The (Crowdsourced) Pale Blue Dot

Yesterday was the late Carl Sagan‘s birthday and the folks at Mad Art Lab put together this really nice compilation of people reciting Sagan’s famous passage about that pale blue dot on which we all live. (I’m in the mix, too.)



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Before India Launched Its Mars Mission, There Was a Blessing from the Gods

You may have heard that, earlier this week, India launched a spacecraft that will soon be orbiting Mars (for a fraction of the cost it took American scientists, no less).

What you may not have heard is what the Indian Space Research Organization Chairman K Radhakrishnan did before the launch: he took miniature versions of the rocket and spacecraft to a local temple and asked the (idols of) deities for their blessings, saying later that “a little divine intervention” wouldn’t hurt.

Cultural traditions aside, just imagine what it would look like if the head of NASA decided to go to church in the days before a rocket was set to launch so that he could ask Jesus for a little help.

You know, if you think your rocket — your pinnacle-of-scientific-achievement-rocket! — need supernatural help, maybe it’s time to double-check your calculations instead of speaking to the spirits.

Shrey Goyal is appalled by Radhakrishnan’s behavior:

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Did Evolution Create Religion?

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, answers the question: Did evolution create religion?:

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next!

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Texas A&M University to Offer New Course Combining Neuroscience with Religion

Texas A&M University is developing a new elective class for biomedical sciences students that will be all about the intersection of religion and science… and it makes no sense at all:

“We explore how neuroscience and religion should inform and enrich each other,” Klemm said. Although the course is based on reading assignments from his textbook, titled “Core Ideas in Neuroscience,” those principles will be accompanied by religious and philosophic perspectives. For example, when discussing evolution of the nervous system, the students will also consider the Biblical book of Genesis and other creation stories. The lesson about action potentials — the cellular process that transmits information within and between neurons — will also include a discussion of Descartes and dualism between mind and brain.

That’s great. So they’ll discuss how our nervous system evolved and then talk about fairy tales that add nothing to their science knowledge. Sounds like 50% of the class would be wasted.

Science and philosophy can go together. So can science and ethics. But science and religion? How would learning what Genesis says about anything help students learn more about neuroscience? We never find out.

The class will be taught by Dr. W.R. Klemm (below) who has a reason he wants to throw religion into the mix:



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50 More Academics Talk About Religion

More than two years ago, Dr. Jonathan Pararajasingham created a short film featuring notable academics talking about religion — and often, why they don’t believe in God. He released the second part months later. (To clear up any confusion, these videos are all compilations from other sources.)

Yesterday, Pararajasingham released the third episode in the series, featuring scientists like Brian Greene, Elizabeth Loftus, Lisa Randall, and Jared Diamond:



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