Bare Bones Biology 101 – Religion and Science

Beginning this week, I’ll try to evaluate, with a very broad brush, several different belief-systems that are trying to improve human welfare for the future. Today and next week will be religion-based ideas.

I’ll try to be critical about all these efforts, for four reasons. First, that’s what I’m trained to do – to look for the flaws in any hypothesis. Second, understanding what needs to be improved is much more useful than a false belief that everything is just dandy and it always will be and we have no responsibilities beyond ourselves at level one. Sometimes I wonder if the Corposystem is the author of the glass-half-full mantra. I always imagine a glass with nothing in the bottom half, and a layer of pink lemonade magically suspended in the top half. Nobody can make wise decisions if they never even see he bottom half of life. Further, we can’t take care of responsibilities we don’t believe exist, or enjoy accomplishments we can’t see. And while God probably can perform miracles, I doubt if we can count on him to save us from our own failure to recognize our responsibilities.

So –

Third – I am not trying to bash anyone, in spite of what I just said. It’s not even about me; I’m too old to benefit by anything that is likely to result from a critical analysis. Fourth, I’m not formally affiliated with any of these positive actions, but I do care very much about the positive human values they all espouse. If we must take sides, I’m on yours.

There are many religion-based efforts to improve our world, beginning with individual self-improvement, and then a plethora of groups that may or may not be affiliated with established religions. The Dalai Lama, Karen Armstrong and others (Some references are below) outline an ethic that can be espoused by anyone, with or without a religion, who believes in the more positive human values. I’m sure there are also many, many other wonderful developments within all of the religions.

Whatever our religion, it is critically important at this time, when humans hold so much destructive power, to understand why religion is not science and science should not be a religion. For an example, I collected a series of podcasts from an organization called Evolutionary Christianity (ref). Each podcast is the message of a different speaker who describes how he or she believes very positively both in God and in evolution. These are available at the Peach Clubhouse.

Religion is not a science, because religion is based in human values; and science should not be a religion because science should not be based in human values.

Religion functions at the individual and population levels of human reality. Its purpose is to support human values and serve human welfare. Basic research science functions at all levels of physical reality, and it’s purpose is to learn how things function. I’m not talking about technology, which is about making things, and usually selling things. Basic research biology, for example, is about learning how life functions to stay alive.

For the most part, life does not operate according to human values. Certainly the whole earth ecosystem does not. The ecosystem is the functional result of all the interacting life cycles of all the organisms, including humans, that live on earth. The ecosystem functions according to natural laws, like gravity or thermodynamics, and laws do not care about our emotions. To understand laws, we need facts. Therefore, science is about measurable facts, and these facts tell us that the ecosystem has its own needs some of which are different from what humans may need or want.

If we want to support human values and serve human welfare, we humans have at least two sets of needs and values to consider. First is the welfare of the ecosystem, because it is the ecosystem that gives us life. At the same time of course we must find a way to compassionately sustain human kind within the ecosystem. Both these jobs are important to our well being, but they are different tasks requiring different tools.

Bare Bones Biology 101 – Religion and Science
KEOS FM 89.1, Bryan, Texas
Audio download available
here and at

    Recommended References

Karen Armstrong, Charter for Compassion,

Evolutionary Christianity –

H.H. The Dalai Lama, Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World

Huston Smith, The World’s Religions: Our Great Wisdom Traditions…/0062508113

Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth, with Bill Moyers, on DVD at PBS

Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth,

Home Gardening

Bare Bones Biology 100 – Climate Change, The End

On a Thursday I went to two local meetings, one right after the other. The first was a seminar — a group of people who are concerned about the health of the whole ecosystem that we live in. Second, I went to a political meeting. All the people I met at both meetings are concerned for the welfare of our whole community. But their views of what is a community are so different that, if they were talking together, they probably would not recognize our common motivation.

I despaired of explaining this gap until I once again realized that we are talking about levels of organization. BBB-051 and BBB-052. By my system, individual is level one. Level two is the population level, our local community of humans or all humans as a species. Level three is the entire worldwide ecosystem, which is a super-organism that consists of all the species on earth and the environment we all create to live in.

People who work at the population level need to understand as much as they can about the social sciences, because that’s how we humans manipulate other people, for good or for ill. That’s all about hopes and dreams and kindness and cruelty and good and evil and empathy and compassion, as defined by our common human values. This is different from individual, level one welfare, and the difference is the cause of most of our political battles. That’s because, instead of trying to understand the differences in a way that will generate a living space for individual welfare within the communal welfare, in our culture of today we are choosing to fight over those conflicts of interest. For example. My neighbor’s oil well is giving me nosebleeds, shortness of breath, and I think maybe affecting my memory, which at my age is a concern. Good for him, bad for me, a simple individual level-one difference, he is bigger than I am so I will move. However, a more
difficult problem is the effect that his oil well has on the rate of asthma, alzheimers and obesity and other problems of the people of the whole community. That’s level one welfare, conflicting with the welfare at level two. At that point, we need a serious human discussion or we will likely end up with a serious human fight. That’s the kind of thing that good politics should be addressing. The welfare of the individual within the population of humans. There is always a conflict of interest. That’s what the social sciences are about.

The ecosystem is the level that includes all of life on earth. Everything alive is part of the whole earth ecosystem and requires a healthy ecosystem to stay alive, because the ecosystem literally makes the air, water and rich soil, and it makes these things by balancing extremely complex cycles of energy and climate and organic molecules. That’s not a matter of opinion. Without the ecosystem, there is no population to worry about, and that’s what the folks at the seminar mean when they are concerned about the common welfare.

We need the so-called “hard sciences” to understand what the ecosystem requires to stay healthy. Because the ecosystem does not function according to human values or emotions, the social sciences will not help us understand what the ecosystem requires. That’s why we need biology and ecology. And facts. And our unique human brain that can understand the difference between ecological facts and human emotions and desires. And our unique human language that can share knowledge and information over space and time.

There are measurable facts in this world. Our opinions are fun and they make us feel important, but they do not change facts. Science does not change facts. Nothing changes facts; that’s why we call them facts. Thermodynamic relationships are real, and all of life is based on them. The law of cause and effect is real. It is a fact that what we do today will influence the level of human suffering in the ecosystem of the future. The world keeps changing; that’s a fact, and we need to deal with it.

Bare Bones Biology 100 – Climate Change, The End
KEOS FM 89.1, Bryan, Texas
Audio download available later this week
here and at

Recommended References: Levels of Organization Emergent Properties
Bare Bones Biology Energy Handbook is available on my blog for free download
Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World, by H.H. The Dalai Lama

Spring is Almost Over

Peach Clubhouse Newsletter is Posted on the blog

The March newsletter has been posted to the right of this blog under PDFs. In addition to the below, this month contains the second in a series about food, genetic engineering, and the ecosystem. This issue contains the shortest imaginable description of genetic engineering. Next time we’ll discuss implications. Below is copied the compassion corner from the march newsletter.Compassion Corner

Compassion is not hugs and kisses. If you think about it, hugs and kisses have been used – often are used — to cause harm or to hide negative intentions that are in our heart or mind. That is definitely not compassion. The bottom line of compassion is wishing for — and also doing — what is best for the welfare of the other. Think what that means! What an enormous responsibility to try to understand what is is really best for “them,” and for the community, and the country, and for life itself. Even though we would much rather believe, and it is very much easier to believe, that we already know. Of
course we don’t know what is best for our future. We can seriously consider every level of organization and every different situation, and still we often don’t really know what is best for the future. And all the propaganda makes it more difficult. So compassion is about choosing to honestly try.

I have been asked, how do we know who to believe? This question is usually about the biological problems we are facing in the world today. The answer is: Look for the compassionate person or the compassionate solution. Make sure the solution is aligned with measurable facts. (Use your brain in addition to your instincts and training). And then think deeply about the differences between real compassion and real loving-kindness and fake loving-kindness, and sharing the joy of others.

Compassion is difficult. If you see an abandoned dog that has been brought to the “animal shelter,” do you feel a warm rush of caring, or loving-kindness? Does your heart sing, in sympathetic joy, that animal has been “saved?” Those are good feelings, but they aren’t the whole of compassion. Compassion feels with the animal — that horrible hollow fear of the heart; the incredible tragedy of betrayal of the
innocent soul. And it feels for the animal our adult anger that anyone would raise a dog, or a child, to believe in love and joy and happiness — and then pitch it out to fend for itself in reality. And then compassion does something. Not only something to help the dog, but to stop the root causes of the abuse.

Lovingkindness is not compassion; sympathetic joy is not compassion In fact, these can be excuses for not STOPPING THE ABUSE, because
they feel good. They give so much pleasure to the rescuer. Bottom line, the rescuer who is moivated more by loving-kindness or sympathetic joy than she cares about compassion, is mostly caring about herself. Compassion shares that ugly despair and terror as the dog feels it; empathy is the foundation of compassion.

And then comes the determination to stop the abuse at its source. Or as I heard one woman say about her goal to grow gardens in inner cities: “I swore that would never happen to another child if I could preven it.” That kind of dedication is not fun; it’s not cute, it’s not loving-kindness; it is practical, wise compassion. When you get your head and your heart together to do something that genuinely
works, long term, to make a change at the root cause of the problem, that is wise, practical compassion, and the result is that no more puppies are tossed aside for us to enjoy saving.

If we really care, and we all do, then the way to give what is best is to puzzle out the root causes of our sad, sad modern world culture. If we only rejoice in picking up the pieces and do not change the causes, we are not living our heart/mind compassion and life will become sicker, rather than better.

Fortunately we all have a good brain (*RR Taylor), because it is the responsibility of our age to unwind that puzzle and find the root causes of our human abuses of life. And that is why Compassion Corner comes at the beginning of this newsletter before politics, education and fact-based biology that are the tools we use in our efforts to solve the puzzle that we have been given.

So how do we understand root causes? Not by our compassionate instinct alone. Certainly not from the propaganda that characterizes our age. We must use our brain — if necessary, we must use our brain to change our world view we have been taught. We must look at all sides of each problem and and we discuss with people who know more than we do about each level of life (the individual, the population and the whole living ecosystem). Discuss with people who care very much about solving problems, rather than people who primarily care about winning or getting something for their own satisfaction. Align your compassion with fact-based reality. That kind of compassion HH The Dalai Lama (*RR) refers to as “wise compassion” I say practical compassion. Wise compassion indeed does use the inborn warmth of our human caring, but it also uses the inborn power of our human intellect. Intellect not as in college examinations – intellect as in every ordinary person has an amazing brain (*RR Taylor).

Practical (wise) compassion is the art of aligning our dreams with measurable realities. It is the craft of thinking deeply about the
natural law of cause and effect – the expectable results of our behaviors. Our current crisis is primarily biological, so as humanitarian activists it is our obligation to explore fact-based descriptions of what the ecosystem physically requires for its good health. The primary cause of our biological problems is human — our adversarial relationship with the ecosystem, and inability to understand that we can’t do whatever feels good. Instead — no matter what our passion or our expertise, we must ALSO care enough to learn what the ecosystem really needs to be healthy. So we also can be healthy.

References cited above are available on under Recommended References on the Newsletter itself.

Bare Bones Biology 099 – What Can Conscientious Scientists Do?

My fellow basic scientists and I have known from the very beginning of this Climate Change debacle that I have been discussing — from Bare Bones Biology 092, forward in time, every week until Bare Bones Biology 100, which will be next week — that the so-called Climate Change Debate is a Corposystem Con Job.

There are quite a few references in this BBB and I’ll put links in this blog and below. I have talked before about fake debates (for example and and) and other corposystem con games, for example in BBB 072.

So, how did we know it was a con? First let me say that scientists – mostly – I’m talking about basic scientists now, not technologists – mostly became scientists because we have some idealism about helping the world. Just as you do. We do not publicly lie about facts, partly because facts have a way of proving themselves and we can’t change them. Airplanes wouldn’t fly if we got the facts wrong; we couldn’t have a space program or iThings or any kind of modern technology, because all modern technologies are based in facts that were first understood by research scientists; and global warming would keep getting worse and worse. As it has. And the other scientists would know we were lying.

Second – well maybe I should give you an example. I’ve been out of the field for twelve years, but last week I was asked to review a paper. I realized the author was a young person just entering the field and I would probably have to recommend the paper not be published. Why not published? Because my career is intertwined with my reputation among my fellow scientists. Even though I know exactly how the young scientist feels, because I have been rejected myself by other conscientious scientists. Many of them then offered to help me improve. That kind of practical compassion grows a group of experienced scientists sharing and at the same time openly demonstrating their own expertise, or lack of expertise.

Basic scientists SHARE a body of knowledge. We know the difference between a fact, an opinion and a hypothesis, and we don’t claim that our opinions are facts unless we can open the drawer or pull out someone’s publication and demonstrate the measurable and measured data, and then we are willing discuss interpretations of the data. We do not go on television or any place else and publish lies. If we are biological scientists, we also know that life changes, and we know that the ecosystem is the source of life. If you believe I just described an ideal that isn’t real, well, yes, nobody is perfect. But we do try, and we wouldn’t trade our mutual respect for a seat behind Rush Limbaugh’s microphone.

That’s why we knew the so-called global warming “debate” (climate change “debate”) was a con job. Because there is no debate about the basic fact that climate changes, and changes that happen more rapidly than evolution will have a negative effect on both the sustainability (for a description see BBB 088, or and the resilience of life on earth. That’s why I make these BBBs. So you too will have more information to evaluate the corposystem con games.

The so-called debate is political propaganda, and the purpose is obvious. Powerful political entities in our country are making a lot of money by CAUSING global warming, and they know it, and science knows it. So their purpose is to smear science and scientists.

So now, I am happy to tell you of two proofs of corposystem gamesmanship that appeared just last week. In the first, an investigative journalist “outed” internal documents that describe Heartland Institute’s plan to find people they can bribe to be climate deniers.

The second is the upcoming publication of a book by Michael E. Mann “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines,” a prominent climatologist, describing the professional threats and death threats that he received because he wouldn’t stop informing the public about his concerns.

Climate change is a man-made crisis, only man can stop the behaviors that cause it, and that’s your responsibility. You could start by rereading this series on my blog, beginning with BBB 092, and continue by discussing the issue with knowledgeable people who understand it. Discuss I said. Debate is worse than useless, because it implies that there are only two sides to every issue and only one “winner.”

If we choose to work together on this problem, we are all winners; if not, we are all losers.

Bare Bones Biology 099 – What Can Conscientious Scientists Do?
KEOS FM 89.1, Bryan, Texas
Audio download available later this week
here and at

Links: BBB092, beginning of climate change and Fakc Debates Corposystem Con Games, BBB 072 BBB 088, Sustainability Sustainaiblity and Resilience

Uganda Citizens asked us to watch this


Elizabeth is from Kenya. The children at the Brazos Valley African American Museum loved her true-life stories, and so did the retired people who also attended.

Aung San Suu Kyi

James Hansen