Reading and thinking [text of email sent to some friends on 30 Oct 2016]

Let’s do some reading and thinking and see whether this mental exercise is a boon or bane to our personal development, as persons capable of intelligent or rational thinking.

  • The age of the Earth or Sun is around 4.5 billion years; distance from Sun: 149.6 million km; radius: 6,371 km; surface area: 510.1 million km²
  • Size of the Sun; radius: 696,000 kilometers; circumference: 4,366,813 km; about 1.3 million Earths could fit inside the Sun
  • Water = H2O [in other words, two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen]
  • The speed of light in vacuum is roughly 299,792,458 meters per second
  • Betelgeuse, a red giant, is about 700 times bigger than the Sun and about 14,000 times brighter.

Can any of these scientific findings be considered doubtful, false or untrue? I wouldn’t bet against such scientific postulations. Science or rather scientists have a sound basis for observing, ascertaining or measuring phenomena that is difficult to dispute.

And basically because of science and technology, or human ingenuity if you like, you are able to see or read in the night with man-made light-producing devices; your air-con, fridge, washing-machine, TV/radio, telephone, computer, electronic calculator and the thousands of things we see around us, that add to our living comfort or enjoyment, are all, shall we say, examples of human ingenuity; whether one wishes to label them as man-made miracles, they are of course replicable or reproducible.

In May this year I underwent a TURP procedure [transurethral resection of the prostate]. A combined visual and surgical instrument, a resectoscope, plus of course the skills of the surgeon and his team, contributed to the success of the operation. I had been suffering from an enlarged prostate for many years, and the last 3 – 4 years had been particularly traumatic for me, going around with a urine bag attached to a catheter inserted through the tip of my penis, and having difficulty and pain in urinating in the absence of the catheter. With the catheter urinating was a breeze but having a long tube sticking out of the urethra through the tip of the penis is not fun, by any realistic standard. Whoever invented anesthetics and the resectoscope, I have a lot to thank them for. Today, I can consider my prostate problem as history.

Back to the scientific postulation of the age of the Earth being around 4.5 billion years old; it seems odd that no scientific evidence in terms of human fossil has ever been found beyond thousands [200,000/250,000?] of years into the past; in other words, beyond this period, no remnant of any human being has ever been found, whereas the fossil record provides evidence of the existence of non-human animals long before mankind appeared on the scene. Human existence, even allowing from the time of our ancestors the hominids, is believed to have begun not more than a few millions years ago, as borne out by the fossil record. On an evolutionary, secular scenario, one can argue that there is nothing intrinsically valuable about human beings, apart from a level of consciousness they possess which is not found in other animals.

Being anthropocentric can be attributed to being religious. And gullibility and vanity, common traits of humanity, can be seen as the underpinnings for the crazy idea that God created the universe with the aim of sending people to Heaven to be forever happy with him, or to Hell to suffer forever for not believing in him. Many human beings are probably not aware, however, that they are no different from rocks, stones, dogs, cats, cabbages, carrots etc when their bodies are broken down and analyzed at levels of atomic or sub-atomic particles. From a scientific viewpoint, our bodies are constituted of the same elements making up all animate and inanimate substances, everything including the stars, except at varying ratios.

Of course, God-believers, or some of them, may not believe in such scientific stuff, and may even feel proud in aggrandizing themselves as a special, dazzling creation of God, designed in God’s image, and as the only primate species created with mostly naked skin, a feature that visibly separates humans from most other mammals. But it seems bare skin is nothing more than a result of the march of evolution of our forebears. According to Scientific American [February 2010, Continuum of Change]: The appearance of bare skin was one of a suite of adaptations that allowed our ancestors to thrive on the savanna as grasslands expanded in Africa starting about three million years ago.

 It appears that many people, for instance, over 50 per cent of Americans, still think that the Earth is not more than 10,000 years’ old, even though America is supposed to be one of the most, if not the most, scientifically advanced nations on Earth. Whether this group of Americans also happens to be religious embracing Christianity may not be a matter of coincidence. The US, for the record, is the largest Protestant nation on Earth [current population estimate: 324 million]. Religious beliefs can greatly influence people’s thinking to the point of making them delusional concerning reality, about what is real and what is not.

[Partially excerpted from God or Allah, truth or bull?]

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