Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Legacy of Intolerance

This came in a forwarded email and I thought it poignant enough to be worth posting here.

It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe ended. This e-mail is being sent as a memorial chain, in memory of the six million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and 1,900 Catholic priests who were murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved and humiliated with the German and Russian Peoples looking the other way!

Now, more than ever, with Iran , among others, claiming the Holocaust to be " a myth" it is imperative to make sure the world never forgets, because there are others who would like to do it again.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Scientific American: Searching for God in the Brain

From Scientific American: Searching for God in the Brain

Researchers are unearthing the roots of religious feeling in the neural commotion that accompanies the spiritual epiphanies of nuns, Buddhists and other people of faith

By David Biello

The doughnut-shaped machine swallows the nun, who is outfitted in a plain T-shirt and loose hospital pants rather than her usual brown habit and long veil. She wears earplugs and rests her head on foam cushions to dampen the device’s roar, as loud as a jet engine. Supercooled giant magnets generate intense fields around the nun’s head in a high-tech attempt to read her mind as she communes with her deity.




(Full Text)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Science vs. Religion

Science begins with a question and the foundation of the accumulated knowledge of past scientific work, always aware that future work may call any of that past knowledge into question. Answers are sought through contemplation and experiment, examining what can be observed and devising ways to test and clarify our understanding. It is by nature a process of successive approximation, gradually, continually improving and refining what we understand. While it may never lead to a complete understanding of everything, it is the only path we know to revealing reality, tantalizing glimpse by tantalizing glimpse.

Religion, on the other hand, begins with the premise that all answers can be found in an ancient book. This premise stands in contradiction to the whole enterprise of scientific investigation and ultimately of meaningful education. Without the external pressures of modern society, religious “education” consists mainly of rote memorization of the scriptures and some limited exploration of their interpretation according to whichever leaders were involved. This can be seen today in areas dominated by fundamentalists. Religion actively impedes the learning process, even going so far as to declare some ideas as heretical, off limits to even private thought.

Religion is an insult to the individual and collective intelligence not only of our own species but all species. Even as it purports to hallow nature as creations of its god or gods, it denies the magnificence of nature and the processes underlying it, seeking instead to project the notion that it all is the product of the grand design of some mythical, mystical consciousness, the origin of which remains obscure, but, despite its putative ability to create the entire universe, somehow it is unfulfilled without human worship.

Science and the Islamic world—The quest for rapprochement

Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy
Physics Today Online

"Internal causes led to the decline of Islam's scientific greatness long before the era of mercantile imperialism. To contribute once again, Muslims must be introspective and ask what went wrong."