30 November 2012

It's been far too quiet around here

This song always seems to flow right up inside me and makes me drop what I'm doing for a moment of carefree contentedness. Good stuff. :D

Clearing some cobwebs

I really have no idea if there's anyone that reads this blog regularly, but if you're such a person, this post is for you.

What was originally a small gap due to my stubborn refusal to post anything else until I'd finished my Why I'm an atheist series turned into 9-month-or-so void after I started working 60 hours a week again in the spring. So, sorry about that, if you were some poor soul awaiting updates from me. :P But I finally made a new post the other day, and hopefully I'll keep it going.

What originally delayed me was the post that now appears as "Moment of Science: Evolution & Natural Selection," which started as a part of the aforementioned series. Trying to write a concise and fluid summary of evolutionary concepts took me some time, but I'm pretty happy with the result. And admitting that it didn't really fit into the series proper and retitling it has broken my silly fixation with doing the atheism posts contiguously—so while I'd still like to finish them up fairly soon, I may start posting some other things in the meantime (including this).

At the moment it looks like there will probably be five of the atheism posts in total, though it could wind up being six. (I originally saw it being only two posts, but I kept wanting to elaborate on points and it's metastasized out of control.) I'm currently going back over number 3 while working on number 4. The third one is a bit unfocused, I think, and depending on what I do with the fourth, I may go back and revise the third a bit. Once all of them are finished, I plan to go back and add images so that they're perhaps a little more palatable than they are in their current form of relentless walls of text. :P

You may be familiar with the Crash Course videos on YouTube, and since the first two series just ended, I though I might do a write-up of my impressions of them, for which I might recruit the help of my good friend who is a history-person, so that could be fun.

If you do happen to be someone who has taken a liking to this blog and checks up on it from time to time, please feel free to let me know you exist, either in the comments or by email. I'm aware of a few folks that I know from the real world who've said they've enjoyed posts, but as far as I know, no strangers read this blog regularly. If you fit that category I'd love to know it, and it would certainly encourage me to post more often. :)

21 November 2012

Moment of Science: Evolution & Natural Selection

Part 4 of my Why I'm an atheist series involves refuting the claims of the so-called Intelligent Design movement. While writing it I realized that it would be necessary to make sure we're all on the same page regarding the ideas of evolution and natural selection. Summarizing these concepts was taking up a larger and larger portion of the post, so I decided to split the effort off into its own post here. Originally the title of this post included it in the atheism series (as betrayed by its url), but I've since decided that it would probably be less confusing as a standalone post, given that it does not deal directly with my irreligiousness.

Let's get something straight right off the bat: the terms “evolution” and “natural selection” are NOT synonyms. The first is an observed phenomenon, and the second is an explanation for it. Simply put, biological evolution describes changes among generations of livings things; natural selection is a mechanism for how those changes come about.

More specifically, evolution is the idea that the countless species we see around us today arrived at their current states through a gradual progression of forms. This stands opposed to assertions such as the Biblical creation, which state that all modern species were created instantaneously in their current forms. With today's evidence, the fact that life on Earth has evolved through successive forms over billions of years is essentially undeniable if one approaches it with intellectual honesty. The claims of the Old Testament (or those of any other religious text that describes all life having arisen more-or-less at once) just do not line up with the world we perceive around us.