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(Off Topic) Sunstorm

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Was reading the new novel “Sunstorm” by Author C. Clarke and I noticed something “interesting”.

“Okay,” Toby said. “So a rogue planet fell into the sun. It’s an astonishing thing to happen, but not unprecedented. Remember Comet Shoemaker-Levy colliding with Jupiter in the 1990s? And–with respect–what does it have to do with Lieutenant Dutt and her theories about extraterrestrial intervention?”
Eugene snapped, “Are you such a fool that you can’t see it?”
Toby bit back, “Now look here–“
Siobhan grabbed his arm. “Just take us through it, Eugene. Step by step.”
Eugene visibly fought for patience. “Have you really no idea how unlikely this scenario is? Yes, there are rogue planets, formed independently of stars, or flung out of stellar systems. Yes, it may happen that such a planet could cross from one system to another. But it’s highly unlikely. The Galaxy is empty. To scale, the stars are like grains of sand, separated by kilometers. I estimate the change of a planet like this coming anywhere near our solar system as being one in a hundred thousand.
“And this Jovian didn’t just approach us–it didn’t just fall near the sun–it fell directly into the sun, on a trajectory that would take it directly toward the sun’s center of mass.” He laughed, disbelieving at their incomprehension. “The odds against such a thing are absurd. No naturalistic explanation is plausible.”

Mikhail nodded. “Circumstantial, perhaps, but still…I’ve always thought Sherlock Holmes put it well. ‘When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.'”
“Somebody did this,” Toby said slowly. “That’s what you’re saying. Somebody deliberately fired a planet, a big fat Jovian, straight at our sun. We’ve been hit by a bullet from God.”
Bisesa said briskly, “Oh, I don’t think it has anything to do with God.” She stood up. “More coffee?”

So making a design inference without having detailed knowledge on the designer (or even knowing the exact identity) isn’t a problem…so is Clarke an ID supporter now? Doubt it considering all the genuflecting and obeisaunces aimed at Darwin contained within the novel. See page 198 where it is claimed that design arguments were put in a coffin by Darwin…despite a design argument being used elsewhere in the same book.

He also takes a bunch of potshots at Christians in particular. Characters are worried about “all the religiousity [going] around”. Religion is said to have evolved since it “can serve a social purpose, in uniting us around a common goal.” It’s posited that increased solar activity affects the brains of religious people in particular, causing them to have trouble thinking clearly…but OF COURSE atheists are left unaffected:

“magnetic disturbances can stimulate religious impulses in human brains: there was a plague of prophets and doomsayers, miracles and visions”

(On a side note I like that explanation for the deep fried brains of atheists. 😉 ) According to one scene the initial impact of the Jovian caused enough solar activity to mess around with the mind of baby Jesus who had horrible nightmares that day:

“And in a shabby room in Bethlehem, a newborn child, lying on dirty hay, stirred and gasped, tormented by images He could not comprehend.”

In another scene:

“It’s a time of hard choices.” Siobhan sighed. “You know, the other day I spoke to an ecologist who said we should just accept what’s going on. This is just another extinction event, in a long string of disasters. It’s like a forest fire, she said, a necessary cleansing. And each time the biosphere bounces back, eventually becoming richer than before.”
“But this isn’t natural,” Bisesa said grimly. “Not even the way an asteroid impact is. Somebody did this, intentionally. Maybe this is why intelligence evolved in the first place. Because there are times–when the sun goess off, when the dinosaur killer strikes–when the mechanisms of natural selection aren’t enough. Times when you need consciousness to save the world.”
“A biologist would say there is no intention behind natural selection, Bisesa. And evolution can’t prepare you for the future.”
“Yes,” she smiled. “But I’m not biologist, so I can say it…”

Now excuse me while I laugh, disbelieving Darwinist’s incomprehension.

On a mostly unrelated note Clarke kept making references to the Giant Impact Theory for the formation of the Moon:



Hi Matt, Intelligent Design has implications just as Darwinian Evolution does. The first thing to realize is that ID is very modest - it is simply the observance and detection of complex specified information (CSI) in living systems. When we observe CSI we then make the logical inference to a designing intelligence. But that's as far as we can go. Science cannot yet identify the who. This question of "who" is a second-order question for theologians and philosophers to ponder and debate. So, ID has implications which are friendly to a theistic world view, but as Dave has pointed out, it is a-religious. Scott

"I’m of the same philosophic nature as Clarke, Einstein, and half the founding fathers - unable to prove a profound suspicion that the universe was created and wound up like a magnificent clockwork by a deity far beyond our ability to comprehend - organized religions being mere mortal futile attempts to put a recognizable face on the creator of everything."

While it is true that a few of the founders were deists, "half" overstates the case by far. The vast majority of the founders were orthodox Christians; some were liberal Christians; only a handful were deists. See www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0501/articles/dulles.htm for a full exploration of this topic.

You're right of course. How about half of the most famous ones? Maybe not quite half of those either. Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin both were and George Washington is strongly suspected. Keep in mind that public figures with political ambitions have a vested interest in garnering majority support in the United States and that's just about impossible to get if you don't show your face in some kind of church every Sunday morning. Don't confuse membership in a church with honest belief in the revelations of whatever church it is. Many of the people in my social circle attend church regularly. The reasons range from a deeply felt belief that Christ is their salvation, or just because it's the proper place for decent to be on Sunday morning, or because they have a devout spouse, or because they like social network of the church, or so that their children have a good example set for them. I'd say each reason is in about equal proportion and some go more than one of the above. The point is that Christian churches have substantial attendence from people who are very shallow believers in the messianic aspect and I'd that this is especially true for politicians. -ds BarryA
It should be noted, that if he cowrote the book with Stephen Baxter the point would still stand. Baxter is an much a rabid atheist as anyone and has an almost Dawkinsian hatred and contempt for religion. jwrennie
I wouldn't put a lot of responsibility on Arthur C. Clark for anything that might bear his name these days. He's 89 years old and was diagnosed with post-polio syndrome 18 years ago, the symptoms of which include memory loss and cognitive difficulty. I'd wager the whole novel is Baxter's and Clark himself contributed nothing more than his name which makes it something publishers will publish in a Pavlovian manner. DaveScot

Clarke is a famed atheist and active secular humanist. Given, that, it has always amazed me that his most famous story, 2001: A Space Oddesey, is very much an in-your-face tale of Intelligent Design and Christian allegory.

In 2001, man's intelligence and advancement are due to the intervention of a pre-existing Mind that directs our species to technology, self awarness and eventual discovery of the Mind itself. We are made in the image of the Mind. Man (in the form of an astronaut) goes in search of the Mind and is sacrificed, transfigured and reborn into heaven in a perfect body (the Star Child). I could go on with all the detailed Christian parallels in 2001, but it should be obvious to anyone whose seen the movie and knows a bit about theology how Christian Clarke's story is.

I wonder if the atheistic Clarke was even aware of what he was writing.

Oh piffle. Clarke isn't an atheist. This is just another example of desperate positive atheists trying to claim a great mind as one of their own. They also claim Einstein and half the founding fathers. Like half the founding fathers and Albert Einstein, Clarke waivers in limbo somewhere between deism and agnosticism depending on what mood he's in when someone asks. I'm of the same philosophic nature as Clarke, Einstein, and half the founding fathers - unable to prove a profound suspicion that the universe was created and wound up like a magnificent clockwork by a deity far beyond our ability to comprehend - organized religions being mere mortal futile attempts to put a recognizable face on the creator of everything. -ds StuartHarris
In some plot structures, the novelist asks us to suspend disbelief. Instead, it seems Clarke is showing us the mental convolutions necessary to keep belief (in ID) suspended. So, why is this considered "off-topic?" kathy

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