The Danger of Crusading Atheists
David Gelernter is professor of computer science at Yale, chief scientist at Mirror Worlds Technologies, contributing editor at the Weekly Standard, and member of the National Council of the Arts. He is the author of several books and many technical articles, as well as essays, art criticism, and fiction. The "tuple spaces" introduced in Carriero and Gelernter's Linda system (1983) are the basis of many computer-communication and distributed programming systems worldwide. According to Reuters, his book "Mirror Worlds" (Oxford University Press, 1991) "foresaw" the World Wide Web and was "one of the inspirations for Java"; the "lifestreams" system (first implemented by Eric Freeman at Yale) is the basis for Mirror Worlds Technologies' software. Gelernter is also the author of "The Muse in the Machine" (Free Press, 1994), the novel "1939" (Harper Perennial, 1995), "Machine Beauty" (Basic Books, 1998), and most recently, "Judaism: A Way of Being" (Yale University Press, 2010).
As crusading atheism is sort of a cause today, it is popular, I don’t want to say among scientists, I mean that’s too general and it isn’t so. But certainly prominent people in the scientific community, there are prominent people who are religious Jews or Christians in the scientific community, but there are also prominent people who have taken their atheism to the public, successfully, who are crusading atheists who preach atheism in an aggressive way as a consequence of science. They play on people’s weakness and ignorance insofar as most people don’t take the trouble to learn science; it’s easy for a scientist to say, “I’m smarter than you are because I know it and you don’t.” You know, “I understand the genome and you don’t. I understand physics. I can do hard calculus problems and not just 12th grade level ones. So, you can see how much smarter I am than you are.” And when I tell you there are no more absolutes and religion is trash, and furthermore we ought to go ahead with human cloning, we should go ahead with genetic engineering and implants of all sorts which will smudge the line between human and machine, we’re getting into a moral conflict of interest which is tremendously dangerous.
I don’t think we will succumb. I think human beings have faced hard challenges. The Second World War was a difficult a crisis as mankind ever will face. Fifty million people died, humanity teetered on the edge. State paganism was preached aggressively by Hitler-ite Germany, which despised Christianity as much as it hated Jews; didn’t hate Christians as people, but it hated Christianity. The Japanese empire, which revived state paganism in preference to the more sophisticated religion of Buddhism and Christianity that had been popular in Japan. Stalinist Russia, which was an aggressively pagan nation, suppressed Christianity. That was a crisis. That was an enormous crisis and we rose to the occasion. We defeated it. It damaged us, we still bear the scars. I think we’re going to face a crisis in the coming century that will be different in character. Crises never—we never see the same crisis twice. I know we have the moral strength to rise to the occasion, and I hope and pray that we do in practice.
The Yale computer guru decries the dangerous trend of know-it-all scientists (Richard Dawkins?) telling people that "religion is trash."
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- Stories are at the heart of learning, writes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director for the Global Oneness Project. They have always challenged us to think beyond ourselves, expanding our experience and revealing deep truths.
- Vaughan-Lee explains 6 ways that storytelling can foster empathy and deliver powerful learning experiences.
- Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.
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- A group of mathematicians from the University of Vermont used Twitter to examine how young people intentionally stretch out words in text for digital communication.
- Analyzing the language in roughly 100 billion tweets generated over eight years, the team developed two measurements to assess patterns in the tweets: balance and stretch.
- The words people stretch are not arbitrary but rather have patterned distributions such as what part of the word is stretched or how much it stretches out.