“The next Darwin” says life is inevitable

A 33-year-old physicist at MIT, Jeremy England, is being hailed as “the new Darwin,” for his mathematical models that suggest life is inevitable.  Though some are saying this will pose a problem for creationists and religious people, it looks to me like more evidence for Design.  (The doctrine of creation teaches not just that God created life, but that He created the universe and its laws.)  What many people are missing is that Prof. England, as a devout Jew, believes in God.  An account of this new Darwin and a summary of his theories after the jump. [Read more...]

The sixth extinction will include us

Some scientists are saying that we have entered the sixth phase of mass extinction of animal species, the biggest since the dinosaur days.  They add that this sixth extinction is likely–due to climate change, etc.–to also take out the human race.

For the original scientific article, go here.  Notice:  One of the authors is Paul R. Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb, which in 1968 predicted global apocalypse by 1995.  (For a list of his failed predictions see this.  See also The Bet, a book on Ehrlich’s environmental apocalyptic warnings vs. free market optimism.) [Read more...]

Why flies are so hard to swat

Scientists have figured out why flies are so hard to swat.  It has to do with the “quick-fire intelligence and good planning” of the fly, “the speed and complexity of the fly’s brain,” which processes information so fast that within 100 milliseconds it “plans” the direction it needs to go and launches its body accordingly.

Intelligence!  Planning!  A fly’s brain! [Read more...]

Evolution vs. liberalism

In the course of a discussion about an article by a feminist attacking transgendered folks like “Caitlyn” Jenner, saying that these men can never know what it is to be a woman, Andrew Klavan makes the point that evolution and feminism are incompatible.  Which made me realize that evolution is incompatible with lots of other ideas of the liberals who believe in it.

UPDATE:  I do not intend to confuse “what is” with “what should be” or to try to deduce from evolution any moral conclusions.  I do see the problem with that, but let me frame this differently.  If behaviors limit reproduction, aren’t those less likely to contribute to natural selection?  Wouldn’t there be natural selection against them?   Wouldn’t ideologies and policies that result in individuals not reproducing be an evolutionary deadend?  I am not asking whether this would be good or bad, and am quite willing to be instructed on the matter.

The original post was not so much about evolution but about liberalism, so perhaps we could ask this:  Isn’t it true that “traditional family values”–that is, beliefs and practices that result in more children being born and cared for–have an evolutionary advantage over “progressive values” such as those supporting feminism and non-reproductive sex?  Not as a moral position but as a “what is” description?

[Read more...]

Between first sleep and second sleep

About two years ago, we posted First Sleep, Second Sleep, which became the 12th most-read post on this blog, with people to this day clicking on it.  It had to do with what historians have discovered about sleep patterns in the days before artificial lighting, from ancient and Biblical days through the 17th century.  People would go to bed shortly after it turned dark, sleep for four hours, wake up for two or three hours, then go back to sleep for another four hours.  During the period of wakefulness between “first sleep” and “second sleep,” people would talk, read, and pray.  This seems to have been the main time when married couples would make love.  Artificial lighting–not just candles but oil lamps and especially electric lighting–changed people’s sleeping patterns, letting us stay up late, though patterns of insomnia suggest that first sleep and second sleep is deep wired into our nature.

Anyway, researchers have been studying this phenomenon.  Test subjects made to go to sleep when it gets dark, after a period of adjustment, fall back into the pattern.  But then scientists discovered something else.  That time between first sleep and second sleep is characterized by a unique state of consciousness.  Although the person is fully awake, he or she is in a state of deep rest, relaxation, and peace.

Clark Strand, who has written a book on the subject, relates it to the “mindfulness” of Eastern meditation.  I don’t think we have to go all mystical about it, like he does (though the connection might suggest why “the night watches” were such a good time for Bible reading and prayer), but I’m curious what this would have meant for marriages.  Marital intimacy–sex, yes, but also conversation–may well have been heightened during this nightly state of mind.  “Sleeping together” may have been more than a euphemism, perhaps a description of an deep intimacy that may be difficult to attain today. [Read more...]

A sentimental tribute to Motherhood, with spiders

OK, what I am about to tell you is gross, even horrific.  And (trigger warning to arachnophobes, who had better not click through to the jump) it has to do with spiders.  And yet, there is what Yeats called a terrible beauty here. And, for Mother’s Day,  it gives us a profound emblem of extreme motherhood. [Read more...]


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