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DAVIDSON: Science & Religion — Seeking Enlightenment Throughout History

Let us not be slaves to scientific certitude.

Jeff Davidson

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I attended a lecture where an astronomer explained why Pluto had been demoted and was no longer considered a planet. Pluto is only 70% the diameter of our moon, and only 18% of Earth’s diameter. Discovered in 1930, it was number nine on the list of planets, was the most distant and coldest, and had the strangest orbit.

As telescopes became more powerful, and researchers grew more aware of the panoply of objects in our galaxy, Pluto was regarded as merely a planetoid in the Kuiper belt, among tens of thousands of celestial bodies in that section of our solar system. If Pluto was to still be considered a planet, at least six or seven other spherical masses, of more or less equal size, would have to be considered planets as well. Since none of them conform to the traditional standards for planets, Pluto was demoted.

Astronomers at the California Institute of Technology have been seeking a true ninth planet in the Kuiper Belt, after encountering evidence of its existence in early 2016. This potential planet is approximately ten times earth’s mass and perhaps 5,000 times Pluto’s mass.

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So Much We Don’t Know

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The above observations epitomize the ever-changing nature of our scientific knowledge base. We believe we know something to be true. Later, we discover more, often overturning what we previously “‘knew.” The most learned people on Earth once “knew” without question that the sun and the stars revolved around the earth. To astronomers who came later, the sun and the stars clearly did not revolve around the earth, but initially to say otherwise was to risk death.

Today, many people believe that evolution explains everything about life in the universe. It does not. No one can explain what put the Big Bang in motion and, tellingly, where matter originated. Without carbon and some level of heat and moisture, life cannot begin, and even when those factors are present, more often life does not begin.

It was once thought that life couldn’t exist at the bottom of the completely dark ocean. Today, we observe that the ocean floor is teeming with life and that life finds a way to thrive often in the absence of what is thought to be “ideal circumstances.”

Currently, some otherwise supposedly intelligent people don’t accept that the brain functioning in men and women is somewhat different. Men tend to excel in math and science, however, this is not to say women cannot excel in math and science. Our brains are wired differently. Women have other advantages in brain functioning.

As we proceed into the future, based on available scientific evidence much of what we “know” to be true will prove to be untrue, especially as we learn more about the universe, the stars, the galaxies, our own solar system, and even Earth itself.

My God Supersedes Your “god”

It’s been said that more people have died in the name of religion than for any other reason. Actually, most wars likely have been fought over territory. Tribal warfare, since the dawn of civilization, can be traced back not only to differences in culture and lifestyle, but also to differences in appearance, inclination, and one’s respective deity.

Every religion has tenuous precepts and tenets that even the wisest scholars cannot explain. Religion is interpreted by mortals on earth and, understandably, is subject to human predispositions and biases. Some religions have given man a vaulted position on earth and woman a lesser position. Many religions suffer from a parallax view: Ours is “the way” and your way is inferior.

Religions carefully lay out what God has intended for us, and how God wants us to worship him. Yet, no one can prove that they’ve actually consulted directly with God. Thus, every religious text ever written, every set of laws or commandments, and all religious customs represent the accumulation of man’s interpretation of events on earth and how they might relate to the heavens.

Science and Religion are Here to Stay

It is prudent, even praiseworthy, to improve our knowledge of science and add to the storehouse of what we believe to be scientific facts. And, there is little reason to abandon religion when it brings peace and comfort to devotees, and spreads goodwill, enabling humankind to live in harmony.

Let us approach science with more diligence, recognizing that what we “know” today could well be undone by what we discover tomorrow. Let’s approach religion with more tolerance, recognizing that every group feels that they are right and has a direct relation to God. Let us not be slaves to scientific certitude or to religious dogma because, quite simply, no one has all the answers, and no one is ever likely to have them.

News

Apple Backs Down, Will Allow Parler Back on App Store

The news is seen as a major boost for the First Amendment.

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Free speech is a fickle thing, and precious too.  If we’re not careful, it can be stripped away but those who hide behind the claim that a “private” company can limit your personal freedoms. Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms are almost always the culprits here, bending the algorithmic reach of those with whom they disagree. Enter Parler:  A free speech app where only the bare legal minimum of content would be moderated. The platform became incredibly popular with an astonishing swiftness, but soon faced trouble from companies who had previously aligned themselves with Facebook and Twitter’s more controlling stance. Apple, who had previously booted Parler from its App Store, has now relented to the Constitution. Apple has approved Parler’s return to the iOS app store following improvements the social media company made to better detect and moderate hate speech and incitement, according to a letter the iPhone maker sent to Congress on Monday. The decision clears the way for Parler, an app popular with conservatives including some members of the far right, to be downloaded once again on Apple devices. The letter — addressed to Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Ken Buck and obtained by CNN — explained that since the app was removed from Apple’s platform in January for violations of its policies, Parler “has proposed updates to its app and the app’s content moderation practices.” On April 14, Apple’s app review team told Parler that its proposed changes were sufficient, the letter continued. Now, all Parler needs to do is to flip the switch. The news is seen as a major boost for the First Amendment.

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Opinion

Oath Keeper Leader Claims Police are Training Militias for ‘Civil War’

And the FBI seems to agree with him!

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At the very end of the first term of Donald Trump’s presidency, we were as close to a civil war as this nation has come in over a dozen decades, and we may not fully appreciate that yet.  We are, perhaps, too close to the events themselves to fully understand just how narrowly we escaped a broader calamity, but we must try to remain vigilant still. Especially if what one of the leaders of the Oath Keepers says is true. The far-right paramilitary the Oath Keepers is home to active-duty law-enforcement officers who are training up other members to prepare for civil war, according to one of the group’s top figures. CBS News’ 60 Minutesprofiled the the increasingly notorious militia on Sunday night, and one of its leaders from Arizona, Jim Arroyo, spoke openly about the close involvement of police officers. “Our guys are very experienced,” said Arroyo. “We have active-duty law enforcement in our organization that are helping to train us. We can blend in with our law enforcement and in fact, in a lot of cases, our training is much more advanced because of our military backgrounds.” And the government seems to already be away of this. Arroyo’s statement was backed up by Javed Ali, an ex-National Security Council senior director and FBI counterterrorism official, who said the Oath Keepers are a “unique and challenging” threat to the U.S. because a “large percentage have tactical training and operational experience in either the military or law enforcement. That at least gives them a capability that a lot of other people in this far-right space don’t have.” Several members of the Oath Keepers were arrested during the January 6th Capitol riot, as they attempted to prevent the certification of the results of the 2020 election by Congress.

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