Einstein on God

Albert Einstein is often quoted as saying, “God doesn’t play dice with the universe,” as if that meant that he believed in an invisible Heavenly Father taking an interest in our affairs. This longer quotation reflects his actual opinion.

You will hardly find one among the profounder sort of scientific minds without a religious feeling of his own. But it is different from the religiosity of the naive man. For the latter, God is a being from whose care one hopes to benefit and whose punishment one fears; a sublimation of a feeling similar to that of a child for its father, a being to whom one stands, so to speak, in a personal relation, however deeply it may be tinged with awe. But the scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation There is nothing divine about morality; it is a purely human affair. His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection… It is beyond question closely akin to that which has possessed the religious geniuses of all ages. —Albert Einstein, Mein Weltbild, Amsterdam: Querido Verlag, 1934

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Richard Dawkins is a genuine scientist and an excellent writer

Some columnist on redstate.com referred to Richard Dawkins as “mediocre science writer.” Ha!

Far from being just a science writer, Richard Dawkins has two doctorate degrees in Zoology, has been a lecturer in Zoology at the University of California, then a “reader” (professor) of Zoology at Oxford University. He was Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford until 2008, when he retired to concentrate on writing. His area of specialization is Ethology, or the evolutionary basis of animal behavior, and he studied under Nikko Tinbergen, one of the great researchers.

Dawkins gives lectures at universities and events around the world. His written and spoken work has also earned him multiple honors and awards including honorary doctorates from the University of Durham, the University of Hull, Open University, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, the University of Westminster, the University of St. Andrews and the Australian National University. He was elected as a Fellow to the Royal Society of Literature in 1997 and to the Royal Society (the U.K.’s top scientists) in 2001.

His books about evolution are acknowledged as a fruitful source of research ideas for new experiments. See the book “Richard Dawkins: the scientist who changed the way we think.”

For his science, he has received, the International Cosmos Prize for contributing to the understanding of ecology (1997), the Kistler Prize for contributing to the understanding of human genetics and human society (2001), and the Medal of the Presidency of the Italian Republic (2001).

He has won several significant awards for his writing and communicating science.

  • In 1987, Dawkins received both a Royal Society of Literature award and a Los Angeles Times Literary Prize for his book The Blind Watchmaker. In the same year, he received a Science & Technology Prize for Best Television Documentary Science Programme of the Year, for the BBC Horizon episode ” The Blind Watchmaker.”
  • In 1989, he won the Zoological Society of London Silver Medal for contributions to the understanding and appreciation of zoology.
  • In 1990, he received the Michael Faraday Award for presenting physics in understandable form to the general public.
  • In 2002, he won the Kelvin Medal of The Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow, for presenting the appeal and excitement of physics to the general public.
  • In 2005, the Alfred Toepfer Foundation of Germany awarded him its 2005  Shakespeare Prize in recognition of his “concise and accessible presentation of scientific knowledge.”
  • In 2006, he won the US-based Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science.
  • In 2007, he was the Galaxy British Book Awards’ Author of the Year.
  • Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2007.
  • In 2009, he won the Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest.

If that’s their idea of a mediocre science writer, I want to be one, too!

Misquoting random dead French scientists

You might have heard the creationist declaim

“Evolutionism is a fairy tale for grown-ups. This theory has helped nothing in the progress of science. It is useless.”
Prof. Louis Bounoure (Former President of the Biological Society of Strasbourg and Director of the Strasbourg Zoological Museum, later Director of Research at the French National Centre of Scientific Research), as quoted in The Advocate, Thursday 8 March 1984, p. 17. (p. 5 of The Revised Quote Book)

This quotation is false. The fact is, this is two different quotations from two different people at two different times and in two different contexts. Prof. Bounoure was not director of research at the Centre, nor even a member. Even more important, the words were written fifty to sixty years ago, referring to debates long past and science that has been surpassed for forty or fifty years.

“Evolution is a fairy tale for adults” is not from Bounoure but from Jean Rostand, a much more famous French biologist (he was a member of the Academy of Sciences of the French Academy). The precise quotation is as follows: “Transformism is a fairy tale for adults.” (Age Nouveau, [a French periodical] February 1959, p. 12). But Rostand has also written that “Transformism may be considered as accepted, and no scientist, no philosopher, no longer discusses [questions – ED.] the fact of evolution.” (L’Evolution des Especes [The Evolution of the Species], Hachette, p. 190). Jean Rostand was … an atheist.

These quotations, however mangled, were taken from people who knew that evolution takes place, but felt that the explanations of mechanism were not complete or that arguing about the mechanisms was not the most fruitful form of research.

LOLscientists: Oswald Avery

LOLscientists-OswaldAvery, originally uploaded by monado.

Oswald Avery was just one of the thousands of workers who devoted their lives to fighting diseases.

He also proved that DNA, not protein, was the transmitter of genetic information.

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