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Archive for June, 2007

iQueryODBC 1.7 Released

Saturday, June 30th, 2007

Today I released version 1.7 of iQueryODBC. It has the following new features:

  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • Query window remembers last size and position
  • Logging capability

See the iQueryODBC page for more information

Added Cairo Album

Friday, June 29th, 2007

Today I added a new album to the photos page, from a road trip to Cairo, Illinois earlier this week.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Barack Obama on the Christian Right

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

“Somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together and started being used to drive us apart. Faith got hijacked, partly because of the so-called leaders of the Christian Right, all too eager to exploit what divides us.

At every opportunity, they’ve told evangelical Christians that Democrats disrespect their values and dislike their Church, while suggesting to the rest of the country that religious Americans care only about issues like abortion and gay marriage; school prayer and intelligent design.

There was even a time when the Christian Coalition determined that its number one legislative priority was tax cuts for the rich. I don’t know what Bible they’re reading, but it doesn’t jibe with my version.”

Senator Barack Obama
United Church of Christ
Hartford, Connecticut, June 23, 2007

Twisted Ethics

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

Yesterday, U.S. President George Bush vetoed a bill that would have eased restrictions on federally funded stem-cell research.

This bill would have given federally funded researchers access to embryos slated for destruction at fertility clinics.

“Destroying human life in the hopes of saving human life is not ethical”, said the President as he wielded the veto pen.

So are we to assume that “destroying human life” by throwing unneeded embryos in the dumpster outside a fertility clinic is in fact ethical?

Wouldn’t it be a safer assumption that using embryos that would otherwise be destroyed is at least somewhat more ethical than trashing them?

I must have a twisted sense of ethics, because I just can’t seem to understand the President’s reasoning.

Goodbye Pluto, Hello Eris

Friday, June 15th, 2007

Researchers led by Mike Brown from the California Institute of Technology have discovered that Eris (a recently discovered dwarf planet) has 27% more mass than Pluto.

This makes Eris is also the most massive, as well as the largest (in diameter) of the known dwarf planets.

For more information on Eris visit this Caltech page.

Eris - Artists Conception

Are Science and Religion at Odds?

Monday, June 11th, 2007

This was the question posed by Bill Moyers on The Moyers Blog. He started with a quote from Senator Sam Brownback, who has recently stated on a television debate that he does not believe in evolution (whatever that means!):

“The heart of the issue is that we cannot drive a wedge between faith and reason. I believe wholeheartedly that there cannot be any contradiction between the two. The scientific method, based on reason, seeks to discover truths about the nature of the created order and how it operates, whereas faith deals with spiritual truths. The truths of science and faith are complementary: they deal with very different questions, but they do not contradict each other because the spiritual order and the material order were created by the same God…”

Now that makes sense… it’s weird that someone who claims not to “believe in” evolution would have such an insight, but it’s good.

My Response

I think don’t think the question is valid… religion and science can’t be at odds any more than architecture and astronomy can be at odds.

The issue is whether people think that scientific theories dealing with fundamental issues such as cosmology and evolution can contradict religious traditions… which of course they can.

I think that Senator Brownback has it write when he says “The scientific method, based on reason, seeks to discover truths about the nature of the created order and how it operates, whereas faith deals with spiritual truths.” Science and religion don’t attempt to answer the same questions and provide the same answers.

The conflict arises when we try to use religion to answer scientific questions, or vice versa. For example, it’s a valid scientific question to ask “how did the universe begin”, but not “why was the universe created” or “who created the universe”. Those are religious questions.

I’m starting to think that it’s nothing more than intellectual laziness that causes people to grasp on to religious “answers” to scientific questions. It’s much easier to say that God created the world in seven days than to try to understand the concepts of the expanding universe, Higgs fields, etc. etc.

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians

Monday, June 11th, 2007

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi has also said:

“I consider western Christianity in its practical working a negation of Christ’s Christianity. I cannot conceive Jesus, if he was living in flesh in our midst, approving of modern Christian organizations, public worship, or ministry.”

Amen to that!

Because life doesn’t end at birth

Saturday, June 9th, 2007

Matthew 25, 34-40:

–Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

–For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in.

–Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

–Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

–When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

–And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Atlantis Returns to ISS

Saturday, June 9th, 2007

The space shuttle Atlantis took off on Friday evening on a mission to continue building the International Space Station. Atlantis’ payload includes a truss which will be part of the station’s new solar arrays, which will provide additional power.

Apparently, some debris was spotted falling from the shuttle at the time the solid rocket boosters were jettisoned, but NASA did not seem to be concerned.

Quotes from Songs

Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

“Hate your next-door neighbor, but don’t forget to say grace” – P.F. Sloan, “Eve of Destruction”

“You have the right to free speech, as long as you’re not dumb enough to actually try it” – The Clash, “Know Your Rights”

Copyright © 2006-13 Mark Burgess.   All Rights Reserved.