Ken Miller on Genome Sequencing

Ken Miller

I really think that the evidence is mounting which shows that Evolution is the theory that best explains our origins. We are reaching the point where to believe in Intelligent Design or Creationism is hard to justify.

There are those who scoff at the school boy, calling him frivolous and shallow. Yet it was the
school boy who said, Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.

Mark Twain in Following the Equator, Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar

I understand how hard it can be to release concepts that one is attached to. As we ‘build our faith’ in something, we allow it to become almost part of us. We are bound to it, and when it is challenged, it can actually cause us harm. Even Christianity talks about this. ‘Let go, let God‘ comes to mind.

To state ‘This is what I believe’ is a wonderful thing. To then never budge from that belief when presented with evidence, empirical or logical, which refutes that belief is closed minded. Our paradigm or world view is colored by all of our experiences. It is safe to say that we are not the same person that we were a day ago, or even 5 minutes ago. Each experience that we have changes our core being in ways that we cannot fathom. To say ‘This I Believe now and forever’ is to stay a caterpillar, never transcending into the next state of being.

The Buddhist texts refer to four strands of grasping (upaadaana): grasping of sense pleasures (kaamupaadaana), of views (di.t.thuupaadaana), of rule and custom (siilabbatupaadaana), of doctrines of self (attavaadupaadaana). All of these can also be described as forms of raaga or desire. To destroy their power over the human psyche, attachment to them must be transformed into non-attachment. Non-attachment or non-grasping would therefore flow from the awareness that no possession, no relationship, no achievement is permanent or able to give lasting satisfaction; from the discovery that there is no self which needs to be protected, promoted, or defended; and from the realization that searching for selfish sensual gratification is pointless, since it leads only to craving and obsession.

Elizabeth J. Harris

(emphasis mine)

I think that it is like having a rope tied to yourself and a big horse. That horse is traveling away from you at a steady, but slow rate. When you are ‘grasping’, you firmly plant you’re feet and refuse to budge. This will be fine for a time, but when the pressure builds, it starts to become painful. As the rope tightens, your fists start to get crushed, and your torso squeezed.

Would it not be much better to simply give in to the change, and walk with the horse?

I gotta go here…

I think that I will have to take a trip to this museum…

The world’s first Creationist museum – dedicated to the idea that the creation of the world, as told in Genesis, is factually correct – will soon open. Stephen Bates is given a sneak preview and asks: was there really a tyrannosaurus in the Bible?…

…Theological scholars may have noticed that there are, in fact, no dinosaurs mentioned in the Bible – and here lies the Creationists’ first problem. Since there are undoubtedly dinosaur bones and since, according to the Creationists, the world is only 6,000 years old – a calculation devised by the 17th-century Bishop Ussher, counting back through the Bible to the Creation, a formula more or less accepted by the museum – dinosaurs must be shoehorned in somewhere, along with the Babylonians, Egyptians and the other ancient civilisations. As for the Grand Canyon – no problem: that was, of course, created in a few months by Noah’s Flood.

…But what, I ask wonderingly, about those fossilised remains of early man-like creatures? Marsh knows all about that: “There are no such things. Humans are basically as you see them today. Those skeletons they’ve found, what’s the word? … they could have been deformed, diseased or something. I’ve seen people like that running round the streets of New York.”…

…A little licence is allowed, however, where the Bible falls down on the details. The depiction of a wall-sized section of Noah’s Ark is based, not on the traditional picture of a flat-decked boat, but one designed by navy engineers with a keel and bows, which might, at least, have floated. “You can surmise,” says Marsh. When you get inside, there’s nifty computer software telling you how they fitted all the animals in, too….

You know, this really speaks for it’s self. But I still want to know – How did they fit 2 of each of the between 2 and 100 million species in a boat?

New Land Sighted!

The Pacific Ocean has given birth to a new volcanic island near Tonga, according to ocean-going eyewitnesses.

Crew on board a yacht called the “Maiken” believed they were the first to see a volcanic island forming a day out
from Neiafu, Tonga, while sailing towards Fiji in August, the Matangi Tonga news website reported Wednesday.

Seed Magazine

It’s refreshing to be reminded about the cyclic nature of life and death and how it applies to so much more then just humans and other animals. This sort of event reminds me that I am insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Just think – there are events happening out there that dwarf anything we humans could conceive of doing at this time. Case in point. Humbling.

OM's vs Volts

So – it seems that there is some scientific evidence starting to mount that Mediatation can improve your physical health.

The vagus nerve controls the production of tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a protein that signals the body to mount an inflammatory response. Decreasing vagus nerve activity ups TNF synthesis, whereas increasing vagus nerve activity limits TNF production and therefore inflammation.

Though inflammation can be useful in fighting infection, excessive inflammation can cause disease, such as Crohn’s disease or rheumatoid arthritis.

Tracey’s research opened the door to treating inflammatory diseases with drugs or devices that control vagus nerve activity, an approach that has proven successful in animals.

But at the conference, Tracey raised the possibility that vagus nerve activity, and therefore inflammation, could also be controlled mentally.

Meditation has been shown to slow heart rate via signals that travel down the vagus nerve. Those same signals, Tracey speculates, may also dampen immune response, making it possible for people to ease the symptoms of inflammatory diseases through exercises such as meditation and yoga.

Seed Magazine

We know that Mediation seems to have profound effects on the mind, spirit and body. Mediation can lead to a trance state – which is what hypnotists use to effect changes on their subjects.

We have also seen the incredible ‘mind over body’ that intense concentration can give – granting folks the ability to overcome great amounts of pain or discomfort. How do we explain these feats?

I think that this is the first step towards the West recognizing that the Eastern Mystical traditions might be based on some physical evidence.

Bigger, Badder, Wilder

Less than three weeks after Hurricane Katrina, a study published in Science showed that, while the number of tropical cyclones had not increased between 1970 and 2004, their strength had surged: Category-4 or -5 hurricanes where more than 50 percent more frequent in the second half of that period than in the first (Webster et al., Science, 16 September 2005).

American Institute of Physics

Hmm… I wonder why this would be happening? Perhaps we should look around for other trends during the same time slice?

Elsner used an elaborate statistical method (first devised by economics Nobel Prize winner Clive Granger) to answer the first of those two questions. He examined spikes in global atmospheric temperature (using satellite and ground-based data collected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and compared them to seasonal changes in average sea-surface temperatures for the entire northern-hemisphere part of the Atlantic (based on National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration data). His analysis showed that the spikes in atmospheric temperature mostly tended to come right before hurricane-season spikes in oceanic temperature, suggesting that the first were causing the second.

-Again, the AIP

The earth is a huge series of interconnected systems. (and you thought I was going to say pipes). The Average person dumps around 24 pounds of carbon a day into the air (world average, the average American dumps 122 pounds per day into the air). The earth can absorb about 9 pounds of carbon per person per day. That means, the carbon levels are increasing by about 13 pounds per person per day. Or about 65 billion pounds per day. That much change to one of the earth’s systems will have an effect on the others.

We know several things here.

  1. The carbon levels are the highest that they have been in 800,000 years (as far back as we can see).
  2. The carbon change has been unprecedentedly fast
  3. We are pumping billions of tons of carbon into the air per year
  4. Carbon absorbs heat.
  5. Carbon in the air changes the Albedo of a planet

I know that there are some who do not feel that global warming is true – or even possible. However, science is often simply applied common sense. It makes sense, given the evidence, that we have had an effect on the global climate. It’s time to wake up to that fact, and stop playing Chicken Little.

This is not Science Fiction!

European scientists voiced shock as they showed pictures which showed Arctic ice cover had disappeared so much last month that a ship could sail unhindered from Europe’s most northerly outpost to the North Pole itself.

The satellite images were acquired from August 23 to 25 by instruments aboard Envisat and EOS Aqua, two satellites operated by the European Space Agency (ESA)

Yahoo! News and Others

This is a troubling trend. I have a gut feeling that we are either on, or just past the tipping point. What is the tipping point? It’s when we can no longer fix the damage that we have done..

You see, there are several contributing factors here. The first is called the Albedo of a planet. It is usually expressed in a percentage (0 – 100%). Basically, it’s the percentage of light that is reflected back from a solar body. The big issue here is that ice is very reflective. When the polar Ice caps start to loose large areas, the earths albedo gets lower, we absorb more energy from the sun, and we heat up. This causes more ice to melt, and the albedo lowers again…

The other issue is there are green house gases trapped in the ice around the world. So, we have the ice melting, albedo lowering, more green house gases are released, and the global temperature goes up even faster.

Now, I do not think that humans are the sole cause of this, however, we have sure accelerated the changes. We are dumping so much carbon into the air that we simply cannot not be effecting the natural cycles.