Archive for February 21st, 2012
At Edge.com, V.S. Ramachandran began his talk titled “Adventures in Behavioral Neurology with this description of the brain:
Let me tell you about the problem confronting us. The brain is a 1.5 kilogram mass of jelly, the consistency of tofu, you can hold it in the palm of your hand, yet it can contemplate the vastness of space and time, the meaning of infinity and the meaning of existence. It can ask questions about who am I, where do I come from, questions about love and beauty, aesthetics, and art, and all these questions arising from this lump of jelly. It is truly the greatest of mysteries. The question is how does it come about?
When you look at the structure of the brain it’s made up of neurons. Of course, everybody knows that these days. There are 100 billion of these nerve cells. Each of these cells makes about 1,000 to 10,000 contacts with other neurons. From this information people have calculated that the number of possible brain states, of permutations and combinations of brain activity, exceeds the number of elementary particles in the universe.
Why doesn’t the Bible give better information and advice? Many people reading this might think, “What do you mean? The Bible is perfect.” This post is not directed to people of this sort, because nothing I could say would matter to them.
To everyone else the Bible is lacking in many ways, including its failure to condemn slavery, its failure to speak out on behalf of women’s rights, and hundreds of other contradictions and inaccuracies. For instance, the Bible calculates pi incorrectly, based on this passage from 1 Kings
7:23 And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.
Nope. Sorry, but pi is not exactly 3. If an omniscient being had actually written the Bible, a circular structure’s circumference would not have been described as exactly three times its diameter.
Everything written above is context for introducing Adam Lee’s most recent post at Daylight Atheism at Big Think. To a hypothetical outsider (a Martian anthropologist, for example) the Bible is a very strange candidate for the alleged “greatest book in the world” based on its many stories starring a warmongering god and by the absence of advice based on accurate science, math and empathy. Adam offers many examples of the types of advice that one should have found in the Bible had it been authored by a perfect god, including the following:
“I freed you from captivity in Egypt because I hate slavery. Do not hold your fellow human beings in bondage or buy and sell them as if they were property.”
“Mars and Venus are worlds of their own, worlds like the Earth is, and all of them travel in a great circuit around the sun. The moon is a smaller world that travels in a circuit around the Earth.”
Check out Adam’s article for many more examples.