Thursday, February 19, 2009

An Ode to Microbes

The Microbe

by: Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953)

THE MICROBE is so very small
You cannot make him out at all,
But many sanguine people hope
To see him through a microscope.
His jointed tongue that lies beneath
A hundred curious rows of teeth;
His seven tufted tails with lots
Of lovely pink and purple spots,
On each of which a pattern stands,
Composed of forty separate bands;
His eyebrows of a tender green;
All these have never yet been seen--
But Scientists, who ought to know,
Assure us that it must be so...
Oh! let us never, never doubt
What nobody is sure about!

Hilaire Belloc, "The Microbe" / More Beasts for Worse Children /
Duckworth / 1912.

Hat Tip to Clare


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Shielding Hostility with Science

Science Vs. Religion (PartI) is a Viewpoint article. It begins:

The recent issue of The New Republic contains an essay by Darwinian biologist Jerry Coyne on why he believes there can be no rapprochement between science and "religion."

This is another chapter in the continuing war on religion waged by the New Atheist community. Science is used as a front to shield personal antipathies. RLC quoting Coyne:

The ideas that made Darwin's theory so revolutionary are precisely the ones that repel much of religious America, for they imply that, far from having a divinely scripted role in the drama of life, our species is the accidental and contingent result of a purely natural process.

RLC responds with this:

This is an important point, one that's often lost on people. The intellectual conflict today is not between "religion" and evolution. There's no necessary incompatibility between the two, not even between young-earth creationism and evolution (as I hope to point out in a future post). The conflict, rather, is between Darwinian evolution and the belief that an intellect is involved in the creation of the world. Darwinism denies any role for purpose, intention, or mind in the generation and diversification of life and it is this view, which is at bottom a non-scientific, philosophical belief, which many religious people reject.

RLC gets to the root of the conflict with this observation. In thinking that humans are "the accidental and contingent result of a purely natural process" Coyne and his fellow believers think they have closed off a "divine foot in the door" as Lewontin eloquently put it. Their encounter with expressions of belief to the contrary might explain the anger and hostility that accompanies their visits to forums focused on discussions of Intelligent Design.


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Biomimicry at its Finest

Which is more resouceful, inventive and smarter: natural biological processes or very intelligent and educated human beings? If the need to borrow ideas is an indicator than perhaps it is the biological processes. And to think that such processes are simply blind, brute forces of nature. Or are they? We won't get definitive answers from an article I'll link to but what we do get are some interesting examples of human technology which have biological precursors.

The 15 Coolest Cases of Biomimicry is a well illustrated and easy to read piece of interest to biology, technology and design aficionados. The list of 15:

1. Velcro
2. Passive Cooling
3. Gecko Tape
4. Whalepower Wind Turbine
5. Lotus Effect Hydrophobia
6. Self-Healing Plastics
7. The Golden Streamlining Principle
8. Artificial Photosynthesis
9. Bionic Car
10. Morphing Aircraft Wings
11. Friction-Reducing Sharkskin
12. Diatomaceous Nanotech
13. Glo-Fish
14. Insect-Inspired Autonomous Robots
15. Butterfly-Inspired Displays

Artificial photosynthesis hopefully will become a technology of the future enabling stronger economies and healthier environments. Photosynthesis Inspires "Green Fuel" Breakthrough is an article which contains the following remarks:

Could the selection of random mutations, as neo-Darwinists propose, have led to such an amazingly coordinated, sophisticated system? The most that current research can do, having left no part to randomness, is to produce a pale copy of just one part of photosynthesis.

Where did photosynthesis come from? Those who develop machines by copying the ordered processes of intricate, efficient machines found in nature ought to recognize that millions of years could not, and thus did not, build them. Nevertheless, Professor Spiccia stated that his team was able to split water by using “the very chemical that nature has selected for this purpose."2

Inanimate objects and undirected processes, no matter what their ages are projected to be, are not observed to “select” things—scientists, inventors, and other rational beings are. Therefore, the more reasonable possibility is that the Creator God created manganese, then selected it as a catalyst to supply the oxygen and plant growth necessary for life here on earth.

Photosynthesis is one of those many cellular processes which lends support for a design inference.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Commentary at Telic Thoughts

Some comments caught my attention during recent days at Telic Thoughts. They follow along with links to them and the blog entries under which they appear.

At Telic Thoughts I wrote the blog entry Surface Appearences which produced comments, some of which I think are particularly noteworthy. The list:

This comment by John A. Designer about naturalism, free will and purpose.

This comment by Mike Gene.

This one by John A. Designer.

This one and this other one by John A. Designer.

There was the blog entry Scientism which led to some comic relief from angryoldfatman.

I like angryoldfatman's sense of humor which is also on display here.

From JJS's Design is NOT a Mechanism:

My reaction to comments of Zachriel and JJS.

Zachriel and ID guy.

The return of Rock!