February 22, 2011

Copernicus Catches a Glimpse into the Mind of God

Jan Matejko's
"Astronomer Copernicus Conversation with God"
 By Francis Nye

A few days a go was February 19th.  February 19th is a special day for me personally. It is one of my daughter’s birthdays.  Coincidently, it is also the birthday of Copernicus.  For those of you that don’t know who Copernicus was; he was the Renaissance astronomer and first person to formulate a comprehensive heliocentric cosmology, which displaced the Earth from the center of the universe.

The Christian Church's doctrine was pretty much solidified 1500 years ago when Copernicus was alive. It had been heavily influenced by Greek and Roman philosophers, especially in its views of science. The accepted doctrine by the church that the earth was the center of the universe (geocentric universe) was espoused by Ptolemy around 150 CE.  This made sense of course to the Church.  After all we are God’s chosen creation.  Why wouldn’t the universe revolve around the earth?

Nicholas Copernicus never really cared much for the Earth-based view of the universe, yet he never publicly announced his views until he was old and this was due to the Church. Anyone who opposed Church doctrine was branded a heretic.  Other than destroying your reputation the church could also put you in prison or even sentence you to death for going against it.  So it was dangerous to put forth an idea that the sun was the center of the solar system and not the earth.

Copernicus did not invent the idea of a heliocentric - sun-centered - system, but he was the first modern person to advance it. The heliocentric model was able to easily explain things that the geocentric system had a hard time doing, most notably the seemingly retrograde motion of the planets. The planets usually follow an eastward direction in the sky, but sometimes they mysteriously flip and travel westward. The geocentric model attempted to solve this by adding extra orbits upon orbits that the planets would follow. However, the heliocentric model explains this with the Earth simply reversing direction of movement relative to the planet being observed.

Copernicus' publication On the Revolution of the Celestial Spheres was not published until after he died in order for him to avoid being persecuted by the Church. The book was published in Latin, so the general public was not able to read it. Academics could, but few learned people were willing to face the Church and risk death. It wasn't even until 73 years after it was published, 1616, did the Church consider it important enough to place on its Index of Prohibited Books.  However, it did put heliocentric views out in the restricted open, and it was useful to people such as Galileo to help revolutionize astronomy in Europe.

Heliocentrism (lower panel) in comparison to the geocentric model (upper panel)

In today’s world its funny to think that scientist had to hide their insights into the natural world from the public for fear of death or imprisonment. But, not so long ago this was a real concern.  It makes me sad that religion has always been more of a determent to mankind’s advancement than a positive force for it. 

Some of today’s religious followers now scoff at things like evolution, the age of the earth and that people are not born gay that it is a choice and therefore a sin.  You would think that one would learn after time and time again that science is almost always proven right.  It is hard to scoff at these scientific advancements in the face of an avalanche of evidence but yet some do because they are blinded by church dogma that can’t keep up with proven facts.

I can understand why this is.  They think they know the mind of God. These detractors operate under the false premise that they represent unchanging religious truths. They don’t understand science describes creation in the way God truly intended the universe to be. It is not the way it was written in the bible or some other sacred tome.  A creation story written by a nomadic people trying to understand a universe they could never hope to comprehend with their limited understanding of the natural world.  So once it is understood that the bible or whatever sacrosanct book they happen to be studying is not a true historical or scientific document then the religious of this world can stop being a millstone around the neck of human advancement.  Just think of it, without religious interference then someday we as the human race can solve the mysteries of disease; solve world hunger; and take flight to distant worlds at an even faster rate than we now dare too imagine. Ω

What are your views on this situation?  Please let me know in the comment section below.


Part II: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nM005RLmpi8&feature=related

Video of Interest:
Stephen Hawking: Physics Leaves No Room for God

For information about Earth’s location within the universe go to: https://sites.google.com/site/earthsplaceintheuniverse/

Also see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth's_location_in_the_universe

February 20, 2011

Champion Gives Up Title in Co-ed Wrestling Tournament

Boy and girl wrestling
Francis Nye
Joel Northrup refused to compete against a girl at the Iowa state tournament in Des Moines, relinquishing a chance to become a champion because he said wrestling a girl would conflict with his religious beliefs. Northrup, a home-schooled sophomore who was 35-4 wrestling for Linn-Mar High School, defaulted his first-round match in the 112-pound class with Cassy Herkelman, a freshman from Cedar Falls.
It is sad that this child had to be put in this position of having his faith conflict with his quest to become a wresting champion in a state school tournament.  He should have never been forced to make a choice like this. There is something really wrong with this picture and for first time on this blog it isn’t religion.
What I really find disturbing is that co-ed wresting is allowed in high school.  Would you want your daughter groped by horny adolescent boys?  Really?  This young man should be commended for standing up to this kind twisted spectacle.   What kind of wresting program are they running in Iowa.  This is something that I would expect in ancient Rome. 
What are your thoughts on this?  Let me know below in the comment section.

February 15, 2011

Jewish Groups in Netherlands Demand Swifter Punishment for Holocaust Deniers

Jewish Flag / anti-Semitism
By Francis Nye

Jewish groups in the Netherlands called Wednesday for swifter punishment for Holocaust deniers as parliament debated how to combat rising anti-Semitism. Among other measures, a Jewish umbrella organization said it wants Holocaust deniers punished under rules usually reserved for drunk drivers, shoplifters, and football hooligans.

Under the "snelrecht," or "fast justice" policy, police and prosecutors offer offenders a choice immediately after their arrest between a fine and a court appearance within two months.  All this is because there is rising anti-Semitism.  Sources say this can be attributed to the rise of influence of Islam in the Netherlands.  More Islam, more anti-Semitism.

While my heart goes out to the victims of Holocaust I think it preposterous that special laws are needed in regards to anti-Semitism or any anti-religious views.  If violence is occurring then laws regarding assault, battery, and such should be enforced.  But just to arrest and fine or detain people over anti-Semitic remarks is just oppressive.  It crosses the line between a free society and a tyrannical religious dictatorship.
All civilized societies are secular and for good reason. Many Western nations have accepted the standard of separation of church and state.  Their citizens enjoy many liberties not afford to those who do not.  While I think anyone who denies the Holocaust has their head in the sand, it is a step backwards in their development to take away their liberties for a point of view not in agreement with another group.

Moreover, if there is such outrage by the Jewish community over anti-religious views, why didn’t they stand up and be counted over the reprinting in 2005 of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons that was such a whopping controversy in the Netherlands?

The Jews are just as guilty of anti-religious rhetoric as the rest of us, so why the special laws?  I don’t think for a minute they are anymore persecuted than anyone else.  One could also argue that these Jewish organizations that are trying to promote these laws are no better than the Muslim caitiffs they oppose.  History is replete with examples of religious maltreatment of all faiths even the Jews.  Also I think it is noteworthy to point out that while it is tragic that 6 million Jews died in World War II, 27 millions Russians died in the same conflict.  That is 4 ½ times as many Jews, but no one is crying over the Russians now are they? 

The real danger is if we start crossing over the line on how free speech is defined. Then pretty soon the state will control all forms of expression. It becomes a religious controlled tyrannical society much like those of the Middle East with all the trappings and oppressive laws that come with it.  Really were does the religious intolerance stop if we choose one religion over another or worse if we have a hodge-podge of religious laws to make everyone happy? Soon women will be wearing the infamous hijab in the Netherlands because their beauty offends some other group’s sensibilities.  Think of what confusion that would be.  The Jews could learn from the adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  Ω

What are your views on this situation?  Please let me know in the comment section below.

Freedom Of Speech Is Non-negotiable!

February 8, 2011

The Hidden Gay Bigotry of Chick-fil-A: Religious Intolerance

A Chick-fil-A parity on a popular corporate image
By Francis Nye and Lilly Winters

The Southern fast food chain, Chick-fil-A has caused uproar with its support of anti-gay groups like Focus on the Family. People are boycotting and circulating petitions nationwide.

A controversy began with revelations that a Chick-fil-A franchise planned to donate food to a pro-marriage event hosted by the anti-gay Pennsylvania Family Institute. Chick-fil-A has a long history of intolerance toward non-Christian, non-straight people.

In a Times article I read:

“The company's Christian culture and its strict hiring practices, which require potential operators to discuss their marital status and civic and church involvement, have attracted controversy before, including a 2002 lawsuit brought by a Muslim restaurant owner in Houston who said he was fired because he did not pray to Jesus with other employees at a training session. The suit was settled.

The sandwiches that will feed people who attend a February seminar, called "The Art of Marriage: Getting to the Heart of God's Design," in Harrisburg, Pa., are but a tiny donation. Over the years, the company's operators, its WinShape Foundation and the Cathy family have given millions of dollars to a variety of causes and programs, including scholarships that require a pledge to follow Christian values, a string of Christian-based foster homes and groups working to defeat same-sex marriage initiatives.”

Many are threatening a boycott, including me.  This is just too much.  I personally can’t support an establishment with such a bigoted attitude.

Some of today’s Christians need to ask themselves why they are treating homosexuality as a greater sin than any other.  Why so much hostility and hatred toward this one group of supposed sinners.   It seems to me that more effort and public awareness by the Christian community is being put into the ostracizing of gays than of any other.  Is one sin greater than another in the eyes of God?  I didn’t think so.  I thought any sin would separate one from God.

The fact of the matter is that today’s Christians have been manipulated by our political leaders in Washington and elsewhere in the country.  They know that they can use religion and the issue of homosexuality to garner votes in elections.  It is a sick trick to play on people’s fear.  The Christian community should be insulted that politicians are using them as pawns to further their agenda.  This is the typical hate speech that has permeated today’s political and Christian arenas.  Why do we allow candidates for public office to create such divisiveness in our country?  Why do we allow them to pit us against each other to satiate their appetite for power and greed? 
We have lost our ability to solve difficult and critical problems because of this.  Instead of spending valuable time on the very real problems our country faces today politicians are creating issues of morality.  Do we not have enough real problems?  What about our budget deficient. Middle Easter problems, border issues, ect.   Maybe it’s that our politicians do not want to do any real work. But these are all topics for another post.  The point is the persecutions of the gay community in this county undeserving and un-American.  They too are entitled life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness no matter what our personal views of them are.

Christians, as do most religions, believe we all must stand before God in the end.  Let him judge our actions.  We should focus our energies on love and compassion for one another instead of new ways to persecute our brothers and sisters.  Matthew 7:1 should be the message; “Do not judge, or you too will be judged”.  At the least you would think they could follow their own biblical teachings.  It would be nice to see today’s religions use their power for good instead of for hate. If you ask me their attitude is not very Christ like. What are your views on this situation? 

Please let me know in the comment section below.


February 1, 2011

Jehovah's Witness, Young Man, Cut-off from Family after Leaving Religion

By Francis Nye

When Nathan Phillips decided he no longer wanted to be a Jehovah's Witness he got more than he bargained for. Nathan lost his family, his friends, and almost lost his job due to the trauma of this church’s actions toward him for simply wanting to go his own way.

Nathan having doubts about the faith expressed his feelings to the elders at his local congregation that may be he no longer wanted to be a Jehovah’s Witness. Phillips stated “My beliefs had changed; my views had changed – it just wasn’t me.” At that point the Jehovah's Witness’ elders, who are looked up to and considered to be responsible for leading the members of their congregation, told Nathan he would be immediately disfellowshipped, a Jehovah’s Witness term for excommunicating a member from the congregation.

At that point Nathan was called into a judicial committee of three elders. They sat in front of him and asked him questions to see if he had been smoking or drinking. This panel of elders then sent him out of the room so they could decide the matter.  When he came back they said they’d decided to disfellowship him.

Shocked and dismayed by what was transpiring Nathan added that their decision would impact his family and friends who were all Jehovah’s Witnesses.  He went on to explain that he did not want to be disfellowshiped.  He begged for leniency but none of that was to be taken into consideration.  Nathan was to feel the full wrath of this panel for wanting to leave his faith to explore what the world had to offer. So because of the decision of this group of elders not to give Nathan Phillips, who is only 24-years old, a clean break he lost his family and friends.
Because of the tenants of this faith his family and friends of the Jehovah’s Witness can no longer have any kind of relationship with Nathan. I imagine one has to ask themselves, what would Jesus have done in this situation?  It is obvious to me that this young man was confused and didn’t really know what he wanted. I think Jesus would have understood that Nathan needs guidance and support.  If Nathan didn’t really care what anyone truly thought he would have never came to these leaders in the first place. This is typical of his age, the confusion. Not really knowing what you want out of life and which way you should be going. So instead of helping him find himself these elders decided to impose the harshest punishment they could inflict.  No compassion.  No caring.  No understanding.

I think the elders forgot the message of Jesus in Matthew 25:31-46.  However, verse 45 really sums it all up more concisely in my opinion.

45 “…whatever you did not do for one of the least of my brothers, you did not do for me.”
In other words what Jesus is saying is by turning your back on one of your brothers, you are turning your back on me.

I think church elders should be more like Christ, a servant and teacher to their flock. Jesus makes a great showing of this in John 13:12-17

 12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

These sad pathetic little elders are so typical of some of today’s Christian leaders.  They forget that they are to be “Christ-like” Instead they focus on being “holier-than-thou” with all the arrogance and intolerance that their black diminutive hearts can muster.

What are your views on this situation?  Please let me known in the comment section below.