…. the enterprise of knowledge is consistent surely with science; it should be with religion, and it is essential for the welfare of the human species.”
– Carl Sagan
In “The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search For God” Sagan covers his thoughts on the relationship between religion and science and describes his personal search to understand the nature of the sacred in the vastness of the cosmos.
“Many Americans doubt the morality of atheists. According to a 2007 Gallup poll,1a majority of Americans say that they would not vote for an otherwise qualified atheist as president, meaning a nonbeliever would have a harder time getting elected than a Muslim, a homosexual, or a Jew. Many would go further and agree with conservative commentator Laura Schlessinger that morality requires a belief in God—otherwise, all we have is our selfish desires. In The Ten Commandments,2 she approvingly quotes Dostoyevsky: “Where there is no God, all is permitted.” The opposing view, held by a small minority of secularists, such as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens, is that belief in God makes us worse. As Hitchens puts it, “Religion poisons everything.”3
When Hellish Nell claimed to have channeled spirits of the dead (who gave away wartime secrets), she was charged under Witchcraft Act of 1735 (and was in 1944 the last person so convicted) for being the agency through which spirits of deceased persons communicated with living persons.The book “The Strange Case of Hellish Nell: the story of Helen Duncan and the witch trial of World War II” by Nina Shandler traces the story from start to finish, including why the Public Prosecutor tried her as a witch and not a spy, Churchill’s demand to know what was behind the obsolete tom foolery of the Witchcraft Act of 1735 being used in a modern court of justice, through the appeal to the Supreme Court where the Lord Chief Justice delivered the punch line (9 months in prison was in no way excessive).You can’t make stuff like this up! This book is a fascinating read – one that gives pause and brings to mind why old laws of “no possible use” should be taken off the books least they be used in unreasonable ways by minions of the state.
I worked in a specialty bookstore once… while escaping reality and as a prelude to switching careers…. Siliconnections in Vancouver, an interesting experience to say the least. Now I’m reading this; I know, I know, irrational at best, but oh what a dream…
But then with my personal library at 4,000+ titles (and rising) I probably would rip the good stuff out of potential customers hands and not let them go…. <sigh>
I’m slowly getting my library posted to GoodReads – You can follow the links and get access to many others that have written more extensively than me (most of them have ranked the book much higher than I)
I probably have about 40% of my library posted to GoodReads. When I get the bulk of it up, I will be adding reviews – but in the meantime you can find a few entries here: View all my reviews.
from the cover: “…. Naomi Wolf compels us to face the way our free America is under assault. She warns us — with the straight-to-fellow-citizens urgency of one of Thomas Paine’s revolutionary pamphlets — that we have little time to lose if our children are to live in real freedom.Wolf shows that there are ten classic steps dictators or would-be dictators always take when they wish to close down an open society. Each of those ten steps is now underway in the United States Today.”
From the cover: “Since September 11, 2001, the Bush administration has relentlessly invoked the word “freedom.” Al-Qaeda attacted us because “they hate our freedoms.” The United States can strike preemptively because “freedom is on the march.” Social Security should be privatized in order to protect individual freedoms.In Whose Freedom?, Lakoff surveys the political landscape and offers an essential map of the Republican battle that seeks to capture the hearts and minds of Americans — and shows how progressives can fight to reinvigorate this most beloved of American political ideas.”
This sprinkle of cosmic glitter is a blue compact dwarf galaxy known as Markarian 209. Galaxies of this type are blue-hued, compact in size, gas-rich, and low in heavy elements. They are often used by astronomers to study star formation, as their conditions are similar to those thought to exist in the early Universe.
Markarian 209 in particular has been studied extensively. It is filled with diffuse gas and peppered with star-forming regions towards its core. This image captures it undergoing a particularly dramatic burst of star formation, visible as the lighter blue cloudy region towards the top right of the galaxy. This clump is filled with very young and hot newborn stars.
This galaxy was initially thought to be a young galaxy undergoing its very first episode of star formation, but later research showed that Markarian 209 is actually very old, with an almost continuous history of forming new stars. It is thought to have never had a dormant period — a period during which no stars were formed — lasting longer than 100 million years.
The dominant population of stars in Markarian 209 is still quite young, in stellar terms, with ages of under 3 million years. For comparison, the sun is some 4.6 billion years old, and is roughly halfway through its expected lifespan.
The observations used to make this image were taken using Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 and Advanced Camera for Surveys, and span the ultraviolet, visible, and infrared parts of the spectrum. A scattering of other bright galaxies can be seen across the frame, including the bright golden oval that could, due to a trick of perspective, be mistaken as part of Markarian 209 but is in fact a background galaxy.
European Space Agency
ESA/Hubble & NASA Acknowledgement: Nick Rose Read More