Of course new ideas can and should be explored with as much of an open mind as they merit. Some just merit more than others.
He wouldn't have to be very old, that only happened in 1998.
Side note: I'm a bit concerned that discussions with me have a tendency to hijack other threads. Is the norm here that that's OK, or should I be "spinning off" topics like this?
Conversations do "chain" from one topic to another naturally, and if you think it's gone too far off the original topic and think the current topic is really worth its own thread, you can (not "must," not even necessarily "should" or "oughta") create a new thread to discuss it--that would be optimal in fact for that means it has a chance for the topic to get the full attention it deserves instead of being buried inside another topic.
Unfortunately this board goes by what is "hot" and "trending" more than it goes by "what has happened here recently" (there may be a way to dig up recent posts other than the very most recent post, rather than popular at this instant topics, but I have yet to find it and it surely isn't highlighted in the right column) and so starting a new topic is a hit or miss proposition (as archaeopteryx will be happy to tell you); people jump on the stuff that is put forward as hot and trendy (making it a self-fulfilling prophecy; it's the internet equivalent of DJs pushing a song--then glory be! it's a hit!). Many other forum apps will readily let you find threads with recent activity and take you directly to that activity, which would guarantee a new topic exposure... this one doesn't. And I frankly hate that, even after a year of being on this forum I hate that if someone comments on page 30 of a 60 page thread, I may never know it because there is NO mechanism to go directly to all recent posts--unless you sign up to get an email from T|A every time one of the users sneezes while online. (Conversely you may know there is a post because you noticed the contents of the last page of the thread shifting. But who wants to exhaustively search 60 pages of stuff for the one new post you know must be there, because the contents of the last page shifted?) I find myself paying attention only to the current top ten because this fucking software steers me that way, and I am sure I don't answer peoples posts solely because the thread drops out of sight.
Given the brokenness of the paradigm here I can't necessarily recommend a new thread just because a conversation shifts naturally into a different topic, as much as that would be ideal, easy, and productive on other forum software.
Abrupt hijacks are another matter entirely.
RE: "(as archaeopteryx will be happy to tell you)" - true, the only reason I actually got one out where anyone could see it, was that someone I know recently became a moderator. She thinks I don't know she was instrumental, but then I'm often underestimated. It's good to have friends in low places.
@Belle, I don't need you to tell me that your eyes are blue, I can observe that for myself.
However, I do need to sit and explain the idea of conservation of matter/energy to students. That's an idea, and we learn ideas from other people. That requires building a common set of experiences, and a common vocabulary, and some mathematical understanding first. Only after having established all that common base of thought does conservation of matter/energy start to have real meaning and usefulness. Then we can perhaps look together at the same set of observations and say together "Aha! There you see conservation of matter/energy."
If a skeptical non-scientist asked me to prove matter/energy conservation, it would be quite difficult. Almost all real-world phenomena "lose" energy, after all. If the same skeptic asked me to prove the existence of top quarks, I would be at a complete loss unless he were willing to spend many years learning the language and techniques of particle physics. Until then we couldn't even get started. If she were to ask me to prove the existence of the universe (a postulate in physics), I just couldn't.
The same is true within Catholicism (I won't speak for all my varied Christian brethren). To understand a claim like the one you make above one has to build a common set of experiences, a common vocabulary on "sin" and "Lord and Savior" and "believe" and "eternal life", and "salvation." Those are all as much terms of art as "energy" or "conservation" is to a scientist. You have to develop an understanding of their real meaning within the discipline, and some of the habits of thought and communication of the discipline, before we even have a chance at sharing an understanding of the idea. The more complex/abstract/remote the idea, like the top quark or "died for our sins", the more you have to learn before you can "get" it. Some things, like the existence of God or the universe, are just postulates.
Yet I think most physicists believe in "Truth" of some sort, and believe we are actually seeking it. It's just a postulate, but we believe that the universe actually exists, that our observations and measurements are of something "real", and that we can come to an understanding of it.
Here's a plan Bobby, why don't you compile a brief vocabulary for us, so that we can share common terms, then we should be able to communicate much more easily.
Does it make you feel more virile and potent to use the diminutive form of my name? I would find that rather embarrassing myself.
A textbook definition of "energy" is not sufficient for understanding the concept of energy. Children who memorize a science vocabulary do not actually understand the science involved, they are just parroting words. Understanding requires study and time.
Given the feeling of effete pretentiousness I feel when I use the phrase, "Professor Robert," I'll stick with virile and potent. Calling myself "Professor" anything, would be far more embarrassing for me.
But about that vocabulary, so that we can all converse on the same level - when can we expect that? Or is that part of some secret, esoteric, Catholic dialogue that requires a special handshake and a decoder ring to access?
Looks like another "Professor Robert" hit and run --
"Understanding requires study and time." And practice.
"If you try and take a cat apart to see how it works, the first thing you have on your hands is a non-working cat."
This astute remark comes from the late Douglas Adams' speech, given at Digital Biota 2, held at Magdelene College Cambridge, in September 1998, under the title: "Is there an Artificial God?"
The article would fill this entire page, so I won't paste it here, but it has some fascinating points in it, as well as his now-famous anthropomorphic mud-puddle analogy, and well worth a read.
Arch, thank you so much for posting the Douglas Adams link. It was absolutely fascinating :)