Friday, March 14, 2008

Distilled down

I just took one bite from that peach, and I felt as if all the goodness of summer had been distilled down into that one piece of fruit. Ummm-ummm!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A "Love Note" -- Noebel style

I receive email updates about world issues from a certain group. They have a short description of the current world crisis, and what the logical course of action for the entire world would be. (The most amazing part is that all of this fits into a single email!) Of course, there's a link to a website where you can sign a global petition to make the world a more wonderful (though more constricted) place.

The email I read tonight was about rejecting biofuels as a "fake" climate change solution. (Wow -- remove one word, and that phrase becomes even better. There now! "Fake climate change." But I am off-topic). The summary of their stand was that biofuels increase greenhouse gas emissions, and increase the cost of food worldwide. After you read, and were convinced by this email, you could add your voice to the millions worldwide, asking that biofuels not be considered as a viable choice.

After reading the email, I wasn't exactly convinced. So, I decided to write them a little (as Dr. Noebel calls it) "love note." I'm afraid this love note isn't going to go much further than someone's digital recycling bin (or the so un-PC trash can!), so I'm going to share it with you, too.

Thanks for the update.

I was concerned as I read this update that you were presenting only one side of this topic. There are many other dimensions to consider. For example, Shell oil is developing cellulose-based biofuels as one of their many alternatives fuels. These cellulose-based fuels are produced from parts of the corn plant that are undigestable by humans. Shell's use of the the stalk and the cob to produce this fuel does not endanger the food supply of anyone. Instead, it provides a remarkable example of recycling waste products to provide useful liquid fuels.

It is definitely important to point out the flaws in biofuels approaches, as you see them. But isn't it also beneficial to commend people who are taking innovative approaches to developing new fuels? It will take more than negativism to move beyond the traditional fuels such as coal, natural gas, and gasoline. It will take an unflagging dedication to research, with the ability to develop and pursue new ideas. In my own personal experience, nothing can be more discouraging than the outright rejection of an idea that I have worked out. When a new idea for an alternative fuel comes up, what should be the strategy of those evaluating its merits and failures? To suggest corrections? Yes. To correct poor design characteristics? Definitely. To reject without reason? Never.

Thank you for raising the alarm on so many international political events. Please do your readership a favor by presenting a fuller picture of what is happening. In this way, we can be making informed decisions about international situations, and not just moving by means of a spinal reflex.

Finally, in a future email, can you more distinctly outline why a global solution is better in this case than having individual countries decide their own laws? Many times your email updates emphasize the "top-down" approach to changes in policies, instead of the "bottom-up" approach that is the mainstay of representative government. I realize that it would take somewhat longer to have individual countries change their laws instead of having a super-national legislative body pass down laws to them. Do you think that this increased time frame might allow for more discussion, diversity in outcomes, and the tailoring of laws to an individual country's needs? What would the ideal government look like? What checks and balances would be in place in a global government? How would the distinctiveness of individual countries be maintained under a global government? Should these be maintained? Should every country have an equal voice in the proceedings of a global government? How could this be guaranteed? Is it possible for every country to agree on a system of government? If not, would dissenting governments be penalized for their dissension? What benefits/risks do you see in migrating toward a global government?

Thanks for reading this!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Kickin' myself

What do the president of Shell Oil, a Nobel laureate, and a quack-exposing magician have in common? They all spoke on campus today!

I almost talked myself out of going to any of the talks, but each time (after logically winning the argument against going), I found myself walking to the talks! And boy, am I glad!

I took pages of notes, but I don't have time right now to type 'em all in!

So, here's the question I posed the Nobel laureate and the magician:
Is it possible for a religious person to understand -- and not reject -- science?

The Nobel laureate's answer?
Yes, but I don't know how! Francis Collins, of the Human Genome Project, is able to do that.

My question hardly even stirred the waters. It was handily dismissed. But to me, this response is inconsistent with the rest of his talk. Even though the poster announcing this talk (and even his title slide) talked about how science led him to atheism, his talk did not explain this. Instead, it was an hour-long vendetta against religion. As one of the two religions explicity named, Christianity was especially despised. Why do I say that? While both were rejected without a struggle, the Nobel laureate said that the law of Islam, if properly adhered to, would be superior to the current law of our land!

Here's the question I WISH I would have asked them (and the reason why I'm kicking myself!)
(I sent the magician this question via email. It's about a factor of 13 worse than having asked it to him directly tonight, but I don't feel like a completely useless human now!)

Thank you so much for speaking here at the UIUC campus! You made many excellent points, and you are definitely doing a fine work in exposing frauds and phonies. One question I didn't get to ask you was this: Just as there's difference between a snake oil salesman and a neurosurgeon, might there be a difference between a big-haired televangelist and Jesus Christ?

As you pointed out with your examples on homeopathic medicine, some people abuse medicine to puff up themselves and make money. They should be exposed and put out of business. But you and I both realize that there truly is a way to legitimately practice medicine. (Otherwise, I'd never go near anyone wielding a syringe!)

Are there people who abuse Christianity for puff themselves up and make money? Yes, definitely. They should be exposed, and put out business! But is there a way to legitimately practice Christianity?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A little humor

If Carl Sagan had been a doctor, what would he say?

"Bunions and bunions."