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The growth of knowledge is getting away from us

By RosemaryJ36  

When you look back over the last 400 to 500 years, the accelerating pace of scientific discovery is really startling. It is not just how much has changed, but the increasing rate at which one discovery or resultant innovation follows another.

There is an old puzzle which asks “How many times would you have to tear a piece of paper in half, putting the resulting pieces on top of each other, over and over again, in order to have a pile that would reach to the moon?” The answer is surprisingly small – assuming you start with a large enough piece of paper – and this is an example of exponential growth.

The rate of increase in scientific discovery is itself exponential!

In his lifetime, Copernicus escaped being denounced for heresy, for expounding his theory that the earth went round the sun, while Galileo was sanctioned by the Catholic church because he indirectly maintained belief in the theory.

This is one of many examples of how scientific theories were suppressed or denounced by the Christian church – both catholic and protestant – over the years, because they conflicted with the Bible – regarded by all Christian denominations as being the source of truth.

In today’s world, the idea that the world was created in 7 days is still held by many ‘believers’, despite clear and irrefutable evidence from scientists that it took billions of years. The biblical story in the Book of Genesis is generally regarded in modern times as apocryphal, yet some still cling to it as God’s truth!

And Christianity is not alone in producing believers who follow every direction in their Holy book! Islam relies on the Qur’an as their source of direction, and, as with the Bible, variations in interpretations of the original work lead to serious disputes between followers of the various Islamic sects. Other religions have their beliefs and prejudices based on ancient knowledge and often with a subsequent refusal to accept conflicting scientific truths.

In some part this situation underlies the attitude of ‘climate change deniers’ who refuse to accept that scientific evidence supports recommendations that mankind, in its profligate use of fossil fuels, is accelerating the emission of carbon dioxide, which is recognised as being one of the ‘greenhouse gases’ and which are accumulating to cause global warming. Hello – @D_LittleproudMP – your scientific education needs an update!

Ironically, it is becoming a circular situation. Refusal to accept the evidence, has led to extreme weather conditions, including droughts which create the conditions for extremely hazardous fires – which in turn increase the emissions of carbon dioxide!

Ignorance is not the prerogative of religious believers, but historical links between religious leaders and governments have given the religious leaders an element of authority which is hard to ignore.

This is evident in many countries – our closest neighbour, Indonesia is a clear example where attempts by the government to remain secular are constantly thwarted by the Islamic leaders.

In Australia we have a Constitutional guarantee that we cannot adopt a national religion nor deny the right of citizens to follow a religion – but life is now more complex than it was for the authors of the Constitution!

They came from a nation which took being Christian as going with their nationality while tolerating the worshippers of other gods.

We now live in a world where not only is there animosity between sects within many religions, such as the catholic/protestant divide which created the ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland, but the spread of Islam and of movements like IS have created Islamophobia, in addition to disunity between Islamic sects.

Just to add to the causes of disunity, India has now decided to ignore the ability of Kashmir to be shared by Hindus and Muslims, by annexing Kashmir and attacking the ability of Muslims to live in peace, while China is denying the Uighurs their rights to follow Islam, using methods that smack of ‘Brave New World’ or ‘1984’.

What is too often overlooked that, while death and taxes are unavoidable – so too is change.

Science has enabled us to change so much in our way of life that old norms are no longer tenable. Women do not have to marry in order to enjoy sex, because they can now control their fertility. So they can now enjoy most of the same freedoms as can men.

To date, only women can conceive, carry and give birth to a child but they no longer need to become a housebound Mum in consequence.

At long last women can now enjoy sports which were previously exclusively available to men. Not only that, but they are showing a particularly high level of skills in many areas!

Look round the world, and you will see that the countries which are least dominated by religion or ancient tribalism are the ones where women have the most freedom!

You will also note that women are generally less supportive of using physical or mechanical force to dominate others!

We are at a point in the Earth’s history where we need unity of purpose, worldwide, as never before, because the survival of life on Earth is at risk as never before.

‘I’ve looked at religion from both sides now’ to usurp and modify a line in a well-known song!

As an agnostic, I can understand the appeal of belief in a better life hereafter for those who currently live in poverty and misery.

I still echo Stephen Fry’s inability to see how a god worth believing in can allow so much harm and hurt to the most vulnerable.

I am bewildered by people who claim to believe in Jesus Christ and his teachings, who then proceed to ignore scientific discoveries made since his death – which cast doubt on the appropriateness of the directions in the Bible which they regard as God-given – as though all knowledge was available 2000 years ago!

Heck – there is so much now that we still do not know – how stupid can they be with their blind faith?

When we have a government with a considerable number of Ministers, led by a Prime Minister, all of whom follow the teachings of a selfish sect which believes in praying for wealth and – much more importantly – brushes aside the implications of scientific theories because they are ignorant of scientific research methods – I get a sense of doom! I shouldn’t feel surprised, however, bcause religion and government are both concerned with power!

I am not very optimistic that the world’s major powers will wake up in time from their wars and bickerings and genocide, to take sufficient action for us to avoid any but the most serious outcomes of the climate catastrophe which we are facing.

Asking the cost of taking the suggested measures is a futile exercise. More futile then ignoring the cost of not taking them!

It has long been established that mankind is the world’s most dangerous predator. It would be an enormous pity if our stupidity were to lead to the demise of all life on earth!

There is no Planet B, and, even if there were, we have not earned the right to live on it.

If you believe in a life after death – good luck to you! No one has yet come back to establish its existence!

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6 comments

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  1. Keith Davis

    As a happy Atheist I don’t have to waste any time on the life after death thing. To paraphrase an old Philosopher’s musings (I think he was French) … ‘If I die and don’t wake up again, nothing lost, I will not be aware of it. If I die and do wake up again, then that’s a happy bonus!’

    By the way RosemaryJ36 … you won a third of the Bucket of Kudos from the Weekend Challenge …

  2. Padty

    Not all knowledge has its uses, you know it. Pity is the man in general can’t tell Arthur from Martha, trash the planet why don’t you – chemical, electrical (WIFI-electrosmog and HV power lines-ELF), biological pollution, and you wonder why there’s more diseases than ever before. Wise we are not, unless you check out what is it looking.

  3. Rosemary J36

    Wow! Thanks, Keith Davis!

  4. David Bruce

    I am still waiting for the climate scientists to explain why our planet is experiencing cycles of increased seismic activity.

    An article, published in the Guardian, provides some possible reasons and their research may provide us with early warning of such increased activity in earthquake and volcanic activity.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/18/2018-set-to-be-year-of-big-earthquakes

    Recently in Vanuatu there were 4 major earthquakes 6+ in a line from Port Orly to Malekula. Vanuatu is top of the list of countries most at risk from “natural disasters” such as cyclones, tsunamis, volcanoes, earthquakes.

  5. johno

    To me it seems a no brainer, we have to eat a shit load less meat.
    Meat with the lowest environmental impact still creates more greenhouse gas emissions than growing vegetables and cereal crops in the least environmentally-friendly way.
    https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-46384067

  6. Miriam English

    Padty, we don’t have more diseases than ever before, and most pollution is lessening, not growing.

    Rosemary, a good read. Thank you.

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