User:Phillipps

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This user thinks that evolution explains the origin of species.
Science This user would like to see changes to the evolution article expanding the scientific viewpoint.
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This user's Political Compass coordinates are -3.00,-4.56.




I am Canadian (and proud of it). I love classical music and sushi (and cheesecake for that matter). Nothing is better than a good book. I am extremely interested in history and science. I have been to:

The United States (Florida, Washington D.C., Boston)
Canada (born there)
England (lived there)
France
Belguim
Italy
The Cayman Islands (lived there)
Egypt
The Bahamas
The Dominican Republic

I have always wanted to visit Germany (beautiful country) and Poland which has the last old growth forest (over several thousand years old, and funnily enough protected by Hermann Göring) left on the Eurasian plain.

I have always wanted to write what I accept as fact, so here goes:

Contents

Atheism

I am an Atheist (I suppose technically an Agnostic).

Why

The burden of proof is on the one who asserts that something exists (ie Russel's Teapot) and I have not heard any sufficiently persuasive arguments (but there are many) for the existence of God. However, it is possible (since we cannot prove a universal negative, unless we go everywhere) that somewhere in the universe there might be a god.

Morality

I think that an Atheist can still be moral even though they do no believe in God (or gods). There are two arguments that I have found that are very good for this: 1. Reciprocation I do not want to be robbed, murdered, cheated, etc., so why should I do the same to others? If we all did what was good only for ourselves this would happen:

1. General stealing (great gain for the individual)
2. Revenge against the stealer (to get the goods back, possibly murder)
3. Gradual escalation of violence until the current social and political fabric of the world collapses.
4. Survival of the fittest arises, culture and learning goes out the window.

2. For the good of society The world works because of a freedom in trade, action and thought. This allows for great scientific breakthroughs, sophisticated trading networks, etc. These only work if there is a general level of peace and security in the society as a whole. Being afraid of murder and theft (among other things) would be no help at all. This was seen during the Early Mediaeval Period (once called the Dark Ages), when, because of lawlessness and no stability, trade, both domestic and foreign, pretty much collapsed (although there was some).

Origins of Life

Yes, it is true, I accept the Theory of Evolution as the best answer to the origin of life as we know it (ie Tree of Life). I do not think that God (or an Intelligent Designer) created some of the species, and evolution took over from there (what I like to call the orchard of life). Evolution is falsifiable (cat giving birth to a dog, humans appearing in solid rock next to dinosaurs, DNA strands that do not mutate at all)

Cambrian Explosion

One of the more misunderstood phenomena. The Cambrian Explosion was the rapid "explosion" of most major complex organisms about 520 MYA (millions of years ago). This is pointed out as being the spot where there God or an intelligent designer intervened because everything appeared so quickly. There are two problems with this:

  • 1. Organisms before that had soft bodies, which don't fossilize easily
  • 2. The "explosion," we have to keep in mind, was over millions of years

Age of the Earth

I have heard many, many claims that the Earth is only 6,000 years old, with various proofs offered (and I will not respond to all of them, yet) such as:

  • 1. Mud on the Sea Floor
  • 2. Winding up of the Galactic arms
  • 3. Agriculture is too recent
  • 4. History is too short
  • 5. Human pop. too small
  • 6. Too little H. Sapien skeletons
  • 7. Comets (only last a few thousand years)
  • 8. Too little Helium in the atmosphere
  • 9. Fading of Earth's magnetic field, and
  • 10. (my personal favourite) Erosion of the continents.

Responses

  • 1. Plate tectonics is a wonderful thing. Mud goes down to the sea floor, eventually becomes sedimentary rock, comes back up with the rising continental plate (or goes back into the mantle)
  • 2. Density waves have been proposed as a possible explanation for this. DW are like sound waves; areas of compression and areas of rarefaction. Stars move in and out of these waves (as do air molecules in sound waves). These density waves would also kick off star formation in there dense regions (also explaining why there are so many supernovae in the arms; there are bigger stars there).
  • 3.+4. You really need agriculture to have civilization, as it support larger population with fewer people, so those left over can do useful things like live in cities, rule over others, etc. Some have suggested that writing was started for tax purposes (the ruler wants all he can get). The modern reader has to appreciate the fact that even conceiving of writing is a huge step in culture: the Incas didn't have it (and they were around for thousands of years). For agriculture, one could draw the analogy with moveable type for the printing press; it seems obvious now, but it took a while to come up with. While ancient man had all of the intelligence, it had none of the advances in technology and learning (all of the hardware, none of the software).
  • 5. The human population is another one that is a bit odd. The increase in human population is accelerating: more people equal an even greater generation after (in developing countries anyway), and the massive increase in agricultural production in the 19th and 20th centuries didn't hurt.
  • 6. This can be easily explained. Fossilization is a rare event; it takes the right conditions (dying during a volcanic eruption, during a flood or near a silty river) and it has to be buried quickly. There are so many fossils of dinosaurs because they were around for hundreds of millions of years, our earliest ancestors only about 3 million.
  • 7. I don't quite understand this one. While individual comets don't last that long, there are a lot of them (some astronomers estimate up to 1 trillion).
  • 8. Helium is a light gas, light enough to escape the earth's gravity through its own energy (or be blown off by the solar wind).
  • 9. Some scientists have suggested that the earth's magnetic field is going to flip (north becomes south, and vice versa). Geologists have found evidence of this in the rocks in Hawaii (iron rocks, when cooling, preserve a record of the earth's field strength and direction).
  • 10. This is a silly one. Creationists, when making certain claims, forget the other side of the equation. In this case, the plates constantly move, some going into the mantle, and some rise up (and give us the Himalayas, the Tibetan Plateau, and the Rocky Mountains, among others).

Science

I do think that science is the answer to life's mysteries. Evidence and rational arguments are infinitely preferable to blind faith.

Scientific Method

Everyone should know this.

  • 1. Define question (ie see something and ask why? or how?, or any other related question)
  • 2. Do research (observe phenomenon, try to find any previous work on the topic)
  • 3. Form hypothesis (educated guess, the educated bit comes from step #2)
  • 4. Define procedure and gather materials (what are you going to do in the experiment, and what will you be using)
  • 5. Perform experiment and gather data (preferable many, many times)
  • 6. Analyse data
  • 7. Draw conclusions
  • 8. If #7 disproved your hypothesis, redo steps #3-7
  • 9. Publish results
  • 10. Retest (usually by other scientists)

Science doesn't know everything

If this were to happen, science would cease to exist. Science is all about change and new ideas as the old ones are constantly changed or thrown out. I have heard of the example of the migratory patterns of birds on this website, and how we haven't found an answer to that (thus implying that God has something to do with it). This is the whole point of science; to find out about the world. It is wrong to think that because the scientific community doesn't know something, they never will; it might just take a while.

Fine tuning of the Universe

Frequently cited by others as proof of the existence of God (or gods). While I do agree that this does pose a problem, I think that there will be an answer. Many scientists go back to the anthropic principle (the universe is the way it is because if it were different we wouldn't be here to observe it). However, Stephen Hawking, in his excellent book A Brief History of Time talks about a GUT (Grand Unified Theory), that he thinks, once made, will give an answer to:

  • 1. Why the universe exists in the first place, and
  • 2. Why it developed in the way that it did.

The GUT would involved "quantum gravity," or something that explain what exactly goes on in a singularity (which is what the universe was once, according to the Big Bang theory) and also explain why things happened like they did when the universe was extremely small. Many things have been proposed for a GUT, more famously "string theory" (which is admittedly little more than extremely sophisticated guessing currently, because we don't have powerful enough machines to test it). Hopefully when the LHC particle accelerator (Large Hadron Collider) comes online in May, we will know more about the extremely small things in the universe (including the Higgs boson, which might explain why matter has mass), because of course faster speeds equal smaller bits of debris.


Logical Fallacies

My favourites

  • Appeal to Authority
    • This shouldn't be confused with putting one's trust in a scientific consensus: individual scientists can be fallible, but the scientific community, in a robust and rigorously researched field, is fairly trustworthy
  • Argument Ad Hominem
  • Straw Man
  • Argument from final consequences
    • A theory is wrong because bad things will arise from it (or is right because of good consequences).
  • Argument ad populum
  • Lottery fallacy
    • I haven't found the proper name for this fallacy, but it goes something like this: there are million-to-one odds for Bob winning the lottery, then he wins. The odds are so steep that there must be a conspiracy to make him win. This is obviously false; there are a million people who purchase a ticket, someone is going to win.

For grades 4-7 (I skipped grade 5) I went to a private Christian school (First Baptist Christian School, in the Cayman Islands).

I also happen to think that citations must be included with articles. Don't write whatever you would like and find citations in a few weeks (or expect other people to do it), or even worse, not citing it all (even after criticism).

Phillipps is not my real name. He was a 19th century bibliomaniac (person who obsessively collects books) who amassed the largest private collection of manuscripts, as well as English legal books, and pretty much any other kind of book. Unfortunately he bankrupted his company doing it. It took over a century to auction off all of his books (which he endowed to the British Library, although they didn't want them)

I think that the Atheism article should be balanced and ordered. I have been observing the various talk pages around Conservapedia, and I have noticed the same pattern: User suggests reform, initial acceptance by a few users, reform dies. Because of this I will attempt to reformat the "Atheism" article and show everyone a better alternative.

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