Sunday, June 24, 2012

Can Judaism be Reconciled With Science? Part 1: Creation, Until Life

If we look at the tanach, do we assume that this is the word of a god? Should we assume that it is absolutely true, as the rambam lists in the ani maamins:
6. I believe with perfect faith that all the words of the prophets are true.
7. I believe with perfect faith that the prophecy of Moses is absolutely true. He was the chief of all prophets, both before and after Him.
8. I believe with perfect faith that the entire Torah that we now have is that which was given to Moses.
Should we assume that it knows better than everything we know? What about our holy books (mishna, gemora, midrash, rishonim, achronim…) to we assume any of these to be absolutely true? Do we assume as some many do that all seforim (up until and including rashi) were written with ruach hakodesh. Should we believe tzadikim when they say that their writings had been revealed to them by angels or eliyahu hanavi? Would we assume that all of them are correct, eilu veilu divrei elohim chayim?

Or rather should we assume that these are books written by fallible semi-evolved apes trying to make sense of this experience we call life. Consequentially, they sometimes get it right and sometimes, dead wrong. Does it contain “facts” that we know to be impossible? Do they reflect in a way a worldview and morality that made more sense a few thousand years ago? Have we grown past it? Should we grow past it?

I am going to try to present to you the case that it makes more sense to assume that the torah was written by people, and based on the morality and worldview that could be expected a few thousand years ago in a desert tribe, not the infallible word and wisdom of god for all the ages.

Before I present it, however I would like to tell you a story about a man named Ptolemy and his epicycles. Way back, when people believed that the earth was the center of the universe, there was a person named Aristotle who postulated that everything on earth was imperfect, and everything in the heavens were perfect, and since the sphere is ultimate perfect shape, everything in heave must be in perfect circles or spheres. This became accepted as truth for thousands of years. There was a small problem with this it is called reality. Aristotle never checked to see if this were actually true as this was not his way of going about things, he just thought about things without checking reality. Now although it makes some sort of sense to say that the sun and the moon are attached to large spheres floating around the earth, you run into a serious problem with the planets. You see, sometimes it seems (at least from earth) that the planets sort of go backwards for a little bit, and zig zag across the sky, this makes no sense if you are assuming that they are attached to great glass perfect spheres revolving around the earth.

So, in the second century a.d. our friend Ptolemy came up with a solution, “epicycles”. These epicycles are what would save Aristotle’s theory from instant destruction. An epicycle is, if you could imagine a small sphere attached to a large sphere and both are spinning. Therefore, he explained, the zig zagging and backwards movements are only due to the epicycles. Let us not forget no one had seen these glass spheres, no one knew them to exist, and however no one questioned it either. As time went on more and more observations came into conflict with the idea that the earth is the center of the universe and that these spheres existed. As observations became more accurate and contradicted the sphere/epicycle idea, rather than look for a new theory they just kept on adding epicycles even as it lost the beauty and simplicity that originally compelled Aristotle to present his theory, this however, made no difference. However eventually observations won out and most of us (except for a few nutjobs) agree that the earth goes around the sun and that there are no great spheres.

Why am I telling you this?

Because as I will present my case, there will be those who will defend the torah, defend the jewish worldview. At some point, without them even realizing it they have started to change the torah past anything its writers could have ever intended by any stretch of the imagination, just so that they can say that reality does not contradict their torah. When they start doing this, I will simply respond “epicycles”. If you should one day find yourself trying to explain to someone why belief in the torah as literal truth is absurd, and his only response is to change the torah so drastically that it is no longer the “torah”, just look them in the eye and say “epicycles”.

In a similar way, I have noticed a trend, and you may notice it too; as time goes on and we learn more about our world (through science) more and more of the torah starts becoming viewed as a “metaphor” and not to be taken literal. Conversely as we go further back in time more and more of the torah becomes viewed as literal, and claiming it is just a metaphor is seen as heresy (apikorsus). I applaud this trend and patiently wait until the entire torah, and god as well, ALL become viewed as metaphor and free us from this horrid superstition.

This will be part one; dealing only with the creation of the world until the first life, I will continue this in another post.

“In the beginning the lord created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was bewilderment and void with a darkness over the surface of the deep, and the spirit (breath) of god hovered over the surface of the waters.  And god said ‘let there be light’ and there was light. And god saw that the light was good, and god separated between the light and the darkness. And god called to the light day and to the darkness night. And there was evening and and there was morning, day one”

This is a very familiar verse namely Genesis 1:1-5, and the mistakes begin right there. Firstly, it assumes (arrogantly) that the first thing must have been the heavens and earth, because as Rashi explains right there that this verse teaches us that the world was created for the Jews. The next thing mentioned is water, finally god creates light, separates it from the darkness and gives both of them names, day and night.  Now let us check reality and see what the beginning of our universe looks like.

In reality, the first thing in our universe (immediately after the big bang) was energy, pure, roiling energy. The first change occurred at 10−43seconds after the big bang. That is a 1 preceded by 43 zeros preceded by a decimal (0.00000000000000000000000000000000000000000001). The first thing to happen as the universe cooled down to a chilled 1027 degrees Kelvin (a 1 followed by 27 zeros) was that gravity became a separate force while our other three forces (electromagnetism, the weak nuclear force, the strong nuclear force) remained “unified”. No sign of a heaven, earth, or water anywhere.

Following this, at either 10−36 or 10−32 after the big bang the strong nuclear force also became a separate force. Also in this even cooler universe around 1020 degrees Kelvin, the first subatomic particles were formed from what was previously just energy and what we had is called a quark-gluon plasma. Quarks are what make up the protons and neutrons, which make up the nucleus of an atom, they are held together by the strong force using gluons. At this point though, it was all a “soup”, or a mishmash, for which the technical term is, plasma. In addition to this, the electromagnetic force and the weak nuclear force were still acting as one force, also not really getting anything done, and just part of this plasma. Still no earth, still no heaven, still no water, and dare I say, still no god.

Afterwards at around 10−12 seconds our final two forces separated, leaving us with the four fundamental forces that we have today, gravity, electromagnetism, the weak nuclear force, and the strong nuclear force. At around 10−6 seconds after the big bang it had cooled down to a mere 1013 degrees Kelvin hadrons began to form. Hadrons are particles made up of quarks, there are two kinds, baryons, and mesons (baryons are made of three quarks, mesons are made up of two quarks). All of our atomic nuclei are made up of baryons, those are protons and neutrons. This is the first real matter, although there were no electrons, so no real atoms but at least we have the first atomic nuclei.

At approximately 1 second after the big bang leptons dominated the universe, leptons are the lightest of the subatomic particles the most common of which is the electron. Although the energy was too high for the nuclei and electrons to bond together, at least we had all the pieces of the atoms. Still no heaven, no earth, no water, no god.

LET THERE BE LIGHT! At approximately 10 seconds after the big bang, the energy of the universe was predominantly in the form of photons (the smallest quanta of light). This is the universe for the next 377,000 or 380,000 years until the universe cool enough for the first atoms to form.

As the first atoms stabilize, they also begin to attract each other because of their gravity. Under intense gravitational pressure the first atoms are squeezed together and when they stick together they form bigger atoms, this releases large amounts of energy (this process is known as fusion), these are the first stars. These first stars are formed during the first 150 million to 1 billion years after the big bang. Still no heavens still no earth still no water, but we do have light.

Let us not forget our cute children’s fable aka the torah. Where did we leave off? Yes, we just finished “day” one. Lets go on to day number two. Genesis 1:6-8

“And god said let there be a firmament between the waters, and let it separate between water and water. And god made the firmament, and he separated between the waters which were beneath the firmament and the waters which were above the firmament, and it was so. And god called the firmament ‘heavens’, and there was evening and there was morning, a second day.”

Does anyone have a clue what this is talking about? What waters? Has anyone ever seen a lot of water on top of the heavens? Are the heavens really stopping any water from coming through? So I googled it and was promptly sent to Wikipedia

this is what I got:

The firmament is the sky, conceived as a vast dome.[1] According to Genesis, God created the firmament to separate the "waters above" (the source of rain) from those below (in the underworld). The word is anglicised from Latin firmamentum, which appears in the Vulgate.
The word "firmament" is used to translate raqia, or raqiya` ( רקיע), a word used in Biblical Hebrew. The connotation of firmness conveyed by the Vulgate's firmamentum is consistent that ofstereoma, the Greek word used in the Septuagint, an earlier translation. The notion of solidity is advanced explicitly in several biblical passages.[4]
The original word raqia is derived from the root raqa ( רקע), meaning "to beat or spread out", e.g., the process of making a dish by hammering thin a lump of metal.[3][5] Raqa adopted the meaning "to make firm or solid" in Syriac, a major dialect of Aramaic (the vernacular of Jesus) and close cognate of Hebrew.[3]

Hey, guess what else they said about it,

The word is used in the Genesis creation narrative:The modern bible, and non-canonical related texts, present a cosmology that is incompatible with modern scientific knowledge.[8] The firmament was a great tent-like[9] ceiling made of solid crystalline-like material,[10] which, according to the pseudepedigraphic 2nd or 3rd century book of 3 Baruch, might be pierced by tower and gimlet.[11] It had many windows, some of which opened and closed for the sun and moon to travel through[12] or to let water, which was held above, fall through as rain.[13] On top there were also warehouses of snow and hail.[14] Stars were small objects that were attached tenuosly to its surface.[15]
The Jewish Encyclopedia describes the firmament as follows:
The Hebrews regarded the earth as a plain or a hill figured like a hemisphere, swimming on water. Over this is arched the solid vault of heaven. To this vault are fastened the lights, the stars. So slight is this elevation that birds may rise to it and fly along its expanse.[16]

How does anyone actually believe this?

Anyways, back to reality…
As more and more of these stars formed they themselves were drawn to each other, they began to draw closer together to form clusters of stars what we refer to now as galaxies. The oldest galaxy that we can see is 12.91 billion light years away, which means that the light we are seeing now 12.91 billion years to reach us, we are in a sense looking back in time 12.91 billion years. There is also a galaxy that seems to be 13.2 billion light years away, but there seems to be a dispute about exactly how far it really is. In any case, it seems that galaxies formed at least as early as the first billion years of our universe.

Now, stars die because they already compressed their light atoms into heavy atoms and they begin to collapse in on themselves. When they do this, they squeeze the already heavy atoms together forming even bigger atoms, and releasing more energy, so the star re-ignites and burns a little longer. This process can repeat a few times until eventually that star just blows up, but by this time, it has formed a whole plethora of heavy atoms. This is how, even though originally the universe only produced the lightest of atoms; we have today an entire periodic table of elements.

Around 9 billion years after the big bang, a cloud of mostly hydrogen (the lightest of all atoms) and some other trace elements, began to collapse in on itself. As the pressure grew, it eventually started the fusion process. Yes, this is our sun. Around the main star swirls of dust and dirt remained some of these also began to collapse due to gravity and the planets formed. You may wonder why they did not ignite and start fusion as well thereby becoming stars. The answer is because they were not big enough that the gravitational pressure would cause atoms to fuse together.

I will continue this in my next post but before I go, I must ask. Do these two accounts even resemble each other? If the torah was written by god wouldn’t he know what happened? How many “metaphors” and “epicycles” must you add to make this readable? Do you, as a sane human being accept this is literal truth? If you do, please comment and we will discuss it. If you do not view this as literal truth, why then do you think that the rest of it is literally true? And who decides what is literally true and what is metaphor? Is your literally true god hiding only in the corners where science hasent arrived yet?

For more info on the big bang process check out

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Celebration of Life

                I was at a sholom zochor last night and after a few beers, I found myself in middle of an intense argument about whether all goyim (non-Jews) hate all Jews? I could not believe that this man actually felt that all of them MUST hate us, from where would such a sense of fear and isolation come? Aside from feeling bad for him, it left me thinking. When I left there after forty-five minutes or so, I went on my weekly Friday night walk to the beach. The scene was breathtaking, not a cloud in the sky, no moon, and all the stars were out in their full majesty. As I looked out onto the endless vast dark ocean, I truly understood what it means to feel insignificant. I am tiny compared to this ocean and compared to a star the even this great ocean is not even a puddle. It is barely a mark on a speck of dust, and in true cosmic sizes, the star itself is no more than the smallest spark. Yet here I am. Alive. Taking it all in. I do not know a lot about reality but the little I do blows me away. I am left wondering, how amazing is this experience we call life? How much more so is what we refer to as the “human” experience?
From a big bang 14 or so billion years ago, an entire universe was born spewing forth a plasma of a subatomic mess. No atoms could have formed in these initial moments, it was too chaotic, and the closest thing resembling stability that I know of at this time was quark-gluon plasma. From this, the first atoms arose and the uniform plasma became individualized. At first, there was a very limited variety of atoms that were formed but it was enough for the first fireworks; the first stars. They were giant nuclear collectives, individual atoms working together putting on the greatest show in the universe for no one’s eyes at all. This is the true nature of nature; absolutely amazing, and yet she does not care who is watching or who will like it. Nature is as she is, that’s it. These atoms working together became something they could never accomplish themselves; they became the heavy elements. Only in the center of stars where gravity was at its strongest, could two atomic nuclei overcome their mutual dislike for each other and join to become something bigger and better, a heavier element.
The heaviest of elements however are only created in the intense pressures of the death throes of a collapsing star. After a series of collapses and explosions that is the death of a star, all the material that was in the star is blown around to be used again. As the matter cloud falls in on itself because of gravity it reignites but not all the dust makes it into the star. Some of it just stays swirling around and sometimes creates smaller lumps of matter. Sometimes this satellite has enough mass to ignite and create a binary star system and sometimes none of satellites have enough mass to ignite. A variety of satellites can form, and although most of them would not be able to support life as we know it, perhaps they are capable of supporting other forms of life, perhaps better suited to their environments.
Around one particular star, which we call “the” sun quite a few satellites were formed. Some were giant balls of gas, truly majestic in size; and some were small lumps of rock, not much in terms of size. One of these small rocks had a chemical composition and a favorable weather system that allowed liquid water and life as we know it. Within a relatively short time, the first life forms arose on that little rock, and began to multiply.
The conditions on that rock stayed in such a way that allowed the life to continue, and whenever it did change, the life was able to change with it. After doing so for many generations, the first signs of real change in the life began appearing. The life began to get more complex allowing for better chances at getting more food, and better chances of surviving longer. Although the changes were plentiful, only those best fitting the environment survived. As the life became more complex it began to evolve things like a nervous system with a main control center, it evolved all kinds of organs and limbs, each life form competing for the reward of survival. At one point, the greatest life form on this rock was a creature called the dinosaurs; they were giant lizards that lorded over all other life forms. These beasts came in many forms some ate plants some ate other animals some even ate other dinosaurs. However, they all died out when environmental situations became hostile to their existence and nothing remains of their powerful reign other than a few fossils.
After they died out the best creature adapted for survival was a group called the mammals. Being the dominant life forms on this small rock, they evolved into all sorts of species. Eventually there arose a sort of mammals we now call apes, these mammals had great brains, superior bodies, and started learning how to use their surroundings in a way previously unseen. They began making tools to help them to simple tasks; their form of communication was unsurpassed, with the exception of the dolphins perhaps. They kept on improving and evolving better brains until they could not only learn how to get food better, they could even predict the habits of their prey and each other, their language surpassed all other life forms, and they had tools for everything. They had this capability called imagination, which means they can understand things in an abstract way even if the thing were not there.
They could create things that had no survival purpose, and they could afford to as well, they were that good at survival. They created things for enjoyment, such as music, art, stories, and poetry. They started trying to understand everything, for they realized that the better you understood something, the better off you were in using that thing, or sometimes if it was a potentially dangerous thing, prepare for it. However, they were still limited, their method of understanding was still in its infancy and they arrived at many half-truths, and many false conclusions. When in their search to understand everything many times, they would reach something that they did not know. It was very uncomfortable to leave it as an unknown and so they guessed, many times incorrectly.
These limitations notwithstanding, they still were the best life form this rock. They discovered a way to keep record of their thoughts and knowledge on rock, then later paper that could in a sense “freeze” their words for a long time, to be accessed by anyone. They began to use tools in every imaginable way until they were able to have tools that could think for them. They built systems of understanding such as math and philosophy. They were also the first creature to realize that they were going to die, this made many of them feel that life was futile, so many of them postulated that they would live forever beyond their bodies. They also thought that the only way to understand many happenings was to assume conscious intentional governors of nature, with human wants and desires who could be reasoned with and be pleased. Unfortunately since they were only guesses different people made drastically different guesses.
They were nomads, spread around to many different parts of the world, and traveled in groups. In their obsession with their way of seeing the world, and their fear of the unknown they would demonize the “others”. ”Others” were those whose guesses about reality differed from their own. In their fear of the “others”, they began to fear each other, denouncing each other as being one of the “others”. This fear caused isolation, paranoia, distrust, and life again became the fear for survival.
Finally, after thousands of years of living like this there came two revolutions around a thousand years apart. The first was the Greek enlightenment, the second the European enlightenment. These led to better methods of understanding our world, better methods of understanding each other, the idea of respecting all people, the first real steps toward the elimination of superstition and baseless fear.
As a human being myself, I am thrilled to be living in this time in our history. I can appreciate the simple beauty of being alive, I do not fear superstitious nonsense, I can understand my universe, I can understand other humans, I do not expect them to be perfect, I understand that they evolved from other, simpler primates and sometimes act irrational. This is ok.
People are semi-evolved primates, that’s it. Bear this in mind next time you are confused about how people act. As semi evolved primates, we can do what we want and create our lives however we want. We were once amoebas, we can go anywhere from here. We can hold any opinion we want, however we should keep in mind that it is just an opinion. If we are extremely careful, we can sometimes know things almost for a fact, but it takes a great amount of gentle care and precision to know truth.
In between our opinions and the truth lies our worldview. This worldview of ours encompasses our entire humanity, world, and universe. We each have one, it is unique and individual. By remaining open and gentle with each other we can sometimes glimpse a parallel universe, entirely strange and ridiculous, yet hauntingly familiar. Sometimes we can get lost amidst all these ridiculous and entertaining universes, it does one well to bear in mind that we should also have a universe of our own, as beautiful and ridiculous as the next. In the arts, I sometimes glimpse the minds of other people and simultaneously am comforted in our similarities and amazed at our differences.
I see most people as simply wanting to live in peace, without fear, with love and happiness. Most people simply want their little corner of a world for themselves, do not want to bother people and do not want to be bothered. Most of us want to share the good we have with other people. Most of us are lovers of life, artists of our own lives, and artists of our own worldview. We are all born curious and some of us retain that throughout our lives. We love to share, love to be at peace with one another. Yes, fear and pain can distort this in people and make them hateful instead of loving, hoarding instead of giving, but given the chance, most of those people would rather go back to the good life. Life can get tough and we can grow cynical, yet I keep seeing people accomplish such greatness that I cannot help feeling optimistic. If history has taught us anything it is that, we can rise above our shortcomings.
I am a proud human being. Proud of what we have accomplished notwithstanding our shortcomings, if anything it is our shortcomings as people that make me the most proud of what we have still managed to accomplish. We have done so much with so little that I cannot wait to see where we will go from here. I see us rising above our childish superstition, above our senseless fear of each other. I hope we can appreciate the uniqueness of earth and learn to cherish and treasure her, instead of squandering the beautiful planet we have. I am a proud human being.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Power of Skepticism

Like a man trying to photograph a dream, I will try to describe in mere words the cascade of emotions and thoughts running through my brain as I sit here by the beach at 2 am. To do this I realize might be impossible but I unfortunately have no other means of conveying this to you, my dear reader other than words. Even as I reread my last blog post I am still not happy with it, I feel like words are a cheap medium for such powerful topics and I know that I will have to redo it again in the future, and perhaps with no better luck.
Having said that, come join me at the beach, it is two in the morning on Friday night, one or two small clouds, no moon, and seemingly endless stars. Someone once told me that the reason why we love the sound of the oceans waves is that it sounds much like the waters rushing around the womb in which we were born. While I may not know if that is true, what I must agree with is; the sense of calm that the sound of the waves conveys to me. I came here to escape my yeshiva and have a cigarette yet I find myself lost in space, gazing at the stars and lost among them. The awareness of how far the stars are, how big they are, and how insignificant even they are in the universe, is the truest humility I think one can ever truly experience. How tiny are we, evolved slime on a mote of dust orbiting a mediocre star in the outer neighborhoods of an average galaxy? How is it that we know anything? How is it that we CAN know anything? Do we actually know anything?
Last year after reading the meditations by Descartes, I remember having a long conversation with a friend over whether or not we could know if we are dreaming, and if we should even care. My conclusion was; that we cannot know and therefore I do not care, and this is my starting point for the nature of our knowledge. I agree with Descartes that “I think therefore I am” meaning since I am conscious and although everything might be an illusion, I must exist in some form to experience this illusion. However, I do not know that this is not an illusion so I cannot “know” more than that.
There are so many things that confound us in this experience we call reality, that seem so amazing to our semi-evolved mammalian brain. The problem though is that for each phenomenon there are so many explanations, each sounding better than the one before. Therefore, I believe the only proper initial attitude is one of equal skepticism to all claims. Upon further thought though, we may wish to ask that although they cannot all be true, and perhaps none of them are, can we say one is more likely than the other? The answer is yes, we do have a method for sorting out the truth of theories, and it we call it science. It cannot prove a theory correct but, by making predictions based on the theories and observing to see which theory is consistent with observation it can conclusively disprove theories. Once we have done this and weeded out the ones we know to be false, then by default the remaining ones are the most likely to be true. We cannot say more than that, we cannot say we “know”, we can say probably, more likely, less likely, and so on but anything more than that seems to me to be a denial of the nature of our knowledge.
To me when someone says, “I know” I squirm a little bit; I get very uncomfortable when people use such absolutes. I have noticed that the crazier a person is the more certain he is of things that he in no way can be certain about. Have you ever noticed that the person screaming that the world is going to end, or  that aliens implanted chips in his brain, or that god is speaking to him, will almost never use the word maybe. He is absolutely sure, he KNOWS this, as a fact. How many less suicide bombers do you think we would have if Muslims said, “Allah is probably the one god, and Mohammed might be his prophet”, but no, they are sure, 100%, no doubt about it.
I find the opposite to be true as well, the more sane and levelheaded a person is, the more likely he is to say, “I don’t know”. It is a truly liberating three words, it is an acknowledgement that we are human and limited and might not know everything. It is only with this attitude that we might learn new things. It is with this form of mental bookkeeping and keeping track of which things we know little, of which we know more, and of which we know nothing, that we can grow and learn. My hero, Richard Feynman once said
I can live with doubt, and uncertainty, and not knowing. I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers, and possible beliefs, and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I’m not absolutely sure of anything, and in many things I don’t know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we’re here, and what the question might mean. I might think about a little, but if I can’t figure it out, then I go to something else. But I don’t have to know an answer. I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without having any purpose, which is the way it really is, as far as I can tell, possibly. It doesn’t frighten me.
This is why he is my hero, not for his Nobel Prize winning theories, not for his physics lectures (which I own and love), but for his common sense. His simple attitude of trying to figure out this puzzle called reality, not caring for anything more than that, here is another quote from him
People say to me, "Are you looking for the ultimate laws of physics?" No, I'm not... If it turns out there is a simple ultimate law which explains everything, so be it — that would be very nice to discover. If it turns out it's like an onion with millions of layers... then that's the way it is. But either way there's Nature and she's going to come out the way She is. So therefore when we go to investigate we shouldn't predecide what it is we're looking for only to find out more about it. Now you ask: "Why do you try to find out more about it?" If you began your investigation to get an answer to some deep philosophical question, you may be wrong. It may be that you can't get an answer to that particular question just by finding out more about the character of Nature. But that's not my interest in science; my interest in science is to simply find out about the world and the more I find out the better it is, I like to find out...
                We must not forget how young we are as a species, and how new we are to this. Looking back through time to get a good picture of who we are can sometimes make us forget to look to the future and see who we will become. We are not the final result of evolution; we are a by-product on the way to other better and more intelligent by-products. We may know a lot compared to any other species we are aware of, but there are many species yet to come and they will build off our knowledge and will know so much more. We have discovered science a mere few hundred years ago; we have only begun this true quest for knowledge. 
                Compared to what is out there we might know very little, however we have accomplished a lot in very few years since the scientific method has become commonplace. We have mastered chemistry, electricity, and even some of the nuclear forces. We have discovered relativity and quantum theory. We have the standard model of elementary particles. We understand biology from humans and elephants down to plankton, bacteria, and viruses. We have mapped the genome. We have discovered how species evolve. We have made advances in medicine, increased the human life expectancy, and decreased infant mortality. We can make artificial body parts, we can help the deaf hear, and the lame walk.  We are making serious headway in our understanding of how the brain works. We have invented the car and the plane. WE CAN FLY! How amazing is that? We have gone to space, walked on our moon, and sent spaceships out of our little solar system. We have instruments that can see all the light that our blind eyes cannot, from radio to gamma rays. We have discovered black holes. We know the history of our solar system and to some degree of accuracy we know its future. We have invented the telephone and the computer and now we have them both in one in our cell phones. We have the internet, which allows the entire species communicate with one another (unless your mullah or rav banned it) and we all have access to all the collective knowledge of our species. We can compute on atoms. We have teleported. We can make our own atoms.
                We have accomplished a lot in these few years, yet accomplished almost nothing in comparison to what we can and will accomplish.