Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

By Mark Esposito, Weekend Blogger

Can religious beliefs actually retard our intuitions for justice and fairness? Research seems to suggest it might well. The Christian religion has imbued Western thought with the fundamental belief that God presides over a just world – one where sin is punished and rightly-held beliefs and actions are rewarded. We see this attitude in every aspect of human interaction. Today, in some sparkling sports stadium an earnest athlete is bound to thank his deity of choice for the good fortunes that befell his team or his game changing performance. By extension, the loser ( a value loaded word if ever there was one) will decry his lack of luck. From the Book of Job to Pinocchio and Cinderella, this belief in what some psychologists call “immanent justice” or “The Just Word Hypothesis” seeks to explain our plight and our success. It also hardens our attitudes about the poor, victims of crimes and those folks either buoyed or sunk by pure chance.

The Book of Job gets us into the mindset. A saintly man if ever there was one as the Bible itself acknowledges, God allows Satan to test Job with all manner of suffering to determine his worthiness. Stripped of his wealth, prestige and power, Job then loses his children and ultimately his health and vigor. Still, Job endures and never ever curses his fate – or his God. He does consult his friends for some inkling as to the cause of his travails. Their answer, which comes like a thunderclap is: “Behold,” one of them declares, “God will not cast away an innocent man, neither will he uphold evildoers” (Job 8:20). Classic “Blame the Victim” mentality from this coterie of advisers.

Puzzled but resolute, Job however concludes that despite his worldly righteousness, he can never know divine justice and according to the story prostrates himself silent before his Master’s “Just World.’ For that, he is rewarded with the resumption of his wealth and status. He even replaces his children with seven new ones. The clear message to the world however is the same: God handles the world’s justice and we are powerless to exact our own except on only the most superficial level.

Jesus himself gets in on the act in the New Testament. Addressing the multitude in the Sermon on the Mount, he has two distinct things to say about justice and our expectations of it: Blessed are…..those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be filled. (Matt. 5:6) and Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:10). In modern speak, “Don’t worry God will handle it in his own way and, if you let him do so, you’ll get the whole enchilada. The pearly gates, the mansions, those singing and harp-playing cherubim … you, my faithful believer, get it all.”

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Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

lady-with-ermineA French engineer has revealed two portraits beneath one of polymath Leonardo Da Vinci’s great works known in the English art world as “The Lady with an Ermine.” Pascal Cotte studied the work over the course of three years utilizing a novel technology involving reflective lighting to render some surprising elements to the five hundred year old painting.

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300px-Chernobyl_Disaster1280px-Fukushima_I_by_Digital_GlobeOne of the chief objections to nuclear power is the catastrophic implications of nuclear accidents or leaks. No better examples of that danger can be found in the aftermath of the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disasters. Reports out this week show precisely how lasting such damage can be.

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ebola250px-FarrakhanLouis Farrakhan has long been dismissed by most people as a race-baiting crank. However, Farrakhan’s latest missive to his Nation of Islam followers is particularly incendiary. He suggests that ebola and other diseases were developed by the United States to “depopulate” the world of black people. What is dangerous is that thousands actually believe Farrakhan’s conspiracy theories. Notably, this conspiracy is very close to the one being spread among remote villages of Africa where health care workers are being killed because they are viewed as spreading the disease or working for those who created it.

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Walrus_alaska

This extraordinary picture from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has many scientists worried as the latest sign of climate change. These are estimated 35,000 pacific walrus ashore on a beach in north-west Alaska. As mammals, walrus cannot swim indefinitely so they use their tusks to “haul out,” or pull themselves onto an ice floe or rocks. However, the loss of sea ice has left them effectively stranded.

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220px-Musca_domestica_PortraitThis must make for some awkward moments at fly delivery rooms: “Look Honey he has your first lover’s eyes!”

Researchers at the University of New South Wales have confirmed a new form of non-genetic inheritance in flies. The research found that offspring can resemble a mother’s previous sexual partner of flies rather than the actual father. The size of offspring was determined not by the actual father but the previous sexual partner of the mother. It is an fascinating example of telegony, which dates back to ancient Greece and was once discredited under modern genetic theories.

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1412079277000-aralThese pictures from NASA are being called “the quiet Chernobyl.” It is the Aral Sea as seen in 2000 and as seen this year. The massive decline of water levels is particularly evident from the black line showing the shoreline in the 1960s. In the United States and other cities, the world is facing a water crisis that is being given relatively low amount of attention. However, pictures like these show vividly our self-destructive impact on the environment.

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