Wednesday, February 26, 2014


I find myself wondering what we'll do as a society when we've automated every job that currently requires a human. Hearing reports that computers are now able to write clean essays and papers is somewhat discouraging for me, personally, and brought this question into my head.

Sooner or later, computers will be designing objects, and then assembling them via robots, with little or no human intervention. Assuming there is no machine revolution, what will people do in a world where there are no jobs because machines do all of the work.

What happens when all vehicles on land, in the sea, and in the air have automatic pilots?

What happens when a computer can diagnose a medical condition more quickly, more accurately, and more reliably than a human doctor? When it can prescribe the best medications and control a robot to perform the best procedures?

What happens when all manufacturing is done by robots?

What happens when humans are no longer needed for anything?

I can only imagine that the wealth disparity that exists now will become far worse. It seems likely that the owners of the machines (and therefore all of the wealth and resources) will represent a tiny portion of the population. What will become of everyone else?

A machine revolution might not even be necessary for a vast depopulation event.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Coriander Chutney Wings

I get jars of coriander chutney from the international market at the Nashville Farmers' Market. It's good as a condiment, but I've discovered that it makes a terrific wing sauce.

I typically cook the wings in a cast iron pan in the oven at 350 for about half an hour. It doesn't get much easier than that.

The sauce isn't difficult, either.
  • One heaping tablespoon of coriander chutney.
  • A teaspoon or more of Ole Jamaican-style hot sauce.
  • Enough olive oil to allow the chutney to coat the chicken.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Additional red pepper flakes if you need more heat.
That makes enough to coat about ten wings.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

22 Messages from Creationists

These messages are ostensibly to Bill Nye at the debate he had with Ken Ham. Just hearing Ken's non-answers to Bill's questions was painful enough, but some of these really burn my brain cells. They show a complete lack of understanding of the Theory of Evolution and science in general, which I think is tragic.

Still, I can give my answers/responses to these questions. I am going to try to suppress my usual snark.

1) Are you influencing the minds of children in a positive way?
Yes. Bill is trying to teach children how science is really done.

2) Are you scared of a divine creator?
I dare say that Bill is not.

3) Is it completely illogical that the earth was created mature (i.e. trees created with rings, Adam created as an adult,...)?
The problem with such a belief is that it requires colossal deception on the part of the creator. Light from distant stars has to be created "en route" so we can see it today; hundreds of thousands of extra layers of snow ice must be formed; millions of rock layers must be formed; pre-decayed nuclear materials must be planted; fossils must be distributed in layers that indicate progressive evolution. The creator would have to have taken a lot of trouble to make the Earth and universe look much older than they are. If the universe were created by such a huge deceiver, why would we expect the Bible to be true?

4) Does not the Second Law of Thermodynamics disprove Evolution?
No, it does not. If thermodynamics disproved evolution, physicists would have laughed it out of universities ages ago.

5) How do you explain a sunset if there is no God?
I don't know if I can answer this without sounding condescending. The Earth rotates. From our perspective, the Sun dips below the horizon. The light scattering from particles in the atmosphere gives us the brilliant colors.

6) If the Big Bang Theory is true and taught as science along with evolution, why do the laws of thermodynamics debunk said theories?
As I said, the laws of thermodynamics don't debunk Evolution or the Big Bang.

7) What about Noetics?
I'm not familiar with Noetics. A quick search tells me that Noetics is a "branch of metaphysical philosophy concerned with the study of mind and intellect". I don't really see how this field of philosophy is supposed to relate to the question of Evolution and Creationism.

8) Where do you derive objective meaning in life?
I don't really understand the question. I don't think that deriving your meaning of life from the Bible is objective. "Meaning" is something you find for yourself: it's never objective.

9) If God did not create everything, how did the first single-celled organism originate? By chance?
Pretty much by chance, yes. Abiogenesis is the particular field of study of the early origins of life. It relates to how organic chemistry on the ancient Earth could have generated simple compounds and "cells" that replicated themselves, starting the process of life. No one has managed to generate simple, replicating cells in a lab yet, but this work is ongoing.

10) I believe in the Big Bang Theory... God said it and BANG it happened!
Thanks for making it clear that you're not interested in talking about this like an adult.

11) Why do evolutionists/secularists/humanists/non-God-believing people reject the idea of there being a creator God but embrace the concept of intelligent design from aliens or other extra-terrestrial sources?
By and large (in my experience, at least), non-creationists do not embrace the concept of alien intervention, either.

12) There is no in between... the only one found has been Lucy, and there are only a few pieces of the hundreds necessary for an "official proof".
This seems to be a simple case of misinformation. "Lucy" is only one example of the australopithecine fossils. There are at least nine significant finds of this genus, and "Lucy" is 40% complete, not just "a few pieces".

13) Does metamorphosis help support evolution?
I really like this question. The answer is no. Metamorphosis is something that happens to an individual organism during its lifetime. Evolution happens to a population of organisms over successive generations. They are separate phenomena.

14) If Evolution is a Theory (like creationism or the Bible), why then is Evolution taught as fact.
Misuse of the word "theory" is a common problem when discussing controversial science topics. To a scientist, a theory is a coherent group of tested propositions that can be used to explain a set of observations or facts. In other words, it is not a guess or an untested claim. A theory must undergo rigorous testing and peer review before becoming widely accepted.

15) Because science by definition is a "theory" -- not testable, observable, nor repeatable, why do you object to creationism or intelligent design being taught in school?
This is another clear case of misinformation. "Science" is an organized effort to understand the universe. A "theory" is an explanation for observed phenomena that is testable, observable, and repeatable. Creationism and intelligent design do not meet that standard: evolution does.

16) What mechanism has science discovered that evidences an increase of genetic information seen in any genetic mutation or evolutionary process.
One of the simplest is "gene duplication". An error in replication produces an extra copy of an existing gene. The duplicate is free to change in subsequent generations, allowing new content to enter the species' genetic code without losing the original gene.

17) What purpose do you think you are here for if you do not believe in salvation?
As I believe I said earlier, finding purpose in life is something everyone does for himself or herself. There are plenty of ways to find fulfillment in life.

18) Why have we found only 1 "Lucy", when we have found more than 1 of everything else?
As noted before, there are actually several australopithecine fossils, and more examples of other early human ancestors.

19) Can you believe in "the big bang" without "faith"?
There is observable evidence for the Big Bang, so faith is not required.

20) How can you look at the world and not believe someone created/thought of it? It's amazing!!!
It is amazing, but that does not require it to be the creation of a deity (let alone just six thousand years ago despite all of the evidence that the Earth is much older).

21) Relating to the big bang theory... where did the exploding star come from?
There are many questions to which scientists are still seeking answers. We can observe that the universe is expanding from a central point, but we still don't know exactly what happened there. The tools available to us now can't tell us exactly what "exploded" or what was going on before the "explosion". Scientists, however, see that as an opportunity for study, not a mystery to leave unsolved.

22) If we come from monkeys, then why are there still monkeys?
Okay, I was trying to suppress my snark, but this is such an old and absurd question that I'm pretty sure the guy holding up the card is just trolling. There is nothing in the Theory of Evolution that says that monkeys have to go extinct for apes and humans to evolve from them.