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Science and Love of the Natural World

This is a combination of two posts written by Jonathan Weyer, a SkeptiCamp 2009 presenter, for his blog The Thomas Society. With his permission, I’m reposting them here for the audience. Please visit Jonathan’s blog for more writing!

PZ Myers and the Love of the Natural World

So, I got to meet the (in)famous PZ Myers this weekend. As has been said on on numerous blogs, he is a much nicer guy in person than on his blog. I liked him.

And, I’m sure there are going to be times on this blog where I take serious issue with some of his comments. But, today is not that day. Instead, I want to comment on his fire and love for the natural world. I actually found it quite beautiful.

His talk at the SSA was about how you should stand up for what you think. A good piece of advice. But what struck me is what really lit him up. It wasn’t taking on people he calls “igits”. It wasn’t not believing in God. It wasn’t even Ken Ham. It was his love for his beloved Cephalopod. His eyes lit up. He started to actually bounce. Yes, PZ Myers, the king of smart ass cynical comments began to bounce. Sorry, PZ, I outed you.

I dug that. I love to see that kind of passion. But, he said something that I took issue with. He said that atheists are the only ones who take a real interest in the natural world.

I would completely disagree with that. As I posted below, my son and I love science. Even more, we love the natural world. In my point of view, God made the natural world for us to enjoy, explore and take pleasure in. It’s our playground and we should freakin’ make sure we take care of it.

Sorry, that’s a line for another post.

Anyway, PZ, I didn’t know if we would have anything in common, but we do. We love the natural world. We love the beauty and all the things we haven’t found out yet. That we can agree on and it’s certainly a starting point for discussion for all of us who love the natural world and science.

As Calvin said to Hobbes, “Let’s go exploring.”

That Is So Science

I love science. Everything about it is just awesome. I’m not a scientist by training. I’m a historian. So, it’s safe to say I’m a pure fanboy, rather than being “on the field.”

And it seems my love has passed on to my six year old. He got into trouble recently with his Grammy over mixing together very expensive beauty products. When asked if he had anything to say for himself, he replied, “I’m disappointed it didn’t turn blue like I wanted.”

So, we look for things to do together along those lines. I love fossils and in case you didn’t know, Ohio is a huge fossil hunter state having been covered at one time by a shallow, warm sea. There are actually places here where you can go and chisel fossils out of the cliffs.

Turns out, we didn’t even need to go there. My wife and I bought a house in Columbus that was built in 1929. Someone around that time built a fountain/pond area in the back corner of the yard. Now, it’s a garden for us, but the original stones are still there.

One day, my son and I decided to take a closer look at the stones. We were both thrilled to find that they were chock full of fossils having been taken out of one the previously mentioned fossil beds.

And so we found this one:


As I said, I’m a science fanboy, so I had no idea what kind of fossil this was. So, since my ministry is with college students from Ohio State, I decided to email the professors in the geology department.

Side Note; If you ever get to Columbus, Ohio State has a cool, little geology museum in Orton Hall.

Anyway, here is what they wrote back.

“Your fossil is a snail, probably Pleuronotus. I’m guessing that it comes orginally from the Columbus Limestone. (Devonian, about 395 million years old)”

My son couldn’ t believe that he was holding a rock that old in his hands and that you could make a living studying fossils. His response?

”That is so science.”

I’m making plans to attend the Nobel Prize for Science awards in about thirty years.


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