Philosophical Musings

Philosophical Musings

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Is there an Afterlife?

 Here are some possibilities, regarding the afterlife:
  1. Death is the end. No soul. No purpose other than immediate existence. A naturalistic view of the universe.
  2. There is a unique soul, and eternal consequences for its words & actions. Individual accountability.
  3. There is a unique soul, but no consequences for words or actions. Amoral relativity.
  4. There is a life force, but no individuality. Your 'spark' returns to the pool & your individuality is gone.

I can't really think of any other possibilities, from a philosophical POV. If there is not an individual soul.. a unique spark of life that continues in some kind of afterlife, then the result of either #1 or #4 is the same. Your essence, whatever it is, will be lost, & your uniqueness will dissipate into the nether regions of eternity.

But, if there is an eternal soul, that will continue on in another dimension, then the choices we make in this life take on eternal significance.

If we got to choose the above 'reality', i'm not sure any of the choices are very comforting. I've always like Clarke's quote about the supernatural:

“Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.” ~Arthur C. Clarke

Some people believe in the naturalistic/atheistic worldview. Others believe in a supernatural/theistic ideology. I can't really see that either belief has much comfort to the angst filled person, wondering what the meaning of his life is. 

On the one hand, there is eternal nothingness.. end of story. Life is over, & there is no memory, no future, no purpose or significance to our lives, at all. We are a cosmic accident, with no explanation, no hope, no meaning. Not much comfort there, but at least the pain only lasts a short time, while we are alive.

On the other hand, there is eternal existence. A Supernatural Being (or Beings) hold us accountable for our brief lives in this existence, & we will face consequences for our thoughts, words, & actions. There is a possibility that this Supreme Being is very strict &/or ruthless in His standards, & that the 'sins' that we might consider to be small potatoes, relative to other people, are major issues in the Presence of a Holy God. Not much comfort there, either, if there is a possibility of eternal torment, or continued pain from the actions in this life.

And the other unfortunate thing about Reality, is that we don't really get to choose it, regardless of the fantasy illusions of the left, & their identity politics, where you can choose your gender, race, & self image. Actual reality is not so accommodating. It IS, & we had better adapt to it. So hoping that our BELIEFS about the afterlife or the soul is the one that we get to go by might lead to a rude shock. That is why humans for millennia have searched for Truth. Angst is a very real thing, in the human experience, & IMO, it is the ONE clear evidence that we are here for Something More. Angst has no naturalistic explanation. But, it has been recognized by wise men & seekers of Truth throughout history.

“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.” - Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

And the famous quote by Augustine (354-430)
So what is the conclusion? Pick your poison, & hope for the best? That does not seem very wise, since there MIGHT be so much at stake. I submit that the words of Jesus & Jeremiah are good advice, for the human seeking clear vision of Reality.

Jeremiah 29:12. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
John 8:31. “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

If there is something i note from these quotes, it is the necessity of sincerity & honesty, which stands to reason. If there is an afterlife, & eternal consequences for our works, thoughts, & actions here on earth, then a genuine search would let go of any bias or preconceived notions about God or the afterlife, and sincerely seek Reality. Truth is the goal, not validation, or comfort, or justification. The seeker of Truth must be willing to give up all of their beliefs, opinions, notions, and indoctrinations, if they wish to discover it. If there is a God, He is no fool, & will not be deceived by games or manipulations.

And of course, you can just ignore it all & hope for the best. But, if there is an afterlife, and an eternal soul, & a Supreme Being, to whom we must answer for our lives, it seems to me at some point we should make a concerted effort to discover the true nature of Reality, rather than piddle our lives away with temporal distractions. I can think of no more important quest.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Philosophical Basis of Science

This interesting quote from Einstein has always intrigued me. I have always considered religious faith as something that is separate from scientific inquiry, but he correlates them as part of the quest for Truth. And, my experience over the years debating science, especially with militant atheists, confirms his point here. I generally avoid religious faith, when discussing scientific issues, but militant atheists ALWAYS bring it up. They constantly try to drive a wedge between religious faith & science, which they do not follow, themselves.

Anyway, the more i ponder this quote, the more i tend to agree. Having some kind of clear belief system, & recognizing it as such, is a good foundation for scientific inquiry. Without that philosophical foundation, scientific inquiry blindly follows flawed assumptions. And without the empiricism of Facts & scientific methodology, the philosophical beliefs have no feet.. nothing to propel them.. they are lame. So it is a good quote, & worthy of consideration.


I am reminded about John Locke, who was a fierce advocate of searching for Truth.

“To love truth for truth's sake is the principal part of human perfection in this world, and the seed-plot of all other virtues.”
 ~John Locke

Without this 'religious/philosophical' foundation, too much that is labelled 'science' is just agenda driven propaganda.. FAKE SCIENCE. There must be an underlying love for Truth, & a philosophical foundation of integrity & sincerity. Otherwise, as we see constantly in this world, science becomes an agenda.. a basis for manipulating people. It is what i have called, 'Fake Science'. It is not based on a 'holy curiosity of inquiry,' but indoctrination for some ideological agenda.

Now, how i interpret 'religion' in Einstein's quote, is a clear recognition of one's philosophical opinion.. NOT a dogmatic insistence of Absolute Knowledge, that they cannot possibly have. And unfortunately, that is how the militant atheists present their beliefs.. they won't even call their opinions 'beliefs'. They dogmatically assert that they have Absolute Knowledge, & have no circumspection about the vast mysteries of the universe. Everything is neatly logged in a tidy package, bereft of mystery or the unknown. This blinds them to possibility, as Einstein is saying. It is NOT their atheism that is the problem, it is the lack of objectivity, & the lack of awe & wonder for the universe. They are without mystery, & are stuck in dogmatic assertions of false knowledge. They are blinded by their own dogmatism, & have lost the wonder of the 'religious' experience of mystery & the unknown.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Horsing around with Equid DNA

I'll try to keep this short, but there is a lot out there, regarding equus. I will narrow my examination on one particular study of the mtDNA in equids. THIS ONE will be the primary resource, & IMO, the findings are fascinating. Here is the graphic:

I could not get a larger image to display, as the study is embedded in a technical article. Anyone can follow the link for more details about it. I will post some of the things i found interesting that detailed the findings of the study. I don't have the time to go into detail about it, which would probably bore everyone to tears, anyway. But i'll try to highlight some key points.

The rich fossil record of the family Equidae (Mammalia: Perissodactyla) over the past 55 MY has made it an icon for the patterns and processes of macroevolution. Despite this, many aspects of equid phylogenetic relationships and taxonomy remain unresolved. Recent genetic analyses of extinct equids have revealed unexpected evolutionary patterns and a need for major revisions at the generic, subgeneric, and species levels. To investigate this issue we examine 35 ancient equid specimens from four geographic regions (South America, Europe, Southwest Asia, and South Africa), of which 22 delivered 87–688 bp of reproducible aDNA mitochondrial sequence. Phylogenetic analyses support a major revision of the recent evolutionary history of equids and reveal two new species, a South American hippidion and a descendant of a basal lineage potentially related to Middle Pleistocene equids. Sequences from specimens assigned to the giant extinct Cape zebra, Equus capensis, formed a separate clade within the modern plain zebra species, a phenotypicically plastic group that also included the extinct quagga. In addition, we revise the currently recognized extinction times for two hemione-related equid groups. However, it is apparent that the current dataset cannot solve all of the taxonomic and phylogenetic questions relevant to the evolution of Equus. In light of these findings, we propose a rapid DNA barcoding approach to evaluate the taxonomic status of the many Late Pleistocene fossil Equidae species that have been described from purely morphological analyses.

I am ignoring many of the assumptions of time, macroevolution, & other unsupported assertions in this study, & will focus on the known facts.
  1. many aspects of equid phylogenetic relationships and taxonomy remain unresolved. That should be obvious. the former definitions, based on 'looks like!' morphologies are often blown up with the hard evidence of genetic lineage. The former lines of equus, popularized in textbooks, nature shows, & slideshows have been pretty much debunked by genetic science.
  2. a need for major revisions at the generic, subgeneric, and species levels. Clearly. Simply relying on 'looks like' homologies for taxonomic classifications won't do it, anymore. We have hard data, now, with genetic 'markers', & lines that can be followed in the dna.
  3. the other bolded items say pretty much the same thing. our former beliefs about equus are not accurate. Genetic research has shot some holes in the commonly held beliefs about equus & equidae.
What the study found is hard data linking some haplotypes with more recent haplogroups. The old world asses & horses are clearly related to the new world ones. Even though there has been some major genetic drift, & narrowing of the traits available to the particular subspecies, even to the point of near reproductive isolation, the descendancy is evident.

Here is the graphic most of us learned from school & other ToE indoctrination centers:
Image result for horse evolution tree

The original linear model of gradual modification of fox-sized animals (Hyracothere horses) to the modern forms has been replaced by a more complex tree, showing periods of explosive diversification and branch extinctions

The 'updated' knowledge about equus is not based on imagined sequences, of purely 'looks like!' descendancy, but has the genetic basis for a family or genus based classification. the first graphic, or those with a circular hub & expanding branches are more accurate, even though the older notions are still promoted as 'settled science!' by many in the ToE indoctrination camp. The earlier belief was a line of evolution, starting with smaller, simpler strains, then getting bigger & more complex. But this is not indicated by the DNA. Many of the formerly held 'ancestors' of equus have been discovered to be not related at all. The imagined sequence of 'evolution!' is only that: Imagined. Here is a more accurate picture of equidae:
There is a central, Nuclear genetic type that all other equids come from. They then branch out, diversifying in regions, ecosystems, & climate. But as far as the original ancestor of equidae, not much is known. We can follow the diverse line, but any speculation about the origin of the original equid is just speculation. Here are some key points about equidae:
  1. All equids are from an original ancestor. They did not originate distinctly from different parent genotypes.
  2. Equids should ONLY be classified as equids if they can be evidenced to be part of this genetic haplogroup... that is, if they contain the mtDNA marker to indicate descendancy. Big dogs, or other 'looks like a horse!' morphological taxonomies should be discarded in favor of the harder science of genetics.
  3. Some equids have changed their chromosome numbers, but still can reproduce.. sort of. A donkey with 62 chromosomes can mate with a horse with 64, but produce a sterile mule.
  4. However, not all odd chromosome matings result in infertile offspring. So there is something else going on to produce a barrier.
  5. Note in the wiki graphic below that a fox & skunk have the same chromosome count as the horse, but that does not indicate descendancy. The donkey & horse, though, even with different chromosome pairs, have clear evidence of descendancy. IOW, the number of chromosomes is NOT an indicator for evolution or descendancy. It is the MAKEUP of the chromosome that indicates it. The phylogenetic & haplotypes that have the same kinds of genes, structure, & functionality are the indicators, not the number of chromosomes.
  6. As a reminder, genes, dna, & chromosomes are not like lego blocks, randomly put together in different strands, to make different organisms. Each strand of DNA is unique to the clade it comes from, & can only generate others in the same clade. They can branch out to form different haplotypes, or narrower subsets of the clade, but they are all descended from the same parent stock.
  7. It is possible that at some time the donkey with its 31 pairs of chromosomes branched off from the horse with its 32 pairs. Chromosomes CAN split & join at the telomere level, but descendancy is still seen in the structure of the 'arm' of the chromosome. Even though there has been some splitting or joining of a chromosome, the basic structure has not changed.. only the length of the telomere, as it has fused or split from the original. All the other genetic information, genes, & structure are the same.. just the connections along the telomere have varied.
Here are some chromosome pairs numbers from wiki:
Fennec fox [​IMG] Animals Vulpes zerda 64
Horse [​IMG] Animals Equus ferus caballus 64
Spotted skunk [​IMG] Animals Spilogale x 64
Mule [​IMG] Animals 63 semi-infertile
Donkey [​IMG] Animals Equus africanus asinus 62

Here is another graphic from the study, showing the descendancy from the mtDNA for the groups sequenced.

They even got a few sequences from extinct genotypes. But they are all descended from the same clade, & their relation is evidenced.

Chromosomes & Equidae

I think an understanding of the chromosome & some of the terminology would be good to clarify. So much of the misunderstandings about genetics & living organisms are due to flawed beliefs about the DNA, how it is assembled, what it does, & how it can change. I noted in an earlier post that equids have an apparent ability to 'adjust' their chromosome number to produce more variety. You do not see this with canids, or hominids. They remain constant in their genetic line, or 'haplogroup'.
We have evidence that the equid line has changed chromosome numbers. It is theorized that at some point, a chromosome pair detached at the centromere, & reattached at a telomere, presumably at the fertilized egg level. We have mtDNA to indicate actual descendancy, but the chromosome pairs are different. But, under further examination, the structure of the chromosome 'arms' are the same, just rearranged at the centromere/telomere level.

This is not absolutely proven fact, but is merely a theory for HOW the equid line changed at the chromosomal level. it does fit with the more empirical evidence of mtDNA descendancy, however, so it is a pretty good theory. But, we do not see a lot of the same thing with canids.. some, but not as much. Nor do we see it with hominids, especially humans. So a particular trait from one genotype does not mean it can be universally applied to ALL genotypes. Each genomic structure is different, with different rules governing their propagation.

Also, as i noted in the earlier post, the number of chromosomes is not an indicator of ancestry. 

Here are some chromosome pairs numbers from wiki:
Fennec fox [​IMG] Animals Vulpes zerda 64
Horse [​IMG] Animals Equus ferus caballus 64
Spotted skunk [​IMG] Animals Spilogale x 64
Mule [​IMG] Animals 63 semi-infertile
Donkey [​IMG] Animals Equus africanus asinus 62

We have mtDNA evidence that asinus & caballus are related. But there is nothing to indicate any genetic relationship with the fox or skunk. So the mere number of chromosomes is not a significant indicator, but the GENETIC structure in it, is. Both the asinus & caballus are from the same root haplogroup.. they are descended from the same ancestor. Their genetic STRUCTURE is the same. the fox & skunk are not. They are a different genotype, from a different haplogroup.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Evolution and Race

When i was in junior high school... WAY back mid 20th century.. there were white supremacists that had flyers. They had cute little graphics that 'showed' the inferiority of negroes.. they illustrated, with the 'march of progress' chart, how humans have evolved to the modern pinnacle of perfection. Neanderthal was used heavily for this propaganda of aryan elitism. They held to the belief that it was an ancestral species, that modern homo sapien evolved from. This has been a central point of the ToE from early on.. it was refuting the Enlightenment notion that 'all men are created equal'. It was an elitist view of man, with the 'modern' man at the top of the heap.. more fully evolved than the dull, lower, inferior races. These were the kinds of graphics that accompanied this teaching:

See how they correlate the 'lower' evolutionary rung for negroes? Is this anything but a racist meme, for white supremacists?

But the same 'graphics' are presented now, only whitewashed for political correctness. They give the older ancestors a whitish hue, to hide the implications of race. But they cannot hide the skull shape.. just ignore the implications.

The euro white skull is hailed as the pinnacle of human evolution, from purely a morphological perspective. The lower forehead, thicker skull, & other 'neanderthal' features are presented as lower or less evolved on the human evolutionary scale.

All these fossils, skulls, & imagined drawings are presented as 'proof of human evolution!', but everyone seems to ignore the racial implications. They promote what is clearly a racist meme, that the nazis used, as well as the bolsheviks in russia, & the progressives in early 20th century America, with the Eugenics movement.. closely affiliated with progressivism.

That is why the ToE is such a damaging, negative ideology, as it is taught in schools. It brings the implication that darker skinned races, or those with a different skull shape, are lower on the evolutionary scale. But that is ALL based on the ASSERTION that the morphological differences mean something.. that they really mean we are 'evolving'.

The facts do not compel such a view of humanity. Skull shape is merely a variable trait, in the human animal. It is no different than height, bone structure, eye color, skin, or any other of the variables within homo sapiens. It is only arbitrary distinctions, made for elitist purposes, that promote such a view. Those are just prejudicial, bigoted perceptions from those who feel THEIR body type, or skull structure, or skin color make them superior.

The ToE started as a 'manifest destiny' justification.. but it became the basis for a naturalistic view of the universe. But it is still the antithesis of the Enlightenment beliefs of man being a unique, sovereign, free moral agent, equal to all other men. Jefferson said, '.. the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them..' laying out the enlightenment view. You can call it 'God', if you want. Or, 'Laws of Nature'. You can call it Fred. It does not matter WHAT you call it, the point is, Man is separate & equal.. not subject to the domination of a ruling, superior elite.

Now, i know i have stooped to philosophizing here, and showing the implications of a particular belief system. But it is important to see where the ideals come from, in any ideology. If you don't know your roots, and you can't see where you've come from, you probably can't see where you are going, either. It is also important, imo, to differentiate between philosophical BELIEFS, & empirical science. This concept is a dying one, in our current culture, as the line is blurred, & beliefs are stated dogmatically as 'settled science!'