Category Archives: GWOG | Science

The hostility of Christianity and other religions towards homosexuality is not a reason to shed one’s belief in God. It is scientific skepticism as a mode of thinking that provides us with a logical framework that shows that God is not a part of the picture of reality.

The scientific method is the only tool we have that has proven time and again to enhance our resolution of reality. Religion has done nothing in this regard and in fact has been consistent only in redefining its interpretations of static doctrine in order to fit what science reveals about the world around us. This topic takes a skeptic’s approach to exploring our universe by way of critical thinking on the one hand while highlighting the logical fallacies characteristic of faith based thinking on the other.

Neil deGrasse Tyson | The Only “ist” I am is a Scientist

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson claims the title “scientist” above all other “ists.” And yet, he says he is “constantly claimed by atheists.” So where does he stand? Tyson explains the value in not attaching one’s self to a philosophy or movement but rather to simply think for one’s self as a way to avoid the preconceptions that come with identity. He prefers to discuss ideas in real time rather than to assign labels to ideas and assert that we know the outcome of discussing such ideas in advance.

Astronomers Test Einstein Using Pair of Burnt-Out Stars

By McDONALD OBSERVATORY | THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN
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AUSTIN, Texas — A team of astronomers led by researchers from The University of Texas at Austin has confirmed the emission of gravitational waves from the second-strongest known source in our galaxy by studying the shrinking orbital period of a unique pair of burnt-out stars. Their observations tested Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity in a new regime. The results will be published soon in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Last year, the same team discovered that the two white dwarf stars are so close together that they make a complete orbit in less than 13 minutes, and they should be gradually slipping closer. The system, called SDSS J065133.338+284423.37 (J0651 for short), contains two white dwarf stars, which are the remnant cores of stars like our sun.

Einstein’s theory of general relativity predicts that moving objects create subtle ripples in the fabric of space-time, called gravitational waves. Though not yet directly observed, gravitational waves should carry away energy, causing the stars to inch closer together and orbit each other faster and faster.

“Every six minutes the stars in J0651 eclipse each other as seen from Earth, which makes for an unparalleled and accurate clock some 3,000 light-years away,” said study lead author J.J. Hermes, a graduate student working with Professor Don Winget at The University of Texas at Austin.

Einstein’s theory predicts that the orbital period of this binary system loses about 0.25 milliseconds every year, less than one-thousandth of a second.

The team has just tested that prediction using more than 200 hours of observations from the 2.1-meter Otto Struve Telescope at the university’s McDonald Observatory in West Texas, the Frederick C. Gillett Gemini North telescope in Hawai‘i, the 10.4-meter Gran Telescopio Canarias in the Canary Islands of Spain, and the 3.5-meter Apache Point telescope in New Mexico.

“Compared to April 2011, when we discovered this object, the eclipses now happen six seconds sooner than expected,” said team member Mukremin Kilic of The University of Oklahoma.

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Bill Nye: When You’re in Love, You Want to Tell the World

…when you’re in love with science that is.

Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology. According to Bill Nye, if adults want to “deny evolution and live in [a] world that is completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that’s fine, but don’t make your kids do it…”

Reddit Post | On Meaning in Life without God

Beautifully written by DEFIANTSOUL | REDDIT

“When I look at matter, I don’t just see objects, nor even simply gasses, liquids, solids, or plasmas. I see molecules, made up of atoms, made up of subatomic particles consisting of protons, neutrons, and electrons. I see how the arrangement and inclusiveness of these molecules determines each state and type of matter.

“When I look at the day sky, I don’t just see the color blue. I see Rayleigh scattering in effect. I see gas molecules absorbing the short wavelengths and scattering them everywhere, resulting in the illusion of a blue sky.

“When I look at the Sun, I don’t just see a ball of light that moves across the sky from east to west. I see the result of molecular clouds collapsing into a protostar and eventually igniting a nuclear reaction 865,000 miles across and 332,000 times larger than the Earth. One that’s been burning for 4.5 billion years. I feel the Earth spinning at over 1000 mph, and I see it rotating around the Sun at over 67,000 mph at a distance of over 93 million miles. Held in place by the enormity of the Suns distortion of space-time.

“When I look at the night sky, I don’t just see thousands of twinkling lights. I see the 200 – 400 billion solar systems that make up our galaxy. 10 billion of which may have planets in the habitable zone. Beyond that, I see the hundreds of billions of other galaxies, each holding hundreds of billions of their own solar systems. I wonder what manner of life resides in the, currently, unknowable expanse.

“When I look at nature, I don’t see plants and animals as they are, I see them as they were. I see the minute changes made through natural selection over generations, and millions or billions of years, in order to better adapt to their changing environments. I also see the changes made through artificial selection to animals such as dogs, cats, and livestock, made in mere thousands of years, by humans. I see the trail that leads all of life back to its common genetic ancestors. I see the microbial soup that spawned all of life on this planet. I see the formation of the Earth from accretion of the solar nebulae. I understand how we are literally, however remotely, made of star dust.

“All of this I see, I feel, and I understand. It is this understanding, and the desire for more understanding that puts my life and it’s smallness into perspective. It’s this scale of thinking that curbs my cynicism of humanity, and keeps the spark of life and wonder burning inside of me. These truths, and any of the like discovered in the future, are the only universal truths. These truths bind us, and they should unite us. We are, all of us, the same. We originate from the same cloud of nebulous gasses. It is in this manner that I define my spirituality, and I can think of no greater a cause than to continue to expand our knowledge and understanding of the universe that created us.”

Jamy Ian Swiss – “Overlapping Magisteria”

Magician and skeptic Jamy Ian Swiss shares his passionate vision for the scope of modern scientific skepticism, live from the stage at TAM 2012.

“Overlapping Magisteria” is a phrase Swiss uses to describe the ability of scientific skepticism to provide a solid viewpoint on a whole host of different issues — for instance gay rights, or the atheistic worldview — by using a common lens through which to view the issue: critical thinking and a scientific mindset.

 

Thinking Style and Belief In God

What factors drive a belief in God?

by ART MARKMAN, Ph.D. | PSYCHOLOGY TODAY

There is no doubt that the human mind is prepared to believe in the divine. All over the world, cultures have created belief in one or many gods. These beliefs are common in societies regardless of levels of technological advancement and scientific achievement.

Because of the prevalence of religious beliefs in cultures throughout the world, psychologists have explored why a belief in God is so common. It is clear that there are many different factors that come together to support a belief in God. For example, people tend to view even random events as having a cause, and God provides a good explanation for these seemingly random events. The belief in God may also reduce people’s anxiety when faced with events that would be hard to explain otherwise.

An interesting paper by Amitai Shenhav, David Rand, and Joshua Greene in the August 2012 issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General suggests that people’s thinking style may also influence the strength of people’s belief in God.

Many different theories propose that there are two inter-related systems of thought. One is a more intuitive system that helps people to make fast judgments. The second is a more reflective system that allows people to reason through complex problems.

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