Magnus Johnson

Lecturer in Environmental Marine Science, University of Hull
Scarborough, United Kingdom

About Magnus

Languages

English

Areas of Expertise

Crustacean Behaviour, Fisheries Biology, Oceanography

Comments & conversations

4433
Magnus Johnson
Posted over 2 years ago
Evolution only applies to the bodies of humans, not their souls. Natural selection only explains the adaptation of species.
Hi Thomas, I completely agree, "Why do we have such a problem with ""I don't know"" . Trying to explain "I don't knows" with mythology is what irritates me. I watched our living-room fire go out tonight, while my wife and I chatted. It went out. The fire is dead. Do you have a problem understanding that? So why have a problem with an organism dying? Chemically, its a pretty similar process. cheers and peace, Magnus
4433
Magnus Johnson
Posted over 2 years ago
Evolution only applies to the bodies of humans, not their souls. Natural selection only explains the adaptation of species.
I'm not sure that letters before or after your name prove anything except (in the case of a Phd) perhaps tenacity - I was merely making a point in response to Davids initial note. You contradict yourself Ethan - you tell me that we can see the electromagnetic field of the brain and then tell me its not tangible. Is the soul an electromagnetic field then? Can we detect how much of a sinner someone is using a magnet? Could be useful at airports I guess. Emotions are tangible - biochemically and made obvious via our bodily and facial expressions. Guilt for example is a chemical response to deviation from a norm. Using your implicit definition of tangible, a vacuum is not tangible (nor an electron, proton, atom etc) but we can prove its existence using science. If anyone proves the existence of some all powerful deity that gives a jot about humanity using logic and science I'll start saving for an asbestos coffin.
4433
Magnus Johnson
Posted over 2 years ago
Evolution only applies to the bodies of humans, not their souls. Natural selection only explains the adaptation of species.
. . and so it starts. Step 1) We are superior to animals because of some fairy-tale and a book of stories chosen by politicians a long time ago. Step 2) We (theists) are superior to other people who don't think like we do or believe in our fairy tales. Step 3) Righteous war (or Jihad). If it can't be defined to all intents and purposes, it doesn't exist. Science is the fundamental language of explanation of facts. You like to think you have free will. You have options. The last sentence isn't a logical progression. The problem is that science is hard and that when you use it to define concepts such as love or beauty you have to go back to first principles (it gets a bit boring if you try to do that for everything - our cultural shorthand for these things is easier). I love Bach and Leo Kottke but while I'm aware that there will be a scientific explanation, I don't feel the need to delve that deep. I'm happy just to sit back and enjoy the music. Your cause is to survive and reproduce. The rest of paragraph three is gobbledegook. My advice, not based on any fairy tales - give your kids a good start in life and be nice to people so that your kids have a chance of growing up in a nice world. George Carlin has a great take on this stuff: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeSSwKffj9o
4433
Magnus Johnson
Posted over 2 years ago
Evolution only applies to the bodies of humans, not their souls. Natural selection only explains the adaptation of species.
I'm a biologist (and a PhD). What is a soul? I've never seen one or seen any evidence that we have one. I'm pretty sure that dead people have influence - e.g. Socrates, Darwin, Jesus, Mohammed but when you are dead, you are dead. What is free will? Organisms (such as we are) move through life being faced with choices. What they choose is infuenced by their internal state, the options available, advice from, or actions of, those around them and societal norms. Christianity is just one big norm, one of many that influence the way in which people behave. Christianity is a product of humanity and the codes of behaviour that it espouses are common to many other civilizations across the world. There are no gods, no life after death and no such thing as a soul. Get over it and get on with your wonderful life.
4433
Magnus Johnson
Posted over 5 years ago
Richard Pyle: A dive into the reef's Twilight Zone
I thought this was an excellent, inspirational talk and didn't think the reference to the guy at the end was in bad taste at all. It emphasised the fact that this sort of science is not risk free. It's a slightly different talk to many others on TED, but is that a bad thing? I will use this one to inspire my marine biology and SCUBA students.
4433
Magnus Johnson
Posted almost 7 years ago
Richard Dawkins: Militant atheism
The difference between atheism and holding a religious belief is that one requires a leap of logic and the other a leap of faith. If you don't have the wherewithal to make a logical step its much easier to believe in fairy-tales. In response to E Park, nothing is beyond the evaluative abilities of "science" - there are things we recognise as being impossible to know (e.g. the position of every molecule in the ocean) but that doesn't stop us from evaluating (or at least starting to) the behaviour of oceans. People often suggest that science cannot be used to understand ethics or the complexities of human interactions. This is patently not true - take, for example, recent work on altruism or indirect reciprocation which clearly presents logical reasons for people to help unrelated others out. We are now beginning to understand these interactions at small scales, however it is unlikely that we will ever be able to "compute" all the individual interactions of e.g. a society. That does not mean that, because it is beyond our capabilities to know every interaction, that we need to sink to the levels of using metaphysics/ magic to explain it. And on the final comment about leaving biolgy to the biologists and sociology to the sociologists - the lines are pretty fuzzy nowadays. We are learning lessons from the interactions of animals that help us understand society (people are just clever animals really) and many analytical techniques developed in social sciences are migrating into biology (e.g. social networks analysis).