Politics, God and Religion vs. Science


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Social climber
An Oil Field
Jul 7, 2013 - 08:38am PT
Carbon dating is only used for short term dating, because Carbon 14 has a half life of less than 6000 years. It is only good to a little over 60,000 years, which is such a short period that it isn't useful for geologists.

There are a number of other radiometric dating methods, but the most precise, by far, is U-Pb dating of fluid inclusions in zircons.

zircons are plenty sturdy, and can survive a lot of abuse. The Zircon dating method is quite precise.

U-Pb dating has such a long half life that it is the preferred method for rocks in the billions of years range.

Using all sorts of methods, the entire history of continental crust, its accretion, rift, wandering around, etc. has now been pretty much worked out.

I read a paper on ages of ancient terrains in basement granites of Colorado, and you could see how each little piece accreted to form larger and larger parts of continental crust.

There is no mystery here. Go try it yourself if you have doubts.

That is the way that science works. If you have issues with a paper, then try to repeat the experiment..meaning try to repeat the dating. If it can't be repeated, then there is a problem in the science.

Nature doesn't lie.

Social climber
An Oil Field
Jul 7, 2013 - 08:40am PT
Dr. F,

There is plenty of information that leads to the probability that Jesus did indeed exist.

Mountain climber
Jul 7, 2013 - 09:26am PT
There are a number of other radiometric dating methods, but the most precise, by far, is U-Pb dating of fluid inclusions in zircons.

zircons are plenty sturdy, and can survive a lot of abuse. The Zircon dating method is quite precise.

Just a minor correction, base. It's not the fluid inclusions that are dated, but the zircons themselves. When they form, the zircon crystal structure soaks up uranium but not lead, which is why they work for U-Pb dating.

C14 dating, as you say, only goes back 50,000 or so years. Useless for geologists like you, but great for dating ice-age moraines, prehistoric landslides, and the like. Quaternary geologists use it all the time; those who work on what's going on in Cretaceous batholiths, like me, don't.

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jul 7, 2013 - 09:40am PT
Carbon 14 only works on organic material so I don't see how it would be useful to geologists unless very recent history like sediment that contained charcoal from a prehistoric campfire (Old World not New) or maybe the dessicated remains of a very old tree?

Jul 7, 2013 - 11:26am PT
We all have ideas that lie outside of our expertise. Ideas that may be found interesting to others. What can one do? The internet can also function as the lowest form of publishing. The internet is just about as low as you can get after all. Anyway here is one.

In the cited lecture Jeff Hawkins discusses how his computer programming emulates how the neocortex processes streaming data. Streaming data is a major responsibility of the brain as it searches incoming sensory data for any sign in their surroundings that a predator is about end their existence. To do this in a way that is both time efficient and does not require consumption of huge amounts of energy (evolution has had to meet both of these requirements) the neocortex uses a data management strategy Hawkins calls “sparsely distributed representations”.

What’s that? Let’s suppose the incoming data has to trigger 2000 neurons to fire for the organism to reach a higher level decision that “Hey! I have seen this before. I better watch out.” To achieve time and energy efficiency Hawkins uses only a sparse 40 bits in his approach to allow the system to decide, “Yes. I have seen this before.” He makes the point 40 bits or even just 10 can give one good statistical confidence. Even 2000 will not give you certainty given that there is always noise.

This opens to us a possible understanding of Déjà Vu. In Déjà Vu we make a high level decision that we have been in this precise situation before. Maybe that decision is just an error. It can arise either because the 40 bits were not enough or just because of noise. That’s the idea.

If true, the phenomenon evolved because it was an alternative better than being so slow in response that we got eaten or to our needing so much food ourselves as to cause us to take unjustifiable risks. That evolutionary choice would have been made millions of years ago.

So forget about prior lives. This is one, of probably many, down to earth ways Déjà Vu can have come to pass.

Immensely exciting stuff is being done today. Watch it.


Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Jul 7, 2013 - 11:55am PT
Carbon 14 only works on organic material so I don't see how it would be useful to geologists unless very recent history like sediment that contained charcoal from a prehistoric campfire (Old World not New) or maybe the dessicated remains of a very old tree?

Correlation - every measuring stick has to be correlated. When there is overlap in dating methods you'd expect these different methods to produce the same result for the same material. The more correlation you have the greater the confidence in your dating analysis. All rungs on the same ladder of geologic time scales... right?

High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Potemkin Village
Jul 7, 2013 - 12:15pm PT
C'mon, really, the joy of aging...


Social climber
the Wastelands
Jul 7, 2013 - 12:27pm PT
nice read Fructose

thanks for that

Jul 7, 2013 - 12:56pm PT
"Life span" of matter "after death" for monoctyledon's are not
the same as with dicotyledon's. #1 and i agreed that Pathology is
usually a waste.



This is 1 reason some of my opinions differ from the
Church of Satan.

Social climber
An Oil Field
Jul 7, 2013 - 01:16pm PT

Carbon 14 is used for "very young" sediments and archeological digs. With a 5000 year half life, it is gone in 100,000 years or so. Uranium has a very long half life, and as it decays, lead (Pb) is one of the daughter elements. Measuring the ratio tells you the date, and Zircons are now a very precise way to date igneous rocks such as granite. Zircons are very rare in basaltic type rocks.

As was correctly explained above, Zircons are now the top notch method of dating igneous rocks. Paleomagnetic signatures frozen in any rock will tell you what latitude the rock was deposited in. You can therefore reconstruct the history of the wandering continents, climates, emergence of life, etc. It is all there in a granite cobble that you can pick up in the Merced River. Take that rock into a high tech lab, and you can see all kinds of amazing information from it.

I work Paleozoic rocks, which are


I made my best discovery in a shallow gas accumulation in the Permian. Hundreds of wells had drilled right through it, but it was so shallow that most wells didn't pull the full logging suite over it.

The midcontinent basins are Pennsylvanian in age, and there are all sorts of delta deposits and the like deposited.

Petroleum geologists like sandstones and carbonates (limestone to dolomite) because they have porosity, and that pore space is filled with only a few possible fluids: saltwater (by far the most common, and the most common form of dry holes) or hydrocarbons. It is a lot of work figuring out the stratigraphy of these deposits.

Deltas and shore face environments are the most common type of sandstone ("clastics" we call them). I could toss up maps of deltas where the distributary channels, overbank deposits, etc. look exactly like the Mississipian delta, or estuary deposits. The only difference is that they are hundreds of millions of year old and are 10,000 feet deep.

If you look at a rock like the beautiful Wingate sandstone in Indian Creek, I see an outstanding reservoir rock. It has over 20% pore space and good permeability.

I can look at a well log and tell you the depositional environments just from their signatures. As we map along, we incorporate all previous wells and their logs. It is a very advanced science, but I spend about 50K a year on data and software licenses.

I can sit in my dirty underwear and work Egypt if I wanted to.

These days, drilling rigs are covered in a number of sensors, and I can just log on and see everything in real time from the office. Steering horizontals wells in thin intervals, that kind of thing.

To sum it up, petroleum geologists know more about the Earth's history since the Cambrian of any other type of geologist. Sedimentary rocks hold information about climate, flow direction, source, you name it.

When I hear somebody poo-poo radiometric dating or paleomag, I want to hurl. Due to the high economic nature of sedimentary basins, untold billions of dollars have been spent examining them. The data is rich and pretty much dialed in in mature basins. A mature basin is a basin that has had the snot drilled out of it.

I love looking at samples that come up from the drillbit. Normally they are taken every ten feet, and over the length of time that you are drilling, you have trays and trays of samples. You examine them all with a microscope, and one of the cool things is that oil fluorescenses underneath a black or UV light. I can grap a little piece of sandstone with tweezers, but it in a dimple tray, hit it with a drop of lighter fluid, and if it contains oil, the lighter fluid causes the oil to stream out of the sample and glow yellow. It is pretty cool. We also have gas sensors and chromatographs, as well as actual devices right behind the drill bit. They send data up to the surface in low frequency pulses. Software picks that up and you can tell if you are in the right strata or not.

When a well is TD's (drilled to total depth), the geophysical logging company (schlumberger is the best) comes out and we lower very pricey instruments down the hole and then pull them up very slowly. There may be twenty different curves to look at. On a wildcat well, a well out away from established production, you are looking at something that nobody has ever seen before. Geology is a fantastic and fun topic, which any lay person could pick up as a hobby, similar to Astronomy.

I work with many religious people. Absolutely none of them drill based on faith or prayer. They plop down a million or more bucks based on the geologist's interpretation. I have never been in a meeting with management and had a single one bitch about the age of the deposits we are looking for.

It is easy to reconcile geology with religion. All you have to do is look at the Genesis account as an allegory. You can still believe that God created the universe. You just look at it and know that this is the way that God did it. No way could you explain it in one page of the bible.

The genesis account is simply an allegory based on 600 B.C. Babylonian science.

It is interesting, because Genesis is fairly unique. It is one of the few parts of the Bible, the Torah, or the Koran, that conflict with science or even discuss science. I don't know why so much emphasis is placed on it. The creationist's are so full of baloney and outright lies that I just shake my head in disgust. They are liars when they attack geology or go around looking for Noah's great flood.

People place so much emphasis on Genesis, while at the same time ignoring many old testament books, particularly the Book of Leviticus.

Leviticus isn't that long, and basically sets out a huge number or rules on how to live your life. It famously contains the lines about man laying with a man as an abomination, but if you read the book, and you should, it discusses a ton of crazy rules that even the most religious people I know do not follow or even care about. I've never seen a goat sacrificed in church, for example.

Half of the book is about sacrifices and such. I urge everyone to read it. I read it again the other day in a hospital waiting room. Wiki has a good summary, but it only takes 20 minutes or so to read.


Social climber
An Oil Field
Jul 7, 2013 - 01:22pm PT
Correlation - every measuring stick has to be correlated. When there is overlap in dating methods you'd expect these different methods to produce the same result for the same material. The more correlation you have the greater the confidence in your dating analysis. All rungs on the same ladder of geologic time scales... right?

Correct, DMT. We look at every conceivable clue. I can show you a really good argument in favor of global warming using the analogy of the late Mesozoic hot house event.

One thing is pretty cool: Stomata density of fossil leaves compared with leaves grown under differing CO2 conditions in a lab.

The Gingko is an ancient species which survives today. You can study the leaves over time and get an idea of CO2 concentration. There are other factors involved, but if you are aware of them, you can get a good idea.


Hebrews 1:3
Jul 7, 2013 - 03:28pm PT
Psalm 36:5 Your lovingkindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
6 Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
Your judgments are like a great deep.
O Lord, You preserve man and beast.
7 How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.

...God is bigger than your doubts!

Jul 7, 2013 - 03:51pm PT
I'll come back and listen to the video more but so far what your
saying does not appear to me to answer an objective read condition
so when i come back ill re-read also.

Im interested in measuring bone loss with ototoxic determination
without cochlea implant.

2000/2 applied to 2 sides i think still passes.

2000/1 at 1 side and 2000/2 at 1 other i think is a for sure a pass.


However maybe your topic is something different as away from wifi
40 maybe something else?

objective read giving a sign other than subjective symptom.


Jul 7, 2013 - 06:30pm PT
Déjà Vu is a curious phenomenon. In my own experience it occurs as an eery but non-threatening sense that past and present have overlapped for an interval:



Evolution has equipped us well to avoid being eaten. Not so well for pondering.

Jul 8, 2013 - 11:21am PT
it is gone in 100,000 years or so

Where did you get this from? As of around 2005 they were
saying between 30,000 and 40,000

I know of no petrified monocot.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Potemkin Village
Jul 8, 2013 - 08:58pm PT
Another great one from Dawkins, just released. Points the way, I think, to the big, big changes coming this century...


Be the change you seek in the world.


Too bad Richard Dawkins ain't a climber and fan of supertopo, he'd fit right in on this thread...

We don't understand Dark Matter and Dark Energy. Therefore Jesus had a virgin mother and Mohammed split the moon in half. It follows.

We don't know how the universe began. Therefore Jesus walked on water & every word of the Qur'an is literally true. It follows.

We don't know how life arose in primeval soup. Therefore Jesus died for our sins & anyone who draws Mohammed should be killed. It follows.

We don't know how neurological events engender consciousness. Therefore Jesus rose from dead & anyone who leaves Islam must die. It follows.

"Straw men? Fish in a barrel? A clear majority of Christians & Muslims literally believe their respective nonsense I've been ridiculing...."




Love Bill Maher!
Dr. F.

Big Wall climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 9, 2013 - 07:02pm PT
The Secular Society


Published: July 8, 2013

I might as well tell you upfront that this column is a book report. Since 2007, when it was published, academics have been raving to me about Charles Taylor’s “A Secular Age.” Courses, conferences and symposia have been organized around it, but it is almost invisible outside the academic world because the text is nearly 800 pages of dense, jargon-filled prose.

As someone who tries to report on the world of ideas, I’m going to try to summarize Taylor’s description of what it feels like to live in an age like ours, without, I hope, totally butchering it.

Taylor’s investigation begins with this question: “Why was it virtually impossible not to believe in God in, say 1500, in our Western society, while in 2000 many of us find this not only easy but even inescapable?” That is, how did we move from the all encompassing sacred cosmos, to our current world in which faith is a choice, in which some people believe, others don’t and a lot are in the middle?

This story is usually told as a subtraction story. Science came into the picture, exposed the world for the way it really is and people started shedding the illusions of faith. Religious spirit gave way to scientific fact.

Taylor rejects this story. He sees secularization as, by and large, a mottled accomplishment, for both science and faith.

Advances in human understanding — not only in science but also in art, literature, manners, philosophy and, yes, theology and religious practice — give us a richer understanding of our natures. Shakespeare helped us see character in more intricate ways. An improvement in mores means we take less pleasure from bear-baiting, hanging and other forms of public cruelty. We have a greater understanding of how nature works.

These achievements did make it possible to construct a purely humanistic account of the meaningful life. It became possible for people to conceive of meaningful lives in God-free ways — as painters in the service of art, as scientists in the service of knowledge.

But, Taylor continues, these achievements also led to more morally demanding lives for everybody, believer and nonbeliever. Instead of just fitting docilely into a place in the cosmos, the good person in secular society is called upon to construct a life in the universe. She’s called on to exercise all her strength.

People are called to greater activism, to engage in more reform. Religious faith or nonfaith becomes more a matter of personal choice as part of a quest for personal development.

This shift in consciousness leads to some serious downsides. When faith is a matter of personal choice, even believers experience much more doubt. As James K.A. Smith of Comment Magazine, who was generous enough to share his superb manuscript of a book on Taylor, put it, “We don’t believe instead of doubting; we believe while doubting. We’re all Thomas now.”

Individuals don’t live embedded in tight social orders; they live in buffered worlds of private choices. Common action, Taylor writes, gives way to mutual display. Many people suffer from a malaise. They remember that many people used to feel connected to an enchanted, transcendent order, but they feel trapped in a flat landscape, with diminished dignity: Is this all there is?

But these downsides are more than made up for by the upsides. Taylor can be extremely critical of our society, but he is grateful and upbeat. We are not moving to a spiritually dead wasteland as, say, the fundamentalists imagine. Most people, he observes, are incapable of being indifferent to the transcendent realm. “The yearning for eternity is not the trivial and childish thing it is painted as,” Taylor writes.

People are now able to pursue fullness in an amazing diversity of different ways. But Taylor observes a general pattern. They tend not to want to live in a world closed off from the transcendent, reliant exclusively on the material world. We are not, Taylor suggests, sliding toward pure materialism.

We are, instead, moving toward what he calls a galloping spiritual pluralism. People in search of fullness are able to harvest the intellectual, cultural and spiritual gains of the past 500 years. Poetry and music can alert people to the realms beyond the ordinary.

Orthodox believers now live with a different tension: how to combine the masterpieces of humanism with the central mysteries of their own faiths. This pluralism can produce fragmentations and shallow options, and Taylor can eviscerate them, but, over all, this secular age beats the conformity and stultification of the age of fundamentalism, and it allows for magnificent spiritual achievement.

I’m vastly oversimplifying a rich, complex book, but what I most appreciate is his vision of a “secular” future that is both open and also contains at least pockets of spiritual rigor, and that is propelled by religious motivation, a strong and enduring piece of our nature.
Dr. F.

Big Wall climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 9, 2013 - 07:33pm PT
Credit: Dr. F.
Dr. F.

Big Wall climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 9, 2013 - 07:34pm PT
Credit: Dr. F.

How a Pentecostal Preacher in Small-Town Louisiana Became an Atheist Activist

AlterNet / By Greta Christina
July 4, 2013

Jerry DeWitt talks about his new book "Hope After Faith," and how he realized that religion of any kind simply doesn't add up.

Try to imagine: You're a Pentecostal preacher in small-town Louisiana. Your public reputation, your connection with the people you love, indeed your own sense of self-worth, not to mention your livelihood, are hugely dependent on your passionate faith in Christ.

You've struggled to make a reputation for yourself as a man of God, a conduit of the Holy Spirit, who can bring spiritual hope and healing to the people around you. You've struggled to balance the rigorous demands of your religious calling with the pressing practical needs of your family. You've struggled to make sense of the contradictory teachings of the Bible; of the widely divergent and often contentious sects competing for your loyalty; of the deep conflicts between your deeply held Christian doctrine and what you know, as an ethical human being, to be right.

And you're realizing that you don't believe in God. At all. Not just in Pentecostalism; not just in Christianity. You have come to realize that religion of any kind simply doesn't add up.

What do you do?

That's the story of Jerry DeWitt. It's a story you may have heard bits and pieces of: if you read his profile in the New York Times, or if you've heard about the Clergy Project, the support network for non-believing clergy members, which DeWitt has been intensely involved with since its earliest days. It's a story that paints a very different picture from the one many people have of atheists: set in the blue-collar and working-poor small-town Bible Belt, it's a story of a life driven by emotional devotion to service as much as an intellectual devotion to learning. It's a story of a deep desire to understand and serve God... battling with a deeper desire to understand and accept the truth.

It's the story told in DeWitt's new book: Hope after Faith: An Ex-Pastor's Journey from Belief to Atheism (available in print and Kindle editions). Fascinating, suspenseful, compellingly written, often heartbreaking, sometimes hilarious, and always hopeful even at its darkest, the book had my head spinning. DeWitt kindly took the time to discuss the book with me, and to talk about some of its more absorbing questions and ideas.

Greta Christina: Can you briefly sum up what got you started questioning your faith? What were some of the thoughts and experiences that moved you forward out of religion and into atheism? And what was the final straw?

Jerry DeWitt: The catalyst was an investigation into the idea of Hell and Eternal Punishment. I grew up with an awareness of the Hell concept and even prayed for forgiveness before falling asleep most nights of my childhood, but it wasn't until it became my responsibility to teach this doctrine that I began to be troubled by it. Is it justifiable for a person to be painfully punished eternally for 70 years of sinful behavior? Something wasn't adding up.

After more than 25 years of ministry and misery, I found that I had completely dismantled the theological house that I had been dwelling in. Although there were countless timbers of religious thoughts that one by one were tearfully discarded, I have condensed my transition into five stages:
1.God LOVES everyone
2.God SAVES everyone
3.God is IN everyone
4.God is everyone's INTERNAL dialog
5.God is a DELUSION

more pages

is Largo stuck at stage 4.

go farther, all you need to go is one more step my friend!

GC: You write a lot about intense religious experiences you had as a believer: visions and so on. How do you see those experiences now?

JD: I understand these experiences to be natural phenomena. A simple proof that your experience is not personal to your god is the fact that other believers have the same experience with their god as well. So, is it all the same god? What if that experience can then be duplicated in a lab or with medication? It's clear to me that the human mind is capable of many types of altered states and is the source of these experiences.

GC: You talk in the book about how becoming an atheist meant realizing that it wasn't God or Jesus who had gotten you through so many difficult times, it was yourself. People often say that religion gives people strength in hard times; do you think it can also undercut their strength, or make them feel more helpless and weak than they really are?

JD: It does cause people to greatly undervalue there own abilities and self-worth.

A few weeks ago I overheard a relative of mine saying she couldn't have made it through a difficult situation without "the Lord." Uncharacteristically, I interjected that she was a very strong person and had endured her hardship with her own strength and determination. She was embarrassed by the thought of it and insisted that I was wrong.

Somewhere out there
Jul 9, 2013 - 08:56pm PT
Bluecocker - How about changing your name to TrollBlocker… Fits better.

Wow, that's a great Bill Maher vid… It pretty much says it all...
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