Einstein on Religion

The Tennessee House has approved (70-23) a bill (HB 368) that would seek to teach the “controversy” of scientific subjects, such as evolution.

Rep. Frank Nicely, during his argument in favor of the bill, was quoted saying, “Albert Einstein said that a little knowledge would turn your head toward atheism, while a broader knowledge would turn your head toward Christianity.”

That is a lie of biblical proportions. Einstein never said that. In reality, Rep. Nicely misquoted 16th century philosopher Francis Bacon, who said, “a little philosophy inclineth a man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth a men’s minds about to religion.” I’m guessing Nicely doesn’t even understand the original quote – which isn’t really about Christianity. But, that’s a different discussion.

I don’t like when well respected historical figures get used in this way – to push an agenda that they would never agree with. First, Einstein was, by heredity, a Jew! He never even converted to Christianity. In fact, he was famously Agnostic.

Here is what Einstein really said about religion:

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed. This insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms-this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I belong in the ranks of devoutly religious men.

I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punished the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after out own-a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear of ridiculous egotism. It is enough for me to contemplate the mystery of conscious life perpetuating itself through all eternity, to reflect upon the marvelous structure of the universe which we can dimly perceive, and to try humbly to comprehend even an infinitesimal part of the intelligence manifested in nature.

How can you read that and not understand? There is so much mystery and beauty in this universe – why make things up?

Intelligent design is a religious idea hiding behind the facade of pseudo-science. It is not a scientific theory, it is dogma. Evolution is not a theory based on the desires of scientists – it is based only on observations of reality. It can and has been tested and every time it holds true.

Via:  Bad Astronomy, Climate Progress, Einstein on Politics

How MRSA Was Made

This is an awesome slide show on how MRSA, the antibiotic resistant strain of Staphylococcus Aureus, came to be – written at a “3rd grade” level…

Once upon a time there was a bacterium...

Development of resistant Staphylococcus aureus over time

I sort of had an idea before of how this worked, but I’m happy for the extra detail. This is the perfect way to explain something as complicated as how bacteria evolve to fight off antibiotics. And, although the author doesn’t mention it, it is a perfect example of real evolution in action.

I love stuff like this, because it is so hard to see evolution in action in complex animals – it takes way longer than we are alive – but in bacteria and viruses, it happens all the time and it happens fast.

I also hate stuff like this, cause it really blows when our medicine stops working… but, life will find a way – even if that way is defeating us when we try to stomp it out.

Come on MRSA, can’t we just get along?

The Insanity Virus

Discover has an article up about how research is pointing to a possible viral cause for Schizophrenia, Bi-Polar Disorder and M.S.

This shit is crazy.

A brief summary of the article:

HERV-W is an endogenous retro-virus – it is in basically everyone, as part of our genetic code. In most people, the body’s defenses are able to keep it under wraps (literally, bound up in protein) so that it doesn’t affect us. But, in some people, an early infection of some other virus – such as toxoplasmosis or influenza – as an infant may bring down the body’s defenses long enough to let the virus out. Once out, it wreaks havoc on the brain, causing degenerative inflammation in the case of Schizophrenia and actual brain lesions in the case of M.S.

The good news: this discovery will hopefully lead to new treatments that work better than current methods.