Saturday, November 04, 2006

Dawkins; spirit without religion?

More Dawkins, transcribed from 44 minutes into the Point of inquiry interview.
I find this passage fascinating. To me it shows the intellectual honesty of Dawkins and the vulnerability that comes with it. After lambasting religions and faith based world views, he never the less points at this ”spirituality” at the basis of everything.
It sounds schizophrenic, but I entirely understand him. I am awed by the beauty and sophistication of it all, but I have a hard time with religions.

”There are those that believe in evolution, but still believe in the doctrines of some particular religion such as Christianity. They believe in the redemption by the crucifixion, the resurrection and so on... which are sort of miraculous beliefs.
But there are others who are often physicists or other scientists who don’t have any belief in those things, but none the less believe in some form of intelligence, some vast cosmic intelligence at the basis of the whole of the universe. I do have a lot more respect for them – for one thing they are a lot brighter than I am and one has to respect that – but I would be prepared to argue with them - but I do think that it is very different from belief in some particular religion with miracles, with prayer and with forgiveness of sins and all the things that go with, say, Christianity or Islam or Judaism.
It’s very easy to listen to a physicist who is making a very sophisticated case for some spirit at the deep base of the universe and to think ”oh well, he is just talking about Christianity – No, he is NOT talking about Christianity, he is talking about something far grander, far more profound, something that physicists maybe in a thousand years time may give a naturalistic explanation to.
I think it is very pernicious to confuse that sort of spirituality which sounds vaguely religious with the particular beliefs that we associate with named religions of history and persisting into today".

Friday, November 03, 2006

Prefab housing factory

Swedish contractor NCC has created a quite revolutionary factory for producing prefab houses. Usually 90% of construction is done at the building site. With this concept, 90% of construction is done in the controlled and automated factory environment. The assembly on site is done underneath a giant tent, so no water damage etc.
NCC claims that they have cut production time for housing in half.
There's a 7 minute film about the concept at their website.

Dawkin's back

There's a number of podcast out there with excellent speeches and interviews with Richard Dawkins talking about his latest book "The God delusion".

- A twenty minute speech at TED talks
- An hour long interview on point of inquiry

He speeks eloquently on the dangers of blindly accepting religius dogma and explanations based on faith. Very refreshing.

I transcribed this snippet from his recent speech Poptech - which is not online yet:

Science has taught us many things against our intuition. Appearantly solid things like crystals and rocks are almost entirely empty space – the familiar illustration is a fly in the middle of a sports stadium. The nucleus is the fly in the middle of the sports stadium and the next nucleus is the next fly in the middle of the next sports stadium.
The hardest, densest rock is ”really” almost entirely empty space, broken only by tiny particles so widely spaced they shouldn’t count. Why then do rocks feel hard and solid and impenetrable. Well, as an evolutionary biologist I’d say something like this: Our brain has evolved to help us survive within the orders of magnitude of size and speed at which our body normally operates. We never evolved to navigate in the world of atoms – if we had, our brains would probably percieve rocks as full of empty space.
Rocks feel hard and impenetrable to our hands because our hands themselves can’t penetrate them. It’s therefore useful to our brians to construct notions like solidity and impenetrability.
Moving to the other end of the scale, our ancestors never had to move through the cosmos at anything like the speed of light, if they had our brains would be much better equipped to deal with Einsteins ideas of relativity.
I give the name middleworld to the medium scale environment, the things moving at medium speeds , in which we have evolved, in which our brains have evolved to understand and take action.