Sunday, August 12, 2007

A few of my favorite things...

Hello my friends,

I know it's been a while since I've blogged anything of importance (or, anything at all for that matter). The last two weeks have been incredibly busy; Mr. Possum and P#2 flew from LAX to Philadelphia...and, since we're gluttons for punishment, we followed through with our commitment to go to Cambria for a visit with some family. While I was taking these pics, I kept thinking about the claim (by theists) that "atheists are missing out on the wonder and beauty" of the world by denying a deity. I beg to differ. These are the things that I was in awe of today. These are things that I found incredibly beautiful. And, the fact that I was able to do this today (despite my health) made me enjoy it even more. So...I welcome you into my mind. How does that song go; these are a few of my favorite things?


Bob Kowalski said...

The Perseid meteor shower is tonight I went with Big Mischief to watch meteors. She lasted 10 minutes -- pretty good for a 5-year old at 3am.

How come we never hear about Christians going to do these kinds of things?

It was wonderful. I'm just sorry she got too sleepy to stay any longer. There will always be other meteor showers.

Anonymous said...

The Perseid meteor shower is tonight I went with Big Mischief to watch meteors. She lasted 10 minutes -- pretty good for a 5-year old at 3am.

Yes!! I can't wait. It's 2:10 here and they've said that 4am will be the best time. P#1 and P#2 are staying with family in an area where there's not a lot of ambient light, AND they've got a powerful telescope. I'm envious. We decided to come home, but like I said, I'm going to head out and see what I can see. :)
We actually saw a few "shooting stars" around 10, so the little ones were pretty happy.

Cogito said...

Good to hear from you, glad the trip went OK.
I'm currently reading Unweaving the Rainbow by Dawkins, and he makes a lovely case for more wonder and awe at the way things actually are, than any fantasy can ever inspire.

Here's one of my favorite quotes:

I believe that an orderly universe, one indifferent to human preoccupations, in which everything has an explanation even if we still have a long way to go before we find it, is a more beautiful, more wonderful place than a universe tricked out with capricious ad hoc magic.

Allison said...

Great post -- I was just reading one of the essays from "Parenting Beyond Belief" last night talking about a sense of wonder, and he made just this point.

I completely agree with Cogito that the natural world *without* the god-did-it explanations is much more fantastic.

Thanks for the reminder about the Perseids, by the way!

Bob Kowalski said...

Since there seems to be interest. There's another shower expected on September 1st, the Aurigid Meteor Shower.

The Aurigids is a from a long period comet and the peak viewing area should be California.

More info here one the NASA website.

And the Perseids are supposed to last until the 22nd.

FYI, forget the binoculars & telescope. A wide field of vision will do you better.

Poodles Rule said...

Now I think I need to get back to a beach.

HiveRadical said...

How come we never hear about Christians going to do these kinds of things?

An instance of a Christian prophesying about and watching a meteor shower-

HiveRadical said...

Last night I saw four in the space of about ten min.

I got to thinking how difficult it would be to make and artificial display by shooting rocks and dust from space to the earth.

AlisonM said...

I really want to try to get a look tonight, but I don't know that I'll be able to stay up that late. We actually got up in the middle of the night a few years ago, and dragged the kids and some friends along to watch a meteor shower. All the kids cared about was that they were cold and they didn't want to eat the food we had brought, they wanted something different. Thank goodness some things have changed. It's warm, and we have few enough lights that we might be able to see from our yard and not wake the kids up at all!

They really appreciate science and nature, but much moreso when they don't have to get up in the dark for it.

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

On our most recent trip to the West of australia I stood on a deserted beach and gazed in wonderment at the terriying strength of the Indian ocean, wind so strong I could lean into it and waves from the open sea crashing against it. The only time I have been reluctant to go swimming at a beach.

AlisonM said...

We ended up with too many clouds to see the meteors, and they broke out in torrential rain in the middle of the night until just a half hour ago.

There is so much that is amazing in this world, though. When I look at mountains, valleys, rocks carved by water and wind, and it all seems so permanent - and it makes me wonder how it looked when the world was young. We have fires in the Pine Barrens all too frequently, but when you go through a burned area the next spring and see the new seedlings sprouting up, that new life is as awe inspiring as an animal giving birth - moreso when you realize that many of the trees have evolved so that the seeds HAVE to be burned to germinate. No forest fire, no new trees.

Everyone in my family can spend hours watching the activity around the pond - not only for the fish, but checking the growth of the snails, watching the dragonflies and damselflies visiting, laying eggs, and growing. We're always on the lookout for new water lily buds, and the frog that joined us just this year. We've been visited for the first time by two new kinds of butterflies and a hummingbird.

It hasn't been possible to afford a vacation for a couple of years, and our day trips have been purposeful rather than leisurely, so having this tiny ecosystem right in our yard has helped keep me sane. And watching all these creatures who do what they have to do to survive and reproduce, then spend the rest of the time playing and resting and socializing reminds me of what's really important in life.

Milo Johnson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Milo Johnson said...

"Atheists are missing out on the wonder and beauty" of the world.

Yeah, that's why I became an astronomer and a musician, because I have no appreciation of wonder and beauty.


Donkey M said...

The Perseid meteor shower is tonight

We had a fairly clear sky, so we dragged the telescope out and spent a couple of hours in amazement at the number of stars we could see, especially in the globular clusters we managed to find. Saw the best meteor, too - must have lasted for about 4 seconds, splitting into two parts before fading away.

There is so much beauty and wonder in this universe, why do some people need to invent more?

Ang said...

We watched the meteor showers with our (atheist) friends across the street. It was great!! We decided that laying in the yard on a beautiful summer evening is what Life is all about. Unfortunately, my kids (ages 23 & 18) didn't want to join us this time. But we have been known to drag them out of bed for spectacular events like this.

Anonymous said...

I popped back outside around 3:45am and saw the most amazing streak of light go across the sky. It seemed to last forever (although, I'm sure it was only a few seconds).

We had a pretty good view of Mars, too (through the telescope).

Margaret said...

"I’d take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day." - Douglas Adams

Chris said...

I watched it at a friends house saturday night, since he lived in a more remote location and had a very wide view of the sky (on top of one of the highest hills in town). It wasn't the height of the shower, but we still saw a number of them, so it was really cool.

One of the highlights of that night was the excitement caused by our UFO encounter. Not too long after we went out there, 2 of us (me included) saw a set of 3 red lights, in a triangular shape, suddenly appear, zoom off towards the horizon completely silent and faster than any jet I could remember seeing. We couldn't think of what it was. 10 minutes later, it came back. I never did give into the idea it was an alien ship or something, thankfully...since a while later I suddenly remembered I saw a stealth bomber flying around the local national guard airfield. Haha, whoops :D

I tried watching last night, but the lights in Reno were too bright, so I only saw a couple. I did manage to see one while looking through my binoculars, though, so it was REALLY bright with the backdrop of many, many stars. Beautiful.

The top highlight of the last few nights though was one that I never even thought about when I was a christian, I've only done it while an atheist, realizing that the universe is natural and not just a giant sandbox for some invisible sky-being: Staring up at the milky way, trying to look at it's disk, trying to imagine my place here in the galaxy. I took an astronomy class not too long ago, and I started doing it then. I can get really deep into it, able to feel a sence of it's magnitude. I feel like I'm part of the sky, like I'm falling off the earth to join the stars. It's really hard to explain, but I've even managed to get this way just staring at the mountain view out of my cubicle window. This sense of awe, sense of wonder, sense of "being one with nature"...I never once felt this as a religious person, even though the only way I can describe it makes it sound like a religious experience (trust me, there's nothing supernatural about this). It's amazing everytime I manage to get into this state, and with the bright milky way and all the meteors as a background, it seemed to really intensify this time.