Saturday, February 15, 2014

Irrational Reaction to a Non-Issue: Homosexuality

In Africa, especially Nigeria and Uganda, we have currently a strong move to criminalize and persecute homosexuality. Just today a mob attacked alleged homosexuals in the Nigerian capital.
Why can such an irrelevant issue that affects nobody cause such a strong emotional reaction in many people? When the topic is discussed, both sides use totally absurd arguments like it leads to declining birth rates (as if low birth rates would be a problem in face of today's overpopulation) and the claim that homosexuality is a totally "normal" behavior (which it cannot be due to the simple fact that it is a minority phenomenon).

For sure the issue has gotten out of hand. Homosexuality has a long history but was never the cause for so much fanaticism. In ancient Sparta it was the norm, but not a cause for outrage among people of other cultures. It was considered an odd peculiarity of the Spartan civilization but did not cause an emotional reaction.
What is different today?

There seem to be two main causes that this topic has become so important:
  1. Certain religions (Christianity and Islam) have a hate campaign going on. Once again the Abrahamic religions, which are notorious for stirring up troubles throughout history, are the culprits. Strangely enough these are exactly the institutions where homosexuality is most common today but hypocritically denied. Denial of suppressed inclinations is supposed to be the main cause for homophobia. So there is a good explanation for the radical strance of these religions.
  2. At the same time Western governments are pushing aggressively a pro-homosexual agenda. Same-sex marriage is institutionalized, although one should expect the decision to evade traditional gender models is a clear statement against them, i.e. against the patriarchal family and its gender roles. So why should anybody have an interest in imitating what he just has rejected?
    Western governments interfere actively with foreign cultures through granting and withdrawal of foreign aid and political pressure to promote more liberalism for homosexuals and maintain media campaigns that give the impression that homosexuality is just as common and normal as heterosexuality. This is very odd, since the same governments have also campaigns going on against prostitution, which is a far more frequent (i.e. normal) behavior and try to tighten  existing laws. So it is not about sexual freedom in general. It is about promoting the one and persecuting the other.
    It should not come as a surprise that other cultures don't like this kind of interference in their way of life.
We have to get back to a status quo based on reason and common sense. Sexual orientation is a private issue and should not be subject to legal regulations, neither criminalization nor institutionalization. Homosexuality is a minority phenomenon and should not get more attention as less than 5% of the population would deserve.
Mob lynching of homosexuals in Africa is unacceptable, especially since these countries have certainly far more urgent problems at hand. Religious leaders should be held responsible for these actions, not only in the countries where this happens, but also in the West. Hate speech in churches or mosques (and this includes any kind of criticism of homosexuality) cannot be tolerated and must have legal consequences for bishops and imams. Churches and mosques have to revise their stance on homosexuality or should be indefinitely shut down.
It is also unacceptable that Western media and government institutions indoctrinate the people that homosexuality is a normal behavior. It is not, just as any other sexual aberration. Sado-masochism or fetishism are not more or less normal than homosexuality. Neither of it should be subject to criminal persecution, but we don't need a thought police that tells us what we are allowed to think about it.
All of that are private issues. It does not concern any other people than those who practice it. The private life of the citizens must be respected and should not be publicly discussed, neither in a positive nor in a negative way.
If everybody minded only his own business, we would have much less troubles in our society.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Australian Scientists Discover Oldest Known Star
A team of Australian astronomers say they have identified the oldest known star in our universe -- one that formed a mere 200 million years after the Big Bang.
"This is the first time that we've been able to unambiguously say that we've found the chemical fingerprint of a first star," lead researcher, Stefan Keller of the Australian National University (ANU) research school of astronomy and astrophysics said in a press rele.
The star, named SMSS J031300.36-670839.3, is estimated to be 13.6 billion years old and is much older than previous stars found in 2007 and 2013, which were believed to be 13.2 billion years old. [...] The star was first spotted on January 2 in the Milky Way, 6,000 light years away from the Earth using the ANU Skymapper telescope.
A single low-energy, iron-poor supernova as the source of metals in the star SMSS J031300.36−670839.3
The element abundance ratios of four low-mass stars with extremely low metallicities (abundances of elements heavier than helium) indicate that the gas out of which the stars formed was enriched in each case by at most a few—and potentially only one—low-energy supernova. Such supernovae yield large quantities of light elements such as carbon but very little iron. The dominance of low-energy supernovae seems surprising, because it had been expected that the first stars were extremely massive, and that they disintegrated in pair-instability explosions that would rapidly enrich galaxies in iron. What has remained unclear is the yield of iron from the first supernovae, because hitherto no star has been unambiguously interpreted as encapsulating the yield of a single supernova. Here we report the optical spectrum of SMSS J031300.36−670839.3, which shows no evidence of iron (with an upper limit of 10−7.1 times solar abundance). Based on a comparison of its abundance pattern with those of models, we conclude that the star was seeded with material from a single supernova with an original mass about 60 times that of the Sun (and that the supernova left behind a black hole). 

The self-contradicting nonsense in this announcement is really hard to digest, so let's summarize once again the central statements.
  • These scientists seriously want to make us believe that the first stars formed 200 million years after the so called "big bang". This would be right in the middle of the so called Dark Ages of the universe, when according to the big bang theory the universe was so dense that it was opaque. However they are telling us in this announcement that common stars could already form in such an extreme environment.
  • The assumption of first stars existing already 200 million years after the big bang contradicts former models that place the earliest stars at 400 million years (see graphic above). Once again the big bang theory failed to make useful predictions.
  • Again we have to read about black holes, a theory that has just recently been abandoned by its principal proponent Stephen Hawking.
  • The star is just 6,000 light years away. However during the last 13.6 billion years it has rotated approximately 60 times around the center of the galaxy. Shouldn't the remains of this ancient supernova have meanwhile been equally distributed  over a major part of the galactic spiral arm while other younger matter should have had plenty of time to mingle with it?
  • The age of the supposed star that caused this early supernova is calculated based on the low amount of iron in the spectrum. However the little amount of iron in the spectrum is supposed to be the proof for the calculation on which the estimate for the age of the star is based on. This is a classical example for circular reasoning. The conclusion is its own premise. Personally I can think of many reasons why a particular region in space has less iron than another.
Isn't this discovery much more an indicator that our estimate for the age of the universe (13.7 billion years) is simply wrong? Wen are discovering more and more stars and galaxies that are older than 13 billion years. So nothing important has happened in all this time, when the universe had only a small fraction of the age it has today and was many times smaller and more dense than today?
What we actually can observe is that galaxies have not evolved at all during the last 13 billion years. The universe still looks the same as it has always looked as far as we can observe it.
There is no rational justification to assume that the universe had a beginning apart from religiously motivated wishful thinking.
The big bang theory is inconsistent and cannot explain our observations. It has not made any useful prediction that could not be explained differently. We don't have enough data to make statements about the time more than 13 billion years ago. And furthermore it is irrelevant for us what happened 13 billion years ago.
Science should try to find answers to questions that can be answered, not speculate about questions that cannot be answered with the amount of knowledge available. For all that is relevant to us as human beings, the universe had no beginning. It was the same as far as we can look back. What is beyond this horizon is irrelevant. Assuming infinity of the universe allows accurate predictions for everything in the universe that might be important for humanity. We don't need a model that assumes a beginning of the universe and only creates new questions and contradictions in its conclusions and our observations. 
We don't need a big bang in science. Leave that kind of mythological stuff in the bible where it belongs to.