Sunday, September 25, 2011

Taking the Bible Literally

I saw this posted on a professor's door and got a kick so I thought I'd share. The Bible is supposedly God's word, yet He says to do some outrageous things. If you're religious, how could you not take the Bible literally? Isn't that claiming you're above God? Or was God just being sensationalistic, and He didn't mean to be taken literally?

Dear President Bush,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from you and understand why you would propose and support a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. As you said "in the eyes of God marriage is based between a man a woman." I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination... End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanness - Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is, my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2. clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there 'degrees' of abomination?

7. Lev.21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle- room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Next Step in Technology: Ubiquitous Electronics and Computing

Ubiquitous electronics and computing.
In our clothes, paper, walls, floors, dresser drawers, coffee cups...
Wait, is this really what we want? Shut up, that's besides the point.

     The point is, graphene is representative of a larger revolution that is going to make our everyday materials electronics. A conducting one-atom thick plane of carbon; looking around my room, I imagine how everything in my room could be covered and with a transparent layer of photovoltaic graphene such that the light being emitted from my overhead lamp is fully absorbed and converted back into electricity again, an eternal fountain. I imagine how the excess thermal energy in my room could be absorbed and stored in an electric form, revolutionizing air conditioning. I imagine how my wall could turn into a screen of any dimension and shape, how the vibrations my voice imparts into the ubiquitous carbon lattice would make the room a microphone, and a speaker for that matter, and how the wall could recognize when a hole is smashed in it, recognize what atoms would be needed to repair the hole, and repair itself.
     These ideas sound like fantasy but if you stop and think about it, the human body itself is so much more fantastical. Stop and think about how our bodies already do self-reparation, and are already embedded with ubiquitous electric networks that enable us to organically store information and analyze sensory input. Stop and think about how chameleons and octopi can already change their skin into vibrant color screens. Evolution has iterated and reiterated for billions of years and has come up with some amazing designs, designs that humans can ponder to inspire their own innovation.