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Alfa String

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I started a new book: String theory

About strings, black holes, quantum information, quantum computers…and a lot of math.

If you know some links with conferences, lectures on these topics ‘let us know’...

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QUOTE (alfa @ Apr 2 2008, 11:32 PM)

I started a new book: String theory

About strings, black holes, quantum information, quantum computers…and a lot of math.

If you know some links with conferences, lectures on these topics 'let us know'...

NIWeek 2008 is coming up. It's not specifically on these topics, but I'm sure you'd find it interesting (not to mention, the night-life on 6th Street).

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QUOTE (alfa @ May 14 2008, 03:09 AM)

Looks like I don't get it either - I tried your link but am obviously not ready to follow that 404 path.

QUOTE (alfa @ May 14 2008, 03:09 AM)

A lot of scientists 'tried on God' but they 'didn't get it'.

I tried God on once, but he made my bum look big.

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Here is the link:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/1951333/Einstein-thought-rel igions-were-'childish'.html

A Einstein letter shows disdain for religion

By Stephen Adams Last Updated: 4:32PM BST 13/05/2008

Albert Einstein regarded religions as "childish" and "primitive legends", a private letter he wrote a year before his death has revealed.

The great scientist's views on religion have long been debated, with many seizing upon phrases such as "He [God] does not throw dice" as evidence that he believed in a creator.

But the newly-unveiled letter, a response to the philosopher Eric Gutkind, has cast doubt on the theory that Einstein had any belief in God at all towards to the end of his life.

In the letter, dated January 3 1954, he wrote: "The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.

"No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this." Einstein, who died the following year aged 76, did not spare Judaism from his criticism, believing Jewish people were in no way "chosen" by God.

He wrote: "For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people.

"As far as my experience goes, they are no better than other human groups, although they are better protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything 'chosen' about them."

The letter, which for decades has been in private hands, has come to light as it is to go on sale at Bloomsbury Auctions in Mayfair on Thursday. It is expected to sell for up to £8,000.

Educated at a Catholic primary school but given private tuition in Judaism, Einstein later wrote that the "religious paradise of youth" - when he believed what he was told - was quickly crushed when he started questioning religion at the age of 12.

He wrote: "The consequence was a positively fanatic freethinking coupled with the impression that youth is being deceived by the state through lies; it was a crushing impression."

But many of his pronouncements appear to support a belief in a divine being, or at least a wish to believe in one. The same year he wrote the letter he also said he wanted to "experience the universe as a single cosmic whole".


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QUOTE (alfa @ May 15 2008, 06:07 AM)

Educated at a Catholic primary school but given private tuition in Judaism, Einstein later wrote that the "religious paradise of youth" - when he believed what he was told - was quickly crushed when he started questioning religion at the age of 12.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the mental fortitude of Einstein.

I prefer Richard Dawkin's approach where he goes almost as far as to say that the indoctrination of children into one belief or another is bordering on a human rights violation. There is no such thing as a christian child, a jewish child or a muslin child. There are only children of people who have those beliefs.

Precisely because of this "believe what you're told" effect is why I personally believe "teaching" religion to minors should be outlawed unless it is done in a pluralist sense.

And that includes athiesm.

Shane.

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QUOTE (shoneill @ May 15 2008, 12:47 AM)

Precisely because of this "believe what you're told" effect is why I personally believe "teaching" religion to minors should be outlawed unless it is done in a pluralist sense.

And that includes athiesm.

That sounds nice, but seems quite difficult to implement. How do you expose a child to (at least) a dozen religious views, including atheism, and then say "Which would you like to believe?" What if you missed the correct view? Pretty much all of them are mutually exclusive, if taken in their entirety. I suppose the child could pick their favorite parts of each one and form their own new religion.

I think the best route is to teach your child what you believe. The schools will teach the kids what the textbooks and teachers currently 'believe'. And the children will eventually search for their own truth as time goes on.

A good method similar to your idea would be to say, (to provide a concrete example)

  • I believe in atheism, for the following reasons ....
  • Some people believe in Christianity. It has some really good teachings, such as ....
  • Some people believe in Islam. It has some really good teachings, such as ....
  • Some people believe in Buddhism. It has some really good teachings, such as ....
  • and so on

I do agree that exposing people to other ideas is very good, and if we focus on the good that is found in others then perhaps our kids will grow up in a better world then we have today.

David

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QUOTE (crelf @ May 15 2008, 11:46 AM)

:D that's an awesome oxymoron - I love it!

Especially since I don't have faith in a disbelief of God :P

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QUOTE (JDave @ May 15 2008, 03:17 PM)

Especially since I don't have faith in a disbelief of God :P

:wacko:

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QUOTE (crelf @ May 15 2008, 02:46 PM)

I was talking to a mate of mine last night and we agreed that we're both non-mystic Buddhists: we agree with the principles of the dhama, but not the religious inclinations od Buddhism.

:D that's an awesome oxymoron - I love it!

I've always considered myself to be a dyslexic, agnostic, insomniac.

I often find myself unable to sleep; wondering if there really is a Dog.

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QUOTE (JDave @ May 15 2008, 11:17 AM)

Especially since I don't have faith in a disbelief of God :P

As funny as that is, it highlights one of the main problems with any discussion of (non-)religion, at least in America. The question is usually framed as "What do you believe in?" which requires atheism to be cast as a set of beliefs. It's not. Atheism is a lack of belief in the existence of a deity. To an atheist, the very question, "What do you believe in?" in a religious context, can be moot.

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QUOTE (JDave @ May 15 2008, 05:50 PM)

That sounds nice, but seems quite difficult to implement. How do you expose a child to (at least) a dozen religious views, including atheism, and then say "Which would you like to believe?" What if you missed the correct view? Pretty much all of them are mutually exclusive, if taken in their entirety. I suppose the child could pick their favorite parts of each one and form their own new religion.

I personally don't see why anyone should choose any single religion. If you ask most people about their beliefs, and the answer honestly, I think the vast majority of people will hold beliefs which do not fit nicely into any single religion.

The idea of karma is something which a lot of people do actually believe in, even without perhaps attributing anything religious to it. I prefer to think of it as a statistical approach to communal survival instincts, but to each their own.

I suppose my root problem is the bundling of religion and belief and chuch. Why these three should build a unit is truly beyond my comprehension. Churches (for the most part) are about acquiring and controlling power, wrapped up in nice scripture quotes. Religion is simply a mechanism provided for worship. Bleief is where it's at.

Everyone's belief is unique. Regardless of how many christians, muslims buddhists or whatever you have in a room, they may all be part of the sam church, they may even share the same "religion" but I'm pretty sure their "beliefs" will show a significant spread. This need to group things together is a very basic one. It's (ironically enough) something we have acquired by evolution in order to enhance the survival of our species. The "Us" versus "Them" syndrome can, when misused, be extremely harmful and I believe it should be avoided wherever possible.

As to teaching a child what you believe, there's not really any other choice for a parent. But the child's entry int o a chuirch should NEVER be taken for granted. It should always be optional.

Shane.

PS Athiesm is a belief. It's not (as Justin has pointed out) a lack of belief. It's a belief that there is NO god. Even the idea that believing in NO god does not qualify as a belief is something which atheists have fought against for years. "What do you believe in" in a belief sense is never moot. Of course, if you assume there can be no religion without God(s) then of course in a religious sense it's moot.

PPS A lack of belief in any deity is much closer to Agnosticism, not atheism. Agnostics may choose to believe in the existence of a deity, but they refuse the absolute truth of their belief, saying they can never be certain. In short, belief without faith.

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QUOTE (shoneill @ May 19 2008, 04:52 AM)

Agnostics may choose to believe in the existence of a deity, but they refuse the absolute truth of their belief, saying they can never be certain. In short, belief without faith.

That's something I never got: what's the difference between belief and faith? I'm not sure you've fully explained it.

PS: you may not align to a particular religion, but IMHO your beliefs are pretty close to non-mystical Buddhism... :)

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QUOTE (crelf @ May 19 2008, 01:10 PM)

That's something I never got: what's the difference between belief and faith? I'm not sure you've fully explained it.

PS: you may not align to a particular religion, but IMHO your beliefs are pretty close to non-mystical Buddhism... :)

Crelf,

I'm not aware of distinctions between different forms of buddhism, but I would have to say that it would probably be one of the religions I would feel the least aversion to (That's meant to be a positive statement :wacko: ). It seems to me to be very much based on tolarance and understanding whereas most other religions are based on my previously-mentioned "us" and "them" approach.

As to the difference between faith and belief, I'm not sure myself, but I certainly refuse to accept any unproven supernatural being as "Truth". That would mean closing off part of my logical brain. That's something I don't like doing, unless Beer is involved....... :thumbup:

Shane.

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QUOTE (crelf @ May 19 2008, 07:10 AM)

That's something I never got: what's the difference between belief and faith? I'm not sure you've fully explained it.

I've always thought that a good definition of "faith" was a conviction held either in the absence of evidence or contrary to evidence. Basically, someone hands me a piece of bread and says "Here's a piece of bread" that seems to me to be so self-evident that you wouldn't even call believing that there is a piece of bread actually there an act of belief. Handing me a piece of bread and saying "Here's a piece of bread that's been transubstantiated into the body of Christ" is an entirely different thing and requires an act of faith to believe.

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QUOTE (shoneill @ May 19 2008, 12:52 AM)

Or, if you prefer, it's reflective of the human mind's legendary ability to find patterns where there might not necessarily be any :P.

QUOTE (shoneill @ May 19 2008, 12:52 AM)

I suppose my root problem is the bundling of religion and belief and chuch. Why these three should build a unit is truly beyond my comprehension. Churches (for the most part) are about acquiring and controlling power, wrapped up in nice scripture quotes. Religion is simply a mechanism provided for worship. Bleief is where it's at.

You've touched on a huge issue that probably goes back to the first time pre-LabVIEW humans saw a lightning bolt and said, "OMFG! WTF wuz that?!? :blink: "

Religion, at its core, is a way for people to share a framework for understanding things that seem bigger than themselves, and for understanding their individual and collective place in that framework. It provides a lot of psycho-social benefits, such as a feeling of belonging and nicely-formatted answers to many questions, like "Where did I come from?" and "Why am I here?"

However, subscribing to any particular religion involves a trade-off between the feeling of belonging and the ability to think critically, and that balance can get dangerously out-of-whack depending on lots of different factors. Catholicism dealt with this rather famously right around the time of Martin Luther and The Reformation :P, but all the different offshoots of Lutheranism, Baptism, Methodism, Mormonism and the like (I'm only really familiar with Western religions) are the result of that tug of war.

So to say that "Churches (for the most part) are about acquiring and controlling power" as a blanket statement is something I'd disagree with. But you're right in the sense that the issue of power & control over the people is something that all religions deal with in their own way. Some (many of the fundamentalist Christian organizations in the US, currently) deal with it, as you pointed out, by wrapping things up "in nice scripture quotes" and using those as a way to dissuade anyone (true believer or otherwise) from even having a well-reasoned discussion about Belief (or Faith ;) ).

QUOTE (shoneill @ May 19 2008, 12:52 AM)

But the problem is that, depending on what religion you're talking about, that choice can be explicitly not optional. It's obvious for people who are able to look at the issue from an outside perspective, but if someone's entire world-view is informed by, "Jesus said, 'Bring me all the little children,'" and "The Bible is the Holy and Everlasting Perfect Word of God," it's hard to find a place to even begin the discussion.

QUOTE (shoneill @ May 19 2008, 12:52 AM)

PS Athiesm is a belief. It's not (as Justin has pointed out) a lack of belief. It's a belief that there is NO god. Even the idea that believing in NO god does not qualify as a belief is something which atheists have fought against for years. "What do you believe in" in a belief sense is never moot. Of course, if you assume there can be no religion without God(s) then of course in a religious sense it's moot.

Fair enough. :)

QUOTE (shoneill @ May 19 2008, 12:52 AM)

PPS A lack of belief in any deity is much closer to Agnosticism, not atheism. Agnostics may choose to believe in the existence of a deity, but they refuse the absolute truth of their belief, saying they can never be certain. In short, belief without faith.

I see the point you're making, but I just frame the issue a little differently. I guess my main point is that atheists (at least in the US) have trouble finding a place to fit into the Great Religious Debate because they're frequently confronted with, "Atheism is just faith that there is no God, so you're a hypocrite for dissing religion," or "Atheists are really just agnostics with attitude problems," or, "There are no atheists in foxholes."

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I'll throw another log on the fire...

Paul Graham just published a new essay, this month, called Lies We Tell Kids. The "Identity" section describes how religious identity, beliefs, and lies are all intertwined in a way that propogates modern religions.

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QUOTE (shoneill @ May 19 2008, 03:52 AM)

Athiesm is a belief. It's not (as Justin has pointed out) a lack of belief. It's a belief that there is NO god. Even the idea that believing in NO god does not qualify as a belief is something which atheists have fought against for years.

As Dawkins put it "If atheism is a religion then not collecting stamps is a hobby." To be fair, atheism and agnosticism are fairly squishy words that can mean largely what you want them to mean. There is the strong atheism, weak atheism, etc. That's not entirely limited to a disbelief in god; you'd get a very different if you asked John Hagee if Catholics and Mormons were really Christians than if you asked a Unitarian.

I'm not a Christian, but I'm open to reevaluation after the Rapture. :rolleyes:

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