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Saturday
Oct242009

Aleph is for Abraham

ALEPH IS FOR ABRAHAM

           An Isador Nabi Press Release pending formal publication   in the Constantine Academy Alumni Newsletter

 

The renowned archeologist Isador Nabi reported today on the preliminary findings of the Summer Interfaith Field Expedition of Constantine Academy, Lootin Center, Nebraska, a course for credit designated An Introduction to Field Methods for Excavation Underneath the Mosques of the West Bank.

This year they were working near the town of Hebron. During the soldiers’ lunch break, the expedition was pelted with stones by a disorderly pack of 9 year olds on their lunch break, who then escaped into the surrounding schools. However a careful examination of the stones turned up one piece of ancient-looking clay no larger than a small fist with the hint of an inscription. The clay was later dated as 2000 B.C.E. ± 4000 years (extraneous materials of caprine origin complicated the dating). On the clay there was a diagonal crack ( when you rotate the fragment properly) that looked like \.

Our archeoscriptogapher who wishes to remain anonymous identified the diagonal as the residue of an aleph: א. Of course the letter aleph can have many uses, but around Hebron an aleph calls to mind Abraham. In fact, as our press release points out, this may be the earliest known fragment of the deed of sale giving Abraham title to Hebron, Nablus, Gath, Jericho, Ramallah, Amman, Beirut, Damascus and Baghdad. When asked for his reactions to this find, sophomore Rick Harton could only answer,”Awesome!”

 

         

 

 

 
Saturday
Oct242009

Branching Pathways of Development

We are now facing an eco-social crisis of immense proportions. The Eco-social distress syndrome is a pervasive multi-dimensional dysfunctional relation between our species and the rest of nature and also among ourselves, an incongruence between the magnitude of the problems and our organizational and intellectual capacity to confront them. It is more global than previous crises, reaches deeper into the ground, higher into the atmosphere, it affects more aspects of our lives, even offering eyes and kidneys and the creative products of our arts and the fruit of our thought for sale, emotional support and wombs for rent. It is more long lasting and less reversible. It includes the undermining of our main life support systems—forestry, fishing, range land and cropland. It includes the exhaustion of non-renewable resources and over-use of renewable ones to the point where they may be lost for ever. It pollutes our physical and social habitats (air, water with toxic substances and bigotries) and makes us more vulnerable to new and resurgent infectious disease in people, animals and plants. It creates demographic imbalance and is provoking disastrous climate change. It increases the frequency of local and short term disasters. There is a great gap between the magnitude of the problems and our knowledge for coping with them. Worse, it erodes our homeostatic system, our capacity to respond to the changing conditions.

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Saturday
Oct242009

REFLECTIONS ON SPIRITUALITY AND SCIENCE

I am delighted that the Networker ( January 2000) is opening up discussion on spirituality and science. For most of my life I have been uncomfortable with the term “spirituality” because it seemed to imply religion, but I now accept its common usage as pertaining to our deepest values and feelings. Although I had intended for some time to write on the subject, what finally got me to do it was the quote from Sheldrake about a “mechanistic-atheistic worldview …[that] portrays a disenchanted, unmagical reality proceeding entirely mechanically”. By 1991, when Sheldrake wrote, there could be no excuse for ignoring the traditions also of a non-mechanistic, dialectical atheism that sees the world as evolving with emergent discontinuities and always full of surprises. I write from that place.

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Saturday
Oct242009

Living the 11th Thesis

This is a slightly edited text of a presentation at the plenary panel on combining the scholarly and activist life, at the meeting of the International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology, Guelph, Ontario July 16, 2005.

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Saturday
Oct242009

Schmalhausen's Law

Ivan Ivanovich Schmalhausen1 was a Soviet evolutionary biologist working at the Academy of Sciences in Minsk. In the 1940's his book "Factors of Evolution" appeared and was denounced by T.D. Lysenko, whose neo-Lamarckian theories of genetics were then on the ascendency. At the close of the 1948 Congress of the Timiryazev Academy of Agricultural Science it was revealed that Stalin had endorsed Lysenko's report to the Congress in which it was affirmed that the environment can alter the hereditary makeup of organisms in a directed way by altering their development. A number of opponents of Lysenko's views then took the floor to reverse themselves and support Lysenko. Schmalhausen was one of the few who reaffirmed his opposition and spent the rest of his life in his laboratory studying fish evolution and morphology.

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