Tomorrow's Science Heroes?
From the Wikipedia article on scientism:
The term scientism is used to describe the view that natural science has authority over all other interpretations of life, such as philosophical, religious, mythical, spiritual, or humanistic explanations, and over other fields of inquiry, such as the social sciences. The term is used by social scientists like Hayek or Karl Popper to describe what they see as the underlying attitudes and beliefs common to many scientists.
I've explicitly discounted both factual claims about measurable things (as in "physical stuff has this or that other charactersitic") and talk of creator god(s), from what I claim is the interesting core of religions, so both your arguments are beside the point.
What I actually claim, is that the most interesting part of a human's life is the subjective experience, which has little to do with anything science could measure.
Tomorrow's Science Heroes?
Heh, time for some lecturing on one of my favourite topics :)
The whole point of religion has nothing, and I mean really nothing, to
do with filling explanatory gaps in our knowledge of the universe. It
also has little to do, really, with conceptual notions of a kind of
super-being called God. To quote from a christian authority on the
subject: "If you can understand it, then it is not God" (St.
Augustine). It also does not really have much to do with plain, cold
That, in itself, is a pretty good thing. By and large, we humans do not
live in a world of plain cold facts. Any one random given fact will
probably make one person happy and another depressed, so it's clearly
not the fact itself that makes much of a difference. And, "what's the
point of living", arguably the most important question that a living and
thinking individual faces, can hardly have a factual (let alone
Meanings are not facts, and we humans need, want and crave meaning.
Possibilities are also not facts, and we humans live in a whole world of
possibilities.... there's much to say on that too.
At the same time, science has, for the past few centuries, done a pretty
good job at amassing cold, plain facts, including meta-facts such as
whole theories and models. So basically, we can feel pretty safe in
delegating questions of plain cold facts to science and the scientific
method. But as we've said, facts do not constitute meaning! A
well-known scientific example of this is quantum theory, which has a
large number of diverging "interpretations" for the exact same equations
and sets of facts.
It's also good to be clear on the distinction between *science* and
*scientism*. Science is a method of enquiry based on the principles
empirical experimentation and theorisation, which inform each other in
an evolutionary way. Scientism, on the other hand, is the *belief* that
science produces not just plain, hard facts, but also the best, most
authoritative and most useful interpretation of life in general. It
often goes together with *materialism*, which means that everything that
exists must come down to things that science can measure and make
theories about. In any case, these are *beliefs*, or philosophical
positions, not verified truths.
Now, these are a lot of hairy words, and the above sentences can be made
to mean very different things depending on how you want to read it.
What exactly do we mean by "exist". Does the number three exist? Does
consciousness exist? Does a quantum state exist? And what does "come
down to" really mean?
Another hairy thing to consider when we look for any "truth" involving
"meaning": there is no ultimate criterion for "truth" or meaning,
besides "it convinces enough people who have thought hard about it". I
know, that sounds inexcusably soft and flimsy and subjective, but that's
the way it is. No matter how technical an argument may be, you just
can't take the subjective element out of it. Turning an argument into a
formal proof only raises the problem to a higher level: you'll still
have to *convince* people that the logical model actually applies, etc.
Now, if religion is not about facts, what to do about the many facts
that all the worlds' religions claim? That should not be much of a
problem either! Remember, in Christian terms, "If you can understand
it, then it is not God". So absolutely *any* claimed fact of any
religion can be safely viewed as no more than a metaphor, or a stage of
conceptualization which may be appropriate for some individuals (not
necessarily all), and may help them towards finding that elusive
And what kind of "meaning" is that? There are many possible answers, so
I'll just highlight a couple of points.
An important point, is viewing the conscious human being in an absolute
positive way, and without any pre-imposed limitations, both in terms of
what it *is* and in its *potential*. Instead of taking Joe Sixpack, or
Jane Prettygoodlawyer, or Bill Gates as the yardstick of humanity, you
think of someone like Jesus, or Buddha, Socrates, Lao Tse, etc. Someone
whose every word pretty much embodied "meaning": honesty, courage,
generosity, humility, you name it. If you adopt the worldview that we
are all basically made of *that stuff*, and that's what our innermost
being is, and is trying to be all the time... well, something pretty
Another point, is to realize that *you* are not the most important thing
in the world. The individual "I" is not the biggest or most real
"meaning". Which means that when you die (as we all will), the most
important thing(s) in the world will still be there! On its own, this
could even sound depressing, but if you put it together with the first
point, it's entirely the other way around.
There are many more things to say, but that's best left to whole books than slashdot posts.
From here on, it's pretty much a matter of choice... there are many
valid spiritual "systems" out there, with wildly different approaches
and vocabularies. Some traditional, some not. Some profound and
well-tested, some half-jokes. If you're interested, look around and
choose wisely. Do choose one vocabulary, staying "neutral" doesn't
really go anywhere. And get some guidance along the way. Good luck!
Good Freeware System Snapshot Tool For Windows?
confirmed. VirtualBox does a great job and is freeware (there's even a GPL version).
even better, run VirtualBox on linux and create windows instances, then you have the best of both worlds: linux stability and security, and access to windows applications.
Where's the "IronPerl" Project?
yep, you have several good points there.
my point is that PHP could only have happened through a major blunder of the perl community, since it is basically a bland clone of perl. I don't see the languages themselves being different enough to make a difference, so I tend to think that the main reason why PHP took off is that it has a dead easy programming model ("change your files extension to .php and embed your <?php php code ?> in there"), and is friendly towards shared hosts, by basically resetting the interpreter between requests and having "safe_mode". The point is that all these things are possible to do with perl, but no-one at the time bothered to produce a package that did them and was simple to install, or if anyone did, they didn't make enough noise. So php came and filled the gap for the wider world, while the perl people smugly replied "we can do that too, and about 10,000 other things".
so yep, I know you can use mod_perl for the performance, and templating kits if you like them, and that CGI is still available. I regularly use all of these :)
besides, as a perl programmer, it bothers me if the perl community shoots itself in the foot, because I enjoy perl programming for the web, and
that market looks to me like it's dwindling.