Vonnegut quote

Many people need desperately to receive this message: I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone – Kurt Vonnegut jr 

Crazy things people believe: 1. Young Earth

Faith.  It is like when you know something, except without any proof. Also, if there is proof that shows that what you think is wrong (like Dinosaur bones) you still don’t change your mind.  That is why faith is better than science.  It doesn’t allow for being wrong, even when it is proved to be so.angel

So, what are some of the craziest…I mean best…things that people of faith believe?

1. Creationists (mainly Christian) maintain that the Earth is less than 7,000 years old.

Science, using measurement and calculation puts the rough age of the Earth at about 4.54 billion years old (45,400,000,000).  This is based on the radiometric dating of rocks.  Zircon crystals in Australia have been dated at about 4.4 billion years old, they are the oldest known Earthly material.  Light spectrum analysis of the stars shows that they are also about the same age.

Balderdash! Cry the creationists.  The Bible is the literal word of God, so all you need to do to know how old the Earth is, is to add up all the dates.

Luckily, the Anglican Primate (not a concession to Darwin, some term for an Archbishop) James Ussher did so in the 17th Century, and found that the Earth was created at nightfall preceding Sunday October 23, 4004 BC.

In the course of his studies, he also found that Herod died in 4BC so Christ must have been born anytime between 37 BC and 4BC.

There now exists in America a Creation Museum. On their website the fact that they believe the Earth to be 6000 years old is elusive, but insinuated: ‘Biblical history is the key to understanding dinosaurs’.  It is what they, as evangelical creationists, believe.  Apparently there were Dinosaurs on Noah’s ark.

Other people who had previously come to similar approximate conclusions (the Earth being about 6000 years old) include the Astronomer Johannes Kepler, and Isaac Newton.

Incidentally, Newton had all sorts of far-fetched ideas, he was an avid Bible scholar and he even predicted (using the Bible as his source) that the world would end (Christ would return) in 2060 or thereabouts.  He had a passion for Alchemy, and in particular the ability to turn base lead into gold.  After his death, his body was found to be riddled with mercury, probably from his alchemical pursuits, which suggests that he may well have been suffering from mercury poisoning in his later years.

Here are some ‘Young Earth’ arguments and responses, from Tim Thompson

Gorillas in the midst

In 1994 I was fortunate enough to see, in the mountains of Rwanda and Uganda, a family of silverback Gorillas, before they were fully acclimatised to human contact.  I would like to avoid anthropomorphism, or unwarranted sentiment, but it was a very touching experience, my impression was that they were strikingly peaceful, beautiful creatures. I found their simplicity in direct contrast to us, their complex neighbours. Human beings had recently perpetrated a horrific genocide amongst themselves in Rwanda, and we, humans, have brought that genocide to the Gorillas too.

What can you do?

The New Scientist has some sound advice


Karl Popper

When I was fresh out of university, I worked as a typesetter and proofreader. I was not very good at it because I could not quite stop myself from reading the books, when I should have been meticulously checking them for errors.

One book that was particularly distracting was ‘All life is problem solving’, by Karl Popper.  The full stops, paragraph breaks and em-rules cascaded past my attention like animals escaping a zoo as I turned the pages, transfixed.  I recently found some post it notes upon which I had scrawled this particularly inspiring passage from the book:

“I am anything but an enemy of religion. My religion is the doctrine of the splendours of the world; of the freedom and creativity of wonderful human beings; of the terror and suffering of the despairing people we can help; of the extent of good and evil that has emerged in human history and keeps emerging over and over again; of the joyful message that we can prolong people’s lives, especially those of women and children who have had the toughest life. I know nothing else. And although the scientific quest for truth is part of my religion, the magnificent scientific hypotheses are not religion – that must never be”

Without the hot air

If you get annoyed by vague ‘area the size of Wales’ statistics then ‘Without hot air’ is well worth a read.  Professor David Mackay has done the calculations and provides detailed models for how Britain could become sustainable in terms of energy production and consumption.

There is lots of useful information in the book, all of it with a practical and pragmatic perspective.

Don’t kid yourself that you can stop at switching your phone charger off and think you are doing your bit for the environment, for instance:

“All the energy saved in switching off your charger for one day
is used up in one second of car-driving.

The energy saved in switching off the charger for one year is
equal to the energy in a single hot bath.”

Read it online here