Romanischemann

On July 13, I had the opportunity to meet with several Nova Romans in Tucson. I was anxious to meet some other fellow citizens, since I had missed the abortive gathering in Phoenix last year because of other priorities. (Tony came home for the weekend, and he always trumps Nova Roma.)

There were six people at the gathering. Ahenobarbus had spearheaded the whole thing. He was there with his fiancee, who is a new-age herbalist but not a Roman; she fidgetted for a while as we blah-blahed, then she took off. Iulianus was there, plus Trigeminus and his wife Ariadne. Also present was Jenni, a very intriguing character.

Ahenobarbus is a pleasant, funny younger guy with a shaved head and auburn beard (perhaps not so red as the Dioscuri intended. He has been watching the main list for some time, and has corresponded with some of the movers and shakers such as Scholastica and Piscinus. He is a provisional citizen until August. It turns out he is a linguist with knowledge (at least in passing) of several languages. How he missed Latin is beyond me. He is a devout cultor.

Iulianus is not at all what I expected. I hope to talk to him further. He is very intense. We were separated at the table so we didn’t get to talk as much as I would like. But he knows his stuff. He’s been a citizen for a long time (since 2002) and knows a lot of the citizens. One of his first questions to me was, who is Pontifex Maximus. He appears to be a supporter of Cassius.

Trigeminus and his wife are provisional citizens. He showed up in “camp casual” dress (no, not “campy”, well, maybe a little campy)–tunica, chain mail, gladius, etc. He wears his hair like a barbarian, though. He’s a member of Legio IX Hispana. He knows his stuff and the Latin military terms were flying.

Most intriguing was Jenni. She reminds me of Ellen in some ways. It turns out, she is the infamous female pontiff that everyone rants about.  A real celebrity! She is now a leader in the ADF (druids), and leads a Roman kin in that group. I found out later that I had read several of her articles online. As a pontiff, she knows several of the people, although she kept asking about Graecus. We assured her that Graecus had left. She may reapply for citizenship.

Ahenobarbus and I are working on the foedus for setting up an oppidum here in Arizona.

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Published in: on July 16, 2008 at 1:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Sun is Shrinking!!!

In case anyone thought you can’t find everything on the web, here’s the link for the creationist bulletin that I reference in today’s post: http://www.icr.org/article/165/. Wow, that’s a blast from my religious past.

Published in: on June 21, 2008 at 3:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hypotheses

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about evolution, geologic time, and the origins of the universe. (Is that my Sun in Sagittarius calling?) This is intriguing, because in High School I was a committed Creation Scientist. Back in those days, they were honest enough to call themselves that. I asked for and received monthly bulletins from the Creation Science Research Institute, or some such group, run by Morris et al. It was the usual stuff–carbon dating is unreliable, there’s no transitional fossils, etc. One of the “proofs” sticks out in my mind, because it appeared to be testable science, not the usual “we hate evolution” stuff.

See, one of the things about science is that it tries to find a reasonable and natural explanation for things. The evolution of the eye, for example, or the evolution of religion. (It’s ironic that our ability to believe in God is also a product of evolution.) A member of Homo Sapiens can look at a group of finches on the Gallapagos islands and reason out how they changed over time. This is done by proposing a solution (a hypothesis) and then testing it. Darwin followed the genteel English hobby of pigeon breeding, so he knew how artificial selection worked. This was one piece of his experience that led him to infer natural selection.

The creationist argument that I’m referring to is: the Sun is shrinking at a known rate. If you reverse the film, the Sun is growing backwards in time. At a certain point, it is so big that it engulfs the orbit of the Earth. Therefore, the Earth can’t be as old as science says. And, furthermore, evolution is wrong, God created the world, etc.

This is quite a nice glimpse into the minds of creationists. They latch onto a fact (although that “fact” may be outdated, and may very well be disproved in the future), draw an inference or deduction, and say, Voila! God created the world.

The scientific mind reacts differently. When faced with the problem,”The Sun is shrinking…”, the scientist starts by questioning the “fact”. Is it really true that the Sun is shrinking, and if it is, is it shrinking at a known rate? Let’s assume that both of these are provisionally true. (From what I know about the life cycle of stars, it may be true: as the Sun uses up its fuel, it may be shrinking, so the point is at least reasonable.) The scientist might note that one question is: has the rate of shrinkage changed over time? The creationist bulletin wags its finger: Uh, uh, uh! it says, you evolutionist boys are the ones who said that natural processes occur at a regular rate, so play fair and don’t change your story midstream. (I think this is a strawman; I don’t think science says that ALL natural processes occur at the same rate over time.)

My point is that the scientist immediately begins to ask questions about the problem and starts to bring in prior knowledge, inferences and deductions. He or she wants to know the answer to the problem, whereas the creationist wants to say, Here’s a problem you can’t answer–therefore, the answer is God. In other words, we’re right back at the ancient use for gods: to fill in the gaps of knowledge. Don’t know what causes lightning? God. Don’t know why the Sun moves across the sky? Helios is driving his fiery chariot. It’s a non-answer that leaves the faithful feeling smug and leaves scientists re-assured that creationists are ignorant.

By the way, the creationists don’t seem to care about Mercury or Venus and when they would be engulfed by the Sun.

So, creationist hypotheses (the shrinking Sun, irreducible complexity) all fall down. Part of the problem is: how can you demonstrate that God (or the gods) created the world? It’s apples and oranges.

Published in: on June 21, 2008 at 2:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Religio

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Religio Romana, and I think the Romans are getting some bad press. All those old nineteenth-century guys says, “Those Romans were so legally minded and unimaginative–so that’s how they treated their gods.” It’s kinds like the people who go on and on about how uncomfortable the toga is and that no Roman really wanted to wear one.

The fact is that we don’t really know how the average Roman “felt” about the numina or gods. Whatever Cicero or Cato or Lucretius thought, the average Roman seems to have been perfectly happy with his religio.

Published in: on October 31, 2007 at 3:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Salvete, omnes

Salvete, omnes, and welcome to the Velian, the blog of the familia Potita, a scion of the gens Valeria.

Published in: on August 19, 2007 at 5:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

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Published in: on August 18, 2007 at 4:34 pm  Comments (1)