is that that's about right — plus or minus an error margin of 50 million years.

Some of the earliest signs of life on the planet, seen in rocks and fossils, for instance, have been traced back about 3.5 billion years. But, again, that's just based on the evidence we have to date: All times are estimates.

As for life as we known it — biological life — may have started a bit later. It may have been another billion years later and at some great depths in the oceans, where microorganisms called "extremophiles" thrive.

And scientists now think that those very origins of life may have been helped when the Earth's rotation slowed about 2.4 billion years ago. 


A slower rotation means longer days. And longer days mean more time for those organisms to produce oxygen. It is, say the scientists Dick and Klatt, the first time the idea has been proposed. They have just published their study in the journal Nature Geoscience

The Earth's rotation

It takes about 365 days for the Earth to orbit the sun. It's actually more like 365.25 days and that extra quarter day accounts for a few discrepancies in the Roman calendar, which we adjust with leap years,  but let's park that for now.

As a rough guide, a day lasts 24 hours (but that, as well, is an average that we use to simplify things). The main point here is that those 24 hours are what we mean when we talk about the Earth's rotation.

And here's where things get interesting. The Earth's rotation hasn't always been 24 hours. It used to be faster. Scientists think a day may have been as short as six hours — billions of years ago.

Longer days = more oxygen

Scientists are still trying to work out conclusively when, how and why Earth "oxygenated."

But this international team has proposed an apparently fresh idea.

Klatt, Dick and other colleagues have been studying "cyanobacteria mats" at the Middle Island Sinkhole in Lake Huron, USA.

At a depth of about 23 meters (76 feet), it's an area which the scientists say represents "early Earth."

The water at the sinkhole is low in oxygen and rich in sulfur. It's missing all the plant and animal life that is otherwise typical for Lake Huron, says Greg Dick.

But there's this thick purple mat or carpet of cyanobacteria.  Cyanobacteria are among the oldest known bacteria on Earth. They are aquatic and photosynthetic. They need sun light to live.

"We want to understand how oxygen was produced on an early Earth and the only significant biological source of oxygen on Earth are cyanobacteria, which evolved billions of years ago," says Klatt.

In their Nature Geoscience article, the scientists write that "oxygenic photosynthesis in microbial mats was a substantial source of oxygen for the Great Oxidation Event (GOE) about 2.4 billion years ago."

What they think is happening

The purple oxygen-producing cyanobacteria at the Middle Island Sinkhole have to "compete" with white sulfur-oxidizing bacteria in order to survive, say the scientists.

They "perform a tiny dance each day: From dusk till dawn, the sulfur-eating bacteria lie on top of the cyanobacteria, blocking their access to sunlight. When the sun comes out in the morning, the sulfur-eaters move downwards and the cyanobacteria rise to the surface of the mat," they write. 

So, when the sun comes out, the cyanobacteria start to photosynthesize and produce oxygen.

"However, it takes a few hours before they really get going, there is a long lag in the morning," says Klatt. "The cyanobacteria are rather late risers, it seems. As a result, their time for photosynthesis is limited to only a few hours each day." 

The air we breathe

But when days on Earth got longer — with longer stretches of sunlight — they produced more oxygen.

Brian Arbic, a physical oceanographer in the team, says that when the Earth-Moon system first formed, days were much shorter, possibly as short as six hours. But then "the rotation of our planet slowed due to the tug of the moon's gravity and tidal friction" and days grew longer.

Klatt thinks that daylength and oxygen from microbial mats are related at "a very basic and fundamental level: During short days, there is less time for oxygen to escape from the mats."

And that is, in short, the air that we breathe. So, the longer the day, the more we have to breathe?

Samples and further studies

The team includes other researchers from the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research in Germany and the Annis Water Resources Institute at Grand Valley State University, USA.

They are still investigating samples collected from the lake floor and continuing to monitor the conditions there. They want to understand what controls oxygen production in cyanobacteria and explain why, it seems, oxygen only really developed on Earth in "more recent times," says Dick.


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