Friday, October 27, 2006
Living Dynamic Books
I am reading Misquoting Jesus by Bart D. Ehrman. I was struck by the similarities between living genomes and ancient manuscripts. Christianity is a textual based religion as Judaism is. However, most Christians were illiterate at the time, 85-95%. The first Christian scribes were members of the early congregations who could read or write, but who were not scribes by profession. Since there were no copiers or printing presses in existence at the time, if you wanted a copy of a book or something published, you had a scribe write a copy. There are no original copies in existence of any of the gospels or letters of Paul. There are no copies of the copies of the copies, either. The earliest copies of the Greek manuscripts are 200 years after Jesus. Yet, scholars strive to piece together originals from all the copies that they have. They can tell the ages of some manuscripts by the particular errors they have (30,000 errors just in the Greek manuscripts). This revelation puts the literal word of God belief of Fundamentalist Christians to death. First, the English translation of the Bible from Greek, while good, loses some of its literal and spiritual punch. Second, there are sections in the Protestant Bible that were added much later because they weren't found in the earliest manuscripts. Third, there are thousands of errors just in the Greek versions, with the translation to English, the errors are possibly amplified.
There are other living books in existence, all as dynamic as the Bible. DNA is an informational storage medium, just as a book is. Both DNA and a book are sequentially read to an extent. Genomes have beginnings and endings (each of us is born and die), and we are all living books of DNA. Genomes from the past are gone just like the original gospel manuscripts. However, they can be reassembled by comparing different genomes of related organisms. If you wish to know the last common ancestor of mammals, you compare the genomes of dogs, cats, rats, mice, chimps and humans, etc. Comparative genomics can assemble an ancestral genome and tell us what animal we evolved from. I was kind of stunned that so much effort has been made by biologists and computer scientists to develop the software to perform this task and the Biblical scholars haven't figured out that they could use the same techniques and software to roll back time so to speak. Or, maybe they have. Guess we'll see.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
I may be experiencing technical difficulties. The last previous post made it in somehow even though it never successfully uploaded. I lost a post today. Of course, after I clicked "Publish Post", I thought of copying it to something a little less emphemeral. DOH!
Now for something completely different. A slogan I saw today: "Failure is not an option. It comes bundled with the software." My friend intends to add the Microsoft logo to it and stick the finished product on the Microsoft Technical Account Manager's desk at his place of work.
Humanity - In the Throes of Madness
Once one has glimpsed truth, it is an awe inspiring experience. The glimpse I had was a certainty that what one calls Nature is much more than that. There is an intelligence at work. Every form has a purpose and all living forms are evolving and changing and changing their environment for some higher purpose. Why do I comment on this? Perhaps it is because I am sick of watching conflict at all levels. I'm sick of watching so much energy futilely expended on useless endeavors. It's all due to mind. The mind attacks and fears what it doesn't know. What happened to play and compromise. One doesn't see much compromise these days in politics it seems. If politics don't work, people fall back to violence with bullets. Even all this is evolution in action, but it is saddening and heartbreaking to see such insanity - destruction instead of construction, killing instead of befriending. Wars change things and sometimes change is needed, but why all the greed? Why all the death? Why all the anger and character assassination? People even argue on the spiritual level. It's all silly.
Friday, October 06, 2006
The Hidden Blade
There's this really friendly black cat that a neighbor has. Quite pretty as well. I've always found black cats to be somewhat fearless and always quite friendly. I watched The Hidden Blade
a few days ago. It's a very well done movie about a good and virtuous man who finds his world turning upside down. His way of life is dying due to progress and he is torn between friendship, duty and honor. He is a good man who treats the people around him with kindness and respect. Unfortunately, he gets little respect from his superiors. I watched the director's commentary about his film. I was so impressed, I just rented The Twilight Samurai
. Yôji Yamada, the director, says that contary to popular belief, samurai seldom drew their swords and when they did, they found it a frightening experience. Kendo is the closest modern men come to samurai swordsmanship. He also said that people's lives were harsh up until recently. The concept of happiness was foreign to them.