Faithful to Science

blog on science and religion

Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 2)


“Look! The cat is afraid of the cucumber.”

“Oh my god!”

“Look! The man fell off the table.”

“Oh my god!”

“It was full to the brim and I swallowed all of it!”

“Oh my god!”

“Oh my god! I can’t believe you did that!”

“And then he was like, “I don’t know”, and I was like, “what, never?” and he was like, “no.””

“Oh my god!”


“I would like to be a bit more shallow every day. Oh my god!”

“I would like to squash the whole of everything down into my little box. Oh my god!”

“I would like to repeat and repeat a certain word, I want to blurt it and burp it and snort it and fart it until I have pummelled and pummelled it into utter submission; until it has no meaning left at all. Oh my  god!”

“Oh let me be deaf, oh let me be dumb. Oh my god!

“Oh let me be blind. Oh my god!

“Oh let me be bound to the will of the day, oh let me be mute. Oh my god!

“Oh let me have nothing of meaning to say. Oh my god!

“Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my let be empty of seeking and sense. I am worth it and oh, my god.”


Science jokes! Part 3

For a little Christmas fun, here is a third collection of jokes with a sciencey flavour. Click to enlarge the pictures.


What is the definition of a tachyon?
—It’s a gluon that’s not completely dry.


Doctor, doctor I’ve come out in spots, like cherries on a cake.
—Ah! You must have analogy.

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Science jokes 2

Here is a second collection of science jokes. The first collection is here.


“Do you know the name Pavlov?”
— “It rings a bell.”

What does a subatomic duck say? (The answer is so obvious that you will have to supply it yourself.)

There is no logical foundation of mathematics, and Gödel has proved it!

A neutron walks into a bar and asks how much for a beer. Bartender replies, “For you, no charge”.


offthemark02  atesomepi b5badea5dad3e68be56cc5e987fcdadd kids


(An old one, carefully reworked:)

An engineer, a logician and a mathematician are staying in a hotel.
The engineer wakes up and smells smoke. He goes out into the hallway and sees a fire, so he fills a trash can from his room with water and douses the fire. He goes back to bed.
Later, the logician wakes up and smells smoke. He opens his door and sees a fire in the hallway, and also a trash can lying there with some water in the bottom. He thinks a little and then he says, “A solution exists!” and goes back to bed. Fortunately the engineer woke up again and put the fire out.
Later, the mathematician wakes up and smells smoke. He looks in the hallway but there is no sign of any fire. But he notices the wet trash can, and thinks hard. Then he lights a match and sets the hallway on fire, saying to himself as he returns to bed, “Thus we reduce the problem to one which has already been solved.”





The following are from

“Why does the Moon orbit the Earth?” An auto mechanic: “To get to the other side?”
(This is sort of an intriguing answer if you think in terms of the principle of least action.)

“Which is more useful, the Sun or the Moon?”
A thirteen-year old: [Pause] “I think it’s the Moon because the moon shines at night when you want the light, whereas the Sun shines during the day when you don’t need it.”

Before docking with the International Space Station, what must the pilot of a space module first do?
A: Put money in a parking meteor.   (sorry)

Niel Armstrong: “Oh no, Mission Control, I just stepped on Buzz Aldrin’s toe. What should I do? Over.”
Mission Control: “What do you think? Apollogize.”


There are two types of people in the world. Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.

How can you tell the difference between a chemist and a plumber?
Ask them to pronounce “unionized”.

Why did sin get a tan?
Just cos.

Dean, to the physics department. “Why do I always have to give you guys so much money, for laboratories and expensive equipment and stuff. Why couldn’t you be like the math. department – all they need is money for pencils, paper and waste-paper baskets. Or even better, like the philosophy department. All they need are pencils and paper.”

An engineer, and physicist and a statistician are walking in the woods when suddenly a hungry grizzly bear comes running towards them. The engineer fires his rifle, but shoots high. The physicist has a go, but shoots low. They look at each other. “Hooray!” says the statistician, “we got him!”


Happy Christmas!

The Place

image from,+House

Carnsore Point, Co. Wexford, Ireland. September 20th, 2009.


A poem by R.S. Thomas:


The Place

Summer is here.
Once more the house has its
Spray of martins, Proust’s fountain
Of small birds, whose light shadows
Come and go in the sunshine
Of the lawn as thoughts do
In the mind. Watching them fly
Is my business, not as a man vowed
To science, who counts their returns
To the rafters, or sifts their droppings
For facts, recording the wave-length
Of their screaming; my method is so
To have them about myself
Through the hours of this brief
Season and to fill with their
Movement, that it is I they build
In and bring up their young
To return to after the bitter
Migrations, knowing the site
Inviolate through its outward changes.


R.S. Thomas, included in R. S. Thomas, Collected Poems: 1945-1990

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And stands about the woodland ride

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.
Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.
And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.
A. E. Housman (1859–1936)

from A Shropshire Lad (1896) by A. E. Housman (1859–1936).  (copyright policy)

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Does the universe suggest design, purpose, goodness or concern?

“The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”

 ― Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (1995)


This widely quoted paragraph is the subject of this essay. I am mostly concerned with the last sentence, but let me first briefly comment on the opening that builds up the dramatic power. When you read the comment on suffering, it seems at first like a valid observation, one that “sees through” the “illusion” of the goodness of the world to all the harshness of “the truth of things”. But think a little. If you had to write a couple of sentences in which you tried to capture a fair portrait of what happens in the natural world during the minute it takes to compose a sentence, would this be the portrait? Of course not. The suffering is not to be set aside, but it is less than half the story of most life, and it is less than half the story of life on Earth. Are all the careful, sympathetic and fulfilling studies presented by naturalists such as Sir David Attenborough just some sort of rose-tinted spectacles and wishful thinking? No. Go and look in your garden, or in the forest, or the jungle, or in the river, or the ocean, or on the African plain. Is it the case that starvation and misery is the “natural state” of affairs? Or are they part of a natural state of affairs which has here been grossly miss-represented?

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Science jokes

For my Christmas blog, here are a few assorted jokes. They are mostly but not all science- or maths-related. My favourites are the ones that hint at existential angst. (For any that look a bit blurred, click for a sharper image.)


phys_joke1 Continue reading

Religion and Reconnection

I just typed “science and religion” into google, and clicked on “images”. What I got was a deluge of pictures, cartoons and dismissive (sometimes vitriolic) statements, almost all selling the view summed up in examples such as:

“Religion will never understand science and science will never give a shit about religion.”

“Science: always doubt; always question; when challenged, replies with evidence. Religion: no doubt, no question; when challenged, becomes hostile.”

“Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings.” (sometimes attributed to Richard Dawkins, but I think it originated with Victor Stenger)

Whatever happened to Albert Einstein’s more measured voice? Or Martin Luther King? Or Gandhi?    Continue reading

Faithful to Science

In addition to photons and electrons, quarks and gluons, and things like that, there are other realities we have to reckon with, things like logic and mathematics, aesthetics, and also moral principles. For example, the principle that you shouldn’t squash, bribe, degrade, impoverish, do violence to or in any way objectify other people, but rather nourish, encourage, respect, feed, protect and pay attention to them. Continue reading

Science, religion and tribalism

The blog is intended to give people a way in, in a briefer format than is typical for a book. I have already given some book-length thoughts, and I intend to discuss some issues at greater length eventually in another book, but here I will offer an introductory comment on the two activities called science and religion. Continue reading

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