Uranus Is Visible — Free Fire Zone

The creationists are just babbling away and they’re not even amusing, so we found some news at PhysOrg that you may find interesting. Their article is titled Planets on parade: 5 will be lined up in night sky this week. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Keep an eye to the sky this week for a chance to see a planetary hangout. Five planets — Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Uranus and Mars—will line up near the moon.

Wowie — that doesn’t happen every day. Then they say:

The best day to catch the whole group is Tuesday. You’ll want to look to the western horizon right after sunset, said NASA astronomer Bill Cooke. The planets will stretch from the horizon line to around halfway up the night sky. But don’t be late: Mercury and Jupiter will quickly dip below the horizon around half an hour after sunset.

You don’t need to mark your calendar — this is happening now! After that they tell us:

The five-planet spread can be seen from anywhere on Earth, as long as you have clear skies and a view of the west.

PhysOrg continues:

Jupiter, Venus and Mars will all be pretty easy to see since they shine brightly, Cooke said. Venus will be one of the brightest things in the sky, and Mars will be hanging out near the moon with a reddish glow. Mercury and Uranus could be trickier to spot, since they will be dimmer. You’ll probably need to grab a pair of binoculars. If you’re a “planet collector,” it’s a rare chance to spot Uranus, which usually isn’t visible, Cooke said. Look out for its green glow just above Venus.

One last excerpt:

Different numbers and groups of planets line up in the sky from time to time. There was a five-planet lineup last summer and there’s another one in June, with a slightly different makeup.

That’s all the news we can find, so we’re declaring another Intellectual Free Fire Zone. Use the comments for the discussion of pretty much anything — science, politics, economics, whatever — as long as it’s tasteful and interesting. Banter, babble, bicker, bluster, blubber, blather, blab, blurt, burble, boast — say what you will. But avoid flame-wars and beware of the profanity filters.

We now throw open the comments to you, dear reader. Have at it!

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21 responses to “Uranus Is Visible — Free Fire Zone

  1. I have been reading
    David Sedley
    Creationism and its Critics in AntiquityeU California Press, 2007

    In the “Epilogue”, on page 241, he is discussing Galen (c. 129 CE- c, 212) and Plato
    “… we find in Galen some early signs of contact and contrast between the pagan and the Judeo-Christian tradition about creation. [and here he points to Philo of Alexandria (c. 20 BCE – c. 50 CE) as an earlier example] … Plato’s Demiurge [i.e. designer] is significantly restricted by his basic materials … it is certainly …. the case that he has to make numerous practical engineering decisions, often involving compromise. Galen, referring to Moses as the presumed author of Genesis, remarks with some impatience that for Moses God’s omnipotence is such that he was able to create the world and its contents by mere fiat, without concern for the properties of matter. Galen’s own Platonic Demiurge, by contrast, is a craftsman who works skillfully with the properties of his materials.”

    (Alas, I do not have the exact words of Galen and Philo.]

  2. @TomS
    Sedley may be referring to this quote from Galen about eyelashes.


  3. Why does everyone assume Paul is from Tarsus when the only place we get that from is the “Acts of the Apostles”. Paul is from Tarsus and I have a nice bridge for sale.

  4. “But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving. But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”

    Oh okay Paul. Who do I make it out to. (Yes he’s buttering them up for donations.)

  5. @richard
    Thank aergument . Reference 2 seems best.

    My point is that Intelligent Designers are *not* omnipotent.

    That means that the Design Argument is unlike the God of the Abrahamic religions, which can account for anything. In the recent form, it has some heavy lifting to do to account for anything.

  6. @TomS Yes it seems like Sedley was referring to Reference 2. If only poor Galen knew he “[has] no need of that [demiurge] hypothesis”. Alas he was ahead of his time.

  7. Sextus Empiricus 2nd century CE “Against the Physicists” Book I (=”Adversus Mathematicos” Book IX) chapter “God” 171

    “And besides: if nothing is unclear to god, but he is capable of apprehending something right away given his nature, he does not have skill. Just as we would not say that there was a skill of swimming belonging to the frog or the dolphin, which are by nature such as to swim, in the same way we would not say that there is a skill belonging to god, who apprehends everything given his nature – because skill applies to something unclear and not apprehended right away.”
    Richard Bett
    Sextus Empiricus: Against the Physicists
    Cambridge U Press, 2012
    pages 35-36

    An Intelligent Designer is not omniscient, not omnipotent.

  8. Fittingly, neither is the three-headed god of the Intelligent Design movement omniscient or omnipotent, if we read its Blog (the Bible). So they may unwittingly be on to something–notwithstanding their lies that they don’t care if it is omniscient or omnipotent.

  9. “… the carpenter doesn’t make wood, but makes something out of wood; and so with all other such craftsmen. But Almighty God did not need the help of any kind of thing at all, for making the things he wished, If, you see, for making things he wished, in order to carry out what he wished, he was being assisted by some actual thing which he had not made himself, then he was not almighty; and to think that is sacrilege.”
    Augustine of Hippo (354-430)
    On Genesis: A Refutation of the Manichees
    Book I 6, 10
    “The Works of Saint Augustine: A translation for the 21st century”
    Part I Volume 13: Genesis
    Edmund Hill, translator; John E. Rotelle, editor
    page 45

  10. Take your sacrilege and stick in on a hippo or something, “Saint” Gus.

  11. @richard
    Isn’t Augustine telling us that the Almighty is no designer?

  12. @TomS It doesn’t seem explicit in that quote. I would have a difficult time believing that Augustine didn’t think of God as some sort of an architect or designer. Maybe if he had half the brains of Sextus Empiricus.

  13. Dave Luckett

    Augustine insists that God is almighty. He created whatever He willed, with whatever properties He willed, from nothing. Very well; but was there anything created that He did not will? Or, more subtly, did the properties that He willed ever interact to create effects that He did not will? He willed that we be delighted by the beauty of rivers, streams and lakes; He willed that we must breathe air, to know the caress of a cool evening breeze, or the aroma of baking bread. Therefore we can drown. Did God will that we drown, then?

    To say “Yes” to that question is to deny God’s providence, or His omniscience, or His goodwill, and surely that’s as much a sacrilege as denying His omnipotence. But to say “No” is to demand an explanation for natural evil, for surely it is an evil thing that a toddler drown, to the dreadful grief of her parents – and Augustine is here disputing Manicheanism, the Gnostic doctrine that the world is entirely and inveterately evil, and thus cannot be the creation of an omnibenevolent God.

    There are various ways out of course. Theology always has one or two. But one way might be to credit the Creator with creating all things He willed, while allowing other things to be caused by the very nature of the Universe itself. Well, that’s what Genesis says was the origin of living things: God said, “Let the Earth bring forth living creatures”. Apparently, one of the living creatures it brought forth was the serpent.

    So God, in this reading, did not create all things directly, and therefore we cannot expect that all things perfectly reflect His own goodness.

    But another necessary implication is that He did not design anything, as such. He either created from nothing, exactly as He willed, or He allowed nature to take its course, limited as it is by the blind interplay of the intrinsic properties of time and space, matter and energy. Neither process can be called “design”.

    Phew! We seem to be back to where we began, Omar Khayyam-like. Theology seems to do that a lot.

  14. P.S. I got triggered by the “sacrilege” bit. Wasn’t thinking of design at all. Who do that guy think he is with the sacrilege schmacrilege baloney? He and Paul should go rent a room or something.

  15. I postouged the quote from Augustine because I thought that it fit the my earlier observation from Sedley about Plato’s Demiurge (“Intelligent Designer”), as Galen and Sextus argued that craftsmen are not omniscient nor omnipotent (nor, as is often pointed out, omnibenevolent), and thus not the Almighty of the Abrahamic traditions.

  16. Perhaps the clearest statement is found in the Wikiquote.org entry for John Stuart Mill – “Part II: Attributes”.

  17. Why would there be only one omnipotent being anyway? They should be multiplying like flies if they like creating things so much. Why settle for less than creating other omnipotent beings? They could go around worshiping each other all day. Win/win.

  18. @richard

    There is an argument from design which points to conflicting designers. The eye of the predator serves to locate prey. The eye of the predator serves to avoid predators.

    Why be *all*-powerful? Why not just *super*-natural? If the natural world is only finite – no matter how big, if it is finite.

  19. @TomS
    “Why be *all*-powerful? Why not just *super*-natural?”

    That might explain why the not-so-all-powerful Designer won’t create other Designers. What fun would be creating something if you can’t kick it round?

  20. On the other hand, how de we mere mortals even begin to guess the thoughts/motives of something so powerful and wise. Which sounds eerily like something a theist would say. *cue Twilight Zone music*

  21. See the article on John Stuart Mill in Wikiquote.org, in particular the section “Part II: Attributes”.