And no religion, too?

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I really want to be patient with people. I know how hard it is to let go of a beautiful fantasy, be it about country, child or religion. But, as James Randi observed, no amount of acceptance can turn a belief into a fact.

Why are we even having this conversation in 2012? I totally get it if we were living in the tall grasses of the savanna. Lacking better information, I’d say the notion of forces that transcend the natural world might be downright logical. But come on. How can people in a society riddled with proof of the richness in scientific thought continue to cover their collective eyes and ears?

The common response by most is that the world would be a cold place without a divine purpose. That may or may not be the case, but the utility value of a belief doesn’t support its authenticity.

When I was a kid, my teachers would ask, “if everybody was leaping off a bridge, would you?” That question always made me uncomfortable. Not because the obvious answer was “no.” But because I couldn’t see the distinction between which actions I was supposed to embrace blindly and which ones I was supposed to apply critical thought.

I’m not tempted to leap much these days, off of bridges or into faith.

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If Ron Paul met Carl Sagan…

One of the basic premises of libertarian thought is the belief in the fundamental sovereignty, or independent authority, of the individual – something many have thought to be the natural condition that arises from our “self-evident” equality. But, aside from the yays and nays of philosophy grad students, do the physical sciences have anything to say about this belief?

Are individuals really at the center of their own universes?

If you ask a physicist or an astronomer where the center of the universe is, you’re likely to get one of two responses. Either, the center is everywhere or there is no center.

Let’s consider the implications of both responses.

If the real answer is “there is no center,” then no hierarchy exists. My center cannot be more center than your center because there is no center. If the answer is “everything’s in the center” then there’s still no hierarchy. My center cannot be more center than your center because we are all in the center simultaneously.

Two conclusions seem to come out of these two answers: one, if all things are equal in their centrality, no one can claim a “higher ground” than another; or two, nothing is sovereign. And if nothing is sovereign, then no person or collection of people has the “natural” authority to force another to act (even with popular vote) because 0 + 0 = 0.

Should this make all cosmologists libertarians? (Heck, even string theory levels out the playing field even further.)

I sure wish I could ask Carl Sagan that question. Or better yet, I wish Ron Paul could have. (I suspect Dr. Paul would have an easier time gaining an audience with Dr. Sagan.)

Of course, there’s always Dr. Tyson…