Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Science vs. Religion

What is Science?

Though science is never an absolute truth, it provides support to a certain idea that is likely to be true. Science is always changing, and the whole point of it is to find new evidence to prove or disprove something true. It is not meant to be stagnant. So refuting an argument because science is not 100 % correct does not prove anything because nothing in this world can be defined completely. The point of the matter is that there is an immeasurable amount of information in favor of that particular idea and no one has yet been able to disprove it. To me, this is like a court case. The judge and jury do not physically know what happened because they were not present during the crime. The consensus is based on evidence and reasonable fact. Hearsay is not admissible.

Thus, we are required to use our logic to determine what is likely to be true and what is likely to be untrue. Science is not black and white. Science is not saying "THIS DOES NOT EXIST." Instead, science says "There is no evidence of A, but there is evidence of B which is more likely to be true. Until given valid evidence in support of A, we cannot conclude it as an absolute truth. And, in this case, A is religion and B is scientific law and order. While many believe that Science is not believing in God or supernatural elements, that is not so. Science is not Atheism. Do not misinterpret my words to say that Atheism is a bad thing. I am just attempting to portray the fact that many people confuse Science and Atheism to be one in the same. Science is always changing. There is no bias (at least that is the goal of Science). Atheism is Science, but Science is not Atheism, if you get my drift. Therefore, it is ignorant to say, for example, that everyone who believes in evolution is an Atheist. We cannot define science on a basis of religion because it is merely fact and theory. Atheism comes into play as a rejection of religion and an affinity to base one's beliefs off of science. Misconception between science and religion are part of the reason why there is such a gap in our communication with one another.

Common Sense is Not Science

Usually, the ideas that science prove true are not very obvious--observable, yes--but not obvious. Likewise, things that seem obvious are not necessarily science. Common sense may tell us that the earth is flat, that the Sun rises and sets, that the Earth is not spinning at over 1000 miles per hour, that bowling balls fall faster than marbles, that particles don't curve around corners like waves around a floating dock, that the continents don't move, and that objects heavier-than-air can't have sustained flight unless they can flap wings. However, science shows that these ideas are wrong. Therefore, when someone says that evolution is not true because you cannot observe it in front of your eyes, that does not mean that it is necessarily false. As they would use the argument that just because we cannot see God does not mean that God does not exist, the difference here is that there is an immeasurable amount of evidence to back up the concept of evolution when there is no evidence to back up God. I'm not saying God exists or does not. I am simply putting forth the idea that people need to re-evaluate their own arguments. Since many theists like to use the argument that we cannot prove evolution true based on the grounds that it is not observable, then they should re-consider their whole contradictory argument they just said about God: that just because you cannot see God does not mean that God is not out there. If these people can accept this, then why can't they accept evolution and other scientific ideas that actually are observable?

Just Because Many Claim It To Be True, Doesn't Mean It Is

Just because many people believe in some kind of religion does not mean that it is true. I do not believe that their beliefs should be "punished," per say (First Amendment rights are essential!), but I do believe that they are opinions, not fact. I have noted how many Christians like to show how other religions are wrong based on some outlandish events that have been noted to have occurred, such as instances noted in the ancient Greek religions. However, many accounts noted in the Bible are just as outlandish. Just reading the Bible brings up many questions on its validity. It seems many Theists argue that the Bible is true because The Bible says it is true. Where is the logic in that? No one could even THINK about making an argument like that as evidence in court.

Christianity: The Stagnant Bible vs. The Changing World

The Bible is suppose to be stagnant. People argue that since the Bible says something specific, then that is the final word. However, when bringing up a practice from the past that is not widely accepted today, they say that times are changing and that the Bible was written during a different point in history. Well, what is it going to be? You can't claim parts of the Bible and disregard other parts. You either follow through with it or don't follow it at all. The Bible itself even says that. So, really, people who follow it are technically supposed to follow everything written and not change it's verse to modern times. Even I can find myself hypocritical at times, though, because I believe that if people are going to follow the Bible, they ought to follow the entire thing and not just the aspects of their choosing. Yet, there are some people who reasonably follow the Bible only in regards to history and a *general* sense of morality, and I, logically, do not think there is anything wrong with that. I do suppose if someone would be better suited to follow morality and cultural ideas from many other cultures if they are going to follow their own version of spirituality. However, if they are only going to follow a few parts from the Bible and nothing else, they might as well just be Christian and follow through with the entire religious base. I am not telling people that is what they should do, I am just showing my thoughts when I observe this and the issues these aspects of religion raise.

Faith vs. Knowledge

The Bible notably condemns knowledge. Some would argue this, but when you look at what is noted in Genesis with Adam and Eve, God specifically did not want them to eat from the tree of knowledge. He wanted them to be innocent and not exposed to evil. But why would He entrust in people to follow his beliefs if He did not want them to be knowledgeable? How would they know if they had no knowledge? If God did not want to send people to Hell, then why not create a universe full of peace and obedience? Also, on this idea of knowledge being were Adam and Eve supposed to know not to eat the apple if they had no knowledge? They wouldn't have understood good and bad...that would be like giving capital punishment to a one year old for eating a crayon even though you told the child not to. The child would not understand unless he or she had enough knowledge to know better. Where is the mens rea? How is it that a murderer can "repent" and get into Heaven, yet an unbaptized infant will go to Hell? A rapist who repents and believes in God will go to Heaven, but a good, kind-hearted individual will go to Hell for not believing in God? What about animals? Do they go to Hell for not believing in God? How is this just? How is this love? To me, this sounds like a dictatorship and its token bloodthirsty need for a complete alliance to the powerful one, without question and without objection.

The Natural Laws

I would also like to point out that the Bible seems to display a completely different set of natural laws, such as how animals can talk, humans can live for hundreds of years, and such, just to name a few. Why would God have created plants before creating the sun when they need the sun to survive? Why did all of these natural laws suddenly change, especially when the Bible is so against change? The Bible does not even believe in various cases of microevolution, let alone is evident that the Bible and its content is meant to be stagnant, even though we can scientifically and empirically see that this is proven otherwise.

Furthermore, why were Adam and Eve even created with genitals? The sole purpose of genitals is procreation, but God didn't make this happen until after they disobeyed him. This does not make sense. What really does not make sense is that though both Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge, Eve got much worse punishment. Women are always considered temptresses in the Bible. Even if a man sins, it is somehow a woman's fault for "tempting" him. Yes, blame it all on the women and give them painful punishment, possibly death for this kind of "behavior." This is no different than the mindset of the Nazi party--they are evil, so we must punish them. But then again, Hitler followed the Christian faith.

In Conclusion...

This brings me to my original point. The fact of the matter is, people are always trying to refute scientific evidence. Sometimes they do, and sometimes they do not. That is why there are theories and hypotheses. People cannot refute gravity because it is inevitable. People can try, but the point is, it takes a substantial amount of evidence for a hypothesis to turn into reality, and evolution is possible and existent in this universe today. One would think that it would be more outlandish to believe that animals could tempt humans into doing the devil's work than the fact that they can evolve over time.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Can Bradley Manning Really Be Executed Over Wikileaks?

Collateral Murder

As the bloody war in Afghanistan and Iraq takes on its 104th month, making it America's longest war, The citizens of the US finally became aware of the truth behind this war with the disclosure of U.S. classified information by Bradley Manning. Many saw these documents that shed light on the "Collateral Murder" as horrific whereas others immediately noted it as an act of treason.

US army intelligence analyst Private Bradley Manning allegedly wrote to the former hacker Adrian Lamo, “Hillary Clinton and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public.” Following this Manning was arrested in May 2010 for leaking the classified data to the public. Questions of whether this act was considered ethical or treason, good or bad, have arisen all over the nation. US Republican Congressman Mike Rogers and many others call for the execution of Manning. The question is, is exposing war crimes a crime?

Manning was arrested by agents of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command in May 2010 and held in pre-trial confinement in a military jail at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait.[1][2][3] On July 5, 2010, two misconduct charges were brought against him for "transferring classified data onto his personal computer and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system" and "communicating, transmitting and delivering national defense information to an unauthorized source".[2][7] The charges included unauthorized access to Secret Internet Protocol Routers network computers, download of more than 150,000 United States Department of State diplomatic cables, download of a secret PowerPoint presentation, and downloading a classified video of a military operation in Baghdad on 12 July 2007. Manning is also charged for forwarding the video and at least one of the cables to an unauthorized person.[19] The maximum jail sentence is 52 years.[1] Lieutenant Colonel Eric Bloom has said that "as part of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the next step in proceedings would be an Article 32 Hearing, which is similar to a grand jury. An investigating officer will be appointed, and that officer looks into all facts of the matter, does an investigation, and upon conclusion, the findings will be presented to a convening court martial authority. The division commander will consider based on what is in that, what the next steps are. Either there is enough evidence or not enough evidence to proceed to a court-martial ... A date has not yet been set. We haven't even identified the investigating officer. We're still in the early stages of this case".[1]

Wikileaks have said that they are unable as yet to confirm whether or not Manning was actually the source of the video, stating "we never collect personal information on our sources," but saying also that "if Brad Manning [is the] whistleblower then, without doubt, he's a national hero"[6] and "we have taken steps to arrange for his protection and legal defense".[5][20] Manning's official military attorney is Capt. Paul Bouchard.[21] On June 21, Julian Assange told The Guardian that WikiLeaks had hired three U.S. criminal lawyers to help defend Manning, but that they had been denied access to him.[22][1] Boing Boing asked Lt. Col. Eric Bloom whether Manning was "represented by any civilian attorney" and Bloom responded, "I do not know of any rebuffing. I've been in the military for 26 years, and I've never heard of any party's attempt to secure legal representation being denied. We don't rebuff representation."[1] A military spokesperson told CNN that Manning was processed at the Quantico detention facility on July 29. As of July 31, he remained in solitary confinement. The official told CNN that Manning could be taken to a military judge in Washington in August, but that it would likely be delayed.[21] Manning has been considered a "person of interest" in the leak of over 90,000 documents to Wikileaks pertaining to the War in Afghanistan, which were released to the public on July 25, 2010.

As we look further into this situation, Oran's Dictionary of the Law (1983) defines treason as "...[a]...citizen's actions to help a foreign government overthrow, make war against, or seriously injure the [parent nation]." In the United States, treason is specifically defined in the United States Constitution in Article III Section 3 as follows:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

Therefore the United States Code at 18 U.S.C. § 2381 states "whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States." The requirement of testimony of two witnesses was inherited from the British Treason Act 1695 (Since 1945, however, this has been abolished in British law and treason cases are now subject to the same rules of evidence and procedure as a murder trial, but the US requirement still stands barring an amendment).

When objectively considering all sides of the situation here, was Manning actually trying to levy war against the United States or even aid the enemies? His main objective was getting the truth out there, and if we, as citizens, do not have the right to object to the government's practices, especially when it involves the murder of innocent civilians for no reason whatsoever, than we cannot say that this nation is a democracy. This was not meant to harm the United States. If anything, it was meant to bring us together so that people could stop dying over these horrid lies. If Manning committed treason, then what about Reagan selling arms to Iran and Bush outing American agents? The reason for this is not because Bradley Manning was trying to "help the enemies" but because this footage is proof of what is really going on. Of course government officials want him executed. But we, as a nation, cannot be fed the lies government officials are telling us just because it sounds coherent, when in reality, it is not. My main argument is that the US cannot execute Bradley Manning over telling the truth. The whole reason we even have freedom of speech is so that when the government DOES do something wrong, we have the right to change it. If people want to follow the Constitution so strictly, then they must consider that it also says that Americans have the right to overthrow the government if it becomes corrupt. By not allowing both sides to be heard and executing those in opposition sounds more like a dictatorship than a democracy, to me.