Saturday, January 21, 2017

How Does Evolution Work?

For the life of me I can't figure out how evolution works.  I mean, I know in theory how it works---mutations, what works is kept, what doesn't is discarded---but I can't figure out how it actually works. 

I've been reading a cellular biology textbook for awhile now, and I find myself asking the same question on every page.  At the subcellular level, life consists of sequences of chemical reactions between all manner of molecular structures, in highly regulated step-by-step processes, interdependent with and coordinated with other processes on the same or higher levels.  How does a strictly regulated, interdependent, coordinated, complex sequence of events evolve?  Does it evolve from another strictly regulated, interdependent, coordinated, complex sequence of events?  How does that happen?  If it's a necessary sequence---as it must be to be there in the first place---you can't just change it so that it does something else with no regulation or coordination; that would be disastrous.  It all has to fit... it all has to work... every step, every time, or else it's discarded - right?

I'm asking the question in all honesty.  Seriously, if anyone has an answer, please comment below.  I want to get specific though.  I want to get into the nuts and bolts of how some existing sequence evolved, every step of the way: what it was previously, what it was at every change and why that would be conserved, and what it is today.  I'm not interested in a 'Creation vs. Evolution' debate, nor will I respond to trolls.  If you don't have an actual answer then please just go away.

Life is Unnatural

Life is unnatural.  Yes I believe that.  The natural state of something is the state in which it would remain if left alone, (think of how gases disseminate, or dust settles).   Life is unnatural because--rather than settle out, or disseminate--the things that work together to make something alive defy nature at every turn. 

Let me give one brief example.  Biological organisms are chock full of molecular structures called 'enzymes' which could be characterized as the 'worker bees' of cellular function: they get things done.  Now, there are certain enzymes that do nothing but facilitate chemical reactions.  We're not talking about everyday, run-of-the-mill, natural chemical reactions.  No, these chemical reactions take place at rates sometimes thousands of times faster and significantly cooler than they would occur 'naturally' (that is, unaided).  Normally, increasing the rate would increase the temperature, but enzymes somehow manage to make these reactions occur at faster rates and cooler temps. 

So you have these molecular structures, with no minds of their own, working together with other molecular structures, to bring about just the right chemical reaction, at just the right rate, and just the right temperature, to sustain life.  Now why would molecules do that?  What possible reason would a molecule have to work together with other molecules for anything?  It's positively unnatural!  Of course it's not just enzymes, there are thousands of molecular complexes throughout the biological realm that are actively working to circumvent nature.

Now if we were to witness unthinking entities doing unnatural things (like say, the brooms in the scene from Fantasia depicted above) we would immediately think "magic"... right?  No, actually "magic" would be the last thing a rational person would think.  We would suspect trickery or some sort of intelligent intervention to give the appearance of magic.  Why?  Because unthinking entities don't do things like that on their own.  It's just not natural.  So why do we give life a pass?  Why do we believe life is some sort of magical miracle and not the result of intelligent intervention?

I don't believe in magic.  Do you?

What Microsoft's Racist Chatbot Teaches Us About Austrian Economics

I'm sure we've all heard by now about Microsoft's failed chatbot experiment (where the Internet corrupted an innocent AI in just one day).  But what does that have to do with Austrian Economics?  Just this: the programmers of "Tay" the chatbot could not have predicted what millions of Internet users were going to do, and this--the unpredictability of human actions--is the central tenet of Austrian Economics.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

It's Time We ALL Vote Third Party!

For the sake of America, we need to end the two party stranglehold on politics in this country.  It is so bad now that even the most independent minded voters parrot the two-party-line that they must not "waste their vote" on a third party.  The thing is, voting for Democrats or Rebublicans is actually wasting a vote because it is just a vote to maintain the status quo.

We voters have been brainwashed into believing that there are significant differences between the two parties - but there are not.  The only real difference is in what they say.  They all appeal to their base - usually promising to spend more money on things their base wants.  As for how they actually govern - well, it's just one big lovefest: both parties in total collusion keeping the war machine going, the big banks happy, and the debt for future generations rising!!!

So why not just do it?   There are more unaffiliated voters in this country than there are Democrats or Republicans.  If every unaffiliated voter refused to vote D or R, that would be it - game over!!  So why don't we ALL vote third party this time around?  It doesn't really matter which third party candidate you vote for - as long as it's not a Democrat or Republican.  Just one election cycle with no votes for Democrats or Rebublicans would be enough to do it.  Congress would be filled with enough new blood, and new ideas, to effectively end crony-capitalism, the military industrial complex, corporate welfare, and all of the other evils perpetrated by the two-party duopoly on America.  If we want to send a loud, clear message to Washington D.C. (and to all our state and local governments as well), then refuse to vote Democrat or Republican.

So vote third party this time - and save America!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

On ISIS, Vietnam and the Military Industrial Complex

Right now, most conservatives truly believe that ISIS, and Islamic jihadists in general, are the greatest threat to American security on the globe.  That is total hogwash.  

Now, does that mean that I don't believe Islamic jihadists are dangerous?  No, I think they're dangerous, just like the communists in Vietnam were dangerous.  Are they 'greatest threat to American security on the globe, engage the entire US war machine' dangerous?  No way.  They are a localized threat to a distant region.  (At least that's all they would be if we left it alone!)  

In Vietnam, we were told by the American military propaganda machine that a failure to engage the communists would have a 'domino effect' - that communism would spread throughout the globe and that freedom everywhere would disappear.  Of course the only way to fight such an evil was with a limited, protracted military engagement that could never realistically be won but was guaranteed to keep the money flowing into corporate coffers.  (Sound familiar?)  And what good did it do?  Not a dang bit.  Saigon fell, we got the heck out, the communists took over and now we have trade and travel between our nations.  

Wait...  What?  

Yep, that's right, the domino effect was a lie.  After Saigon fell and the communists took over, their attempts to imprison the entire nation failed and eventually borders were opened and trade with Western nations was allowed.  And, just like the domino effect, the Islamic jihadist scare is also a lie.  You see, every totalitarian regime will eventually collapse under its own weight.  This is because it is impossible to enslave an entire population.  The average Vietnamese citizen was not a die-hard communist, just like the average Muslim is not a fanatical jihadist.  These are just people.  People with families, businesses, hopes and dreams.  In other words, they're just like us.  And if we, as a people, would rise up, dismantle the Military Industrial Complex, stop the senseless military engagements, bring the troops home and try something like, oh I don't know, free trade, we might just find that the average middle easterner would throw off the shackles the jihadists are trying to impose on them, and that political ideology would collapse under its own weight as well.

Monday, October 5, 2015

On the UCC shooting, gun control, and good and evil

Driving home from work the day after the UCC shooting, I heard local sports radio personality Jason Scukanec talking about the shooting and his reaction to it. He said that he was "tired of this happening" and that it made him want to "get rid of all of his guns". As a second amendment guy, my initial reaction was negative, but as I thought about it, I realized that his was a normal reaction for a good person to have to such a senseless, violent act. Good people do that, they see a problem and want to do something about it, even if it means personal sacrifice. Good people give and sacrifice for the good of others.

But that's not what bad people do. Bad people take. They take from others for their own ends, with no thought of the harm they are doing. That's the way of the world: there are good people and bad people - givers and takers - and even if all of the good people in the world threw all of their guns into the sea, it would not stop one bad person from continuing to use guns to take lives from others. The two actions are mutually exclusive.

Then I realized... we don't need to ban guns, we need to ban evil. If only there was a way, I thought, to gather all of the bad people up and send them off someplace where they could never interact with the good people again. That's what we need! Then it occurred to me, isn't that what heaven and hell are all about?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Danger Of Christian Conservatism

   Throughout the history of Christendom, whenever society has turned away from perceived Christian principles, (those of the denomination in power at the time), the church has turned to government coercion to force people to act according to said principles.  This is where we are in America right now.  Christian conservatives (chriscons) see sky-rocketing out-of-wedlock birth rates, gay marriage, abortion, and all manner of societal ills as evidence (sound evidence) that society is no longer bound by Christian principles.  And now these chriscons are looking for the government to step in and force people to live by biblical law.
   As a Christian Libertarian, I worry about this trend.  This tactic not only pushes for further governmental intrusion into private lives and beliefs, it also has the potential to backfire.  These chriscons trust certain "Christian" or "conservative" politicians to implement laws regulating private aspects of human behavior, never realizing that once we allow government jurisdiction over such private matters, we open the door for non-Christian, non-conservative politicians to use this new-found jurisdiction to legislate against those very Christian principles.  We see this today.  Christians push for laws excluding gays from marriage and certain other rights and, instead, we get laws requiring Christian businesses and churches to recognize and not discriminate against these things.
   So what's the alternative?  Well, the church should remain the church.  There is no biblical mandate in the New Testament for the church to govern man by coercion.  None.  And appeals to Old Testament laws are irrelevant to New Testament Christianity.  No, the church should insist strongly on the separation of church and state.  The church must wake up and recognize that the only way it will be free to be the church is if it is a separate entity entirely from government.  Therefore  it must sever all ties with government in order to eliminate any and all governmental influence and jurisdiction over spiritual matters.  The church must realize that once church and government become intertwined, government oversight of private matters is virtually guaranteed.
   Instead, the church should simply do what it was instructed to do: preach the gospel, pray, give to the poor... these are the biblical principles that will change society.